By Jeri Pearson
An organization that aims to help people overcome obstacles has successfully leapt over a hurdle of its own, securing a non-profit status.
Polk County M.A.D.E. is a community organization with a local board that acts as a conduit connecting people with resources and assistance to build a better life.
“This is huge for us,” Keena Ashcraft, a MADE founder and volunteer, said.
“As we continue to pursue developing this, getting our non-profit status has put us in a much better place to receive monetary donations and continue our efforts.”
One big ticket item M.A.D.E is searching for is a home.
“We need a place that allows us to meet, counsel, train, advise, teach skills, while also storing donations,” Ashcraft explained. “We need to be able to have access to a kitchen, washing and drying clothes and a place to meet in large groups, and also a place to quietly meet with a person or family in private.”
The ideal facility would be a home or a building that allows for daily living task and has multiple rooms, she said.
“We are hoping to find a suitable location at the right price for a non-profit,” Shelby Ashcraft 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.”
Once a location is found, MADE will offer a clothes closet, household items, cleaning products, toiletries and such items that are essential to functional living.
About Polk County M.A.D.E.
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, M.A.D.E. hopes to change outcomes and increase access to assistance.
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 offers 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 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,” Shelby 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 physical location and resource center have been met, the group hopes to establish a sober living facility and emergency shelter.
“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.”
Monetary donations can be made through VENMO account, by searching polkcountymade, or make a deposit to the Resource Room at Union Bank.
Organizations, donors and those seeking help are also encouraged to contact MADE on Facebook (POLKCOUNTYM.A.D.E.) or by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.