Community Connections Network helps local organizations reach more people

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Tennessee Valley is lucky to have a wide variety of charity organizations that all have the same objective, to help out in the community.

Imagine what good could be done if they all were able to work together, now they can.

"There are a lot of people in the community that are doing really, really good work. Unfortunately, they are not working with each other to accomplish their goals," says Huntsville City Council Representative Jennie Robinson.

The non-profit Expect Little Miracles or 'ELM' has partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville to create a collaborative case management network.

The network helps local non-profits, businesses, churches and any organization that serves the community connect with each other, manage their resources, and run more efficiently.

The network works in two ways. Local organizations can meet in person and online.

Because of a grant from the Community Foundation, the online service is free.

Community Connections hosts the in-person forum on the second Thursday of every month.

The next meeting is on October 10th at the Huntsville Library located at 915 Monroe St SW. Each meeting has a different focus. This month the focus involves corporate partners.

If you're organization is unable to attend, that is not a problem. You can head right to www.charitytracker.net and get started. To sign up for a Charity Tracker subscription, go to http://www.charitytracker.net and click on Free Trial. When prompted, choose the Huntsville region. You will be assigned login credentials by the area administrator, Harold Cannon of the Salvation Army after submitting a Memorandum of Agreement.

If you have any issues, please contact Missy Hanks at missy@expectlittlemiracleshsv.org

Charity Tracker is an online software that was developed in Florence after Hurricane Katrina and it's used to manage data as well as an informational platform. There are two kinds of memberships it can be used for data management for your agency or just informational.

This allows you to quickly see other agencies in your area, what kind of services they provide, agency staff and contact information. There is an events page and a bulletin board where anyone can see the resources being shared as well as needed resources.

For example one of the first posts on Charity Tracker was a homeless individual that had just gotten a job, the only problem was the job was primarily outdoors and he needed a winter coat. The agency posted on charity tracker that he needed a coat and within minutes another agency responded that they had a coat in his size. Now both organizations were able to fill a need and they didn't have to expend extra resources.

The idea is that we are stronger when we come together. Each organization has its own niche and when they connect they are able to do a lot more good in the community.

"If each agency will do what they do well in a certain area, then other agencies can also identify and do what they do well and we can leverage the existing resources," says Missy Hanks, ELM Foundation case manager.

The ELM Foundation was created to break the cycle of poverty and help individuals and families to become economically independent. They do that by creating development plans and then connecting people to resources that can help them break down barriers in their lives that are keeping them from meeting the needs of their family.

*The Charity Connections Network is not for individuals interested in volunteering. It is meant to connect local non-profits, businesses and churches who organize services for the community.

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