Finalists for next Chicks for Charity beneficiary narrowed to threeWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Three local charities made their cases Dec. 6 to be the next beneficiary of fundraising efforts by Chicks for Charity.
Chicks for Charity is an informal group of about 1,800 women and girls who choose an organization to help support and raise awareness for every two years. The group raises funds through individual fundraisers like lemonade stands and wine tastings and also through events like the annual Chick Mix.
“There are a lot of organizations and communities that are trying to emulate us,” said Martha Vetter, founder of Chicks for Charity and president of R/P Marketing Public Relations. “Every community should be trying to do something like this. We’re on to something here, chicks.”
The three finalists, narrowed from 22, are Shared Lives Studio, Food for Thought and Family House. The last recipient was the IBC, which provides programming for at-risk youth. Chicks for Charity raised $104,000 for the program.
The winner, who will be voted in by the Chicks, will be announced Dec. 10. Members of Chicks for Charity could either vote at the presentation meeting or online by 4 p.m. Dec. 7.
Renee Palacios, executive director of the Family House, made the first presentation. Family House was started in 1985 and offers shelter for homeless families, allowing them to stay together during a homeless emergency.
“What makes Family House different than other homeless shelters in the city is that we keep families together,” Palacios said. “They’re safe. They’re in one room together.”
The Family House has 103 beds and gets six to eight calls per day seeking shelter. The shelter helps provide support for the families in a variety of ways, whether through providing childcare or mental health help.
The shelter also provides aftercare for when a family leaves. Children can still attend the Family House’s childcare center once their family has moved out.
In Lucas County, 35 percent of the homeless are families with children, Palacios said. If her group is selected by Chicks for Charity, she hopes to work to break stereotypes of the homeless.
“I could use help eliminating stereotypes. That’s the biggest hurdle that we have,” she said. “The elimination of stereotypes is so important for our families so they don’t hide in their cars.”
“We also have some threats from our current funders who want us to cut the shelter time from 90 days to 30 days,” Palacios said, adding that it takes an average of 42 days to rehouse a family.
“That means we’re gonna be forced to kick out families before they’re ready and that’s not right,” Palacios said.
Food for Thought
Sam Melden, executive director of Food for Thought, presented next. His group, started in 2007, has one stationary food pantry and 10 mobile pantries that reach both urban and rural communities. Food for Thought also emphasizes serving people with dignity, Melden said.
“It’s more about eye contact than it is about full stomachs. It’s more about conversations than calories and it’s more about a handshake than a handout,” he said.
Food for Thought has distributed 12,000 carts of groceries, containing about half a million pounds of food, this year.
Food for Thought also adds some fun to serving. Community members doodle on each and every bag through the Art for Thought program.
“Now every lunch we hand out, no bag is the same,” Melden said.
If Food for Thought is selected by the Chicks, another mobile pantry could be added. Melden said the group could also bring a nutritionist intern on board to help encourage healthy eating habits although the group prides itself on allowing patrons to choose what they eat.
A second community garden where patrons could grow their own food could also be added, Melden said.
Shared Lives Studio
The final group was Shared Lives Studio, a division of Lott Industries. Shared Lives Studio allows artists with developmental disabilities to create and sell their work.
“I’ve always said that art is a great equalizer. Everybody has a voice and it’s personal,” said Art Director Lori Schoen.
She recalled the first art show the studio had at Toledo Botanical Garden.
“One mother just kept walking around and saying, ‘I had no idea what he was capable of.’ Another mother just sort of burst into tears,” Schoen said.
Shared Lives Studio helps break down stereotypes, she added.
“[The artists are] contributing members of our society. They’re a part of our community and their jobs are very important,” Schoen said.
One of the artists, Tyler, spoke after her.
“I can’t wait to go to work every day,” he said, later adding, “You are the best thing that could have happened to me.”
After the presentation, Roxanne Ring, who has been a Chick for three years, said there was a clear winner to her because of the state of the economy, but she declined to name her choice.
“That’s the sad part of Chicks for Charity is there are so many needy organizations we could help and it’s difficult to narrow it down,” she said.
For more information, visit www.chicksforcharity.net.