Support Beyond Tangible Needs
So many nonprofit organizations work to provide the tangible needs for those who go without such comforts. But what about those who work to spread a message, educate or advocate? They work to build awareness and acceptance, projecting ideas that shape the culture of our community. These organizations strengthen our intellect, leaving our citizens better informed, more worldly, open minded and possibly even more in touch with our own roots.
Some organizations, such as Ragtag Film Society, act as platforms to spread a message. “Film is a very powerful medium for change,”advised Tracy Lane, executive director of Ragtag Film Society.
In August this year Ragtag Cinema screened Two: The Story of Roman and Nyro, a film that sold out for the scheduled two consecutive showings and sent waves of conversation though the community. The movie follows music legend Desmond Child and his lifelong partner’s loving journey to create their own modern family.
“The outpouring of support for this family, was absolutely astounding. During the Q&A the first night between Curtis, his mother and the audience, I was overcome with pride for what this organization can do for this community,” said Tracy. “People’s minds were changed and people’s lives were improved because of one film.”
Ragtag’s annual True/False Film Fest offers an intense month-long program for high school students interested in filmmaking. Their education outreach coordinators work with local educators and students, training young people to become the next generation of filmmakers and critics, as well as better informed citizens.
The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition also uses film to impress upon audiences the seriousness of their cause. In spring of this year 900 Rock Bridge High School students viewed a 45 minute segment of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary exposing the sad yet real existence of slavery in the world today.
The Coalition also relies on the spoken word of survivors to share their message. “The sharing of a survivor is more powerful than any powerpoint or lecture about human trafficking,” said Nanette Ward, co-founder and education/outreach contact. “Our youth are very vulnerable to falling victim to traffickers, and their awareness for themselves and their peers and siblings is so crucial for their safety. Hopefully many, if not all, of the youth spoke to a friend or perhaps even a parent about what they heard and learned.”
Experiencing a situation second hand, through the eyes of another, creates a powerful message. As our culture has evolved toward mass agriculture and away from self sustenance, our children may not know where the food they eat comes from, how or where it was grown or who grew it. Slow Food Katy Trail brings food awareness to elementary-school children by sharing local farm experiences with them. Each month they choose a seasonal food, a local farmer who produces it, and then they bring the produce and farmer to the school. The farmer talks with students about life on the farm and how the food is produced. Children then enjoy the food in a dish they help prepare. “Many Boone Countians have diet-related health issues. We feel that our community benefits when children and their families learn the impact of good food on their health and happiness,” explains Martha Folk, the organization’s co-leader.
It is exciting for the children when real farmers come to the school each month to share their food and stories. However, it is quite another thing for the children to board a bus early in the morning and travel to a completely new environment with sights, smells and sounds they never before have experienced.” In April, children took just such a trip to Pierpont Farms and Goatsbeard Farm. “The excitement was palpable,” says Martha. “So many new things to experience for the first time. Each child takes away his or her own new seeds of discovery—many of which we will never know.” On both excursions the children tried new foods produced on the farm, and helped prepare a delicious and nutritious lunch.
The PedNet Coalition also has the health of our citizens in mind when advocating to make it easier to walk, bike, use a wheelchair or public transit for transportation in Columbia. In the last year, the organization successfully advocated for projects including the new Grindstone Trail, Bike Boulevard, College Avenue pedestrian safety improvements and the complete overhaul of the public transit system leading to COMO Connect.
“Active transportation creates the world we all want to live in. Walking to school keeps our kids healthy and active. Biking to work keeps our air clean. And public transit keeps money in our pockets,” said Annette Triplett, executive director. “Our advocacy leads to more trails, bike lanes, sidewalks and public transit, and our programs teach lifelong skills and safety.”
The transportation improvements spurred by PedNet will serve our community for generations to come, much in the same way the Boone County Historical Society preserves the past for the future. Their many historic sites, museums and galleries provide the community with an invitation to learn about its history, the many people and institutions that made Boone County what it is today.
They also allow our community to experience our roots through the Blind Boone Piano Concert Series. Rather than just keeping the piano behind red velvet rope as a visual display to inform viewers of a phenomenal Boone County musical talent in the late 1800’s, “we instead make sure that it’s black and white keys are heard, loud and strong and beautiful, in concerts that feature the piano throughout an entire evening. The historical artifact then becomes something much more,” described Chris Campbell, executive director. “Art and history come alive simultaneously – and the community leaves the hall whistling, humming, smiling… perhaps made more aware of the original owners legacy, and happy for it.”
The Missouri Symphony Society also contributes to our community’s culture through music. They make it possible for parents to introduce classical music to their children at a young age, hosting family friendly concerts even parents can enjoy. One patron wrote, “I am so impressed at your ability to provide a smart, beautiful, fun evening without it feeling silly or childish.” They not only provide children an experience of listening and viewing; they also encourage and educate young artists through the Missouri Symphony Conservatory.
Their ability to spread awareness of classical music doesn’t stop with children; they also host a series of community concerts at Douglass Park, Stephens Lake Park, the Columbia Senior Center, ACT (Alternative Community Training), the Daniel Boone Regional Library and Shelter Gardens. These concerts make the Missouri Symphony Orchestra available to hundreds, not just those with disposable income.
Our culture matters; it’s the experiences afforded to our citizens that develop who we are as a community. Our music, food, trails, history and beliefs all write the story of our future, a future constructed from the building blocks of awareness forged by nonprofit organizations. Funding is necessary to keep our community strong. Donate to a local organization today at CoMoGives.com.
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