July has been a busy month for Daily Giving, so we decided to double our efforts and give two grants a day for the entire month of July. These seed grants are given to social change visionaries who have a practical and do-able plan to make their community and the world a better place. Our team of 35 daily givers are the most inspiring people I know. I hope you will join us in this life changing practice, either as a Pollination Project Daily Giver, or as someone who has a giving practice of your own.
Here are the extraordinary people and projects that we are honored to support this week.
Aging out of Foster Care in Florida. Erin Udell saw a need among young people coming out of the foster care system in West Palm Beach, Florida. They were aging out of the system and moving into empty apartments, with little to call their own. In partnership with foster care counselors, Erin's program -- My Own Home Project, Inc. -- gives these youth new household items, like sheets, kitchenware and towels, so they can start their lives with a sense of home. "I was homeless when I was 15 years old, so I understand how instability can impact a sense of worth and well being at a pivotal time in a young adults life," Erin said. "We are giving foster youths a sense of safety and security in their new surroundings as well as a sense of pride and ownership. Many of these youth have never owned anything new in their entire lives. We are giving them incentive to work harder for what they have and helping to root them to their new surroundings so that we can see a decrease in transience in this population. They know through us that their community cares about them and wants to see them succeed."
Holistic Health in Wisconsin. Chiropractor Kimberly Fletcher wants to help residents of her Wisconsin community prevent health problems before they start. Her Back to Basics Community Clinic will assist the low-income, under- and uninsured residents of the town of Neenah with everything from chiropractic care to nutritional guidance. "I witness everyday people who are struggling to make ends meet and are also trying to choose a healthier lifestyle. I have also seen over the past several years the bloating of insurance deductibles, co-pays and monthly premiums to the point that people would rather be in pain or take a pill every day for the rest of their lives instead of treating the real cause because it costs more," she said. "No one deserves to be in pain, and everyone deserves quality healthcare and advice on how to be a healthy, contributing member of this society." Kimberly is currently the only doctor at the clinic, which will charge a small fee dependent on income and household size.
Urban Farming in Los Angeles, California. The farm at Los Angeles' John R. Wooden High School was neglected until Karen Snook and some of the city's youth started to clean, plant and revitalize the plot. Called The Kindred Spirits Care Farm, young people care for the animals and learn about permaculture and food justice. "Our version of care farming brings in vegan values of compassion to all sentient beings by introducing people to individual farmed animals and showing them that farmed animals are as worthy of love, compassion and care as any companion animal or other sentient being. The organic gardens teach nutrition and self reliance to at-risk kids to empower them to be less reliant on those who might exploit or abuse them, and it is done in a sustainable way so that the earth is not compromised in service to human survival."
Infant Health in Uganda. Ten percent of babies experience breathing problems in their first moments of life, and immediate emergency care is crucial. Debra Clairville, a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Uganda, started a project to train local medical staff about a life-saving neonatal resuscitation protocol that is meant for rural clinics. Debra explains, "Immediate skilled care means the difference between life and death in these situations. I believe that with proper training and resources, the health care workers in my area can help save the lives of babies who are born with breathing complications."
No More Disposable Cups in San Diego, California. Business school grad Drew Beal is harnessing social media and the power of prizes to encourage college students to lead a more environmentally conscious life with his project, Kill the Cup. "During my 3+ years in financial services, I noticed that my coworkers followed the same routine each morning: wake up, go to work, and get coffee - and every day with a disposable cup! But what incentives were in place to encourage change?" Drew said. "Consumers face insufficient incentives to behave in environmentally friendly ways." Kill the Cup encourages people to get their beverages in reusable cups by offering an incentive -- post a photo of yourself on social media using your reusable mug and be entered into contests and raffles to win prizes. Similar successful campaigns at UC San Diego and Georgetown University produced a 25 percent increase in coffee being served in reusable cups. This downturn in paper cup usage in those schools has offset nearly 450 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 110 pounds of trash and 446 gallons of water.
A Free Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. Amy McMullen's organization Phoenix Allies for Community Health ("PACH"), is a team of healthcare providers who strive to bring healthcare to the underserved in Phoenix, Arizona. During their work at health fairs and assemblies, the group noticed many uninsured people who have chronic yet treatable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Amy explains, "It became our mission to create a primary care clinic in a medically underserved area of Phoenix and provide free ongoing and preventative care to this population." PACH is now raising money to fund the Phoenix CommUnity Clinic, a free clinic which will be located in Phoenix's Garfield district, an area lacking in medical care for uninsured residents. The building it will be housed in has been extensively remodeled by volunteers. Medical supplies have been donated by local organizations or friends of the clinic. Looking to bring a holistic approach to healthcare, the clinic has both physicians and a midwife on staff and has partnered with an acupuncturist. PACH is also looking to offer yoga and nutrition classes.
Violence Against Women in Kenya. A series of savage attacks in Kenya, where women were stripped of their clothes in public, moved Naomi Mwaura to action. "'Stripping' refers to the process of men violently removing a woman's clothes with the intention of humiliating them for dressing 'provocatively,'" Naomi said. Her project, Say No to Stripping and Violation of Women and Girls, aims to educate motorbike riders, bus drivers and other common male bystanders, through dialogue between the genders. Through this campaign, Naomi wants to engage public transportation providers as allies, so the shameful stripping of women in these public places, like bus depots, will stop. The program has already conducted discussions in two hotspots -- Nyeri and Kisumu -- and launched a crowd mapping tool that allowed people to report strippings in real time.
Music and Community in Oakland, California. Angelica Tavella believes deeply in the power of music to bring people together. The Founder of Oakland Drops Beats decided to harness that power to enliven the streets of downtown Oakland with an all-day music crawl full of creativity, learning and solidarity. "When a community gathers to listen and create together, it empowers all involved to apply their creativity to innovate new solutions to larger community issues, creating a safe and fun container for conversations to arise and action to be taken," Angelica said. Partnered with local non-profits and businesses, the quarterly event hosts live music from young artists, many from low-income and under-represented communities, as well as workshops exploring how Oakland's music scene can support community goals. "We see this as an opportunity to build the infrastructure within the Oakland community necessary to provide a continuous platform for cross-cultural interactions, put down roots in the heart of Oakland, and draw together those who will continue to work towards the greater mission of peaceful cultural growth and expression," Angelica said.
Adopting Grandparents in Pennsylvania. Elementary school computer teacher Jennifer Larantonda is looking to technology to bring connection to two groups with a void in their lives -- kids without elders and lonely seniors in nursing homes. "When my father had a stroke and was placed in a nursing home I had some of my students record get well messages for him just using my phone. I recorded him responding back and it was a truly moving experience for us all," Jennifer said. "So many of our students do not have a multi-generational influence in their lives and so many elders are spending long lonely days in nursing homes. Just seeing the tears on my father's face and the smiles on the faces of my students was enough to know this would be a great blessing if I could do it for others." For Jennifer's project, Adopt a Grandparent, students record messages at their computer lab. Then residents at the local assisted living facility in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania use a tablet to access the messages. The residents then record words of wisdom for the kids. Two of Jennifer's local nursing homes, plus a rehabilitation facility, are excited about the project and want to expand it to include the hospital and hospice.
Keyhole Gardening in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Physical Education teacher Jo Fendrych wondered how to impact her students' eating and exercise habits. An avid gardener, she realized the answer was in the soil, and she started A Place to Grow, Inc., which constructs gardens for schools, low-income individuals, seniors and people with disabilities. "Keyhole gardening" is where containers are filled with soil, cardboard, phone books, leaves and wood, with seeds sowed on top. There is also a compost bucket in the middle of the garden, which releases nutrients when watered. "The gardens are designed to use 1/3 less water, easier to take care of because they are raised off the ground and incorporate recycling and composting," Jo said. A Place to Grow, Inc. has four gardens already installed and one more in the works for a local elementary school. Jo wants to expand the project to bring more gardens to low-income areas, schools and anywhere else that could use a space to grow.
Regifting in Iowa. Tracy Tunwall and her kids, Trae and Carl, noticed how much people were throwing away after a garage or estate sale in their community of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so they came up with a plan to cart away unwanted items and salvage them, instead of having them go to the landfill. Their project, Little Green Pla.net, asks local residents who are having garage sales to contact them at the end of the sale to pick up and redistribute and reuse the items that are left over.
Learning in Kenya. Student teacher Lauren Smith and Roya Headley are teaming up with educators across the globe to support both teachers and students in Nakuru, Kenya. Their Pink Elephant Teacher Outreach Program connects educators in need with a cadre of teachers around the world through donated technology and an online portal to share lesson plans, access resources and connect with each other. "I decided to start this project after I participated in a university-sponsored service learning trip to Botswana, May 2013," Lauren said. "I learned that many teachers in disadvantaged locations lack the support and continuing education opportunities that are necessary for quality education to occur. Some of the teachers didn't even have 4-year degrees, thus they were not adequately prepared to keep up with the ever-evolving world of education. Lauren and Roya hope to expand their Teacher Outreach Program throughout Kenya and then wherever teachers need support across the globe.
Veterans on a Mission in Colorado. A veteran of the Gulf War living in rural Colorado, Donald Scott noticed his fellow vets had trouble getting to regional VA hospitals for treatment, which could be a days' drive away. So, as the need grew with more and more veterans returning home, he started Grand Veterans, a transportation service that helps veterans living in rural areas get to hospitals and clinics in Denver, Grand Junction, and Cheyenne. "A trip to the VA can be so much more than a ride to an appointment; it can be a therapy session, a chance for our Veterans to talk about their accomplishments, express their challenges, appreciate the surrounding beauty, and reflect on their service to our country," Donald said. "For many of these Veterans, their VA visits are the difference between life and death. Grand Vets views these trips as missions, and not just rides to appointments." Grand Veterans plans to accomplish 40 of these missions this year, increasing to 120 by 2016.
Books are Power in Nairobi, Kenya. Gary Muldoon is passionate about empowering the kids of the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya with books -- so passionate that he and his family helped to build a library at the Valley View Academy, a local school in the Mathare slum. Now Gary wants to expand the effort. "The main reason we are so passionate about continuing this project was the reaction of the students and gratitude of the faculty," he said. "The look of amazement on the faces of the students and big grins when we told them this is YOUR library where more than enough to make us want to do more." As part of their project, Books Are Power, he and his wife are working to collect 1,500 more books and start a computer lab for the kids.
Congratulations to our grantees this week for their outstanding work to bring justice, peace, health and compassion to their communities. 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.
Are you our next grantee? Please go to our website at www.thepollinationproject.org for funding guidelines and application.