Tribune -- Columbia's War on Poverty: Got the next big idea?

Jul 13, 2022 | by The Salvation Army

From Columbia Daily Tribune, 7/10/22

There are so many problems, but do you know what? So many of them (all of them?) are just waiting for the next big idea to be their solution, or at least part of their solution.

The classic example here in Columbia is ComoGives, the program that is now raising well over $1 million each year for local nonprofit organizations during the month of December (for some organizations it has actually become their primary fundraiser!).

Every nonprofit accomplishment is a team effort and he does not deserve all of the credit, but John Baker over at the Community Foundation of Central Missouri is the main guy who made CoMoGives happen.

Either John had the idea or read about it or someone brought it to him, and he took it upon himself to assemble a team and make it happen. Regardless of the details, CoMoGives is making a huge impact on our community; it is a perfect example of a big idea made real and making a difference.

CoMoGives is a big idea, but most importantly, someone stepped up and made it happen (and continues to make it happen, year after year).

Oh, and another favorite of mine from right here in Columbia is Mel West over at Mobility Worldwide. Do you know about that one?

Thanks to Mel just having an idea and going to work on it, Mobility Worldwide is a mostly volunteer organization that builds hand-pedaled mobility carts that make it possible for people in developing countries, without the use of their legs, to get from place to place. For most, before the carts — built right here in Columbia and shipped to 106 countries — getting to the store meant literally crawling on the ground or being carried.

Can you believe that started here in Columbia? One person. One big idea. That is so often what makes the world a better place.

One idea can make such a difference. One idea can save lives.

I am hoping for lots of new big ideas to address poverty and other problems, right here in Columbia. Or lots more, really.

Love Columbia did not even exist before 2008 or so, then it was an idea, and now the beloved local organization is making a difference — actually saving lives — basically every day.

One of the newest big ideas is the Opportunity Campus, a project of Voluntary Action Center. We should see that become a full-fledged reality over the next few years, with a new homeless shelter and space for a wide range of poverty-focused organizations to better serve the community.

We are even pretty happy with a new idea here at The Salvation Army (maybe not a big idea yet, but it is certainly on its way). Just the other day we launched a new baby pantry that provides necessities to families with babies age zero to 3. Babies sure are expensive, and we are doing what we can to ease the burden for those who need the help.

What is your big idea? Or maybe you need to spend some time working on one. Or maybe a small idea. Or maybe start Googling and find an idea that is working somewhere else and bring it back to Columbia to make a difference here.

Find your idea. Make it happen. Make a difference for people who need you.

Major Kevin Cedervall is a leader of The Salvation Army in Columbia. The Salvation Army provides a wide range of community services to address poverty and other issues, seeking to rebuild lives and create lasting change.

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