Our Story So Far
Faith Lumadue, Director
Ava Glowacki, Director
I met Kaylee Graham and Faith Lumadue when I was in first grade. Kaylee's mom, Shannon (Mrs. Graham to me) was my teacher. Faith quickly became one of my best friends.
Kaylee invited Faith and I to be part of what she called her Power Pack. We learned how to give back and how much fun volunteering could be! That's where I got the idea to create a little library. My mom, dad, and I put up the first Little Library in front of Florence Food Share when I was in 5th grade. I wanted to share my love of reading with the community.
Two years ago, Kaylee handed off her baby, The Power of Florence, to my best friend Faith and I. We are so excited to keep this amazing day going! We hope that this year will be our best year yet, and I can't wait to go out and make a difference with you!
The picture on the top left is from my first year helping Kaylee. The one below is Faith (My wonderful co-director), Hazel (a great fellow volunteer!), and me, last year after the Methodist Church's amazing Pancake Breakfast.
Kaylee Graham, Founder
I grew up in a very giving family and I was raised to volunteer and give back. My brother and I have raised money for nonprofits time and time again, whether it was something small or something big we knew it would help. We have made Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas, had bake sales, lemonade stand to raise money for Relay for Life, bought toys for the Soroptimis toy drive, and many other things. One day on the way home from church my brother came up with the idea for the Read for the Need. He was 7 years old at that time, and now he is 15 and the Read for the Need is still going strong. From year one to now my family has always helped him and I love doing it!
My brothers event was so AWESOME it made me want to do something, but I was not quite sure what I wanted to do yet. One day I decided to go with my mom to a PTA (Parent Teacher Association) meeting. At the meeting their was a guest speaker, who was talking about foster care. I learned that when kids are taken into foster care they don't get to take any thing of their own, and usually given a garbage bag to cary their belongings. That made me really sad, and made me want to do something to help them. I taped my mom and said "Mom, I want to help them! I want to help the foster care kids." "OK, How?"she asked "I don't know," I replied, "I just want to help them, will you ask how I can help?" I asked. My mom nodded her head in a YES. " Excuse me, my daughter would like to know how she could help." said my mom, "Well she could create backpacks, with items like shampoo, or stuffed animals..." As soon as the foster care lady said I could make backpacks my mind blew up with ideas, to help make the backpacks even more awesome. Then I told my mom "I am going to do that!"
During the rest of the meeting my mind raced with ideas of how to help. As soon as the meeting ended and my mom and me were out in the room into the hall I bombarded her with my plans for success. I came up with the idea to have a huge garage sale to raise money for kids in foster care. When I got home I cleaned my room and got rid of all of my items from a garage sale. I raised almost $2,000 at my sale. I shopped at sales, asked for discounts, and got donations. I made 150 buddy backpacks with soft blankets, a stuffed animal, snacks, and personal hygiene items.
The feeling I had after completing my own successful project was like nothing I have experienced before. I wanted to share THAT feeling with others.
I wanted to have a weeklong volunteer camp at my house. My parents loved the idea, but thought it was too much. they said I could do one day and invite as many people as I wanted. I decided To invite all of Florence! They told me, you'll have to talk to the city Council. I asked the city to approve a citywide day dedicated to volunteering and giving back. They approved my idea, and that summer we had the first, Power of Florence.
The Power of Florence is now an officially proclaimed city-wide day every year on the third Saturday in July, dedicated to volunteering and giving back.
Each year there are all kinds of events around town throughout the day helping out our community. Events have included collection events, such as collecting food for the Florence Food Share, and the Humane Society. There are many fundraising events, including car washes, A Pancake feed, and A BBQ, all raising money for non-profits in our community. There are also community service project events, like park and school beautifications. When I first imagined this day, I imagined it like our Rhododendron Festival, but I wanted this day to be about volunteering and making a difference.
In four years, this day of service, has created over 140 events that help our community. We’ve had more than 5,000 participants, over $32,000 has been raised to help non-profits and people in need in our community. Over 10,000 pounds of food has been collected for our local food bank and for the Humane Society. We’ve had 48 community service projects; park and school grounds beautification, cleaning, painting, garbage pick-up, beach clean-ups, and planting. The Power of Florence has become more than I could have imagined. It unites our community to come together to help, people can learn more about non-profits in our area, and it encourages people to make a difference throughout the year.
The Proclamation for the Power of Florence, officially proclaiming it a city wide day to be dedicated to volunteering and giving back!