Connecting Caring Communities (CCC) did not win any prize money from the Pepsi Refresh Project for August, but it did gain some prize support from its involvement and finished at fifth place in the contest.
“It’s broadened the horizon of who’s going to be able to help CCC out in the future,” said Corri Anne Wesley, junior advertising public relations major from Amarillo.
Wesley helped spread the word about CCC involvement in the Pepsi Refresh project by passing out flyers after Chapel, sending Facebook messages and tweets, and connecting the nonprofit’s coordinators with people on ACU’s campus.
Communication like Wesley’s was crucial to CCC’s top-five outcome in the August national competition. Every month, Pepsi accepts 1,000 ideas from people, businesses and nonprofits who have positive impacts on society. The general public then votes on these ideas either online or through texting. Pepsi names winners in three money categories at the end of each month.
CCC began in Abilene in 2005 as a nonprofit organization,”Dedicated to restoring the foundation of safe and caring communities,” according to their website, they entered the Pepsi Refresh project ranked 456 in the $250,000 category, but quickly scaled the list of competitors with support from students at ACU and Hardin Simmons.
Brad Carter, executive director of CCC, visited both university campuses to ask for support during the first few weeks of classes.
“We haven’t spent money on the contest, but we have spent a lot of time,” Carter said. “We feel really good about what’s been accomplished in this.”
CCC uses three major strategies to bring community renewal to Abilene. Caring teams pull people together from businesses, neighborhoods, churches and other similar organizations. Haven House residents work to lead and unite neighbors in zip codes around the city, Carter said. Staff and families also live in CCC’s two Friendship Houses to build relationships between neighbors through community activities.
CCC has more than 100 volunteers who help at the Friendship Houses, Carter said. He also said over 3,000 Hardin Simmons students helped the organization between July 2009 and July 2010.
Patty Doyle, junior Biology major from Holland, Mich., volunteered with the organization’s office last spring.
“Even if it’s just data entry, I love it,” said Doyle. “Everyone there is really encouraging and friendly, and they love what they do.”
The North Park development project is a fourth CCC endeavor that began this fall to bring about affordable and sustainable housing for low-to-moderate income families. The project includes plans for 10 homes, the first of which will be completed in October.
The new houses will be sustainable energy efficient homes, a first in Abilene and the country, Carter said.
“We believe they will set a new standard in construction,” he said in an e-mail.
Carter said CCC has many different needs, including financial support and consistent and passionate volunteers.
“When we look at volunteers, we like to say, ‘What are you good at?'” Carter said. “We want to find places where people can make a difference.”
For more information about volunteer opportunities with CCC, visit the organization’s website: http://www.WeCareAbilene.org/.