The Community Project: Tomahawk nonprofit works to lend a hand to businesses, individuals in need

By Sarah Greil

TOMAHAWK – Nonprofit organizations can be great support systems for communities. However, so many nonprofits are limited to their specialty in what they can do to help.

A fairly new nonprofit in Tomahawk prides itself in finding solutions for individuals and small businesses in need.

Jennifer Van Rixel and Julie Thompson are the cofounders of The Community Project (TCP), located at 310 W. Wisconsin Ave. TCP’s sole purpose is “giving back to the community and assisting those who are in need, or just need the assurance that dreams can come true.”

Thompson says they both have a true passion for helping others and making the community of Tomahawk a really great place to live.

The Community Project consists of two main programs: “Making Dreams a Reality” and “Future Entrepreneurs.”

TCP said the Making Dreams a Reality Program has been created to “aid the underprivileged/struggling members of our community.”

“This will consist of giving children without opportunities the ‘extras’ in life and helping families with necessities,” TCP’s website states. “Youth from low-income homes will have the opportunity to experience extracurricular activities such as dance classes, music lessons, and sports.”

“We are a hand-up, not a hand-out, nonprofit,” Van Rixel said. “Everybody can be down on their luck at any given point, but to just take that and sit there is not what we want. We want you to strive to get back on your feet.”

Van Rixel further explained that they will work with individuals or programs to help where the need is, but in return they would want to see them sign up to volunteer with some of their events to assist others. They don’t just give hand-outs, they help people figure out how to be able to afford things on their own next year.

If an individual needs work, they will refer them to Allegiance Employment, owned by Thompson, and provide job opportunities.

“We purposely left TCP big because we don’t ever want to say no,” Thompson stated, adding that if someone comes in with a problem that TCP can’t fix, they will refer them to another nonprofit organization which they know can help.

TCP works closely with the Tomahawk School District nurse and counselors, as well as Kinship and others to identify families who may need help.

The Future Entrepreneurs Program has been created to “help people of all ages learn the ins and outs of running a business; and then helping them launch their business and become their own boss,” according to TCP.

This program helps individuals where they are in their business venture. For instance, if they are up and running, but need help with marketing, they’ll be given help in that respect. For those who get help for their business, once it is up and running and turns a profit, they are asked to return a small percentage of their profits to TCP as well as to another nonprofit organization of their choice.

Even while TCP itself is in the young stages of operation, Thompson and Van Rixel have dreams to make it even bigger. They will soon be opening up as Essentials Pantry, providing non-food items for families who cannot afford them at this time. For a list of items needed for the Essentials Pantry, visit The Community Project on Facebook at

As one of their efforts to give back to the community of Tomahawk, TCP organized a Community Clean Up Day. Sponsored by Republic Services (formerly Eagle Waste), Woodland Lakes Realty and Allegiance Employment, on Saturday, April 22, around 25 volunteers chose a designated zone around Tomahawk and spent a couple hours picking up trash. Thompson and Van Rixel plan to make this a yearly event on Earth Day.

Other planned events include a cornhole tournament in August and a bowling tournament in October. Half of the proceeds from the cornhole tournament will benefit the Tomahawk High School Athletics Department. The beneficiary of the bowling tournament has not yet been specified.

There are also plans for an art event in November to benefit the Essentials Pantry. They would like to make these events yearly, benefiting various areas of need in the community.

To find out more about these future events or to discover ways you can volunteer or donate, visit The Community Project on Facebook or

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