Clark: Nonprofits make big difference in local lives

Apr. 01, 2013 @ 07:18 PM

Imagine, for a moment, what would be missing from a world without nonprofits.

Houses built for low-income residents, with the hands and funds of volunteers and donors. A place for a family to stay while their seriously child undergoes treatment at a hospital far from home. Materials and tutors to assist teens and adults with learning to read!  Necessary services for seniors, clean watersheds, funds to help research ways to fight now-fatal illnesses, safe places for animals who have not yet found their people, shelter and resources for families who have fallen on hard times and find themselves without a home, and refuges for victims of abuse would all be missing without nonprofits. And the list goes on and on! 

If you pause a moment to think about the myriad threads of service that run through our community that lead back to nonprofits, it’s astonishing. Our community would be a far different place without the efforts of the staff, volunteers and financial backers of these organizations.

Chances are many of you have benefited from a local nonprofit without even realizing. Enjoy a concert at Durham Central Park? It’s a nonprofit. Adopt an animal from the Animal Protection Society? It’s a nonprofit. Enjoy a show put on by the Durham Chorale or Manbites Dog Theater Company? You guessed it – nonprofits.

So how can you give back to these groups that give us so much? Take part in the Volunteer Center of Durham’s Great Human Race on April 6 at Northgate Mall. You can learn more about nonprofits in our area and the services they provide. You can run or walk the 5K course to help raise much-needed funds for your favorite nonprofit. And you can enjoy live entertainment and activities. You can make an online donation by going to and choose one of our many participating organizations that appeals to you the most.

The race, which will make its way through the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood and back to Northgate, begins at 8:30 a.m. Registration opens at 7 a.m. We hope to see you there.

As Marian Wright Edelman said: “If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it! You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.” The Great Human Race provides an opportunity to make a change! Please join us.


Adrienne Clark, special programs coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Durham, is the Great Human Race coordinator. You can reach her at or 919-684-9690.