Supporting our communities and giving back is at the heart of what we do at Suzy Quilts. We've been donating to a wide array of nonprofits since 2020 and this year we aren't only fundraising—we're friend-raising!
That means we're supporting these nonprofits through a financial donation and doing our best to get the word out about the great things they are doing. We want you to get to know the five nonprofits we're donating to this year so you can join us in supporting their good work.
Giving Back: Love Columbia
There are so many reasons why Suzy Quilts is honoring Love Columbia as our Q2 nonprofit partner. First, Columbia, Missouri is my hometown and I do love it, but even more important than that, Love Columbia was founded by my mom!
My mom, Jane Williams, is a long-time social worker and community organizer with a passion to see people overcome barriers and move out of poverty. She also believes that everyone in the community wants to help and just needs manageable opportunities to seize and a structure for giving to latch onto.
She honestly believes that everything we need to help our neighbors is in our hearts and homes and we just need to organize it. That includes everything from someone’s talent for writing a resume, balancing a budget, or preparing taxes to their unneeded furniture and clothing.
What Is Love Columbia?
Love Columbia's mission is to connect community relationships and resources to love people forward. Those resources include immediate needs, housing, employment, finances, personal development, and rent assistance.
My mom has coined a lot of terms like “loving people forward”, “the intersection of needs and resources” and “serve the whole person and engage the whole community.” She has been named Best Cultural Influencer in Columbia for the past two years. She pressed into pandemic need and served 50% more households in 2020-21 than in the previous years.
Love Columbia advances its mission through a number of collaborative initiatives like Bike to the Future which provides free bicycle transportation, Love Coffee which provides employment training and opportunities for people with developmental disabilities, and a community garden.
The Love Seat is Love Columbia's furniture bank. Founded in 2008, the Love Seat was one of the organization's first programs. It was established to provide free basic furniture and housewares to families in crisis or transition. Each year, over 300 households receive items and delivery is provided if needed.
In 2010, a resale store was added to support the work of the Love Seat. Since opening, the store has provided employment to over 100 people facing barriers to obtaining employment.
Jane Williams with Columbia Housing Authority's Executive Director, Randy Cole (left) and Founder/ Pastor of Urban Empowerment Ministries, Dr. Lester Woods Jr. (right).
Filling the Gap: Affordable Housing in Columbia
Now she is tackling the dire shortage of affordable housing with a campaign called "22 Ways to Step Into the Housing Crisis in 2022.” This gives Columbians a range of ways to help including taking emergency supplies to a family newly pushed into homelessness, to joining forces with others to build more affordable housing. She firmly believes we can create a “beloved community” and make Columbia a model place to live where everyone is included and has the opportunity to flourish.
According to Love Columbia, one in five Columbians lives in poverty and over nine thousand households in Columbia are extremely low-income (earning less than 30% of the area median income). Income-based housing and housing vouchers combined can only accommodate one-fourth of these households.
To address this, Love Columbia has formed an affordable housing coalition comprised of local community members that represent the business sector, local government, the faith community, our local housing authority, and nonprofits.
Love Columbia has also provided dramatically more coaching sessions in housing than any other immediate or long-term need so far this year, as you can see above.
As Love Columbia says, "Our goal is to provide a united voice for the development of more affordable housing and promote the various projects of the coalition members. We want to raise awareness about the current housing crisis and give community members opportunities to respond individually and by forming partnerships."
Show Some Love to Love Columbia!
Some of you may know my mom lost her eyesight ten years ago. She laughingly says she couldn’t stop working as she had created an organization with so many volunteers who wanted to help her. This is literally what happened as volunteers read her all her correspondence until she learned to use a screen reader.
Personally, I am a monthly supporter of Love Columbia because I know from the inside that they work hard, use every donation well, and always step creatively into the needs of the most vulnerable in the community. If you want to learn more, visit the Love Columbia website!