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Custom Ink Supports Community Champions

At Custom Ink, we like to make a habit of keeping an eye out for people making a positive impact however they can. This summer, we took that to the next level by launching a pilot program called Community Champions in Charlottesville, VA, where we have a store and production facility. Inkers had already been spreading the word about the great work going on in the area, so we decided to start there.

We made a plan to identify and support people with great stories who are driving change in the Charlottesville community and acting as community leaders. “We wanted to find a way to celebrate the amazing work happening in our Charlottesville community,” says Grace Spalding, Custom Ink’s Communications & Community Outreach Manager. “We created the Community Champions program as a way to recognize their work, give them a platform to share their mission and vision, and accelerate their work through our products and services.” 

We decided to select one winner and two first-place finalists and award them with vouchers for Custom Ink merchandise, money to put toward a cause, and a platform to help to get the word out about their causes.

We put out a call for applications and referrals from people who wanted to nominate others whose work they admire, and we were overwhelmed by the response. Among the many great submissions, some were from people and causes we already knew about, and some were completely new to us, but all were inspiring. 

Our team was blown away by the nominations,” says Grace. “It is very humbling to realize there is amazing work going on around our Charlottesville community, and we had no idea that some of these efforts even existed. It made us want to learn more about the work being done and personally find ways to get involved.”

She says it was difficult to narrow it down to just three finalists. “There were moments when our group was reviewing nominations, and we couldn’t decide because they were all so deeply moving. Ultimately, we kept coming back to our selection criteria: did they have a compelling story, were they a change driver, and were they a community leader? It helped us narrow our choices to three people who are really focused on leading positive change in our Charlottesville community”. 

After reviewing all the entries, we found ourselves with three very different but equally inspiring candidates: Shannon Noe of ReadyKids; community activist Daniel Fairley, II; and Freddy Jackson from Love, No Ego. Learn more about each of them below.

Shannon Noe, ReadyKids

Shannon Noe’s mission is to provide free counseling services to children who have experienced trauma, so they can feel safe and be healthy. Since 2008, ReadyKids has grown to provide counseling services from 40 children to over 300. Shannon promotes the importance of treatment for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence and is a founding member of Charlottesville’s Trauma-Informed Community Network.

Daniel Fairley, II, Community Activist

Daniel is involved with not one, but three, local organizations: Charlottesville Alliance for Black Male Achievement, 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, and Loaves & Fishes Pantry. Moved to action by the protests of August 2017, Daniel created a Dialogue on Race with the City’s Office of Human Rights. In addition, he, is the Youth Opportunity Coordinator focused on Black Male Achievement with the city of Charlottesville, and he is a highly active fundraiser and member of the Central Virginia Chapter of 100 Black Men.

Freddy Jackson Love, No Ego

Freddy’s background in social work and working with at-risk youth inspired him to develop a brand that matched his attitude: more love and less ego. Thus came about “Love…No Ego.” Freddy created the Love, No Ego Foundation to provide real-world development for youth (kids and young adults ages 10-24) by utilizing its principles: Love Over Ego, Love Over Fear, and Communication Over Conflict. Those principles help children overcome challenges, find purpose, and live their true greatness.

We left it to our community to decide, and after a round of voting, they chose Community Activist Daniel Fairley, II. Click here for an in-depth story about Daniel and to learn about what he has been up to and what he intends to do with his winnings.

Miellyn is the Copy Manager at Custom Ink. Her work has spanned marketing for television networks like TLC and Travel, educational content for Smithsonian and National Geographic, marketing and story for indie video games, essays for publishers including Random House, The Telegraph, and Smart Pop Books, and stories for press outlets like VICE and VH1.

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