Category Archives: News

Volunteer Spotlight: Stacy and Alicia

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore.

 Now and again, we like to touch base with our volunteers to find out how their lives have been enriched by serving people in need in our community. For our dedicated volunteer Stacy McIlwain, it all started with underwear.

Stacy found out about SNGA soon after moving to Marietta in the winter of 2015.

“I came across a Facebook request from SNGA for underwear for teenage boys to accompany their Christmas gifts,” she said. “As a retired high school teacher, this was right up my alley.”

StacyMcIlwain2

Stacy McIlwain

Stacy went out and bought packs of underwear and a couple of Dopp Kits (shaving kits with toiletries) for the clients. That same day, she met SNGA founder Brenda Rhodes. “Brenda impressed me so much that I told her I would be back to volunteer,” Stacy said.

As a retired teacher, Stacy relishes her ability to use her free time to give back via several SNGA programs, including My Birthday Matters, Simply Sheltered and Simple Household Needs. Her work with the latter program often includes bringing beds to clients who are sleeping on the floor.

Stacy takes sleeping bags, tents, candles, small hygiene kits and other useful items to people living in the woods and loves picking out brand-new books for recipients of our My Birthday Matters program. On the first and third Saturdays of the month, she sorts and logs items coming into our donation room and frequently pauses to think about the difference they will make for families in need.

“Working in the donation room and seeing working irons and electric skillets, matching sheet sets, new brooms and mops, and sets of flatware always makes me do a little dance,” she said. “I know they won’t stay in the warehouse very long. They will be put to use in a client’s home.”

 One of our newer volunteers, Alicia Putnam, found out about SNGA through a volunteer program at work. She has volunteered several times now. “What stood out most to me at first was that this is a local organization supporting our own local communities,” she said. “I was able to work directly with people in the community that are getting back on their feet and moving into their own place.”

Alicia Putnam

Alicia Putnam

Volunteering at our Marietta warehouse, Alicia has been particularly moved by the experience of helping clients pick out household items that will help transform their new houses or apartments into comfortable and dignified homes. “It is a really nice feeling to see their excitement and relief,” she explained.

Alicia is looking forward to volunteering with other SNGA programs such as My Birthday Matters, Shoe them Love and Comfort Kits. “I think these are all really great programs to help care for those in need in our community,” she said. “This is a great organization filling a real need and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Thanks so much to all the donors and volunteers who make Simple Needs GA possible!

Advertisements

Discovering the joy of service

On April 29, students at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School marked a day of service and prayer in honor of the school’s namesake by donating their time and (abundant!) energy to Simple Needs GA’s My Birthday Matters program as well as programs of organizations such as MUST Ministries.

Students at St. Catherine’s

SNGA founder Brenda Rhodes visited the school, located in Kennesaw, to help the children better understand the need in our community. She also told them about SNGA and its My Birthday Matters program, which brings brand-new toys, school supplies, a no-sew blanket, a stuffed animal, reading books, coloring books, underwear, socks, and other useful items to homeless schoolchildren celebrating their birthdays.

SNGA works in collaboration with counselors and social workers in the Marietta City and Cobb County (Powder Springs area) school systems to identify those children who are considered homeless. It also helps children living in local shelters such as MUST Ministries, Family Promise of Cobb and LiveSafe Resources and provide birthday gifts to the children of our furniture clients.

As Brenda explained during her visit St. Catherine’s, the goal of the program is to bring more self-esteem and joy to local children by helping their families make their birthday wishes come true. As part of the feast day, the third graders made My Birthday Matters care packages that included backpacks, crayons, markers, stickers, erasers, coloring books and handmade birthday cards. Fourth graders made fleece blankets. Throughout the day, eighth graders served as leaders and helped the younger kids understand why what they were doing was important.

“All items were donated by our generous families and were collected throughout the week,” explained Avion C. Anderson, who volunteers with SNGA and whose son attends St. Catherine’s.

“It was a joy to speak with the children and hear their insightful questions,” Brenda said. “We really appreciate the school’s commitment to teaching their kids about needs in our community. The projects they worked on will really make a difference for our families and their children!”

According to Sister Mary Jacinta, O.P., Principal of St. Catherine’s, the students always put their hearts into the various service projects on Siena Day. “It is an awesome experience for children to see that, when each of them brings in a small donation, together they can make a big difference in the lives of many people,” she said. “Our students also enjoyed being able to offer a personal message to the recipients of the donations—we believe it is extremely important for our children to add a part of themselves, so to speak, to the material donations which they were offering.”

In addition to direct financial contributions in support of this program so we can buy kids’ specific requests, My Birthday Matters needs a steady supply of new toys, sporting equipment and other fun and useful items to support the needs of program recipients. See our Needed Items and SignUp Genius pages for more details.

We are seeking volunteers and committee members for MBM. For more information, email brenda@SimpleNeedsGA.org.

 

 

Kroger Community Rewards–time to re-enroll!

Greetings, all.

As you may know, Simple Needs GA (SNGA) joined the Kroger Community Rewards program a couple of years ago. It allows Kroger shoppers to support our mission each time they use their Kroger Plus cards. However, shoppers must re-enroll each year in order to continue supporting SNGA through the program. Just wanted to give you a heads up that now’s the time to re-enroll. Just go to: www.krogercommunityrewards.comThe re-enrollment period ends on Aug. 31.

If you haven’t already signed up for the program, please consider doing so. You get to keep all of your current Kroger Plus rewards and discounts, and lose nothing at all. Instead, whenever you use your Kroger Rewards card, the company makes a small donation to SNGA.

kroger_community_rewardsWhen you enroll or re-enroll, just enter Simple Needs GA (code 29265) as the organization you wish to support.

If you do not have a Kroger Plus card, it only takes a few minutes to get one. You can stop by any Kroger store and fill out a short application. Kroger will give you the card immediately.

For more information on the Kroger Community Rewards program, visit https://www.kroger.com/article/kroger-community-rewards-3.

Thanks for all you do to help people in need!

Your Donations Give Hope!

These people gave our family hope that we were losing…

Thanks to the amazing generosity of our donors and volunteers, we were able to give a super-nice couple caring for a total of six children ranging in age from 7 months to 16 years, a bed, crib, desk, table, chairs and a dresser along with many other useful items from our Marietta warehouse. We also had the family fill out some My Birthday Matters forms for the kids’ birthdays coming up later this year (we recently expanded our MBM program to include the furniture families’ kids for the year following that assistance). The dad recently lost his job. The mom suffered a stroke and a heart attack about 5 years ago.

“When I saw that a videogame system was a high priority on one of the kid’s wish lists, I remembered the Nintendo Wii system given to us by a donor,” said SNGA founder Brenda Rhodes. “The mom left our warehouse crying happy tears after I gave this family the donated Wii!”

random-acts-of-kindnessThe dad later wrote to us: “Thank you, Brenda, and Simple Needs GA. You and your volunteers have helped our family in so many ways. These people gave our family hope that we were losing. They didn’t judge, they just helped and loved. We cannot thank you enough.”

How awesome is that?! Let’s keep the ball rolling: Our next donation drive and volunteer day is Sat., July 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our (definitely warm) Marietta warehouse. Come join us! We’ll have chilled water and ice pops on hand and will be running our oversized fans! A great way to find out about specific needed items is to visit our SignUpGenius page. We have also updated our online list of needed items. Just email brenda@simpleneedsga.org to get the address for Saturday. If you have a large piece of furniture, please email about that as well so we can discuss the details (and please include photos).

I was so impressed with your organization and volunteers—a wonderful community doing valuable work! The tour of your Marietta warehouse really put the depth and breadth of Simple Needs GA into perspective. I’ll be there for the next donation day with some more plates, candles, glue sticks and other items from the wish list! —Angie B., a recent SNGA volunteer

Congrats Brenda and Simple Needs GA!
Leadership Cobb Alumni Association named Brenda as the winner of the 2016 W. Wyman Pilcher Jr. Memorial Grant for community service! The grant was established in 1955 in memory of W. Wyman Pilcher, Jr., a dedicated community volunteer and former president of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce. A Leadership Cobb press release noted that Brenda, who graduated from Leadership Cobb in May, has demonstrated a commitment to community service throughout the past year and also in her personal life. Brenda received the award at the chamber breakfast on Mon., July 11. “It’s a great honor,” she said. “Recipients of the award get to designate a charity to which $1,000 is donated. Can you guess which one I chose?”

We think we can. Thanks so much for your help of people in need!

 

 

‘Much more than a chair’ (plus the latest news from SNGA)

Who would have thought a donated chair could make such a difference for a family in need?

Black_ReclinerThe client who received the black recliner from Simple Needs GA’s Simple Household Needs program burst into tears a couple of weeks ago when sharing the details of her situation with SNGA founder Brenda Rhodes. “When I delivered some things her kids had requested–like a backpack and some underwear and socks–she shared the story of how her dad is suffering from COPD and dying of cancer,” Brenda said. “The client needed the chair because her dad cannot sleep in a bed anymore. He needs to be elevated now.”

Brenda, whose mother died of lung cancer in 2011, was there to listen. “This client really didn’t have anyone else to talk to about what she was going through,” Brenda said. “I reached out to a social worker, who got the client some further help in the form of counseling. It would be so easy to look at that recliner and think ‘it’s just a chair,’ but it was much more than that.”

Small acts of kindness can have big effects. Thanks for your generous support of Simple Needs GA!

Below is a quick Q&A with Brenda about some of the latest happenings at SNGA…

SNGA recently expanded its Simple Household Needs program, which provides cleaning kits, furniture, beds and other items. What’s been happening with that program?

12771559_1006189172750112_6361219343103140865_o

Storage unit across from Roswell St. Baptist Church

Lately we have had a lot of activity with Simple Household Needs—pretty big increases in donations as well as requests from clients. Our new storage facility across from the Roswell Street Baptist Church will fill up and then empty, fill up and then empty! We’re always looking for help with the furniture component of this program, in particular. Logistically, it can be a challenge for us. We’re getting great help from Danielle, Yolanda, Rick, Jay, Greg and other volunteers but can really use some more help with picking up and delivering furniture.

How about the Cobb Community Foundation grant?

We owe a huge thanks to the Cobb Community Foundation and the Cobb County Board of Commissioners for honoring us—for the second year in a row—with a $10k Impact Grant.

We are so excited because this grant will go a long way toward helping us expand our programs into more schools and otherwise help more people and children in need.

Funds from the grant will be allocated toward five of our programs. It will help us expand My Birthday Matters through our new partnership with Communities in Schools, a nonprofit that works to reduce school dropout rates and help kids succeed. The grant will also help us provide birthday gifts and other items for the children of our furniture clients. Even though these families are not technically homeless (which is our target population), they are typically unable to afford the birthdays that they would like to give their kids since they just got back on their feet. We’re using the grant to expand our Uniforms for Excellence program, which provides schoolchildren with required school uniforms, and the money will also help us provide children with new shoes via their school social workers. We’re adding nail clippers to the Comfort Kits that we give to people checking into local shelters, and we’re also using $2,000 in grant money to support a program at the First United Methodist Church of Marietta that gives backpacks full of food for the weekend to children in need.

You recently graduated from the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Leadership Cobb program. Could you talk about how that could help Simple Needs GA?

Being accepted into Leadership Cobb was a huge honor. It really is a tremendous program which I highly recommend. For nonprofits, it can dramatically increase your network of potential donors and volunteers. To give you an example, one of the CFO sessions was at RaceTrac with owner Allison Moran. Allison then donated some toiletry kits her daughter had put together for the homeless and this month, RaceTrac will be doing a corporate volunteer day at our warehouse.

Simple Needs GA just received its first car donation? How did that come about?

A very generous donor, who has given to our furniture program, surprised us by donating a 2003 Ford Expedition with just 89,000 miles on the odometer. We sold the vehicle, and this yielded $5,200 for our programs!

Another new development is the use of SignUpGenius. Could you talk about how that has helped SNGA?

SignUpGenius-squareWhen you make in-kind donations to nonprofits, you sometimes don’t know if what you’re giving is needed. Our SignUp Genius page is proving to be a great way for our supporters to find out about specific items that our clients need. So far we have posted items needed for several programs, in particular My Birthday Matters and Simple Household Needs, plus some needs for agencies with which we collaborate. A huge thanks to those of you who have already donated via this tool!

Anything else that you would like to share?

One noteworthy thing to mention is the growth of our My Birthday Matters program. We have been doing birthdays left and right lately. This program was the brainchild of our board member Kasey Litt, who had felt neglected and sad as a child when her financially struggling family was unable to give her anything on her birthdays. What a fantastic thing to see Kasey’s vision become a reality for so many children in need! Over the summer, things will be a little slower for MBM because we won’t have school social workers sending us as many birthday recipients. However, we will still be working with local shelters and already have a few summer birthdays on the schedule. As I mentioned, we will be doing birthdays for furniture clients as well.13248433_1055624061139956_4550091847099542904_o-2

CameraZOOM-20160526135747913_resized-2

Brenda (l) with Kristin Hanfland

 I want to give a heartfelt thanks to the incredible generosity of the parents of our board member Melanie. They have been major supporters of SNGA and came through again for us in 2016 to honor her on her birthday. Lastly, we were honored to receive a 2016 appreciation award from the Marietta City Schools! That was very exciting, and it felt great to know that the school system appreciates what we do.

####

Six-year-old donates his birthday presents to kids in need!

Most kids think of their birthdays as a time to receive. What could be better, after all, than hanging out with your friends, eating cake and ice cream and unwrapping lots of toys, video games and other fun stuff? For six-year-old Bryce of Roswell, a kindergartener at Tritt Elementary School, birthdays have always been about gratitude and giving back, too.

brycedonation

Six-year-old Bryce kindly donated brand-new presents and other useful items to kids in need. Thanks, Bryce!

When Bryce was two years old, his parents began choosing charitable causes for his friends to donate to in lieu of birthday gifts. “Between my husband and me as well as his grandparents, Bryce gets plenty of birthday presents and doesn’t need an additional 20 more coming from friends,” explained his mom, Lynn. “We thought this would be a great way to teach Bryce how great it is to give back–even on your special day. It’s also a way to introduce Bryce’s friends and their families to giving and to spread the word about particular charities.”

For his third, fourth and fifth birthdays, Bryce chose the same charities his older sister had assisted on some of her birthdays. For example, he handed out new books and activity books at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and brought food to the Pet Buddies Food Pantry, which works to keep pets with their families (and out of shelters) during hard times.

This year, Bryce chose Simple Needs GA as his birthday charity after some kind folks on Facebook heartily recommended us. We were so pleased and honored to be a part of this special act of kindness! It was great to meet Bryce and his family at our warehouse, where Bryce learned all about our My Birthday Matters program. The toys he donated will go straight to kids in need who might otherwise not have had any presents to open on their birthdays. What a wonderful way to add some depth and appreciation to a child’s birthday!

Thanks so much to Bryce and his family for their support of Simple Needs GA!

Simple Needs GA loves your support!

“I wasn’t able to purchase any gifts for my son. He really wanted that basketball goal and when he saw it he started screaming and dancing around.”
–mom of two-year-old My Birthday Matters recipient

“I just have to tell you once more how thankful I am for what you have done! My sons haven’t had a bed in two years. They were either sleeping together on an air mattress or on blankets on the floor and now they have their own beds!” — a mom whose family received beds and furniture from our Simple Household Needs program.

At Simple Needs GA, we are making a difference, one family at a time. And it is all thanks to your support! In particular, we wanted to take a moment to recognize two local organizations that have been very helpful to us of late.

My Birthday Matters gifts for a two-year-old staying in a shelter.

My Birthday Matters gifts for a two-year-old staying in a shelter.

Cobb EMC, which is very generous to many agencies, again donated 1,000 sports water bottles for distribution to people in need through our Comfort Kits program! Thanks, Cobb EMC! When new guests arrive at shelters, they often have only the clothes on their backs. Our Comfort Kits include hygiene and other useful items that help people feel more comfortable–and enable them to destress a little.

We also want to give a shout out to the Woodstock/Marietta location of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, which has been a huge help to us in recent weeks by picking up and delivering donated furniture for us. Their crews have burned a lot of calories moving mattresses, box springs, chests of drawers, sofas and other household items for recipients of our Simple Household Needs program. It is hard to put into words how big a difference it can make for families who have next to nothing in a home or apartment to suddenly have beds, furniture and useful household items all their own. The need is great, however, and we struggle at times to work out the logistics of all those pickups and deliveries. We owe a big debt of gratitude to Ryan Dieck, manager of the company’s Woodstock/Marietta location, for his amazing willingness to help us–free of charge.

Let’s keep the momentum going! In fact, our next monthly donation-drive is Sat., Feb. 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at our Marietta warehouse. We would love it if you could join us!

While it might be 70 degrees one day and below freezing the next (!), our clients still need winter-weather items such as long underwear, hats, gloves, coats and blankets. We’re also collecting children’s outerwear and winter clothing for distribution to clients and a local clothes closet. We received a request from a local shelter for suitcases in good shape, and a family in a shelter needs a good double stroller. Other needed items (all in good condition) include pillows (new), silverware, queen sheets, blankets, microwaves, washers/dryers, vacuums, trashcans, mattresses/box springs (especially queen) and computers.

If you have any of these items you could donate, please bring them by our warehouse on Feb. 20! [Click here for a full list of other needed items]

If any questions or for the address of our warehouse, email brenda@simpleneedsga.org.

Does your company give?
SNGA is about to apply for a grant from the Cobb Community Foundation for $10K. To increase our chances of winning that grant, we are asking for donations to match that amount. If your company — or you personally — can help us out by donating (or pledging) funding that we can count toward that $10K, we would truly appreciate it. It’s really like doubling your gift! We need to have your commitment by February 25 if you’d like to help in this way.

You could also help SNGA by becoming part of our Simply Caring (monthly donor) campaign. We’re trying to boost the number of monthly donors contributing to SNGA. To do so is a snap: Just go to our donate link, set the amount of your monthly donation, and check the ‘make monthly’ box. Alternately, you can mail us a check each month. The address is:

Simple Needs Ga
P.O. Box 670265
Marietta, GA 30066

Thanks so much for your support of people in need!