Supplying the need
As the new Avon Education Foundation executive director Amanda Babinec uses sales and nonprofit background to raise funds to support school students, teacher and staff
By Stephanie Dolan
Amanda Babinec works hard to maintain a sense of community in Avon connecting businesses to nonprofit opportunities.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic the 40-year-old mother of three was appointed as the executive director or the Avon Education Foundation (AEF), and she has hit the ground running, already raising more than $20,000 within the last month alone for a new project Supply It Forward aimed at getting kids backpacks filled with supplies to help them successfully return to school.
AEF is the nonprofit arm of the Avon Community School Corporation. It was created in 2007 and operates from its own budget but supports school programs.
Twice a year a grant committee selects recipients, and the foundation funds programs that would not otherwise exist in the district including STEM education, high school chess team. Supply It Forward aims to raise $30,000 in 30 days for the July 25 event.
“We want to help these kids get back to the classroom. We’re trying to raise $30,000 in 30 days,” said Babinec. The goal was surpassed, and AEF raised $31,750.
Kids will get to come in and shop for their school supplies. Families should register to receive supplies, but Babinec said they won’t turn anyone away. The foundation has safety measures in place, including requiring masks, volunteers wearing gloves and only volunteers will touch the supplies.
“Children can shop for a backpack and will get their lists to pick up school supplies. Once they get those, they’ll be able to look for a free book. The (Avon-)Washington Township Library will be on hand, and there will be goody bags with coupons, hand sanitizer, mask, all kinds of different fun things for them.”
A second gymnasium will have resources for those in attendance including the Mary Lee Maier Food Pantry, Superintendent Scott Wyndham and school nurses answering questions, Office Depot repairing laptops not owned by the school as well as free breakfast or lunch for kids, depending on when they shop.
Success for the fundraising comes because some companies weren’t hit as hard as others during the pandemic, and they are working together for the betterment of Avon schools and students.
“I think that we are a community of one,” she said. “We treat everyone as our own. When there are people who are down and need assistance, we’re there to help them. To me, it’s been amazing to see everyone come together so quickly. A lot of people here have big hearts, and I love that. We don’t want any child to feel they’re not equal to others. Let’s send them all to school with the same supplies because we’re all in this together.”
Before taking the post at the foundation, Babinec had been a stay-at-home mother for the last four years, starting her new position March 16 after the kids had come home March 9 for e-learning.
“It’s been a bit of a change, especially starting a new job during a global pandemic and with the kids doing e-learning,” she said.
Her previous work in sales as well as nonprofit post as the executive director of the Avon Junior Athletic Association (AJAA) translated well into the work she’s now doing with the education foundation.
“On top of that, in my previous life I spent 10 years at Simon Malls working in marketing and event planning,” Babinec said. “I managed the Kid’s Club at 103 malls across the country. It was a lot of fun.
“At the time you don’t realize it, but that perfectly set me up for the work I’m doing now. It’s funny when you’re younger you don’t realize stuff like that. Everything kind of happens for a reason, and you don’t always see it until you’re on the other side of it.”
Tim Roberts sat on the AJAA board when Babinec served as director. As the previous owner of Champion Chevrolet, he was the first AJAA title sponsor.
“I couldn’t say enough great things about Amanda,” he said. “Ours started off as a business relationship. It became a friendship, and now we’re family.”
The nudge from Babinec pushed Roberts to help support the community.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in anything when I was a business owner in Avon if it hadn’t been for Amanda. She sold me on her. We’re both extremely outgoing and opinionated. What she has done as a person within this community — she’s always looked to find opportunities to raise money or make it better. She tackles everything at 100%.”
Former Avon Superintendent Maggie Hoernemann noted Babince’s involvement as an active parent at school and as the executive director for AJAA, where Hoernemann said she “did a marvelous job in that position.”
“I have no doubt that she will do great things for AEF and in fact already has,” Hoernemann said. “It’s not what she will do, it’s what she has already done.”
The idea for Supply It Forward came on the heels of a similar project carried out when kids were sent home due to COVID-19. Having just distributed spring grants, the foundation sought help and received a $5,000 grant from Verizon to put together supply packs for students who came to get free lunches
“Then we saw this need that kids were abruptly sent home and expected to do learning at home,” Babinec said. “They left school supplies at school. They needed glue sticks and pens and pencils and erasers.”
Babinec’s favorite thing about her job is being able to give back to the community.
“It puts a smile on my face,” she said. “To be honest, I have a soft spot in my heart for children. I would like to encourage people. We have several events throughout the year. We have a breakfast and a Monte Carlo Night. It’s not just about raising money. It’s about our community.”
Getting to know Amanda Babinec
Do you have pets? One dog, Toby, and one cat, Charlie.
Aside from AEF, what is your favorite Hendricks County charity? I really enjoy Leadership Hendricks County. I went through the class of 2016. I love what they do for the community bringing leaders together and training them, getting them together for the purpose of collaboration. It’s a great group.
What is your favorite TV show? “The Office”
What is your favorite movie? “Dirty Dancing”
Who or what inspires you? My mom has been very inspirational in my life. She’s probably the hardest working and most selfless person I know. I’ve always tried to live my life like she does.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime? Travel. Our family is trying to visit all 50 states. We’re on state 24. I also try to visit as many countries as possible.