KENNEBUNK, Maine, Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of voters across the nation voted in Tom's of Maine's "50 States for Good" program with just the click of a mouse. From a pool of 51 finalists, public voting determined the six winning nonprofits that will share $150,000 in funding to support grassroots projects dedicated to healthy, human and environmental goodness. From serving the homeless and renovating play areas to building sustainable summit trails and providing alternative energy education, all winning organizations demonstrate the heart and determination of community nonprofit organizations to inspire lasting change in their communities.
The 2012 "50 States for Good" winners are:
$50,000 Grand Prize Winner
inCOMMON Community Development of Omaha, Neb. is a nonprofit working to unite and strengthen vulnerable neighborhoods. Funding from Tom's of Maine will support the development of the Park Avenue Commons, a community center that will provide an array of support services at no cost for low-income, at-risk and special needs community members. The goal of The Commons is to help prevent homelessness by building community support networks, providing preventative and emergency services, and increasing personal and employment success.
"Our success in the Tom's of Maine '50 States for Good' campaign is inspiring for our Organization, as it shows the overwhelming support we have throughout Omaha – and beyond – for our Park Ave Commons project," said Christian Gray, director at inCOMMON. "The best projects are the ones that are led by the community, and this amazing opportunity has allowed our community to push the Park Ave Commons from a dream to reality. We send our most sincere and humble thanks to our supporters and advocates who have helped inCOMMON take first place in the nation. And of course, a huge thanks to Tom's of Maine!"
Brown Bag Ministry (Apex, NC):Brown Bag Ministry provides brown bag lunches and hygiene, first aid and personal care items to the homeless and those in need. Funding from Tom's of Maine will support the efforts of the 7,000 community volunteers who distribute 65,000 brown bag lunches and 8,400 hot lunches to the homeless and those living in poverty.
Genoa Central Parent Teacher Organization (Genoa, AK): The Genoa Central PTO will use funding from Tom's of Maine to support their community build project, Project Playground. It will include the renovation of two 30-year-old play areas with new equipment for students to increase their physical fitness and play, regardless of ability level or special needs.
Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.) (Wolfeboro, NH):Based on the model of "barn raising," Sustain-A-Raisers work to ignite a sustainable home makeover movement whereby teams of volunteers help one another install backyard eco-assets such as garden beds, clotheslines, compost bins, rain barrels and solar hot water systems. With funding from Tom's of Maine, the program will conduct 50 sustainable home and yard makeovers.
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (Golden, CO):The Sustainable Trails program will utilize funding from Tom's of Maine to engage volunteers in the "Adopt-a-Peak" program which strives to build ecologically-sustainable summit trails, and the "Peak Stewards" program volunteers educate hikers on Leave No Trace practices. Funding will also support the Trail Reconstruction where field crews use GPS technology to track and manage trails for future maintenance.
Glacier Institute (Kalispell, MT):The Big Creek Outdoor Education Center, located off the power grid in the beautiful Flathead National Forest, hosts thousands of elementary school children annually. Funding from Tom's of Maine will allow Glacier Institute to install solar panels, a wind turbine and a battery back-up system at its educational site as well as create a new curriculum to educate all course attendees on as part of its "Alternative Energy Surrounds Us!" program.
"We commend all of our winning nonprofits for their tireless work to inspire grassroots goodness and transform their communities," said Susan Dewhirst, goodness programs manager at Tom's of Maine. "The spirit of giving back and bringing positive change to local communities is one we share at Tom's of Maine and we're excited to see the public rally around local projects."
All qualifying 501(c)3 nonprofits were encouraged to apply for the program. Applications were narrowed down to 20 finalists by a panel of judges based on the number of volunteers mobilized by the project (50%) and number of people positively impacted (50%).
This year's judging panel featured passionate leaders in the nonprofit community, including star of "The Vampire Diaries" and non-profit founder Ian Somerhalder, Laura Burge of the social action network Care2, Huffington Post columnist Lisa M. Dietlin and Sam Davidson, president of Cool People Care.
A month-long online vote starting in September determined the six winning organizations. Tom's of Maine is a longtime supporter of community volunteer programs including clean waterways and greater access to affordable dental care, among many other programs. In addition, since its inception, the company has donated 10% of its profits back to the community and encourages employees to use 5% (12 days) of employee time to volunteer every year.