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CHASM receives $50K grant

The Selma Times-Journal

Celebrating almost a decade of service in the Selma community, CHASM Family Resource Center unveiled its new Volunteer Center Friday morning, made possible by a $50,000 grant.

CHASM – which stands for Caring, Helping Aiding Supporting and Mentoring – acquired the grant from the Points of Light Foundation (POLF), the Volunteer Center National Network (VCNN) and the Universal Peace Federation.

Sweltering midday heat did not put a damper on the joyous occasion.

“We’re commemorating eight years of service to the community, to our kids and our families,” said the Rev. Carl Rawls, CHASM co-founder, president and executive director.

With his wife Marilyn, Rawls founded CHASM in December 1998. The Rawls’ mission was “to strengthen and empower communities, families and youth by engaging community-based and faith-based initiatives in promoting education, resource development and collaboration.” The non-profit organization earned over $35,000 in funding and in-kind contributions in its first year and never looked back.

Selma City Council President George Evans was present to commend and congratulate the CHASM staff on their achievements. Evans recalled when the Rawls presented the idea of CHASM to the city council, whose members at the time had “mixed emotions” as to whether the organization would survive. Those suspicions have since been put to rest.

“It’s real, it’s alive here,” Evans said. “I’m proud to know we have young people coming up who will make a difference. The city stands ready to help in any way we can.”

Carolyn Powell, a representative from Congressman Artur Davis’ office, CHASM board members and a small group of children also took part in the celebration.

POLF and VCNN representatives Rev. Mark Farr, Senior Director of the Faith Based Initiative National Organization, and Beth Ludlum, National Partnerships Manager, traveled from Washington, D.C. to share in the good news.

“Our aim is to pull people around the country out of their paid lives and give time to their own community,” Farr said.

Farr said POLF and VCNN make an effort to support and uplift community organizations and CHASM “seems just right,” citing its organizational skills and its charismatic staff.

“It’s a pleasure to be here in Selma, Alabama and we’re excited to take the lessons we’ve learned here and replicate those all around the country,” added Ludlum.

Farr said POLF and VCNN are in the process of acquiring more grant monies for CHASM and four other community-based organizations in the U.S., having applied for a $750,000 Bush White House Faith Initiative Grant.

Farr hopes the grant will be approved and the Rawls are confident of a positive outcome.

“We will get the grant,” they said. “We will.”