- This story was originally published in the November 2023 issue of COMO Magazine.
When my family moved to Columbia back in 2007, I hadn’t had much experience or exposure to the nonprofit sector. Little did I know that a chance encounter in 2009 would introduce me to a world of selflessness, compassion, and community support that would change my life forever. This pivotal moment occurred when I met Pamela Ingram, the founder and director of a small nonprofit called Granny’s House, operating out of the Douglass Park low-income housing area.
Granny’s House was more than just a nonprofit; it was a safe haven for young kids in the community, a place where they could find support, mentorship, and a sense of belonging. Through numerous conversations with Granny Pam, I shared my interests and aspirations. It was during one of these conversations that she extended an invitation that would become a turning point in my life. She asked me if I would like to volunteer with a group of girls, aged 13-18, who met every Friday at Granny’s House.
Without hesitation, I accepted her offer, not realizing that this was the beginning of a journey that would shape my passion and dedication to nonprofit work.
Volunteering at Granny’s House opened my eyes to the incredible impact of nonprofit organizations on the lives of individuals and communities. I witnessed firsthand the dedication of people willing to give their time and energy to help those in need without expecting anything in return, except the satisfaction of making a positive difference in someone’s life.
Over the years, my involvement in nonprofit work has grown, and my awareness of the extensive nonprofit scene in Columbia has expanded. I’ve had the privilege of working with various local organizations, and I am still in awe of the philanthropic nature of this community. The agencies and organizations that exist to serve our neighbors in need are an integral part of what makes Columbia such a great place to live.
One common question in the nonprofit world is, “What’s your ‘why’ for supporting nonprofit work?” For me, the answer is simple. I am fortunate to have the resources to contribute, but that wasn’t always the case. There were times in my life when I could have been the person in need of the very services that nonprofits provide daily. This realization fuels my passion for this work and keeps it burning bright.
Nonprofits play a crucial role in our society, addressing a wide range of social issues and community needs. They serve as the safety net for individuals and families facing adversity, offering support, resources, and hope for a brighter future. They fill gaps where other entities might fall short and help create a sense of belonging, and foster a shared purpose among volunteers, donors, and recipients of services. They also can serve as advocates to help raise awareness about important issues and work to influence policy changes that will benefit their target populations.
Nonprofits also contribute significantly to the local economy by providing jobs and generating economic activity, which helps strengthen our community.
My journey into the world of nonprofits has taught me that it’s not just about financial contributions; it’s about personal connections, the time spent, and the lives touched. These organizations are powered by individuals who believe in the power of collective action to drive positive change.
In a world where we often hear about the challenges and problems we face, the nonprofit sector stands as a testament to the human spirit’s capacity for kindness and compassion. Each act of service, every donation, and every volunteer hour dedicated to a nonprofit has the potential to change lives and uplift entire communities.
For me, my involvement with nonprofits has not only enriched my life but also given me a profound sense of purpose. It’s a reminder that we are all interconnected, and our actions, big or small, can make a meaningful impact. Nonprofits are the heart and soul of a compassionate society, and I’m grateful to be a part of this incredible movement. Thank you, Granny Pam!
Adonica Coleman is the founder of The COMO 411 and owner of A2D Events.