Expo puts local nonprofits on display

Christy Finnegan, a representative of the Arbor House organization for single mother families, talks with visitors to her booth during the Nonprofit Expo at the Senior Recreation Center on NW 34th Street in Gainesville, Jan. 11, 2012.

Steven H. Keys/Correspondent
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 9:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 9:51 p.m.

Candice Noble came to the Nonprofit Expo on Wednesday looking for organizations that will take middle school-aged volunteers.

The guidance counselor at Fort Clarke Middle School found at least one -- Horses Helping People -- that would be interested in having her National Junior Honor Society students help out to fulfill their community service requirement.

The Nonprofit Center of North Central Florida and sponsor Vystar Credit Union held the first Nonprofit Expo at the new Senior Recreation Center in Northside Park to raise awareness about community nonprofits.

Center co-founder Kari Brill estimated that about 200 people came to learn about the 45 nonprofits on display.

She said the event brings together nonprofits and interested citizens who might volunteer, provide donations, attend fundraising events or refer people they know who could benefit from the services the nonprofits provide.

“My goal is that it’s going to start them young giving back to the community,” Noble said of having middle school students volunteer. “It’s going to give them that feeling that they belong somewhere.”

Volunteering will also help students with their college applications, she said.

Kevin Coulson of Meridian Behavioral Healthcare said holding the event at the beginning of the year was perfect timing.

“A lot of people are setting their New Year’s resolutions to better themselves or give back to the community,” he said.

He said he talked to about 20 people interested in Meridian’s counseling services and handed out literature to dozens more.

“A lot of people don’t know what we do,” Coulson said. “The more people who do know, the more people we could potentially help.”

Girls Scouts of Gateway Council collected names of former scouts for a database project as part of the national organization’s 100th anniversary.

“Hopefully people will be willing to volunteer, to mentor or to help with financial contributions,” said Destani Shadrick.

Rocket for the Arts, a new nonprofit that raises awareness about the need for the arts in school, collected names of potential volunteers and talked to other organizations about joining forces, said Tiffany Williams.

“We know that we can’t do it all, so we like to partner with other groups,” she said. “This is another chance for us to meet some other people and build those relationships.”

She said the group is kicking off its first school program Friday at Loften High.

The Nonprofit Center is holding its second annual Nonprofit Summit on May 24. Last year, 90 organizations participated to discuss collaborations and learn from each other.

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