Feeling Bad, Help Someone

Feb 21, 2021 | Community, Giving Back

One of the best ways to help get your mind off your own troubles is to help someone else. Whether you wish to volunteer regularly or occasionally, these nonprofits can always benefit from committed helpers.

 

HELPING FAMILIES NAVIGATE DISABILITIES
Since 1952, The Council on Developmental Disabilities has helped families navigate the complex world of disability from birth to end of life. The nonprofit’s mission is to educate developmentally disabled individuals and their families. Parents learn about special education assessments and the creation of children’s individualized education plans (IEPs), while disabled teens and adults receive valuable life and employment skills training. The Council informs families about wills, trusts, and guardianships/conservatorships. Additionally, the organization works on public advocacy to ensure developmentally disabled individuals’ rights are protected. As the mom of an autistic child, Family Outreach Coordinator Sara Beth McCrady experienced firsthand how the Council could help and empower her. When a Council staff member told her, “I got you. Breathe; it’s OK now,” it changed her life. “That phrase has stuck with me forever so now I tell people that: ‘It’s OK; you can breathe now.’ We understand, and we’re going to help get you what you need,” she says. Shannon Masterson is a private practice occupational therapist and educational consultant who has been volunteering as a grant writer with the Council. “We have really similar missions. It’s easy to work with people who are headed in the same direction as you,” she says. One of the grants she is working on is to provide sensory boxes to families. “I feel really good about being able to offer sensory rich experiences that are affordable and easy.”

WISHLIST: COUNCIL ON DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
• Feedback from families on what they need during COVID-19
• Feedback from families on what they need during COVID-19
• Funding and grants

 

WARMING UP THE CITY
In 2003 when their children were in elementary school, Kathy and Steve Fehder wanted to find a service project that was simple for the kids. It didn’t take long to land on the idea of collecting new and gently used blankets for the homeless. The goal that first year was to collect 200 blankets, but they doubled that. With this success, they reached out to other schools, and in the second year, collected 1,000 blankets; the third year’s total was 2,500. “We went from [the kids’] school as this small, grassroots service project to a community project with all the schools, different organizations, and churches,” Kathy says. There have been some winter seasons where they’ve been able to gather 10,000 blankets to distribute to people in need. Jenna Wheelock became a Blanket Louisville volunteer when her children’s Cub Scout troop collected blankets several years ago. Her volunteering with the nonprofit increased when she became a den mother, and it continued last year when Dunn Elementary School, where Jenna’s children attend, did a compassion project in conjunction with Blanket Louisville. “We [collected] over 600 blankets just last year,” she says. “I’ve had such an easy time engaging kids over it because they get blankets and understand people being cold.”

WISHLIST: BLANKET LOUISVILLE
• Volunteers to pick up blankets from individuals, schools, and hospitals
• Additional storage space
• Website design and social media help

 

ORIENTING REFUGEES
For 30 years, Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) has provided initial and long-term services for refugees and immigrants. Offering English as a second Language (ESL) classes, employment services, cultural orientation, medical and mental health services, and citizenship preparation, KRM strives to provide for the entire family. When immigration rates fell at the start of 2016, KRM was devastated, but Family and Youth Services Manager Adrienne Eisenmenger says, “that’s what allowed us to do more long-term services for people and to focus more on the people who have already arrived. We also get a lot of secondary migrants to Louisville. [The city is one of the top cities for Congolese refugees].” Tricia Hackworth walked past KRM frequently and decided it would be a great way for her to meet people after moving to Louisville just over a year ago with her husband, Louisville FC head coach John Hackworth. She has volunteered with KRM’s new baby program, its welcome home program, its food bank, and as a tutor for children. “I’ve gotten way more than I’ve given, and it’s been a highlight for me this past year. It’s so rewarding for me to set up a home for a family that is just getting here and is probably terrified of what the next day is going to hold. Knowing they get to climb into a bed that’s made and rest their heads. I love that,” she says.

WISHLIST: KENTUCKY REFUGEE MINISTRIES
• Gift cards
• Volunteers (to set up apartments, tutor children)
• Donations (household items, clothing, school supplies)

P.S. Read about these non-profits that are gifts to our commmunity.

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