Women of Numbers, Soup for the Soul

Olivia Robison, left, Debbie Smith, center, and Noraa Ransey with the local nonprofit Soup for the Soul, are shown speaking just before the beginning of the Evening of Giving event hosted by Women of Numbers Tuesday night. Soup for the Soul came away with $7,000 during the evening, the largest of the $10,000 grant raised by the group to benefit local nonprofits.

MURRAY — Women of Numbers, an affiliate of the Murray Calloway County Community Foundation, announced the recipients of grant money accumulated by the group during its first Evening of Giving event Tuesday night. 

There, the group voted among three local nonprofit organizations that would receive a portion of a $10,000 grant raised by members. Those organizations were the Murray-Calloway Senior Center, Need Line and Soup for the Soul. 

All three organizations made five-minute presentations to those in attendance about what they would do with the grant money. Each organization would walk away from the evening with a portion of the $10,000 grant, divided into $7,000, $2,000 and $1,000. 

Soup for the Soul came away with the largest portion of the grant, with the $7,000 awarded to the organization going to a food-delivery program for kids in need. Noraa Ransey, president of the Soup for the Soul board of directors, made the presentation on behalf of the organization Tuesday night. 

Ransey asked the women in attendance to close their eyes and imagine the meal they had on Thanksgiving. She asked everyone to imagine the aromas that were in the air during those gatherings, before proceeding to talk about some of the kids in the county who don’t know where their next meal was going to come from. 

“According to the 2019 Kids Count Data book, one in every six kids in our county is food insecure; that means they have no idea where their next meal is coming from,” Ransey said. “In my classroom of 24 — one in every six. They have no idea where their next meal is coming from, and think to yourself the last time you went to bed hungry?” 

Ransey said that as a teacher at North Calloway Elementary, she sees first-hand the situations some kids face in the county. She talked about a student who got in trouble for stealing a cereal bar at school, and then staff found out he hadn’t had anything to eat in two days other than his free school breakfast. 

“That is just one example; after a five-day break or a long weekend, go to the lunchroom in a school cafeteria and see what it is like for some kids in Calloway County,” Ransey said. “Now imagine that all summer long. If they don’t have food for three or four days, imagine going all summer.” 

Ransey said the grant money would be used to help volunteers deliver meals to some nearly 300 kids in the community who cannot make it to other organizations in the community to gain access to those food programs. 

“We are focusing on the 300 that the Murray and Calloway resource centers are telling us don’t have transportation and can’t get to where this food is being handed out,” Ransey said. “After trying a lot of other things, we decided we were going to take them food. We have been doing it for three years; twice a week, all volunteer.” 

The senior center was awarded the $2,000 portion of the grant to help pay for a new part-time Meals on Wheels vehicle. Director Mark McLemore spoke about the center and the many activities available there, but focused on the meals on wheels program and the many people over the age of 60 it serves in the community. 

“We put 115 meals out into the community in our Meals on Wheels program,” McLemore said. “Then our kitchen staff turns around and cooks another 85-95 meals to serve at the center. Combined, that’s over 200 meals a day and 50,000 a year, 29,000 just in the Meals on Wheels program.” 

McLemore said they have three full-time and six part-time staff members that do a remarkable job. He said one route of the Meals on Wheels program is driven entirely by volunteers, who provide considerable assistance to the nonprofit. 

“Our application is to help us support another vehicle for our community,” he said. “We currently have four vehicles that are taking meals our into the community. We have expanded to almost 120 meals a day, and we have a dramatic need in this community for more meals to be out in the community, and we have to have the resources to do it.” 

Need Line came away with $1,000 of the grant to help expand their ability to serve their clients. Need Line director Tonia Casey said that Need Line currently can help people keep their lights on by helping pay electric bills, but that water bills are another issue. She said the grant would be used to help provide that service rather than have to send people elsewhere. 

“We are helping others in so many different ways,” Casey said. “We also provide utilities, live sustaining medication, blankets in the winter and fans in the summer, referrals and the list goes on. I figured up one day that we have 14 different programs under one roof. We touch over 1,200 applications a month, some of those are for a single person or a family of 12.” 

Casey said that Need Line and the other organizations were not an island to themselves, and said the night was a good example of the community coming together to support itself. 

“We are not an island, we have to work together to make a difference,” Casey said. “You women have such a great vision.” 

Casey said the grant money would be used to help single women in the community gain access to help they need. She said women make up 75.3% of the clients Need Line sees on a regular basis. 

Women of Numbers plans to continue growing, and members were asking those in attendance to try and get others to join the organization in the coming year. Linda Avery, a member of the group, spoke on how members of the community tend to band together to take care of one another. 

“We take care of each other; have you noticed that?” Avery said. “We live in Calloway County, where we take care of each other and we have a great quality of life because of that. Now, I can’t take care of everybody, there’s just not enough of me … but there are enough arms this community that we can wrap around ourselves and meet the needs that are out there.

“Ladies, we have power at our fingertips that we need to tap every year. As women we can come together and pool our money … and we can come up with a viable granting process that can give a good shot in the arm to our nonprofits. We can leave a legacy as Women of Numbers by taking this organization to the next level next year.” 

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