Competing for cash

This article was in the September 21, 2011 print and online editions of the Lansing City Pulse.

Competing for cash

By Nicole LaChance

Lansing area residents have a chance to make a difference in the local community — and it only takes one click.

Three charities are competing for a chance to win a second grant from the third annual Art Van Charity Challenge. The challenge awarded $1 million in money to charities in the form of grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to 50 Michigan nonprofits in the children, health and human services areas earlier this month.  The challenge is now holding a competition for the chosen charities to earn three additional grants of $10,000, $15,000 and $25,000. The three charities who receive the most votes on the challenge’s website will receive additional funds.

The Greater Lansing Housing Coalition has already received a $20,000 grant from the challenge. The organization plans to use the grant to help preserve its Tuesday Toolmen program, which had previously run out of funding, said executive director Katherine Draper.

The program consists of a group of senior volunteers, all of whom are skilled tradesmen, who go out into the community and do free home repairs and modifications, said Tim Nester, communications and media coordinator for the GLHC. The program is available to qualifying seniors and disabled residents, most of whom have little or no mobility and are unable to repair the homes themselves, he added.  Repairs provided by the program allow residents to stay in their homes, rather than be moved to nursing facilities. Despite receiving the grant, the GLHC still needs $40,000 to continue the program. Earning an additional grant would put the organization within a comfortable reach of continuing the program, Nester said.

East Lansing-based Haven House is also competing in the challenge. Haven House provides temporary housing for homeless families as they transition to more permanent homes. The organization received a $25,000 grant from the challenge. Calls asking how the money will be allocated were not returned.

The third charity participating in the challenge is Lansing´s Hannah’s House. Hannah’s House provides housing, food, clothing and mentoring to homeless mothers and their newborn children.  The organization, which has already received a grant of $5,000, helps the women learn life and parenting skills so they can break the cycle of homelessness, said Peggy Goffin, president of the Hannah’s House board. The organization will use the additional grant to continue with the operation of their home, added Goffin.

The biggest obstacle in receiving the additional grants is that many of the other charities are in heavily populated areas, like Grand Rapids and Detroit, Nester said. Local charities need Lansing area residents to rally together and help them get the grants, he added.

“The cooperation from the community is what will make a difference in our agency being able to receive these funds,” said Draper. “I’m really hopeful that they would consider supporting the effort.” The GLHC’s ultimate goal is to see the community prosper, added Draper.

To vote for the charities, visit http://www.artvancharitychallenge.com. Individuals can vote once a day through Sept. 30.  Individuals can also contribute money to the charity of their choice through the website.

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