Rock Solid: Stand Like Stone Swings With the Stars

This is an extract of an article written for Generosity. It is a wonderful example of how philanthropy and communities are and finding fun ways to make a difference and achieving more by working together.

Community foundation Stand Like Stone is dancing to a different beat, bringing lasting impact to South Australia’s Limestone Coast communities, one foxtrot at a time.

Since its establishment in 2004, Stand Like Stone has been an unstoppable force for positive social change on the south-east coast of South Australia.

To date, the foundation has distributed more than $748,000 in grants for charitable projects and educational scholarships to benefit the local community which, like many other regional centres in Australia, faces a range of challenges.

Executive Officer Georgie McKay shares Stand Like Stone’s inspiring story:

The Limestone Coast covers a broad area – more than 21,000 square km. We’re a broad-based rural community. Increasing economies of scale and mechanisation in various sectors have resulted in a decline in workforce requirements over the past 10 years. Our smaller rural towns are struggling to retain and maintain services and infrastructure as centralisation and rationalisation becomes more prevalent. Employment statistics in Mount Gambier show a clear trend to decreasing full time employment in the region and the town currently has the highest official unemployment rate in the region, sitting above both state and federal rates. Youth (15-24) and jobless families are experiencing the greatest disadvantage, with issues of homelessness and drug use being prevalent.

Stand Like Stone seeks to support our communities, encouraging philanthropic giving to allow us provide grants and scholarships that benefit our region. We seek to engage our community and its diversity through leadership in all aspects of our work. To provide grants to address community issues and promote sustainability; we collaborate with other organisations and facilitate partnerships that add value to the community. We seek to strengthen our community by increasing the capabilities and resilience of individuals, groups and organisations.

In the medium term, we aim to influence government to enable a more collaborative environment with private ancillary funds (PAFs) in our region. The application of DGR Item 1 status to community foundations would enable PAFs to utilise our structures and networks more easily and, in turn, strengthen the impact that we can collectively have on social issues in our region.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how much of a difference a small grant or scholarship can make to a community or an individual. It’s heart-warming when you hear stories of the impact that small amounts can make. The FRRR Sidney Myer Back to School Program provides $50 vouchers to assist students with the costs incurred at the start of the school year. We often hear stories from school principals and counsellors about how this small amount can make such a difference in a child’s life. A new school jumper or a new lunch box that this funding provides can mean the difference between fitting in or being left out—it’s much more than a $50 voucher, it’s about social inclusion and it can have long-lasting impact in a child’s life.

Swinging with the Stars is a phenomenal success for Stand Like Stone. It has been running for eight years and is loosely based on Channel 7’s Dancing with the Stars. We seek eight community ‘stars’ from our broad geographic region and they are partnered with a ‘professional’ to learn several dance styles.

The stars not only raise funds for Stand Like Stone, but also raise awareness for our community foundation through their activities in the lead up to the big night. It culminates with a live performance in front of a 400+ strong crowd at The Barn Palais in Mount Gambier.

In recent years, Swinging with the Stars has raised around $70,000 annually for Stand Like Stone and has gone from strength to strength. It’s the culmination of the generosity of many local businesses and individuals who donate products and their time to make this event a success. It is this generosity that ensures that maximum benefit is given to the community.

Community philanthropy is valuable and rewarding and has the potential to make a real difference over time. The Limestone Coast community is one where everyone pulls together to make things work and happen.

Stand Like Stone couldn’t operate without our key donors and sponsors. They are invaluable to us and provide expert advice, financial assistance and ongoing support for our annual programs and activities.

 Dancers

 

You can read the full article in Generosity July news stories: http://www.generositymag.com.au/

Image courtesy Christy Radford