Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer camp haven for HIV+ teens

Overnight summer camps are a rite of passage. They give teens a chance to be away from their family for more than a one-night sleepover. They get to experience things such as canoeing, hiking and making s'mores.

Teens living with HIV disease rarely experience residential summer camp, but the Safe Haven Project is changing that for Charlotte area youth. The camp is Aug. 9-16 at Lutheridge Camp Grounds & Conference Center in Arden. In its second year, the camp has doubled with 40 teens, most of who are from here.

Teenagers have incredible challenges and ones with living with HIV have an even harder time, said Jermaine Nakia Lee, N.C. camp director.

These teens can’t say their stomach hurts because of medication. Their teachers and classmates don’t understand why they have to keep leaving to use the bathroom or why they have visible rashes.

"This camp gives them solace," he said.

Safe Haven started in Martha’s Vineyard, and opened an N.C. location last year. It’s for teens, ages 13- 18, who are infected or whose parents are infected with HIV.

At the camp, teens do the typical stuff. Lee has a background in performing arts, and he incorporates that into the activities at the N.C. location. Campers will participate in a talent show, and they will participate in a body image project. They will have a professional photo shoot with a photographer and stylist so they can see their beauty, Lee said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boys & Girls Clubs gets $110,000

Charlotte's charitable heart shined brightly this week.

On Tuesday, I ran a story wrote about H. Keith Brunnemer Jr., who donated $75,000 to the Mental Health Association.

And I wrote about the anonymous donor who left $650 in the book drop at South County Regional library to buy children's books.

Well, the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs has big news as well. An anonymous donor quietly turned a matching $100,000 grant into a full-fledged gift this week.

Reporter Mark Price wrote about the $100,000 challenge grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs in his Saturday story about the organization's shortfall. The Boys & Girls Club lost $310,000 in United Way money. A donor gave the organization a challenge grant to encourage the community to chip in the remaining $210,000.

After reading Price's story, the donor decided to give the Boys & Girl's Clubs the money outright.

It was an incredible gift, but the organization still needs $210,000 to prevent closing two clubs and displacing hundreds of school-age kids. This week, the Boys & Girls Clubs started its official campaign to raise the remainder of the money by Sept. 10. Today, they received a $10,000 donation.

Marty Clary, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs, has reason to feel hopeful. In three days the organization received a third of the money it needs.

"We’re going to make it," he said. "We’ve got to. We’ve got over 400 kids. They’re counting on us."

The week's examples of giving offers hope to the organizations that received the money as well as those who are still hoping someone with a fat wallet and big heart will help them.

"The real value was not the amount, but the example that you don't have to solve the whole problem," said Beverly Howard, executive director of Loaves and Fishes. "You can have many pieces to solve the problem."

Social media crash course for non-profits

If you have a non-profit and you’re clueless about using social media tools then NPower’s upcoming summit is for you.

NPower is a national organization that helps charities and non-profits better use technology to achieve their goals, raise awareness and generate donations. On August 12, NPower’s Charlotte affiliate will host Strike Up an Online Conversation. The two-hour workshop will discuss how social networking can improve visibility and communication with the public.

"These are tools we believe can help organizations in a very economical way to reach out and find new volunteers, new donors and to build awareness," said Chris Meade, executive director of NPower for the Charlotte region.

The workshop is part of NPower’s Project Ignite campaign, which is a three-year program that specializes in providing information technology services to non-profit organizations. The Project consists of forums, community group collaborations and financial assistance to help groups enhance their IT structure.

NPower has already helped more than 60 organizations in the area, including private school PTAs, the Light Factory and Duke Endowment, Meade said. Project Ignite’s objective is to help non-profits use more current Web-based technology and become technological leaders.

Typically, non-profits are the last to embrace current technology, he said.
Project Ignite hopes to change that.

Strike Up an Online Conversation, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Aug. 12. Microsoft Campus, 8055 Microsoft Way, Charlotte.
To register for the workshop or get information about receiving services from NPower go to:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crop Hunger Walk needs $14,000

With barely two months to go, organizers of the annual Crop Hunger Walk need an additional $14,000 to host the popular fundraiser.

This year's Crop Walk is Oct. 4 and begins near Memorial Stadium. Organizers expect about 6,000 participants. Last year, it drew more than 5,000 for the 90-minute walk.
In 30 years, the event has raised nearly $6 million, the most nationally. Nearly $1.5 million went to local charities.

The event's success is heartening, but it takes money to pay for the personnel, including police officers, and other logistics that make Crop Walk possible. Organizers rely on corporate donors to cover the $25,000 cost of hosting Crop Walk. So far, the organization has raised $11,000, said Anne Shoaf, interim Crop Walk chair. The suggested minimum corporate donation is $1,000.

During a sponsor appreciation luncheon on Wednesday, Shoaf, city council member Nancy Carter and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent Peter Gorman, Crop Walk co-chair, emphasized the community needs.

Locally Crop Walk benefits Loaves & Fishes, Second Harvest Food Bank and Crisis Assistance Ministry. Loaves & Fishes served 84,000 people last year. This year, it may help 100,000. It has 18 pantries, two of which opened in the last 13 months. The agency may open another one this year. Last year, the group raised $227,361, and it hopes to raise $250,000 this year.

Crisis Assistance Ministry, which helps with rent and utilities, had a record 299 people in line one morning last week.

Second Harvest Food Bank provides meals for clients of more than 200 local non-profits.

The money raised during Crop Walk will help these agencies and others around the world. Families, friends, schools and other pockets of people will form teams to unite for the walk on Oct. 4. That's great, but the walk also needs more local businesses and corporations to chip in as well.

Plus, big money donors get their company name and possibly logo on the coveted Crop Walk T-shirt.

We all love T-shirts.

Ronald McDonald House needs friends

The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte wants to be your friend – on Facebook and Twitter.

The non-profit is ramping up its social media campaign to educate volunteers and donors, and raise more money. The organization is trying to recruit 1,000 fans and followers by December 31. Signing up 1,000 people on Facebook allows the organization to get the web address

The Charlotte location is scheduled to open in 2010 on East Morehead Street. Groundbreaking is scheduled to begin in the next three months. The Charlotte location will serve families of children being treated at Carolinas Medical Center's Levine Children's Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare's Hemby Children's Hospital. It will have about 30 bedrooms, a family kitchen, great room, learning center, playground and porch.

Ari Harris, community outreach director for RMH of Charlotte, said Facebook and Twitter make it easier to tell volunteers and donors about the house's progress and upcoming activities.

"This way we are able to very quickly and very effectively keep up with how the house is going," she said.

They currently have 198 Facebook friends and 16 Twitter followers. The Facebook page features photos from the organization's recent fundraiser, a tennis tournament at Blakeney Racquet Club.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Feel good about eating

Jolina's, Zen and Tavern on Park are among the 11 local restaurants partnering with Center City YMCA branches during next week's Eat Well – Do Good. Starting Monday, specific restaurants will donate 25 to 50 percent of money from that day's sales to YMCA Community Outreach. The event ends August 8. Click here for schedule.

24 Hours of Booty expanding to Atlanta

The popular fundraiser 24 Hours of Booty is nearing the $1 million mark this year, and it's expanding to Atlanta.

Last weekend's event at the Booty Loop in Myers Park, raised more than $875,000 to fight cancer.

"We had a fantastic event this year and are thrilled about these preliminary numbers. We are closing in at breaking the $1 million mark as donations continue to come in for both the Charlotte and Columbia [Md.] events," said Basil Lyberg, executive director of 24 Hours of Booty, in a press statement.

The Charlotte event drew 1,200 riders from 24 states July 24-25. Celebrity carpenter Brandon Russell of TLC's "Trading Spaces" and Sir Purr of the Carolina Panthers were the official event starters.

Along with holding the event in my hometown of Columbia, MD, Sept. 26-27, the organization plans to expand to Atlanta next year. Atlanta takes the popular fundraiser to a city rich with cultural and nightlife options. Plus, it's home to so many celebrities.

It's going to be crazy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Donor gives $75,000 to Mental Health Association

A retired businessman donated $75,000 to the Mental Health Association – the largest donation the group has ever received from an individual -- after reading a recent Charlotte Mission Possible article in the Observer.

H. Keith Brunnemer Jr. donated the money on Monday after meeting with MHA executive director Ellis Fields. The organization's United Way funds were cut by $115,319.

Brunnemer's donation also was the one of the largest to any organization as a result of the Mission Possible collaboration.

Before handing over the check, he talked about his own battles with anxiety disorder and his desire to do more for the community than simply serve on boards.

"I have a spot in my heart for the field," he said. "I decided at my age it was time to start giving something back. This article hit me at a time where I thought now is the time to start."

The donation enables the Mental Health Association to reevaluate its budget, and hopefully reinstate some employees to full-time hours, Fields said. The organization promotes mental wellness, and especially focuses on suicide prevention.

Library thanks anonymous donor

Emptying the book drop at the library usually yields books and other materials. But the staff at the South County Regional library recently found a treat.

They discovered $650 cash with a note that read "Please use this money to buy books for children."

The library found the money in March, but the staff has been too slammed handling the ramifications from the $3.6 million budget cut to say thanks.

"It was a remarkable gift given in the true spirit of giving," said PLCMC director of development Dick Pahle.

If you are interested in donating to the library, checks can be mailed to Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, 310 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, N.C. 28202. Contributions are also accepted on the library's Web site under the "About Us" tab.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Agency, hit by cuts, works to prevent suicides

Call it a difficult sign of the times, a glimpse at how non-profits are dealing with budget cuts.

After its United Way funds were cut by $115,319, or 40 percent, the Mental Health Association of Central Carolinas was forced -- as many non-profits facing steep funding cuts have -- to scale back on services.

The 76-year-old agency has cut full-time staffers from 40 to 32 hours a week. It canceled the cleaning company, and now staffers clean the office. In recent years, it has focused on five priorities: Children's mental health, suicide and violence prevention, housing for adults with severe and persistent mental illness, and the mental health of returning military veterans and their families, and immigrants.

All noble missions, but because of cuts, the agency is focusing primarily on providing suicide prevention training after an alarming spike recently in attempts or threats -- the impact in large part of job and home loss, and frets over paying bills.

Ellis Fields, the association's executive director, and Andrea Towner, its development director, say the struggling economy is creating the level of stress and depression they and others have rarely seen before.

The numbers provide proof:

The first 18 days of last April, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police responded to 81 suicide attempts or threats, a 55 percent increase over the same period last year. Last year, a risk behavior study of CMS middle and high schoolers showed that high school students admitted to attempting suicide at nearly twice the rate of high school students nationally.

The World Health Organization is warning that suicide rates will increase as the economy stagnates or worsens.

"All that made us step up our efforts to prevent suicides," Towner said. "We got all our staff trained in suicide prevention and sent them out to train groups to recognize the warning signs. We're certainly concerned that the current economy is increasing stress and depression, and will continue to increase attempts and completions."

In June, at the request of Mecklenburg County, the agency began training county employees across all departments in suicide prevention. They got to 100 employees. They plan to do more training in August.

"It's an under-reported problem and it's not going away," Towner said. "We want to bring it to the forefront so that more people can be saved."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Union County girl fights for her "Papa"

Caelyn Murphy's "Papa," her grandfather Dave Haney, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer two years ago when Caelyn was 5.

It scared a girl so young -- the C-word scares anyone at any age.

But Caelyn didn't hide behind her fear that Papa would die. She became his "spirit-lifter" as he underwent Chemo and radiation treatments. She sent him T shirts of big hand-drawn hearts with this message: "I love you, Papa." Last year, she set up a lemonade stand outside her home in Indian Trial to raise money for cancer research.

On Saturday, she's hosting another stand, and Aug. 7, she and her family and friends from Indian Trail will be in Papa's hometown of Davenport Center in upstate New York to walk in that area's Relay For Life, the nationwide fundraiser to fight cancer.

"There's a lot of reasons I do this," Caelyn, 7, said. "He's part of my family -- and he loves me."

After treatments and surgery to remove his left lung, Haney's doctors have proclaimed him in remission. Caelyn likes the R-word.

"It told her that her Papa may survive this," said her mother, Heather Murphy, Haney's daughter. "She's kept everyone's spirits up. She's always talking about doing stuff for Papa.

"She constantly talks about killing cancer."
Their family has a bad history of cancer victims. Papa's father died of cancer, so did a son, Heather's brother.

So the fight is personal for the 2nd grader at Sardis Elementary in Union County.

That is why Charlotte-born Caelyn, Heather, Caelyn's grandmother Rececca Haney, and friends plan to walk from 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7 into the next day to 7 a.m.

Papa, too, plans to walk as long as his energy holds out on one lung.

"His cancer scares me and makes me want to fight for him," Caelyn said. "I want him to survive. So I fight."

So if you're out around Indian Trail on Saturday (from 9 a.m. until whenever) turn into the Arbor Glen neighborhood off Unionville-Indian Trail Road and buy a cup of lemonade from Caelyn.

You might let the girl know her Papa's proud of her.

Town fights cancer with "Chair for Life"

Mocksville in Davie County is one of those small N.C. towns where everyone knows each other -- and their family lineage too -- and tend to stick up for one another.

So it is that many in town (20 northeast of Statesville) seem to know a lot of people who have cancer or are touched by the dreaded disease. And that is why the town's annual Relay for Life, the nation's largest fund-raising event to fight cancer, is more like a family affair than a town event.

"Everyone in the county comes together to work for that event," said Will Marklin, owner of Daniel Furniture Co. with his father Johnny. "It's very moving, a very big bonding event for the community."

Which started a fun and creative fund-raising effort at a time when creative measures are needed.

Mocksville's upcoming Relay is set for a week from Friday, July 31. It will be all the more special with the silent auctioning of 20 slatted-seat-and-back chairs turned into artistic expressions by dozens of local residents -- proceeds going to Relay for Life.

The idea was Marklin's. His store buys wooden chairs from Troutman Chair Co. in the town of Troutman. Last year, Troutman Chair owner Champ Land showed the Marklins a photo of one of his slatted chairs painted red and blue with white stars for a July 4 celebration.
That got idea waves churning in Will Marklin's brain: We could have a chair-painting contest and give the money to Relay for Life.

So they bought unfinished chairs from Land for under wholesale and sold them to anyone who wanted to enter the contest for $25 (which the Marklins donated to Relay). They got the Davie County Arts Council involved and locals stepped up and created 18 expressions of art that were auctioned off and raised $986 for Relay.

For the upcoming Relay, they've done the same thing. This time, individuals or teams painted 22 chairs (see above photo). One chair tells the history of Davie County. One's an Hawaiian luau. On another, a mother has decoupaged the Boy Scout merit badges earned by her soon-to-be Eagle Scout son. Still another has the head of a lion painted on the slats. A cancer group painted one chair brown with a pink ribbon.

They call the contest "Chair for Life" and put it up to a "people's choice" vote, displaying all the chairs at the Brock Performing Arts Center, a converted high school. More than 300 voted for the top three.

Those who entered the contest could keep their chair, or donate it for the silent auction. All but two will be auctioned the night of Mocksville's Relay for Life.

"The Relay is a beautiful thing," said Sidniee Suggs, the arts council's executive director. "These chairs are so important to the event; they show the compassion that so many people have for the cause. It was quite astonishing to see how they turned out."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rita's owner wants to help Lemonade Brigade

Those lemonade stands run by children to help other children have grabbed Kristy Anderson's attention -- and heart.

She's a Charlotte real estate agent, but opened Rita's, an Italian ice store on Ardrey Kell Road in southeast Charlotte, on May 8. Her franchise is one of more than 600 Rita's that in June raised nearly $450,000 for Alex's Lemonade Stand, the national foundation that fights childhood cancer.

So while her store was collecting $1,100 of its own, Anderson was reading about Charlotte region children setting up their own stands to raise money for their favorite charities.

"What a great idea it is for kids to be so generous and to learn to give back at such an early age," she said. "It just struck our hearts these little kids are already thinking about charitable work."

So Anderson is making this offer to the proprietors of future lemonade stands: She'll pack up a cooler of Rita's "Alex's Lemonade" Italian ice with scoops and cups and donate it to the cause. If the children running the stand want to donate their proceeds to the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, so much the better. If they want their money to go to another charity, that's fine too.

"We just spent a month helping raise money for a wonderful cause," she said. "We thought why limit it to a month out of the year?"

So lemonade stand operators, here's what you do: Call Anderson at Rita's at 704-542-2258. She'll give you directions to the store and load you up with Italian ice to sell at your next lemonade stand.

"$50 for 50th" builds better lives in Mexico

Cathy Kendrick wasn't going to let children have all the fun. Last November, she was looking for a meaningful way to celebrate a milestone -- her 50th birthday.

She came up with "$50 for 50th," borrowing an idea from children who ask their friends to donate to a charity in lieu of bringing gifts.

So she and husband Tim invited a bunch of friends, cleaned up the house, hired a caterer and bartender, and asked their guests to donate $50 that would go to building a small, cinderblock house in Reynosa, Mexico.

Through their church, Charlotte's Covenant Presbyterian, the Kendricks and their sons have gone to Reynosa several times on mission work.

"It is one of our passions," Cathy Kendrick said this week. "We thought it would be a good theme, rather than have a big drunk. It just felt better -- it doesn't feel like we're living in a time now to be ostentatious just to be showy. That would have seemed so wasteful just because I was turning 50."

About 100 guests showed up for the party. They all ate good food, drank and danced the night away. And in the end, Cathy raised about $3,800 toward a house that cost $5,500 to build.

During the party, the Kendricks ran a slide show of photos of their work in Reynosa on three TVs. "It was nice to have that going as a reminder of what our purpose was," she said.

Their guests asked questions about Reynosa. Some wondered why they went to Mexico to play out their passion, rather than working with domestic programs such as Habitat for Humanity.

"You get more bang for your buck in Mexico," Cathy said. "And frankly, no matter where you on the immigration issue, if you have a problem with Mexicans coming across the border, then let's help them make their lives better down there."

In February, she saw the money at work -- it was funneled through Covenant Presbyterian -- when she went on another mission trip to Reynosa to build a house (see the above photo; Cathy's the one in the back wearing a yellow hat).

Since her party, she's heard from friends who want to have similar parties to raise money for their favorite charities. She's urging others to do the same.

"It is definitely a challenge to do something meaningful for milestone birthdays," Kendrick said. "Raising money to help a family certainly made mine a meaningful day to remember.

"I think people should think hard about being more intentional about what they're doing socially."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lemonade Brigade continues to roll on

Anthony Adams is becoming a star on the Lemonade Brigade circuit. You've read about him in this space. Cancer survivor at just 7, raising money for his favorite charity, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Friday, he took his lemonade stand to Black Lion on Park Road and raised $246. That night, he took it to Friday Night Live in Belmont and hauled in another $349.81. Totaled up, he's raised nearly $1,000 -- $939.08 to be exact -- with four stands.

And The Cliff doesn't like to toot its own horn, but Anthony's mother reports that many of his customers had read his story here and stopped by to shake his hand and buy a cup of lemonade.

"Several cancer patients and survivors came by to talk to Anthony, and share stories," Christie Adams said. "We had a couple of people drive past and hand donations out the window, expressing gratitude for Anthony's story and well wishes for his continued health."

Reporters from two TV stations dropped by and aired stories on him.

Anthony had the help of three friends Friday -- Christian, Payton and Logan Dooley. So in addition to raising much-needed money for his charity, he's building a "generation of care-givers," too, Christie Adams said.
Anthony is no where near done and he hopes other children continue to raise money for charities through their stands. Watch The Cliff for the next venues for Anthony's Lemonade Stand.
Anthony's is not the only successful stand last weekend. The kids in the Beverly Woods East (three are pictured above) assembled a drive-thru Lemonade stand and raised $334.25 for A Child's Place. They'll be presenting their donation Thursday.

Jen Canter, mother of drive-thru helpers Sophie and Jakob, said this morning about a dozen kids helped with the stand, several standing on Champaign Street, the main neighborhood entrance, and lured drivers to the stand on Warewhip Lane.

Others, including Jakob, rode the neighborhood drumming up more business.

They sold five gallons of lemonade, and a bunch of brownies, cookies, muffins and pound cake. They're taking leftovers to the Urban Ministry Center on Tuesday.

"I think they all learned that though they're not adults, they're kids, they can still do their part to make a difference and have some fun," Canter said. "They're going to learn the most when they give the money to A Child's Place."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bouncing and helping feed hungry kids

OK parents, listen up. If you have young children, here's how this good cause works: Thursday, take your kids to BounceU -- Charlotte's hot partay spot for the little and big -- with two or more cans of non-perishable food and a buck.

Your children will get to bounce around for an hour in one of BounceU's bounce houses, and the cans of food they bring will go to Second Harvest Food Bank. They'll get fed free pizza and chicken wings by Hungry Howie's, and their faces will get painted up by FunTATstic Body Art. Parents can bounce around, too.

You've got to make reservations (call 704-921-8771). As of noon today, Thursday's slots were filling up fast, so BounceU owner Scott Hamilton has extended the same deal to Friday, minus the pizza and face painting. He's also built in time to bounce and raise food on Saturday and Sunday, except you have to pay a little more, 5 bucks, for each child. BounceU is at 10624 Metromont Pkwy.

Hamilton calls the cause "Kids Feeding Kids." He's owned the 9,000-square-foot business for a year and held other benefits there for children with special needs, church organizations, scout groups.

"One of the rewarding sides of owning your business is being able to reach out and give back," Hamilton said. "It's a no-brainer. Hopefully we'll get new people coming in and they'll come back. And hopefully kids coming in to bounce will learn a lesson, too: They're having fun, but giving something back to help other kids."

Here's the schedule for an hour of bouncing and a good cause:

Thursday: 9 to 11 a.m.; 1 to 6 p.m.. Friday: 9 to 11 a.m.; 1 to 6 p.m. Teen night: 8 to 11 p.m., teenagers can get in on Kids Feeding Kids, with two cans of food and $5. Saturday: 9 to 11 a.m.; 1 to 11 p.m.. And Sunday: 9 to 11 a.m.; 1 to 6 p.m.

But remember: You've got to make reservations (704-921-8771).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guys With Ties have fun for good causes

They are guys who not only wear ties to work, but feel a tie to Charlotte and want to give back.

So they call themselves Guys With Ties, 10 young professionals (they have on their Halloween ties in photo above) who put together two or three events a year to raise money for lesser-known charities.

And they have a good time doing it.

The Tie's next event is Aug. 1, their third annual "Concert for a Cause" (they're obviously good at coming up with hip names) at the uptown Alley Cat, 314 N. College St. The band Pushh from Charlotte is the opener at 8 p.m., followed by the headliner: The Sometime Favorites from Charlottesville, Va.

The cover's $10, and every dime is going to Classroom Central, the non-profit that donates supplies to CMS teachers in schools where a high percentage of students get free or reduced lunches.

"Charlotte's been good to us, and we feel a need to give back to the community in whatever way possible," said Tie member Jim Heckman, a technical consultant for a printing company. "We put a lot of work into the events, but we have fun with it."
Among the Ties are financial advisors and planners, lawyers and salesmen. Their group grew out of a Guys With Ties movement in Florida, mostly Florida State University graduates. One was Matt Timmerman, a Charlotte native who returned home and felt a need to continue what had been started in Orlando and then Jacksonville.
As it turns out, several of his Charlotte friends were searching for ways to help non-profits that fly under the radar.
Timmerman told them what they'd done in Florida and the idea took off here.
"We didn't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw around, but what we had to offer were connections in Charlotte's young professionals community," said Jordan Raniszeski, a Wachovia financial advisor and one of the original Charlotte Ties. "We're plugged in, and we decided to use those connections to try to do some good."
They've done quite a bit of good. They've put on a Halloween costume party the last four years, and raised $10,000 to $15,000 each party for a charity. Their goal for the Aug. 1 Concert for a Cause is $5,000 -- but they hope to raise more.
Since that kind of money goes to a smaller charity, it has a huge impact.

"It is tremendously gratifying to see what that kind of money can do for smaller charities," Raniszeski said. "It motivates you to keep going."

Good causes good for business

In a previous post, The Cliff brought you the story of bar owners Tommy Timmins and Kevin Devin, who are devoting eight Fridays in July and August at their uptown bar Madison's to raising money for eight different uptown charities.

As the post said, it was Timmins' late father, George, himself a bar owner in Queens, N.Y., who taught his son that reaching out to the community is good for business.

Professional marketers call that "cause marketing." The idea is that businesses linking to charities resonates with customers, who make a conscious decision to support your do-gooding business. So the community gets served by the business and, consequently, the business grows customer loyalty.

That is the topic of a dinner/panel discussion Wednesday hosted by the Charlotte Chapter of the American Marketing Association at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. Five local leaders in cause marketing will share how the concept can become a part of a company's strategy of doing business.

There's a charge for the event: $20 for CAMA members, $35 for non-members, $28 for charity leaders. It starts at 5:30 p.m.

"Our goal is to provide business leaders with the education, resources and success stories to show that doing well by doing good can have a major impact on a company's top line and our community's bottom line," said CAMA President Mark Little.

The group will keep the "cause marketing" conversation going at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille the following Wednesday, July 22, at a discussion -- this one's free -- between marketing professionals and business and non-profit leaders. That event will run from 11 a.m. to noon.

"The concept is a proven strategy," said Sheila Neisler, a Charlotte marketing professional and CAMA member. "We've got so many wonderful business people engaged in not-for-profits. They want to give ... And one of the many benefits is that getting involved with a charity as a company builds morale within the business.

"That is critical for any business, especially in this economy."

For more information about both CAMA events, click here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Volunteers: Be consistent and long-term

Non-profits rely on volunteers. Without them, Little Brothers would have no Big Brothers. Food pantries would have no one to take in and distribute the food. In other words, most charities would find it difficult to serve without the unpaid help.

Beverly Howard knows that. She's executive director of Charlotte's 18-pantry Loaves and Fishes, with a paid staff that is equivalent to six fulltime positions. The rest of the agency's work is done by 600 volunteers.

So she needs volunteers. But hear this: She doesn't need one-timers -- those who show up for a few hours one day never to return.

At a recent meeting, that was the sentiment of the heads of several non-profits.

"We need people who are willing to make a commitment and volunteer on a regular basis," Howard said. "There are some places where we can plug one-timers into -- such as food drives -- but most of our needs are permanent needs."

Volunteers staff all the agency's food pantries. They work the phones, steering donors to the appropriate pantry. They are given one-on-one training. If they show up just once, all that training is wasted.

The average volunteer, she said, works two days a month, for two or three hours.

"They work a morning or afternoon, every other week," Howard said. "We're happy to get people, we rely on volunteers, but they need to be of continuing help."

Brett Loftis, head of Council for Children's Rights, would rather have a volunteer who worked an hour or two each week, than one who worked eight hours one and then was a no-show.

"We have over 200 advocates who go through an eight-hour training and a background check and must commit to being with a child for a year," Loftis said. "We wouldn't want a mentor or advocate to come in for two meetings with a child and then never show up for the kid again.

"That's not fair to the child."

If you're thinking about volunteering, the non-profit chiefs have this advice:

Find your passion. If it's fighting hunger, find a food pantry that is equipped to get food to the hungry. Don't go off and start another food pantry.

If it's children, sign up as a mentor with a group that can make the connection.

"Find an agency that's meaningful to you," said Maria Hanlin, head of Mecklenburg Ministries. "You may end up doing something that you're not as passionate about, but you might find as much gratification by knowing you're making a difference."

Boy's cause becoming family/friends affair

The Cliff just can't get enough of Anthony Adams. Another weekend, another lemonade stand and another lift for the fight against cancer.

Anthony's the 7-year-old cancer survivor who has taken his stand on the road and raised hundreds of dollars for his favorite charity, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Saturday he and his grandmother, Phyllis Adams, set up the stand at the Belmont General Store in downtown Belmont. They took in $156.27, to bring his total for two efforts to $343.27, reports his mother Christie Adams.

They were joined by Anthony's friend, Molly Stewart.

"The lemonade stand is quickly becoming a full family and friends affair -- Anthony has friends from school lined up to help at the next few stands," Christie said. "What better way to build awareness, empathy and compassion."

Anthony, she said, is amazed at the generosity of people, plunking down hard-earned money for a cup of his lemonade and to join the fight against cancer. He's amazed, too, that "most people either knew someone who had cancer or had been a patient themselves," his mother said.

"Anthony thinks that it's not fair for kids to get cancer, for anyone to get cancer and have to lose precious hours, days, weeks being hooked up to an IV with Chemo being pumped into their body. He is not emotionally scarred from his experiences, but he is far more mature than the average 7-year-old should be. I realize he will change the world in his own way, in his own time. He is my hero."

His cause really has become a family affair. Anthony's father, Franklin, is a photographer and manager of Biggs Camera on Kings Drive. Franklin appealed to the photography community to volunteer time and equipment for "Smile for Life," a fundraiser July 25 and Aug. 22 in Charlotte and Belmont for LLS. To get more information on the event click here.

Friday, Anthony will do a double-header with his lemonade stand: He'll be at the Black Lion on Park Road in Charlotte from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then he pack it up and take it to the Friday Night Live festival in Belmont.

Stop by and see him -- and prepare to be inspired.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Student hates to see anyone go hungry

Aubrey McGrath learned all about service watching his white aunt raise six African American siblings in smalltown Mississippi.

The children’s parents are in prison and were taken in by their grandmother, who worked for Aubrey’s great-grandfather. When their grandmother died, Aubrey’s great-grandfather cared for them. When he died, Aunt Beth took over.

"My family has donated clothes to them, and helped in other ways," said Aubrey, 16, a rising junior at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte. "The two children who are still with my aunt are sweet kids. They deserve better than what they’ve gotten."

So do others here in Charlotte, Aubrey says.

In February, as the economic malaise deepened, he with help from his mother, Merrie, fanned his Dilworth neighborhood with flyers inviting neighbors to put food on their porch and he’d pick it up to help feed the hungry. Six months later, he still collects non-perishables and Fridays takes it to a food pantry run by Catholic Social Services.

About 75 families are signed up. Sundays, he sends out a mass emailing reminding those families that he’s still in business and willing to pick up the food. On average, 10 houses a week email back that they’ll leave out a few bags.

Typically by Thursday, his family’s dining room table is stacked high with cans of food, jars of peanut butter and cereal.

It started as a service project for school, but it’s become a passion for Aubrey. He’s said he’s not doing this for college applications.

He understands his lot in life is better than many.

"I don’t like to see people unhappy with their situation," he said. "I don’t like to see people go hungry. Everyone’s having a hard time now. I sincerely want to help.

"This is a way for the whole neighborhood to pitch in together to make times a littler easier for those in need."

Roberts wants politicians on "same field"

Spoke to Jennifer Roberts before she flew to New York today about her vision for a meeting of the political minds to craft a battle plan for the plight of Mecklenburg's human service non-profits.

In a earlier installment, The Cliff reported that several charity chiefs are heartened by a seeming rise in political will to deal with slashed funding for non-profits trying to deliver services at a time when needs are growing and funds are falling.

Roberts, Mecklenburg County Commission chairman, was glad to hear that. She had called a meeting earlier this week to begin the discussion, inviting her fellow commissioners, city council and school board members and the mayors of Mecklenburg's municipalities.

But vacations and other conflicts prevented many representatives from attending. So Roberts called for a follow-up and she's inviting the same politicians.

She doesn't yet know when.

"We're working with the clerks of the school board and city council -- and the mayors -- to try to figure out the best time to get the most participation," Roberts said. "It's really a desire to get everybody to feel like they're a part of the solution and that we all recognize how interconnected we are.

"We all need to move forward on this problem together."

She talked about exploring ways for government to take up some of the slack created by shortfalls, either by collaborating, or using available resources to deliver services that are jeopardized by funding cuts.

She had few specifics -- but that is what "the summit" is for.

Roberts said the battle needs to be comprehensive and strategic, not fragmented by dueling governments.

"I want everyone to own this, to feel like this is our plan for our community -- not communities," she said. "I want everyone on the same field, and as long as we all agree what ballfield we're playing on, then you can get somewhere."

She said a plan needs to be in place by the next budget season.

"I'd love to have something announced in January, but we don't want to move so quick we run over people, or we forget people," she said. "I think we have the opportunity to move fast.

"People (politicians) are lining up a lot faster than they usually do around this crisis."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fundraising part of bar owner's lore

George Timmins bought the beachside Sugar Bowl bar in the Breezy Point section of Queens, N.Y., the year (1976) his son Tommy was born.

It was only natural that Tommy grew up in the bar, the father showing him the ropes. One of the important lessons that George taught Tommy and his brother (who now runs the Sugar Bowl) was that giving back to the community is good for business.

George constantly built fundraisers, 5K runs, golf tournaments and raffles to raise money for families down on their luck, firefighters, police officers, or other neighborhood groups that served Rockaway Beach.

"It was almost every week," Tommy said of his late father. "Whenever there were troubled times, like after 9/11, people would gravitate to the bar where there was a sense of community, and out of that would come ideas. Usually ideas that raised a lot of money."

So when Tommy and his business partner, Kevin Devin, opened Madison's bar and lounge and Connolly's on 5th next door at 115 E. 5th St. in uptown Charlotte, the fundraising part of bar life followed them.

They've helped raise thousands for people in need: For a woman with cerebral palsy who needed a service dog. For the family of a friend dying of cancer.

Now uptown charities, like non-profits everywhere in Mecklenburg, have seen their funding slashed and are having to dispense human services with far less. Timmins and Devin are reaching out again.

Starting Friday, from 6-9 p.m., and continuing for the next seven Fridays, Madison's is hosting Fundraising Fridays. It'll work like this: Each donor will pay a $10 cover fee, and that money -- every dime -- will go to a different uptown non-profit each week.

Timmins and Devin have locked in the first four, including Community Health Services, King's Kitchen and Boy Scouts of America. As a draw to donors, they'll serve up certain beers and wines at half-price.

They're keeping the beneficiaries in the neighborhood because that's how George Timmins did it.

"We are well aware of the budget crunching and the charities right here in uptown losing their funding," Tommy said. "They're our neighbors. We've watched it happen, especially with what the banks went through.

"Neighbors help neighbors."

Hope rising among non-profit chiefs

The heads of five non-profits that dispense human services in Charlotte met this morning with members of several news outlets to discuss budget shortfalls and what we in the media can do to help.

Some of the charity chiefs were giddy over a meeting Tuesday night where some of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's top leaders declared a need for a comprehensive battle plan to deliver human services at a time when the economy continues to struggle and help for charities continues to shrink.

The meeting was hastily called. As my colleague Eric Frazier reported:

"County leaders were prompted in part last week when Carol Hardison, head of Crisis Assistance Ministry, noted that Charlotte has drafted strategic plans for the arts and cultural programs, but not human services.

"Several commissioners attended that meeting, and say they want to explore the idea as a potential answer to the city's charity crisis.

"The local nonprofit sector is reeling from the recession, the banking crisis and a scandal-tinged United Way campaign that brought in $15 million less than the preceding year. The Arts and Science Council's campaign suffered a 37-percent plunge in donations.

"Human services charities supported by the United Way have seen their United Way money cut by 40 percent or more, even as more residents lose homes and jobs, and turn to charities for help."

Before the meeting, commission chairwoman Jennifer Roberts invited city council and school board members, as well as the mayors of the county's municipalities. Not all could attend, so Roberts said a follow-up meeting will take place soon -- with all parties invited once again -- to begin discussing how such a battle plan would be shaped and set deadlines.

Roberts said the plan needs to be completed by budget season next year so governments can plan.

Maria Hanlin, executive director of Mecklenburg Ministries, saw this as a sign of the political will rising to find solutions.

"When's the last time we've had county commissioners, city council members and school board members meet in the same room?" she asked. "It sure looks like we have the political will behind it. It's going to take political will, as well as the community's non-profits and corporate will to move a plan forward.

"But political will is essential."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grateful brother raises $1,800 for camp

Jake Aschenbrenner and his little sister Jenna are going back to Camp CARE later this month, as they have for the past three summers.

The camp is for children who had -- or have -- cancer. At 21 months, Jenna (at the left of the wagon) was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, cancer of the eye. She went through Chemotherapy and lost her right eye.

She recently turned 8.

Her cancer is her ticket into Camp CARE (Cancer Ain't Really the End), and since Jake is her brother, he gets to go too.

The camp was started in 1985 by health-care professionals from Carolinas Medical Center and Presbyterian Hospital. It is staffed by volunteers and funded by donations, providing more than 100 campers yearly with a normal camping experience.

"It is such a wonderful opportunity for not only the camper, but also the sibling who typically gets completely forgotten when a child gets cancer," said Jake's mother, Karen. "... When children go through cancer it is life-changing -- who they are changes. Jenna was in and out of the hospital getting scanned, poked with needles and being sedated for different procedures ... Camp CARE provides a place for these kids to go to camp."

Here's where 10-year-old Jake (pulling the wagon), a rising 5th grader at Providence Spring Elementary, became sort of a modern-day Tom Sawyer. After last summer's camp, he kept thinking about the 70-foot water slide and how all the fun at Camp CARE helped kids forget they were sick.

He wanted to give back. Spotting boxes of Camp CARE water bottles in the garage, he told his parents he was going to go door-to-door around his southeast Charlotte neighborhood and sell the bottles. He set a lofty goal: To raise $1,000.

He borrowed a red wagon from a neighbor, loaded up the bottles and off he and Jenna went. Along the way, friends asked him what he was doing. He told them: "OK, guys, you know my sister had cancer and she goes to this really cool camp. I want to give back so this camp can help other kids with cancer. So I'm selling these bottles. You wanna help?"

They did, and one by one they fell in line on bikes, on skateboards and scooters and on foot.

When they returned to Jake's home, they had raised more than $1,000. After Jake's and Jenna's relatives chipped in, Jake had raised $1,800 for Camp CARE. Most of the bottles were still in his wagon. Donors gave him money, but declined a bottle so Jake and his pals could sell them to someone else.
When he delivered the money, camp officials told him he'd raised more money than anyone.

Jake said he learned an important lesson:

"It puts you down to Earth," he said. "Sometimes you take things for granted, and then I start thinking about all the different kids who have cancer. So I try to be nice to everyone. I didn't want to just raise money, I wanted people to know about the camp, too, and the nice things it does for kids."

If you want to help out Jake, Jenna and Camp CARE, go here to make a donation online, or make out a check to Camp CARE and mail it to Camp CARE, P.O. Box 35072, Charlotte, N.C. 28235.
Mission Possible comes through: The Girl Scouts Hornets' Nest Council had received its first $100 in donations by 9 a.m. after the organization was spotlighted in the Observer's Mission Possible package today, and on a newscast of the Observer's news partner, WCNC-TV.

As Lemonade Brigade grows, so grows the money

The Lemonade Brigade has been out in force the past few days and their charities are a little richer.

Lauren Hurston, 9, and little sister Lindsey, 6, (shown in the photo) raised $25 at a July 4 lemonade stand at Vineyard's Point on Lake Norman. Their money will go to the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte.

Eleven-year-old Taylor Shaw of Clover, S.C., took a table and makings for lemonade to her dad's job (Tire Kingdom in Gastonia) and set up out front to raise money for "Alex's Lemonade Stand," an organization that helps fight childhood cancer.

Tire Kingdom makes donations to Alex's Lemonade Stand, and Taylor told her father (he's the manager) that they'd raise more money if she helped and sold lemonade outside.

"I've never seen her so excited," her mother, Dana, reported. At one point, Taylor called her mother and said: "Mom, people are selling!"

"You mean people are buying?" her mother asked.


They're still counting the loot.

Friday, cancer survivor Anthony Adams, 7, set up his lemonade stand in front of Biggs Camera shop on South Kings Drive and hauled in $187. He'll deliver the cash this week to his favorite charity, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

He hopes to take his stand on the road this weekend to a spot near you to spread the word for his Smile for Life fundraiser and to raise more money and awareness for LLS. To track Anthony's progress, please click here.

The Coss family has been reading about the brigade, and the Coss children -- Kevin, 9, and Lucas, 11, -- decided they, too, would erect a stand on their street (Giverny Drive, off Colony Road in the SouthPark area). With the help of four neighborhood friends (Kyle Wood, 10; Spencer Wood, 8; Julia Wood, 4; and Quinlan Darling, 11) they sold lemonade, Kool-aid and chocolate chip cookies for 25 cents a pop.

The crew raised $20.50, and three sets of parents matched the haul for a total of $82. They'll deliver the money this week to their chosen charity, Loaves & Fishes of Charlotte.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lemonade Brigade alert - and a programming note

Results just in from a lemonade stand late last month in Myers Park:

The Holderness sisters – Zoe (12), Emily (8) and Sue (6) (above with friends) raised $59.82 for the Council for Children’s Rights.

"The highlight for me," said mom, Sara, "was my daughters' surprise and joy when one
customer gave them a twenty dollar bill and told them to keep the change for the children.

Congrats on a great effort. To see a picture of the stand, go to The Cliff on

A programming note: I'm headed for some vacation and am leaving The Cliff in the very capable hands of Observer staffer David Perlmutt. Please send him lemonade updates - or any story you have about nonprofits.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shortfall may close Senior Center

Trena Palmer has been a social worker for 30 years, so she understands critical needs in a community. She understood, too, why the United Way sought to serve those needs first when it announced funding cuts last week.

But as executive director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Senior Centers, Palmer also knows the byproduct of that emphasis.

This morning, Palmer announced that Mecklenburg's four senior centers need to raise $100,000 in two months. If the center falls a little short of its goal, services to seniors - including educational classes, plus health and wellness programs - will have to be cut.

If the fundraising falls short of $66,000, the North Mecklenburg Senior Center in Cornelius would likely be closed.

That $66,000 figure also is the amount United Way cut from its support to the senior centers - a 30 percent drop in funding. Add in some reduced grant money, and the center is down $100,000, about 10 percent of its operating budget.

"It's going to be tough with these economic times," Palmer says. "We're going to dig in and do what we have to do."

Palmer says the senior centers are looking for big donors, but they also are counting on people to give $25 and $50. "A lot of donors think, 'Well, if I can't write a $1,000 check, it won't do any good,' " she says. "But if 1,000 people give us $50, we're halfway there."

The senior center already has frozen staff salaries and benefits, and some educational and exercise programs have already been trimmed. Such cost-cutting is happening at agencies across Mecklenburg - especially with programs that serve youngsters and seniors, many of which were among hardest hit by the United Way cuts.

"I completely understand why United Way did what it did," Palmer says. "I think most agencies do."

But, she says: "The needs are still out there."


To donate to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Senior Centers, write Save the Center at 2225 Tyvola Rd, Charlotte, NC, 28210 or give money on their secure web site:

Lemonade brigade is revving up

A new lemonade stand - and some fine results - to report:

Anthony Adams, 7, will be hosting a lemonade/baked yummies stand on Friday, July 3 at Biggs Camera, 803 S. Kings Dr. The stand will open at 11 a.m. and run until everything is gone.

Anthony is raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). He is a cancer survivor; two months before his third birthday, he was diagnosed with childhood leukemia. His family has since become active with the LLS and its Light the Night Walk. The lemonade stand will help raise money, raise awareness and build a healthy community.

Anthony will be taking the lemonade stand on the road all around Charlotte this summer. To learn more about Anthony and our families' adventure with cancer, please visit our Light The Night Team web site.

Don't forget another lemonade stand Friday - on Somerset Drive (parallel to Park Road and between Lilac Road and Princeton Avenue), where you'll find homemade strawberry lemonade Friday from 4-6 p.m.

Keep track of all upcoming lemonade stands over to your right.

Now, your results:

On Wednesday in the Montibello neighborhood, the Brown children - in the picture above, Andrew (9), Owen (6), Emily (11) and good friend, Hailey Valeriano (11) - sold chocolate chip cookies and lemonade and collected an impressive $38.50, which they will donate to A Child's Place.

They enjoyed their time so much that they're already planning a future stand.

Also Wednesday, 6-year-old Finn Rissanen, who gave Cliff readers some lemonade stand tips earlier this week, operated a stand in his front yard. Finn, with some additional publicity from our media partner, WCNC, raised $103.25. He'll be donating the money to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.

Congratulations to Finn, the Browns and Hailey.

Tell us about a lemonade stand or other fundraising effort you’re planning, and we’ll give parched readers a nudge your way by publicizing your stand’s location in the Observer and on

You also can just report your results and send us pictures (or, if you’re ambitious, a YouTube video link), and we’ll publish them, too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A camp for kids, by kids

Lunch at Camp Happy Days is at 11, followed by playdough time and, finally, parent pickup. It's been a full morning, but the preschool-age campers are going strong. The staff, well, not so much.

“It's really, really fun,” says Lucinda Bond, 10, who runs the camp. “But I'm really tired."

Says 7-year-old brother Reid: “You go back and forth, back and forth. It can really make you dizzy.”

Lucinda and Reid, along with 11-year-old brother Brett, are hosting Camp Happy Days each morning this week for six younger children in their Myers Park neighborhood. There have been crafts and songs and games for the campers, well worth the $50 fee per child – 10 percent of which the staff decided to give to charity. Then they learned a little more about giving.

The camp is Lucinda's idea. She wanted to do it one summer ago, but her mother worried that all the duties would fall to mom. Lucinda has since proved she can manage the responsibility: Each day of Camp Happy Days has a theme (Tuesday was Super Hero Dress Up Day) and a schedule of activities. Each child brings home a printed form that in forms parents which songs they sang that day, which books they read and “other things you should know.”

Lucinda's organizational skills are complemented nicely by Brett, whose
imaginative game-playing has delighted the boy-heavy clientele. Reid (pictured with Lucinda - in the hat - and camper Julia Clardy) is the dutiful helper, ready to pitch in wherever needed.

And mom, Melissa? She's the diaper changer. (Says Reid: “It was horrible yesterday because mom was changing the diapers in my room. I had a talk with her about that.”) Melissa is also camp advisor – “I tell them this is not school, it's fun.” She moderates any in-staff barking. She makes sure her workers understand larger concepts, such as having to use some of your income to pay for crafts and other supplies.

Mostly, mom watches her kids learn. The children decided early on that they would donate 10 percent to a charity, which fit the tithing lessons their parents were trying to teach. Then, last month, a cousin sent them an email about the Council for Children's Rights, a non-profit advocacy and legal services organization.

The Bonds visited the Charlotte agency with their father, talked to officials, heard about the children they serve. “I learned what they do is really important,” said Brett, who had a preschool friend with a disability. “I imagined that if I were in his situation, would I want someone helping me?”

They decided to give $100 of the $250 they cleared for the week, and their mother thinks that because that money is hard-earned, donating it might be even more rewarding. Says Lucinda: “My brothers – we were talking about the money we were going to get. I think even if it's only a dollar, it's OK. I think it's good to be giving it away.”

For now, however, there is work to do. Moms are arriving and kazoos are honking and playdough is strewn across the table, waiting to be picked up. “How'd it go?” one mom asks Reid.

“They did really good,' he says.

Yes, they did.


(photo by Observer photographer Diedra Laird)

Thirsty? Two lemonade stands for you

As part of our Lemonade Brigade, we're letting you know when Charlotte-area kids operate lemonade stands for charity.

Thisty? Here's a lemonade stand for charity in the Myers Park/Dilworth area.: Neighborhood children on Somerset Drive (parallel to Park Road and between Lilac Road and Princeton Avenue) will be selling homemade strawberry lemonade Friday from 4-6 p.m.

Stop by on your way home from work for a refreshing drink - or a popsicle. All proceeds will benefit A Child's Place.

A reminder: 6-year-old Finn Rissanen, who previously offered lemonade stand tips for Cliff readers, will be operating a stand today in his front yard at 9109 Kalanchoe Dr in the Sardis Pointe subdivision off Sardis Road, a half-mile north of Hwy 51.

Tell us about a lemonade stand you’re planning, and we’ll give parched readers a nudge your way by publicizing your stand’s location in the Observer and on
When you’re through, send us pictures (or, if you’re ambitious, a YouTube video link), and we’ll publish them, too, along with how much money your children raised and which agency they’ll be giving it to.