by Darcy Force
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After winning several grants, Southwestern Adventist University’s Enactus club teams up again with local charity Community Opportunities, Inc. (COI), a non-profit organization located in Keene, Texas, that provides training services, pre-vocational programming, and supported employment for adults and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Enactus will be helping COI with branding and creating new space for a project that provides skills education for their clients and additional revenue for the non-profit.
The Enactus team reconnected with COI when Pam Masters, COI Outreach Director, participated in last year’s Cleburne Thrive project and won third place for her community radio program, JOCO Community Radio. Masters shared with the Enactus team about an enterprise project, an industry under the COI management for the purpose of revenue and skills education, which COI staff had recently started for their clients.
Enactus (then known as SIFE) first worked with COI in 2008 when they helped the organization develop a website, new marketing strategies, and update the Bumblebee logo, which COI still uses. “The use of the Bumblebee,” shares Masters, “came about as we told our clients that we would help them fly no matter the size of their wings. Bumblebees, with their relatively small wings, became the official mascot. The students from Southwestern helped us define that piece of our history into a logo and brand.”
As COI was looking for new ways to fulfill their mission of training, a local cabinet-maker dropped off a trailer full of scrap wood. The COI team started teaching their clients basic wood-working, creating a range of rustic art including Christmas trees, crosses, and Texas-shaped wall art. All clients are paid for their time as they learn skills they can then use to work outside the program.
The enterprise project started to grow as COI and their clients sold the art at local fairs and through their website. This year COI made $15,000 from sales, which helps pay the clients for their work and grow the enterprise project. While the project started in a storage warehouse space at COI, the production has now outgrown the space. The project also needed help developing a brand.
As the Enactus team took this enterprise project on as one of their grant projects, they helped COI develop a name, BEE-yond Designs, a logo, and a marketing strategy. Seeing the need for an improved workspace, Enactus reached out to Cleburne resident John Burrus, who works for Warehouse Rack of Fort Worth, to see if he could help develop the work area into a more productive space. Burrus visited the site and was so touched by the project that he arranged for Warehouse Rack to donate $3,500 worth of shelving and a team to install it.
This week Enactus team members are helping COI clean up the space in preparation. On Sunday, Burrus and his team will install the new shelving.
“I was so impressed with what they’re doing to support people,” explains Burrus. “I wanted to help and I feel blessed that our company can be a part of it. It’s just a win/win for everybody when the community pulls together to make something like this happen.”
“It’s going to take our business to the next level, “ says Masters. “It started as a side project to teach our clients a real skill and generate revenue. Enactus and John Burrus are just transforming the space, which will help us continue to grow. The more revenue we can bring in, the more classes and service we can offer our clients. We’re just beyond excited, because service is what we’re about.”
The Enactus team is always looking for new projects and community mentors. To partner with Enactus, call Enactus sponsor Ana Patterson at 817-202-6647 or email at email@example.com. To partner with Community Opportunities, Inc. and support their industry, call Pam Masters at 817-558-0048 or visit communityopportunitiesinc.org.
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