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GoodGiving Challenge features five Boyle nonprofits

Five local agencies will be participating in this year’s GoodGiving Challenge, which kicks off Tuesday. The challenge, which was five weeks long last year, is only a week long for 2018 — running through Monday, Dec. 3.

In recognition of Tuesday’s challenge kick-off, the Community Arts Center will host an event with all five organizations on-hand.

“It will be sort of like a resource fair,” said Kate Snyder, marketing and development director for CAC. “Representatives from each organization will have an information table set up, and we will also provide breakfast munchies.” She said computers and tablets will be available for for folks to make their donation bright and early, at 9 a.m., when the challenge officially opens.

“The public is warmly welcome,” Snyder said.

The GoodGiving Challenge is an online giving campaign “designed to engage the entire community and to make charitable giving easy and fun,” according to the Blue Grass Community Foundation. The challenge, now in its seventh year, is a partnership between BGCF and Smiley Pete Publishing.

In 2017, BGCF says the challenge raised more than $1.4 million in partnership with 120 participating nonprofits in Kentucky. Nonprofits that participate also have the opportunity to compete for $5,000 in endowment prizes, made possible by the foundation and donors.

Participating nonprofits

Wilderness Trace Child Development Center is “so unique,” says its director, Libby Suttles. And she said the GoodGiving Challenge is a lifeline for it.

“We are serving more involved children this year than ever before. Everyone’s gifts directly impact the sweetest, most vulnerable little children in our communities. Our largest service area is Boyle County, with Lincoln County a close second,” Suttles said.

Suttles said donations through the challenge are “applied to our greatest needs — therapy equipment, inclusive materials and supporting health and wellness.” She said the center would love to raise enough funding to take its students and families to the Newport Aquarium for a field trip.

“Every child should have the chance to explore unique experiences,” she said. “Often though, we are restrained due to wheelchair access and appropriate transportation. I hope the community helps us raise $5,400 to create amazing memories for these kids.”

Suttles said for years, she thought of the center as a necessity for children who most likely would be at home until they enter public school, where inclusion is less likely.

“Recently, I began to realize how fortunate the community is to nurture a space where the children contribute. All this time, I felt like we were giving. The truth is — receiving is more impactful,” she said. “I hope the community continues to show its love and create moments for children to shine, regardless of their abilities.”

The center works to “craft an early educational experience engaging children of diverse abilities, side-by-side, creating enhanced peer modeling and social development experiences.” It serves children ages 2-5, and provides planned curriculums, with an emphasis on social interaction and play.

Suttles said, “I hope people give, to help provide early intervention for students who need access to multiple therapies, social engagement and preschool activities.”

The Community Arts Center has set a goal of $10,000. “We’ll use the funds raised to support our free field trip program,” Snyder said. The funds will also be used to launch a new program in the works at CAC — one for adults with dementia and their caregivers.

The Beautiful Memories program through CAC will be adapted from the successful Meet Me at MOMA program created by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Executive Director Niki Kinkade says the idea for the program grew from her staff’s personal connection with several families in the community.

“We recognize that more and more adults in our community are caring for their aging parents. Being a caregiver for a relative with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be challenging, and often isolating. We wanted to create a program that would foster positive experiences — ‘beautiful memories’ —  for the participants and would provide opportunities for caregivers to connect with and support one another.”

“The Hudson-Ellis Fund is once again offering matching funds. It’s a $20,000 ‘pool’ with a cap of $5,000 per organization,” Snyder said. She said the fund will offer .50 cents on the dollar, up to $1,000 per donor, in matching funds.

“It’s only a week this year, compared to last year’s five weeks. So there’s a much bigger sense of urgency to it,” Snyder said.

CAC is now “the home to all things arts” in the community. It boasts galleries, studios and classrooms for teaching, practicing and viewing the arts. CAC considers its mission to be creating transformative arts opportunities for every member of the community.

CASA of the Bluegrass will be participating once again this year. “It’s really a big piece of our individual fundraising component,” said Laura Guerrant, CASA’s executive director.

“It allows us to use the community, gain support from it, get our name out there and market, while we raise the funds we need to continue serving additional child victims,” she said.

Guerrant said the first time CASA participated years ago, “We didn’t raise large, large amounts, but it’s grown significantly every year. I encourage other organizations not to give up.”

She said due to the challenge being cut back to one week, things could be more difficult.

“As far as some of the matching grants through Hudson-Ellis, it’s a big deal for us,” Guerrant said.

CASA serves not only Boyle, but Anderson, Franklin and Mercer counties, as well.

Guerrant said the challenge offers people an opportunity to cross people off their holiday shopping lists, too. “People can give monetary gifts; in-kind gifts in lieu of regular gifts, or as an alternative way to honor someone,” she said. CASA will affix a holiday card to a special ornament in these cases.

“People can pledge, and when they get a holiday ornament and card, they can give it to the person they pledged for, to let them know a donation was made in their honor,” she said.

CASA stands for court-appointed special advocates. The organization works to train volunteers in order for them to represent the best interests of children who are involved the family court system due to possible abuse or neglect. CASA has had more cases this year than it had for all of last year.

The Family Services Association of Boyle County Inc. is only able to exist because the community “sees the needs of your neighbors in Boyle County,” said Crystal McPherson, the association’s executive director.

Because the community sees the need, “this agency was able to serve 902 people, including 210 seniors and 315 children, since Jan. 1 of this year,” McPherson said.

On an emergency basis, the agency has assisted with electric and water bills, rent, medications and other specifically needed items. “We have also provided countless referrals for goods and services to our community partners to meet needs outside of our scope,” McPherson said. “We gratefully accept checks, cash, etc. all year, but it is during this weeks that donations are matched .50 cents on the dollar,” enabling the organization to continue to help more people in need.

“Again, whatever the amount, we are grateful for your support that allows us to serve the residents of Boyle County in their time of need,” McPherson said.

Family Services is a private, human services agency that provides short-term financial assistance to those experiencing a temporary financial emergency. It also assists clients in identifying other programs and services that can contribute to their financial stability on a long-term basis. It is supported by private donations, the Heart of Kentucky United Way, Danville and Boyle County governments and local churches.

Financial assistance through the agency can be received approximately twice a year per household, and each request must be due to a genuine financial emergency.

According to the most recent quarterly report released through the association, 80 percent of individuals who received assistance January through September did not return. The total amount served was 307; that includes 117 children and 80 senior citizens. Referrals and client initiatives to other agencies include 33; eight of those were children and eight were seniors; 84 percent of those receiving referrals did not return for financial assistance.

KyADAPT already began participating in the GoodGiving Challenge by attending a training BGCF offered on how to maximize challenge donations. The organization also held a kick-off event in October, where it informed its supporters about the challenge and about the availability of matching funds during the challenge.

“We’ve also been spreading the word about it via email, Facebook and our website,” said Dahia Haas, program and client services manager with KyADAPT. She said they’ve been seeking new donors by asking supporters to serve as “challenge ambassadors,” to inform their friends and families about the organization and encourage them to donate.

Hass considers KyADAPT worthy of donations for several reasons. She said it’s the only organization that exists in in the state to serve a specific population — deaf and hard-of-hearing adults with additional disabilities. And its clients give back, she said, to the community through volunteer work.

“We provide group-learning experiences to teach our clients the skills they need to live safely and as independently as possible,” Haas said. Examples of group learning topics are cooking, emergency preparedness, and money management/budgeting. It offers monthly group activities for clients to improve their language and socialization skills and have the opportunity to interact with others who use American Sign Language.

“We do in-home visits to help them implement and maintain the skills they learn; we give assistance in establishing independent living skills teams to help them develop, monitor progress toward and achieve individualized goals,” Haas said.

“Our clients have awesome potential but are greatly underserved, and we have the experience and expertise to meet their needs. KyADAPT also receives no support from federal or state sources, so that we can have the freedom to serve only this population,” she said.

Haas said the services it provides “are making strong, positive impacts in the lives of our clients, as indicated by surveys we do with clients and their caregivers and by the client progress we observe and record.”