Just two and a half years ago, six Venice friends—Carolyn Bach, Mary Lou Belisle, Rose Bridges, Susan Coleman, Jeana Hilligoss and Lise Mills—decided to form a new nonprofit that would ‘assist community-based nonprofit organizations to accomplish their goals’. They named their organization START (Sharing Talents And Resources Together), decided to open up membership to both men and women, and got to work. In July 2019, they painted and refurbished the South County Food Pantry, began holding social events and meetings, and soon made their first donations to Our Mother’s House.
Fast forward and START now boasts 121 members, with their projects and donations almost too long to list. A quick rundown of START highlights includes assisting the Salvation Army Angel Tree Project with distribution of gifts, helping All Faiths Food Bank with sorting in the warehouse and filling children’s backpacks with food, donating suitcases and backpacks to Family Promise, and holding a ‘baby shower fundraiser’ for the Venice Area Pregnancy Care Center. When Nokomis’s Paradise Grill began distributing free meals to the community during the pandemic, START spent nine months helping pass out the food to the lines of cars. They’ve helped All Faiths Food Bank, Anchor House, VABI, and more.
“Our members are hands-on,” says founding member Jeana. “For example, last Christmas we put on a Polar Express at the Laurel Park Community Center and passed out the Christmas dinners. We enjoy being together and being active. We’ve just been astounded at how quickly START has grown. We’re always looking for new members, people who really want to help, and who enjoy positivity and camaraderie.”
Startofsc.org. PO Box 1695, Venice. Startofsc@gmail.com.