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Mindful : October 2016
Compassion is a big, fancy word. But in a city, what it comes down to day-to-day is citizens taking time to care for one another. IN THE COMMUNITY Compassion has many faces. In Louisville, you can see them on the volunteers in the many civic groups the city encourages. You find them in the Kentucky Refugee Ministries, which was founded in 1990 and has since resettled more than 1,400 refugees. And you find them in the Give- A-Day program, Louisville’s week-long nod to the power of service and giving. Consider the alliance between the Refugee Ministries and the Pedal Power Project. “Offering refugees old, dis- carded, and unused bikes seemed like the perfect solution to help them travel to work and do shopping,” says Robert Callander, the project’s leader. When it star ted in 2013, the organization expected to donate about a hundred bikes before calling it quits. In April 2016, it topped 1,400. “As a bonus, bicycle recycling is a great way to reduce the trash in our landfills,” adds Callander. He offers three reasons for Pedal Power’s success: a generous giving community, which supports the project with a steady stream of used and unwanted bicycles; a group of 10 to 15 dedicated bike-repair volunteer members, who get together at least once a week to change tires and tubes, replace brake cables, and get old bikes up and running; and their partner- ship with the Refugee Ministries. “Their staff are incredibly professional,” Cal- lander says. “ We simply fix the bicycles. They coordinate ever ything else.” A big par t of the Give-A -Day program is connecting people: volunteers with projects, donors with needs. Jean Porter, deputy director of communications for the mayor’s office, says an example from 2016—the program’s five-year anniver- sary—is Family Scholar House, a local nonprofit that works to eliminate barriers for single-parent households. Volun- teers from a local tech company called ComputerShare went to Family Scholar House one afternoon to paint, garden, clean up, and interact with the children in the program. A key group that matches volun- teers with existing community needs is REACH Corps. It identifies at-risk stu- dents and provides them with mentors who encourage them in a non-threaten- ing environment. As part of Louisville’s Give-A-Day Program, REACH sponsors a Build-a -Bed initiative that supplies a bed and essential bedding—as well as teddy bear, bedtime book, toothbrush, tooth- paste, dental floss, and pajamas—to children who don’t have one. “One family who got a bed simply broke out crying, out of happiness,” says Raesean Bruce, a Build-a -Bed volunteer who is pictured above (far right) with fellow volunteers. Bruce ser ves as a home school coor- dinator for REACH Corps. “If you can believe it, they hadn’t had a bed in over two years,” he says. Hands-On Helping 64 mindful October 2016