CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Dozens of community nonprofit organizations unveiled a collaborative effort Friday aimed at creating more cooperation among themselves and a new outreach to people who may need their help.
"There was a community vision that we can be more effective, better stewards of what we do, if we work together," said Matt Ryerson of United Way of Bradley County.
A large crowd of nonprofit representatives met for lunch Friday in the Great Room atop Lee's new Science and Mathematics Building to hear keynote speaker Robert Egger, who founded D.C. Central Kitchen which uses restaurant leftovers in the Washington, D.C., area to prepare meals for the homeless.
Egger's agency expanded to provide training and food service jobs for homeless and ex-prisoners by providing school meals from locally grown vegetables.
D.C. Central Kitchens provided a $25,000 grant to Lee to begin its own Campus Kitchen Program a year and a half ago, said William Lamb, Leonard Center director.
The Community Action Network and the Mayors' Coalition - a joint project by Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland - began the new effort when a survey last year showed 46 percent of the local population did not know what help is available or how to access it, said Ryerson.
Davis and Rowland established the Mayors' Coalition to work with the Community Action Network in response to calls to their offices for help.
The Community Action Network, an umbrella organization of social service agencies, includes a one-call service at Lee University's Leonard Center to link people who need help with organizations that can offer the specific help they need.
The Leonard Center coordinates a wide variety of student volunteer service to the community.
The Community Action Network can be reached at 423-599-0757.