By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — About seven years ago, Karly Driscoll listened to Monica Burchett rehearse a talk she planned to give at a Christian Experience Weekend. The talk got Driscoll thinking about what she could do to help others. “It had an impact on me,” Driscoll said.
Then she read an email about a woman who left an unsatisfying job to start a nonprofit to help prisoners. Driscoll emailed Burchett to share that she wanted to do something new and different in the Quad-City area. The two talked and emailed back and forth for about a year before launching a unique project. “We pulled the trigger and made it real,” Driscoll said.
Project 15:12, a nonprofit, is based on the Bible verse from John 15:12, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Burchett said the goal is to “show love to others.”
The two women shared the story of Project 15:12 on a Facebook Live event Nov. 4 hosted by St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. They reflected on personal experiences and talking with others to “get a vibe about what would be useful in the Quad-City community.”
They hoped to fill a gap by assisting people who encounter an unexpected hardship but do not have a rainy day fund. “Where can they go?” “They can’t get over that hump. That’s who we target,” Burchett said. “We are there to just fill the gap.”
Many people who need help will not ask for it. Burchett and Driscoll find them through word of mouth or prayer requests. Luke Ebener, host of the Facebook Live event, asked the women what happens when they receive a referral.
Driscoll said she or Burchett reaches out personally to the individual to talk through the situation. If they think they may be able to help, one of them will send paperwork “and a gift card as an act of love.” The women review the returned paperwork to determine if the assistance needed is a good fit for Project 15:12 and then get their board of directors’ approval for fund expenditure.
If the assistance involves a bill, Project 15:12 makes payment directly to the entity, such as a utility company or landlord. “We don’t write a check to the individual. That is our standard operating procedure that keeps us accountable,” Burchett said. “All is done in confidentiality. If they choose for us to share their name in prayer or otherwise, we respect their wishes.”
During this pandemic, rent and mortgage payments have been among the most frequent requests, Driscoll said, followed by utility and medical expenses. Medical expenses tend to be the result of unexpected health issues. One requester asked Project 15:12 to send cards to someone. Driscoll and Burchett set up a system to notify volunteers who sent the cards.
Project 15:12 depends on donations to fulfill its mission. The founders hope people will participate in an online fundraiser Nov. 13. It starts at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live at Project 15:12.
Traditionally the event is in person, but they had to switch online with rising COVID-19 cases in Iowa, Burchett said.
At the event, interested people and supporters can learn more about the organization, what has been done in the past, up to date numbers of requests and fulfillments and a video featuring some of the recipients. There also will be an online auction.
For more information on Project 15:12 visit their website at www.project1512.com or visit their Facebook page at Project 15:12 Love One Another