LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The countdown is on for this year’s Give for Good Louisville. It's Kentuckiana's most generous day, all 24 hours of online giving, hosted annually by the Community Foundation of Louisville.
This year, Give for Good is on Sept. 15 and hundreds of local organizations are looking for the community's donations.
C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. Louisville, which stands for Children Have Options In Choosing Experiences, is one of those organizations hoping to catch your attention.
"The joy of my job is watching my kids thrive," Dr. Dawn K. Shannon, the program's director, said.
Shannon takes pride in the organization's ability to be a safe space for kids, a judgement-free zone, with certified professionals who are just there for them.
"When you feel like your community is supporting you, when you're in trouble, you have a phone to pick up, a face to come see, that's where it really starts," she said.
Since 1987, CHOICE has been a prevention and early intervention program designed to steer at-risk kids into making positive life choices.
"You want to help other people because you don't know what the situation is," Mary Sayles, a volunteer, said. "They get out and help kids to talk about issues they couldn't talk about at home."
Jefferson County Public School kids as young as nine are paired with high schoolers, often athletes, who become their mentors during the school day.
"The things we're learning during that time are very vital for us to make good decisions before we enter into adulthood," Shannon said. "We're very intentional. Our groups are small."
The students meet for 28 weeks, with about 15 students from each of the four schools in the program.
Each student has witnessed some sort of childhood trauma.
"That's divorce, poverty, incarcerated parents, mental health and substance abuse in the home," Shannon said.
It's during these sessions, they learn what they've gone through is a shared experience, that they're not alone.
To date, CHOICE has served more than 5,000 students. Over the years, it may have taken 100 students into the program, but today, that number is lower so staff can spend more one-on-one time with each kid.
"All I keep thinking is, 'if I'm doing this, maybe someone's looking out for my children somewhere else,'" Sayles said. "We need that support, we need that gathering, that family unit. What happened to the neighbor helps, and the village helps?"
Iroquois High and Fern Creek High schools along with Young and Watterson Elementary Schools are currently in the CHOICE program and there's a waiting list of 3 other schools.
Staff are certified professionals, with backgrounds in social work and chemical dependency counseling. The organization also utilizes interns with the University of Louisville and Campbellsville University.
Since Give for Good Louisville’s inception in 2014, our community has raised more than $42.5 million for local organizations in Kentuckiana. Last year, the community raised $8.9 million.