Anne Meador (left) says Annette Patterson (right) and The Advancement Foundation changed her life.
Nonprofits helping nonprofits: How one organization is calling the community to action in the fight against poverty.
Starting a nonprofit is hard, but starting one in the heart of a recession is nearly impossible. That didn’t stop The Advancement Foundation (TAF) and its president and founder Annette Patterson.
“Here we were in 2007, a grassroots nonprofit with no money, no staff, working for the poorest nonprofits in the community, who serve the poorest people in the community,” she says. “We had no business even surviving that first year. But we did, and we’ve just grown and grown.”
Last fall TAF celebrated the opening of the Charity Cottage Thrift Store, a project that provides earned-income funding for TAF as well as three additional nonprofits: Project Access, Manna Ministries and The West End Center for Youth. Located at 301 S. Pollard St. in Vinton, the store is open Monday through Saturday and sells a variety of fine items. It also includes a reborn doll shop, art gallery and even a cozy cafe.
“While working to increase the capacity of valuable nonprofits in our community, we also provide direct services in order to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable for the long term,” Patterson says. “The store is the tangible example of everything we do – supporting nonprofits through the earned income of the store and using the store as a venue for providing real-life training for the poor who wish to improve their lives.”
Anne Meador, a participant in TAF’s L.E.A.P. (Lift, Educate, Advocate, Proclaim) program for underprivileged women, is one of the many individuals TAF has helped.
“When Annette met me, I wouldn’t even look her in the eye,” she says. Today Meador volunteers at the store three days a week, leads a disadvantaged group advisory council, is in the process of buying a home and is even starting her own baking business called Sugar Chef Delights.
“We are very grateful to TAF for the input and the knowledge they brought to us, and the proceeds raised through the Charity Cottage are enormous,” adds Kate Ellman, director of Project Access, which delivered more than $1.9 million in free medical and dental healthcare to 1,080 working adults without insurance in 2011.
“TAF has been instrumental in keeping us afloat,” says Ed Wyatt, director of Manna Ministries, a nonprofit that distributes free food to about 200 families (3,000 individuals) living in poverty each month.
These individuals and the organizations they represent are just a few touched by the efforts of TAF, and the list keeps growing. According to Patterson, TAF’S business partner program offers local businesses the chance to receive free marketing, sales, business assessment, team building and social media/website services in exchange for participating in the skills-training program.
“Tudor’s Biscuit World and Rowe Furniture are two of our first partners who are allowing trainees to build skills through their businesses,” she says. “It’s a win-win, and that’s what we try to create. We’re not just trying to change people living in poverty. We’re trying to change the perceptions of our community about people who are living in poverty.”
Ready to help out? Here’s how:
1. Donate. TAF and the Charity Cottage are in constant need of donated items to sell, and cash contributions are also welcome.
2. Shop. Every dollar the Charity Cottage earns supports the partnering nonprofits.
3. Volunteer. In addition to helpers at the store, TAF is always looking for new business partners willing to apply their talents and resources to help the underprivileged.
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