Tag Archives: nonprofits

Covered in sticky notes

The Chicks love to visit our partner agencies.  All our 90 nonprofit partners do such important work and it’s nice to get out in the field every once in awhile to see what they’re up to.

Hope 3So yesterday, Betsy and I visited the Hope Family Health Clinic in Westmoreland. The clinic provides medical care to the uninsured and under-insured. And Joey Foreman, the clinic’s chief compliance, development and information officer  (could you get a longer title, Joey?), took us on a tour. At every stop, he gave us a sticky note for each piece of furniture and other office equipment CRC donated to the clinic.

Turns out, we’ve pretty much furnished the place.

Hope 2The staff was incredibly gracious and grateful, but the Chicks are the ones who are blessed to be able to serve. What we do isn’t glamorous, but it is rewarding. We’re the supply line to the front lines of poverty.

Hope 1Thanks, Joey, for the tour and for making us feel so special. By the way, folks, if you want to see the real ways Hope changes the lives of the people it serves, take ten minutes and watch a video about their fantastic work.

Bring a big truck

Christmas Giveaway 2013 2Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. The Christmas Giveaway at CRC World Headquarters.

We’ve had a blessed year. It is better to give than receive, but for the Chicks it’s better to receive first. And receive we have. The warehouse was jam packed with what we consider really good stuff – all new, all useful. Well, mostly all useful. We have a couple pallets of paperweights. Does anyone use those anymore? If so, give the Chicks a call. We will hook you up.

Christmas Giveaway 2013So here’s Betsy in fast motion wheeling around pallets of the good stuff for our nonprofit partners to pick up. You know, in the nonprofit world we’re all about measurable results, inputs, outcomes and whatchamacallits. But the only way we can measure the success of the Christmas Giveaway is by an empty warehouse. Who knows how many tentacles reach out from this warehouse to people in need all over Middle Tennessee. If we measured that by the number of items in the giveaway, it would be closing in on 50,000 people whose holidays were a little brighter. Not bad for a couple days work.

Paperwork

It's never good when your charitable solicitation application is returned with yellow highlights
It’s never good when your charitable solicitation application is returned with yellow highlights

Certain things just don’t come to mind when you become a nonprofit executive. All you’re thinking about is the satisfaction of serving others and the idealism of a society in which everyone is given an even shot at the brass ring.

But then comes the paperwork of running what is, in the final analysis, a business.

So, every year nonprofits that raise money have to apply for a charitable solicitation permit from the Secretary of State’s Office. Every year, I mess it up because math is not my friend. But what happened this year has given me new faith in our state government in the form of Lucille Randall.

Here’s how it went. I fill out the application and send it in. I get an envelope back in the mail from the Secretary of State’s Office and know immediately I screwed it up because the envelope is too thick for just the permit. I did screw it up. I used last year’s tax return numbers. I am a moron.

I fill it out again with the correct numbers. I send it in again. And again I get a thick envelope back, this time with the actual application and all my mistakes highlighted in yellow. I have to say that the Secretary of State’s Office actually has a cheat sheet you can download that tells you exactly how to fill the application out. But I can’t even understand that. I now qualify as a complete moron.

And then I listen to the messages on my phone. “Hello,” the first one says. “This is Lucille Randall from the Secretary of State’s Office. Please give me a call at your convenience.” I first assume Lucille is going to tell me that you can only fill the dang application out twice and then they will determine that you are too stupid to run a nonprofit. But no. She wants to walk me through it on the phone. And she does.

I am already grateful to Lucille, but what she says to me next makes me want to send her a cookie bouquet. “Hon,” she says, “When you  have to fill this out again just call me first.”

Mystery boxes

A place for everything and everything in its place

A more traditional enterprise might call this inventory control. We just call it sorting.

CRC is truly blessed to get bulk donations from several major distributors that come boxed like mystery Christmas presents. You just never know what’s inside until you open the box and some of the contents can be, well, silly. Even slightly disturbing.

But like things have to be put in boxes with other like things and labeled so that we know when to give them away and to what agency. We have

Don't go near the water

Easter and garden boxes for spring. We have new clothing sorted by season so that we’re not giving away shorts in December or wool coats in May. We have every major holiday covered and some of the minor ones as well. Betsy has actually created a category sheet she gives to volunteers so that when a giveaway time comes we can simply pull the appropriate boxes off the shelves.

Right now, we have more to sort than we have sorted. Here are a few cool and maybe a few wacky things we’ve pulled out of our mystery boxes.

  • A shark fin hat. Who wouldn’t want to give Junior a shark fin hat to wear around the neighborhood? That will go to an agency that serves children for dress-up. Kim might wear it around the warehouse first just for giggles.
  • A creepy praying Pilgrim child statue. At least I find it creepy. Maybe I’m too jaded. A senior center will love that for a Thanksgiving
    Pray for us, oh Pilgrim child

    decoration. I think.

  • A very cool sign that just says “Eat.” I can see that in the cafeteria of one of the schools CRC partners with.
  • Another very cool sign that says “Nashville or bust”. That one may stay here. We like to decorate, too.

All of these things are decorative or playful. They go to agencies for gifts for clients, volunteer presents or to decorate their own facilities. We do a lot of decorating for halfway houses, residential programs, senior centers and family resource centers.

The more useful stuff – personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies, paper products and other household necessities do more to change the lives of those in need. But they’re not funny. Necessary, but it’s hard to get a good laugh with toilet paper.

Bacon crackers

We are having a very-high powered meeting this afternoon with a possible collaborator on our pallet project. Since it is our custom to serve light cocktails by the dock door on sunny 80-degree days, we needed a suitable accompaniment. And it is Bacon Wednesday. So we will be serving bacon crackers.

I’ll just get right to the recipe since I know you will want to make this immediately. Immediately!

Bacon crackers

Club crackers

Bacon

Set the oven to 250 degrees. Cut the bacon into strips that will wrap once around each cracker. Wrap the bacon tightly around the crackers and place on a wire rack over a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. Bake the crackers for about two hours or until the bacon is golden brown and crispy.

Make a lot. You will be tempted not to share.

Pallets, people

Pallet table

Don’t you hate it when it’s right there in front of your face and you miss it?

It seems like forever that we’ve been trying to figure out a social enterprise model that fits with CRC. Social enterprise = a profitable revenue stream. Moolah. But, as I can tell you from the 134 classes on social enterprise I’ve attended (O.K, three actually), the social enterprise has to be driven by your core mission. And that’s been a problem for us. What goes with giving stuff away?

Sitting at the dock door one day, I just randomly looked around the warehouse and settled on pallets. We have lots of pallets. I mentioned this to

Pallet planter box

Betsy and she set about doing what Betsy does best. Taking a kernel of an idea and running with it. Before long, she’d found about a gazillion uses for pallets, from planter boxes to beds. Betsy conceptualizes and Kim builds. What a perfect partnership. I produce kernels. I’ll fit in somewhere.

So, my friends, we are going into the pallet products business.  Kim is extremely excited about this. Yesterday she

Kim's workshop

got to set up her workshop in the warehouse. This involved a trip to Lowe’s, which for Kim is like a shopping spree at Nordstrom’s. We are going to produce a few samples, including a table and a planter box to show some prospective collaborators. This is where mission meets moment. We take something that many times is thrown away and remake it into a useful item. And we involve some of our nonprofit partners who serve youth who are struggling with a positive direction in their lives. That will be our workforce.

And we’ll put everything on casters because Betsy has become besotted with  casters. She and Kim cooked up a genius idea for a raised planting bed on casters. Want to plant lettuce in March but afraid of a hard freeze in April? No problem – plant away! If the freeze comes you can just roll your raised bed into the garage.

So expect the noise level at CRC to actively compete with the cement plant across the street once Kim gets the power tools going. Pallets, people.

 

Bacon pancakes

It is once again Bacon Wednesday at the world headquarters of the Community Resource Center.

We are particularly deserving of Bacon Wednesday this week because we held the giveaway yesterday and Monday. More than 60 of our nonprofit partners got basic necessities for their clients such as soap, shampoo, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. Telling mission moment of the day: “Oh, this is terrific,” said one of our partners. “Laundry detergent that isn’t watered down.” It never occurred to me that people would water down laundry detergent to make it stretch. Could we talk about that in the General Assembly rather than introducing stupid, meaningless bills (take your pick)?

But I digress. This week for Bacon Wednesday we are having strips of West Wind Farm bacon enrobed in pancake batter. Yes! We have found a wealth of promising bacon applications on Pinterest. In the coming weeks we will be sampling bacon-wrapped pretzels, bacon-wrapped Tater Tots and maple French toast and bacon cupcakes. Today we kept it simple. Take cooked bacon and put it on a griddle or in a frying pan. Cover with pancake batter (we used the Bisquick batter you just mix with water in the plastic jug). Slather on the butter (real butter, naturally) and drizzle with maple syrup (also real, naturally – you did know that most “maple syrups” are really corn syrup and maple flavoring?).

Amazing how a few strips of bacon and some pancake batter can brighten up your day. Transformational, really.

Fun with hats

 

Can I tell you how much the Chicks love their jobs? Routinely, we get bulk donations from a major retailer that we just adore. And it’s like Christmas in whatever month we’re opening them. We love all this stuff because it makes us smile and we know, in turn, it will make someone in need smile. Just to have something whimsical.

I have to digress for a moment. Do you know someone on Facebook actually took a shot at a Contributor vendor for having a cellphone? Are you kidding me? These fine folks stand out in the rain, the snow and the heat selling the newspaper so they can afford to get off the streets and, yes, get a cellphone. Give me a break.

But back to hats. We have to model the hats. Betsy chose a lovely Nanook of the North design, perfect in these cold winter days when the temperatures in warehouse rarely rise above 50. Yes, we have heaters in the warehouse and I believe they work since they’re brand new (a side benefit of the flood), but I am too cheap to turn them on. I told the architects that we didn’t need heaters in the warehouse but they wisely ignored me. I chose a lovely Christmas-themed bonnet. I am attempting to look sexy here, but I just noticed when I purse my lips the wrinkles really stand out so I believe I have failed in that effort. And I don’t appear to be pouting. More like grimacing. I used to be able to carry this off, dang it.

Oh, well. It’s giveaway day tomorrow and the hats will go to new homes. Maybe they will end up at a senior center where a warm hat is appreciated or an elementary school where a Christmas hat that plays Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brings a laugh to a child. Everyone gets to have fun with hats.

The ’80s Prom

Let me just say I don’t remember looking like this in the 1980s and I’m slightly offended that Betsy would plan an entire fund-raising event at my expense. However, it did allow her to alarmingly stretch her job description.

I will have to look it up in the employee manual, but I do not recall that Betsy’s job calls for:

1. Hunting down a life-size cutout of Michael Jackson for the Thriller dance-off (see above photo).

2. Spending hours upon hours making playlists on her computer for inspiration (we hired a DJ who had his own playlist).

3. Abandoning her post at work to hunt for a prom dress at Goodwill.

4. Purchasing a giant can of hairspray  to tease her hair and calling it “work related.”

5. Making Kim and me dress up. We hate to dress up. (We’re smiling here, but we’re not happy).

I will say that Kim really got into the spirit of the thing, actually allowing her sister to dye her hair blue. Was that an ’80s thing? I’m not sure, but it looked good on Kim and she briefly considered keeping it.

I make fun, but the first annual Prom was a huge success. The great folks at Whiskey Bent let us use their party room, we had a huge “candy” bar in addition to the real one. There was a prom photo booth to memorialize the event, a rockin’ DJ, great food and, best of all, guests who really got into the spirit of the thing.

Of course, every prom has to have a king and queen. For the inaugural event, ours were King Damon Bagwell, dressed as Prince, and Queen Jackie Neach. I am sure they will wear their crowns proudly as they reign this year. Betsy is well into planning the next Prom, which will feature Heroes and Villains. Batman. Superman. The Joker. I think Betsy is going as Wonder Woman, a title she well deserves. The whole party was her creation, from start to finish, and it came off without a hitch.

Kim and I will be hiding out for Heroes and Villains, though. We don’t do tights.

Booze and philanthropy

It is Christmas Giveaway week at CRC. It is madness. Utter madness. Our 5,000-square-foot warehouse is jam packed with stuff. More than 60 nonprofit agencies are coming to pick it all up. We make piles for them based on the needs of their clients. It is back-breaking work. And we don’t eat well. Actually, that’s not true. We don’t eat right. This week we’ve had ham and sausage biscuits, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, two kinds of Hermitage Bakery chess squares, peanut butter crackers, butter cookies, a little bit of fruit, and Bobbie Cox’s drunken orange cake.

We literally work from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon making these piles. Some agencies serve almost 1,000 people. The large piles are assembled on pallets that are then transported to the staging area by our pallet queen, Kim. We do not need to go to the gym after this. However, we need a little pick-me-up now and again.

“Hey, Kim, ” Betsy texts. “Can you pick up some Bailey’s on the way in?” I think that’s against  CRC’s human resources policy. But I don’t check. We make a pot of coffee. Bailey’s in a little coffee is a very nice way to stay warm in the warehouse. Very nice, indeed. We make a second pot. Our volunteers here to help sort piles are convinced this is the best volunteer opportunity EVER.

But wait. There’s more! After our unhealthy lunch of fast food and bakery goods, it’s cocktail hour. Doesn’t every company offer Chardonnay during their afternoon break? Really? They don’t? How about funny hats? Are we the only company that encourages the wearing of funny hats? Actually, we require it. That may be against our human resources policy, too. I don’t check.

At the end of the week, Betsy, Kim and I will have given away well over $300,000 in gift items to nonprofits that will then distribute them to tens of thousands of people in need. Not bad for three chicks in a warehouse. Hic.