“A Million Better Tomorrows” sums up our wish for everyone as we look back at the Giving Circle of HOPE for 2016.
After years of service, many of the Guiding Circle including some Founding Members passed their batons to new hands. Happily, they continued to counsel and lend their expertise! The Guiding Circle for 2016 included: Rebecca Berntsen and Lydia Patrick (Communications), Peggy Cressy and Cyndi Shanahan (Governance), Jacquie Garland (Records), Diana Katz (Outreach), Sheila Morris and Donna Whitaker (Grants), Joy Myers (Programs), Rosemary Theurer (Finance), and Jean Wyman (Membership).
January 28’s Quarterly Meeting raised our awareness and focused attention on immigration, incarceration, and data collection provided on human services. Speakers were our grantees from the Centreville Immigration Forum, OAR of Fairfax, and Grace Ministries. The impacts of our collective giving on the lives of those in need in our community became very real.
Human Trafficking: Here, There and Everywhere was the topic of the March 12 joint program sponsored by the Giving Circle of HOPE, the Herndon-Reston Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and the Reston Lion’s Youth Club. Our awareness was raised about how these cruel and dehumanizing practices exist in our local community, how predators recruit vulnerable girls and boys, and how difficult it is for those trafficked to separate from the situation.
March 17’s Quarterly Meeting called on three of our grantees to raise awareness and focus attention on particular areas of need locally: hunger, nutrition, and reintegration into the community following incarceration. Speakers were from Lorton Community Action Center, Our Daily Bread, and OAR of Arlington.
If it’s April, it’s Empty Bowls! 2016 marked the 9th annual event to raise awareness about hunger in Northern Virginia and to raise funds for one of our nonprofit partners, Food for Others. We coordinated with donors to provide handcrafted pottery bowls, delicious soups, breads, and desserts along with entertainment, education, and advocacy. (Watch for details on the 10th annual Empty Bowls to be held April 28, 2017.)
May 13 was the celebration of our 2015 grantees’ accomplishments! Attendees heard first-hand how the lives of those served by each of the nonprofit grantees were impacted by the Giving Circle’s funding. Held in an informal setting at the Lake Anne Community Center, each nonprofit had their own table where they spoke and answered questions until the bell chimed and those listening rotated to the next nonprofit’s table. We left the event with a wealth of useful and actionable information.
The tenth anniversary of the Break The Cycle Endowment was celebrated by granting $1,500 each to two local nonprofits that support girls to develop positive self-esteem and a healthy attitude about their bodies. Girls Inspired & Ready to Lead (GIRL) received funding for its Pathways to Careers Program, which introduces high school girls to smart decision-making for the future through career exploration. Space Of Her Own (SOHO) was funded for its new program that promotes practical skills through carpentry and interior design, technology, and architecture, as well as fosters career aspiration and success in school.
Giving Circle of HOPE members came together at the August 25th Picnic and Quarterly Meeting, which was held at the Walker Nature Center. We caught up with each other and heard from the Guiding Circle about what was in store for November’s BIG GIVE. We didn’t just bring entrees, side dishes, and desserts. We also brought pajamas, toothbrushes and toothpaste for children at the shelter. Though it got dark a bit earlier than we expected, the flickering candles ensured a bright evening of fellowship.
The Giving Circle of HOPE hosted three free programs on human service needs in the community. The program was called The Path Toward Tomorrow: Fairfax County Human Services Needs Assessment and the Giving Circle of HOPE Response and was replicated in Vienna, Herndon, and Reston over three evenings. Representatives from Fairfax County’s Department of Human Services highlighted areas of need identified in the assessment and a member of the Guiding Circle shared what the Giving Circle is and how it helps local nonprofits in their work with struggling residents. Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco, Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel, and State Delegate Ken Plum participated in the discussions, which we very much appreciated.
The big moment arrived following months of preparation. At the November 17 gathering for members to vote on the grant recipients for 2016, approximately 120 people gathered to celebrate an amazing milestone – crossing one million dollars in grants given since the Giving Circle began in 2004. Eileen Ellsworth, President of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, spoke about current philanthropic efforts to address needs in the community. Then it was time for collective giving in action with three nonprofits presenting one of their projects and attendees voting on which would receive grant funding that evening. SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center received the largest grant with College Access and SPIRIT Open Equestrian equally sharing smaller grants. We also congratulated and bid adieu to those Guiding Circle members who are retiring. Beautiful venue at Refraction. Delicious food and drink. Memories we’ll enjoy for years. Challenge accepted to raise the next one million dollars for grants to address pressing needs in our local area.
As for the regular grant awards for 2016, eight nonprofits received funding. We look forward to sharing their progress with you in the months ahead.
The Giving Circle had a table front and center at the December 5 Alternative Gift Market. We offered shoppers two gift options. One was a “first night basket” of a small soft pillow, warm socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, and activity books for a child entering the shelter. The other was a Flashes of Hope photo shoot for children with cancer and their families. It was an uplifting experience to join with a dozen other nonprofit groups; each offering holiday gifts to help those in need.
As 2016 comes to a close, we see a new chapter beginning. Diana Katz, the last of the Giving Circle of HOPE’s four founders, has retired from the Guiding Circle as have Rebecca Berntsen and Peggy Cressy, two long-term members. We look forward to 2017 and undertaking the work ahead to strengthen our local community. With your support and active participation, it will be quite a year!
If we missed one of your 2016 Giving Circle highlights, let us know by leaving a comment.