Many community-based organizations strive arduously to promote social and economic justice and empower disadvantaged groups such as the poor and the disabled. At the end of the day, though, creating a social-change revolution takes money. And in the Boston region, one nonprofit organization, the Boston Women’s Fund, is in the business of doling out dollars to “fund the revolution.” BWF raises money from donors and awards grants to area organizations that work with women and girls to promote social change. It also has a few programs of its own, including Young Sisters for Justice in Philanthropy, which teaches young women about social justice and philanthropy, and is organized by Melissa Cariño, 29, the young women’s program coordinator at the Boston Women’s Fund. Learn more about Melissa and BWF in this week’s Nonprofit Spotlight.
Domestic violence against women is an unfortunate reality in South Asian immigrant communities. Often, it can be a taboo subject shrouded in silence. Since 1989, however, the organization Sakhi for South Asian Women has been working to end violence against women of South Asian heritage, particularly those who reside in the New York metropolitan area. It offers a safe place for support and provides women with culturally sensitive information, services, and advocacy in multiple languages. The organization also strives to inform and mobilize
Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, Neema Mgana is a true humanitarian. She grew up in Tanzania and has since dedicated her life to helping the people of Africa. She has Founded or Co-Founded five different non-profit groups aimed at providing health and education in different regions of Africa. More recently she started the African Women of Distinction project, a peace and justice project that highlights the leadership role of women in Africa. The project also works with over 180 men and women in Africa to build and nurture their leadership skills. Neema’s inspiration came from reading about people such as Gandhi, Grace Machel and Martin Luther King Jr. They dedicated their lives to others and so has
she. To read more about the work Neema has done in Africa read on in this week’s Non-Profit spotlight.
When Jason Scott Park, 28, was in college, he led a student organization and was exposed to many community projects. Through those experiences, he developed a passion for building and strengthening communities. That enthusiasm has today led him to be President of Asian Professional Exchange (APEX). APEX focuses on professional development, community service, and cultural awareness, as they pertain to the Asian Pacific American community. Its programs and events include a mentoring program for college students and young professionals, a day-long career fair, a networking reception for community leaders, and a youth Olympics that promotes leadership through team-building games. Jason’s responsibilities as president include managing APEX’s board, fundraising, and strengthening relationships with the city of Los Angeles and the state of California, where the organization is based. To learn more about APEX and Jason’s leadership, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile.
At age 21, Michelle Landin is making her life count. She’s part of a team at Project Cuddle, an organization that provides pregnant women in crisis help, advice, encouragement, and a friend. The goal of the organization is stop baby abandonment, and it does this through its various awareness programs. Michelle started at Project Cuddle as part of a volunteer assignment for school. She fell in love with the group and even after she completed her assignment she wanted to continue to do more. Michelle’s desire to be a part of such an organization comes from her upbringing and specifically some wise words from her mother “leave things better than how you found them.” To read more about Michelle and Project Cuddle read on in this week’s Non-Profit spotlight
Ali Chaudhry works to mobilize Pakistani-Americans and foster constructive dialogue about Pakistan on Capitol Hill. As Executive Director of the Pakistani American Leadership Center (PAL-C), 25-year-old Chaudhry, leads an organization that strives to build stronger ties with U.S. Congress and get Pakistani-Americans more politically active. Since its founding in May 2004, PAL-C has helped create the bipartisan Congressional Pakistan Caucus, which today has 67 members of Congress in it. The caucus aims to improve bilateral ties between the United States and Pakistan, and to promote dialogue between Pakistani-Americans and their representatives in Congress. In 2005 and 2006, PAL-C worked with the caucus to draw Congress’s attention to the October 8, 2005, earthquake in Pakistan. It also mobilized Pakistani-Americans to petition their members of Congress for earthquake relief aid. As the 2008 elections approach, PAL-C is striving to get its members involved with voter registration and informational drives. To learn more about Ali and the work of PAL-C, check out this week’s Nonprofit Spotlight.
Directing the faith-based and university-focused educational organization Reality Changers, Cecelia Villegas (age 18) fills her days developing learning tutorials for teens, outreach projects, and speaking engagements. She works with inner city youth in and around San Diego, California, to build their academic and community service resumes and also to engage them in activities not associated with inner city life such as gang and drug involvement. Cecelia says that while her hours are filled either focusing on Reality Changers or on her full school schedule at Point Loma Nazarene University, there is absolutely no bad part to her day or her responsibilities as Site Director. In guiding her teens through new SAT vocabulary or the university application process, she says the time is consuming and obstacles are many, but she is helping to mold hundreds of first generation college students become community leaders and future mentors. Learn more about Reality Changers and the successes Cecelia Villegas is helping to build in this week’s The LatinConnect.
HomeStart, Inc. is a non-profit organization working to end homelessness in the Greater Boston area. The agency’s first priority for every client is a stable housing situation. They then work with each client’s individual needs to provide services and support to make sure they are able to remain housed. By offering assistance in both English and Spanish, many homeless and formerly homeless individuals and families can depend on HomeStart in their search to obtain housing and their continued journey to maintain it. Elsa Lizarralde, 32, Bilingual Stabilization Advocate, works with the agency’s formerly homeless clients. Providing much needed access to other social services, help with budgeting and crisis management, Elsa is able to help clients begin to realize other dreams and goals within the stable environment of their own homes. Learn more in this week’s The LatinConnect about the work of HomeStart, Inc. within the community and how their helping hands are changing thousands of lives.
Have you ever complained about not having enough hours in the day? Well, 23-year-old Rima Abdelkader would put you to shame. Not only does she work as a print and television Journalist, she also dedicates her time to over a half a dozen non-profit organizations. This native New Yorker spent two years in Jerusalem during the Persian Gulf War, an experience that has undoubtedly impacted her adult life. Her motto, “it is our responsibility to help ourselves as well as others,” is not just something she says, she lives it. One of the many non-profits she gives her time to is the Selective Corporate Internship Program (SCIP), a program she participated in as a high school student. It gives talented students from public high schools the opportunity to gain skills to succeed in the business world. Her responsibility to others is what sets her apart. If you want to learn more about the many Middle Eastern non-profits Rima participates in, or if you just want to be inspired, read on.
Brahm Ahmadi, 32, is the Founder and Executive Director of the remarkable and innovative People’s Grocery, Inc. It’s a community-based nonprofit organization that works to improve the health and economy of the West Oakland community through the local food system. In order to successfully accomplish their mission, People’s Grocery Inc. has launched several unique programs including the Mobile Market, a truck converted into a traveling food store that sells healthy foods at affordable prices to West Oakland residents. They are also looking to open a for-profit, worker owned, grocery store in order to help fund their project and make themselves financially solvent. Brahm’s belief, as well as the organization’s, is for the right of all people to have access to healthy food is what makes People’s Grocery Inc. unique. If you have a passion for progress or just want to learn more about the organization, read on in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight.