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Wednesday 24 April 2019
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The Little Non-Profit That Could

The Little Non-Profit That Could
In the words of Destiny Bradshaw, Director of Ready2Connect
The journey of the initial HELP Program, that ultimately led to Ready2CONNECT, started with my family’s own financial
struggles that began when my husband was sidelined from his job after an unexpected knee injury. I was propelled into the
world of non-profit by a single journal entry in 2009 chronicling the struggle of finding and obtaining available resources during
that difficult time. In order to relay what I’ve learned during the most recent leg of my journey, I had to go back to the pink spiral
journal and reread the entries of some of our “valley” moments. It’s amazing how you don’t even realize how far you’ve traveled
until you start to retrace your steps.
Like so many families facing unforeseen circumstances, I was working while weathering our family’s own personal storms.
“Lord bless me, and I will bless others,” was my initial prayer for help and relief. I had no idea the path that would open before
me. I had no expectations and no preconceived plan. That turned out to be a good thing, because God gave me a better plan than
I could have ever imaged. I now had a mission and a plan to put into action.
Bonnie Dixon, former Area Director of United Way of the Coastal Empire, saw value in bringing a program to help families,
such as mine, to the community. In 2012, United Way recruited me to develop and implement a career development program in
Effingham County that would help create a network of resources for families facing the pitfalls of unemployment. As United Way
is not designed to be a sole financial support for any agency, I was encouraged and supported to take the next steps and seek
independence. Ready2CONNECT, Inc. solidified 501c3 status and began operating independently in January of 2016.
Thankfully, we were out the gate with an enthusiastic, engaged and supportive board of directors from the inception of the
organization. The truth is, many of us were novice to the layered process of starting and sustaining a non-profit. As an Executive
Director of a non-profit agency, I initially was not focused enough on the financial aspects of the business. I also
had to change my perspectives and really consider it a business, not just a mission or a passion. I had the passion, the drive and
the desire to improve lives. However, you can’t help the people you serve without resources and finances. No matter how
challenging fundraising can be, I’ve now learned, it is the lifeline of a non-profit agency.
Like so many other small non-profit directors, I was wearing too many hats. I was the director, the program manager, the case
manager and the grant writer. Securing unrestricted funds is a challenge that many non-profits face. It is made even more
challenging when a director lacks consistent day-to-day staff and must multitask routine duties. I would often joke that I felt like
the pastor of a very small church. I made sure the rent was paid, the lights were on, the funds were available for the families that
we served, and I sometimes went without a salary, for months at a time. My husband would often ask me, “Are you
volunteering?”
In 2017, Diane Rogers of Concerted Services, Inc. (now action pact) and I were scheduled to meet concerning incorporating
their Money Smart Program into the Ready2CONNECT career readiness curriculum. However, the meeting started in one
direction and ended in another. One gift that we all have and don’t share enough of is the gift of transparency. It opens hearts,
opens hands, and opens doors! I told my story. I explained how the career readiness program worked and how it could be an
effective tool to help families end the cycle of routinely utilizing government (community) resources, with no resolve.
At the close of the meeting, we said we would touch bases to schedule a follow-up meeting for a later date and Diane was about
to leave. Something came over me to ask her one more question. “What do you think about R2C providing the career services for
Concerted Services?”
I brought the partnership idea to my board of directors. They said, “This is your baby. What do you want to do?” The BOD was
committed to taking the necessary steps to move the organization to the next level of development for financial stability.
Because they recognized the exhausting cycle of me being the only employee and having to repetitiously retrain volunteers and
interns, they were open to a variety of solutions. After much prayer and consultation with my family, I realized that this was the
best next step for our organization. I had taken us as far as we could go; operating without a consistent staff. Like the scripture
says, “When you’ve done everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10
After a year of negotiations, with the Concerted Services team (Executive Director, Bryan Singleton; Deputy Director, Shelli
Tyre; Development Director, Elena Ryals; and Community Services Director, Diane Rogers), we had a plan in place to bring
R2C’s career readiness services under their organizational umbrella. In February 2019, we officially began the process of joining
forces to benefit the community. It didn’t hurt to have an attorney on the board to help seal the deal. Nancy DeVetter of Georgia
Legal Services served as R2C Board Chair and was extremely instrumental in the transition negotiations.
One of the most important skills sets that I’ve learned along the way is that we should surround ourselves with people that
excel in their area of expertise and let everyone do what they do best. It will save you time, energy and leave room for you to
perform your best work. Adding the holistic career training program of
Ready2CONNECT, Inc. to the services currently provided by action pact (formerly Concerted Services, Inc.) is mutually
beneficial for all parties and does just that! The Ready2CONNECT program will be able to expand its reach by adding necessary
staff and action pact will be able to add our established holistic case management model within their current service area. It is
such a blessing that action pact sees the value in the services that the Ready2CONNECT program has to offer the community and
desires to see it in other counties. That’s AMAZING!
This has been a journey in building relationships. Since 2016, with over 35 community partners in our network, the holistic
career readiness program of Ready2CONNECT, Inc. closed the gap of unemployment barriers for 181 program participants;
resulting in sustainable employment opportunities. At a recent Director Elaine Spencer, highlighted the power of collaborations
and the importance of relationship building.
I look forward to working with and for the action pact organization. I am excited for the future and opportunity to continue
pursuing my passion of helping others who are experiencing many of the same struggles my family faced.
I’m thankful for Julie Hales, owner of Effingham Magazine for helping to chronicle our journey of growth in the community.
Remember to have joy in your journey and always be open to change. It often leads to growth opportunities.
Program and our efforts to empower and educate the unemployed and underemployed families in Effingham and West
Chatham Counties. The benefit of the merger is that we have more hands to help!
Save the Date:
Saturday, July 27, 2019
To Volunteer, Give, or Join
Please contact Destiny Bradshaw, Ready2CONNECT Director
(912) 295-2148 or dbradshaw@myactionpact.org
Upcoming Orientations:
Tues., April 9, 2019, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m
Tues., August 6, 2019, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m
Tues., Oct. 8, 2019, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m
Tues., Dec. 10, 2019, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m
CONNECT-ED (GED & Literacy)
Future Minds Literacy and Adult Education, Inc. will be contracted by action pact and continue to facilitate GED and Literacy
Services for CONNECT-ED. The program affords area students the opportunity to participate in a learning community that
allows them to work at their own pace, address barriers to learning and identify their personal learning styles, FREE of charge.
The program is offered to adults 16 and older.
Class Schedule:
Tues. and Thur. evenings from
6 – 8 p.m
Ready2CONNECT powered by action pact
711 Zitterour Dr.
Rincon, GA 31326
Who’s hosting R2C’s Annual Back2School Blowout?
The Back2School Blowout will continue to
be an annual fundraiser and community event to benefit the Ready2CONNECT.
STATS FOR 2018:
67 individuals improved employability skills and obtained employment
QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE?
What is Ready2CONNECT powered by action pact? What is the meaning of powered by action pact?
In order to provide opportunity for growth and future replication, our hallmark career readiness services will become a program
under the umbrella
of action pact (formerly Concerted Services, Inc.). Budgeting will include funding for additional staff and direct participant
benefits to ensure and enhance continued holistic case management services and allow R2C to make a greater impact in the
community.
What service components will Ready2CONNECT powered by action pact program provide?
Ready2CONNECT powered by action pact will continue to provide the following employability services to the Effingham and
West Chatham community: CONNECT (Community Network Navigation Empowerment Career Training) CONNECT provides a
three-month customized case management program that includes a four-week career readiness curriculum in which participants
acquire skills and tools necessary to help them find and retain employment. Participants receive follow up reviews for an
additional six months following program dismissal to ensure employment retention Potential participants must be residents of
Effingham and West Chatham Counties, unemployed or underemployed, and 18 years of age or older.