This month 99nonprofits profiles two organizations dedicated to helping people feel whole again. One nonprofit educates so people can take ownership of their health and well-being (knowledge really is power!) while another helps those in the greatest of need feel special and one-of-a-kind (get ready for that warm, fuzzy feeling…).
Helping the community help itself: AskMe.HearMe
Everyone knows physical health is an important part of your well-being. You’re supposed to eat well, exercise, and get lots of sleep. But when it comes to mental health, or what to do to improve it, it’s not always common knowledge. The research campaign AskMe.HearMe. is working to balance the scales when it comes to mental health awareness.
The research group Community TIES (Trauma-Informed Education & Support), at the University of Pittsburgh, is the research team in charge of AskMe.HearMe. According to their research, 1 in 5 youth experience a significant mental health disorder each year. Of those, only 20% receive the care they need. The issue is further compacted in poor communities where opportunities for such care is scarce. Families often do not know where, or how, to access care.
But through AskMe.HearMe., young participants have been exploring mental health and are becoming more aware of coping strategies, as well as learning how to recognize signs of mental distress in others. Group interaction is especially crucial to the program. Participants engage with peers, and sometimes parents, in focus groups, art projects, and other health education activities. And the study has been making a noted impact on participants. One young man said he was never asked about his feelings, and he wished city youth had more outlets where they could discuss serious issues and share their inner lives.
When Community TIES began looking for a logo for AskMe.HearMe., they realized the 99designs platform could continue their group philosophy by sharing the creative process with participants through web links and poll features, “It is very important to us that everything we do in AskMe.HearMe. involves our stakeholders—youth, parents, and providers. 99nonprofits allowed us to connect with a wide range of designers and receive quite a variety of designs that our stakeholders could then vote on.”
In their first batch of entries, designers took the question and answer format of their name quite literally, creating icons with question marks and thought bubbles. But that felt just a little too obvious. Leave it to San Francisco based design duo TheBaronSF to take that idea on a creative leap by intelligently combining the symbols into one. This fun logo now uniquely stamps the project’s emphasis on communication cleverly. Asking, hearing, and growing.
Gifting courage: Schneekönige e.V.
Many organizations exist to assist the homeless and the needy but one non-profit seeks to assist the homeless in a novel and touching way. By gifting.
Schneekönige e.V. (pronounced shnay-kehr-nih-guh) seeks to bestow gifts, and fulfill special wishes, for homeless individuals living in Munich. On the surface, a little indulgence seems silly when a person doesn’t have regular access to food, clothing, and and a warm place to sleep. But bestowing a special gift to someone living on the street has the capacity to make them feel human. “There are a lot of organizations to support homeless people regarding their basic needs, but the involvement of the psyche is mostly disregarded,” says founder Cornelia Pagel. Cornelia has discovered that a gift, as opposed to necessities like food and clothing, can change a person’s self-image and create a significant boost to the ego, helping bestow a new courage to face life.
The gifts can range from material items like a new pair of glasses or a musical instrument, to non-material things such as a concert trip. And so far all the giving has had some moving results. A few months ago, the nonprofit fulfilled a wish for a woman living in an emergency shelter. Her cat had fallen ill but she could not afford veterinary costs. The organization was able to pay for the cat’s medication and the feline soon recovered. After Christmas, Schneekönige e.V. received a postcard from the woman thanking them for her most beautiful Christmas gift in years.
Last year, Schneekönige e.V. found they needed help to spread that love. With only 7 members, they were in great need of volunteers. Cornelia saw an opportunity at an upcoming festival to hand out flyers and get their name out. Wanting to get a great design made on a nonprofit budget brought her to 99designs’ 99nonprofits program. The process itself was fun and exciting, Cornelia recalls, “we could see how the design works became better and better with every day.” In fact, in the end, they had a hard time choosing between 2 designs but ended up selecting a work by mirvai that reflected their gift-giving spirit more lightheartedly. And the festival? A success! Through 99designs and their new flyer Schneekönige e.V. gained the dedicated volunteers they much needed.
Community TIES and Schneekönige e.V. remain important supporters to their communities. They each continue to aid people through knowledge and through small tokens of compassion. Through their actions they enable individuals to take charge of their own lives and steer their own ships. At 99nonprofits, we’re just happy to lend wind to those sails.