Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicken for Charlotte's needy

People receiving assistance from Loaves & Fishes will benefit from a huge donation courtesy of  Tyson Foods and Compass Group.

Today, Loaves & Fishes, which distributes food to pantries throughout the city, will receive a tractor-trailer full of food. The Tyson delivery will be more than 38,000 pounds – 1,892 cases of Tyson chicken products – valued at $70,000. Tyson is Compass' primary chicken supplier.

The donation comes at time when the charity has seen a 34 percent increase in the number of people seeking groceries. On top of that, the organization is preparing for the holiday season, said Beverly Howard, executive director of Loaves & Fishes in a news statement.

In 2008, Loaves & Fishes fed 84,045 people in Mecklenburg County. The organization expects to provide a week's worth of groceries to 100,000 people by year's end.

Want to help?
Loaves & Fishes will hold its third annual Feed the Need event 7-10 p.m., Saturday at the Loaves & Fishes' warehouse. Enjoy a Low Country boil and pastalaya (jambalaya with pasta) by Carolina Cajun Connection. Carolina Gator Gumbo Band will provide the music and dance lessons. WCNC-TV's Larry Sprinkle will emcee a live auction. $50 per person. Reservations:, 704-523-4333.

Kids get hugs for donations

Carrying bags as large as their little bodies, Patty Jenkins' second grade class hauled old clothes and more to the Goodwill trailer in front of Cotswold Elementary School on Tuesday. The students grinned brightly as they received a bookmark in return.

They saved the biggest smiles for the high fives and hugs they gave the Goodwill mascot. Tuesday was the first day of Goodwill Industries Southern Piedmont's donation drive at Cotswold. The drive is part of Goodwill's effort to partner with schools. The program shows students how they can help the community by recycling their personal items, said Armando Barragan of Goodwill.

The drive meshed well with Cotswold's effort to teach students to do more than recycle cans, bottles and paper, said Mary Hooks, IB coordinator. The drive taught them to recycle personal items.

Goodwill is ramping up the school partnerships that started at Charlotte Country Day last year. Goodwill is doing two drives a month. The drives last two days.

At Cotswold, at least 15 parents volunteered to help collect donations. Lee Ham helped load bags in the trailer on Tuesday. Her son Cutler, 6, is a kindergartener at Cotswold. She said the donation drive reinforced what she teaches him: She makes him donate items to agencies before he can receive new stuff.

"He has too much," she said. "We're trying to explain there are children who don't get surprises unless it's Christmas."

Get involved
The Goodwill trailer will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at Cotswold. The community is encouraged to donate.

If you would like your school to hold a Goodwill donation drive, call 704-372-3434

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sampras loses, but Charlotte families win

Jim Courier defeated Pete Sampras to win the Breezeplay Championships in south Charlotte. It was a match for the ages. Courier lost the first set 3-6, won the second 6-4 and the tiebreaker 10-8.

The tournament was a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, which is scheduled to open next year. The tournament was Sept. 24-27 at The Palisades Country Club.

The championship also included a silent auction which raised more than $5,000. Auction items included Sprint Cup Winner Champagne autographed by Jimmie Johnson, a collection of Richard Petty Die-Cast Cars autographed by Richard Petty, tennis rackets autographed by players and a pair of autographed Ronald McDonald shoes.

This is the first year the tennis tournament partnered with the Ronald McDonald house. Read more about the new partnership here.

Photo credit: InsideOut Sports & Entertainment

Teen helps South African children

Lara Schewitz, 16, was born in South Africa, but left when she was two-year-old. Now, she's giving back to her birth country. The Myers Park High student is holding 16 years old who goes to Myer's Park High School, is trying to raise $1,000 to help the children at Chesire Homes Khaya for severely disabled children in South Africa.

Last weekend Lara raised nearly half the money. She and her mother set up a table and collected donations in front of a Harris Teeter in south Charlotte. The money we will buy blankets and shoes for the children.

Lara will return to South Africa on Dec 23. It will be her first time there since her family left the country.

Keith Larson's charity ride is Saturday

I rarely agree with WBT talk show host Keith Larson, but I do support his love for kids. Twice a year, he hosts a charity ride that helps area children and their families. Typically, these kids suffer from life-threatening illness, sometimes they're crime victims and sometimes they're heroes who need help.
Their stories are often told on Larson's show and these children become part of the Larson family.

One such child is Cassidy Hooper, a 13-year-old born without eyes and a nose. She's going through a two-year series of surgeries to craft a nose. She recently experienced her first smell - chicken nuggets, Larson said. Read about her story on WBTV's website.

Hooper will be one of the beneficiaries of Ride for the Kids 7 on Saturday.
Larson said listeners inspired the ride and insisted money help local children and their families.

"A lot of money is raised for large charities that are certainly worthwhile, but they can sometimes seem very distant," Larson said. "We just like helping real kids and families right here in the Carolinas."

Larson hosts a spring and fall ride. He expects the usual 200 to 300 bikers to participate. It starts at Matthews Fun Machines in Matthews and goes to Lake Norman State Park in Troutman. On the way, riders will parade through downtown Mooresville between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The group will finish at Team Charlotte Motorsports on Freedom Drive about 1:30 p.m. for barbecue by Clover-based Courtney's BBQ, and live music by Unknown Hinson.

Larson's ride is so popular, regional bands often play for free or at a reduced price. Past performers include Jimmy Ibbotson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Gigi Dover and Robin Rogers.

The ride in April drew 350 motorcycles. The group rode from Matthews to Lowe's Motor Speedway and did a couple of laps around the track, Larson said. That ride raised enough money to send Stephen McMickens to Central Piedmont Community College on a full scholarship.

In 2007, McMickens, then 18, tried to help mortally wounded Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton when they were gunned down in a Charlotte neighborhood.

The rides also benefit the Zach Ramsey Children's Cancer Fund and the March Forth with Hope (Hope Stout) Foundation. Both charities provide financial assistance to local families with children battling life-threatening illnesses.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little change making a big difference

In this difficult economy, charities and individuals are coming up with fun and compelling ways to raise money.

Last week, The Cliff told you about a fundraiser Saturday for a Golden Retriever rescue club, where hundreds of raffle tickets were sold and their numbers Sharpied on tennis balls. The hundreds of balls were hurled on a lawn and a Golden set loose to retrieve three to pick the three winners of cash prizes.

We also told you about Adrienne “Daisy” Zonneville, twice a blood cancer survivor, who’s running a marathon to raise money for blood cancer research. On Halloween morning, she’s putting together a poker run, where drivers of motorcycles, hot rods and anything with a motor and wheels pay to ride from Statesville to Huntersville, and along the way make stops to get five playing cards. The ones with the best poker hands win cash prizes.

Now comes a fundraiser that might out-clever them all.

It’s for the Council for Children’s Rights, celebrating its 30th birthday. The council, which advocates for the rights of at-risk children, is a 2006 merger between the Council for Children, founded in 1979, and The Children’s Law Center, founded in 1985.

They’re calling the campaign: “A Little Change for Kids.”

It involves change jars, in this case cardboard jars with plastic lids with a coin slit. The council had 7,000 made up. They’ve mailed out 4,000 and at its annual Lunch for Children’s Rights, handed out almost another 1,000 – each with a piece of candy and birthday candle rattling inside.

They’ve asked that the jars be returned in May full of change. Or if you fill them before then, call and they’ll come get it and give you another one to fill.

“In this economy, we wanted people to feel like they could give something – and that it doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference for a child,” said Amy Tribble, in charge of development for the council. “Any size gift helps us toward our mission. A lot of people accumulate change. Well, we have a place for it to go now.”

They’ve suggested supporters place these jars on their desk at work, in break rooms, in a drawer where the loose change goes when you empty your pockets, or a car cupholder – anywhere change piles up.

It’s causing a stir.

The council got one call from a man complaining they sent his neighbor a jar, but not him.
It’s already received six full jars, one from a woman who in a clandestine moment raided her husband’s Ziploc plastic bag of change.

Vaneta Smiley filled a jar in 24 hours and called the council to send her 20 more. Last year, she and husband Wayne rolled coins that he’d been collecting for 20 years in a big water jug – to the tune of thousands of dollars.

“It’s money you don’t even miss,” Vaneta said. “This is such a great idea. We’ve got until May to fill those 20 jars and my husband probably has enough back in that doggone water jug to fill them.

“And it’s for such a good cause.”

Listen up: CROP hunger walk Oct. 4!

The numbers are startling, and would motivate anyone to help.

Around the globe, 1.02 billion people are hungry. Every day, nearly 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes -- that's one child every five seconds. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and TB combined.

In Mecklenburg County, 105,000 people live in poverty. That includes 34,000 chidren and 8,000 seniors.

Got your attention? Here's how you can help the hunger problem. Join thousands of others at Charlotte's 31st CROP Hunger Walk. The walk, 3.7 miles through uptown and several inner-city neighborhoods, starts at 2:30 p.m. at the Grady Cole Center, 310 N. Kings Dr., and ends about 4 p.m. along Elizabeth Avenue.

It is one of 2,000 CROP walks in the country. Our's is the largest (the 2006 walk is pictured above), expecting to attract at least 6,000 people on Oct. 4 -- some years have seen 10,000 take the streets.

Anne Shoaf, heading this year's walk, has been involved with the event for most of its existence and walked in five of them.

"I was raised in the church, and to me -- as a Christian and human being sharing this planet -- my responsiblity is to care for my neighbor," Shoaf said. "The question many of us have is: 'What am I going to serve tonight?' ... For too many others it's: 'How am I going to feed me and another person tonight?' That's a heavy burden, especially in this difficult economy.

"For many people, it means that whatever they can eat is what's going to get them by. They're not even worrying about nutrition -- just getting the calories and that's a challenge."

The walks are an outgrowth of Church World Service, founded by 17 denominations in 1946 to fight hunger. CROP (Christian Rural Overseas Program) started a year later to send seed, grain and livestock to war-torn Europe.

The first Charlotte CROP walk in 1978 raised $19,000. In the 30 years since, Charlotte's walkers have raised more than $6 million -- $1.5 million staying in the community to fight hunger.

This year's goal is $250,000, with a fourth going to Loaves & Fishes, Crisis Assistance Ministry and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. Each walker is asked to raise at least $100, through pledges or an individual donation.

"They might get a lot of $1 and $2 pledges, or some might write a check for $100 and be done with it," Shoaf said.

The walks are amazing spectacles of people caring for other people. All ages; all walks of the community. You'll make new friends and will get a little exercise in the process.

Want to walk? Register online here. Or you can register at the event starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Grady Cole Center.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cancer survivor running for a cause

Adrienne "Daisy" Zonneville grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma when she was 11.

The doctors gave her an 85 percent chance to survive. Yet by 15, the cancer had returned, and her survival chances fell to 65 percent.

Mid-way through the first treatment, her parents' insurance company dropped Adrienne, who got her nickname in high school after she finger-painted daisies all over her first car, a gray 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier.

Her father and step-mother had to turn to many nonprofits for financial help to pay Daisy's gargantuan medical bills (about $175,000 the first time; $250,000 the second).

Their daughter did survive. She's 31 now and is celebrating 15 years of being cancer-free by running a marathon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The marathon is at Kiawah Island, S.C., on Dec. 12 -- 15 years to the day after her last treatment.

"After everything I've been through, I wanted to celebrate that anniversary in a big way," said Zonneville, who lives in Troutman and works in Mooresville as a machinist and welder for a company in the racing industry.

"I thought about taking a trip, or buying something nice. But then I got a pamphlet in the mail about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and I thought, 'well, those organizations sure helped me a lot. Why not raise money to help other people?'"
She decided to train for a marathon. Within a day, her fiance, Jeff Roy, and friend/maid-of-honor-to-be, Lauren Hayward, signed on to train and run the marathon with her (they're all pictured above; l-r: Hayward, Roy and Daisy).

Saturday, O'Charley's restaurant in Mooresville is serving up a pancake breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. to help Zonneville raise money. For $10, you'll get pancakes, bacon and coffee -- every dime of the proceeds going to LLS. O'Charley's is donating the food, space and workers.

Next month on Halloween morning, the trio is putting together a Halloween Poker Run, with motorcycles, hot rods -- anything with a motor -- leaving from Tilley Harley-Davidson/Buell in Statesville to Easy Eddie's, a motorcycle shop and lounge in Huntersville. The run will make several stops along the way, and riders will be given a playing card. The best five-card poker hands will get cash prizes. It'll cost $15 for each rider/driver and $5 for a passenger -- again all the money going to LLS.

Never a runner, Zonneville's been running with a training team Saturday mornings. During the week she runs on her own, or with Roy and Hayward, and spends one day a week riding a bicycle.

"I'm not athletic; I tried sports in high school and failed," she said. "I figured this would be a great challenge; and we're going to do it come hell or high water."

She's doing it because she understands what nonprofits do for people stricken with catastrophic illnesses like her's. Since 1949, LLS has invested more than $680 million in research, education and patient services.

She knows also the benefits of extending life.

"The treatment the second time was a 180-degree turnaround from the first," she said. "I went from throwing up 20 times a day, to eating a cheeseburger while I was getting the second treatment."

And she knows first-hand: Hope's a powerful motivator.

To donate to Daisy Zonneville's cause click here. And Saturday, take a ride up to O'Charley's in Mooresville on Saturday, 8 to 10 a.m., for a plate of pancakes and a good cause. Go north on I-77 and take exit 36. Turn left. It's about five lights down.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Should churches do more, preach less?

Throughout tonight's meeting, participants mentioned bringing in the churches to help more. Many churches already help people in need from hosting food pantries and soup kitchens to providing buses passes and financial aid.

I spent the day interviewing people at various agencies who were seeking help from area non-profits. During my interviews, several people mentioned they could go to churches for help, but they don't like the hassle. Many complained that when they sought help at churches who offer services, they have to listen to a sermon or attend a worship service.

One woman mentioned she was seeking help at a church and watched the staff refuse to provide aid for an unmarried couple. The clients I interviewed complained it's against scripture not to help everyone in need. But other clients said beggars can't be choosers -- if someone needs help, they should be willing to listen to a sermon.

What do you think?

Most popular ideas and what's next

Most popular ideas: angel investors (find a way to get good ideas to rich people), banking the service hours (volunteer now, get help later) and tickets for charities (unused tickets sold at discount prices and money donated to charities.

The Observer and its Mission Possible media partners will do stories about the most popular ideas. If you want to hear more about the ideas and Mission Possible, WFAE will hold a forum Oct. 5 at Spirit Square, 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Panelists will be Carol Hardison, executive director of Crisis Assistance Ministry, Richard "Stick" Williams, president of Duke Energy Foundation, and Todd Cohen, editor and publisher of Philanthropy Journal.

Sticker time - voting on best ideas

Ooh it's sticker time. Participants are putting stickers next to their fave ideas.

Hold funders accountable

Bob Bellairs aimed some tough words at organizations that fund non-profits. He said they should do a better job of policing the organizations they fund to make sure money is being spent properly and not wasted.

"If they're giving money away and it's not being used responsibly then they're wasting money and they should be held accountable."

Will merging hurt small non-profits

The conversation turned a little rowdy when participants suggested consolidating administrative operations for charities.

Some said charities won't have a choice. It's merge or die.

Ricky Woods, pastor of First Baptist Woods, said he was concerned that when charities merge administrative operation, smaller charities tend to be eliminated.

One woman said she works at a charity that has combined administrative functions and it works well, and client confidentiality is protected.

What do you think? Would merging be good or bad for smaller non-profits? And is more consolidation inevitable.

Using Twitter and checking accounts to help

The groups are sharing their top three ideas to help charities administratively and to gather more donors.

The most popular suggestion for helping with administrative issues was more collaboration between smaller non-profits to share back-office resources and duties.

The discussion on how to raise more money for charities was lively. Participants suggested launching a round-up program, like banks use for checking accounts. Piedmont Natural Gas currently does that. Registered participants can have their bills rounded up to the nearest dollar. The money goes into the Share the Warmth fund which is distributed to local agencies that assist people who can't pay their utility bills.

Other suggests were donating to charities as well as using Twitter and Meetup to solicit donations.

Getting it done

Michelle Houck's group was one of the first to get their ideas on the board. They weren't playing.

Finding the best ideas

The participants are sitting at tables discussing the best three ideas. One table is distracted. One guy wants to marshall the churches. One lady is griping about the United Way board. The moderator is trying to keep the focused.

Another table is on task. They liked the idea of linking people through a talent pool and creating a clearing board of needs.

Bob hopes Michigan experience helps here

Bob Bellairs moved to Charlotte from Michigan in January. He worked with non-profits in Michigan and hopes his experiences there can help charities in Charlotte.

"I thought maybe I could bring some ideas and meet people," he said.

He hopes tonight's meeting will yield solid recommendations.

Lisa hopes to find a solution

Lisa Brantmeyer doesn't work for a charitable organization. She's just a concerned citizen who hopes to spend the next two hours helping figure out how to address the critical needs of area charities.

"I'm hoping we walk out with a firm plan tonight of putting Charlotte in the right place and starting a new trend for this type of project," she said.

Observer editors prep for the panel

Metro editor Cindy Montgomery talks with Bob Bellairs, one of the panel participants.
Business editor Patrick Scott peruses the list of submission.

Citizens seek to solutions

About three dozen people are expected to attend tonight's Mission Possible citizens panel at the Charlotte Observer. They will examine the more than 300 ideas submitted by other citizens to help charities.

By the end of tonight's session they hope to identify 18 to 20 promising ideas, which could be realistically implemented in the next two years.

On Golden Retrievers and tennis balls

Could there be a more perfect match for a raffle: Golden Retrievers and tennis balls? Like peanut butter and jelly.

That's what the Golden Retriever Rescue Club of Charlotte thinks.

Each year, they sell raffle tickets to raise money for their efforts -- hundreds so far this year. Saturday, they'll Sharpie those numbers on a tennis ball, and let all the balls loose in a fenced-in area. A Golden Retriever will be unleashed to retrieve three balls among the hundreds, one at a time.

The first wins $250 for the ticket holder, the second $500 and the third $1,000.

Jill Santuccio, a fundraiser/marketer and Golden Retriever owner, attended her first raffle last year and was so taken by the event she signed on to help the organization.

They put her in charge of Saturday's raffle, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Continental Boarding, 2235 Township Rd.

"What a genius fundraiser," Santuccio said. "I wish I'd come up with the idea myself."

The recession hasn't just hurt human nonprofits. Charities that look after animals are struggling too, and because of the economy their services are in greater need, Santuccio said.

This year, the Golden Retriever club will find homes for at least 100 dogs and puppies, a huge jump from previous years.

The stories are often heart-breaking -- with happy endings.

One's about Sydney, a puppy who was severely bitten by her father. Sydney's breeder couldn't sell her, so he didn't want her. He told the club it could have her, or he was going to get rid of her.
The club found Sydney (pictured above with a rain boot over her cast) a home. She's doing great.
Recently, a family had to surrender their diabetic dog. "The father was laid off from his job, and the medications for their dog was running $400 to $500 a month," she said. "It's tough when that happens. This family had to choose between taking care of the dog or paying the mortgage and putting food on the table.

"So, unfortunately, the economy is having an impact on pets."

The family appealed to the club, operating since 1990, which found a foster home for their dog.

On the average, the club spends $500 on each dog for vet bills, medications and spaying or neutering. Adoptions fees are $250. "So you can see, we take a hit on the front end," Santuccio said. "This fundraising is very important to us."

Rescue club volunteers scouted tennis clubs and country clubs for used balls. One member went on eBay and bought a box of 200 used balls.

The club hopes to raise at least $5,000 at Saturday's raffle. You can buy a raffle ticket for $5, or six for $25. A barbecue lunch will be served for $10. Golden Retriever owners are invited to bring their dogs on leashes.

To buy tickets, get directions, or for more information on the club and event click here , or call Santuccio at 704-361-8896. Tickets will be sold at the event.

That's the highlight of the fundraiser for the Charlotte group that rescues the lovable furry dogs. For every raffle ticket sold, a corresponding number is Sharpied onto a tennis ball. All the balls are thrown into a fen

Monday, September 21, 2009

Seniors volunteer to give their lives meaning

They call it RSVP: for Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

As the name suggests, it is a national program that links seniors (55 and older) to charities needing volunteers.

On Oct. 1, that group will get a chance to drop in and learn about those charities at Senior Volunteer Fair 2009, sort of a college fair for the near-retired and retired. The fair, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be at the Tyvola Senior Center, 2225 Tyvola Rd.

The charities aren't the only ones that get all the benefits when seniors volunteer.

"There are a lot of health benefits for seniors, especially if you can find a volunteer role that matches up with your interests," said Sarah Jackson, RSVP Charlotte's project director.

Studies show that people live longer, happier lives when they volunteer.

Many people don't like idle time after retirement.

"They get that human connection giving back to the community," said Jackson, who's been with RSVP Charlotte since last December. "It feels good to be actively a part of something -- and feel like you're needed. It gives people a sense of purpose."

Often, retired people tell Jackson that retirement wasn't what they thought it would be. "They say, 'When I was working fulltime, I thought it'd be fine when I retired. But I can't stand being home,'' she said. "They say, 'I want to get out and do things. And feel like I'm helping people.'"

She also hears from people freshly out of work, who add meaning to their lives and idle time by volunteering.

RSVP Charlotte is part of a national program, with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Services, Mecklenburg County and United Way. In Charlotte, it is sponsored by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Senior Centers.

It partners with more than 50 Charlotte area nonprofits to place seniors in volunteer functions. The agencies include food banks, senior nutrition programs, museums, public safety departments, hospitals and schools.

On Oct. 1, there'll be about 25 nonprofits manning booths at the fair. Seniors are invited to drop in and hear from as many nonprofits as they want.

"The fair is for them, but if anyone wants to learn about these 25 charities they're free to drop by," Jackson said. "The idea is to get people volunteering."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pete Sampras, Jim Courier coming to play

Tennis fans can see some of the sport's greatest players and help local families when the Breezeplay Championships returns to Charlotte.

The tennis tournament will be Sept. 24-27 at The Palisades Country Club in south Charlotte. Tennis champions Pete Sampras, Todd Martin, Jim Courier and Pat Cash will play. Breezeplay is part of the Outback Championship Series, which partners with a local charity at each event. This year's local charity will be the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.

This is a new partnership for the tournament, which in previous years teamed with the now disbanded Athletes United for Youth. The Ronald McDonald House is scheduled to open next year. It will serve families of children being treated at local hospitals. Charlotte is the only major city without one.

Mona Johnson-Gibson, executive director of the Charlotte Ronald McDonald House, hopes the partnership will help raise awareness regarding the house, which will be on East Morehead Street. Gibson said she’s excited about the partnership because the event won’t be a gala or party, which are common charity fundraisers here. A tennis tournament will give people a different way to donate and learn about the house.

"I don’t see how it can be anything but a premier event for us," Gibson said. "It’s going to help get us off the ground."

Courier plays in the tournament and is the co-founder of the series, which features tennis champions ages 30 and over. The $150,000 Breezeplay Championships is the sixth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series. Courier said they looked at several Charlotte charities before choosing the Ronald McDonald House. Courier said the partnership is a good fit because the charity is new here.

"Some other organizations have big events and are limited at how they can work with the tournament," Courier said. "We really wanted to be effective."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Baptist kids helping other kids

This is not exactly a reach-out for support by First Baptist Church in uptown Charlotte -- but a lesson of how one group is teaching children to help other less-fortunate children.

Since 2003, the children in the First Baptist's Royal Ambassador (boys) and Girls in Action programs have pedaled in a bike-a-thon around a track at Northside Baptist Church to raise money for boys and girls who live in the 14 Baptist Children's Homes across North Carolina.

The homes take in children from broken families. Most have been abused -- or hurt in some way.

This year's rally, which they call "Bike for Change," will be Oct. 17. But the event works differently from the ones you're probably familiar with. The church's children don't actively seek sponsors, who then pony up money for every mile they ride.

Instead on Sunday, during the morning service, the congregation will hear a guest speaker tell how she was abused as a child and came to the live in the Baptist Children's Home in Thomasville, near Greensboro. She's remained on the staff ever since.

Speech over, the kids at First Baptist will ask for and collect offerings from congregants.

They have given generously in the past -- handing over a total of $71,064 in six years. All the money goes to Baptist Children's Homes, which relies on Baptist churches across the state to keep its facilities operating.

"It's a really good way to give our kids a hands-on experience, to reaching out to help other kids," said Jay Westmoreland, a Baptist Children's Home trustee and director of the Royal Ambassador program. "It's a wonderful learning experience for them. For starters, they learn how truly blessed they are to have the families they are raised by.

"It teaches them about important ministry work."

They resist asking the children to recruit sponsors because they don't want to turn the event into a competition, said Westmoreland, senior vice president for wealth management at Charlotte's MorganStanley SmithBarney.

"This is basically to raise awareness for our children -- about mission work, about Baptist Children's Homes and about how fortunate they are," he said.

This year, First Bapist is being joined by children from Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby.

That'll mean more than 50 children from two churches lapping Northside's track next month. Yet the money -- and call to help -- will already have been raised.

Want to help? First Baptist's children aren't actively pursuing contributions, but if you'd like to send one, they'll certainly send it on to Baptist Children's Homes. Write a check to First Baptist Church, with "Bike for Change" in the memo, and mail it to: First Baptist Church, 301 S. Davidson St., Charlotte NC 28202. Or click here and then click on "Bike for Change."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kicking off 25 years of hospitality

It is a house where guests come out of sad, painful and often tragic necessity.

They are visitors to this city, here because a loved one is in one of our hospitals. And for nearly 25 years, what is now the Hospitality House of Charlotte has given tens of thousands a free place to lay their head -- and buck up their spirits.

The house has no major corporate sponsor, or help from United Way. It's staffed primarily by volunteers, food is donated by individuals and organizations. They count on support from the Mecklenburg Medical Auxiliary, foundations, church congregations and individuals.

Yet corporate donations are down 80 percent. So Sept. 29, Hospitality House is kicking off its 25th anniversary with its first fundraising "Rise and Shine" breakfast. The celebration will climax in the spring.

"We hear constantly that Hospitality House has been a blessing and a godsend to most of the people who've stayed with us," said Susan Ross, development director. "They are brought to the Charlotte area in often emergency situations, not knowing a soul and not knowing what to do.

"They can't afford to stay in a hotel. We offer them a comfortable place to stay at no cost ... while they're supporting a loved one in the hospital."

The facility has served more than 35,000 people from 49 states and 30 countries. Its need emerged from a 1982 survey of healthcare issues by the Mecklenburg Medical Auxiliary. The city had no shelter for out-of-town families with loved ones in local hospitals. Families were sleeping in hospital waiting rooms or cars, eating food from snack machines and showering in hospital bathrooms so they could stay close.

So the auxiliary set up an endowment and in April 1985, opened a 14-bed facility on Scott Avenue across from Carolinas Medical Center. They called it MMAE's Inn, after the auxiliary endowment, and in 1996 they added 15 beds in a wing of St. John's Baptist Church.

Then last year, Hospitality House opened its new three-story, 22-bedroom home near the old Scott Avenue facility. Most nights, it sleeps the maximum 50.

Still, it eludes notice. This week, Ross and executive director Kimberly Melton are attending a conference of the National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses in Minnesota.

"Not many people know we exist across the country, or even in the Charlotte area," Ross said. "We're working to change that."

Andre (pronounced: An-DRAY-a) Dill of the rural Bostic community in Rutherford County knows all about Hospitality House.

In June 2008, her late husband Tom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and suddenly experienced pain in his leg and hip. He was ambulanced to Carolinas Medical Center. His wife knew no one in Charlotte and came with only the clothes she wore that day.

"I wasn't expecting to stay long," she said. "He had an infection -- I thought they'd lance and give him antibiotics."

Tom ended up staying several months. His leg was amputated on July 25, and he remained in the hospital until the following October. Andre was told about Hospitality House the night they arrived, but slept in a waiting room for about five nights. She called a couple nearby hotels, but they were too expensive. So she moved to Hospitality House.

There, she found smiles and welcoming arms -- and a "lovely room with a private bath. It was much more than I ever expected," she said. To earn her keep she swept and mopped floors, vacuumed hallways, as all guests are required to do.

Tom Dill went home in October that year, but had to return to CMC a month later. Ever dutiful, his wife checked back into Hospitality House until Tom died Nov. 29.

"That is such a wonderful place," she said. "I didn't know such kindness existed in this world. The guests hung together as family. I'd never have been able to stay with my husband if it weren't for Hospitality House."

Want to go? The "Rise and Shine of Hospitality House" breakfast starts at 8 a.m. Sept. 29 at Myers Park Country Club. Tickets are $45 and $360 for tables of eight and can be bought until Sept. 23. Michael Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System, will deliver the keynote. To buy tickets contact Susan Ross at 704-376-0060, ext. 2, or email her at For more information on the breakfast or the facility click here.

Convention center's double dose of do-gooding

How's this for recyling a double shot of do-gooding? Each year, hundreds of groups come to the Charlotte Convention Center for meetings, conventions and trade shows.

When they're gone, they leave behind a surplus of notepads, pens, pencils and registration bags. Now they can donate them to Classrom Central , a partnership forged by Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and the nonprofit "store" that provides free supplies to 132 schools in the Charlotte region.

Last month, the COAL-GEN conference, which drew thousands in the coal-fired power industry, left town with 1,200 unused satchels and tons of pens, pencils and pads -- all perfectly fine for school use. This week, Classroom Central got all of it.

Score one for the green movement -- the stuff didn't end up in landfills -- and one for teachers and students who need school supplies in a difficult economy.

"We should have a very positive impact on Classroom Central's goal of providing students with the supplies they need to be successful," said Tim Newman, the authority's CEO. "Our meeting planners are increasingly environmentally concious, as well as interested in doing the right thing for the community."

Classroom Central supplies students at high-poverty schools with donated school supplies and classroom products through the free store for teachers. In its first seven years, the nonprofit has served more than 80,000 students and distributed more than $17 million in school supplies.

The idea for the partnership came from the convention center's Susan Schwint. "She said, 'we have conventions that want to give back to the host community. What they leave behid is perfect for students,'" said authority spokeswoman Molly Hedrick. "It's just another example of what can happen when someone connects the dots."

The supplies from the convention center couldn't come at a better time for Classroom Central. Already in the new school year, the nonprofit has seen a 25 percent rise in teachers using the store.

"We know these items will be put to great use," said Michelle Daley, Classroom Central's head of operations. "We're extremely excited about partnering with the Charlotte Convention Center to divert items from landfills and provide the teachers and students we serve with ... materials that can be used in the classroom to enhance the learning process."

So the next time you see a teacher or student carrying a satchel with COAL-GEN printed on it, you'll know where it came from -- and where it didn't end up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crisis over for charities? Far from it!

A friend made a comment over the weekend that caused The Cliff to pause and take stock. She said: It feels the crisis is over for nonprofits. Not the problems, but the severity of the crisis that has plagued the region for most of a year.

The Cliff decided to pose that question to a few warriors on the frontline:

Beverly Howard at Loaves & Fishes just laughed.

Last month, Howard said, her food bank saw an increase in people who'd run out on unemployment benefits and still unable to find a job.

"The need here is at an all-time high," she said. "We don't anticipate the need going down for some months. The reality for our clients is that once the economy turns around, it will still take six months to a year for them to experience any relief."

That means that people will continue to get behind on rents or the mortgage -- and utilities. And they'll continue to need places like Loaves & Fishes for basic sustenance, or Crisis Assistance Ministry for help to keep from getting thrown in the street.

Carol Hardison, head of Crisis Assistance, groaned at the question.

"That shocks and scares me," she said.

Yes, the budget sheets are in better shape, but only because most charities have shed employees and services.

But has the severity of the problem diminished?

"No way," Hardison said. "We did make adjustments and did layoffs and we're right-sizing. But there's thousands of people who are no longer receiving services."

In July and August, she saw record numbers standing at the door of Crisis Assistance each morning.

The city was vastly helped by the $3 million raised for the Critical Need Response Fund last winter, she said. "It gave us a cushion, so we didn't have to pull out all the stops to help the people we were seeing. It got us through the summer."

But now they're seeing a double-digit increase in needs.

"We're just like the for-profits that are looking more productive," Hardison said. "They do more with less. But who picks up the people who are left out? As far as what we're seeing, a whole lot more people are closer to the cliff than ever.

"To me, the cliff is just starting for many vulnerable families."

At Jacob's Ladder Job Center, the job-preparing nonprofit, executive director Steffi Travis chuckles at the question.

"No. Not true. Charities are struggling in every dimension," Travis said. "I do think we've all adjusted ... but we are all having to vie for the same strapped dollars in a more personal way."

Her agency's clients are more anxious and burned out than she's seen in 30 years of working for nonprofits.

"Everything they do requires them to get services from other folks," she said. "If it's medical, they're often told appointments are long and waiting. Or services have been cut. I haven't seen any uplifting moments."

Jacob's Ladder has a group of highly qualified volunteers who committed for a limited time after they were laid off because they expected to be back working shortly. A year later, many are still jobless and volunteering, Travis said.

Donors are still tight with their money, uncertain about what the future holds. Charities are having to spend more time with donors relaying personal stories.

"They understand they need to give back -- and we are all truly grateful," she said. "But a lot of affluent donors just don't get how badly people are suffering. So they're holding back more than they'd normally give."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Festival to celebrate film, a landmark and ending hunger

It's a celebration of movies and food (and not Goobers or popcorn) and a building that has been a gathering spot for 45 years, old by Charlotte standards.

Organizers of the week-long Charlotte Film Festival, which opens Sept. 21, wanted to make the event more meaningful. So they're opening at the Park Terrace Cinema, which turns 45 this year, with the 45-year-old Cold War satire "Dr. Strangelove."

The opening night, which will also include Charlotte filmmaker John Schwert's "In/Significant Others," is free -- with a donation of nonperishable food to the Second Harvest Food Bank to fight hunger.

The non-profit festival is designed to bring undiscovered talent and great cinema to Charlotte. Organizers are also committed to educate the public about film, and build partnerships. So they're using the upcoming festival to raise awareness of the need for more food as a growing number of the unemployed rely increasingly on food banks.

The festival hopes to raise 500 pounds of nonperishables to donate to the cause.

"We wanted to focus on how the festival impacts a community and not just in the choice of films," said Jennifer Bratyanski, the festival program director. "It's great to celebrate film, but what does it matter if you can't help the community.

"In this economy, Second Harvest is a very important nonprofit that needs help. Film nourishes the heart and soul. Food nourishes the body."

Bratyanski, who teaches U.S. history at Central Piedmont Community College and Queens University, grew up in Charlotte and spent a lot of her childhood at Park Terrace, in the Park Road Shopping Center. It's where she saw "ET," where she took her slumber parties. "The space has a lot of memories for me," she said. "We all laughed and cried there -- it's the perfect place to open the festival and celebrate a landmark.

"There aren't many left in Charlotte."

Only one of the theaters at Park Terrace is being used to show Stanley Kubrick's classic and the film by Schwert, who will be at the showing. It has 95 seats. Bratyanski is asking patrons to arrive early with cans of food to drop in collection boxes by 6:15 p.m. The movie will start at 6:30 p.m.

"We're expecting a great crowd for this classic movie at a classic venue," she said. "We want patrons to give back to the community that allows this festival to be here. And we want to help Second Harvest, one of the most important charities we have in the area. It handles basic needs of every human."

For information about the festival's offerings and ticket sales click here.

Eat a hot dog, help find a cure

Got lunch plans Friday, or Saturday and Sunday for that matter? Stop by any Fresh Market store -- there are three in the Charlotte area -- and have a hot dog, root beer float and cookie. It'll cost you a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

This is no new philanthropic venture for Fresh Market. It'll be the 15th year the Greensboro-born-and-based gourmet supermarket company, now with 90 stores in 17 states, has held its three-day fundraiser to benefit the foundation. The company's supplying all the food and will donate every dime.

Its stores are also selling those green paper sneakers at the check-out counter for a buck, another fundraiser for the foundation.

The foundation has been Fresh Market's charity of choice for many years, after Beverly Berry, wife of Fresh Market founder Ray Berry, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 31. Before she died in November 2007, she and her husband were stalwarts in raising money for research to find a cure, particularly in the Triad.

In addition to the weekend cookout, Fresh Market was the first presenting sponsor for the Walk to Cure Diabetes in Greensboro, and it has consistently been a sponsor of the JDRF Piedmont Triad Chapter's annual gala, where it was honored in 2001.

The company continues to raise money and awareness to honor Beverly Berry.

Over the 15 years, the sidewalk sale has raised more than $1 million, said Sally Langan, spokeswoman for the local chapter of the research foundation. "As an entire organization, this is Fresh Market's big push to raise money for research," Langan said. "We'll have our volunteers out at all the Fresh Markets serving up the treats all weekend."

So this weekend have a hot dog and root beer float on the Fresh Market and leave a nice donation to help find a cure for a terrible disease.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bank kicks off campaign by helping

There are 106 students at the Performance Learning Center high school on North Graham Street. All had dropped out of school, or were on their way out the door.

The center is a partnership between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the nonprofit Communities In Schools (CIS) to provide alternative schools for students who have lost their way in traditional settings.

The classes are small. So teachers nurture relationships and make sure their students don't fall through cracks. As CIS Executive Director Bill Anderson said, "kids can't be wallflowers here."

That is why shortly before lunch today, the famed horse-drawn Well Fargo bank stagecoach (actually there are 26 around the country) pulled up to the learning center to the cheers of many of the center's students wearing straw cowboy hats.

The stagecoach had been parked at Wachovia Plaza on South Tryon uptown, where Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo, kicked off its United Way campaign with another vote of confidence for Jane McIntyre, the new president of United Way of Central Carolinas.

After McIntyre spoke to a crowd of bank employees, the dog (a Boxer named Jack sat on top of the coach) and pony (four horses pulled it) show rolled out on Tryon and pushed north, then west to Graham Street. Forty-five minutes later, it rolled past cheering students at the Performance Learning Center.

It was not carrying a steamer chest of gold, but it did have a large -- literally -- check for $25,000 that the merged bank turned over to Communities In Schools (see photo above). An hour later, the bank gave Junior Achievement another check for $25,000.

Their giving was symbolic on many levels. For months, many in Banktown have worried about the impact the recession would have on banks and their long history of philanthropy in Charlotte.

But Laura Schulte, a Wells Fargo executive who recently moved to Charlotte as president of East Coast banking for the merged bank, made it clear that keeping the Charlotte region strong is good for business.

"We can't be successful as a company unless the community that we do business in -- and that our employees and customers live in -- is successful," Schulte said. "So it's in our very best interest to have a strong community."

She said the bank supports United Way, but this year is instituting an "open giving" plan which would allow employees to give to the charity of their choice, with some matching fund opportunities and grants to spend time helping charities.

"People today want more choices ... and support what they feel is important," Schulte said. "But we do believe that the United Way concept is important to this community. And Jane (McIntyre) is the right person at the right time to lead its effort. We're not giving up on the United Way."

Communities In Schools, the drop-out prevention program, lost 23.5 percent of its United Way funding, so the $25,000 comes in handy with the nonprofit doubling in size in two years from fulltime site coordinators in 25 CMS schools to 47.

"The fact that Wells Fargo, Wachovia, First Union have long been supporters of CIS, we're extremely appreciative of them recognizing the work we do," Anderson said.

He came loaded with statistics: In North Carolina, 30 out of 100 9th graders won't graduate from high school in four years.

"Society cannot sustain 30 percent not graduating from high school," he said. "The minimum to get a decent job these days and to be financially independent is a high school diploma. So we're really honored that Wells Fargo chose us. They could have chosen any nonprofit.

"It reiterates the importance of proving that outcomes of nonprofits make a difference."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Goodstock 25 hours of helping nonprofits

Over the summer the country observed the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and its three days of “peace, love and music.”

Now comes Goodstock, or better yet, d0-Goodstock. Don't mistake the two. This one will be 25 hours of hard work and a sleepless night by the 40 creative staffers at Luquire George Andrews, the Charlotte advertising and public relations agency, to help six needy nonprofits – for free.

All to celebrate the firm's 25th anniversary.

The idea is borrowed from a similar sized firm in Madison, Wisc., where Judi Wax, LGA's senior vice president and public relations director, once worked.

Wax's friend, Andy Wallman, president and executive creative director at Knupp and Watson in Madison, created Goodstock five years ago.

“I loved the idea, and wished we'd have come up with it,” Wax said. “We were trying to figure out how to celebrate LGA's 25 years, and I told everyone about Goodstock. They loved it. I called Andy to see if he'd be willing to let us at least borrow some of his idea.

“He said, ‘You can have everything we've used. Just do it.'”

So from 11 a.m. Oct. 15 to noon Oct. 16, LGA staffers will produce the three marketing pieces the six nonprofits need the most, whether they are print ads, brochures, feature articles, media kits, radio scripts, logos or social media strategies. The Madison firm will perform the same services for 24 hours those two days.

Any nonprofit with a 501(c)3 status can apply, except for religious and political organizations.
Over the years, LGA has worked with numerous Mecklenburg nonprofits – through paid or pro-bono jobs.

“This year especially, we know that budgets are tighter and resources more limited, which makes it even more difficult for nonprofits to market themselves,” said Steve Luquire, LGA's founder and CEO. “We want to help.”

From the applications, LGA will pick six of the county's neediest charities, and assign staffers according to their passions.

LGA plans to continue Goodstock every year, and hopes it will spread to other agencies throughout the country. They plan to market it to national media and trade magazines.

“We hope that as other agencies hear about this ... Goodstock will be happening all over the country so we can spread the love and say thanks to all of them for their good work,” Wax said. “All agencies do this on their own, but we'd like to see this become 24 hours of concerted effort. Everybody wants to give back to the community.”

Want to participate?

Go to, and fill out an application. They must be e-mailed to LGA by 5 p.m. Sept. 18. Judging will be based on services charities provide; their needs and inability to fund marketing pieces; their 501(c)3 status; and their availability during the 25 hours.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Ivey reaching out to fading memories

Lynn Ivey had built a substantial career after 25 years of banking, when her mother, Nancy, suffered a series of mini strokes in 2004 and was ultimately diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Ivey could hear her father's tired voice as he tried to care for her mother. So she took a six-month leave from Bank of America, where she was a senior vice president, and went back to her native Wilmington to look after her parents.

She knew nothing about caring for someone whose memory was fading, and set out to educate herself about the array of facilities that care for not only the patient, but the caregiver.

Through officials at the local Alzheimer's Association, she learned about assisted living programs, home care and day care for adults. Assisted living was out. Ben and Nancy Ivey were adamant they'd remain in their home of 46 years.

So Ivey convinced her father that a combination of home care and day care was the way to go.

For both of them, she said. The home care nurses arrived mornings and helped get her mother up. They fed her and helped her take her (medications). Then they took her to adult day care.

"That gave Dad the whole day off to refresh," Ivey said. "He napped, he saw friends. And when he picked up Mom in the afternoon, he was refreshed and eager to keep life as normal as possible."

A month before her leave was up, she decided not to return to the bank. Instead, she used what she'd learned to design a for-profit, upscale daycare center for cognitively and functionally impaired adults and their caregivers.

There are nearly a dozen certified adult day-cares in Mecklenburg, most of them nonprofits, but none in south Charlotte, Ivey said.

Using money from investors and loans, The Ivey (a tribute to her parents) broke ground on Park South Drive in the SouthPark area in October 2006 -- the same week her mother died. It was designed to look like a mountain retreat, a one-stop resource offering daytime social and therapeutic services from exercise classes to managing medications. It served up gourmet meals, had a patio with putting green, whirlpool tubs, woodworking shop, a rocking chair porch with gas-burning fireplace, and crafts and relaxation rooms.

The 11,000-square-foot center opened for business in January 2008, and Ivey waited for clients to flock to her facility.

They didn't.

"I was a naive entrepreneur who expected people to line up, waiting to come in," Ivey said. "It was a perfect storm. The people didn't come as we had expected. And then the economy tanked."

So, this year, Ivey rearranged her business model and turned the center into a nonprofit facility to reach a broader market. "Our goal is to serve as many people as we can possibly reach out to," she said. "By forming a nonprofit, the community could feel a sense of ownership and help support it."

Bill Hogue was a client before he died recently. He'd spend 35 years at Lance Inc., when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. His wife, Mary Anne, wanted to keep him living at home, but as his disease progressed that became challenging. Her job required travel, and she worried about his safety.

They found The Ivey. "Though Alzheimer's disease was chipping away at his life, I felt great joy at being able to keep him at home," Mary Anne Hogue said. "Bill considered The Ivey 'his club,' and I could continue my career with peace of mind."

Ivey, now partnering with the Western Carolinas chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, says the center is "on a cliff" again, as it continues to apply for grants and seek other forms of funding so it can serve people regardless of their ability to pay.

She's trying to raise $440,000 this fall to triple her clients and help reach out to the 10,000 Mecklenburg families affected by Alzheimer's alone.

"These people are real people," she said. "They deserve dignity and a quality life. How you deal with them requires a special touch. Alzheimer's knows no socio-economic status, and neither does this facility.

"Aging challenges affect everyone."

To donate or get more information, call Lynn Ivey at The Ivey at 704-909-2070; or email

Picnic has everything but prizes

Last year, when organizers of the annual Picnic for the Disabled needed money, you responded by donating $13,000.

This week, the Observer reported that organizers had enough money to throw the 30th annual picnic on Sept. 12, but needed people to help with the event. Two hundred volunteers stepped up in two days.

“The phone started ringing at 7:30 in the morning Tuesday and didn't stop,” said Randy Cornell, treasurer of Physically Disabled Adults, the picnic's organizer. “We had high school students call, older folks – you name it, we were just bombarded.”

A high school football coach even called to say he planned to bring his players to volunteer, he said.

The Sept. 12 picnic, noon to 4 p.m. at the Marion Diehl Center, 2219 Tyvola Road, is open to anyone with disabilities. Up to 500 disabled people are expected at the event that was founded in 1979 by a police officer and his wife.

The volunteers will run bingo games, hand out door prizes, cook and park cars.

Speaking of door prizes: The organizers need more.

They're looking for stereos and TVs that can be used in group homes. Or telephones, clock radios, CD players that the disabled people can use in their rooms. “The hardest thing is to get prizes donated,” Cornell said.

If you can donate a door prize call Cornell at 704-573-2914, or Barry Dodd at 704-536-9497.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Photo sessions to help KinderMourn

Scott Clinton sure knows how to make an entrance.

Clinton has run a photography studio and business in New York. Yet, after 11 years, being a Nebraska boy with small-town inclinations, he decided he wanted to pull up stakes and find a saner life in Charlotte.

This week, he was still in the process of moving (he probably won't be fully moved until year's end), but he wanted to start becoming a part of the city where he hopes to build a new life.

Using the concept of cause marketing, Clinton has linked up with KinderMourn, the uniquely Charlotte nonprofit that helps family navigate through the grief of losing a loved one, and he's holding portrait sessions this Saturday to raise money for the organization.

"Anyone can come down: families, or individuals -- if you want your dog photographed, I don't care," said Clinton, from his studio in New York, where he's still packing his life into boxes. "After 11 years in New York, I decided that enough was enough. I have friends in Charlotte and had spent time here.

"I liked the city, and the way people take the time to develop relationships."

Clinton has rented space at Blackbox Studios, 3120 Latrobe Dr., suite 250 (that's in the Arnold Palmer Center off North Wendover Road). For a minimum donation of $40 -- he's suggesting you donate $100 -- you'll get a 5 to 10-minute portrait session and after a couple weeks, an 8-by-10 glossy print.

All the money raised from the sessions will go to KinderMourn. More prints will be available to buy.

The shoot will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., first come, first serve -- no reservations. He's getting help from Little Ones Magazine and Preslar Studio.

He chose KinderMourn because of its mission: Helping people wade through a mire of grief and rebuild their lives after they've lost someone they love.

"They do good work," Clinton said. "I'm proud to be connected with them through this effort."

In New York, Clinton has run Scott Clinton Photography, photographing mainly corporations. He recently spun off a business, Simulacra Photography, which focuses on portraits of babies, children, teenagers, adults and families.

He's moving both businesses to Charlotte.

"Moving to a new community, I felt it was important to do some good for the community, but also reach as many people as possible and establish what I do," he said. "I'm a bit of a small-town guy. Charlotte's not a small town, but it has similar values. It feels like a good fit."

For Clinton and Kindermourn.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Social media "webinar" set for Wednesday

Listen up, Charlotte-region nonprofits: If you missed last month's social networking seminar hosted by NPower, the national organization that helps you guys bone up on the latest technology, despair no longer.

NPower's Charlotte affiliate is putting on a "webinar" Wednesday for any nonprofits interested in learning more or asking questions they weren't able to ask in August.

The webinar starts at 11:30 a.m. and runs an hour. Besides whatever questions you may have, the discussion will center on: Practical user information for Facebook; how to generate a "buzz" to keep people coming back; suggestions for making your Facebook page as user-friendly as possible; and cause versus page, and how to navigate and choose between the two.

Leading the discussion will be three of the seminar presenters: Adam Morgan of Microsoft; Brandon Uttley, a social media strategist at Wray Ward in Charlotte; and Winn Maddrey, executive vice president of Topics Education.

More than 140 people, representing 80 charities, attended the August seminar.

"We had to turn people away just because of the amount of interest," said NPower Charlotte spokeswoman Lindsay Jones. "So for those folks who couldn't participate or who did, but still have questions about setting up Facebook pages, or Twitter accounts, we decided the webinar was a good way to reach a lot of people."

NPower is in the business of helping charities and nonprofits use technology to more effectively achieve goals, raise awareness and generate donations.

The seminar and Wednesday's webinar is part of NPower's Project Ignite campaign, a three-year program designed to provide information technology services to nonprofits. The project consists of forums, community group collaborations and financial help for charities to enhance their IT.

The Charlotte affiliate was founded in 2002 and has established itself as a key facilitator of technology strategy and solutions development for nonprofits. It has served more than 60 charities and delivered more than 120 technology projects.

All nonprofits are invited to sign up for the webinar here. For details of what was discussed at the August seminar and Wednesday's webinar click here.