In Print: Our Volunteers in the News

Logo --- TallyTIES

On Monday, March 26, 2012, the Tallahassee Democrat published an article about TallyTIES, the non-profit organization co-founded by volunteer guardian ad litem Matt Liebenhaut and current Child Advocates II, Inc. board president Brian Sealey.

Every year, TallyTIES adopts an organization and provides a uniquely customized approach to fundraising and volunteer recruitment. The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program was proud to be the first organization TallyTIES adopted, as mentioned by Deborah Moore below.

The article is presented below in case you missed it. Congratulations to Brian and Matt on another great year of public service and support!

TallyTIES adopts one cause to help all year
By Sharon Kant-Rauch

Monday, March 26, 2012
Tallahassee Democrat
News

Writing a check feels ho-hum. And volunteering is hard to fit into a busy schedule.

But what if a whole group got together to pull its resources for one nonprofit a year?

That might make an impact.

That's the idea behind TallyTIES, a two-year organization that has adopted two agencies since it began. Last year members helped recruit new volunteers to the Guardian ad Litem program through six social mixers and raised more than $10,000 for the organization during a gala.

This year TallyTIES, which now has more than 100 members, adopted America's Second Harvest of the Big Bend and hopes to top last year's fundrasing efforts on Thursday during the Second Annual Celebrity Ties Auction & Gala at the Tallahassee Woman's Club.

The evening will include music, celebrity guest appearances, complimentary drinks and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Auction items will include ties signed by John Travolta and Robert DeNiro, a jersey signed by Michael Jordan and a guitar signed by Justin Bieber.

But more than the money raised at the gala, TallyTIES members have gotten to know the staff, board members and some of the clients of both nonprofits, causing a real "tie" to form between people on all sides.

"Sometimes things get so superficial handing out checks," said Brian Sealey, 29, a real estate agent who founded the organization with his old FSU roommate Matt Liebenhaut. "We're not touching anybody. I live and work in Tallahassee and I want to get to know Tallahassee better. We can go out there and look people in the eye and say, 'I care about you and want to make your life better.'"

Liebenhaut, 32, who started a new law firm about seven months ago, said the kind of human contact that takes place over an entire year forms a deep bond.

"I can now tell you all about Guardian ad Litem and Second Harvest from the inside out," he said. "We know the good they're trying to do and even two or three years down the road when we're not formally connected to them, we can be ambassadors for them because we know what they're all about."

Local artist Roberto Valdes contributed his share by donating a painting he made in honor of the Celebrity Ties auction.

The painting is covered with ties, with ones at the bottom more dense and painted in earth tone colors. But the ties become brighter near the middle and then whip off into the air at the top, representing what can happen if the community provides support to people in need.

To build excitement about the gala, the painting is being displayed all over town, starting at the Florida Commerce Credit Union on Tuesday and then moving to such places as The Aloft Hotel, Mockingbird Cafe, 1020 Art Gallery and Anthony's Grill.

"Instead of art being supported by the community, the community is being supported by art," Valdes said.

He said he loved the idea of TallyTIES which allowed "normal people to come together to do something individuals can't do by themselves in a substantial way."

Paul Clements, the development director at Second Harvest, said he's thrilled that TallyTIES has taken on the organization of the gala.

"We only have a staff of 18, which distributes 5.5 million tons of food a year, and they don't have time to put on an event of this scale," Clements said.

And if $10,000 is raised at this gala, that will represent 40,000 meals, Clements said.

This time of year - after the boon of the holidays - the shelves are often bare.

In the past two years, the food Second Harvest has gotten from the United States Department of Agriculture has also dropped by 30 percent. So money from the gala would allow them to buy food to replenish the shelves.

Deborah Moore, the director of the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem program, also was delighted when Sealey and Leibenhaut decided her organization would be the first agency TallyTIES adopted. One of her biggest needs was more volunteers, who become advocates for abused and neglected children.

TallyTIES agreed to hold a social mixer every two months and invited everyone they knew to come. Moore could do the same.

At the mixer, Moore had a chance to explain the program and even had applications on hand. Some of the TallyTIES members also became guardian ad litem volunteers, including Sealey, who is now on the board.

Moore estimates recruitment went up about 25 percent as a result of the TallyTIES efforts.

"I don't know of another organization that takes on one program and wraps their arms around them for an entire year," she said. "That is something unique."

TallyTIES are now taking applications for their next nonprofit partner. To find out more, visit www.tallyties.org.

If you go:
What: 2012 Celebrity Ties Auction and Gala.
Where: The Woman's Club of Tallahassee, 1513 Cristobal Drive Los Robles.
When: 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Cost: $40; tickets available at www.tallyties.org.

To view a video of Brian Sealey and Roberto Valdes discussing Valdes' painting, visit www.tallahassee.com.

Copyright © 2012, Tallahassee Democrat. All Rights Reserved.

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