Sure, you’ve probably seen the signs outside of sections 106 and 107 at Bridgestone Arena during a Nashville Predators game, or perhaps heard about a hospital visit on the local news.
You may have even purchased an autographed jersey or made a donation online in support of the Nashville Predators Foundation, but once the transaction is complete, where exactly do those funds go?
Established in 1998, the Foundation provides fans with the opportunity to back Nashville and Middle Tennessee-area charities and community service organizations through a number of different avenues.
The Foundation supports approximately 100 groups annually throughout the area with a strict vetting process to ensure that the funds are used properly. But it goes even deeper than that.
“We don’t just write a check and say all right enjoy it,” Nashville Predators Foundation Executive Director Rebecca King said. “We visit them in the summer, we get reports at six months and end of the year, we make sure the charities are utilizing the grants as they requested in their applications, and we want to build relationships with them.”
Building those relationships is key for the Foundation being more than just a go-between for the public to pass funds from one person to the next. For example, if a donor has a desire to make a monetary contribution toward a certain cause, the Foundation is more than capable of assisting in that process.
“When someone says, ‘I’m interested in an organization that helps special needs kids,’ we know 10 just because of the relationships that we’ve built with these groups,” King said. “It’s not just money coming in and money going out, but it’s the relationships that we build with these organizations that make it better.”
The Foundation goes about selecting causes and charities to support and fund through a grant process, where members of the Foundation board review applications sent in from Middle Tennessee organizations. Once the review process is complete, the allocation of funds begins, with the Preds choosing to include a wide array of applicants in the final rewards, and for good reason.
“Being a small market [in Nashville] and wanting to extend our reach, we tend to take the smaller grants, so we have 88 organizations receiving grants this year,” King said. “[When we visit grant recipients in the summer], we might be asking: ‘Can we bring turkeys to you in the holidays, can we adopt your families at Christmas?’ It’s how else can we work with them to figure out a deeper partnership besides just a check.”
Besides establishing deeper relationships, there are also unique opportunities that go beyond what might be envisioned when donating to a cause.
One Foundation grant went to Barefoot Republic Camp in Kentucky, who built a zip-line for the campers and named it after the Preds.Then there’s the support to Lighthouse Christian School and the funding of providing an iPad to each and every ninth grade student who enters the school. Now in the third year of that partnership, the fourth year will bring about the use of an iPad to every student in grades nine through 12.
Beads of Courage provides patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital with a bead or charm each time they complete an MRI, receive chemotherapy or other necessary events through hospital stay. By the time their stay is up, they’ve got a necklace to serve as a symbol of their bravery.
And helping the children doesn’t come without help from the adults. Whether it’s the purchase of an autographed canvas print at a Preds game, a donation on the Foundation website, simply registering a Kroger Plus card or Amazon Smile account, the avenues through which to make an impact are limitless. In turn, so is the amount of hope that comes from the Foundation every day.
“I think all of these organizations have different stories,” King said. “We then get these heartfelt stories in return of the families that are impacted...all the families that we meet through the children’s hospital suite, they’re going through terrible treatments and the smiles on their face and how giddy the teenagers get when they see the players.
“These individual moments and these people that you meet and the relationships that you make through grants and visits and tickets, that’s what it’s all about.”
So whether you support a major fundraiser, such as the Foundation’s Gala and Wine Tasting, or purchase a mystery puck at the Community Relations table on a game night, you’re making more than just a monetary impact; along with the Preds, you’re making a difference in the lives of young people throughout the Mid-State.
For more information on the Nashville Predators Foundation, or to donate, visit Nashvillepredators.com/foundation.
Stay tuned throughout the summer for updates on the 2015 grant recipients.