BY MARY WICOFF
DANVILLE — Cozetta “Cozy” Washington can barely contain herself: Her dream, “Dollars for Danville,” is up and running.
“I’m so excited about everything. I can’t believe it,” she said last week.
The project asks each local resident to donate $1, and that money will be given to a good cause. The first goal is to raise $36,000, which will be divided among food pantries at St. James United Methodist Church, Second Baptist Church and Danville Township.
In the meantime, Dollars for Danville has all of its credentials as a non-profit 501-c (3) charity.
Washington said attorney Frank Young offered his services to do the paperwork for the non-profit status, and an account has been opened at First Financial Bank. Safety measures have been set up — an accountant is in charge of the money and three signatures are needed on checks, she said.
“Everything has taken off,” she said. “Dollars for Danville is its own entity.”
A handful of people showed up at an informational meeting last month, but that was enough to show there is interest in the project, Washington said.
She is president; Tamarai Red is vice president; and Renee Gaines is secretary.
Gaines said, “I think it’s a good way to bring the community together so we can make Danville a better place on our own.”
Although not many people attended the informational meeting, she said, “The more people we talked to, we got a positive response. People are willing to join us in our campaign to make Danville better.”
The idea for Dollars for Danville popped into Washington’s head while she was watching “The Twilight Zone” one night. The idea was: If every resident of Danville donated $1 to a local good cause, that would go a long way to making the city a better place.
She then launched the idea through the Facebook page, “You Know You’re From Danville When …,” and it was an instant success.
Washington shook her head in amazement that the idea is reality, saying, “I can’t believe it grew legs and it’s up and running.”
A booth will be set up at Taste of Danville in downtown on Labor Day weekend, so people can donate or learn more.
The organization also will be registered with Vermilion Advantage, she said.
Dollars for Danville will be a year-round project; people may donate at any time. Once the $36,000 goal is met and the money disbursed to food pantries, then the officers will set another goal and designate more recipients.
“We’re going to feed Danville first,” Washington said, “but I’m going to love on Danville one dollar at a time.”
She added, “Danville can show the rest of Illinois how to get something accomplished.”
Washington is a 1982 graduate of Danville High School and a recent graduate of Danville Area Community College. She will continue to serve as president of the group, even though she’s going off to college this month.
She’s been accepted into the physician assistant program at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, with the goal of earning a doctorate in osteopathy research and development. She wants to return to Danville and use her skills here. Her long-term dream is to open a children’s wing at Presence United Samaritans Medical Center.
Washington also hopes to start a similar fundraising project in Minnesota, called Money for Minne.
An account has been set up at First Financial Bank. People may make donations in the Dollars for Danville account at any of the brances. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.