I was thrilled recently to learn, via John Windle, of the philanthropic activities of ABAA member Phillip Pirages and his wife Ellen Summerfield. The couple formed the Give a Little Foundation in 2007 with the mission to provide assistance to individuals and families in Yamhill County, Oregon who are experiencing financial adversity and to alleviate hardship and enhance the quality of life of those on very limited budgets. The foundation offers one-time grants of up to $500 to help residents in crisis, and it has other special outreach programs in place to help school children, job seekers, and seniors.
Phil and Ellen were moved to give back to their local community after identifying a need through their professional acquaintances and social services organizations. From the beginning, they have worked with existing organizations who had the infrastructure in place to identify and evaluate individuals who were on the cusp—that is, people who perhaps needed equipment, tools, licenses, school supplies, or even rental deposits to bridge a gap to gainful employment, success in school, or other needs. Working with these front-line agencies allowed the foundation to respond quickly by assisting the neediest cases. To be certain that funds are used properly, grants are made directly to the vendor or service provider involved, rather than the applicant.
In recent years, ABAA members John Windle, Chris Loker (of Children's Book Gallery), and Lawrence O’Shaughnessy (of Franklin Books) have joined the foundation's special Business Partner program (involving larger donations), and other members of our Association have made smaller contributions. More recently, the foundation has hired staff and built a board that has close ties to the organizations and populations the foundation seeks to serve. This has allowed for greater capacity-building and awareness in the community. The board also funds 100% of the overhead costs so that donations are able to directly support the mission.
Greater awareness of the foundation has led to more requests from community groups and individuals (and consequently to an increased need for funding). To learn more about the Foundation or to support the cause, please visit www.givealittlefoundation.org.