In July 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Melanie Kuriger helped create a fundraising plan for the massive community giving event, North Texas Giving Day. Intent on improving her Plano Children’s Theatre’s fundraising from the previous year, she helped devise a plan to pool Board members’ donations into a matching fund, which will be used to motivate donors during the event. She created a slideshow and pitched her ideas to the Managing Boards for each of the theatres in her organization and for the Governing Board. She was met with excitement and enthusiasm and anticipates 100% Board participation.
When running a race and you see the finish line, people have a way of pushing harder and finishing as strong as they can. The month of June was no different for the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. This was the month to make every fundraiser and in-kind donation matter because it was the start of Camp! Epilepsy Foundation-Texas host three camps and send over 325 kids to camp for free. On average, the cost to send one kid to camp is $1,200. Community Outreach VISTA, Rashika Smith was responsible for obtaining in-kind donations of water and snacks for participants for two events which took place in west Texas. The Lubbock Landmark Lope, a 5k trail run at the Lubbock Lake Landmark and Sharon’s Ride. Walk. Run in Amarillo raised $22,876.57 which will support medical and educational service provided by the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. The final June fundraiser brought the heat, sweat, and money. The Cornament was an entertaining and unique event featuring a cornhole tournament, side games, entertainment, beverages and food. Rashika obtained in-kind donations of gift cards worth over $1,040, to be used for prizes for participants. During the event a parent spoke about how the camp provided a place for their kid to be a kid and how no other camp was willing to give the child a chance to attend because of their medical condition. Over 100 people attended the Cornament and raised $29,412 which will send approximately 24 children to camp at no cost!
In June 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Resource Development Officer Melanie Cheney serving with Plano Children’s Theatre helped deliver a presentation at the Plano Metro Rotary Luncheon that resulted in a $5,000 donation from the club. This donation will be used to pay for scholarships for underprivileged children who cannot otherwise afford tuition costs. This will allow children from low-income households to have access to enriching extracurricular arts activities that help teach valuable life skills (responsibility, discipline, integrity, etc.) and push them to become better students and citizens. Simply by bringing a few of our students to perform a couple songs at the Rotary Luncheon, we also received a $100 donation from a rotary member who was so moved by their performance that he attended the actual performance that weekend and wrote a letter detailing how thoroughly impressed he was by our students’ passion and skills. In 2016. Plano Children’s Theatre awarded 255 scholarships to underserved students, totaling $30,906.
June was an exciting month for AmeriCorps VISTA Jennifer, who was able to grow within her role of volunteer training at Twice as Nice Resale, an entity of Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton, TX. On June 24, Jennifer played a large role in the style show at Woman to Woman PRC’s annual Ladies’ Purse Auction, which also hosts a brunch, guest speaker, and an amazing silent auction. Working closely with 9 volunteers, Jennifer ensured they felt comfortable and confident in their roles by promoting proper training, communication, and clear instructions. The volunteers modeled head-to-toe outfits and their prices picked straight from Twice as Nice Resale to showcase how you can find cute clothes for a great price. In order to build capacity for Woman to Woman PRC as well as ensure success for the future VISTAS in her role, Jennifer documented every step of the process. This will allow the next VISTA or community volunteer acclimate to their role and make it easier for them to continue magnifying the prosperity of the organization through large events like this one. Indeed, the Ladies’ Purse Auction was a huge success with 193 women attending the event which raised $15,835, providing the highest numbers Woman to Woman PRC has seen yet! Jennifer loved seeing the team’s hard work flourish into such an amazing opportunity to provide Woman to Woman PRC with greater freedom to serve the Denton area’s low-income men, women, and families with free services.
Rashika Smith is the Community Outreach VISTA serving at the Epilepsy Foundation Texas’ Dallas office. In May, she received the sad news that a five year old passed away in his sleep from epilepsy. Hearing about his death was hard and knowing he was just a child was even harder. Rashika met this child at Sharon’s Ride in Fort Worth. Sharon’s Ride is a fundraising and epilepsy awareness event. This was the first Epilepsy Foundation event the child and family attended and Rashika remembers seeing the child smiling and having fun. Rashika has learned first-hand that creating events is more than just making money. These events also help to make precious family memories. As a VISTA, Rashika’s work is behind the scenes where she creates positive impact and sometimes she does not get to see the results. The thought of the little boy gives her fuel to keep going and work even harder to raise money and awareness about epilepsy so one day another family does not wake up to their child not being able to say,” good morning”.
Resource Development VISTA Daisy Martinez has worked hard alongside Events & Marketing Coordinator, Morgan Collins to help grow their upcoming fundraising event, “Ladies Purse Auction & Brunch”. This fundraising event is one of the three largest fundraisers that Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center hosts each year. Daisy hopes to exceed their fundraising goal through engaging the local community, and spreading awareness of their mission. Each day, Daisy reaches out to businesses, and women in the Denton Community asking them to participate in the Purse Auction by “adopting” a purse of their choosing from a selection of donated purses located in the W2W office. After adopting the purse, the woman or business takes the purse to fill it with goodies of their choice. The purses are then returned to be auctioned off to the highest bidder at the Purse Auction & Brunch event on June 24th at Robson Ranch. All funds raised go directly towards providing services to the clients of the nonprofit.
Stephanie De Los Santos, Camp and Resource Development VISTA serving with the Epilepsy Foundation Texas, began her year of service in March and dove right in to grant writing. Stephanie has been able to submit 3 grants for a potential outcome of $33,600. If awarded the funds will be used to send children with epilepsy to summer camp. The Epilepsy Foundation Texas camping programs provide children and youth with epilepsy a safe, structured, FUN and encouraging home away from home. In order to learn more about how epilepsy effects individuals and families, Stephanie interviewed a father and son. The son has a seizure disorder and the father was away at work while most of the testing/diagnosis process was ongoing. They told her about the fear, worry, and anxiety of having to go through the medical testing. They also told her about the relief of becoming involved with the epilepsy foundation and how the agency has helped them. At that moment, Stephanie felt like she was a part of something important.
The mission of the North Texas Performing Arts – Plano Children’s Theatre is to develop the character of youth through quality performing arts education and family entertainment. Plano Children’s Theatre offers full-ride scholarships to talented and less privileged children, provides complimentary tickets to charitable organizations, teacher groups, and school fundraising events and offers free programming at local community centers. Melanie Cheney, Resource Development VISTA, prepared and consolidated documents for an annual board meeting at North Texas Performing Arts. During this process, Melanie edited the documents for clarity, sorted the documents into easily understandable categories, and created binders for each board member in attendance (45 total). Cheney delegated some work to volunteers, so she was not only able to practice her editing skills, but also her leadership skills. In addition, Melanie played an instrumental role in raising $20,000 in private donations from patrons she met with in previous months. Monies raised will add to the current capital campaign for the Willow Bend Theatre and benefit low-income and special needs children through the agency’s programs. Melanie helps to solidify relationships with new and existing donors through prompt thank you letters of which she created templates for use by staff and volunteers. Melanie attended a meeting with representatives from the Hudson Foundation and established a relationship that will hopefully lead to consideration for future grant-giving.
Forget testing the water, VISTA Rashika Smith serving with the Epilepsy Foundation Texas, had to jump in fully clothed to make Sharon’s Ride a success. Sharon’s Ride is an educational and fundraising event to increase the community’s awareness of and support for individuals afflicted with epilepsy. Rashika began VISTA service at the end of March and thought she would be learning more about the foundation and plan for the even months ahead. That was not the case as the event was less than five weeks out and there was a lot to do. Rashika was tasked with contacting donors, recruiting volunteers and developing donor letters and volunteer job descriptions. She hit many dead-end walls but after receiving the first donation she gained the confidence she needed to keep moving forward. As a result, the event was a success we had over 20 volunteers, 100 participants, a variety of snacks, and the best part, Epilepsy Foundation Texas raised $53,000 to support children with epilepsy go to summer camp.
On April 6th, Giving Hope, Inc., a nonprofit agency serving homeless and near homeless individuals and families in Denton, TX, hosted their Annual Night of Hope event which was a big success. All the hard work of Board members, staff and AmeriCorps VISTA member Daisy Martinez over the past couple of months finally paid off. At a Night of Hope, Daisy checked-in and welcomed all the guests who arrived for the night alongside board member, Janet Sheton. Once everyone had a chance to look over the silent auction items, the attendees sat down for a dinner catered by Cartwright’s Ranch House. Daisy helped present multiple members of the community, and partner agencies with “Heart of Hope” Awards in order to recognize their support and dedication to helping the agency grow. Following the dinner, there was a cake auction where each cake sold for around $150-$300! All in all, everyone had a good time and nearly $50,000 was raised overall for a Night of Hope. Funds raised will be used to assist individuals and families remain housed.