By Taylor Mahlinger
Tuesday, May 5th is Giving Tuesday, a day of global unity that encourages everyone to give back to their communities. In its eighth year, Giving Tuesday is usually celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, but due to an increase in needs due to COVID-19, GivingTuesdayNow has been created. GivingTuesdayNow has partnered with Coronavirus Relief Efforts as a way to help those impacted by the virus. The state of Kentucky has also joined the effort to support communities and nonprofits, designating May 12th as KY Gives Day, for communities across the state to come together and show support by donating to a variety of nonprofit organizations, a list of which can be found here. All of these organizations bring so much to our community and do such incredible work. Below is a short description of some of our member non-profit organizations doing fantastic things in our city, as well as links to donate to help bolster their efforts if you feel so moved.
Blue Grass Community Foundation and United Way of the Bluegrass
United Way of the Bluegrass (UWBG) and Blue Grass Community Foundation (BGCF) have joined GivingTuesdayNow in an effort to provide support for local nonprofits and residents within the regional area they serve through The Coronavirus Response Fund (CRF). The Coronavirus Response Fund’s mission is to support nonprofit organizations that are “providing critical services to the most vulnerable residents of the regional UWBG/BGCF joint service area.”
Donations given to The Coronavirus Response Fund on May 5th will be doubled, made possible by two generous donors who contributed $50,000 to dollar-for-dollar matching. Donations were also made by The Jenna and Matthew Mitchell Family Foundation at Blue Grass Community Foundation, who provided $35,000 for matching, and a $15,000 gift from United Way of the Bluegrass. The CRF has raised over $680,000 so far and “officials estimate that the fund will require $1 million to ensure adequate support during the recovery phase of the relief effort, projected to last through the end of May.” So far, the Coronavirus Response Fund has “awarded grants totaling more than $420,000 to organizations across 13 counties providing access to food, health care, transportation, information, and other basic needs.” The grants are awarded weekly depending on the funds available from CRF. “Grants are issued from the Coronavirus Response Fund, housed at BGCF, and managed in partnership with UWBG.”
The Explorium of Lexington is an important part of the nonprofit community, as a place where children can “explore, play, learn, and have fun with over 100 interactive exhibits.” Lee Ellen Martin, Executive Director at The Explorium said, “The Explorium also travels all over the state with our Field Trip To Go and Traveling Trunk programs providing interactive activities at schools, libraries, churches, and more! We are currently closed to the public. We have been providing daily activities that you can find on Facebook, our website www.explorium.com, or via daily emails to keep the kids entertained. We are also converting our summer camp program to a virtual format.” Martin continued, “Our current need, like most nonprofits, is donations. This is our heavy earned revenue season and we will miss most if not all of it this year. We need donors to help us make up the deficit we will face due to the closure. If you would like to donate, go to https://secure.qgiv.com/for/eol/. We look forward to being open and hearing the giggles and happy noise again!”
The Nest, Center for Women, Children, & Families is another important non-profit organization in the Lexington community to think about on both GivingTuesdayNow and KY Gives Day. Executive Director of The Nest, Jeffrey White, said, “The Nest is committed to supporting families and responding to the challenges facing our community during this difficult time. We are a lifeline for families in crisis – regardless of what family looks like for you. Our holistic approach incorporates four free programs: family assistance for basic human needs, education and support for parents, counseling, and advocacy for survivors of intimate partner abuse, and five-star-rated drop-in childcare. We are proud to provide support in English and Spanish.” White concluded, “Due to COVID-19, the loss of event and other revenue has impacted nonprofits around the country, and The Nest is no exception. This has made charitable giving during this time absolutely vital to sustain our ability to provide services to families in need.” To make a donation to The Nest, click here.
The Carnegie Center
For many years, The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning has served the Lexington community as a non-profit educational center. Jennifer Hester Mattox, Development Director & Kentucky Great Writers Series Coordinator said, “The Carnegie Center empowers people to explore and express their voices through imaginative learning and the literary arts. Writers and readers interact with authors in our intimate atmosphere. When National Book Award Finalist Ada Limόn launched THE CARRYING here, she said, ‘The Carnegie Center is one of the first places where I found what a literary community was.’ The center is a vital literary resource to Kentucky and to our region, last year attracting attendees from 15 other states. The reason: writers of all ages and backgrounds find a supportive environment, both in the writing instruction given and in the encouragement and helpful feedback they receive. Whether it’s through one of our affordable workshops, writer mentoring, a conference, or another literary opportunity, we help writers at all stages of writing—published and unpublished—find support for their writing goals. The center also addresses the literacy needs of the community through K-12 tutoring, author visits in schools, family literacy programs, summer enrichment camps for kids, college mentoring, and educational classes and for adults.”
The Carnegie Center has been able to adapt their programs during this time to fit the needs of the community, launching “Carnegie From Your Couch,” a “series of online classes in writing, world languages, and other topics for multiple ages; videos of Kentucky authors reading snippets of their works, both published and unpublished; writing prompts to spark creativity; links to articles on writing tips; and more.” Mattox said, “We are seeking contributions to support our #CarnegieFromYourCouch programming: online classes, author videos, and storytimes, writing prompts, a virtual writing conference, and much more. Much of our content is offered at no cost so that we can help those people who need us most during this crisis.”
That’s not all they’ve been up to, “Our children’s outreach staff also hit the street with books, each week filling over 60 Little Libraries and the Carnegie Center Reading Room in Triangle Park with free books. Our staff also supply fun activity packets for children at these sites. We’re working with Fayette County Schools to offer a virtual Youth Meeting Authors visit for their students. We helped the Kentucky Arts Council coordinate and film videos of Kentucky authors for this year’s virtual Kentucky Writers Day Celebration. We’ve also transformed the 2020 Books-in-Progress Conference into a virtual one-day conference that includes the chance to pitch to New York City literary agents and to learn from a former Writer’s Digest Editor.”
In addition to GivingTuesdayNow, The Carnegie Center will be participating in KY Gives Now and accepting donations on both May 5th and May 12th as well as the days in between. Click here to donate.
LexArts is another vital non-profit organization for Lexington, integrating art into different parts of the community. Interim President and CEO of LexArts, Ame Sweetall said, “Challenging. Extraordinary. Heartbreaking. We’re running out of ways to describe how life has changed these last few weeks. We learned this week that Mayor Gorton’s proposed funding for LexArts represents a more than 50% reduction from 2019 funding. And the proposed funding is a match opportunity. We must raise an additional $200,000 to be eligible for the $200,000 in the Mayor’s budget proposal. We are grateful for Mayor Gorton’s belief in the value of the arts and are sympathetic to her difficult task at hand. This is a dire situation. But make no mistake, the generosity of the creative spirit is on display everywhere. LexPhil musicians broadcasting from their living rooms. Lexington Children’s Theatre webcasting virtual performances, play readings, and Master Classes. Bluegrass Youth Ballet and Allegro Dance Project sharing creative projects and processes, inspiration, and ideas. Institute 193 and The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center throwing open their doors for virtual gallery tours. The Carnegie Center sharing access to their catalogs of the written and spoken word. And so many more. All to help us through these trying times. Now is the time to be just as generous.” Click here to make a donation to LexArts.
Lexington Habitat For Humanity
Another important non-profit is Lexington Habitat for Humanity. Brandalin Foster, Communications Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity stated, “Driven by the vision that everyone deserves a decent place to live, Lexington Habitat for Humanity has built or repaired nearly 600 homes in Lexington. Habitat homebuyers help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage, and low-income homeowners have the opportunity to repair and preserve their homes. Through financial support, purchasing a restore gift card for future use, or signing on to advocacy efforts at www.lexhabitat.org – everyone can help bring quality, affordable housing within reach of more families in our community.”
AthensWest Theatre Company
AthensWest Theatre Company produces intimate, compelling, and dynamic professional theatre for Central Kentucky – with commitments to diversity, education, and community enrichment. Annually, AthensWest produces a three-show season at the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center, educates high school- and college-age students and young professionals through a growing internship program, and produces several low-cost or no-cost events for the public.
As with any non-profit arts organizations, money is needed to produce high-quality productions that employ local and nationally accomplished guest professionals, so financial donations are appreciated. Also, AthensWest thrives on donated space, and the following types of commercial spaces are needed in order to grow: office, set-building and storage, classroom, and rehearsal. We currently enjoy many types of in-kind donations and are open to discuss whatever a business or individual may wish to contribute – especially food and beverage concessions, costume and set building materials, office supplies, accommodations, or travel.
As a non-profit, Bluegrass Greensource empowers the Bluegrass region to create a sustainable environment through education and community outreach programs. Chris Porter, Community Outreach Specialist & Development Director for Bluegrass Greensource said, “Founded in 2001, Bluegrass Greensource works in 20 Central Kentucky counties to provide the resources people need to become more sustainable in their daily lives. We do this in three ways: by providing lessons directly to PreK-12th grade students and training opportunities for teachers; by providing workshops and other informal education to adults on such topics as rain gardens and water quality, home energy efficiency, and recycling and waste reduction; and by providing technical assistance to businesses and community organizations that seek to green their operations. This outreach results in more than 100,000 annual engagements in our 20-county service area. During the current pandemic, Greensource has shifted its outreach online, as our educators work with teachers to provide lessons through the NTI model, and our outreach staff conduct webinars for adults on a variety of sustainability topics. Our greatest need at this time is for donations that will allow our staff to continue providing online workshops and classes for students, teachers, and adults.” To donate to Bluegrass Greensource, click here.
American Heart Association
Last but certainly not least is The American Heart Association. As a non-profit organization, they educate people on how to live a healthy lifestyle and fund cardiovascular research along with so much more. Beth Langefels, Senior Director, Communications & Marketing for AHA said, “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are trailing behind in our fundraising and without support from donors, less money will be available to support cardiovascular research, community health initiatives and many other programs that will drastically impact lives for years to come.”
Langefels continued, “The AHA is the largest voluntary health organization in the nation and is nearly 100 years old. Our mission is now and always will be focused around health and well being and we are relentless in our fight to ensure every Kentuckian and every American has an opportunity to live their best lives. We understand that many people are facing financial uncertainty, but it’s important to remember that generosity is not about the size of the gift but the heart of the giver. Every act of kindness is a beacon of hope and it connects us all during this uncertain time.”
All gifts made to the AHA on May 5th will be doubled and will support their “vulnerable heart disease and stroke patients as they navigate through this health crisis.” Langefels said, “We know that heart disease and stroke will still be there when this is over. Please consider supporting the AHA this Giving Tuesday. Log on to www.heart.org/centralKYWalk and click on the banner at the top of the page.”