I know what it’s like to need help. I know what it’s like to get and to give help, too, and how it feels to be left out.
Most of us do.
So, as I look back over my Midtown Muse columns in 2015, I must say this: Kudos Raleigh! You’ve been generous without judgment.
And that’s when it counts.
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‘Truly a community event’
On Dec. 12, the Enloe High School Student Council announced it exceeded by $18,000 its goal to raise $100,000 for Learning Together, an inclusive early childhood education program that provides developmental and mental health services regardless of disability or socioeconomic status.
The students raised the money through the 11th Annual Charity Ball.
“In this era, Wake County is a resource-rich community, but we also have an incredible number of people who are in need,” said Nell Barnes, executive director of Learning Together. “It’s so encouraging to see young people with this sense of philanthropy, this sense of understanding and investing in their community.
“We saw the results,” Barnes said. “It’s humbling and I’m astounded. This was going to be a tough year for us.”
Instead, it was the largest single event in Barnes’ 30 years at Learning Together.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Lyric Lin, Enloe’s student council vice president of publicity. “My freshman year, we raised $50,000 and we thought that was huge. And, in my senior year, to raise $118,000, it doesn’t seem real.
“But it’s really cool to see how Charity Ball has evolved over the years,” Lin said. “I’m excited to see how it’s going to change even after I graduate – and I’ll be there! It’s not just a high school event. It’s truly a community event.”
Willingness to give
When #GivingTuesday came on Dec. 1, Caitlin Clinard, founder and president of Angel Oak Creative, which specializes in nonprofit marketing, expected generosity to reign.
North Carolina has more than 10,500 nonprofit organizations. Nearly 3,000 are in the Triangle and 1,370 are in Wake County. Only generous communities can support that many nonprofits, Clinard said.
“We have a community that absolutely responds when there’s a need and supports the philanthropic efforts of the nonprofit sector,” she said. “It’s a place where nonprofits are needed to survive and the community consistently steps up.”
And it’s not just our money we trust to nonprofits, she said. We volunteer our time, too.
“It’s a testament: We all want to be a part of something meaningful and impactful, understand the critical impact nonprofits can have, and are willing to help,” Clinard said. “But giving doesn’t just happen one time a year. This community has opportunities to support year round.”
No place like home
Throughout the year, Passage Home executive director Jeanne Tedrow relies on the community to help her support children and families dealing with unemployment, addiction, homelessness and other generational cycles of poverty.
In July, Passage Home partnered with the J.D. Lewis Multi-Purpose Center and its nonprofit education and community service arm, The B.A.G.S. Foundation, in a Building a Stronger Raleigh Together campaign to break the cycle of poverty in Southeast Raleigh.
They, too, met their goal in three events to raise $250,000 to expand services.
In August, Tedrow also spearheaded a campaign to raise money to help Passage Home mentee Christopher Pierce travel to Provence of Marseille, France, to study at Aix-Marseille University as a student in N.C. State University’s dual-degree master’s of global innovation management program.
The community responded with $1,000 in donations.
“We pull together for the benefit of our community,” Tedrow said. “Big world and global situations sort of drive home what can we do to make our world better, right here at home – what we’re doing close to home, how we help our neighbor and how we support one another.
“That’s how we build a stronger community. That’s how we build a stronger Raleigh,” Tedrow said. “We remember we’re all in it together.”