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NeighborLink Network

NeighborLink Network

A couple weeks ago, after a series of rainy days, my husband was attempting to mow the lawn.  He was struggling because the grass had grown so much since the last mowing.  The neighbor stopped by and asked if he could help.  He has a riding lawnmower that easily cuts even long grass.  We accepted his offer and plan to pay him back with an invitation to dinner.  Today’s organization is enabling neighbors to help other neighbors even if they cannot directly witness the need.

In 2003, John Barce and Doug Crane participated in a competition called Leadership Fort Wayne.  Their idea to create a web platform to connect volunteers with people in need received second place in the competition and the NeighborLink model was born.  Since 2003, similar platforms have been created in nine other cities using the same model.

NeighborLink uses a web platform to connect vulnerable homeowners including the aging, people with disabilities, and low income single parents, with volunteers who would like to help.  The volunteers typically help with home repair or yard work projects.  In addition, they encourage volunteers to build relationships with the recipients of their help.  NeighborLink’s goal is not only completion of the projects, but also developing a sustainable solution for community development by connecting neighbors.

NeighborLink is a Christian, faith-based organization with a mission of “practical, neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God’s love.”  They frequently work with churches but appreciate and welcome volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.  They are currently in nine locations: Fort Wayne, Indiana; Indianapolis, Indiana; DeKalb County, Indiana; Porter County, Indiana; Liberty County, Georgia; Van Wert County, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana.

One NeighborLink volunteer named Andrew volunteered, along with a small group, to help Jean paint her house one summer.  During that project, Andrew was made aware that she also needed assistance with other projects from a long list of code violations.  He was able to raise funds to make repairs to her porch.  Just before Christmas, Andrew stopped by with a basket of food and learned that Jean’s son had just passed away.  Andrew continued to show Jean love and support by mowing her lawn and helping with other tasks in the years that followed.  This relationship encouraged Andrew’s involvement with NeighborLink and he eventually became the organization’s Executive Director.  This willingness to continue helping and desire to get to know her better instead of just completing the project at hand is the type of relationship that NeighborLink strives for.

How can you help?

Any individual in the cities that NeighborLink exists in can get involved.  Individuals simply register to be a volunteer on the NeighborLink website for their city.  You can find the current cities on their affiliate and non-affiliate pages.  Once registered, volunteers can look through current projects and choose one.  There are also opportunities for groups to do projects together.

You can also make a monetary donation through any of the specific city NeighborLink websites.

You can learn more about NeighborLink by visiting their website, neighborlinknetworkfoundation.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Tatum’s Bags of Fun

In previous posts we have highlighted organizations such as Camp Get-A-Well-A and Sweet Dreams for Kids that make a hospital stay a bit better for kids.  Today’s organization has a similar mission.

Tatum’s Bags of Fun is a 501c3 non-profit based in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Their mission is to make a positive impact on the lives of every child diagnosed with cancer in Indiana (and beyond).  They do this by supplying a backpack filled with $350 worth of age-appropriate games, toys, and activities ideal for a hospital setting.  This helps to entertain and distract the children during their long and difficult battle with cancer.  Each year almost 300 children are diagnosed with a form of cancer in Indiana alone and since August 2008, Tatum’s Bags of Fun has been able to distribute over 900 bags of fun to children throughout the state.

Tatum is the 11-yr old fifth grade student and a two-time cancer survivor that is behind this organization.  In July 2006 Tatum was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone tumor, in her right femur.  She endured 13 rounds of chemotherapy and 3 major surgeries.  Tatum and her family received a tremendous amount of support from friends, family and the community during her treatment.  One of the gifts she received was a “Bag of Fun” from the Gabby Krause Foundation in Colorado.  Gabby lost her fight with cancer in 2004, but her family started the Gabby Krause Foundation in her memory and “Bags of Fun” was their signature project.  Tatum and her family were so moved by the gift and the concept that they began speaking with the Krause’s about bringing Bags of Fun to Indiana.  On August 1, 2008 a little over a year after Tatum completed her first battle with cancer, her family began distributing Bags of Fun.

Unfortunately Tatum was re-diagnosed with Ewing’s in November 2008, this time in her right lung.  Even though this was another setback, Tatum remained positive and confident she would beat cancer again.  Bags of Fun also provided an opportunity for Tatum to personally deliver Bags of Fun to her new friends that she would be fighting with.  Tatum completed her treatments in September 2009 and has remained cancer free!

Each Bag of Fun is provided to pediatric cancer patients free of charge and is theirs to keep.  The bags are delivered weekly to several Indiana hospitals.  Through an arrangement with the hospital, Tatum’s Bags of Fun receives a list of new patients including their ages and initials.  This allows them to abide by HIPPA regulations and ensure that each child receives just one bag filled with items that are age appropriate.   If the patient has a sibling, a game or toy is also provided to them. With toys and activities that are chosen by same age children, the Bags of Fun provides a way for kids to keep busy and happy during their hospital visits.

On the organization’s blog, you can see some thank yous that have been sent.  One mom said that it made her daughter’s day to get such a wonderful gift and another bag recipient said “no words that I can explain my appreciation and thanks”.

Monetary donations can be made directly on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about Tatum’s Bags of Fun on their website, tatums.bagsoffun.org.  You can also connect with them on Twitter, Facebook or their blog.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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