We are absolutely thrilled and honored to introduce you to two ladies doing incredible things here in Charlotte – Kelly Brooks and Kimberly Paulk. By now we’re sure you’ve seen (and hopefully used!) our weekly Smarty SHARE Sunday posts from SHARE Charlotte. They are an absolutely gem on our site – every single week, SHARE Charlotte (a free, easy and local website that makes it easy to learn about and engage with Charlotte’s local nonprofits) introduces us to nonprofits in our area. If you’re EVER looking for a way to get your family involved in our community, start with SHARE Charlotte.
These two Smarty Moms are working on something big this holiday season – #GivingTuesdayCLT. We’ll let them explain more, but look for Smarties all over Charlotte to be participating the Tuesday after Thanksgiving! We love the idea and can’t wait to see the good it will do.
Smarties, Meet Kelly and Kimberly!
Smarty Moms: Kelly Brooks and Kimberly Paulk
Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: Paul, 13 years
Children: Olivia, 11 & Kasey, 10
Occupation: Small Business Owner: Founder, SHARE Charlotte
Hometown: Horseheads, NY
Years in Charlotte: 7
Alma Mater: State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany
Married to: Shawn, 16 years
Son: Ethan, 12
Occupation: Partner, SHARE Charlotte
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
Years in Charlotte: 9
Alma Mater: University of Denver
‘Hood: The Forest
Tell us how SHARE Charlotte started.
Kelly: I spent years “getting to know” Charlotte and trying to figure out where I could make a difference. Through all those experiences the same issue kept coming up. It’s really difficult to navigate through the nonprofit world – with so much going on, so many nonprofits, projects, etc. I thought that other people might be having the same challenges so the website seemed like a no-brainer to me. I find it so rewarding to be able to use my skill-set to give back!
What are the benefits for non-profits to join SHARE? Benefits to the community users?
Kimberly: SHARE really allows you to see the breadth and depth of the nonprofit community here in Charlotte. You can see what’s here, and then decide where and how to get involved. It’s the only place you can really see the landscape of the work being done in our community – and then take the next step to plug in and connect in a way that works for you and your family.
What is each of your roles in the organization?
Kelly: Well, I guess we call me the Founder but it is really a partnership between Kimberly & myself. We are very similar in our hearts but are very different thinkers so we really make a great team. We are a small business start-up so we work together on most things. But, I am more of the vision and can see the endless opportunities for SHARE Charlotte so I work to make them happen. I also direct our marketing and media efforts. Kimberly is very organized and a get-it-done kind of person. She manages our nonprofit relationships and does most of our writing.
How do you play off each other’s strengths to make SHARE what it is today?
Kelly: I really depend on Kimberly to help me keep the ship afloat while I’m focused on realizing our dream of taking SHARE to cities across the US. She is not only my friend but my confidante and I trust her implicitly. I am truly grateful for her.
Kimberly: One of Kelly’s strengths is her vision. She has an ability to see past obstacles to a desired outcome. I’ve learned a ton from her over the past couple of years about thinking big and asking “why not?” – I love, love that about her, and I find the more I’m around her, the more I’m able to develop that type of thinking in other parts of my life. We’ve become great friends through the process of building SHARE, which has really been a gift for me.
How do you want SHARE Charlotte to impact our community?
Kimberly: We’re here to make it easier to get connected with our local nonprofits, in a way that works for you. That could be through volunteering, being a donor or by attending an event. We would like everyone to just take one action on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 2) – it should be whatever works for you. Big, small, a lot or little, it doesn’t matter to us. Just start that process of getting involved to make Charlotte an even better place.
We’ve heard a lot about #GivingTuesdayCLT. Tell us about it and how we can get involved.
Kelly: #GivingTuesdayCLT is a local collaborative of 63 nonprofits with a mission to increase the level of giving in Charlotte. Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving in its third year and was created in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those are days when we get good deals, Giving Tuesday is a day when we DO GOOD!
Please go to givingtuesdayclt.org, check out the nonprofits and then give, whatever you can. You can make a financial donation as well as pledge volunteer hours in 2015. We don’t care how much you give — just give. We all play a critical role in making Charlotte successful!
What’s next for SHARE?
Kelly: It will be fun to see how the #GivingTuesdayCLT collaboration works out. We are thrilled to spearhead this project making it easier for the nonprofits to promote themselves. Hopefully we will reach a lot more people than they would on their own.
As far as the future is concerned we are working diligently on developing a donations marketplace. It would make it easier for people to make donations directly to nonprofits by purchasing goods, etc. in a centralized online marketplace. It’s a big project but we think it would change how people give and how nonprofits ask for donations.
A BIG question for moms all over Charlotte is How do I get my children to have a philanthropic heart? What do you suggest families do to get their children volunteering early and often?
Kimberly: For very young kids, simply talking about philanthropy and giving is more effective than you might realize. Then – take them along when you volunteer! For instance, kids can help you organize a clothing drive for Baby Bundles, a local nonprofit that provides new and gently-used baby clothing and essentials for families in need. Charlotte Family Housing, a local organization that helps homeless families achieve self-sufficiency, has a monthly Youth Serve Day for kids which is a great way to involve kids ages 12-17.
Are there any last minute needs you’d like Smarty Charlotte to be aware of for the Thanksgiving week?
Kelly: The most important thing to remember is that the nonprofits needs help ALL year long, not just around the holidays. This is the time most of us think about it but there are 11 other months in the year when they are struggling. Maybe make a commitment to reach out to a nonprofit in February!
BUT, don’t forget about #GivingTuesdayCLT. Go to givingtuesdayclt.org and make a financial donation or pledge volunteer time in 2015. We need you!
I’d think the holidays are a busy time for SHARE. What are some ways we can use SHARE to make the most impact on our community this season?
Kimberly: The holidays are a fun time to get the family involved in giving, and we’d suggest #GivingTuesdayCLT as a way to start. And you can always go to sharecharlotte.com to find a nonprofit doing work that is meaningful to you. See what opportunities they have to support them. If you don’t see a volunteer opportunity listed, don’t let that stop you! Contact them and let them know you want to help – they’ll be glad to hear from you.
We also like to remind everyone that there are 364 other giving days each year in addition to Christmas. Did you know, for instance, that Loaves and Fishes’ most critical food needs occur in July? Yet that’s when their donations are lowest. So if that touches you, pledge for GivingTuesday that your family will do a food drive this summer! Then sit down and start to plan it as a family.
Now for the fun stuff to get to know you better…
First philanthropic activity you participated in and at what age?
Kelly: When I was in elementary school we participated in the Fresh Air Fund for a number of years. Our family hosted a young girl my age for two weeks each summer. Lisa lived in Brooklyn and would come to the country (upstate NY), kind of like camp!
Kimberly: My dad was a very generous person, and my earliest philanthropic memories are probably of his work with homeless individuals in our town. That, and my mom’s work with a local women’s group that provided college scholarships to young women in need. Both of them tended to very “hands on” in their volunteer work. We didn’t have much money to give, but they were incredibly generous with their time!
Favorite thing about Charlotte?
Kelly: The contentment I have living here. It just feels like where we belong.
Kimberly: The people, hands down. We’ve made some wonderful friends in Charlotte.
Last book you read?
Kelly: The Girl You Left Behind, by Jojo Moyes
Kimberly: Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns
Favorite book you read to your kids?
Kelly: Dr. Suess, hands down!
Kimberly: Oh man, Kelly picked a good one! It’s been a while since I read a book to my son, but one of our favorites – the last one we would read each night – was Goodnight Moon.
Best place to go on a day trip with the family?
Kelly: Around town – eating, talking, shopping, etc.
Kimberly: Apple picking near Asheville, and the North Carolina Arboretum.
Family’s favorite home-cooked meal?
Kelly: Lasagna – no-bake noodles, of course!
Kimberly: Any meal that Dad cooks. Mom is not a good cook. At all.
Family’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
Kelly: Go to the mountains and enjoy the chilly (sometimes freezing cold) air! The kids would say, “mom’s mashed potatoes and green bean casserole”!
Kimberly: Although I’m not a cook, on Thanksgiving and Christmas I pull out my mom’s recipes for cookies, and my grandmother’s aprons, and we bake. Mom’s pumpkin bread at Thanksgiving, and grandma’s cookies at Christmas (which we then decorate and hang on the tree, just like she did).
Thing you’re looking forward to the most this holiday season?
Kelly: Time to chill out and reflect on this beautiful, full life of mine. That’s the fuel for all the great work we’re going to do next year!
Kimberly: A bit of quiet time with my family to reflect on the year that’s come and gone – and the new one about to begin.