2024 Community Heroes Grants Finalists

We’re pleased to present the names and details of the six organizations our Community Heroes Grant Review Committee has put forth for members to cast their votes. The 3 organizations that receive the highest number of votes will each be awarded $10,000 and announced at our June 12th Annual Meeting.

The Community Heroes Grant voting is open only to 2024 Impact100 South Jersey members.

2024 MEMBERS: Please select the 3 organizations you’d like to see receive our first ever Community Heroes Grants. To aid in your decision, scroll down for information about each organization and their plan for using our funding.

You must include your unique member number on the ballot to you received in email inviting you to vote. If you did not receive that email, please contact us at info@impact100sj.org.

Community Heroes Grant Voting Deadline:
Sunday, May 26th

2024 Community Heroes Grant Finalist Descriptions

Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation
Website: victoriousfoundation.org

Organization Mission Statement: “The Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation is a national, non-profit organization providing age-appropriate programs and activities for children and teens receiving treatment for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.”

A critical illness of any kind disrupts the many joys of childhood. Being diagnosed with cancer or any other life-threatening illnesses presents additional challenges for the adolescent. One of the biggest issues they face is feeling & looking “normal” and missing out on social activities. Through treatments, teens might experience hair loss, weight loss and/or gain, scarring and severe acne, losing stamina, or having to get around with IV poles or in wheelchairs. They often miss major milestone events while being hospitalized for surgeries and procedures, because they are just too ill to attend school and school activities. The challenges critically ill teens face include isolation, boredom, feeling stranded, and mostly alone in their journey.

Teen ‘Welcome’ Kit Program is a significant program within our Victorious 4 Teens Programs that was inspired by our daughter Alicia’s experiences during her 13-month battle with cancer. The Teen Kit includes a custom-designed backpack filled with age-appropriate items, & paired with a soft, colorful Bandana Pillow sewn exclusively by ARVF volunteers. Our Teen ‘Welcome’ Kit Program has been ongoing in pediatric healthcare since 2011. However, today, the number of patients being admitted for critical illnesses has grown exponentially.

The purpose of the funds will be to continue to fulfill the increased number of requests they receive and keep up with the rising costs associated with the contents used for assembling and shipping the Teen Kits. They receive countless ‘wishes’ and ideas from the patients who receive Teen Kits during their treatment at a hospital. Enhancements to the Teen Kits would serve to accommodate their “wish list.” Keeping up with all the advances in technology, as well as quality of lifestyle, they strive to promote a quality kit with contents that meet the needs of a 2024 teen!  A Community Heroes Grant would support their plans for growing this program and bringing positive feelings during a most difficult time for a child.

The Free Books Project
Website: thefreebooksproject.org

Organization Mission Statement:  “Promoting opportunity, community, and joy through books. We serve communities where access to books is limited or non-existent. We distribute free books of all genres for all ages. In short, we take books where they’re needed and give them away.”

Their primary goal is to add ten new Book Arks in Camden County, focusing on the lower part of the county. A secondary goal is to increase awareness of and participation in The Free Books Project in lower Camden County. Their Book Arks are currently concentrated in Camden City and adjacent towns. With The Free Books Place open in Camden to complement the Book Arks and PUL’s, it’s time to reach out to other parts of the county, where individuals reside who may lack disposable income to purchase books.

An internet search to locate physical bookstores in lower Camden County revealed a dearth of bookstores. The Free Books Project values partnering with communities to encourage local ownership and responsibility for Book Arks placed in their community. They will identify community partners in Camden County to act as Book Ark Stewards, and site Book Arks in well-utilized areas of need. Many of their current Book Ark Stewards are local business people or community leaders who agree to host a Book Ark at their business or organization. By placing a Book Ark in a well-traveled area, people may grab a book just because it’s convenient and readily accessible.

The budget includes funds to purchase books that are not readily available from their stock of donated books. The grant will not only make free books available to more Camden County locations, but it will also introduce new potential partners and resources to The Free Books Project. Ten new Book Arks will continue to exist for years and be replenished with books long after the grant has ended. Ten new Book Stewards will know the joy of spreading free books in their own community. And countless individuals will experience the pleasure of finding a book that captures their interest.

Riverfront Renaissance Center for The Arts (RRCA)
Website: rrcarts.com

Organization Mission Statement:  “To advance RRCA as a focal point for cultural, educational, and artistic enrichment, and perpetuate a sense of community – by way of exhibits, development of artists, and providing a safe space for free expression for all individuals.”

 “Art for Everyone” is their project/goal that connects with their core mission: to be a cultural and educational asset to local and regional individuals who may not have access to arts programming, and to perpetuate a sense of community through these efforts. Their 6000-square-foot facility and art resources are provided to individuals to connect with art, make art and join in the RRCA arts community. Young people and adults can learn about the value of art as they experience it in their own lives at events or in attending a low cost or free art workshop. Art by its nature is therapeutic as it encourages creative expression through painting, drawing, and other forms. It can provide a person with a safe space to express their feelings and feel included.

Funds from this grant will be used to fund their “Art for Everyone” public art program which includes art receptions, free community use of our resources, such as the art library and classroom space, as well as for their no cost Saturday teen art program, and summer art camp. There is always a need for funds for art supplies and materials to continue their participation in community-based art activities at Millville events such as Playstreets (summer program for center city young people), July 4th city event, National Night Out, Teen Arts Festival (in our facility – teen art classes).

If awarded funding from Impact100 South Jersey, RRCA would invest resources in their diverse art programs; with a goal to engage with a larger regional audience. An award from our “giving circle” will help increase our capacity to further develop the quantity and quality of community arts programs and assist RRCA in impacting a larger regional audience.

The Tender
Website: thetender.org

Organization Mission Statement:  “Empowering lives affected by dementia, The Tender fosters holistic well-being through personalized care, caregiver support, and community connections, nurturing independence, and sense of community.”

In 2007, The Tender introduced the CARES program (Compassion, Access, Respite, Education, Support) as a beacon of support for caregivers. Today, in response to the evolving landscape of caregiving needs, they are embarking on an ambitious journey to expand and enrich their caregiving services and CARES program. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our aging population has been profound, amplifying the challenges faced by caregivers. This is particularly evident in the surge of dementia cases following COVID-19 diagnoses. Caregivers are navigating uncharted territory, grappling with heightened stress and a lack of resources for education and community support.

Their project is designed to directly address these pressing needs. By bolstering their website with comprehensive educational materials and informative videos, they aim to provide caregivers with practical guidance and emotional support. From tutorials on effective communication strategies to insights into managing caregiver burnout, their online resources will serve as a lifeline for those in need. Furthermore, the funds they acquire will be instrumental in enhancing their marketing efforts. Through targeted campaigns and outreach initiatives, they will ensure that caregivers across our community are aware of the invaluable support and resources available to them through The Tender.

By expanding their reach and fostering a sense of belonging within the caregiving community, they can create a supportive ecosystem that empowers caregivers to thrive and their loved ones to remain at home. Ultimately, their goal is to alleviate the burden on caregivers and enrich their caregiving journey, while also expanding their reach to even more families in the South Jersey area who may not be aware of the crucial services they provide. By equipping caregivers & the community with the knowledge, resources, and support they need, The Tender can make a meaningful difference in the lives of both caregivers and those they care for. Together, they can navigate the complexities of caregiving with compassion, resilience, and strength.

Total Experience Foundation
Website: totalexperiencefoundation.org

Organization Mission Statement:  “The mission of the Total Experience Foundation is to help families in need through food, goods and services. This is achieved through partnerships with local agencies that can properly identify and have ongoing relationships with struggling families. Our goal is that every child enjoys the holiday season, and every parent can have the opportunity to spend time on what matters most – their family.”

For 10 years prior, the founder and his family worked with non- profit organizations such as Heart of Camden and Sacred Heart to assist with holiday events. During COVID, they realized that their friends in surrounding communities needed help and assistance as well. He and his family decided to officially launch “Total Experience Foundation”, apply, and receive our 501(c)(3) status and for the last three years, have been continuing their community outreach program.

This past year they fed 4,100 meals to families at Thanksgiving and hosted 1,200 people for Breakfast with Santa. They formed an amazing Board of Trustees, and their motto is “One more than last year.” They operate out of Total Turf Experience in Pitman, New Jersey and use their community sports as an additional method to assist the local organizations. They host free sports camps for children in Camden, Bridgeton, and Vineland, with expansion hopes for next year. They also assist in funding additional agencies such as “Final Farewell” and “Blueprint Basketball.”

One hundred percent of all funds from the Impact100 SJ award will go directly to the purchase of food and supplies to feed families. Each family receives a full meal to feed 4 people. The budget per family for food in 2023 was $31.27, increased from $24.00 per family two years prior. Aside from food, they also supply reusable bags for transport of the food. Their budget is simple yet effective and the results are amazing. Their commitment is 100% of the funds will be used to feed people in 2024.

Women of Hope Resource Center
Website: womenofhope.org

Organization Mission Statement: “The Mission is to provide encouragement to families in our community by assisting them to explore various ways to enrich their quality of life by offering services like effective counseling, mentoring, and providing referrals.”

Prison No More will promote public safety through an evidence-based system of programs and services. It will engage communities as a part of the solution. Impact100 South Jersey funds will be for supportive services like shelter, clothing, food and basic needs and a part of the peer’s salary. They need to have an open door to support what is needed to prevent recidivism to the prison system.

Prior to release from prison, a vision is created in the minds of the prisoner of what it will look like upon release. They believe it will be different this time. “I am never coming back.” The expectation is they will get a job, maybe go back to school, become a better spouse and parent, have a safe and secure place to live and not return to the same lifestyle they had prior to incarceration. They are excited, then reality sets in and there is no job, no safe and stable shelter, or basic needs, their family is not supportive, hope is gone and so they return to old acquaintances that they knew from the streets and eventually go back to the lifestyle and end up back in prison. Where was the breakdown? They have no one to support them, someone who had a similar experience and successfully made the transition. They need someone to encourage them and walk alongside them through those tough times.

Prison No More starts with finding out who will be released and interviewing them to find out about their housing situation. The Parole Department informs the person regarding who will be his/her peer specialist to help them with support during this transition. The peer will do an assessment to determine the needs and help the person start processes like applying for medical assistance, food stamps, and possibly financial help. Peers can direct their clients to those who hire people who were incarcerated and who will assist with investigating transportation methods, whether it be automobile, bus, trains or walking and ensure they will get to their destinations.  This population is vulnerable to recidivism and there needs to be an individualized plan to successfully transition into society and remove as many barriers as possible. Things like having safe and adequate housing, a stable job, good family relationships, money management training, parenting skills, coping skills and most of all a positive attitude and a willingness to make every effort to succeed.

Community Heroes Grant Voting Deadline:
Sunday, May 26th