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Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 04:08 am

Lend a hand

Springfield nonprofits also need your skills to pay their bills

As they make the their annual push for charitable giving this holiday season, nonprofit organizations in the capital city urgently need cash as well as stuff: agencies that serve children are counting on donations of toys and games; those that provide housing require appliances, furniture and wall hangings to provide homey touches.

In other words, all the things you use during the course of your home and work life, there’s a charity somewhere in Springfield that can also do a lot of good with it. But while your donations of money and goods would certainly be appreciated, Springfield charities also need your time and expertise more than ever.

Often, even the largest nonprofits don’t have enough paid staff members to carry out their mission, and therefore rely on volunteers from the community to distribute donations, help out around the office, teach valuable skills to their clients and workers, and, in some cases, run the organization as board members.

Ginger Creek Foundation is a fairly new group that makes grants to agencies trying to reduce lung cancer, including those that test for the presence of radon, an odorless, colorless, and tasteless carcinogenic chemical found in soil. Ginger Creek wants to add two or three individuals with marketing, accounting, or legal expertise to round out its board.

“The whole point of a 501(c)3 is for the public to eventually take over. We’re looking for people to plan growth for the organization,” says Marjorie Wallie, a Ginger Creek volunteer.

The agency known as M.E.R.C.Y. (Mentors, Empowerment & Resources for Change in Young Families) Communities, which helps homeless moms get on their feet by placing them in transitional housing and providing support services, needs helpers to paint apartments and move families in and out of M.E.R.C.Y. Communities’ properties, says marketing fund development manager Brian Ganz.

“We really want to make it feel like home,” Ganz says, adding that volunteers are also needed in the organization’s furniture store, which supports their programming, and to give one hour per week for one year to serve as mentors. “A lot of mothers who are in our program, they’ve been through some challenging times and they want to make a change in their lives. If they have a mentor, it is very beneficial.”

Springfield Area Arts Council executive director Christina Steelman believes the poor state of the economy has created a greater need for volunteers this year. “If an organization was setting aside $2,000 for marketing, that’s just not going to be an option anymore,” she explains. “You need to do marketing to raise money, but you need money to do more marketing.”

As a result, Steelman’s group, which makes grants and supports about 50 smaller arts organizations in Sangamon and Menard counties, is looking for experienced speakers willing to conduct free workshops for area organizations on topics such as board recruitment, organizational development, fundraising, grant writing, marketing and Web development.

In addition to secret shoppers, who visit the Springfield YMCA then give their feedback once per month, the Y is also looking for people to serve on its marketing committee, which meets every other month on the second Tuesday, from 1 p.m. to 2 pm. Members of this committee can have a background in marketing or customer service, says associate executive director Jill Steiner.

She adds that the Y also needs more aquatic volunteers — they don’t necessarily need to have previous teaching experience — to commit to Saturday mornings for seven- to eight-week sessions. Consistency is very important.

“They just have to want to smile and have fun with people with special needs, primarily kids,” Steiner says.

Barbara Turner, development and communications director for Sparc, wants to build a pool of volunteers. The organization that works with individuals with developmental disabilities needs people to perform some clerical work in the mornings. They’re also asking volunteers to help out at the recently opened Design Ideas store on South MacArthur Blvd., whose proceeds benefit Sparc and other charities, and with special events as well.

“The individuals we work with and for are just like you and me – they brush their teeth, might watch some TV. They just have developmental disabilities,” she says. “If there’s anyone who’s interested in spending some time with Sparc, give me a call. We can just use help in so many different ways.”

Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com

Below is a description of Springfield-area nonprofits that responded to Illinois Times’ call to submit their holiday season “wish lists,” so that readers may respond with cash, goods or volunteer service.

Rutledge Youth Foundation
534 W. Miller St., 525-7757


Founded in 1952, Rutledge Youth Foundation provides an alternative to the criminal justice system for 250 to 300 teens annually who may experience minor problems with the law, teaching the adolescents independent living skills “so that they may become productive, independent members of society.” The foundation’s services include: case management services to children and families, a group home program and counseling for teen males ages 17 to 21 while they complete high school, college, or trade school, as well as foster care services and mentoring and tutoring for males and females through age 21. Wish list: postage meter; printer ink cartridges (Epson Stylus C84-TO43120, Brother Laser HI1440-TN460, Brother Laser TN570, Dell 1110 Laser Dell 1720 Laser, Hewlett-Packard HP15, 21/22, HP 27/28, 74, 94, Cannon BJC1000); material, supplies, and labor for roof and gutter repair; baking pans, casserole dishes
mixing bowls; brad nailer, circular saw, reciprocating saw, sander, plane, sawhorses.

M.E.R.C.Y. Communities

108 E. Cook St., 753-1358; 1650 Wabash Ave., 787-7488; 1111 N. 19th St., 744-1126


Mentors, Empowerment and Resources for Change in Young Families Communities provides housing and supportive services to foster the independence of homeless and at-risk families through a two-year transitional living program with follow-up services for female-headed households “in which mom needs to develop further education, job and daily living skills in order to become self-sufficient.” M.E.R.C.Y. Communities also maintains permanent supportive housing for disabled heads of households with children, “income-tested” affordable housing for very low-income families, set to launch in December 2008, and a job training program for within the M.E.R.C.Y. Communities Furniture Store. Wish list: a benefactor to provide one year’s worth of rent for our upcoming Family Support Center; living room, bedroom and kitchen furniture; volunteers to assist with families and/or furniture store and agency’s speakers’ bureau; children’s and adult bed linens; children’s and baby tables, chairs, desks, toy boxes, toys, craft items, and DVDs; wall hangings and shelving; kitchen utensils and linens; small microwaves, coffee pots, toasters; laundry and cleaning supplies and household paper products. Donations to the M.E.R.C.Y. Communities are funded through the Sangamon County Community Foundation.

Sojourn Shelter and Services
1800 Westchester Blvd., 726-5100

Sojourn Shelter and Services, Inc. was founded in 1975 to provide a safe place to help victims of domestic violence. The agency currently provides a 24-hour emergency shelter, hotline services, court advocacy, prevention and education, volunteer opportunities and operates Sojourn Westside Fashions. Sojourn assists approximately 1,600 victims of domestic violence and their children each year. Wish list: holiday and everyday meals; cleaning supplies; baby monitors; alarm clocks; umbrellas; VCR/DVD players; towels and washcloths; gas cards; grocery gift certificates; board games; over-the-counter medications; baby supplies; SMTD bus tokens; pre-paid phone cards; hats and gloves.

Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery

1011 N. Seventh St., 525-6800


Started in 1989, and named in memory of child abuse advocate Mini Thoma O’Beirne, the nursery admitted more than 2,000 children in 2007. The agency’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect. They provide year-round emergency and temporary care for children up to age 6, who may be at risk of abuse or neglect or whose parents are in crisis. Children are permitted to stay for a few hours or several weeks, depending on their situation. Additionally, Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery offers support to families after their children leave the nursery, including in-home visits, crisis counseling, parenting classes, and referrals to other agencies. They conduct developmental screenings on every new child admitted to the nursery, as well, and all of our services are at no-cost. Wish list: diapers, laundry detergent, baby wipes, baby lotion, baby wash, children’s shampoo conditioner, trash bags and a snow blower.

Lutheran Child and

Family Services of Illinois

431 South Grand Ave. West, 544-4631

Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois serves over 35,000 children and families across the state through children’s, community and clinical and services. Children’s services include international and domestic adoption, foster care and licensing, therapeutic day school, youth residential services, and the Southern Thirty Adolescent Center (STAC) emergency shelter for youth in transition. LCFS’ community services include disaster response, emergency food and clothing distribution, parenting education, the Father’s Center, MOMS Program, job assistance, tutoring, emergency referral services, and Nice Twice resale shops. Advocacy and civic engagement; individual, marital and family assessment and counseling services; preventative workshops and seminars for churches and schools; consultation for pastors and congregations; and crisis counseling and critical incident services are part of the agency’s clinical services. Wish list: baby diapers, wipes, and formula; toaster oven; refrigerator; laptop computers; printer; copier/scanner; fax machine; desks with returns; new conference room table and chairs to seat 16 to 20; new vinyl or leather sofa and loveseat; personal hygiene kits; St. Louis Cardinal and St. Louis Rams tickets; various gift cards; book cases; round table and chairs; child car and booster seats.


232 Bruns Ln., 793-2100


Sparc’s mission is to help individuals with developmental disabilities improve the quality of their lives. Programs include 24-hour residential support, developmental training, supported living, supported employment, respite, family support and the Epilepsy Resource Center. Wish list: digital camera and photo printer to help with abuse and neglect cases; a dedicated camera and printer to assist investigators in documenting cases; volunteer with experience in hiring to conduct mock job interviews with people enrolled in job placement program; volunteer with experience in desktop publishing or graphic design to help produce newsletter and brochure; colored copy paper; CD players, radios, DVD players, books, nature DVDs and CDs; refrigerators; a forklift for moving large pallets around contract work area.

Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries

800 N. 10th St., 789-0400


Goodwill empowers people with special needs to become self-sufficient through the power of work. Once the individuals are employed, Goodwill provides on-site job coaching support for as long as necessary to ensure that the employer is satisfied with the work being done and that the employee is happy with their job and is able to perform their job duties as well. Wish list: conference room chairs, scanner, used vehicle in good condition, paper shredder, plastic totes with lids, art supplies, markers, colored pencils, construction paper, water color, paints, pencil sharpeners, scissors, and colored tissue paper.

Animal Protective League

1001 Taintor Rd., 544-7387


The Animal Protective League operates a no-kill shelter for abandoned, abused, sick, and injured cats and dogs. In 2007 alone, the APL took in 1,861 animals and found permanent homes for 1,785 of them. Wish list: paper towels, liquid laundry detergent, bleach, liquid hand soap, dishwasher detergent; AA, AAA, C, and 9-volt batteries; copy paper, postage stamps, scissors, pens, pink and blue 3 x 5 note cards, masking tape, filing cabinets; dry cat food and canned food for cats and puppies and; trash bags, snow shovels, heavy-duty indoor-outdoor extension cords; serviceable sheets, blankets, and pillow cases; cat and dog crates, newspapers, sandwich-sized and one-gallon storage bags; gas cards; monetary donations to cover emergency veterinary expenses.

Prairie Center

Against Sexual Assault

3 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, Suite 206; 744-2560


Prairie Center provides support for victims of sexual assault and their families, and serves as a resource on issues relating to sexual assault and child sexual abuse. They support and advocate for men, women, children and families who are affected by rape and child sexual assault, offer compassion and ensure justice for victims, and reduce the prevalence of sexual assault in our communities. Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault accomplishes its mission through prevention education, institutional advocacy, information and referral services and professional training. Wish list: new children’s toys, games, and books; new stuffed teddy bears, puppets, play sand, and play dough; arts and crafts materials, journals, angels or inspirational stones/trinket items that clients can hold in their hand while testifying in court, massages, haircuts, manicures, yoga sessions; gift cards, clothing for survivors to wear home from the emergency department, specifically new non-logo adult and youth shirts, sweatshirts, sweat pants, and shorts in neutral colors; new flip flop sandals, women’s, girls, and boys underwear in neutral colors; shampoo, deodorant, soap, toothpaste; copy paper, colored copy paper, paper clips, file folders; scanner, colored printer, desktop and laptop computers; printing for newsletters, special events and community trainings; sponsors for 2009 Walk a Mile In Her Shoes event scheduled for April 18, 2009.

Springfield Area Arts Council

420 S. Sixth St., 753-3519


The Springfield Area Arts Council works to “enrich the community by promoting and supporting all art forms and providing creative opportunities to participate in and enjoy the arts.” The Council serves Sangamon and Menard counties, and provides a variety of annual performing and visual arts events, which include First Night Springfield, Washington Street Jazz & Blues Festival, On My Own Time Visual Art Exhibition, Wearable Art Fashion Show & Marketplace, Film Festival, and ongoing events such as Uptown Friday Night and Artist on the Plaza. In addition, the organization places artists in schools in three counties through its Arts in Education program. They also provide funding to area artists, arts organizations and social service agencies with arts programming and host several poetry competitions. Wish list: high-volume office printer with scanning capability, medium volume copier; experienced speakers willing to conduct free workshops for area organizations that might cover topics such as board recruitment, organizational development, fundraising, grant writing, marketing, and business skills; monetary donations that would grow our Arts in Education program, Community Arts Access grant program, City Art program, or Rosie Richmond Artist Advancement Awards.

Springfield YMCA

701 South 4th Street, 544-9846


The YMCA, whose core values are honesty, caring, respect and responsibility, strives “to put Christian principles into practice to build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” The Springfield YMCA has identified 26 of the 40 developmental assets that are supplied or supported by our facility, staff and programs. Among them are: other adult relationships, empowerment, youth as resources, service to others, safety, positive peer influence, integrity, honesty, responsibility, peaceful conflict resolution, and positive view of personal future. Wish list: beads, markers, stickers, board and card games, large screen TV, PlayStation, dolls and action figures, furniture and office supplies, shelves, file cabinet, glider rocking chair, dance mirrors, baby blankets, VCR and/or DVD player, Barbie Dolls and accessories, water play table, children’s paint brushes, multiethnic baby dolls, plastic toy animals, hopscotch rug, blender, electric skillet, secret shoppers, marketing committee members, $10,000 donation to remodel member service area, basketballs, coffee vending machine, coffee makers (multiple heaters and percolator), Folgers drip coffee, hot drink cups, volunteers to assist/teach swim lessons to persons with special needs, lifeguard rescue tubes with pocket mask, bubble belts for use in preschool swim instruction.

Ginger Creek Foundation


Ginger Creek Foundation supports air research, education, and charities. Their purpose is to foster an appreciation of the air that connects and affects us all by focusing on reducing the onset of lung cancer and offering radon reduction grants to low- and middle-income individuals and non-profit organizations seeking to reduce indoor radon levels either for themselves and others. The organization is volunteer-run so 100 percent of funds raised will go to support the foundation’s programs. Wish list: additional board members, specifically ones with marketing, accounting and legal expertise, volunteers, software, a current model Apple computer, writers and graphics designers, audio-video editors, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Dreamweaver, and a good audio-video editing software.

United Cerebral Palsy

Land of Lincoln

101 N. 16th St., 525-6522


United Cerebral Palsyprovides case management, development training, residential, employment and work programs, advancing opportunities, and assistive technology to adults and teens. They also provide Lekotek, assistive technology, play groups, respite, saddle up!, advancing opportunities, camps, developmental screenings, flings, transition programs and youth connections for over 1,000 children and adults with disabilities in 27 counties across central Illinois. Wish list: down alternative firm pillows, waterproof mattress pads, stainless wastebaskets, V-tech 5.8 Analog Phones with Caller ID and ITAD, Sony DVD Player with 1080p up conversion, two 40-inch LCD TV, LED nightlights 4-packs, shampoo, conditioner, Dial and Dawn soap, rectangular mirrors, Bounce dryer sheets, cleaning bucket, Cascade gel bleach, Clorox liquid bleach, Comet, brooms, utility brushes, Libman Scrubster mops, scrub sponges, Mr. Clean Eraser, OxiClean, plastic dust pans, plastic scourer 3-packs, Orange Pledge, Tide Liquid, Green Works cleaning and glass spray, 30-gallon trash bags, Kleenex, cookie sheets, silverware caddies, food graters, Pyrex 12-piece storage set, spice rack, salt and pepper shakers, 18-piece Pyrex prep, bake, and store kits, mixing bowls, 14-piece bake set, hands-free colander, electric can openers, toasters, coffee makers, hand mixers, irons and ironing boards, blenders, Shark cordless hand vacuum, 4.5-quart stand mixer, three-drawer cabinet, steel rectangular 38-liter step trash bins, desks, laundry baskets, one-gallon pitchers, 54-quart swing-top wastebaskets, side tables, four-drawer chest, new or used desktop and laptop computers, lawnmower, portable CD players, children’s CDs, educational toys, games, and software for Assistive Technology Programs, toys and board games, and musical instruments, adult clothing and outerwear, blankets, non-perishable food items, art and office supplies and office furniture.

Catholic Charities of Springfield

1625 W. Washington St., 523-9201


Catholic Charities’ continuum of care services include adoption, counseling programs, day care, senior services and guardianship, health care, residential and foster care, independent living, special education, emergency shelter care, family preservation services, food and clothing distribution; St. John’s Breadline; Meals on Wheels in Decatur; crisis assistance, MedAssist services, St. Anne Residence and discount resale stores. Wish list: one large chest freezer and one large upright freezer for the Holy Family food pantry, one copier for the Crisis Office, and an industrial food processor to help with the fresh herbs for the breadline.

Central Illinois Foodbank

2000 E. Moffat Ave., 522-4022


The food bank procures and warehouses food and grocery product for distribution to charitable feeding programs such as soup kitchens, food pantries and residential programs, which then provide food to individuals and families needing food assistance. Last year, the agency fed 100,000 people per month in 21 central Illinois counties. Wish list: canned veggies, fruit, and meat; peanut butter, cereal, chili, beef stew, pasta and canned sauce, soup, rice, macaroni and cheese; soap, toilet paper, laundry soap, shampoo, diapers, toothpaste.

Serving Jesus Willingly

Urban Ministries

2027 South Grand Avenue E.; 753-0430, 494-1407

­Their Focus on Helping Yourself ministry provides an entry point for low-income and needy families and serves as a companion strategy designed to develop personal growth and strength, strategies to form a nucleus for local and national urban ministry congregational groups, and bring together community resources to match community needs. Wish list: canned meat, soup, and fruit; macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, rice, and cereal; paper towels, toilet paper, envelopes; bar and dish sop, laundry detergent, bleach; food storage and 33-gallon trash bags.

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