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Good Causes I Support

Through Tomato Envy, I hope to raise awareness for some causes that I think are worthy, cool, and most importantly, reputable and well-managed.  I get pretty overwhelmed with all the things out there that need fixing both here in the US and around the world.  It’s easy to feel helpless.  But, I believe that if each of us does just a little something to support causes that matter to us, the world will get better.   I personally support each of these charities.  Please learn more about them and lend some much-needed support.

Growing Power

Growing PowerGrowing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.

The man behind Growing Power, Will Allen, left the corporate life behind and started his awe-inspiring urban farm to help provide good, wholesome food to inner-city residents.  Since then, it’s grown to a community within a community, providing fresh food, employment opportunities and education to thousands.  Although Growing Power started in Milwaukee, there are now urban farms across the country following Allen’s ingenious intensive farming model.  Growing Power also hosts National Training Centers to educate aspiring urban farmers, extending the reach of this worthy cause.

Operation Freedom Paws

Founded by Mary Cortani, a Vietnam-era veteran and certified Army Master of Canine Education, the mission of Operation Freedom Paws is to empower veterans and others with disabilities to restore their own independence.  By leveraging the power of the canine-human relationship, clients regain their sense of purpose, worth and value to society and their community.

Mary Cortani and her team work to achieve this lofty goal by first matching suitable dogs, many from shelters, with clients who may have a host of special needs including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).  Often, it can take years for disabled veterans to acquire trained service dogs, and this waiting time is just one more frustration for a returning vet.  But, with Mary’s innovative program, clients can be matched with dogs much more quickly and they are taught to train their own service dog through a structured 32-week program.

The trained service dogs provide a feeling of safety and security and a renewed sense of focus and hope in the lives of returning veterans and people with disabilities.

Heifer International

Heifer InternationalHeifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.

It all started with a cow.

Moved by the plight of orphans and refugees of the Spanish Civil War as he ladled out meager rations of powdered milk, Dan West, an Indiana farmer, volunteer relief worker and Church of the Brethren member, realized that the people needed “a cow, not a cup”—cows that could produce milk so families would not have to depend on temporary aid. From that simple idea, Heifer International was born.

Heifer International’s approach is to lend a hand-up rather than a handout.  Heifer International empowers people by teaching sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry practices which, in turn, provide food and a sustainable income stream for impoverished families all over the world.

KIPP Public Charter Schools

KIPP stands for Knowledge is Power Program, and it’s a national network of free, open-enrollment, college preparatory public charter schools with a strong track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.

More than 87% of KIPP students come from low-income families, and most are either African-American or Latino.  The unique no-excuses approach to education works by building a committed partnership between school, students, and families to focus on results.  With an extended school day, week, and year, KIPP schools give students more time to learn.  “Work hard.  Be nice.” isn’t just a tagline, since KIPP strives to combine both high academic performance with character development that will serve students throughout their lives.  Higher quality education for all will lead to a better world.