NOMINEE NARRATIVES 2022: NONPROFIT OF THE YEAR
We are excited to share more information about this year’s Business Award Nominees with our nominee narratives series. The first stories are those of the nonprofit nominees: The Collierville Balloon Festival, Collierville Citizen’s Police Association, Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief, New Day Children’s Theatre, and Page Robbins Adult Day Center. These five organizations are true bright spots in our community. There is a strong sense of camaraderie among the nominees, as each expresses a fond appreciation for all nonprofits in the community. They couldn’t do what they do without each other.
Collierville Balloon Festival
In its third year as a non-profit organization, the Collierville Balloon Festival (CBF) made some excellent impressions in the community. Because of its newly formed status, the board was “ecstatic that we were nominated” for non-profit of the year, says Susan Ewing, President and Chairman of the CBF Board. Its mission for the unique three-day event event was two-fold: “provide an opportunity for children and adults with special needs to experience an event like this that they normally would not be able to participate and to raise money to support the educational needs in our community.”
The initial run of the CBF was planned for 2020 but was delayed until June 2021 due to COVID. In this event’s first year, they went full steam ahead and reached capacity crowds all three days and hosted “a free private event for over 300 children and adults with special needs.” With a wonderful, active 15-person board of directors and numerous volunteers, the Collierville Balloon Festival looked to improve on the 2022 event with some brainstorming and fresh changes. In year two, the hot air balloons increased from 16 to 20, more vendors and kid zone activities were added, and over 20,000 attendees thanks to no restrictions. Maybe most notably, the CBF raised over $150,000 dollars for educational opportunities in Collierville, over triple what it raised in 2021.
The Collierville Balloon Festival looks to become a “premier annual event, like Memphis in May, that will attract visitors to the area annually and in particular, for our organization, provide funding for education.” The work of this organization shines a bright light on the Town of Collierville. The 2023 festivities will happen September 15-17.
Collierville Balloon Festival Website
Collierville Citizens Police Association
The Collierville Citizens Police Association (CCPA) looks to “support the Collierville Police Department’s (CPD) community programs and outreach, and officer needs and training resources as an all-volunteer, community- based non profit organization,” says Lee Race, CCPA board member. Another major mission of the CCPA is to “increase positive interaction between citizens and our local police department,” Growing positive relationships between the community and police officers is important for everyone involved.
The CCPA was “founded over 20 years ago by graduates of the first Collierville Citizens Police Academy” and, today has eleven board members. The Academy program allows Collierville citizens to learn more about the CPD. Participants take a course where they learn about the department, hear from officers, and even participate in some of their training. The Academy and Association work together to grow those officer & citizen connections. It all goes back to finding the most effective ways for the two sides to interact.
Over the last few years, the CCPA covered a wide range of concerns such as securing funds for license plate readers, sponsoring the Police Explorer Post for young people, and expanding the Officer Challenge Coin program. Most publicly, it developed the new Honor Guard with pipes and drums, where they perform at local schools and various events. (They were a huge hit at the Chamber’s 2021 Business Awards and return for another large part in this year’s program.) But maybe most notably, they started an Injured Officer Fund for officers and their families to help cope and cover costs after suffering a line-of-duty life-threatening injury. The fund has helped multiple Collierville Police officers during their recovery. Fundraising for this comes from local businesses and the community. This is another reason why developing these positive citizen interactions is so important.
Collierville Citizens Police Association Facebook Page
Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief
“Grief is the most universal human emotion,” says Angela Hamblen Kelly, Administrator at Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief. That’s why the work at Good Grief is vitally important for community healing and success. At the root of this nonprofit’s success is the team. The group of mental health providers and office managers (“the first line of support” for clients) love what they do. (Along with being the Administrator, Hamblen Kelly also is a Clinician and works with patients). This “most incredible team” goes to work every day knowing they are making hard, but worthwhile progress for every single person. Good Grief also has a strong volunteer group that makes it possible to do the extraordinary work the staff does every day.
The power of their work stems from the practice of companion model counseling. This approach gives clients agency in their emotional processing, something that can be forgotten in other types of grief work, where they look to “treatment model you out of grief,” which isn’t possible, explains Hamblen Kelly. There work to meet each client where they are because “grief is not being broken” and is a completely normal human experience.
Commitment from the community, both in sponsors and Baptist Hospital, is huge for the success of Good Grief. Community support is key as everyone is going to benefit from a strong, robust nonprofit society. Hamblen-Kelly gives so much credit to other nonprofits for the success of Good Grief. “Nonprofits are the heartbeat of the community and there’s nothing more important,” says the executive director.
They look forward to the opening of their new Cottage in April 2023.
Baptist Centers for Good Grief Website
New Day Children’s Theatre
New Day Children’s Theatre looks to expand theatre and educational opportunities to kids that might not have them. The nomination is just “confirmation of all the work we do in the community” says Jennifer Douglas, executive director of New Day Children’s Theatre since 2020. Her involvement with art-related nonprofits goes back over thirty years.
New Day’s outreach impacts children from all over Memphis, and the geographic location of Collierville lends itself well to serving those in Northern Mississippi as well. Here are a few stats that help to see just how great the outreach is.
- Interacting with over 20 different schools
- Impacting 24 ZIP codes
- Touching 5 counties in Tennessee and Memphis
- Performing shows for over 11,000 audience members each run
The ‘Children’s’ part of New Day makes it unique. While there are other strong local theatres around the community, there is no theatre program dedicated exclusively to kids in the area. This allows putting the children first. “New Day is special because we meet kids where they are and who they are.” Children are not only involved on the stage but also in technical responsibilities such as lighting and sound. With all the different roles the kids can have, New Day has awesome and effective child protection policies in place 24/7 because it’s about “all kids, all the time- for kids and by kids.” The kids always are at the forefront of New Day’s mission.
Its season consists of three main stage productions a Fall, Spring, and Summer show with continuous community involvement in between those shows, including summer workshops and partnering with local schools throughout the academic year.
New Day has a great relationship with fellow nonprofit Collierville Arts Council, which allows the Children’s Theatre to perform all its productions at the Harrell Theatre. Jenn reiterates the importance of nonprofits to each other. “Nonprofits are the heartbeat of the community. New Day can’t do it all but between everyone, we can fill in the cracks”
Page Robbins Adult Day Center
Page Robbins Adult Day Center celebrates its second nonprofit of year nomination in a row. Page Robbins Adult Day Center is a “homegrown Collierville nonprofit” since its start at Collierville Christian Church in 1995. The original group had “no idea how hard it would be to start a non-profit, but they did it,” explains Herbie Krisle, Executive Director of Page Robbins.
Page Robbins offers a host of activities, including art therapy (complete with pottery), exercise and movement, chair yoga, cognitive expansion and even an outdoor garden for adults impacted by memory loss. The activity schedule is determined by one guiding principal: the participants come first. What’s good for the participants is front in center with everything Page Robbins does, helping participants have their “best day ever” every single day.
Herbie gives most credit to her amazing staff. They are the “secret sauce” to Page Robbins’ success. The employees allows for the organization to “far surpass state required ratios” for staff per participants. Every team member steps up to where they are needed, no matter their position. “Every person is important” as they are “the heart of the center” of Page Robbins. Herbie also credits the Board of Directors for allowing general “flexibility and helping with fundraising.”
The nonprofit community in metro Memphis is a huge influence on Page Robbins. We are “collaborative in our syncing” and everyone is opening to sharing resources. In Collierville, New Day Children’s Theatre, Southern Reins, and Leadership Collierville, are a few of the many nonprofit organizations that partner with Page Robbins to give participants special activities.
Herbie emphasizes the importance of a place like Page Robbins to the local business community. When employees can focus on work and not the natural concerns that come with an aging family member, employees will be more present and engaged. Page Robbins offers a sense of security and safety for its participants and their families. This leads to better results for everyone in the workplace.