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Fostering New Community Collaborations

“People in poverty wonder if they can survive day to day. People in middle class are about achievement. People in wealth are about connection and legacy,” said Lynn Phillips-Gaines, founder of Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty, a non-profit dedicated to closing the economic gap and eradicating poverty in its community. The organization’s programs aim to foster deeper understandings between the middle class and the poor, and build relationships between the groups.

Lynn believes that all non-profit service providers “need to be trained on the mental models of poverty” so they can help people in need more effectively. When Lynn was honored with the 2014 Invest in Others Volunteer of the Year Award, the $20,000 donation Starkville Bridges received was the catalyst for her vision to become a reality.

The donation from Invest in Others enabled the organization to spearhead a new network of community groups, called the Starkville Charity Collaborative. Not only are they able to avoid duplication of services, but it also presents an opportunity to learn from one another and collectively serve as a community with a common goal.

Making Elders’ Dreams Come True

“My wife and I looked around and noticed there was a huge gap in services to be provided to the elderly. With it being the fastest growing segment of our population, we thought we could make a really big difference in people’s lives,” said Ron Carson, who co-founded the Dreamweaver Foundation with his wife, Jeanie. The Dreamweaver Foundation fulfills end-of-life dreams for senior with terminal illnesses, providing positive experiences for individuals and their families.

The dreams the organization has fulfilled are eclectic but meaningful. They include a fishing trip, a family picture, a romantic dinner, a mother-daughter-granddaughter spa day, and a once-in-a-lifetime family cruise.

As a finalist for the 2015 Invest in Others Catalyst Award, Ron received a donation of $5,000 for the Dreamweaver Foundation, which was able to fund additional dreams and directly impact those in need.

Good, Clean, Old-Fashioned Fun

“It provides an opportunity for kids to get outdoors, get some fresh air and exercise, and actually start talking to each other instead of talking to their devices. It’s good, clean, old-fashioned fun,” said Jeff Keefe, the visionary behind a community skating rink on the grounds of the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Having grown up in Portsmouth, Jeff knew firsthand that one of the things the city was missing was a sense of community in the winter. Portsmouth has so much in the summer months, with beaches, parks, and outdoor concerts, but lacked an outdoor gathering and recreation area during the coldest time of the year. His office overlooked an empty green at the Strawbery Banke Museum, and he knew it was perfect for a skating rink. In its inaugural season in 2014-15, the rink attracted 22,000 skaters, with visitors from across New England.

Jeff won the 2015 Invest in Others Volunteer of the Year Award for his steadfast efforts to bring the rink to life. The Strawbery Banke Museum received a $20,000 donation from Invest in Others, which was used to offset the costs of leasing equipment, enabling the organization to embark on another successful skating season.

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