‘Givesboro’ gives to the IRC
“Downtown Greensboro belongs to all of us,” wrote Michelle Kennedy in a Facebook message to me on Monday. “From local small business owners to people experiencing homelessness and everyone in between.”
That, she explained, is why she’s enthusiastic about Givesboro, a collaborative effort by downtown Greensboro merchants raising money for the Interactive Resource Center. Kennedy is executive director of the IRC, which the nonprofit’s homepage describes as “Guilford County’s only day resource center for people currently facing, experiencing or coming out of homelessness.” She is also an at-large representative on the Greensboro City Council.
“The local businesses participating in Givesboro are working in collaboration with the IRC in the fight to end homelessness,” Kennedy wrote. “We share the belief that when we work together as a community to address complex social issues, the more likely we are to find solutions.”
Luck Davidson, executive director of Triad Local First, a Greensboro-based nonprofit membership organization aimed at supporting local businesses, told me on Sunday that she’s impressed by how quickly and smoothly Givesboro came together. “I think in all my time working with nonprofits and watching how folks help each other, I’ve never seen an idea come get organized as quickly as this one has. I think it’s a totally unique effort.”
The brainchild of Davidson and business owners Jenn Graf (Vintage to Vogue Boutique), Jessika Olsen (Sonder Mind and Body and Well Café & Juice Bar), Jake Ngo (White and Wood) and Alexa Terry Wilde (Antlers and Astronauts), Givesboro brings together over 30 downtown businesses to raise money for the IRC.
“We were all thinking of something good to do over the holiday season,” said Olsen when I met with her, Davidson and Graf on Sunday, “and we decided it would be wonderful if a bunch of businesses came together and voted to select a nonprofit to raise money for.”
Davidson said that many people don’t realize just how much small independent businesses give to nonprofits and charitable organizations. “It’s usually more than big corporations do locally.” She stressed that “some of the people working 24/7 are mom-n-pops with fewer than three employees, and they care about the community, and it’s such a great thing to see.” As, she said, is “these small businesses agreeing on something and pulling it together so quickly, and deciding to share with an organization that’s in their neighborhood and really does help folks and saves lives.” Along with praising Kennedy and the IRC, Davidson called her Givesboro partner Graf “a great leader,” adding that “everybody who was around her at the beginning really pitched in and did a lot of work.”
The other women also effusively praised the IRC. “I think it’s a great organization,” Olsen said. “I remember how Michelle Kennedy worked so hard to help people during that horrible snowstorm last year.” Graf agreed, adding that “the IRC really stepped up during the hurricane. Giving to people who’ve fallen on hard times is important because we’re all one step away from being there. The IRC is taking care of our neighbors, and I’m really excited that they’re the nonprofit we’re working with on this project.”
To participate in Givesboro and raise money for the IRC, shoppers can buy a discount card for $10 at the following businesses: Antlers and Astronauts, Aspen Boutique, Just Be, Little Brothers Brew, Meraki, Sonder Mind and Body, Vintage to Vogue Boutique, Vivid Interiors and White and Wood.
The card can be used between now and Dec. 31 for a discount at over 30 downtown businesses. The discount varies per business but ranges from 10 to 25 percent off. Many of those businesses also have Givesboro donation jars or are participating in additional fundraisers. The following businesses will be accepting the discount card:
1618 Downtown, Antlers and Astronauts, Artisans’ Treehouse, Aspen Boutique, B. Christopher, Bearded Goat, Biltmore Hotel, Blue Denim, Boho Salon, Crafted, Crooked Tail, Downtown Bicycle Works, GIA, Green Bean, Hudson Hill, Jerusalem Market, Just Be, Lao, La Rue, Little Brothers Brew, Meraki Handmade, On Point Barbershop, Realigned, Rock’s Hair Shop, Sonder Mind and Body, Southside Diner, Tailor’s Rack, Terra Blue, Undercurrent, Vintage to Vogue Boutique, Vivid Interiors, W on Elm, White and Wood, and Zeto Wine and Cheese Shop.
In her Facebook message to me, Kennedy wrote that “the visibility this campaign provides through local businesses increases awareness of homeless issues in Greensboro and money raised will assist those most vulnerable among us. Not to mention, all money spent in a local business and as part of this campaign helps contribute to our local economy.”
More information on Givesboro can be found at online.
Ian McDowell is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of.