Nonprofits

I hope one day, I am as beautiful as you.   

Finding HumanKIND recently visited Kindling Art Studios (Los Angeles, CA) and Temple Grandin School (Boulder, CO), organizations supporting those with special needs.  Prior to the interviews, I’ve never met anyone with special needs and had no idea what to expect.

Through our experiences with the artists and students, we learned they have a love and zest for the world and are filled with a brightness that is rarely seen.  If only we had the same joy and lightheartedness as they do- what a beautiful world it would be. Organizations like Kindling Studios and Temple Grandin School truly make a difference in not only their artists’ and students’ lives, but ours as well. I learned an invaluable, humbling lesson – we must move beyond conditions and try to better understand those with special needs, because until then, we can’t make change. We’re no different from one another.

To the amazing artists and students, thank you for helping me better see the world, warming my heart and bringing tears to my eyes. I hope one day, I am as beautiful as you.

Stay tuned for inspiring stories from Kindling Studios!

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Nonprofits, Uncategorized

Meghan and Diane, Project V.E.T.S (Boulder, CO)

“Project V.E.T.S is dedicated to improving the health and welfare of animals around the world by collecting surplus veterinary equipment and supplies then distributing the items to animal related nonprofits worldwide.  Not only is our work preventing disease and controlling over-population, but we’re also conserving resources that otherwise would end up in the landfill. In 2016, we salvaged and distributed over $400,000 worth of equipment and supplies to nonprofits who are capable of making a significant difference, but may not have the resources to do so.”  Support Project V.E.T.S and animals worldwide by learning more here.

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Nonprofits, Uncategorized

Eileen, Founder of Colorado Pet Pantry (Boulder, CO)

“The Colorado Pet Pantry works with various community partners to raise much needed pet food for over 6,000 animals in need.  I believe in what I do because we don’t want families, who are living paycheck to paycheck, to choose between paying rent or feeding their pet. It breaks my heart to see a family lose their pet because of one bag of food.”

Help the Colorado Pet Pantry make a difference in the community by donating food or funds. Find out more information here.

 

Nonprofits, Uncategorized

Lea Anne, Temple Grandin School (Boulder, CO)

“Temple Grandin School is a supportive, socially engaging educational community for students with Aspergers and high functioning autism. We have a deep understanding of our students’ neurodiversities and how they view the world.  The students are often highly gifted – they’re inventors, creators, and innovators. However, they need extra guidance in social development and other various executive functions. They may not need help in math, but need to know how to fill out a job application or work on a team. Our individualized programs, with a 1:6 teacher to student ratio, focus on their strengths and passions to realize their full potential. Temple Grandin is not like any other school, we’re all family – teachers are called by their first names and we eat together as a community. We truly understand  our students and deeply want them to succeed. Everything we do is an act of kindness from the heart. Our payday is the wellbeing of our students.”

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Nonprofits

Susanne, Executive Director of Eden House (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Human trafficking is an underreported crime and a thriving industry in NOLA. At Eden House, we provide a safe home with individualized services- from health, legal to therapy- for women escaping a life of forced prostitution. Currently, we have 8 women, between 20 – 50 years old, in our 2-year program. We hold their hand throughout their journey, so that one-day, they can live on their own.  Our belief is ‘Love Heals,’ because through love, we can end sex trafficking, one woman at a time. Since 2012, Eden House has impacted almost 150 lives.

Victims usually have a history of sexual abuse as children, making them vulnerable to run away into something much worse than the situation they were leaving. Once they enter the trafficking world, they’re led into drug addiction and other traumas.  It’s very difficult to escape, as there is a complex, emotional bond between the trafficker and his stable-  a form of dependency.  It’s not about sex, it’s about power over someone else and reaping money from it. Women and men are exploited daily and the fruits of their labor are taken away from them. To end human trafficking, society needs to start recognizing it and stop pretending it doesn’t exist. It’s not a victimless crime and the women are not criminals.

My work in battling human trafficking stems from my belief that women’s rights are human rights. If we want a just and equal society, we must empower women.  Through Eden House, I’m able to play my part to ensure this. Sitting with the women every morning, watching their strength grow each day, and witnessing their graduation is an enormous privilege. From that, I draw my own strength.

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Nonprofits, Uncategorized

Christine, CEO of Swan Songs (Austin, TX)

(Story 3/3) “Swan Songs held a private, Irish concert for a recipient with a terminal illness. As her favorite song played, she passed away. But, her daughter requested the musician continue as she held her mother’s hand. The concert not only brought peace to the recipient’s last moments, but also brought comfort and a lasting memory for her daughter.” Make a difference with Swan Songs by making a donation or volunteering at a concert.

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Nonprofits, Uncategorized

Christine, CEO of Swan Songs (Austin, TX)

 (Story 2/3) “There was a family whose father had a terminal illness and requested a concert of bagpipers. During their private concert at their home, the daughter and mother stood in the kitchen admiring the father’s joy as the bagpipers played beside his bed.  Days later, Swan Songs received donations in the name of the mother, which was odd, as the concert was for the father. We later found out the mother passed before her husband, who died three weeks later. The daughter told us, ‘I knew the concert was going to be the last joyful moment with my father, but I had no idea it was the last joyful moment with my mother as well.’”  Make a difference with Swan Songs, a nonprofit fulfilling musical wishes for those at the end of life, by making a donation or attending a concert.

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Nonprofits, Uncategorized

Christine, CEO of Swan Songs (Austin, Tx)

(Story 1/3) “I’m a musician in Austin, Texas and my good friend, John who had a brain aneurysm, wasn’t able to attend one of my concerts. He was my biggest fan so, I brought the music to him at his home right before he passed. The experience blew me away, as I realized something as simple as music provided John and his family with a memory they will never forget, one filled with peace and joy. To provide the same opportunity for others, I established Swan Songs – a nonprofit fulfilling musical wishes for those at the end of life. The recipients choose their favorite style of music – ranging from classical, to Japanese, to bagpipes – and Swan Songs organizes the concert at the recipient’s home with their friends and family. Death is obviously very sad, but the concerts bring a mix of emotions from joy to laughter to tears. Surprisingly, the room isn’t full of despair, but has a sense of acceptance coming from the awareness of how precious life can be. The concert can be closure for the recipient, hearing the soundtrack of their life. Swan Songs has provided these special moments that will never be forgotten to over 400 recipients.”

Make a difference with Swan Songs by donating or volunteering to attend a concert.

 

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Nonprofits

Sharing Hope for a Cure (Florida)

“I’m 17 years old and have lost a lot of family members to cancer, one being my aunt. I watched my two cousins grow up without a mother. One is married and the other is going to be soon, but their mom won’t be there. Having cancer is an incredibly painful process, but it’s just as difficult and sometimes worse for the families.  Having cancer so close to home, I decided to make a difference and established my nonprofit, Sharing Hope for a Cure, to support patients and their families through the process. Not only do we raise funds for research and awareness, but we make dragonfly pins in honor of my aunt who loved dragonflies. The pin has become a symbol of hope, as the patients enjoy knowing someone they don’t know is thinking about them. Sharing Hope for a Cure has gifted 650 dragonflies to patients in hospitals all over Florida.”

To learn more about Courtney, visit Sharing Hope for a Cure.

Nonprofits, Uncategorized

Ms. Bonnie- Kingdom Kids Tampa (Florida)

You know the gut wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach, tightening more and more as you grow hungry by the minute? Not only affecting you physically but emotionally, commonly known as being “hangry,” a word that I know all too well.  Eventually the uncomfortableness slowly dissipates as if your stomach is tired of being empty and loses hope. You quickly run to the fridge for a quick snack to hold you over until the next meal or just gorge right then and there because you have no self-control.

Right now, you’re shaking your head in agreement because you know exactly what I am talking about. As humorous as this is, there is a hard reality that not many people know or understand. Those that live in constant hunger are not just the homeless or those in third world countries, but are our neighbors, co-workers and children in our schools. They’re families who own their own homes and have jobs, but just can’t seem to make ends meet. They know hunger well, most every day, and there isn’t a quick snack for them because their fridges are empty and shelves bare.  Even more disheartening, 1 in 6 children in America worry about when or where their next meal will come (Feeding America).  It could be days, weeks or even months.

For the past 3 years, I’ve passionately worked in the fight against hunger with Feeding Tampa Bay, the largest food bank in West Central Florida. In that time, I’ve met some pretty amazing people.  They’re determination and compassion for others laid the foundation for finding humanKIND, leading me on this journey to find those who dedicate their lives to making a difference.  Through their stories, I’ve learned adversity is always matched by goodness and we are all capable of truly changing lives, and at Feeding Tampa Bay, we’re doing it one meal at a time.

Out of all the beautiful people I’ve been lucky enough to meet, there was one woman who was my first inspiration and I hope to, one day, have her strength and spirit. If you ever want to see what selflessness looks like – please meet Ms. Bonnie…

As the executive director of Kingdom Kids, her one and only mission in life is to feed all the hungry children in her community, providing them a chance to just be kids.  Inspired by her grandmother, the first social worker in the community with only a 2nd grade education, who would welcome countless children in need to her home for a warm southern meal and a safe place to sleep. “I always knew that if I could be half the woman my grandmother was, I would be something great.”

Every week rain, shine, hurricane or flood, Ms. Bonnie makes the 30-minute drive to the warehouse in her pickup truck to pack it full of food for hundreds of children in need. The moment she enters the warehouse, her welcoming smile and warm greeting immediately embrace you and your day can’t help but get a little bit better.  Her dedication to her mission is unwavering. She’ll walk from end to end of the warehouse, pushing 500+ pounds of food and after many tired breaths, she’ll take a quick break and then continue packing each box, with great care, into her truck, one by one like a game of Tetris. What seems like an impossible amount of food to fit into a small pick-up truck, Ms. Bonnie makes it look like a breeze. “The more food, the more full bellies!”

Ms. Bonnie truly makes a difference in every life she touches. She has served more than 30,000 hot meals to students relying on school lunches, distributes hundreds of boxes full of fresh food to her hungry neighbors and fostered over 100 children!  “Children just want to feel safe and loved, treated like part of the family. It’s so rewarding to see the kids stand on their own two feet.”

Ms. Bonnie works day and night not only cooking up the most delectable southern meal the kids will ever have, but treating every person with the dignity and respect they deserve- but may rarely receive. As one of her clients stated, “I was a business owner but I had to walk away from it all when my partner grew sick. I’ve never asked for help before so it was very difficult to make that call. Not only does Ms. Bonnie go above and beyond to help my kids and I, but also treats me like family.  That means the world to me, especially now.”

Ms. Bonnie’s work is widely recognized in the community, as she was recently named the Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero. With all her achievements, she is determined and driven by passion to give to others, even before herself. In fact, a couple months ago, Ms. Bonnie’s husband sadly passed away. Despite the tragic loss, she woke up early the next day to cook hundreds of hot meals to local seniors and children. “I can’t stand the thought of sitting at my table while others sit at theirs without a meal.” If that’s not true strength and dedication, I don’t know what is.

Ms. Bonnie, because of you… the world is a better place.  Thank you for inspiring me and many others for years to come.

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To learn more about Ms. Bonnie, visit Kingdom Kids.

Learn more about Feeding Tampa Bay, West Central Florida’s food bank providing food supplies to agencies like Ms. Bonnie.

To learn more about hunger in America, visit Feeding America.