Making a difference in our community begins when we see a need and take a step to help. But with almost 500 non-profit organizations in our area, how do you find your “place,” where you can have an impact? Love Out Loud is an organization that helps partner people with great opportunities to serve the community. Chuck Spong, Executive Director, Love Out Loud and Christmas for the City, said, “It’s Love Out Loud’s strong belief that most people really want to help out in our community in meaningful ways that connect with what they feel the most strongly about. But, often, they struggle to find the right ‘fit’: the organization, the type of serving opportunity and the schedule of serving that fits them. We get calls all the time from families, small groups, youth groups, businesses, etc., with availability and desire to serve, but [who are] not sure where to get started or what work is already being done in a particular area of interest for them.”
Love Out Loud began in 2008 with the very first Christmas for the City, the largest Christmas party in the city, where local churches, businesses and members of the arts community came together to host a free city-wide party. As the 2009 Christmas for the City approached, Love Out Loud sent surveys to local non-profits asking how people could help during the holiday season. “With the surveys in hand, we made a booklet of serving opportunities in our community, realizing that helping local charitable organizations should be a year-round project. It was through this effort that Love Out Loud became a connector of people with volunteer opportunities,” commented Chuck. In 2015, Love Out Loud became a 501(c)(3), continuing to establish itself as being in the know about who is up to what in our city.
“We have a pretty good sense of most of the 491 non-profits of Forsyth County, the culture of their organizations and the types of opportunities they offer, and we simply try and match volunteers to those opportunities. Although we’ve been doing this for almost ten years, just recently did we put some thoughts into a defined process to walk people through finding the right fit for their skills and passions, so that they have greater clarity about what can be done,” Chuck stated. Following the volunteer’s time with the non-profit, they are given a questionnaire to gauge if the partnering was right, or if another organization may be a better fit for the volunteer. Love Out Loud also helps those who are thinking of starting a non-profit to know if there is already an effort addressing their concern.
“Sometimes you may think there’s not a specific need being addressed and start your own group, when in actuality, there is already an established effort to meet the need that you see. With close to 500 non-profits in our community, it’s hard to keep up with them and the work they are doing; that is where Love Out Loud comes in. We have been part of getting volunteers for larger, collaborative efforts like the Joy Prom, an annual prom for special needs individuals in our community. Joy Prom began at Reynolda Church and grew into something that many wanted to be involved in, so we stepped up and found volunteers who also shared the passion for the Joy Prom,” explained Chuck. The non-profits that have worked with Love Out Loud include Hope of WS, Smart Start of Forsyth County, Parenting Path, Trellis Supportive Care, Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC, The Shepherd Center, Family services, Pivot Ministries and many more!
If you would like to pair your skills and interests with a local charity, visit www.loveoutloudws.com/pathways to begin the process of making a difference in our community.