Non-Profit of the Month: Destined and Designed by Faith Outreach Ministries
By: J. Chevont’e Alexander
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.
I Peter 4:10
Are you looking to give back? Are you passionate about making Richmond a more sustainable city? Does giving back to those in need encourage you to want to do more? Would you like to learn how to help our children to become job creators of the future? If you answered yes to any of these questions, sickness this is your opportunity to learn, generic get involved, and make a difference in our Richmond community.
Cassandra Shaw, the founder and Executive Director of Destined and Designed is changing lives in the Richmond community, one coat, one canned food, one nice word, and one kind gesture at a time. Shaw started the organization in 2009, after witnessing her brother’s death from his long battle with liver cancer. He was also a drug addict and homeless for many years before his death. Cassandra was strongly affected by the obstacles her brother endured, and before his passing she witnessed her brother give his life to Christ. After this time, Cassandra made it her divine purpose to dedicate her life and time to take care of the people who are normally cast away or forgotten about. She made it her mission to help homeless people, those with mental problems, impoverished, or to anyone just needing a helping hand in the community.
“Faith has been a great walk in life for me. I go where God leads me to go. And, it is my mission to be among the people, and serve as a pillar of hope for the community.” comments Shaw.
Destined for Greatness
The mission and purpose of Destined and Designed is to provide the necessary tools to feed and clothe the homeless, homeless veterans, single parent households, or even those living in shelters. With Destined and Designed, the organization is continuing to build positive partnerships, create healthy relationships, with churches and faith based organizations, charitable organizations, local for profit businesses, non-profits and city residents to improve the welfare of the city, and to improve the livelihood of the people in our community. This unique non-profit organization reaches out to all walks of life, businesses, and residents. The face and tireless hours of work and volunteerism behind Destined and Designed is Minister Cassandra V. Shaw.
As Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Shaw measures the progress of Destined and Designed by how much she is able to give, and how through her donations she is changing lives.
Minister Shaw is the Chaplain and GOTV Chair for The Richmond Crusade for Voters, Inc., member of Richmond Chapter NAACP, A. Philip Randolph Central VA Chapter, and Mount Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries, where she serves as the secretary of the New Believers Ministry and member of The International Missions Ministries. She also serves as the Chairperson for The Virginia Healthy Families. Through Project Help (The Hand Up, Empowered, and Lifestyle Project) created by Minister Shaw, she was able to convene a number of groups and organizations from across the state to fight hunger and poverty. This program was intended to make it easier for impoverished communities to combat hunger, homelessness and poverty. Because of the awareness made through this community project, Destined and Designed by Faith Outreach has created a Speakers Bureau, the annual signature event, “Warm a Heart with a Warm Coat”, and Community Care partner programs, in which volunteers can devote creativity and time. Minister Shaw is a certified Richmond Peace Education Conflict Resolution Facilitator and volunteers as an advocate with the Safe Harbor Domestic Violence in the Henrico County Juvenile and Domestic Courts. She is retired from the United States Postal Service and works full-time in the community giving back blessings that have been given to her.
Designed With a Purpose
You may often see Cassandra in Monroe Park passing out food and coats to the homeless. Her genuine nature has allowed Destined & Designed to grow to become a very giving organization that has changed so many lives in the community. Destined and Designed served about 100 African American youth in the past 12 months. On a weekly basis, you will find organizations giving donations of food and clothing to Destiny and Designed. Earlier this year, the organization gave out three hundred coats to youth, churches, and impoverished families during their ‘Warm a Heart with a Warm Coat’ donation. The event was huge and very successful. The donation event drew a busload a high school senior and two van loads of people from local churches. They also delivered coats to the Hispanic communities in Richmond.
“The smiles on the children’s faces makes what I do all well worth it. They were so appreciative of those coats, and it made me feel good to give back to the community.” comments Shaw.
Destined and Designed also hosts community brunches, youth forums, and symposiums throughout the year. This past year the community brunch attracted almost 150 people, including youth. The brunch has all free food and features local gospel entertainment.
The organization’s other signature event is their theatrical play “Purpose Fulfilled”. The first production was August 13, 2011, and the encore production was on November 19, 2011. All proceeds from these projects were donated to impoverished families. “Purpose Fulfilled” is about the real struggles of real women who learn that their Faith and Purpose is the reason for the storms. This play embodies the triumph of women who have learned to take their adversities and mountains in life and turn them into their victories and success. “Purpose Fulfilled” portrays the journeys that people take, even in faith-based communities, in order to seek their real purpose in life. The three amazing heart wrenching stories, inspired by real testimonies, told in “Purpose Fulfilled” are enlightening to everyone on their personal journey to fulfill their Purpose. Destined and Designed is hoping to hold this awesome event in 2013, but needs your help. Please visit www.destinedanddesignedbyfaith.com for more information.
Helping to Fulfill the Purpose
As Destined & Designed continues to grow to feed more families, clothe more children, and provide more helping hands in the community, the needs of the organization to sustain increases as well. The organization is in need of commercial space to store the donated food and clothing.
“I imagine Destined and Designed having a food pantry, a clothes closet, and ample enough space where we can store everything. Right now, we are running out of space, and I am having to get rid of food and clothes which hurts me to the core.” says Shaw.
The organization is also in need of additional transportation. Destined and Designed delivers food and clothing to where the need is, whether it is a corner in a community, homeless shelter, or park, so a large vehicle is important to allow more items to be delivered in one trip.
Volunteer opportunities are also needed at events, for delivery of items, grant writing, and more. If you are interested in volunteering for Destined and Designed, please contact: (804) 223.0251. The organization is currently hosting their signature “Warm a Heart with a Warm Coat” donation event. The organization is accepting new and used coats to distribute to Big Brothers & Big Sisters and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Virginia.
The future of Destined and Designed is huge, but the success really lies in the partnerships with the community…churches, businesses, schools, non-profits, and residents. Destined and Designed envisions hosting an international/global donation event in the next few years, where the world recognizes a national day of community service, very similar to the National Day of Service that is celebrated in January. This day will focus on giving back to those less fortunate.
There is no doubt that as poverty and homelessness continues in the city, there will be a dire need for Destined & Designed. Their work is helping to get people back on their feet, and get them out of what we hope is a short term situation. No matter where you are in life, everyone needs to feel destined to be great, and know they are designed by faith.
“The most successful person is one that recognizes another person’s achievement; however, the most significant person is one that supports and helps another person to achieve.”
Scripture says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. This scripture means when we are doing what we are called to do, when we are operating in our gift, there will be easiness about it. It does not mean there will not be obstacles or that it will not take effort on your part; but what it does mean is that God will give you a supernatural empowerment to do it. In other words; He will put the “Super” on your natural. It will just come naturally and flow out of you. Destined and Designed by Faith Outreach Ministries is framed by the word of God. Every day in their ministry, they rely on God’s grace to accomplish all of the incredible things He’s called them to do. The support and generosity from the community has made it possible for Destined and Designed to reach, empower and equip people in our communities and around the world with the message “You are destined and designed to do great works!”