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Membership Spotlight

The Porters – Making Philanthropy a Family Affair

We were privileged to sit down with Impact Austin member, Karen Porter, and her lovely daughters, Melissa and Brianna, who are proud members of Girls Giving Grants (g3).  Karen joined Impact Austin in 2009 and chairs the Culture Focus Area Committee this year. Melissa has been a member since 2011 and serves as the current President of g3. Brianna is a sophomore at Austin High in the Academy of Global Studies and this is her first year in g3.

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We were privileged to sit down with Impact Austin member, Karen Porter, and her lovely daughters, Melissa and Brianna, who are proud members of Girls Giving Grants (g3).  Karen joined Impact Austin in 2009 and chairs the Culture Focus Area Committee this year. Melissa has been a member since 2011 and serves as the current President of g3. Brianna is a sophomore at Austin High in the Academy of Global Studies and this is her first year in g3.

We asked how the family heard about Impact Austin.

Karen: “I heard about Impact Austin in 2008 on KUT radio. I researched the organization on the Internet, called to learn more about it, and spoke with Rebecca Powers over the phone. She invited me to lunch at Einstein Bagels and told me the story behind Impact Austin and its early roots starting up with just a few friends. I was amazed that the founder wanted to meet me for lunch! She won me over immediately with her passion and stories. The power of collective giving and the opportunity to take an active role in that giving were exactly what I was searching for. I had worked for 20 plus years in the field of healthcare information systems and I am currently taking time off, while using my many skills and experience for Impact Austin’s benefit.”

Melissa: “I decided to join Girls Giving Grants in 2011 (my freshman year) after learning about it from my mom. She told me about Impact Austin and g3 seemed like a great way to earn community service hours while learning about the needs of our community and the grant-giving process. I am a senior at LASA High School and am in the process of applying to college.”

Brianna: “Melissa told me about g3 and how interesting and fun it was so I decided to join this year. My experience so far has been great.”

These dynamic women have jumped into Impact Austin and g3 in a big way. Karen participated in several Focus Area Committees (Education, Environment, Family and Health) before chairing the Culture committee this year. Melissa worked as a member of g3 for the first two year, then became the PR/Historian before becoming President. Brianna is beginning her journey with g3 as a member and will be participating in the grant review and selection process.

What is the most important thing you have learned by being an Impact Austin member or g3 member and what is your favorite thing you have done with the organization?

Karen: “I have learned so much about the needs of our community and about the organizations that try to meet those needs. I have also learned that collective giving makes a huge difference for the non-profits who receive the Impact Austin grants. I have been on several FACs and my favorite part of the non-profit selection process is the site visits. It is eye-opening and heart-warming to meet the people who are in the field helping others and to meet the people directly benefitting from our grants.”

Melissa: “The most important lesson I’ve taken away from g3 is how important philanthropy is and how genuinely dependent our community is on it. Before g3, I was totally unaware of the needs of the youth in our community, an example being “living in a food desert.” It never occurred to me that youth in Austin may not have easy access to something I take for granted, like a grocery store. Furthermore, there are so many programs geared toward the youth of our community and all of those organizations depend on donations from non-profits, corporations, and the community in general to continue doing what they are doing. I didn’t realize the need is so great.”

“My favorite experience has been attending the site visits and meeting with the incredible men and women who give so much of their time and energy to their cause/organization. Their passion for philanthropy and volunteering is contagious and inspires me to think of how I can do more to give back every day.”

Brianna: “This is my first year with Girls Giving Grants and we are still in the process of reviewing the grants. I look forward to the site visits because I have heard how informative and rewarding they are.”

We asked what nonprofits they have worked with in the past, and about their experiences.

Karen: “The girls and I have volunteered a few times at the food bank and at Special Olympics.”

“I am a member of Divine Canines whose goal is to deliver unconditional love, affection, gentle exercise and companionship from therapy dogs and their handlers. In doing so, they promote physical and emotional wellness. My big beautiful and loving dog, Marvis, and I have visited the state hospital, nursing homes, The Settlement Home for girls, rehab centers, and elementary schools. During the spring semester of 2014, Marvis and I read with kindergarteners and first graders each week for the Barking Book Buddies program at St. Elmo’s. To become a Divine Canine, you and your dog must have a calm and caring personality, and your canine has to go through specific training to make sure he or she is a good fit for helping people in the types of environments visit.”

We asked the dynamic Porter women to share something unusual about them.

“We love the mountains and hiking. Last summer we went to Bend Oregon and hiked around Crater Lake and numerous trails past amazing waterfalls. We also kayaked and paddle-boarded on a beautiful mountain lake. Karen says, “My love of the mountains grew from attending college at the University of Colorado in Boulder and living there for 11+ years. Yearly visits to the mountains for skiing and hiking instilled that same love in my daughters. In fact, my oldest daughter, Melissa, is applying to college at CU Boulder!”

Community Partner Spotlight

Colorado River Alliance

www.coloradoriver.org
In 2013, we granted $101,000 to Colorado River Alliance, an organization that supports natural science education and outdoor recreation programs that encourage the stewardship, awareness, and protection of the Colorado River, particularly to at-risk youth. Colorado River Alliance used the Impact Austin funds to create the Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience, an environmental education program focusing on water conservation, which will reach over 5,000 7th grade students annually. The mobile classroom uses interactive exhibits to enhance learning and reinforce the link between personal behavior and the environment.

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Colorado River Alliance

In 2013, we granted $101,000 to Colorado River Alliance, an organization that supports natural science education and outdoor recreation programs that encourage the stewardship, awareness, and protection of the Colorado River, particularly to at-risk youth. Colorado River Alliance used the Impact Austin funds to create the Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience, an environmental education program focusing on water conservation, which will reach over 5,000 7th grade students annually. The mobile classroom uses interactive exhibits to enhance learning and reinforce the link between personal behavior and the environment.  

The Colorado River Alliance (CRA) supports natural science education and outdoor recreation programs that encourage the stewardship, awareness, and protection of the Colorado River, particularly to at-risk youth. The foundation also partners with other organizations to organize clean-ups of the lakes that make up the Colorado River.

The CRA is the only non-profit in Texas dedicated solely to the protection and conservation of the Texas Colorado River. As our population increases, and severe drought conditions persist, water conservation is critical to Austin's future. CRA has partnered with the Austin Independent School District and Austin Water to create the Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience, an environmental education program focusing on water conservation, which will reach over 5,000 7th grade students annually. The mobile classroom will use interactive exhibits to enhance learning and reinforce the link between personal behavior and the environment.  Since the classroom is mobile, it will also be used at community events, bringing the conservation message to the broader Austin community.

For more details, visit their website: www.coloradoriver.org