Philanthropy from personal experience

​For Avice Pretty, there is no one season of giving. She finds ways to help her community all year long.

Hardships can leave a lot of different marks on people. For Pretty, a senior administrative assistant for pre-k-12 curriculum and support programs, personal challenges have been a path to philanthropy.

"When you see that people need help, you help them," she said. "You roll up your sleeves and get to work."

Twenty years ago, Pretty moved to Charlotte from her hometown of Sanford, N.C. She was a single mother, battling a serious illness and financial issues. 

"I was a psychology major, so I am pretty good at research," said Pretty. "I started looking up local resources to find out how to bring some stability to my family."

Today, Pretty is healthy and stable but she hasn't forgotten the earlier hard times. 

"I had a lot of advantages that others don't," said Pretty. "So I wanted to find a way to help others access resources that can help them improve their lives."

Avice 1.jpgPretty founded a non-profit, Vision Beyond the Eyes. The organization's goal is to provide skills training, employment opportunities, education and outpatient therapy to homeless men, women and veterans. 

"We want them to be self-sufficient and able to maintain permanent housing," said Pretty.  "If they need a resource that we don't have, I will find it."

When Hurricane Matthew caused flooding in eastern North Carolina, Pretty saw an opportunity to expand the reach of her organization. 

"We're all a community," said Pretty. "Sometimes our community is larger than you think."

She started collecting donations for the towns of Lumberton and Princeville. 

"They're not showing this on the news, but these towns are still in desperate need," said Pretty. "It's like little Third-World countries there."

Pretty partnered with CMS' central office departments to collect items for flood victims. The budget department collected 600 bottles of water. The After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) collected a U-Haul truck full of donations including toiletries, napkins, tissues and lotion.

On Nov. 19, Pretty and a team of volunteers took 13 cars filled with donations to Lumberton. 

"We are so thankful to CMS employees for the help," said Sharon Hunt, Lumberton assistant to the city manager.

Find more information about Vision Beyond the Eyes here.