Friday, August 31, 2012

The Paradox of Giving

                In my initial meeting with Coastal Community Foundation’s CEO, George Stevens, I was bewildered at his claim of the difficulty found in giving away money.  Although struck by his statement, I found myself struggling to find the validity in his words.  How could George, a leader whose work schedule is inundated with public speaking engagements, donor solicitations, and strategic planning sessions have difficulty in granting donations?   Selecting nonprofit recipients and awarding grants seemed, upon my initial contemplations, the easiest and most rewarding process accomplished by the Foundation.  However, after my recent site visit to HALOS, the heavy burden of choice was brought to fruition.  As I listened to testimonials given by grandmothers, expressing their heartfelt appreciation of HALOS’ Kinship Care Program, I felt compelled to extend support to this organization.  As I sat at a table with HALOS’ three, dedicated staff members, I craved an opportunity to accolade them for their heavily involved efforts and limitless compassion.  HALOS, I thought to myself, defined a deserving organization.  It was in that moment, that I finally recognized the truth behind George’s initial statements.   My emotions were overtaken by competing feelings of love and guilt.  How could I promote a grant to one organization, knowing that it would mean the denial of another worthy nonprofit group’s request?               

The process of narrowing grant recipients represents a paradox of beauty and pain.  Although the fruitful works of many Lowcountry nonprofits are inspirational, it is distressing to recognize that not all of them can receive a grant.  What provides ultimate comfort, however, is the knowledge that with the expertise of Coastal Community’s staff and through careful consideration taken by the grants committee, worthy designations will be made.  Not only do volunteer grant committee members and staff visit the sites, but they are actively engaged, asking extensive questions.  Although site visits serve as an important component of the grant-making process, the careful consideration does not end there.  After personally visiting all of the applicant sites, the committee meets to comprehensively evaluate all of the nonprofits and allocate grants accordingly.   The process, although arduous, is fruitful in its return, as it serves to promote the good of our entire community.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Small grants can make a big difference

No exaggeration -- a $2,500 grant this summer from our Webb-Croft Endowment to a program at MUSC designed and produced by Patty Coker-Bolt (Ph.D., Assistant Professor, and community blessing) resulted once again this summer in children receiving life-changing therapy that would have cost their families a total of more than $250,000 if given at teaching hospitals in other parts of the nation. The week-long 30-hour program is called “Camp Hand to Hands”, and costs the children’s families ZERO. Here’s what it does, and how it leverages the dollars provided 100-fold, turning $2,500 into more than $250,000:

CIMT (“Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy”) uses splinted gloves fashioned into puppet mittens on a stronger limb to get children with cerebral palsy (or other conditions) to want to use their free weaker limb to participate in deliriously fun activities. The result is that over the course of a week of “Camp Hand to Hands”, the weaker limb becomes stronger and more available to the children. While places like the Kennedy-Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins can charge a family $15,000-$20,000 or more for this experience (usually not covered by insurance), it was FREE to the 14 kids who did it this summer at MUSC’s O.T. Department because, using MUSC students as the therapists in loads of space made available by MUSC for this, the only things that have to be bought are lunches, splinting supplies and hand puppets, and craft things from area discount stores for the MUSC students to make games, props and decorations for each day’s different theme (one day, maybe the Olympics; another day, maybe Disney World). As you can see from the photo, the ratio of MUSC students to kids is incredible at better than 3-to-1. Patty Coker-Bolt received one of Charleston Magazine’s 2011 “Giving Back” awards for volunteerism – not for this program, but because of her leadership in helping to create the Charleston Miracle League. She also was one of the founding board members of Pattison’s Academy. Legions of local special needs children are better off in lots of ways because of Patty.