By Crye-Leike's Public Relations Coordinator Katie Wainman

I recently spent a hot September day in Nashville, TN visiting different non-profit organizations that are partly funded by United Way. With Crye-Leike's United Way campaign coming up, it was truly a great experience to learn about some of the local non-profits that support Middle Tennessee. Here is what I learned:

Interfaith Dental

Upon arriving at Interfaith Dental, we were met by the lighthearted Chief Development Officer Beverly Grant.

Walking into the building, I did not really know what to expect. I did not fully understand the need for an organization like this. Is it just a regular dentist office? What's so special about this place?

As it turns out, Interfaith Dental is not your typical run-of-the-mill dentist office. In its simplest form, they offer extremely low priced or free dental services to impoverished patients. This isn't just a standard cleaning two times a year. If you haven't had the privilege of affording dental care your whole life, or were not taught the importance of dental care, chances are you suffer from serious oral health issues.

Interfaith Dental makes it their mission to treat patients long-term, to teach patients about the importance of dental care and to give patients the access to the resources they'll need for proper oral hygiene.

Interfaith Dental strives to make our communities healthier and relies heavily on volunteers, supply donations and funding from organizations such as United Way to make that happen.

Stars

After moving on from all of the teeth talk, it was time to visit the Stars organization to discuss their impact on the area.

The Youth Opportunity Center is the home to five non-profit organizations that focus on helping the youth, including Stars. The inside of the building is vibrant and everything from the furniture to the art work gives off an aura of fun and comfort.

We got to speak with Chief Development Officer Erin Duanic about what Stars offers to Middle Tennessee and how the organization is able to stay afloat.

Duanic explained to us that Stars offers various academic (K-12) and communal programs to address issues such as substance abuse, bullying and violence. Every program that Stars executes is evidenced-based. This means that, in order for Stars to gain funding for a program or to keep a program running, they need to prove that it is having a positive effect on the youth. This isn't always the easiest, as we learned some programs are harder to collect data for than others.

The Stars organization is heavily involved in the communities in Middle Tennessee and can only continue to have an impact if they receive help from donors.



Oasis

Staying on the topic of Nashville's youth, we then spoke with the Oasis Director of College Connection Lee Gray. Oasis is also located in the Youth Opportunity Center and works closely with Stars.

It was impressive to learn about all of the programs Oasis offers. Some of the programs include college and career preparations, youth and family counseling services, LGBTQ safety and acceptance, street outreach for homeless adolescents, and an emergency shelter for crisis situations. With a diverse range of programs, Oasis is able to help over 3,500 youths throughout Middle Tennessee annually.

The staff at Oasis does everything in their power to ensure that each child or young adult who enters the center leaves with a better life than they had before. They teach youth how to build healthy relationships, positive habits and a better future for themselves.

As with any other non-profit organization, Oasis could not make these strides without the help from numerous volunteers and outside funding.



Sexual Assault Center

The last stop on our trip, and I would argue the most impactful - the Sexual Assault Center (SAC). Going into the center, I knew that it wasn't going to be as energetic as the places we visited earlier in the day. The Sexual Assault Center is a place that you never want to have to utilize, but if you do, it can be your best resource for help.

We were met in the quiet lobby by Vice President of Marketing and Fundraising Dorothy (Dott) Freeman. There was something about the center that felt warm and comforting. Evidently, Freeman explained to us that every inch of the center was created for that purpose. Everything in the center, even down to the wall colors, helped you feel more relaxed.

The SAC has four realms of focus: therapy, advocate services, prevention and the safe clinic. It was amazing to hear about how many people the center has helped, and how its outreach to the community has impacted Middle Tennessee. Last year, 2,510 calls were answered by the SAC's 24-hour Crisis & Support Line, 661 sexual assault survivors participated in 10,554 therapy sessions and 41 rape survivors were supported by the SAC's Advocate Services team.

Keeping the center running is not cheap. To put it into perspective, $1,000 supports therapy for one individual for six weeks, but a sexual assault victim needs 18 - 24 months of therapy on average. Funding from organizations such as United Way are extremely important to keeping the SAC up and running.



How Can You Make a Difference?

Arriving back to my office, I was able to reflect on everything that I had learned that day. Every single leader I met was welcoming, generous and clearly passionate about what they do. One even mentioned that, "It's not an industry you join to get rich. You join because you want to help the cause."

From October 21st - November 1st, we ask that you help the cause by supporting Crye-Leike's campaign for United Way. It is our hope that the non-profit organizations in your communities can continue to thrive and better the lives of those in need.

For more information on how you can donate, please contact Crye-Leike's Public Relations Coordinator, Katie Wainman, at katie.wainman@crye-leike.com.