Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
New Voices Foundation
The work that I do allows children with severe communication and mobility disabilities live up to their full potential. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than helping a child find their voice and giving them a way to communicate.
I founded the non-profit organization New Voices Foundation in 2001 to help schools better serve children with special needs. It’s an all-volunteer organization with more than 50 volunteers. Our volunteers are employees of companies such as CVS Caremark, Merck, Wal-Mart and others.
What if you couldn’t speak or make your body move the way you wanted it to? How would you let people know what you were thinking? How would you let people know what you were possible of accomplishing? The work we do at New Voices helps children with disabilities take full advantage of their academic potential by giving them the tools to communicate with their teachers and peers in school.
As your PivotPlanet advisor, I will share with you some of what it takes to run a non-profit organization including:
• How to establish a small community-based non-profit and create partnerships with schools, colleges and businesses.
• How to raise funds for non-profits by employee driven philanthropy.
• How to organize programs and services
Back in the 1950s, when I was psychologist-in-training, I remember seeing children with disabilities living in squalid conditions, institutionalized with very little opportunity to thrive or grow. I wondered how many bright people trapped in broken bodies lived there and what it would take to free them. Although a lot has changed since then, the most vulnerable of our children still struggle to communicate with the rest of the world.
What if we gave these children the resources they needed to express themselves? What could they accomplish in their lives? These were the questions I asked myself when I started New Voices Foundation.
My goal is to help disabled children who are often neglected in our schools to get the resources they need to help them thrive. Our organization works schools, training them in best practices for enhancing the lives of students with severe communication and mobility disabilities.
Running New Voices gives me the freedom in retirement to help children and families. I set my own schedule and work priorities. I’m also able to stay connected to my network of friends and colleagues I’ve established in my more than 40 years of work in the region.
Before starting New Voices, I was a licensed clinical psychologist and director of special education. I taught for many years at George Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Duke University and University of North Carolina. I was the Dean of Education at the UNC and president of academic affairs for the 16 public universities in the UNC system.
One thing I’ve learned is that in order to do the kind of work I want to do in my non-profit, I must first establish good relationships with the community. Once people trust in you and your mission, fundraising is much easier.
I am proud of winning the Encore Careers 2010 Purpose Prize.