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Center for Survivors lands as a finalist for 2018 Community Firsts Awards

August 31, 2018

The Center for Survivors is one step closer to its goal of gathering sufficient funding for a new vehicle.

“It’s very exciting to be considered in the top 20,” said Lia Grant, executive director of Center for Survivors, a nonprofit organization providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault within Boone, Butler, Colfax, Nance, Platte and Polk counties.

With the organization being selected as a finalist for the 2018 Community Firsts Awards, it has the chance of winning $25,000 that would go toward vehicle expenses. Second and third-place prizes are $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Center for Survivors, previously known as Center for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Survivors, is the only organization in the area to be in the top 20 for the award presented by First National Bank. The award recognizes the different nonprofit organizations within the bank’s territory. Service areas include Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas, which have made significant contributions to the growth and strength in numerous communities.

“One reason we love the Community First Awards is that they are open to nearly all nonprofit organizations operating in our communities. Large and small, new and established; serving a variety of different community focus areas,” said Bill Flint, Columbus area market president for First National Bank.

“The bank’s traditional philanthropy focuses primarily on organizations working to reduce poverty, through stable housing, strengthening our local economies and education and job training. The Community First Awards is an opportunity for the bank to showcase and support organizations with other focus areas, as well.”

Flint said the bank received more than 220 nominations this year and their applications were evaluated by employees, who voted for the 20 finalists.

“We hope to connect our employees and the public with the missions and activities of these organizations and elevate the understanding of the need that exists and the value they create within our communities,” he said. “By promoting their involvement in the contest and rallying supporters, we hope they will receive increased support and awareness of their organizations.”

Grant said the application process was relatively similar to writing grants, where she had to illustrate the organization’s mission and plans to reach its goals.

“We had to have a project in mind and how we would use (it) and how that would affect people,” she said.

Because Centers for Survivors serves six different counties, Grant said the organization is in need of another vehicle to better serve community members, especially those living in rural areas. She said there are people who have a tough time commuting to the organization’s main office in Columbus and its other satellite locations.

“Being in a rural area, it increases the factors of difficulty for victims to have access to services, such as ours,” she said. “So that is why we requested assistance for a new vehicle because transportation in our line of work is imperative, either to meet the clients where they are or to be able to transport clients -- we have to have safe and reliable transportation.”

Grant said the organization currently has two vehicles, one funded through a grant and the other a car that is starting to wear out. She said staff responds to reports of domestic violence and sexual assault and transports victims to safer environments. She said she tries to avoid employees from using their own vehicles because it can be a liability.

“With the size of our service area and our agency, we wouldn’t be able to get by with just one vehicle,” she said. “We do have days where it’d be nice to have three vehicles.”

Grant said she feels optimistic moving forward with the competition because of how much community support the organization receives. She hopes to gather sufficient funding from the prize for a new vehicle.

Now that finalists have been selected by bank employees, the responsibility of choosing the winners is left to the public. Those wishing to submit their votes can do so until Sept. 7 at https://woobox.com/y7432i. Individuals are allowed to vote once per day.

The winning organizations will be announced mid-September.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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