post

What About the Roads? Boone County Voluntarily Funds and Fixes Infrastructure

Times are harder for many these days. Perhaps that is felt most in small town, rural America. This story of self-reliance and voluntary solution can be traced back to the 1980’s. Boone County Nebraska was affected quite negatively by the farming crisis of the time. Many viewed living a life and raising a family there as an undesirable goal. A large amount of the teenagers and young adults of that time would leave once they got their high school diploma in hand to settle and pursue careers elsewhere across the country.

This left a lot of questions and very few answers for how this county and its small towns would survive future generations if the trend continued. Jay Wolf, a local rancher, recalled a quote he heard from his father, “As my dad used to say, it wasn’t a place you chose to live necessarily.”

Even during these rough times in the 80’s the county showed signs of life by being able to keep the local hospital in town, which today employs the highest number of workers in the area. The hospital continues to steadily grow and succeed. The county began to come back to life in the 90’s when it began a community foundation. They were able to focus the energy from this foundation to help jump-start a community looking for hope. They constructed a brand new fitness center with its main feature being a swimming pool and spin classes that are quite uncommon in rural towns.

By the time the early 00’s rolled around the community was already feeling more optimistic. Local teachers, students, and citizens raised the funds to renovate the town’s historic theater in 2002. That theater is now showing blockbuster films on the weekends and mostly employs local high school students, giving them a sense of pride and community as they begin to enter adulthood.

A handful of years later the town decided the senior citizen center was in desperate need of a renovation. The biggest challenge was finding a way to raise the 2.5 million dollars that were required to pull it off when they had never funded something at even a fraction of the cost. Jay Wolf said about the project, “We had never raised even 250,000 for anything in this town.” That didn’t stop them from trying. Not only did they raise the 2.5 million they needed, they managed to double that once they realized the senior center needed much more help than was thought before.

boone county
Hundreds of attendees from across Nebraska and the region attended a recent cattle show at the Boone County Agriculture & Education Center in Albion. (Photo courtesy of the Boone County Agriculture and Education Center)

The proof was now in the pudding, so to speak. This county can and will survive with the help of its charitable citizens. Not long after fixing the senior center, they fixed up their local public swimming pool. After that, they got a 2-mile-long hiking trail funded and built. With this momentum, the county, and Albion, the main city of the county, has continued to invest in itself through charitable donations. It has found new life, and people now want to live and invest there.

They now proudly have breweries, new restaurants, a beautiful golf course, a renovated hospital, and an overwhelming feeling of optimism that can be felt throughout Albion and Boone County. Lindsay Jarecki who moved to the town with her husband, who began a law practice in his hometown, has noticed big changes in the decade they’ve been there. “It seems like when one person takes a risk, it nudges someone else on the edge and they do it too. So much of this stuff simply wasn’t here when we got here… You can practically feel the confidence building.”

Confidence booming, Albion and the county took on its biggest challenge to date, trying to renovate the agricultural center/fairgrounds and build a brand new childcare center for families in the area. Childcare was severely lacking in this rural area, as it is in most rural areas. The importance and size of these tasks were daunting on their own but to attempt both at the same time was bold to say the least. “There was fear, so we had to come together. We decided we were gonna support each other no matter what…We trusted each other…and the community trusted us.” Jackie said about the idea.

Boone County’s citizens delivered. They raised a vast majority of the funds for the childcare center within county lines. The agricultural center and fairgrounds project raised nearly all of the money needed through local donors and county funds. Kurt Kruse, owner of Kruse Farms recalls how amazing it was to see the community rally behind both causes and their importance, “One cool thing that happened is a lot of people gave to both projects. But the ag building also attracted some rural people who hadn’t previously given. Both these things…will help the area grow. They will bring people to town.”

The agricultural building and fairgrounds is now a hotspot for tourism in their area, hosting many exciting events. Barrel racing, rodeo, junior rodeo, livestock shows, horse riding, and other events draw in large crowds from all over Nebraska. Some folks come from as far as 100 miles away. These opportunities and events just were not possible before the community rallied to build a place for them to exist. Now it is hosting events featuring commerce and people from over a handful of states such as, concerts, bull riding, and dog shows.

boone county
The donor wall at the Boone Beginnings Early Childhood and Family Development Center. The child care center opened in November after a group of town leaders raised $4.5 million – most of it local donations – to build it. (Photo by Darin Epperly, Flatwater Free Press)

The childcare center, Boone Beginnings, is also a major success and has relieved the stress for dozens of families of having to find affordable and quality childcare. Many families were anxious about finding childcare for their little ones. Now that worry is gone and the local parents and families couldn’t be more excited.

Albion and Boone County still have pressing needs, but have shown the resilience needed to face them through voluntary charity locally. Their main problem now is the one facing all of America: housing. It’s simply too expensive to build nice middle-class homes, and that’s their next target. Boone County and Albion have about 7 million in reserve in the Boone County Community Fund and other similar charities. Estimated costs put the needed total to be somewhere around 30 million to achieve its goals.

It sounds like a steep ask but it may not be too difficult with a town raring to grow and provide for itself. The extra money and wealth being brought in will go a long way when paired with the sense of community that is now felt throughout Boone County. “My sense is that, in the last 20 years, the conversation has shifted dramatically in Albion. We work with a lot of places that have one or two successes. In Boone County they now have almost a dozen things they can point to and say, ‘Look at that. We did that.’” Jeff Yost, CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation, who does work with 270 communities in Nebraska as well as Albion.

What a remarkable story from this rural county in fly-over country. This city and county took it upon themselves to address dire needs and solve them. I have little doubt that they will continue to find ways to thrive with the giving and caring spirit that has gotten them this far. Not only did they face issues that city, county, state, and federal level governments try to fix and struggle with on a routine basis, they did it through voluntary means. That’s a big reason for its success, if you ask me. That type of fundraising and charity creates a real sense of pride, joy, and love not only for yourself but your neighbors and community as well.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Betty White’s Legacy of Charity

Hours before the year 2022 began the world lost one of, if not it’s most loved celebrity. Betty White passed away New Year’s Eve at the age of 99 years old and mere weeks from hitting the century mark. White was an actress best known for her roles on Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but perhaps her greatest role was one behind the cameras. Betty White’s legacy of charity was built over many decades of using her fame to bring awareness and raise money for animals in need.

White became a trustee for the Morris Animal Foundation in 1971 and stayed in that role through 2013. She also served as the Canine Division Vice President for nine years before becoming Board President for three years. The Morris Animal Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on medical science for animals. Funding research to develop lifesaving and altering cures and treatments for diseases in animals.

President/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, Tiffany Grunert, remembers Betty White and what she meant to the non-profit, “It is hard to imagine a world without Betty in it. She was a tremendous animal advocate who tirelessly supported the work of Morris Animal Foundation to improve the health of animals globally. All of us at the Foundation are mourning the loss of this amazing woman.”

“We will miss her wit, her intelligence and, most of all, her love of animals and commitment to advancing their health. She was a true inspiration to our staff, her fellow trustees and all of our supporters.”

White was heavily involved with the Morris Animal Foundation for nearly 50 years. Besides the roles she filled in an official capacity she offered her services in other areas such as, hosting and appearing at events and sponsoring specific health studies for a wide variety of animals. She dedicated a lot of her personal time and money to the non-profit.

White was considered to be the heart of the foundation by some. According to the wife of Dr. Mark Morris Jr. and Board Trustee member, Bette Morris, “Betty was always an active participant in our scientific review process. She often said that our scientific advisory boards were the engines that drove Morris Animal Foundation. If they are the engines, then she certainly was our organization’s heart.”

Her whole life she was looking to help animals and hopefully ease as much suffering for them as possible. She did this by continuing to work with and support the Morris Animal Foundation. She also began the Betty White Wildlife Fund in response to the Deep-Water Horizon oil spill in 2010. The fund’s main goal is to provide necessary help for animals in emergency situations. “Betty always put the animals first.

In the 1990s, White suggested pain management should be an area of future research and funded the first few studies. Today, if a veterinarian performs an elective surgery, like a spay or neuter without using pain management, she/he could face a malpractice charge. You can thank Betty White for that revolutionary change in the way we practice all phases of veterinary medicine today.” Said Dr. Rob Hilsenroth, who once served as Executive Director for Morris Animal Foundation.

Naturally, the passing of someone as universally loved and adored as Betty White elicited many emotions from the general public. With her passing happening only a few weeks before her birthday, many targeted that date to try and figure something out to honor her. Her work with animals seemed like a no brainer to many. Once White’s birthday rolled around in January fans made a big statement: local animal shelters, charities, and groups began seeing an influx of donations being made in memory of Betty.

The viral movement grew thanks to the Internet making it one its many “challenges,” this one branded the #BettyWhiteChallenge. The challenge called on people to make five-dollar donations in her name. While the true numbers will never be known, the challenge raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a remarkable impact in honor of a life of charitable work.

Betty White was many things and loved for even more reasons. She will forever be known for her iconic roles as an actress. Beyond that she will be remembered in the hearts of millions as a caring, sweet, funny, and talented human being that always cared for others.

While it’s hard to imagine a world post-Betty White, we hope her legacy of giving is one that will persist as strongly as the one she left behind in acting. We know the world will always be a better place because of Betty White’s legacy.

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Children’s Hospital Receives Thousands of Donations Following Epic Playoff Game

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in overtime, in what many consider to be an ‘instant classic.’ The game itself had everything you could ever want from a playoff game: many lead changes, last second scores, and of course overtime.

While the game will likely be remembered for a long time, one of the most amazing things about the game came long after the final whistle. It has become a new age tradition in sports for fans to show respect and support for an opposing team or player after a hard fought game by donating money to that player’s or team’s charity. That is precisely what happened following the playoff win by the Chiefs, according to a report by WKBW News.

A Facebook page called ‘Chiefs Kingdom Memes’ made a post on Monday night calling on fellow Chiefs fans to donate to Patrick Mahomes’ (starting quarterback of the Chiefs) charity, “Patrick Mahomes’ 15 and the Mahomies”. He requested that donations be made in $13 increments in honor of the game tying 13 second drive, orchestrated by Mahomes and the Chiefs offense to send the game into overtime, eventually allowing the Chiefs to win the game over the Buffalo Bills.

Brett Fitzgerald who runs the Facebook group recalled talking about the post with a buddy of his, Alex Irvin. The two were messaging back and forth when Irvin mentioned that Bills Mafia (The nickname for passionate Buffalo Bills fans) would likely also have done a similar thing and raised money for Josh Allen (starting quarterback of the Bills) and his foundation.

Fitzgerald said, “…I’m like, I like that idea. So, instantly went and found Josh Allen’s foundation. Donated $13 to it, so basically switch the $13 over to Josh Allen’s foundation. Made a quick meme about it, posted it on there, posted a screenshot of my donation and deleted the other one from Facebook and Twitter recommending the Mahomes’ foundation. I said, ‘this is better.’” Within 24 hours of making the post asking fellow Chiefs fans to follow his lead and make donations to Allen’s foundation rather than Mahomes’, Oishei Children’s Hospital found itself receiving thousands of donations.

The Patricia Allen Fund was created in November of 2020 after the passing of Josh Allen’s grandmother. It all started when fans began donating $17, for Allen’s jersey number, to Oishei Children’s Hospital. They originally raised over 1 million dollars for the hospital at that time. The hospital now has a wing named after Allen’s grandmother to honor her. This time though it was fans of an opposing team showing their love for Allen by donating money to the children’s hospital. Andrew Bennet, vice president of the hospital was quoted saying, “Any kids that are growing up, whether they’re playing sports or not, sportsmanship and courtesy and integrity are lifelong lessons and this is a great example of sportsmanship.”

“Bills Mafia was the catalyst in this and we’re just following their lead on it.” Fitzgerald said. As of today, fans have raised over $173 thousand dollars since the playoff game. For Brett Fitzgerald, Allen’s foundation being focused on a children’s hospital is a cause he can relate to and is appreciative of. His 7-year-old boy suffers from asthma and also lives with autism so he spends more time than a parent would like at children’s hospitals. “I have a son with autism. So, he does go to the children’s hospital.”

Donations have slowed down but they are still coming in. This is a trend in the sports world that will hopefully continue and gain momentum as time goes on. Sports are often about bringing people together and community, and few things are better examples of those than charity. Fitzgerald isn’t the first and won’t be the last but his efforts will change the lives of countless children and that’s more amazing than even the greatest playoff games.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Students Spend Snow Day Shoveling

Franklin County Ohio was placed in a Level 1 snow emergency when a snowstorm rolled into the area. The Level 1 emergency meant that schools were closed and students got to enjoy a snow day. Two teens took the unexpected day out of school as an opportunity to spread some love through the community, according to local news. Jayden Watters, a 15-year-old student at Briggs High School, spent the day with his cousin, Kenny, shoveling sidewalks and driveways for members of the community who needed the extra help.

Jayden decided that morning that he would offer to help shovel snow for people. He had his mom, Ashley, make a post to Facebook to reach out to those who were in need of his services. Jayden quickly found himself with a full day of helping ahead of him and his cousin. Ashley said, “Yeah, when I put it on Facebook my phone started blowing up.”

snow day
Jayden and crew hard at work. Photo credit 10WBNS.

Before that afternoon the two teens had themselves 8 requests followed by more as the day went on. The three of them spent the day going around the local area and helping clear snow for neighbors. Jayden’s mom recalls the day saying, “I’m just out being his free taxi mom to help him help the community…I’m proud, I raised him up to help others, especially the older people. So, I’m happy.”

Jayden and Kenny offered their services free of charge. Of course, some wouldn’t go for that, offering the two young men tips for their efforts on the day. When Jayden was asked about doing this, he said: “[It feels] really nice. We get done fast, so they’re really appreciative.” According to his mother, “He’s kind-hearted. He’s a big, soft teddy bear.” He hopes that he and his cousin were able to not only help others, but also inspire some to lend a hand as well. “If you can, yeah. It’s always good to help out,” Jayden was quoted saying.

What an awesome gesture and sacrifice this was by these two teens. Willingly giving up a precious snow day to go help the community instead was a wonderful thing. It doesn’t get much more selfless than that! Ashley is right to be a proud mom of such a caring and thoughtful young man. Jayden, Kenny, and Ashley now have a day full of memories all while making the day brighter for others around them. This was a beautiful example of voluntaryism in action, if you ask me.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Free Pizza For Stranded Canadian Motorists

A thousand or so motorists were stranded in British Columbia after heavy rainfall led to major flooding and mudslides cause highways to shut down. Local hotels and motels immediately filled, leaving no vacancy available for many of the people stuck due to the storm. This left those who could not find or afford a place to stay to live in their vehicles for days. Soon hunger and thirst became real concerns for many. That’s where a local pizza shop owner stepped up—with free pizza.

Rupinder and Dewan Davesar, owners of Hope Pizza Place, took matters into their own hands and began addressing the situation the best way they could. Left with only one working gas oven due to power outages, they fired it up and began cooking free pizza for the stranded motorists. They gathered a group of volunteers to assist them in their efforts to venture out in the rain to bring free pizza and other hot food to those in need of a meal. According to the National Post, Rupinder said “We could have made lots of money but we have other days to do that. We take the blessings from the people today. I think that will pay off in the future for us.”

The weather itself was a rare occurrence and called an “atmospheric river.” The amount of rainfall from it broke local records and initiated a response from the military to get aid to others. Helicopters were brought in to airlift people out of harm’s way. Teams were put together to help dig out vehicles buried by mudslides and to save any potentially buried victims. It was a slow process, and with over a thousand people stranded, concerns from the motorists became very real.

One woman, Angela Howard, was stranded with her two children in their vehicle. She had rigged up plastic bags outside the car to catch rain in order to provide the family with the basic necessity of water. Angela had to keep a close eye on her car’s gas in order to provide needed heat to keep her and her children warm from the cold. She recalled the experience, “They are getting scared. My heart breaks listening to my kids (ask) for water and food and I have nothing to provide for them.”

free pizza
Abandoned transport trucks are seen on the Trans-Canada Highway in a flooded area of Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 16, 2021. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP.

Another motorist, Melanie Forsythe, was driving home to Hope from Vancouver with a couple friends and ended up stranded for 18 hours before being helicoptered to safety. “We all had moments like, ‘Is this it? Is this the last time we’re going to see our kids?’ We were talking to our parents and our families, but it was just a scary situation,” she said of the situation.

The size and scope of the storm was massive and left a very dangerous situation. Considering all the risk, it was quite amazing of the Davesars and fellow volunteers to do what they did: not only cooking and giving away free pizza but risking the trips out to the stranded motorists. It’s another of countless examples of the lengths people will go to help others for no gain of their own. Voluntaryism is all around and happens every day. Some examples are extraordinary like the one set by the Davesar family, and the use of their pizza shop and local volunteers.

             

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Seattle Govt Orders Volunteers to Stop Giving Aid to Homeless

We Heart Seattle is a volunteer team that decided it was time to take action in addressing issues facing the homeless population in the city of Seattle. The efforts started off small. They were mostly aimed at picking up the large amounts of trash left by and around homeless settlements. The group claims to have picked up over 320,000 pounds of litter and garbage. They’ve also been able to get nearly 70 people the resources needed to get off the streets and turn things around. Unfortunately the city of Seattle does not approve of the group and their efforts and they have been told to stop giving aid to homeless people.

Andrea Suarez of We Heart Seattle got invited to a zoom meeting with Seattle Councilmember Dan Strauss and a number of other city leaders. Suarez said, “Having cleared more than 100,00 pounds of trash and housing at least five people from (Strauss’) district, I assumed the call would be to thank our volunteers and include us in further outreach efforts.”

stop giving aid to homeless
Friendly volunteers helping clean up their community. Image courtesy of We Heart Seattle.

Instead she was caught off-guard by the ambush, as she puts it, from the government. She was even told by REACH officials that her group’s efforts were “disruptive and confusing to the hard work of REACH and the Human Services Department has already been doing in Ballard Commons and Shilshole Avenue.” “I’m still asking myself, ‘when did volunteerism become disruptive?’” Suarez said in an interview with The Dori Monson Show.

The city’s main complaint was that the effort violated protocol and local laws on how camps should be handled and essentially destroyed. Suarez also points to union turf disputes between Seattle Parks and Seattle Public utilities about who picks up what trash from where. These disputes lead to the large accumulation of trash found in and around homeless encampments.

stop giving aid to homeless

Despite the city coming down on her and her group she has no plans on stopping the good work she is doing for the homeless of Seattle. “I’m going to keep volunteering.”, she said. Her efforts cost nothing from the state or taxpayers while the official preferred response costs millions and have managed to lead to very little assistance reaching those who need it.

This is far from the first time the state has ordered volunteers to stop giving aid to homeless people in need. There are countless stories every year about people being harassed, fined, and even facing jail time simply for helping others without going through the state and its bureaucracy.

We’ve highlighted a couple of these previously here at Voluntaryism In Action. One is a story about the government stalling food donations in the middle of winter. Another about a carpenter in Toronto who was building shelters for free for the homeless being told to stop what he was doing. 

We here at Voluntaryism In Action firmly believe the world would be a much better place if the state would simply get out of the way of the people, especially in their efforts to give aid to those who need it the most.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Garage Food Pantry Project by Vermin Supreme Institute

Chris Rogers of the Vermin Supreme Institute, a 501c4 organization based out of Texas, is leading the way for a new food pantry project. Rogers recently started a new “Garage Food Pantry” project.

Currently he is running it out of his personal garage every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month as a trial run. He’s also doing this to personally see what will be needed for the project to successfully grow. The main goal is to have one set up within walking distance of every urban community, granting easy access to millions of people in need. To ensure their success and accessibility of food and items needed they would be set up as a network. Allowing nearby garage pantries to help each other maintain necessary supplies.

In Rogers’ opinion, the biggest difference between the garage food pantry project and other pantries is its goal of being 100% privately run, meaning there would be no state funding and no tax breaks taken. There would also be no requirements for those who come to shop at the garage pantry. No names, reasons, or inquiries about why the people who show up are there. People in the community who need assistance would show up, get a basket, and then proceed to shop for their needs and/or wants.

garage food pantry
Cally Rogers is ready to help those in need with her garage food pantry. Image credit: Chris Rogers

It’s been quite a hit within Rogers’ community. He believes that the neighbors knowing who is running it helps encourage them to participate and contribute to the success of the pantry. The immediate sense of community is making a decided impact on their ability to do what the community needs.

Rogers has also noted that many who have come for assistance have also shown up to help improve the pantry. Turning it more into a mutual-aid situation as opposed to a basic charity operation. For example, one couple started coming to his garage pantry regularly due to it being within walking distance, whereas before they would have to travel miles to get to one. They’ve also donated a significant portion of unneeded food from the other pantry that was given to them in pre-made packages. A man who has been living out of his car mentioned how impactful stocking can openers is for the homeless who may be in need of canned goods but don’t have a way to utilize them otherwise.

Overall, Chris Rogers believes the trial run for this outstanding voluntary solution of getting food to those who need it has been a raging success—from many helping stock the pantry after receiving help themselves, to neighbors volunteering to work and assist the pantry in other ways. From what he’s seen, there’s not only enough food to bring this to every community but also enough will from people who just want to help others.

All in all, this brilliant idea of the garage food pantry project has all the tools and love behind it to make a real impact on people’s lives, and show countless people that there is always a better way than looking to the state for help. That voluntary aid is not only preferable, but feasible.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Medical Debt for New Mexico Voluntarily Paid By Church

A single church in New Mexico voluntarily relieved the medical debt for families of the entire state and more. St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe helped pay off over 1.3 million dollars of the medical debt left to over 780 different families, thus paying off what they claim to be the entire state of New Mexico’s available medical debt, reports the Episcopal News Service.

Not only were they able to raise enough through its members to help those in New Mexico they also paid off all available medical debt in multiple counties in Arizona as well. In total the church was able to relieve accessible medical debt for every family in New Mexico as well as the Apache, Gila, Graham, Mohave, and Navajo counties in Arizona.

St. Bede’s was able to do this through personal donations to the church and by partnering up with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt. RIP Medical Debt is focused on reaching out to families with medical debt and are severely below the established poverty line. They also seek out families dealing with insolvency. St. Bede’s partnership with the non-profit was a major factor in being able to make such a large and impactful act of voluntary charity.

RIP Medical Debt operates like collection agencies in that it will acquire the medical debt of people for pennies on the dollar. So while the church raised just over 15,000 dollars, that $15,000 was able to pay off over 1.3 million dollars of available debt thanks to the partnership with RIP Medical Debt. Each family whose debt was paid will receive a letter informing them that their debt is paid and part of the letter will be stating, “St. Bede’s Episcopal Church has paid off the medical debt you have been struggling with for the past number of years. No strings attached.”

medical debt
St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Santa Fe, NM. Image credit: Google Maps

Reverend Catherine Volland of St. Bede’s was quoted saying, “I don’t know if this parish has ever funded a program with such a great impact. We were able to do it because every week we set aside 10% of donations to the church for outreach. Prioritizing service to others is our gospel imperative.” Quite amazing what a single group can do for others when given the chance to do so.

Many claim that churches need to be taxed, but many of those critics fail to realize the harm it would cause to smaller churches who are voluntary funded by charitable donation. Churches who often do more in their community than the state ever could and do so without coercion.  Who knows what would have eventually happened to these hundreds of families dealing with their medical debt if the church was taxed as many demand?

An anonymous recipient of this help replied to the unexpected and selfless act by saying, “I was having a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to pay all this amount of money and it’s not been easy finding a job especially when you have two kids and with this pandemic going on. It has really been a very hard year for me and for everyone. I would love to thank personally that special person that helped me with my account. I am so thankful and I just want to say God bless you always.”

St. Bede’s and RIP Medical Debt show what people are capable of doing for others of their own free will and free of government coercion. This story is a shining example of voluntaryism in action.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
post

Food Truck Owner Donates Meals To People In Need

Sarah Manuel is no ordinary person–this food truck owner donates meals to people in need.

Sarah Manuel, food truck owner of Streatery, has decided to make it her mission to give back to her community by donating meals to people in need due to the government response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Manuel is on her fourth season running Streatery, and one thing that has never sat right with her is the amount of food that gets wasted in the industry. On top of that waste, she saw people suffer and facing hunger due to the government’s response to the pandemic.

The Havre Daily News reports that Manuel made the decision to do something about both issues, beginning her frozen meals program immediately after government lockdowns began. “I started this a year ago, when Covid set in, that was when we launched our line of freezer meals which we now sell at Bear Paw Meats. Some of that [food waste] is through the distributors, some of it’s at grocery stores, a lot of restaurants, and in the home. So I was trying to find a solution.”

The idea to help those in need and preserve food that would have otherwise been wasted started off small. “The way that we distribute is pretty low-key at this point. People just reach out to me, whether it’s an organization that has families, especially around the holidays, that was something we were doing to provide free meals for those families. I’ve also reached out to churches in the area and things of that nature to try to spread the word.”

To Manuel, it was the next logical step to gather support for this idea to help it grow. “I did everything on the GoFundMe platform, individuals who had a little extra money could donate to the GoFundMe. Then those funds were used to provide frozen meals for families who were maybe going through a tougher time financially.”

Food Truck Owner Donates
Sarah Manuel serves up some of her delicious food at Streatery. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The frozen meals program that Manuel started hasn’t just assisted struggling individuals and families but also food production businesses. Streatery is now helping support over 20 such businesses in Montana. She found herself with a lot of free time due to the pandemic and was able to use this to build the program up.

Catering is a large portion of her work and the lack of events due to government mandates left a hole in the usual business plan. She still had connections and the ability to acquire great local organic ingredients and used this to help others. While she was able to stay afloat during the peak of the lockdowns, she managed to support others as well through her ingenuity.

The process itself is rather simple while the results are profound. As explained by Manuel: “We have a food truck, but we also have a commercial prep kitchen separate from the food truck, and so we do all of our prep there. I have a lot of freezer space. So we make everything homemade and package it ourselves, freeze it, store it. Right now we’re just doing local delivery. So, we deliver to Bear Paw Meals in Havre and sell there. We also take orders on our website.”

Now with government restrictions on events decreasing, her food truck catering business has been able to build back up. Being able to cater weddings and major events again increases her ability to help others. Manuel is using her passion for food and her Streatery business to continue making her community a better place.

Manuel is running a fundraiser targeting food insecurity to continue addressing hunger and food waste. She is very excited about being able to expand her frozen meals program and enjoy events again.

Sarah Manuel has made a noticeable impact in her community by targeting a need she saw and could assist with. She voluntarily took the time and resources to find out how to best fix what she could for those around her. She and her business at Streatery have no plans to stop helping others anytime soon.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on print
Print
post

Man Volunteers to Clean Up The Local Environment

Gus Vandermeeren was inspired to action when he saw an advertisement on TV concerning plastic pollution in the ocean. After seeing the commercial he said, “I sat there and thought ‘What the hell am I doing?’” So the 62 year-old computer engineer decided that there must be something he could do to clean up the local environment.

Since then he’s been spending his free time picking up trash on the side of road around the east Raleigh area. He has also taken the time to log his adventures, as he calls them, to document what he has done and where. He does this in a composition notebook he found while cleaning up the litter. He said, “ Pretty soon it became a passion and obsession. I have always had a feeling that I am not really happy unless I am being useful to society in some way.”

A little over a year later, WRAL reports that Vandermeen has picked up more than 2,000 trash bags of litter that he has come across during his adventures. Vandermeeren takes them all to the dump to be disposed of leaving the roads and earth cleaner. Now he has two dozen plus volunteers who come with him and help in his mission to clean up the absurd amount of litter. They joined him after seeing him in action and hearing about him on the NextDoor app.

Trent Parson is one of those who was inspired by Gus Vandermeeren and his work saying, “We all have to have a little bit of Gus inside of us.” Parson, 29, wishes that more people in his peer group and generation would develop the desire to help clean up that Gus has, specifically calling for Millenials to answer the call and do more to make the earth a cleaner and better place. “It’s really hard to get other people to be less of themselves. We have to make this world a better place for all of us.”

Gus Vandermeeren has now adopted two state roads in North Carolina through its Department of Transportation. He continues to do his work in the community knowing that its impact may not seem large but it truly makes a difference. “This is not a job for a perfectionist. Even if it gets really dirty again, it doesn’t change the fact that every piece of plastic I just picked up and put in my bag is never going to go in the creek somewhere [and] is never going to float out into the ocean somewhere.”

It’s amazing the impact just one man can have on his world and in their community. He saw an issue that he could take steps to correct and did so of his own accord, and in the process inspired dozens of others to do the same. Gus Vandermeeren and his accomplishment of collecting over 2,000 trash bags of litter is a nice story about how much you can do by leading by example and stepping up to the plate to address an issue rather than wait around for others to do so.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print