200211 Shoals Nonprofit Center 1

Brittany Green and Sarah Ann Evans (center) listen as Kerry DelPizzo of the United Way and Andrea Holt of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) ask questions about the Shoals Nonprofit Center. Green and Evans created the center as a way to provide continuing education, training and networking opportunities for the area's nonprofits. [MATT MCKEAN/TIMESDAILY]

FLORENCE — Bethany Green and Sarah Ann Evans have a heart for nonprofit work and have put their passion for helping others into the Shoals Nonprofit Center.

Their endeavor, while still in organizational stages, is committed to help amplify the impact of nonprofits in the Shoals area.

Both Green and Evans have a long history of nonprofit work, including volunteerism and organization, so the idea of having a central location for dissemination of nonprofit information made good sense.

The two pitched the idea last fall at the Shoals Idea Audition and placed third in the competition. 

Now, with a base for the center at 3115 Northington Court, the center's development is coming to fruition.

Green and Evans based their concept on the Center for Nonprofit Management in Nashville, Tennessee. The idea was to create a center where anyone in need of help can access information directly.

In addition, they are helping create a digital directory of all the area's nonprofits.

"We're working with the directors of the nonprofits, the board members and the community to help them all better understand their roles, and give all nonprofits a networking opportunity," Green said.

Evans said the area has an extensive variety of nonprofits. 

"We often think of them as just charitable organizations, and they can get missed or overlooked," Evans said. "They often don't have the resources to stay up to date and relevant and raise money in an intentional way, and that's where we come in."

Evans said their desire was to create an organization that feeds into the infrastructure of the existing nonprofits with the goal of helping them improve the skills of their volunteers and board members.

"Sometimes the desire to make a difference just doesn't come along with the skills to make that happen, so we want to bring in top-notch professionals to help, to provide the training needed. We want to be that bridge."

Andrea Holt, director of the nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children, said she sees the benefits of the center.

"There are gaps within the nonprofit realm and I'm hopeful we'll be filling these gaps," she said. "This is a chance for all entities, large and small, to be on the same playing field and have the same opportunities."

Green said the center is lining up its first three training sessions, starting next month with board development. The basics of grant writing will be April's training, and May's session will focus on volunteer management.

"Our professional development and trainings are coming directly from what those in nonprofits are telling us is needed," Green said. "We're really striving to build a sense of community among the nonprofit sector."


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