Awards & Events

Valley Soup Event Encourages Giving Back

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Those attending the inaugural Valley Soup event on Nov. 27 can cast their vote for one of four community projects while enjoying a meal.

The event is held in conjunction with Giving Tuesday – the global day of giving held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It is a microfunding dinner that provides an opportunity for residents to give back by helping to fund a smaller-scale community project. Attendees will hear four-minute presentations from four nonprofit organizations – ABC Diamond Girls, Lit Youngstown, Shepherd of All God’s Children and YSUscape.

After the presentations and a brief question-and-answer period, attendees may network and discuss the projects over a dinner of soup, salad and bread. Each attendee gets one vote toward a project. The project with the most votes receives all of the money collected at the door.

Cost to attend is $5. The event will be held at Christ Episcopal Church, 2627 Atlantic St. NE, Warren. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with presentations beginning at 5:50. The event should conclude by 7:30 p.m.

Valley Soup is organized by the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and was inspired by the original Detroit Soup and former Warren Soup and Youngstown Soup events.

“We wanted to connect with smaller nonprofits, those without dedicated grant writers or the capacity to access our traditional grant process,” said the foundation’s president, Shari Harrell. “We also wanted to engage the broader community in making some grant decisions, and we saw the Soup model as the way to accomplish both of those goals.”

Rachael Chacon, the foundation’s donor services associate, worked with organizers from past Soup events to gather feedback on how they were planned. Nonprofits submitted applications and a selection committee chose the four finalists, Chacon said. The foundation encouraged smaller, volunteer-led organizations to apply, she added.

“We were also looking to see if the projects would be feasible to complete with the limited amount of money we were going to give them,” she said. “We are encouraging them to use this opportunity to use the money to leverage some of the other resources in the community to carry out their project.”

Depending on how much money is raised, the Community Foundation is “working on some matching funds” to supplement the total give, Chacon added.

Some examples of past projects funded by Warren Soup – organized by Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership – include Let’s Swim, which offered water activities and learning to at-risk youth in Warren; the Charles Street Flower Power Garden, a community garden that used the funds to finish cultivating its property and install new garden beds; and Boys 2 Men, a youth-development program for boys.

Those who cannot attend the event but wish to donate can do so at www.cfmv.org/donate and select Valley Soup from the dropdown menu. For more information, visit www.cfmv.org/soup/.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.