By Staff Report
On October 26th, the TEDx Akron 2012 “Unexpected” Conference brought forth powerful speakers with life-changing ways of thought. These individuals each shared their different views, stories and experiences all under one roof.
TEDxAkron, a local initiative, is a branch of TED (www.ted.com), where over 900 of the world’s greatest thinkers and doers share their insightful life experiences through “TEDTalks”.
Their moniker “ideas worth spreading” is exactly what they did at the conference, sharing what one local homeless shelter for women and children is doing to empower every client that walks into their building.
A Call to Action
During the conference the audience was challenged to help support ACCESS, Inc. who has been sheltering struggling women and their children since 1984.
From this year forward, TEDxAkron plans to spotlight a local non-profit every year, to raise awareness and support. This is their “Call to Action” or “Actions Worth Doing”.
“We’ll be looking for a different group every year with a different theme and get people involved in all sorts of things,” Ned Parks, Co-Organizer of TEDx Akron and Founder and Owner of New Directions Learning and Development, said.
“We’re hoping to grow it (ACCESS), get the word out and get more people invested,” Parks said, before the event.
It’s been a little over a month since then and ACCESS, Inc. has already begun to see an increase in interest and support of their organization.
Eliza Williams, Director of Advancement, shares, “Yes (there’s been interest). The donations have been very positive. Incept started out the giving with $2,500 and we raised another $1,600 on top of that. So that was positive.”
ACCESS, Inc. asked that people give either “time or treasure”.
“We handed out a pledge card and invited everyone to become a part of our everyday heroes club,” Williams said.
And everyone was given an “Everyday Heroes Club” t-shirt.
“We are still seeing the benefit of Tedx. One attendee is bringing a group to volunteer in January, and several adopt-a-family donors have come from the event,” Joy Trachsel, Volunteer and PR Coordinator at ACCESS, Inc. said.
“We invited one of the people who donated a very large gift to us to come to our monthly “Lunch with a Purpose,” Williams said.
“Lunch with a Purpose” is a small, intimate, engaging group.
“We invite people to come for a tour of the shelter, eat lunch together and watch our promotional video,” Williams said of the lunch.
“We called the lady who donated and asked her to come to lunch. She came and brought 2 of her co-workers. Just that alone is really neat. She not only gave money but saw the facility and learned a lot more about us so she can be more of an advocate in the community. I’m sure she’ll continue to be involved with us in some capacity so that’s neat,” Williams continued.
Never underestimate the power of sharing an idea with friends; you never know who it will inspire.
Opportunities to Get Involved
The opportunities available to get involved at ACCESS, Inc. are endless.
“Christmas is coming. Right now we’re still accepting applications to adopt-a-family for Christmas. We do a program where people adopt families; they’re not our current clients, but past clients,” Williams said.
Families were adopted over Thanksgiving and over 40 people were able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to generous donations.
Gift wrapping parties are held throughout December to wrap gifts that come in, and they also celebrate Christmas morning at the shelter.
“There are over 40 volunteers here on Christmas morning; that are elves. They pass out all of the presents and Santa comes,” Williams said.
Other needs include child cares and meals.
“We always love when people bring dinner or even come to serve dinner. That’s always a good opportunity,” Williams said.
As far as donations, they are currently in need of hats, scarves, gloves and coats.
“We get a lot of stuff for kids but it’s the adults that seem to get forgotten a little bit so we’re asking for adult (items),” Williams said.
Overall this has been a positive experience for ACCESS Inc., TEDx and the community.
“It was such an incredible opportunity for us to be able to get in front of that many people. Even if it was a worse-case scenario where no one (donated financially) or filled out a card, it’s still 100 more people who know who we are and that was a really great opportunity,” Williams said.
Company involvement in non-profit giving is a great way to go. Incept, a local marketing firm (www.inceptresults.com) was a huge help to this endeavor, giving a large gift.
“We’re just really grateful for Incept and Sam Falletta, the CEO of Incept, who also organized the event. We’re very grateful for his support” Williams said.
“It was just really fun. A cool opportunity,” Williams continued, “And we have a lot of different volunteer opportunities.”
If you are looking to get involved, make sure to visit their website (www.access-shelter.org) – they are waiting!