April 30, 2017
By Askhara Anand, Junior LASA, g3 President Elect 2017-2018
Visiting worthy nonprofits and seeing the work they do in person is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my three years as a member of Girls Giving Grants (g3). The Girls Giving Grants process of awarding a grant starts off with reading a multitude of applications in our review committees, choosing our two favorite grants, presenting our top grant to all the g3 members, and picking our two favorite grants as an organization to conduct site visits at. This year our top two organizations were the Center for Child Protection and the Central Texas Food Bank. With finalists selected, we hopped into our cars and drove to the headquarters of both organizations to learn more about them and meet some of the key team members before casting our final vote.
Our first site visit was to the Center for Child Protection. The Center’s court-assisted therapy program uses the comfort and warmth of their trained dog to assist children who are testifying in court against abusers. Being in court, alone and far away from their own possessions, is frightening for children. The presence of a warm and friendly dog allows the youth to relax, be comfortable and feel assured that they are in a safe place.
At the Center for Child Protection, we were greeted by three extremely kind and energetic ladies--Amanda, Miriam, and Shannon--as well as an adorable dog named Mickler. We took a tour through the building and viewed the play area, interview rooms and other specific rooms for different legal procedures. I could tell how focused this organization was on making sure the children felt safe and comfortable. All the rooms were bright and open, there was art everywhere, and there were all sorts of toys, art supplies, and building materials for the children to keep busy before having to deal with legal procedures. Amanda, Miriam, and Shannon were very aware of their organization’s mission and committed to the work they do. They were able to answer all our questions and their relationship with their new therapy dog, Mickler, was admirable. Mickler was very calm and comforting to all of us, sometimes resting his head on our knees and at ease with his environment. The site visit to the Center for Child Protection really allowed me to have a shift in perception of what therapy looks like and I thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
Our second visit was to the Central Texas Food Bank. The Central Texas Food Bank’s Backpack Program provides food for the weekends for low-income students for free. Since these students rely on school lunches to stay full and energized throughout the day, they also need food for the weekends and holidays when they don’t have access to school food. Upon entering the building I was impressed by the modern and clean look of the building. This location is actually the biggest facility in the country that was built originally to serve as a food bank and it is visible how much time was spent into the design and functionality of the building. We were greeted by Hannah, Nathan and Elizabeth who briefly talked to us before taking us on a tour of the facility. I was amazed by the multiple refrigeration facilities for keeping food fresh, the large and organized kitchen and the open storage facility with compactly packed food lining the shelves. There was also a volunteer shift occurring when we were touring the facility and all the volunteers were smiling and dancing--happily packaging and organizing food to the beat of music. The atmosphere really demonstrated how passionate and involved the volunteers are in curbing hunger issues in Austin youth. We also got to take a look at examples of backpacks provided to kids and see the food and drinks children were receiving to take home. Hannah, Nathan, and Elizabeth were knowledgeable, honest and future-oriented. I was very impressed by their efficiency, commitment and drive towards their goal and I enjoyed touring the facility and visiting the Central Texas Food Bank.
Both the Center for Child Protection and the Central Texas Food Bank were extremely well-run, organized and friendly. The work both of these nonprofits do for Central Texas youth is both necessary and impactful. I was very thankful for the opportunity to visit these sites and speak with key members to these nonprofits and was moved by the passion and commitment they show towards serving the Austin community.
We gathered for our last meeting of the year April 9th and took a blind vote for the winner of our grant. After our final vote, we are very happy to announce that the winner of our grant for the 2016-2017 year is the Center for Child Protection! We are excited to fund their court-assisted therapy program and look forward to seeing what they do in the future.