Revolution-120 fairy godmothers give back and pay it forward.
There’s a revolution afoot in the way Las Crucens provide charitable support for others and it started with local restaurateur and caterer Marci Dickerson, owner of the The Game Sports Bar & Grill and The Game II. Her new charity, backed by a team of other strong women, is called Revolution-120 and it has three main precepts: recipients must “pay it forward” by doing volunteer work; no cash is given, only goods and services; and all funds raised are spent within the year, with no money spent to run the organization.
The new charity was announced last fall, became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit in March this year, and officially began accepting grant applications in April. With so many non-profits in the area, why did Marci decide to build one from the ground up? She says, “I was frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t see exactly how my donations were affecting people. So I decided to change the way we give to a model with no overhead, operations, or salaries. I also didn’t like the idea of ‘chasing the money.’ That’s why we opted to only give goods and services.”
She adds, “We also decided to require the pay it forward aspect because no matter how difficult things may be for someone, things are always worse for someone else. Everyone can use some help and everyone can do for others. It also helps to spread joy and impact of our charitable giving.”
The “we” is the board of Revolution-120: Marci, Sumer Rose-Nolen, Marci Weist, Ammu Devasthali, Bethany Williams, Rynni Henderson, Jennifer Bales, Jazmine Rubio, Cindy Torres, and Wanda Bowman. Marci says, “Our board members don’t have titles, but each of them possesses a particular strength and brings an incredible amount of depth and diversity to our board.”
To start granting wishes, they needed to raise funds and these ladies have shown they know how to do it, raising over $25,000 at their inaugural golf tournament last fall, some of which was immediately used to remodel three rooms at Families and Youth Inc. In December, they provided new furniture, an oven, a propane tank, and propane to a family that had been without heat, stove, or hot water for quite some time.
In January, they held Blizzard Blast, a chill fundraising event that netted them over $46,000, including $25,000 for a teen center, which was burned in an arson fire the day before the event. This home for runaways and homeless teens was undergoing efforts to allow it to re-open when it burned. Donors at the event pledged $25,000 in 18 minutes to help the shelter. The funds have been used to purchase new furniture for the facility, thanks to a discount at Wanda’s Ashley HomeStore, and will be there to welcome residents when the center re-opens.
Back on the links at Red Hawk Golf Course for another fundraiser this June, they added another $24,250 to the coffers. Funds were quickly distributed in a variety of ways, from a grant to get a family’s only car safely back on the road, funeral funds to help a woman bury her husband, resources and donations for Gospel Rescue Mission’s back-to-school program as well as finding a temporary venue for their thrift store after a fire demolished it.
Marci explains, “Our goal is to help as many people as possible through what we call Fairy Godmother Money. When someone is on the edge of crisis and could use just a little bit of help, that’s what we do. There are so many great charities in our area that specialize in specific groups or long-term assistance. We partner with them and refer to them depending on the situation. But there was a gap for those who need a quick fix to keep moving forward in life. We fill that gap.”
For example, in July, these fairy godmothers and other donors granted the wish of 13-year-old Lynn Middle School student Neveah Guzman. Since she was three, Neveah has had an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata which causes patches of hair loss and her family was raising funds to purchase a custom life-like hairpiece for her. Her mother reached out to Revolution-120 and within a day, Neveah was presented a $3,000 certificate for a hairpiece, which takes several months to create. The teen says, “I didn’t know that strangers would help other people like that and I think it’s pretty cool.” Paying it forward, Neveah, who is thinking about being a teacher, has been volunteering with young children at Booker T. Washington this summer.
As the temperatures climbed this summer, the charity, with a discount from WalMart, provided box fans to those identified as needing relief from the heat by the fire department’s Mobile Integrated Healthcare Program and Senior Programs Case Management team. They also funded the down payment for a new mobile home after a family’s home burned, bought furniture for a man who was sleeping on the floor, and purchased supplies for the teen center.
None of us knows when life will throw us a curve ball and we’ll be the one needing assistance from a group of fairy godmothers.