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Be kind, work hard, give back — that’s how Claire VanLandingham lived her life.
For the past three years, Claire’s friends and family have embedded those three simple rules into the nonprofit #BeMoreLikeClaire, an organization that carries on her legacy by cultivating the power of collective generosity so that all may live a safe and healthy life.
On Jan. 3, 2018, Claire, a promising young Navy dentist, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. In the wake of her tragic loss, #BeMoreLikeClaire was formed with the goal of encouraging others, even those who never met her, to come together to do the work that Claire most certainly would have done.
Over the past three years, through the power of collective generosity, #BeMoreLikeClaire has awarded more than $180,000 in grants to area nonprofits, with the vast majority located in Douglas County.
The projects align with #BeMoreLikeClaire’s guiding principles that all people have access to healthy food, comprehensive health care, safe and affordable housing, role models and mentors and relationships free from cruelty, and to work together to protect the earth.
Previously funded projects include building a Habitat for Humanity house, donating a van to the Douglas County Dental Clinic to provide children with dental care, and funding Claire’s Kitchen at Just Food. In 2021, #BeMoreLikeClaire has already supported projects in Lawrence that protect abused children, provide women of color with a trained doula during birth, educate faith communities about relationship violence and how they can help stop it, and provide a space where young gardeners work alongside women in recovery.
#BeMoreLikeClaire does more than fund community projects. Believing all donors want to increase their impact and make a difference, the organization connects volunteers to projects. It collaborates with organizations who receive its grants to find opportunities to engage volunteers to make the projects more successful.
On Friday, July 2, the community has an opportunity to continue Claire’s legacy through the third annual Give Back Bash, the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year. The free, virtual event includes a silent and live auction. Among the items up for auction:
• A stay at a studio condo in Granby, Colorado
• Several in-home dining experiences for large groups featuring local chefs preparing Indonesian curry, wood fired pizza and Ramen bowls
• Autographed jersey of Kansas City Chief Tyrann Mathieu
• A hands-on Italian dinner in Claire’s Kitchen at Just Food
• A singer for hire, available for a party or home concert
The Give Back Bash will be livestreamed from 7 to 8 p.m. Participants must register to receive information on how to watch, bid on items and even how to make a signature cocktail for the evening. The silent auction will open one week before the Bash.
Donations raised from this year’s Give Back Bash will fund the next round of grant projects. Community nonprofits will be able to apply for those grants from Aug. 1 to Oct. 1.
#BeMoreLikeClaire hopes that as more people learn about Claire’s short, but incredible life — and her plans to make the world a more equitable, compassionate and loving place for all — that others will continue to join the organization in working toward her vision.
Christine Metz Howard
Board Vice President