Impact Harrisonburg, a giving circle of young professionals, recently distributed annual grants to three local nonprofit organizations. The group used the Community Needs process of The Community Foundation to select nonprofit projects to consider. Local organizations selected by Impact members as grant recipients this year are Blue Ridge CASA, Blacks Run Forest Farm, and Way to Go. Read on for more information submitted by each organization, describing the project funded by the Impact grants.
Blue Ridge CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) FOR CHILDREN recruits, selects, trains and supervises volunteers to advocate for children who have been victims of abuse or neglect. The goal of CASA’s advocacy is to find safe, permanent and nurturing homes for abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for the Juvenile and Domestic Court Judge, collecting information from all parties within a child’s life and compiling the information in a court report. CASA’s Court report is the most comprehensive report that the court will receive on the child’s case. Children with a CASA on their case are better represented, receive more services, and do better on a number of well-being indicators. ($500 Impact grant designated for the “CASA for Children” project)
Blacks Run Forest Farm is an edible park and neighborhood arboretum for agroforestry, watershed restoration, and community health. The organization grows healthy accessible food, cares for our soil and water, restores relationships between people and place, and cultivates abundant neighborhoods. Through a riparian orchard, forest garden, and nursery, the organization farms in the image of the forest. Blacks Run is one of Virginia’s most polluted streams and flows through a low-income neighborhood historically known as the Wasteland due to the impaired stream, corporate poultry factories, and substandard housing. The forest farm is committed to the health of Blacks Run and all those living in its watershed. Without current major funding, the organization is propagating its nursery, expanding its forest garden on Salvation Army’s property, planting the eroded stream bank, hosting workshops, and developing partnerships with local schools and universities to connect students to the trees and wildlife of the Blacks Run watershed. The organization aspires to expand its public tree park to nearly 3.5 acres along Blacks Run Stream by leasing land from Salvation Army, which sits along the proposed Northend Greenway, and the adjoining lots from Public Works and Parks and Recreation, whose advisory commission has unanimously supported this proposal. ($500 Impact grant designated for the “Planting Trees, Healing Water & Growing Community” project)
Way to Go empowers low-income working families to improve their quality of life by assisting them with their transportation needs. The organization keeps local families mobile and employed by helping them with a range of issues to maintain their family vehicle. If they do not have a vehicle, Way to Go has several programs that can help families obtain one. This particular project was proposed to support both the “maintain” and “obtain” objectives of the Way to Go program. Funds are requested for: repairs(including towing and inspections), car insurance, vehicle fees, gas, taxi trips, vehicle payments to prevent repossession, and for other urgent needs to keep a low-income working family’s vehicle operable that contribute to a decent quality of life. Clients seeking to obtain a vehicle can access the WorkCars program where Way to Go provides a down payment, guaranteed bank financing through F&M Bank, financial assistance with dealer and DMV fees, and vehicle insurance. The organization works closely with local automobile dealers to help clients obtain cars that are safe, affordable, dependable, and legal. ($7,100.64 Impact grant for “The Key to Self Sufficiency” project)
IMPACT Harrisonburg has been a giving circle for young professionals in their twenties, thirties, and forties. The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County created this component fund in 2014 to encourage philanthropy among young professionals with a focus on improving our community. Members made a charitable donation based on their age. Funds were pooled together and granted to a nonprofit(s) chosen by membership vote.
After four years, Impact will now move in a different direction, ceasing membership recruitment and distribution of annual grants. Impact members and other local young professionals are encouraged to participate in The Community Foundation’s annual Great Community Give (GCG) on April 17, 2019. GCG is a single day of giving to partnered local nonprofits to promote charitable giving in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Through the Great Community Give, young professionals can continue to have an impact on local nonprofits in our Harrisonburg and Rockingham County community!