When Kendra Stitt Robbins was practicing law in San Francisco, California, she had dreams of starting her own non-profit. But like most of us, she had spent her life on a very focused career path that included a bachelor’s, masters and law degree from Georgetown, and long hours at major law firms supporting corporations in forming their own non-profit organizations.
But in 2005, an unexpected move to Michigan meant she left her job as a lawyer in San Francisco to settle into a new city with her husband and an 18-month old baby. Without the distraction of client work and years of experience working on forming other non-profits, she felt ready to tackle her dream.
“It was important to me that I create a non-profit that was manageable and most of all, that meant something to me and my kids. I’ve always had a heart for victims of domestic violence. Often, these women need to leave quickly and they’re lucky to leave…so they’re not able to take with them the comforts of home. I started thinking of my own son – as long as he had his blanket, bear and a book, it didn’t matter where I put him to bed. I began by pulling items from his shelf and tied them with a ribbon to send to a domestic violence shelter in my area. Soon, friends and neighbors did the same and we had over 1,200 ‘Night Night packages’ to give to kids,” Kendra explained.
It’s amazing how much personal passion can fuel an organization and all those involved with it. Fast forward to 2012 and now Kendra is back in San Francisco with a non-profit called Project Night Night. Today, the organization delivers over 30,000 “Night Night packages” per year to over 700 domestic violence shelters nationwide. This type of rapid growth can be challenging, and Kendra shared with us how she was able to accomplish it with the help of volunteers.
“When we first started delivering items to shelters, we didn’t put them in bags until I witnessed kids carrying around their belongings in plastic bags from the grocery store. I didn’t realize then just how little they had. However, the demand was so high and I didn’t know quite how to scale. In 2006, I switched to a new model and found that people really wanted to help, they just needed to be told how. We kicked off the ‘Adopt a Night Night Package’ program, where people could buy tote bags to fill and donate. This has resulted in over 10,000 volunteers per year that participate!”
We would like to say a sincere “thank you” to our Photoshop Elements fans and followers who participated in our recent Blankets of Love giveaway. The challenge was to submit an image via Facebook that represented “love,” and we received nearly 1,000 great photos that truly captured that from family pets, to artistic hearts and beautiful landscapes and flowers. We appreciate all the thought and effort that went into each submission. We recently met up with Kendra to deliver 100 blankets that were custom printed with some of those images, and she was thrilled with the outpouring of support.
“Project Night Night means so much to me. I care so much about doing everything we can to bring a smile to a child’s face, or see a stuffed animal become their treasured friend. Every time I hear a story about how these packages made a kid feel safe and more secure in a new environment, the emotions just flow. The 150,000 bags that we’ve delivered over the course of seven years has made an impact, and fit the missing piece of the puzzle for my own life. Thank you so much to all the Photoshop Elements fans that have also brought this joy to these deserving kids.”
Project Night Night’s approach is to make sure that every shelter they come into contact with receives consistent support and donations. Kendra and her team of volunteers work tirelessly to make sure that the shelters feel that Project Night Night is truly invested in the children that live there.
As we kick-off the summer holiday, gather your friends or family together to donate some free time and totes to build “Night Night Packages” for a shelter in your area. Click here for more information on how to get involved, stay connected to Photoshop Elements on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and visit our Facebook application and photo album to see the photos fans submitted for the Blankets of Love giveaway!