Vetter: Chicks for Mom’s HouseWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
After nearly a decade and almost $1 million in cash and donations raised, a casual observer might think Chicks for Charity was a carefully planned organization. Actually, it started with an emotional reaction to serving a meal.
Many years ago, I was with a group serving dinner at Beach House Family Shelter. A woman came through the food line. She was young, pretty, vibrant — and visibly upset. Eyes red, with a tear-stained face, it was impossible not to notice. Someone asked her what was wrong, and she pointed to those of us on the serving side of the counter and said, “I used to be there. I used to be the one standing there.” I didn’t understand what she meant, and stupidly commented, “Oh, don’t worry; we’re happy to serve you this evening.”
As soon as those words came out of my mouth, it hit me. Before, she had been the one to help others, to give back, to serve a meal; now she was on the receiving end.
And there but for the grace of God we all go. In a moment, our lives can change and any one of us may be the one needing help. Standing behind the counter that evening is a moment I’ll never forget.
Chicks for Charity — a group of women and girls who believe in giving back — is the result of that evening. We know not everyone has the means to make big donations, but working together we can raise enough money to help a small, under-the-radar organization have the much-needed resources to continue helping others.
Over the past nine years, we’ve raised more than $400,000 in cash and more than $500,000 in in-kind donations and services for six organizations: the Toledo-Lucas County Furniture Bank, Beach House, Assistance Dogs of America, The Victory Center, International Boxing Club and Shared Lives Studio. Our charity for 2015-16 is Mom’s House.
Our goal is for each chick to do something — anything — fun to raise money for our charity. We then give 100 percent of funds directly to the organization. It’s not always big money. In fact, the gift of $10.75 we received as nickels, dimes and quarters in a sandwich bag from one of our junior chicks this summer was as important as any donation we received all year. It came from the heart, from a little girl who understands others are not as fortunate as she is. She wanted to help. She is what we call an awesome chick.
Chicks for Charity can’t cure all the ills of our community, but we are working together to make sure women of all ages know they have the ability to make a difference. Philanthropy at any age is a beautiful thing, and small amounts can make a big difference in someone’s life.
This year, we started with applications from 31 organizations. We narrowed it down to three finalists: Mom’s House, Family House and Food for Thought. They shared their missions, their successes and their needs during presentations in early December. It was an incredible evening.
After giving all 1,900 chicks the opportunity to cast a vote, Mom’s House was designated our charity for 2015-16. They are a phenomenal organization, going to great lengths to help young, single moms deal with the realities of motherhood while continuing their education. Many become the first in their family to get a high school diploma, college degree or jobs that any one of us would be proud to have. Mom’s House helps young women in crisis become contributing members of our community.
At our voting meeting, a former client of Mom’s House shared her story. Once a high school girl in desperate need, she is now a college graduate and the regional palliative care coordinator at Mercy. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school; her son is now 10 and in classes for gifted students. She’s married with two other sons and a husband also counseled by Mom’s House. He hated his job as a janitor and, with their guidance, has since graduated from college and is working as a pretrial booking officer for Lucas County.
They are a successful family, contributing to our community in every way possible. They are now on the “serving” side of the counter.
Any woman or girl is welcome to join Chicks for Charity. There are no membership dues or meetings. To register, go to chicksforcharity.net.
Martha Vetter is founder of Chicks for Charity and CEO of R/P Marketing Public Relations. She can be reached at email@example.com.