TAKE 5: New fundraiser, same mission for Communities in Schools

Aug. 31, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

This week, we Take 5 with Heather Little, the executive director of Communities In Schools of Lee County, about CIS. Little joined CIS three years ago after serving as a volunteer with the organization for more than two years. Prior to joining CIS, Little worked in retail management. She has two children, Alexandria and Gabriel. They are members of St. Luke United Methodist Church and moved to Lee County from Moore County in 2000. She will wed fiancé Murphy McKenzie in October.

What is Communities in Schools of Lee County?

Communities In Schools of Lee County (CISLC) — a public-private partnership working on behalf of all K-12 at-risk public school students — addresses the physical, emotional and academic needs of our community’s most vulnerable student population.

CISLC addresses the complex obstacles faced by today’s youth — poverty, unstable home lives, dangerous neighborhoods and limited access to transportation or to health care. Removing these obstacles can allow an at-risk student to progress undistracted in school, graduating prepared for enrollment, employment or enlistment, and feeling empowered to achieve and succeed.

Through a school-based site coordinator, CIS connects students and their families to critical community resources tailored to meet individual student needs, be they academic or personal. As a result, CIS provides the link between our educators and the community, which means teachers are free to teach and students — particularly those who are in danger of dropping out — can focus on learning.

The mission of CIS is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. To achieve the mission, CIS works on the premise that all children need and deserve the "Five Basics." All CIS programs work around one or more of these five basics: a personal, one-on-one relationship with a caring adult, a safe place to learn and grow, a healthy start and a healthy future, a marketable skill to use upon graduation and an opportunity to give back to peers and the community.

CIS will be holding its annual fundraiser soon. What is it?

Communities In Schools of Lee County is now planning a new fundraiser, 2nd Chance Prom, which will take place next Saturday at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center at 1801 Nash St. The event will be CIS’s major fundraiser for the year, supplementing a large part of its budget. As a nonprofit organization, CIS depends on local community support from businesses, civic clubs, communities of faith and individuals.

This exciting event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and include music, dancing, the first-ever crowing event of our king and queen and lots of fun! It is a 21-and-older event.

How will this event be unique and differ from previous CIS fundraisers?

In the past, CIS has held annual gala events at local homes, and in the last five years, we've hosted Dancing with the Lee County Stars. Both events have been very successful for us, but we decided to try something different this year. This is the first time we have gone with a format like this. It is also the first time an event like this has been done in Sanford. We had seen events like this hosted by radio stations, and it just looked like a fun way for everyone to be involved. We also lowered the ticket and sponsorship prices this year to make it an “affordable” evening out for couples or even a “Girls Night Out” group!

It has been such fun planning this event and will surely be an entertaining and enjoyable evening for all — one you won’t want to miss. Come out and join the fun.

How can people participate in the 2nd Chance Prom?

There are several ways to participate — sponsor a table, attend the event and/or vote for your favorite king/queen. One king and one queen candidate who raise the most money will be crowned the night of the event. You can vote (minimum $5) for your favorite at www.cisleecounty.org. Tickets to the event may be purchased for $30 individually or $50 for a couple, and tickets will be available at the door the night of the event. Lee County School employees qualify for discount tickets.

Purchase tickets and pre-votes by visiting our website at www.cisleecounty.org, contacting a CIS board member or calling the CIS office at (919) 718-5426. Vote early and often to help your favorite person win the honor of “prom king and queen.”

Sponsorships are also available starting at $250, $500 or $1,000. Sponsors receive tickets to the event with preferred seating and free votes (quantities vary depending upon the sponsor level), as well as recognition as a sponsor and other amenities. Sponsorships at all levels are still available. Of course, any size donation is always appreciated

To become a sponsor or to purchase tickets for this event, contact me at (919) 718-5426 or cisleedirector@windstream.net.

What will the funds from the 2nd Chance Prom be used for?

The funds generated by this event will support children and families through programs designed to help kids stay in school and prepare for life. As with most nonprofits, CIS has seen a decline in giving in the economic down trend. Your support will allow CIS to continue our work to connect community resources, both financial and volunteer, to meet the needs of the schools and students of Lee County.

This will be especially important during these difficult financial times when the schools are working on reduced budgets. CIS can help fill some of the gaps by providing the schools with site coordinators, volunteers and other necessary resources. Some of the programs targeted to support our mission include Back Pack Pals, school supply drives, the Teacher Resource Room, Lunch Buddies, Lego Robotics, Emergency Fund, Book Buddies and Mentoring (you can find a complete program list on our website). For more information on how you can be a community resource and support CIS, contact the office at (919) 718-5426 or any one of our CIS site coordinators at their school sites.