For the Love of Fort Wayne

Have you heard of Love, Fort Wayne?  It’s a pro-Fort campaign created by the 2014 Leadership Fort Wayne class.  (The valuable entity that is “Leadership Fort Wayne” is a discussion deserving its own blog post.)  Several of the Contagious Community contributors have become involved with the project and for good reason.

According to the group’s website, Love, Fort Wayne (LFW) is “a positive image campaign for our city, captured via video testimonials from Fort Wayne residents and community leaders.”  The project is rolling into the social media world as we speak and the results are engaging.  So engaging that LFW has invited all Fort-lovers to submit their own testimonial via the website.

Consider participating.  Many of us live here for a reason, or a variety of reasons.  Let’s celebrate our city and the people who make it lovable.  (I might be talking about you.)

Love Fort Wayne

Online Shopping to Support JA

Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana

As a board member and volunteer for Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana, I see first hand the impact sharing financial concepts can have in a young life. Whether it’s inspiring the next entrepreneur, laying out a plan for a successful resume or seeing them learn hands on in BizTown, kids walk away inspired to succeed. For the past several years, JA has made it fun (and easy) to support their efforts through their online auction.

If you’re shopping for the person who has everything, definitely check out their site. There are many “experience” gifts, including a night behind-the-scenes of The Score with my husband.

November 20th at 8pm – November 27th at 8 p.m. EST. 

To View Auction Items, CLICK HERE.

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Some items that are available:

  • Certificates to local restaurants: Chop’s, Club Soda (all inclusive), Cork ‘n Cleaver, Don Hall’s Restaurants, Papa John’s…
  • Local & professional sporting event tickets: Chicago White Sox Scout Seats!, Notre Dame, Fort Wayne Komets, TinCaps, and Mad Ants…
  • Overnight get-a-ways: 1 Weekend Stay in Tennessee, Over Night Stay in Indy, and Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast in Indiana…
  • Entertainment packages:  DJ for 4 Hours, Honorary Team Captain for Mad Ants, Guest TinCaps Radio Broadcaster, Behind the Scenes Sports Announcer, Bowling Parties, Ultra Zone Lazer Tag, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Movie Packages…

Thank you, on behalf of the over 101,000 students being reached throughout the 25 counties Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana serves. 

Buy One, Give One


Last year, we told you about a great clothing company Amber and I discovered called CAbi Clothing. We love it because they also have a Foundation whose mission is to empower disenfranchised women with a greater opportunity through the gifts of our clothing, financial support, our volunteer efforts, all given in the spirit of God’s love.

Over 25 million dollars in CAbi clothing and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to domestic and international nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to impacting women in need. More than 1.5 million pieces of clothing have been donated to women in need. Over 800 microloans have been funded in 45 countries and 25 U.S. communities.

This time of year is special for CAbi. It’s their “buy one, give one” promotion. Beginning November 22nd through December 25th, for every item you buy, CAbi gives one to a woman in need. In 2010, they donated 100 pallets of clothes to women around the world from this promotion alone.

If you’re looking at gifts that give back this year, I encourage you to consider adding CAbi to your list.

Being Contagious with Your Holiday Shopping

I am not one of those people who starts their holiday shopping in June. (I’m usually just finishing up as Santa slides down the chimney.) But, it’s never too early to consider what will be on your giving list. That’s why I want you to “save the date” for Giving Tuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a new campaign that encourages individuals and businesses to think differently about the holiday season. To begin on Tuesday, November 27, the campaign aims to inspire increased philanthropy, conscious consumerism, and volunteerism during the holidays.

To better help you be a conscious consumer this holiday season, they’ve put together a list of 22 online gift stores that benefit nonprofits:

And don’t just wait for November 27th, get involved now and stay aware of ways you can be a part of #GivingTuesday.

Running for a Reason

As you know, Amber and I are passionate about living and serving in our community. (We hope that passion is contagious!) Lately, we’ve also grown a passion for running. So logically, this post is going to be about the marriage of those two passions – supporting non-profits and running.

On any given weekend, you can find a 5k run/walk to participate in where the proceeds of the race go to charity. In fact, this month alone, you can still choose from all of these area races:

So what’s the point? I’m not advocating that everyone run out (pun intended) and sign up for any or all of these races. But what I would advise is to treat these events (and golf outings, fundraisers, etc.) as you would when investing your dollars through donation and time through volunteering.

If you’re just looking to run, you can do that on a local trail. You sign up for these events because you want to support the cause, yes? If that’s true, I recommend you do the following before registering:

  • Make sure you match your effort with your passion. Especially when there are this many events to choose from! Are you passionate about children’s causes? Healthcare? Clean water?
  • Ask how much of your registration goes to support the mission of the organization. If you were making a donation or paying for a ticket to an event, they would disclose this.
  • Learn how much of your gift goes to operating costs, etc. and how much goes directly to the mission? This will vary with each organization depending on if they operate from an endowment, have staff or are all volunteer.
  • Consider whether your not your gift stays local. Does the event support a local charity, national or global? Consider if that even matters to you?

This might seem like overkill for something as simple as a 5k. But if you’re making the investment to train and pay a registration fee, you might as well make sure you’re making a wise investment for your personal passion.

Give a Little Bit

One of my favorite blogs is Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog. She recently posted two ideas to advance your cause for free. She shared two ideas, but I couldn’t get past the first one and wanted to bring it to you here. (Consider the video you’re about to watch was created via crowd-sourcing and is available free to use for your cause customized with your logo and everything. Amazing, right?)

This quick video really struck me. It also reminded me of the mission of this blog. To inspire service through information and personal experiences. We want (y)our passion to be contagious. We ALL have an opportunity to give. To give a little bit of ourselves to something greater. Will you?

Serve in Big Way

There are currently over 500 children – 76% of whom are boys – in Northeast Indiana on the waiting list for an adult role model. And almost as many children are waiting to be put on the waiting list. This is a big problem that needs a Big answer. You!

Our Little throwing the first pitch at a TinCaps game.

This is one organization and opportunity close to my heart. My husband was matched with his Little in the community-based mentoring program over a year ago. We see the growth and development in our Little, but being matched has meant so much to our lives. I promise you, if you’re willing to make the commitment, you’ll see the benefits. Another thing I promise, you have time to do this!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana has a goal of 300 new “Bigs” in the next month. There are several ways you can have an impact and get involved:

Community-Based Mentoring

  • Bigs and Littles meet together one-on-one, out in the community to share fun activities like playing catch, going to the zoo, or baking cookies.
  • Matches meet 2-4 times per month for one year.

Site-Based Mentoring: School Buddies

  • Bigs and Littles meet in a local school to eat lunch, read, work on academics or simply spend time together playing games or talking.
  • Matches meet 1 hour per week for the duration of the school year.

Visit or call 888-456-1600 to start something BIG today!


About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana

In 2011, Big Brothers Big Sisters matched more than 1,773 children with a caring adult mentor in our 13-county service area. Our site-based mentoring program is in more than 75 elementary schools across Northeast Indiana and South-central Michigan. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana has one of the largest mentoring programs in the Midwest – serving more children than Indianapolis, Chicago and Cincinnati.

Volunteer with Vincent Village

We recently received the following opportunity to volunteer with Vincent Village. It sounds like an excellent opportunity for individuals who may not feel like they often have the needed skills to serve. If you’re interested and can make a commitment, consider this:

We need people who are interested in coming in:

  • At least once a week
  • From 3:30-5:30 pm
  • Monday through Thursday
  • It’s a very structured setting serving around 1-15 students per day.
Skill Requirements:
  • There are no requirements.
  • Great opportunity for high school students, college students, and even seniors come to help.
  • Make a consistent commitment to coming.

Your potential impact is huge. The children need more than just help on their homework. Often, the kids are craving mentors and people (especially adults) they can count on. There is a very high percentage of children who are homeless and are below grade level. Since they tend to switch schools often and have many more pressing and traumatic experiences to deal with, academic success is often low on their priority list. As a volunteer, you’ll work to make connections with the students that go beyond the 2 hour time commitment.

If you or someone you know would be interested, please contact Danielle Peterson at 260-456-4172 x237

Shop with Heart

Amber and I have been co-hosting on INsight every Wednesday for just over two months. We’re enjoying the opportunity to do something out of our norm, while allowing us an outlet to share information about the organizations and causes near to our hearts. An area of taping we weren’t enjoying…planning and prepping for three outfits at a time because we tape three episodes once every three weeks.


How does dressing for the show relate to this blog? Well, here’s where it gets exciting! We were introduced to a wonderful local woman who is a representative for CAbi Clothing. Nancy works with us to select and prep our outfits, which takes away the stress for us. The best part…CAbi is a perfect fit for our belief of being contagious!

The Heart of CAbi Foundation has a mission of empowering disenfranchised women with a greater opportunity through the gifts of our clothing, financial support, our volunteer efforts, all given in the spirit of God’s love. Over 25 million dollars in CAbi clothing and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to domestic and international nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to impacting women in need. More than 1.4 million pieces of clothing have been donated to women in need.

Nancy told Amber and I of traveling with other CAbi reps down to tornado hit Joplin, Missouri and working with women and their daughters who were able to come in and select garments as they begin to rebuild their physical life. She also said that the Heart of CAbi Foundation isn’t just focused on domestic issues, but also on international and seeing women become financially successful and able to meet their families’ basic needs of food, shelter, and education. This is done through the Make a Change program, which funds microloans for women living in poverty.

This time of year is especially important to CAbi. It’s their “buy one, give one” promotion. In 2010, they donated 100 pallets of clothes to women around the world from this promotion alone.

If you’re looking at gifts that give back this year, I encourage you to consider adding CAbi to your list.

You can also keep up with them through their blog, CAbi Canary which features stories about giving thanks and giving back. Right now, you can nominate a special woman in your life you think is deserving of a gift from CAbi this holiday season.

*Neither Amber nor I receive any discount, promotion or payment for mentioning CAbi or the Heart of CAbi Foundation. We do not receive payment to wear the clothes on INsight.

Local Inspiration: The Big Heart Club

You know we’re all about sharing the love. The love for our community. The love for our local organizations serving others and making a difference. The love for those who give of their time, talent and treasure to help us all improve.

While attending the Hunger Banquet, I noticed a table set up for The Big Heart Club. Their mission seemed like a good match for our blog. “Inspiration. Community. Leadership. Character.” They are composed primarily by IPFW students but do welcome those from the community.

  • Purpose and Goals of Organization:
    To volunteer in the local community by participating in IPFW and Fort Wayne events as well as supporting community needs with donation events.
  • Membership Requirements and Obligations:
    Attend at least one meeting and one volunteer event per semester.  Dues are $1.00 a year.
  • Activities and Events Planned for Current Year:
    Food, clothing, supply drives, meetings, soup kitchen, mentoring

If you’re interested in learning more, email bigheart at to “help make a positive change in YOUR Fort Wayne Community.”

Do you know of other groups or individuals who are working to inspire others? We’d love to add to our list!