Mary Lazzari wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do when she retired from a life-long career in nursing.
She figured she’d volunteer; maybe spend some time helping out at the Mary Rose Mission Soup Kitchen
, which will be the first and only one in Boone County when it opens this fall in Florence.
Instead this summer, she’s taught herself about Facebook, viral marketing and grassroots organizing as part of PNC’s Neighborhood Wishlist Challenge
. The challenge is a voting contest that will give up to $500 to each of 100 finalists to help kick-start neighborhood-based programs.
“I figured I’d be chopping carrots and celery back in the kitchen. I didn’t think I’d be out hustling,’’ Lazzari jokes.
Lazzari’s submission, on behalf of the Mary Rose Mission, was one of four local entries chosen from 500 in the 17 states in which PNC Bank operates. To be fully funded, each finalist now has to receive the same number of votes for each dollar they requested. Lazzari asked for $500, so she has to get her friends, family and anyone else she can convince to vote for the soup kitchen. Voting ends Sunday, Aug. 26, at 11:59 p.m.
Peg Moertl, a PNC senior vice-president in community development banking based in Cincinnati, said the bank’s goal was to get 500 submissions in two weeks. They got more than that in 48 hours.
“We know there’s a lot of really good stuff happening in our neighborhoods,” Moertl says. “And sometimes a small bit of capital can make a huge difference.”
That’s exactly what Jeni Jenkins is hoping for. Jenkins, an artist and educator
, applied for the full $500 to pilot the Youth ArtBRIDGE project
. The youth/artist printmaking collaborative is intended for low-income Northside youth, ages 8 to 18, to create socially conscious artwork.
“I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do this … to bring together all kinds of artists and kids with different skills and have them create art with a social justice bent,” says Jenkins, 32, who is the director of Education and Outreach for the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.
Jenkins, whose project still needs a few hundred votes to secure funding, says she was excited to make it to the voting phase.
“Five-hundred dollars may not seem like a lot to many people, but it really is. This is about getting funds to do a small project, to provide a kind of jumpstart,” she says. “It’s about getting myself out there; about showing outcomes.”
Moertl was delighted to see the local submissions, which also include Bob Ashbrock’s $500 request to provide new landscaping in and around the Reading Veteran’s Memorial Plaza and Joshua Hanauer’s $500 request to buy balls to expand the burgeoning youth rugby program in Norwood.
Each winner of the $500 will have 90 days to provide the bank with a project recap that provides outcomes, photos and videos, “so we can see the impact of these,’’ Moertl says.
“I’m very eager to see the results,’’ she says. “For any project that really pops, I would think that one of our teams may reach out to these folks and see if we are supporting them.”
For Lazzari, winning will likely mean paying for one of the first trips to the grocery store to stock the soup kitchen’s pantry.
“Every little bit helps,” Lazzari says. “It may not seem like a lot, but it’s a beginning for us.”
on the local projects.
• Watch Jeni Jenkin's video