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Changing Food Deserts, One Hoophouse at a Time

EcoCityFarms_CharityDonationEvery month, Brown Paper Tickets donates a portion of our profits to a charity suggested through this page. We receive hundreds of submissions from inspiring, heart-string-tugging outfits across the world and I am lucky to be part of the selection process.

This past month, we chose ECO City Farms of Prince George’s County, Maryland. We admire their work and love their cause. Boasting an inter-generational and diverse board, they are community and solutions driven. The organization works hard to solve problems facing low-income areas that have limited access to fresh food. ECO City promotes healthy farming, land restoration, empowerment, and is expanding their program. With a focus on food justice and environmental advocacy, they educate folks in farming to create sustainable small-scale food systems. This has a direct impact on clean produce accessibility.

They have created Urban Farm Models, Farm to School, Intern and Student Programs, a Foodshed Resource Center, all that teach people how to grow food to sell and feed themselves.

I am in love with ECO City and urge you to jump on board this donation train. If you feel inclined, donate here to support upcoming Urban Farming Projects. Here’s new terminology I learned while getting to know ECO City.

Food Justice Terminology

Food Desert: The USDA maps food deserts based on factors of access to fresh fruits and vegetables at local stores, access to transportation, low income and poverty rates, and urban/rural status. Take a look at the data.

Foodshed: A region that generates food for a local population. Food is grown, moved, sometimes sold, and consumed within the geographic region. ECO City works in Chesapeake foodshed.

Hoophouse: ECO City utilizes Hoophouses. They are similar to greenhouses but covered with plastic, which makes them lightweight, flexible, and less expensive to build. Hoophouses allow ECO City to grow produce year-round.

Certified Naturally Grown: ECO City is Certified Naturally Grown , a system used by “tens of thousands of farmers worldwide. These programs minimize paperwork and certification fees and employ a peer-inspection process built on local networks. They’re typically a better fit for small-scale producers who sell locally,” according to ECO City Farm’s website.

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Paid Time-On: Our Bark for Life Adventure

BarkforLife_PawsitiveAlliance_DogAdoptionBrown Paper Tickets gives all employees 40 paid hours per year to volunteer for any non-profit organization that sings to their hearts. We call it Paid Time-On and it’s part of our Not-Just-for-Profit company core values. One of our most recent Paid Time-On adventures took place in the planning, production and day-of volunteering at Bark for Life.

Since October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, it’s the perfect time to get to know Bark for Life and Pawsitive Alliance.

Bark for Life is an American Cancer Society (ACS) fundraising event that takes place annually across the US. Bark for Life is a spin-off of the American Cancer Society’s signature event, Relay for Life. As Relay gained popularity, ACS staff, volunteers and cancer survivors noticed that dogs, who play a vital role in the rehabilitation, treatment and service of many cancer patients and survivors, often weren’t able to participate in Relay for Life.

In 2007, cancer survivor, JoAnn McKiernan, and her dog, Sassy, founded Bark for Life as a way to honor the contributions of our canine caregivers. More than just fundraisers, these events celebrate survivors, remember those we have lost, and those who are fighting – or in this case, barking – back. Bark for Life events now raise over $750,000 annually toward cancer research, patient services, education awareness, and advocacy.

Bark for Life in Seattle

A little over a year ago, the American Cancer Society decided to bring Bark for Life to Seattle. Being the dog-loving company we are, jumping in to help with planning and production was a no-brainer. Starting in January, we began coordinating a Paid Time-On volunteer project with the ACS to plan Capitol Hill’s very first Bark for Life.

Our volunteers worked in partnership with Pawsitive Alliance, a non-profit organization that aims to stop the killing of animals in Washington state by “increasing adoptions, supporting spay and neuter programs, and improving pet retention.” We spent months planning, securing sponsorship and prepping for the big day. There were plenty of dog puns involved, pawviously.

When Saturday, August 12 finally arrived, we gathered at Cal Anderson Park clad in our fashionable Bark for Life t-shirts designed by Seattle artist, Chris Hulsizer. We pitched our tents, rallied passersby, and cued up the music.

We had a fabulous morning filled with activities like a Best Trick contest, a raffle for an amazing gift basket donated by Wag N’ Wash and even a Pawject Runway canine fashion show. Owners dressed up their dogs in the latest fall fashions (or whatever they could get their dogs to wear for more than five seconds) and the dogs got to strut their stuff on the “dogwalk.”

One of our volunteers, Valerie Hedrick entered a surprise contestant—a balloon dog named Pop. In the end, a lovable 11-year-old pup named Mugsy won the hearts of our judges.

Why Not Me Pets Campaign

We also had the opportunity to hear more from our friends at Pawsitive Alliance about the #WhyNotMePets  campaign. The campaign gives attention to shelter animals waiting for a longer period of time on the adoption list. Find your furry friend for Adopt a Shelter Dog month.

In addition to our exciting activities, we had a doggy kissing booth, a photo booth with a custom Snapchat filter, and a craft booth for young puppers at the event.

We were also joined by two of our sponsors – Seattle Veterinary Associates and Serial Mysteries – who offered interesting information and entertainment to attendees.

Approximately 6 million dogs and 12.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year. According to the National Cancer Institute, “The number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014 and is expected to rise to almost 19 million by 2024.” By engaging with organizations like the American Cancer Society, scientists can continue to do research to improve and develop new treatments to eventually bring an end to cancer. Thankfully, this research helps our canine companions as well.

Bark for Life of Capitol Hill raised over $2,000 this year to aid in the fight.

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Charity Spotlight: Cancer Connection, a Place to Find Community

CancerConnectionCharity“Providing services that should be a human right for free.” We received this note along with the recommendation that Cancer Connection of Northampton, MA become a Brown Paper Tickets’ monthly charity recipient.

The message intrigued us.

It is essential that folks battling illness, as well as their friends, family, and caregivers find strength from community. Cancer Connection provides that community. Cynthia Tarail, of the organization’s Community Relations department shared this personal account from John, a person who received help from Cancer Connection:

“Two years ago, my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She was nursing our two-year-old at the time. The next day, my doctor told me there was a strong likelihood I had cancer, too. As I was driving home from the doctor in a daze, it suddenly hit me that I didn’t have a lick of life insurance, no savings, and that my children could likely to be orphaned in the next decade. I felt a cold rush that I had not felt since junior high — the feeling you get when you have really, really screwed up. I have never in my life felt a more horrifying sense of failure and dread…

I was in this state when I walked into Cancer Connection. A lovely and wise woman there gave me a cup of tea and sat down and talked to me. There are no words to describe the feeling of love and support you get when are at your absolute lowest, and somebody takes in you in, literally off the street, with open arms. I think it is like the firefighter who comes and rescues you from a burning house. I can honestly never forget the experience of what she did for me.” ~ John, 2016

Honoring Each Person’s Journey

Tarail explains, “when John walked into Cancer Connection’s homey living room on that cold, late winter day, he talked with someone who gave him her undivided attention, who listened closely and unconditionally with care, acceptance, and respect. That’s what John needed that day. He didn’t have to have an intake procedure. He didn’t have to prove he was eligible for anything in particular. In that first conversation, John talked a little about his family, his responsibilities, his emotions. And he learned that there’s a whole host of programs–all offered free–at Cancer Connection.

Soon after this visit, John joined a support group for caregivers, choosing what was right for him and his family.  Cancer Connection honors each person’s journey through life. People’s lives do not start with a diagnosis of cancer, and their lives don’t stop with a diagnosis of cancer.

What if we addressed people’s lives, and what happens when cancer intervenes, rather than starting with the diagnosis and how the medical system will deal with it? Many people with cancer experience a loss of control over their lives and their futures. Thanks to financial support from individuals and businesses, Cancer Connection can provide one-to-one guidance, mindfulness practice, support groups, acupuncture, creative and physical outlets — options that enable cancer patients and their loved ones to feel understood and empowered. They can become active participants in their own care.

They are treated like individuals while knowing that they are not alone. And they let us know that they feel supported as they find their way. Giving to Cancer Connection means that our community can find survivorship care close to home.”

Cancer Connection has created a network of free services for both physical and emotional healing for anyone living with a cancer diagnosis, their families and care takers. They offer classes and services in a variety of areas.

Cancer Connection Resources

• Creativity & Healing
• Exercise & Physical Activity
• Mindfulness and Self Care
• Survivorship
• Acupuncture
• Calming Strategies & Relaxation
• CranioSacral Therapy
• Massage Therapy
• Reiki Nights (Monthly Schedule)
• Reflexology
• “I Wish I had Asked…” Storytelling

You can support Cancer Connection by shopping at their thrift shop, volunteering, or making a direct donation.

Cancer Connection is funded through grants, donations and an internally operated thrift store. Every month, Brown Paper Tickets selects one charity from a large group of online submissions. This program stood out to us because of its community structure and unique services.

We’d love to hear about charities that could use support. Suggest a nonprofit or charity.

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Charity of the Month: The Beatitude House

BeatitudeHouse Scholarship RecipientEach month, Brown Paper Tickets donates 5% of profits to a charity submitted through our charity donation page. See our previous donation recipients.

Ursuline Sister Margaret Scheetz was so inspired by the film God Bless the Child that she opened the Beatitude House. The film tells the tale of a mother and daughter caught in poverty and homelessness. The mother is forced to face a tough decision to give up her daughter so that she can have a better life.

The nonprofit and nondenominational organization understands that a healthy family is essential for the community. The Beatitude House provides an array of programs to improve people’s lives. Primarily, educational opportunities and homes while the mother obtains an education and works towards employment.

To be eligible, the recipient must be considered homeless according to HUD. Additionally, The Beatitude House offers programs of “Fostering Better Families” where mothers are taught how to interact in a constructive, nurturing way with their children through activities.

Words from a Beatitude House Graduate

Sarah Ludwick, 2005 Beatitude House graduate, will be awarded the 2017 Karen R. Murphy Beatitude House Scholarship. This scholarship was created in memory of Karen R. Murphy, a thirty-year teacher and guidance counselor. The scholarship recognizes the achievement of a woman who has completed the Beatitude House Program.

“Beatitude House is an amazing program,” said Ludwick. At the age of fifteen Ludwick found herself with little self-value and on a road of poor decision-making. Three years later, she met a man who claimed he loved her. “I believed him through five years of alcoholism and emotional abuse until he finally left me alone with our two young boys and no ability to make it financially.”

In the process of being evicted from her house, Ludwick, thought she and her children were on their way to a homeless shelter, but a social worker from Help Me Grow intervened and told Ludwick about Beatitude House. “Walking into our furnished apartment, I was overwhelmed by the welcome I felt and seeing the stuffed animals on the bed that was made-up for my children,” she said.

Ludwick began meeting with a caseworker who taught her financial literacy, as well as a child advocate. “These experiences showed me that I was capable of more than mediocrity,” she added.

Gaining self-value and a wealth of life skills from Beatitude House, she decided to go back to college. “I see how I’ve grown as a person since that time, and I’ve decided not to settle for anything less,” she said. Ludwick is pursuing a degree in social work so she can help others make a better life. “I see gifts in other people that they don’t see, and I want to show them how to use those gifts to help themselves,” she added.

Ludwick hopes to graduate with a B.A. in Social Work in 2019.

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Introducing IndyHumane, Our Charity Pick for June

IndyHumaneI spent the last 10 minutes watching cats sleep on the IndyHumane’s Live Cat Cams. It was magical.

The live feed is just one of many awesome things about the independently run Humane Society of Indianapolis, our charity pick for June.

Every month, Brown Paper Tickets donates 5% of profits to a charity recommended that was by one of our users. (If you’d like to make a suggestion, we encourage you to do so here.) IndyHumane’s dog and cat residents stole our hearts, but also it is also a fiscally responsible and ethically transparent organization.

In addition to services for pets and their parents, foster opportunities and opportunities to volunteer directly with animals, IndyHumane has lots of pets looking for their forever homes. Last year, they helped place 3,312 animals into loving families.

Here are some of their services:

  • Medical and Behavioral Services
  • Adoptions
  • Foster Care Program
  • Volunteer Program
  • Dog Park
  • Pet Microchipping

While checking out IndyHumane’s site, the adorable Velma caught my eye. Find your new best friend. Search for dogs or cats and comment below with your favorite.

Photo Credit: Lise Greil Photography

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May Charity Pick: Homeless Prenatal Program

homeless prenatal program

Every month, Brown Paper Tickets donates at least 5% of profits to a charity from a pool of online charity submissions. See last month’s selection.

I’m thrilled to announce our May charity: The Homeless Prenatal Program.  This San Francisco-based organization partners with families to break the cycle of childhood poverty.

As a new mother, I cannot help but to put myself in the shoes of the expectant mothers and mothers the Homeless Prenatal Program assists. Every mother wants to provide their children with a safe environment, one where they do not lack basic needs. For single mothers and mothers with financial challenges, this universal want is made more difficult.

Founded in 1989, Homeless Prenatal Program offers an array of services/programs to the community, including:

• Prenatal and parenting support
• Housing
• Family economic success program
• Community technology center
• Stabilizing families
• Community health worker training

These services and programs educate families about health during pregnancy, effective parenting, education and/or monetary assistance with housing, financial education and others. The community has access to the technology center where they are taught how to use a computer and can create email accounts and resumes, as well as search the web.

As stated on their website, the Homeless Prenatal Program believes that “building a strong foundation of stable support for families requires addressing issues related to mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse in our clients’ lives, in addition to basic emergency needs and childcare.”

The Homeless Prenatal Program also has a 14-month paid training program that prepares women for employment in career fields for a path to financial security. They also often give jobs to those who benefit from their services and programs.

Here’s how to get involved with their fantastic mission:

• Donate
• Sponsor an event
• Check out their “in kind donation wishlist” to make a gift that will benefit one of these families.
• If you’re in the San Francisco area, sign up to volunteer.


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Charity Pick: April Showers Bring ‘A New Leaf’

A-New-Leaf, Give BigEvery month, Brown Paper Tickets donates at least 5% of our profits to a charity from a pool of online charity submissions that come through our charity page. We are pleased to announce that we have selected A New Leaf as our April 2017 charity.

With so many great charities, choosing just one a month is a difficult task. There are submissions from many wonderful organizations that positively impact communities.

A New Leaf is a 46-year-old community nonprofit organization that provides a broad spectrum of support services to help individuals and families in crisis.

Many times, folks are stuck in situations out of their control and need a little help to get their lives set in the right direction. With dignity and compassion, A New Leaf improves the lives of families and individuals.

Impact of A New Leaf

  • 200,000 meals annually
  • 150,000 nights of shelter a year
  • Host 12,000 counseling sessions annually
  • Aided 21,140 individuals and families with critical resources

Last year alone, A New Leaf provided 22,047 individuals with a wide spectrum of services, including homeless and domestic violence shelters with services, affordable housing solutions, behavioral health, foster care, counseling, financial literacy coaching, and basic needs.

A New Leaf is a critical asset to their community and it is crucial that organizations continue do this work.

How to Give Big to A New Leaf

Giving volunteer time feels amazing. If you live in the Valley area of Arizona, please consider helping out. A New Leaf has both group and individual volunteer opportunities available. Learn more and sign up or have a blast at one of their special events.

Get your workplace, local school or community involved. Hold a donation drive for essential items.

Finally, you can donate direct and make an impact for A New Leaf and the people they serve. Donations are tax deductible and if you live in the state of Arizona, your donation may be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit from the state.

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