Austin teen runs annual food drive, basket by basket

Broushka, a 15-year-old Austin teen, has raised thousands of pounds of food for Caritas.

An Austin teenager, Bridget Boushka, has been organizing an annual food drive in her neighborhood since she was 12 years old. What started as a volunteer project through her school, St. Gabriel’s Catholic School, led to her collecting 542 pounds worth of food for the nonprofit Caritas, which serves low-income and refugee adults and families. That was the first year.

Two years later, Boushka raised 2,029 pounds of donated items, including food, drinks, diapers and clothing. In addition to in-kind donations, the drive raised $700 worth of H-E-B gift cards, $560 in bus passes and $2,300 in cash donations.

Boushka attributes the success of her food drive to the generosity of her neighbors, but she also has a sure-fire plan of action. She outlines her project to neighbors on a flyer that she attaches to a large basket and delivers to each doorstep. The flyer asks donors to simply leave items they want to donate in the basket on their front porch for pick-up within the next week. 

Mindful of the most urgent needs of Caritas clients, Boushka also includes a wish list for neighbors to reference on what to give. As promised, she then travels up and down neighborhood streets picking up baskets filled with donations.

“My neighbors are always so enthusiastic to be a part of the drive, they feel like they are making such an impact,” Boushka beams. To adequately demonstrate the collective impact, Boushka photographs all the items together and includes them in thank you notes.
Executive Director for Caritas of Austin, Beth Atherton says, “I am so impressed by Bridget’s passion, energy and drive. It is encouraging to see such exemplary leadership in a young adult and Caritas is fortunate to have her support.”

This year, Boushka will celebrate her 16th birthday, but the busy St. Michael’s Catholic Academy student, All-State swimmer, track and cross country runner says she will definitely continue her annual food drive, saying, “I love doing it, it is so rewarding.” With a 16th birthday between now and then, the only difference is that next year she will be the one behind the wheel delivering donations.

JULY 30: Events, workshops and other news from Austin philanthopic community

A bit of a round-up of interesting items I came across this week.

1. Homeless Coach: Missioned to “ssensselemoH” …reverse Homelessness!

Homeless Coach

For two years Tom Baum and friends have put all their energy into helping more homeless people get coaching and support to turn their lives around. They also find RVs and turn them into Homeless Coaches, gutting them, renovating them and using the entire process to bring more people into the effort.

Each Homeless Coach Houses 1-2 homeless people, employs 5-10 homeless (part time), coaches 10 homeless off the streets every 6 months while sharing life stories, meals, fun, etc. Participants graduate with renewed purpose, a life plan and a “family” of community contacts who recognize their God-given talents and gifts.

This Saturday, they’re doing an “Extreme RV Makeover,” and it begins with a gutting of an old RV. Can’t make it up to Pflugerville to help? Then watch it online via livestream. The fun happens from 10 am – 3 pm. Livestream access and more information here.

2. Free workshops and brown bags for nonprofit beginners

Mando Rayo of Cultural Strategies

I don’t know why I’m just now discovering this. If you’re trying to start a nonprofit or take your early nonprofit to the next level, please send someone to the City’s Cultural Arts Division workshops in August. Here are some of the offerings:

AUG 17: Multucultural Marketing (this one by the incomparable Mando Rayo)
AUG 18: Creating a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
AUG 25: Lessons in Advanced Grant Writing

Find out more here.

3. Good news for the Long Center

Courtesy Long Center

Thanks to you, the Long Center exceeded its fundraising goals for its fiscal year, which ended on June 30, surpassing the $1.6 million mark. See the Austin Business Journal story here.

4. Habitat for Humanity one of biggest homebuilders in America

photo from Tom Hubba

As Habitat celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, it’s worth noting that the organization was recently ranked among the top-ten builders in the nation by Builder Magazine.  See this from the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

As the housing and financial crisis struck several years ago, the large publicly traded builders, including D.R. Horton Inc. and KB Home, pulled back. But Habitat kept building.

“We’re a lot less tied to the market as a whole,” said Mark Andrews, Habitat’s senior director for U.S. operations. “We’ve been able to keep chugging along at a pretty solid pace.”

As a result, Habitat, a Christian group founded 34 years ago in Americus, Ga., around a philosophy of constructing and rehabilitating homes for low-income families, was recently ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 builders for the first time in a closely watched industry list compiled by Builder Magazine.

Learn more about the good work Habitat’s doing in Austin here.

School supply drives around Austin

With your help, all these kids will get school supplies!

Who can resist a new box of crayons? Especially the big one with the sharpener in the back.

No one. So feel free to buy them and donate them to any of these 2009-2010 school supply drives. Or even better, keep it for yourself! Then donate the money to the school supply drives, because they can buy a lot more school supplies with your $20 in bulk than you can at Target.

Volunteers needed, too!

(Oh, and backpacks! If your organization or business has some new, logo’d backpacks lying around, these organizations would love to hand them out to needy kids. Thanks!)

Manos de Cristo
Helps more than 2,000 East Austin children get school supplies, backpacks, and clothes for school.
DONATE: Monetary donations also accepted. Just $20 can provide a backpack with school supplies for one child, and for $45 you can completely outfit a child with a new backpack, supplies, and two new outfits.
VOLUNTEER: Volunteers needed to prepare for event, sort items, help distribute items, take photos and video.
WHEN: Pre-sorting & Preparation: Monday – Friday, July 26 – 30
Distribution Dates: Monday – Friday, August 2 – 6 and August 9 – 13
WHERE: 5335 Airport Blvd., Austin, Texas 78751
MORE: Manos de Cristo

Round Rock Partners in Education
Currently, more than 30% of RRISD families in Round Rock, Northwest Austin, and Cedar Park (approximately 12,000 students) qualify for the federally-funded Free and Reduced Lunch Program. These students are eligible to receive free basic school supplies from RRISD and the RRISD Partners in Education Foundation.
DONATE: “Support-A-Student-Program” lets you sponsor a student for only $10.
VOLUNTEER: Volunteer at Stony Point High School, 1801 Tiger Trail (formerly Bowman Road,) Round Rock, TX 78664.
WHEN: Sorting and distribution August 12-14
MORE: Round Rock PIE

Communities in Schools
2,000 CIS students need backpacks and school supplies. YOU can help!
DONATE: A $20 donation provides a CIS student with a backpack and a full set of school supplies. For just $5 more, a personal hygiene kit can be added to their backpack.
VOLUNTEER: School supplies are shipped directly to CIS where volunteers pack the supplies, write personal notes to each student and deliver them to campuses.
WHEN: Individuals or teams can volunteer to help pack supplies on August 13-14 or deliver supplies on August 18.

For the Children
FTC is an all-volunteer nonprofit. 100% of your donation goes toward school supplies. Low income children from 10 Central Texas school districts are eligible for school supplies, which they receive on the first day of school. Last year, FTC supported just under 55,000 children in the 10 Central Texas school districts, grades Pre-K through 4th. This year they hope to help 9,000 more.
DONATE: For the Children

Hope & Love 4 Kids
Founded in 2006, Hope & Love 4 Kids is a non-profit based in Kyle serving the children of Hays county.
DONATE: The school supply drive will be going all summer long. Donation bins are located at: KYLE – Kyle United Methodist Church, Seton Hospital, Fox’s Pizza, Wells Fargo, Trust Texas Bank , Austin Regional Clinic, Whataburger, UPS Store and Vantage Apartments, BUDA – Body Interiors and Learning Squared, AUSTIN – Champion Toyota and Haverty’s Furniture.
MORE: Hope & Love 4 Kids

UPDATE… PLEASE REMEMBER: These organizations hand out school supplies as well, so check their websites for dates, times and locations.

Here’s one Austin event offering FREE school supplies for K-12:

The Back to School Parade
3-6 pm

A parade starts at the Delco Center and ends at Batholemew Park on E. 51st Street. (MAP) All school supplies will be handed out at the end of the parade on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that children who are present will get first chance to go home with school supplies; there may not be enough school supplies for others to take to children who do not attend. Get more information here.

SAT JULY 17: Fitness Fair to introduce more kids to sports

Fitness Feria 2010

FitnessFeria will introduce Austin Spanish-speaking families to school sports.

This Saturday, July 17, more than 40 nonprofits, health agencies, and fitness groups across the area will offer Fitness Feria, a first-ever concept for Austin.

The event features more than 20 sports and fitness activities demonstrated to families, including cycling, kayaking, football, cheerleading, ballet, golf, running, and more. There’ll also be hands-on practice activities between parents and children with coaches, athletes, and mentors.

At Fitness Feria, parents will navigate with their children thru an “Olympic pathway” of hands-on sports demonstrations and exhibits as they learn these things about the U.S. sports and fitness system:

· The ABCs of Movement – the essential physical activities at every age level, from infant to teenager

· What it takes to do many kinds of sports, such as volleyball, running, cycling, baseball, swimming, karate, soccer, and many more

· Where to connect with free sports camps, training, and fitness activities in the area

· How to get athletic mentors and scholarships

· The importance of practice, mental discipline, and healthy lifestyles to achieve success in sports and fitness

WHY: One in three kindergarteners in Austin is overweight or obese with a near majority of these kids live in Spanish language dominant families. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses are at their highest in the Hispanic community, but the number is increasing across all socioeconomic and ethnic groups.

Fitness Feria aims to give Spanish-speaking parents a better understanding of the U.S. sports and fitness system so they can be drivers of their family’s health and movement. The event also trains and mobilizes nonprofits and community groups to better engage the Spanish-speaking community. Organizers still need volunteers.

WHEN: Saturday, July 17, 2010, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

WHERE: Toney Burger Center, 3200 Jones Road, Austin, Texas

WHO CAN ATTEND: The program is geared toward Spanish-speaking families, but all families are welcome to attend.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Volunteer! According to Oné Musel-Gilley, “We have English and Spanish volunteer roles. However, our greatest need is Spanish speaking volunteers.” Go for it!

CONTACT: To learn more about Fitness Feria, click here.

Hurry! Make Chase send big money to Austin via Facebook

UPDATE: Four of the nonprofits below won $20,000 each from Chase. Congratulations, and thanks for all your votes!

Are you on Facebook?

You might have heard about Chase Community Giving’s ongoing campaign to give $5 million in donations to 200 charities across the country. They’re asking Facebook users to vote for their favorite charity; Chase will give the top vote-getter $250,000, the five runner-ups $100,000 each, and the rest in the top 200 $20,000 each. Ch-ching.

Here’s the thing: Voting ends Monday! And five Austin charities in the top 200!

I’m not a fan of these corporate marketing schemes cloaked as philanthropy, but I’m a big girl, I know how this stuff works, and… I mean, it’s $20,000. So go!

Austin charities in the running for the prize as of this writing are:

#117 Cedar Park High School Band Boosters, 1071 votes
#118 Colombian Orphanages, 1070 votes
#135 Little Helping Hands, 1035 votes
#141 Walter Diez Molina Fund, 1019 votes
#177 Challah for Hunger, 973 votes

Marissa Vogel, executive director of Little Helping Hands, tells me the nonprofits have been working together to make sure they all stay in. “We’ve been working so hard on this for a month now,” she says. “It’s one thing to ask people to do it, but then they actually have to do it!”

So we’re going to make this simple:

1. Click here. Log on to Facebook if you have to.

2. Go to the green “Voting Open Now” and click “Like.” Follow instructions from there.

3. To vote for the above nonprofits, best go to the “Leaderboard” tab and click though until you get to the Austin charities.

You can vote for up to 20 nonprofits. So go crazy! Let’s get $100,000 to Austin charities!

McCombs MBA students looking to serve on nonprofit boards in Austin

Lauren Blitzer, president of Net Impact McCombs

Austin nonprofits: Consider hosting an MBA Board Fellow this semester.

Lauren Blitzer is president of Net Impact McCombs, a professional club for socially-minded MBA students at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.  She filled me in on this fantastic idea.

This month, Net Impact McCombs launched a Board Fellows program in which students serve on the board of directors of local nonprofits in a non-voting capacity, attend meetings, serve on committees, and complete a Board-level strategic project.

What MBA students get: MBA students learn about Board governance, the realities of operations of nonprofits, and get to apply their business skills to serve the community.

What the nonprofit gets: The nonprofit benefits from a fresh perspective and gains the business insights of an MBA student.

Here’s a little more information from Blitzer:

“Since the program is new to McCombs, and we want to focus more on the student/organization match than on strict guidelines, we plan to be flexible in our selection and matching process and encourage ALL organizations to apply.  Nonprofits come in all shapes and sizes, and we think this program should reflect that.  Please be assured that a good student match, enthusiasm, and commitment to the program will outweigh these criteria.

  • Nonprofit (501(c)3) status  (STRICTLY REQUIRED)
  • An operating history of at least one year
  • An annual budget of at least $350,000
  • A minimum of 3 full-time staff members
  • Have a board member willing to serve as a mentor (STRICTLY REQUIRED)

As long as you are confident that someone at your organization could be available enough to facilitate a positive student experience (provide mentorship and needed information/data for their project in a timely manner, etc), then we’d love for you to apply. That said, we can’t guarantee you (or any other organization) a Fellow.  We will be working this summer to ensure that the needs of the organizations match with the students’ skills and interests.  If we are unable to match you, please know that it isn’t because of those ‘criteria’; other schools who have done this before have all warned us about the disasters of a bad student/organization match, so we would rather not facilitate a match then force a bad pairing.”

Still interested? Blitzer asks nonprofit to apply by August 15, but if you want a student to start at the beginning of their semester, please apply sooner.

Get more information by sending Blitzer an email or just apply online now.

Great time at our little happy hour last night

Jackie Rogers of United Way, John Turner of Southwest Key and a friend from Southwest Key

I wanted to thank everyone again for their good wishes and support. We had a little happy hour last night… I never get out… so it was really fun. Even my husband got to come!

Here, a few photos. The party was at the lovely and very dark Vino Vino, which was wonderfully understanding and accommodating for our small crowd.

Some of the other folks who joined us were Amber Fogarty and her brother Billy of SOS Leadership, David Davenport of Capital Area Food Bank, Omar Gallaga of the Statesman, Martin Montero, Brent Lyles of Austin Youth River Watch, Robin Bradford of CASA, Salvadore Castillo of @salvocheque, Narissa Johnson of Safeplace, Claire England, Matthew Parente of Hubvine… and lots of other really cool, nice people. I can’t wait to hear from you guys with feedback and input for our next issue.

Tom Spencer of AAIM and Mando Rayo of Cultural Strategies

Victoria Gutierres of Apex Auctions, Melanie Chasteen of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Layla Fry of Southwest Key

Mando, Laurie Loew of GiveRealty and Rob Grady of Nextscreen