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Shunning the silos

After recruiting partners of all stripes, local nonprofits unveil some unusual events



Indy Give! season means lots of requests for your dollars, but it also means lots of party and activity invites. Events are key to Give! for one particular reason.

"Give! has always had a history of encouraging our participant groups to reach out to parts of the population that may never have heard of them before," says associate director Claire Swinford. "We believe that philanthropy is better when everyone is involved. It's not just for folks who are well established or well-to-do. No matter what part of the socio-economic continuum you're on, we want folks to know that it's just as important to give as it is to receive."

Which is why during Give! you might attend, say, a Battle of the Bands featuring the Pikes Peak Jazz and Swing Society and Friends of New Horizons Band of Colorado Springs (average member age 60-plus). It'll be held at Imagination Celebration's iSpace at The Citadel mall, with refreshments by Seeds Community Cafe, Wednesday, Nov. 19.

"Working together on events is beneficial to the nonprofits," Swinford says, "because it helps them expand their support base — which is important not only for finances, but also for volunteer recruitment and notoriety."

Here are just two more events over the next week in which local groups will step outside of their silos ...

Progressive Happy Hour: For two Give! organizations, a collaboration grew from common geography.

Sue Ager, Colorado Springs regional manager for Project Angel Heart, says she and Susan Parker of the Energy Resource Center started talking a while ago about how to develop an event that would draw people to their offices.

Neither facility gets a lot of foot traffic, due both to location — on the southern outskirts of downtown, near Rio Grande Street and Cascade Avenue — and to mission. Project Angel Heart prepares and delivers nutritious meals for people coping with life-threatening illnesses, and ERC provides home weatherization and energy-conservation measures to low-to-moderate-income homeowners.

To raise awareness, the two women began planning a progressive happy hour in their part of town. But, Ager says, "as the idea took hold, other people asked about joining the festivities.

"We've ended up with 13 different nonprofits participating. ... we didn't turn anyone away."

Four of those — Project Angel Heart, ERC, GOCA 121 at Plaza of the Rockies, and Peak Education near Colorado College — will act as hosts, with the others setting up information booths among the sites.

Beyond meeting a lot of Give! nonprofits in one evening, participants get perks for visiting all four spots. Food, for one. "Every place will have a unique menu," says Ager. The group has designed a passport for the event, and attendees who get it initialed by each of the 13 nonprofits involved at all four locations will be entered into a drawing, Ager says, "for a really, really nice gift basket that all 13 have contributed to."

Haircut-A-Thon: For the Colorado Springs chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a three-year partnership with a local company has proved beneficial.

"We really took to heart trying to reach out to young people," says NAMI's Lisa Hawthorne. "We thought, 'What would get them to come to one of our events?' And it wasn't so much having them come to us, but having us go to them."

And, she adds, they also thought about what college students might need, especially at this pre-holiday time of year. The answer, helped along by two Colorado College interns NAMI had that first year? Haircuts.

So NAMI approached Veda Salon & Spa, one of Indy Give!'s annual business sponsors, who jumped right in and set up eight stylists for an afternoon at CC.

For a minimum suggested donation of $10, Hawthorne says, students (and any community members who want to come by as well) receive a cut that typically starts around $40 at one of the Veda salons.

And this year, they're adding eight stylists and four more hours of snipping and styling at UCCS.

"I can't give enough thanks or credit to Carrie Perkins with Veda," says Hawthorne. "They are amazing community partners. They're very generous. And it's a great opportunity for us to give a great service to the kids, and we get to talk about NAMI. ... A huge thing for NAMI has been to help eliminate the stigma of mental illness."

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