Polk County M.A.D.E.
Make A Difference Everyday
Group Effort Aims to Lend Helping Hand
Overcoming obstacles after life knocks an individual down is no easy feat. Though several entities across the community offer assistance, many services are left underutilized.
However, a non-profit is in the forming stages that may change outcomes and increase access to assistance.
Organizers, Keena and Shelby Ashcraft said Polk County MADE (Making a Difference Every Day) aims to give people a hand up and point the direction to services that can positively impact individuals, families and, ultimately, the community.
“Many people may find out about one place they can get help, but are still struggling in another area,” Keena said. “With this, we want to partner with organizations, pull resources together, and be able to identify all the areas a person or family needs assistance.
While there are many areas of ministry and charity throughout the county, MADE aims to bolster those efforts rather than replace.
“So many people are doing great things to lift our community up, but it can be overwhelming to a person who is struggling to go find all the resources available. It is also really difficult for people to ask for help.”
Polk County MADE aims to offer a no judgment approach to lending a helping hand.
“Once an individual is referred to drug court, they find out about resources that may have helped them during the time they were making poor choices. When you feel helpless, or judged, it can cloud judgment and make it seem like all hope is lost,” said Shelby. “We want to affect that positive change before people feel that way, if possible. It doesn’t matter where someone is at on their journey. We want to show kindness and help people feel like there are options and help.”
The organization’s current projects include filing for non-profit status, and finding a location for a resource room.
Once a location is found, MADE will offer a closest closet, household items, cleaning products, toiletries and such items that are essential to functional living.
In addition, the ideal location for the resource room will have an office area for meeting with individuals and families in need, and a conference room for training, education and meetings, which may include Alcoholics and/or Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon and NAR-Anon meetings.
“There are currently AA meetings available in town, which we support and recommend, but having an additional location and times could be a real benefit to the community members who need access to this type of support.”
“It is in the early stages of development, and we are hoping to find a suitable location at the right price for a non-profit,” Shelby said. “Because the individuals coming to us are asking for help, which is a huge first step, we want to be able to have an environment that shows we respect their effort. It should be a place where, when someone comes in, they feel valued – not like a second class citizen or an afterthought.”
The feeling of worthiness MADE hopes to cultivate in those seeking help is also a central focus of the programs they aim to offer, including assistance with mock job interviews, job applications, filling out forms for SNAP (supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), health insurance, and other task that can inhibit a person from taking steps to change or improve situations. Organizers also hope for a facility that can have a play area for children when parents come in for assistance.
“That stuff is scary for a lot of people because it can be unknown and terrifying,” ??? said. “Also, if one person in a family unit, no matter their age, has an issue – with access to health care, needing a job or training, needing counseling or struggling with substance abuse or addition – typically those struggles affect the entire family unit.”
Currently MADE does not offer monetary or shelter assistance, but can assist with establishing shelter in a nearby county, as well as working to get individuals set up for detox assistance.
MADE can also help by connecting people with food pantries and other resources.
The organization’s mission is to lend a hand up to those in need in our community through facilitating community connections, providing resources and providing a safe place for those to improve their lives.
According to MADE, “Someone on your side, who believes in you, can be the difference in your success story. And that extra support can help you to be a necessary member of society. We hope to continue the chain of giving back within our community.”
Facilitating community connection and bridging the gap.
After the goals of establishing a non profit and resource center have been met, the group hopes to establish a sober living facility and emergency shelter.
Denise Provence, of Cove, recently donated towards the effort to help one of the first families assisted by MADE.
“There are so many struggling right now, especially with everything going on. Knowing what Keena and Shelby are doing to help ease others struggles is so moving and heartwarming,” Provence said. “There will be so many blessed by the love and compassion they are showing. That is what I love most about our county and community.”
After being open for assistance and donations for one day, MADE was able to collect items needed to support two babies.
“We were able to deliver the donations after two days,” Shelby said. “The community support, help and love has been amazing. The babies have everything they need for not only proper care, but extras as well.”
As of last week, more than ten people have already reached out to MADE and asked for resources.
“It is such a good feeling to be able to help,” Shelby continued. “None of this would have been possible without the loving community members who donated.”
MADE currently has five board members, as well as Kenna and ???, who focus on operations.
The organization welcomes donations of cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries, non-perishable food items, kitchen supplies, and monetary donations.
Monetary donations can be made through VENMO account, by searching polkcountymade, or make a deposit to the Resource Room at Union Bank.
Donations are being collected Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 808 Janssen Ave.
Organizations, donors and those seeking help are also encouraged to contact MADE on Facebook (POLKCOUNTYM.A.D.E.) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.