Community Groups

Need a break from buying? On Tuesday, support local nonprofits by giving

Although Thanksgiving is followed by a trio of days devoted to shopping and spending — Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday and Cyber Monday — we somehow arrive back to a day that’s all about… well, giving. #GivingTuesday, a global generosity movement, with an impact felt on the local level, happens Dec. 3.

The daylong event was launched in 2012, simply to encourage folks to do good, but it has grown into a movement that inspires countless citizens around the world to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. More than 150 countries participate in GivingTuesday. In 2018, $400 million was raised in the U.S. alone.

Benefactors can support their communities — in both a geographical and an ideological sense — by searching for organizations and campaigns on GivingTuesday’s website (www.givingtuesday.org/), and donating directly to them.

Participating foundations can access tool kits and resources that will help them run successful GivingTuesday campaigns. But some organizations form a coalition of sorts to better promote themselves.

The #iGiveCatholic campaign, for example, began in New Orleans five years ago, but now extends across the country.

“Obviously as Catholics being faith-filled, one key component of our faith is to be generous,” said Corey Howat, the director of the Catholic Community Foundation in New Orleans. “(GivingTuesday) was a great way to hold hands with a secular message. It was a perfect fit, because we want to build generosity, too.”

The iGiveCatholic campaign represents parishes, schools and nonprofit ministries like Second Harvest Food Bank. Their website, igivecatholic.org, includes a national map, featuring numerous foundations accepting donations on Tuesday.

Last year, the campaign raised $5.6 million for more than 2,500 participants.

“Giving days generate excitement and community action,” said Howat.

It helps that GivingTuesday takes place during a charitable season, he added.

“This is the time that people are very considerate of their own giving,” said Howat. “GivingTuesday connects the individual to the community and allows them to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

But Howat and the organizers behind GivingTuesday stress that the movement isn’t all about money. As the website suggests, you can become a volunteer for your favorite nonprofit, organize a donation drive, advocate for the causes you care about, and show small acts of kindness as you go about your day — no matter the time of the year.

If you’d like to contribute to New Orleans-based organizations on Dec. 3, however, you can easily do so on GivingTuesday’s website. Find them, here: www.givingtuesday.org/whats-happening-near-me

Local participants comprise foundations that represent health care, animals, at-risk youth, the homeless, artists, the elderly and the environment. Below is a sampling of what you will come across while perusing the website.

Grace at the Greenlight

Grace at the Greenlight shows comfort, respect, and support to homeless people in New Orleans. Through the nonprofit’s “I’m Going Home” initiative, a homeless person is welcomed home by a family member or friend who has agreed to support and care for the person upon his or her arrival.

The “Going Home” package includes documentation, transportation, and a “Grace Care Bag” filled with sandwiches, snacks, juice and water, along with required medications, entertainment materials, and a contract which lists the rules and terms of a mutual contract that a homeless person must abide by.

On a daily basis, Grace at the Greenlight delivers fresh water to the homeless and provides “Meals With Love.” This meal program offers the homeless person food options in a nurturing environment, where he or she can dine with other homeless people and Grace at the Greenlight volunteers.

Grace at the Greenlight has served 131,000 meals and 550,000 bottles of water. They’ve reunited 2,150 participants with their families.

Lakeview Shepherd Center

The Lakeview Shepherd Center serves the city’s senior population through wellness programs that benefit the mind and body, and by building a community of likeminded individuals. The organization’s recreational activities include painting, card games, chair yoga and Tai Chi, catered to each person’s ability.

The center also offers technology classes that help seniors surf the web, communicate via social media, and use phone apps. Participants can bring their device — where it’s a laptop or a phone — and ask questions or voice concerns.
Lakeview Shepherd Center members also partake in monthly luncheons. An in-house comedy sketch group stages monthly skits.

New Orleans Musicians Clinic

The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic (NOMC) connects local musicians, performing artists and cultural workers to affordable comprehensive and preventive health care, wellness education, mental health services and social services.

In a partnership with the LSU Health Network, NOMC provides patient-centered medical care to more than 2,500 local culture bearers at a full-time clinic on St. Charles Avenue. Services include medical care, disease management, labs and screenings, and help with drug and alcohol detox.

Community wellness programs focus on hearing loss prevention, exercise, and other topics. Mental health outreach services increase clients’ access to self-care resources and support. In 2018, NOMC hosted nearly 100 community events. They work with local and national partners to make each one a success.

Green Light New Orleans

Green Light New Orleans encourages locals to save the environment (and money) through free programs that promote sustainability. Green Light’s compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) distribution and installation program helps residents reduce their utility bills and the community’s carbon footprint. The 27,000 people who participate in the program collectively save $27 million on utility bills and lower the region’s carbon footprint by 265 million pounds of CO2.

With backyard vegetable gardens, residents can save money and enjoy greater access to fresh produce. Green Light provides the tools, resources and support that enable gardeners to maximize their garden yield. Green Light is working to meet its ten-year goal of developing 10,000 gardens.

Green Light also provides households with 50-gallon rain barrels, painted by local artists, which are designed to capture and store rainwater. The rain barrels conserve water for gardening, which can lower utility bills as a result, and manage stormwater. Stormwater management limits the sinking of soils caused by the pumping of stormwater and reduces the city’s carbon footprint.

Zeus’ Rescues

Zeus’ Rescues aims to eradicate pet homelessness and euthanasia within the New Orleans. The nonprofit, which operates seven days a week, finds forever homes for animals that have been pulled from metro kill shelters.
When it was launched in 2014, Zeus’ Rescues set a goal of rescuing and placing 365 animals within a year. They met and exceeded that goal, and continue to raise the bar. In 2018, they placed more than 600 pets into safe homes.

The volunteer-run organization also helps current pet owners find a new home for their pet if the owner is no longer able to care for them.

Zeus’ Rescues hosts adoption and community events throughout the year, including their post-Thanksgiving NOLA Dogs Race in Audubon Park.

Editors Note: Very Local New Orleans is teaming up with Zeus’ Rescues to capture holiday memories of your furry friends this month! This is a pawesome opportunity for you and your dogs, cats, puppies and kittens to take your holiday card photo. Click here to see the dates and locations!  

Café Reconcile New Orleans

Reconcile New Orleans helps at-risk youth through a unique, restaurant-based life skills and job training program. The organization’s goal is to foster participants’ personal growth, provide workforce development, promote entrepreneurship, create collaborations with businesses, nonprofits and people, and build strong communities through economic development.

During Reconcile’s program, students become independent, resilient, and ultimately more employable. They also develop digital and financial skills, and receive assistance with composing résumés and career research.

While training at Café Reconcile, participants are guided by expert kitchen and café floor instructors, through every station of the restaurant. Most café trainers are graduates of the program who enjoy mentoring the youth.

After acquiring a set of marketable skills, students can interview for an internship or seek employment with one of Reconcile’s partners. The organization continues to work with and support alumni, after they’ve moved on. Café Reconcile boasts a 15-year track record of success, with 1,500 program alumni, 100 active partnerships and more than 400 requests to support similar efforts in communities around the world.