Every day of the week, The Pollination Project (www.thepollinationproject.org) provides $1000 in seed funding to an individual who is working to make the world -- or just their own community -- a better, more peaceful and more sustainable place. Here are the extraordinary people and ideas changing the world this week:
Rae Kirkbride and Jim Vaive have served the homeless in Columbus, Ohio for nearly ten years, and were all too aware that homelessness in their community was increasing. Estimates say about 1,500 people lack housing in Columbus, and nearly 30 percent suffer from mental illness. Rae and Jim founded Backyard Missions to provide medications and meet other basic care needs within this vulnerable community. At the same time, they hope to raise awareness among more fortunate people about homelessness 'in their own backyards,' and how they can get involved.
Stephanie Salisbury and Andie Kingsbury began their Cloth Diaper Ministry to help others in their community of Elkhart County, Indiana who struggle to raise a family and make ends meet. Disposable diapers are in high demand at food pantries, and food stamps can't be used for diapers, so the Cloth Diaper Ministry offers an environmentally friendly solution to this huge need in low-income families. Beyond teaching women to sew cloth diapers, Stephanie and Andie are mentoring women in self-reliance and other sustainable living skills such as budgeting, upcycling and reusing household goods, safe homemade cleaning products, and more.
Speaking of the value of sewing, Ronald La Mar and a team of committed retired teachers and administrators in Cibecue, Arizona are working to improve the lives of local students on the White Mountain Apache Nation Reservation. The Cibecue Sewing Project teaches 6th through 12th grade students to create projects they can later market for income. In an area with 90 percent unemployment and high rates of suicide, drug/alcohol use, and gang activity, having an occupational skill helps show Cibecue's young people they have other positive choices. Students also make items needed by others in the community, such as blankets for newborns and traditional dresses worn by women during ceremonies.
San Francisco-based Doniece Sandoval is making water and sanitation more accessible for the local homeless population, where there are only approximately 16 showers for more than 3,100 men, women and children who call the streets their home. Believing everyone has a right to be clean, she founded Lava Mae, a sustainable mobile shower and sanitation service. Lava Mae will retrofit donated buses with two showers, two toilets, and private changing rooms, and partner with local organizations that serve the homeless. The first bus will be ready in early 2014.
Cristina Gallegos and Simona Czudar are committed to improving Romania's system of care for the approximately 60,000 abandoned and orphaned children, and fight for their rights and well-being. They founded Ador Copiii to provide expert support to non-governmental and non-profit organization leaders and volunteer workers in the country's child protection system, including tools for communication and negotiation, guidance on early childhood development, and improve the effectiveness of adoption services.
Musician/activist Mike de la Rocha is changing the national narrative about gun violence with The Living Rooms Across America Tour. Mike is facilitating "living room conversations" with community leaders, influencers, artists, policymakers, and front-lines advocates. The tour is visiting various cities across America to shift public opinion and broaden the national conversation on how to successfully reduce gun violence, and spotlight successful grassroots efforts, to usher in greater political will for change.
Heather Laurie of North Queensland, Australia first came to our attention for the clever ways she and her dog Olly are engaging the community in political and environmental issues. Now, she is receiving a Pay it Forward loan to create Wine for Good, which will market and sell organic wines and donate part of the proceeds to non-profit environmental groups in Australia. Each wine will bear a label to indicate what current issue it helps fund, the first one being protection of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem, which is threatened by fishing, pollution, and increased ocean temperatures due to global climate change. Heather will repay the "Pay it Forward" loan in the future by funding another Pollination Project grant, making it a win-win-win.
Congratulations to our grantees this week for their outstanding work.
These are just a few examples of what a little seed money can do when put in the hands of someone with a vision and a plan to change the world.
If you were given $1000, how would YOU seed the change?
The Pollination Project makes $1000 grants every day, 365 days a year to individual changemakers. Please go to our website at www.thepollinationproject.org for funding guidelines and application.