Bettering the Community One Nonprofit at a Time

Fallon Carney, Staff Writer

Studies show giving to others improves your self-esteem, self confidence and self worth. This advantage flows into all areas of your life so you will find that you are more confident at work and in social situations.

All over the world, nonprofit organizations are helping children and families get the things they need to survive. Whether it be food, clothing, shelters to stay, or even family issue assistance, a nonprofit organization is there to help. 

The Night’s Shield Children’s Shelter in West Frankfort is one of the many local organizations helping and protecting children from the dangers in their home. The Night’s Shield’s mission is to provide a safe haven for children, especially sibling groups, who are in crisis. For over 12 years, The Night’s Shield has worked directly with children who have been victims of abuse, abandonment, and/or neglect. They’ve also worked on the prevention side, providing care for children who are at a significant risk of becoming victims of child abuse. Through shelter and support, they minimize loss and strengthen the children for the road that lies ahead of them. 

The Night’s Shield is also a family advocacy center, helping to strengthen families and relationships through a variety of services including case management, life skills/coaching, parenting classes, food and clothing assistance, community outreach programs, and computer labs. The Night’s Shield will also offer a Homeless Youth Program in collaboration with DHS starting in 2021. This program will serve the youth from their 14th birthday to their 24th birthday. 

While The Night’s Shield is able to provide shelter, food, and basic needs for their residents, it is financially challenging to provide extra activities that nourish the mental and physical health of the children. Through donations and fundraising efforts, The Night’s Shield is able to provide additional services and activities for children and families. 

While most nonprofit organizations deal with people and human needs, some organizations are strictly animal based. St. Francis Animal Shelter in Murphysboro is a prime example of a nonprofit organization for animals. St. Francis is a 501 c3 not for profit organization that takes in animals who have been abandoned by their families and helps them find their new forever homes. St. Francis’ mission is to provide shelter and veterinary care to lost, unwanted and abandoned animals until they can be placed in a kind and loving home where they will be cared for in a safe and humane environment for the rest of their natural lives. St. Francis also seeks to improve the community as a whole by educating the public about the importance of spaying and neutering in order to prevent undesired breeding and minimize the need for euthanasia, and by promoting the adoption of animals as pets from pounds, shelters and animal rescue groups rather than supporting inhumane puppy and kitten mills, which contribute to the problem of overpopulation of domestic animals. 

St. Francis, like The Night’s Shield, often relies on donations and fundraisers to keep their organization going. St. Francis CARE was founded by several volunteers in 2006. To this day, St. Francis relies on volunteers to keep St. Francis CARE operating. Volunteers are involved virtually in every aspect of St. Francis CARE, from helping find animals home to helping keep up the ground around the building. No matter what you can do, St. Francis has a place for you. 

Not many people have had the opportunity to donate to organizations like these.  My personal experience has been different. Ever since I was 5 years old, I have collected donations to give to shelters for my birthday. Instead of gifts, I would ask my friends and family to bring items for the specific organization I chose to donate to that year. Most every year I chose to donate to St. Francis Animals Shelter. I would receive things like dog and cat food, toys, paper towels, beds and blankets, etc. to give to the shelters for the animals. One year, I collected kids clothing and toys to give to Gum Drops for Kids and another I donated to the Free Again Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where I was able to feed a baby raccoon a bottle. Being able to go back and see all the animals I was helping only made me want to donate more so I continued to donate for six years to follow. 

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility. They also strengthen communities in other important ways. The leaders of nonprofits are the voices of those they serve.