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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All Smiles

Give for Good provides funds for women’s dental work

It took one day to change the lives of two people for the better.

Angela Brown and Tamara Long were two women who had a shared problem: no teeth.

It’s a common lacking that didn’t just affect their eating. “It makes you feel like a failure,” Brown said. Long echoed her: “You really feel inadequate.”

But in one 24-hour period, the Hub Urban Ministry, a Shreveport nonprofit, raised $3,970, which was enough money for both ladies’ dental work.

The Hub’s almost impossible task was accomplished through Give for Good Day. Sponsored by the Community Foundation, Give for Good Day took place May 5 and raised more than $1.7 million dollars for participating nonprofits throughout North Louisiana. A total of 7,714 gifts were made.

Jennifer Steadman, director of external relations for the Community Foundation, said she’s “very pleased” with the success of the limited-time fundraiser.

“What makes this day different and special is the urgency,” Steadman said. And the urgency seems to be catching on. Give for Good raised $500,000 more this year than in 2014, the event’s inaugural year in North Louisiana.

Also growing this year is participation. Steadman had hoped for 100 nonprofits to take part. She got 156.

One big bonus for nonprofits participating in the fast-paced giving is the funds are unrestricted, Steadman said. This means target organizations can use Give for Good money anyway they see fit.

That includes dental work. “This is such a blessing. I get to smile now,” Brown said. “The Hub has literally saved our lives.”

Long called the gift of teeth “a step in the right direction,” one that gives her confidence during job interviews or meeting new people.

Human services organizations – groups that assist veterans, the homeless and children – took in the most donations during Give for Good Day. These people-centered organizations received 2,771 gifts with a total of $572,645 raised.

“These are services that if they weren’t in a community, people would definitely notice,” Steadman said. “With a lot of nonprofits, if you don’t need the services, your paths never cross.”

Give for Good’s biggest winner exemplified Steadman’s statement.

Holy Angels Residential Facility takes in residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities from more than 20 states, according to the organization’s website. And Holy Angels flew to the top of the Give for Good list, raising a total of $262,975 through 346 gifts.

About this huge showing, Steadman said Holy Angels has a long history within the local community, plus a “very large donor base.”

In addition to human services, nonprofits were broken into other categories on the Give for Good website, including education and animal. Of the different concentrations, environment-focused organizations took in the smallest amount of money, raising $12,772 with 74 gifts.

One of those environmental groups was Saving the Planet by Going Green. It was also the organization that took in the least amount of money.

For Sheryl Lewing, executive director of Saving the Planet by Going Green, her organization didn’t fare well because it lacked exposure, which is exactly what she hopes to gain for the nonprofit with the $50 donated.

“We’re raising funds to take Saving the Planet to another level,” Lewing said. “It’s really hard not having the funding to get the word out.”

But the day wasn’t all about saving the planet or people.

For one business-minded nonprofit, Give for Good was all about a community computer coding class.

The Cohabitat Foundation’s mission in North Louisiana is to spur the economy by supporting local businesses and employees. On Give for Good Day, Cohabitat brought in $3,080 through 28 gifts, according to the Give for Good website.

“We are definitely proceeding with class,” Jessica Schiele, Cohab’s director of programs, said.

She described the coding class as a 10-week long course that begins in June. There will be space for 15 students. They’ll be placed by Cohabitat using an online logic test.

Schiele said the Give for Good event is “absolutely going to help” with the class’ success.

She added: “We participated in Give for Good Day because it is a great opportunity to really reach a wider audience than normal.”

–RT Morgan


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