October Fundraising Efforts
October Fundraising Efforts
October has been a busy month for BIIN staff, interns and volunteers, due to two sequential fundraising efforts: the local Brazos Valley Gives campaign and a Covid-conscious version of BIIN’s annual Light of Liberty gathering. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors, and the collaboration of many folks behind the scenes, both efforts were successful.
Brazos Valley Gives is a community-wide campaign, launched and led by the Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley, to raise awareness of and funds for nonprofit organizations across the region. The campaign to “give where you live” culminated with 24 hours of online giving on October 19, 2021. Thanks to matching grants generously offered by The Joyce Nies and Peter Witt Foundation and by Davis and Davis Lawyers, BIIN’s goal was to raise at least $6,000 in individual donations. By the end of the campaign, BIIN had garnered $7,373 in additional donations, for a total of $13,373. Huge thanks to our matching-grant sponsors and to all who gave as part of this campaign!
Kudos also go to those who worked hard behind the scenes to plan and carry out the weeks’ long social media and communications strategy, including: marketing team leader Mollie Fitzpatrick, marketing intern Leslie Gonzalez, board chair Amy Klinkovsky, staff members Jaimi Washburn, Adriana Stowe, and Janet Morford. It takes a team to mobilize this kind of support, and we are grateful to everyone who played a part in it.
As if that wasn’t enough for one month, BIIN also managed to host its first in-person gathering since the start of the pandemic: an updated version of the annual Light of Liberty gala, on October 28. Due to continued concerns about public health, the BIIN board decided to hold the event outdoors, at the American Pavilion in Veterans Park, and to take advantage of the sunlight and fresh air, by moving it to the start of the day. Sponsors Davis and Davis Lawyers, Judge Celina Vasquez and Board Chair Amy Klinkovsky underwrote the costs of hosting a breakfast in this venue. The objective of this event, as in years past, was to raise awareness of and support for BIIN’s programs, by sharing stories of the impact the organization has had in the lives of local community members.
Musician Joey McGee sang and played guitar and harmonica while attendees arrived, helped themselves to breakfast tacos and coffee, and joined friends at picnic tables. A slideshow of volunteers and participants engaged in BIIN programs, both before and since the start of the pandemic, looped in the background, illustrating the many ways that the organization serves and brings together people from across the Brazos Valley.
Just as the first rays of sun reached the pavilion, the Reverend Sam Cutrone, a BIIN board member, opened the program with a prayer and illuminating the “Light of Liberty.” Sam also underscored the resonance of BIIN’s mission for him personally, as an adoptee from the Rio Grande Valley whose life was changed by the generosity of others. Amy Klinkovsky gave a quick overview of BIIN’s pandemic “pivot,” before turning the mic over to a series of speakers who shared the stories of their involvement with BIIN and its programs.
Teresa González responded to questions from volunteer Mary Campbell about how BIIN’s citizenship classes helped prepare her to pass the naturalization exam, and what becoming a U.S. citizen has meant to her. Volunteer Yessenia Aviles spoke with new neighbors Rubi and David Moreno about their experience of participating in BIIN’s online Conversational English classes.
Tony Caraballo, board member and long-time volunteer, talked about the ways that the IRA program helps people in need and the many blessings that involvement with BIIN brings to everyone who takes part in it. He also invited the audience to consider the wisdom of Mother Teresa’s words: “El que no vive para servir, no sirve para vivir,” or “One who does not live to serve others lives in a limited way.” Amy Klinkovsky then wrapped up the program by emphasizing the centrality of trust to the work that BIIN does:
When you care about the safety of someone — you earn trust. And over the past 11 years, BIIN has earned the trust of our immigrant community, our volunteers, and our donors. Because of that trustworthiness, the community seeks out the services we provide, or our help in gaining access to services elsewhere. As a donor to BIIN, I trust that the staff and volunteers are going to take that donation and invest in programs and people who make our community one that holds promise for all people.
Klinkovsky reiterated the value of all kinds of gifts — time, talent, treasure — to sustaining and advancing the work of BIIN, and invited everyone to be as generous as possible in committing or recommitting to serve vulnerable people in our midst.
Energized by the testimonies shared and the delicious tacos from local restaurant Raspas El Payasito, guests continued to mingle and enjoy each other’s company while Joey McGee played another round of songs. As volunteer Susie Ohendalski observed afterwards, “I may not have met [everyone] here by name, but we are in this together and that always spells LOVE.”
Special thanks to all the volunteers and staff who showed up early and stayed afterwards to ensure set up and clean up; to all who spoke as part of the program; to summer intern Cate Stackhouse and fall intern Astrid Villareal for their contributions to the planning process; to Alex Garza for taking photos at the gathering; and to Director Jaimi Washburn, for orchestrating all the moving parts with her characteristic efficiency and grace.
If you missed the opportunity to make a donation during the Brazos Valley Gives campaign or the Light of Liberty gathering, you can easily do so here. If the stories of BIIN’s impact in the community have inspired you to offer your time and talents, volunteers are always welcome. While the ability to speak Spanish is an asset, BIIN also needs native English speaking volunteers and people with other specialized skills. Please fill out a volunteer application or reach out to BIIN staff to discuss how your specific gifts can be put to good use.