Friday, May 17, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Insight Garden Program

Spring is in the air, what a great time to learn about Insight Garden Program, an organization that teaches gardening skills to people in prison. 

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Berkeley, California, Insight Garden Program (IGP) began as a collaboration with the Insight Prison Project at San Quentin State Prison. Their mission is “to facilitate an innovative curriculum combined with vocational gardening and landscaping training so that people in prison can reconnect to self, community, and the natural world.”

IGP knows in-prison programming and reentry support are crucial to help people in prison reintegrate into society and prevent recidivism. They take a restorative, collaborative and participatory-centered approach to their curriculum. The “inner gardener” classes use tools such as meditation and emotional process work, while the “outer gardening” classes teach people the basics of organic gardening and ecological systems. This combination is transformational for people in the program. In this 9-minute video program participants in San Quentin are interviewed about their experience. One man asks himself, “If this rose can grow in these harsh conditions, why can’t I?”.

Part of the success of IGP depends on partnering with like-minded non-profit organizations as well as other correctional facilities or state correctional systems interested in programs that end ongoing cycles of incarceration. IGP works with these partners to train new facilitators to provide weekly classes as well as providing ongoing technical assistance. Since the first program in San Quentin, IGP has expanded and now operates in eleven prisons across California serving men, women and youth.

The impact of all this gardening has been a recidivism rate of less than 10% for program participants, which IGP estimates has saved $40 million for the state of California and its taxpayers.

If you’d like to support Insight Garden Program and their work to help people in prison reconnect to self, community, and the natural world, there are many ways to do so. Volunteer your time, donate your money and help more people find out about this program. Follow IGP on Facebook and Instagram and amplify their message on social media.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Mother to Mother

You’ve likely already figured out today’s Feel Good Friday post is inspired by the fact that Mother’s Day in the United States is this Sunday. What a great time to take a closer look at Mother to Mother.

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the mission of Mother to Mother is “connecting those in a position to help financially with the case workers and healthcare professionals who see firsthand the enormous needs of struggling mothers and children.”

There are hundreds of thousands of low-income mothers in Tennessee, and living in poverty makes accessing basic care and supplies financially impossible. Mother to Mother works with over 100 community partner agencies such as hospitals, domestic violence centers, homeless shelters, and public schools. They are active in 35 of the 95 counties across Tennessee.

Initial work focused on providing three basic essentials that often slip through the cracks of government subsidies and charitable support: diapers, car seats and cribs. Now Mother to Mother also provides families in need with clothing, strollers, toys, books, and other essentials. They accept donations of gently used supplies because that means valuable and needed items stay out of the landfill and go into the hands of children and mothers helping them to live a healthy and safe lifestyle. Watch this 2-minute news story from 2023 to learn more.

Since they began almost 20 years ago, Mother to Mother has provided supplies that helped 386,944 babies have a safer, healthier life. That includes 4.1 million diapers, 7,264 car seats, and 8,832 cribs and Pack n’ Plays to provide a safe place to sleep. Scroll to the bottom of this page to read stories of mothers who benefitted from a donation of supplies or get details from the latest impact report.

If you’re interested in celebrating Mother’s Day by helping Mother to Mother, there are many ways to do so. Make a donation of money or supplies, volunteer your time or amplify their message on social media. Like the Mother to Mother Facebook page and follow on them Instagram.


Friday, May 3, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas

Feliz Viernes! Cinco de Mayo is on Sunday and many organizations are planning events commemorating Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, including the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas. 

Founded in 1999, the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas (HOWA) is headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas. Their mission is “to advance educational opportunities for Hispanic women and their families, to celebrate and teach others about our cultures, and to become active participants in the community.”

Let’s start with the programs HOWA offers. The GEM Program (Guiding, Empowering, and Mentoring) provides language minority residents with educational programs and support systems to help them reach their full potential. Current offerings include free, weekly parenting classes and computer classes. 

The RAD Program, (Reaching for the American Dream) encourages civic engagement by “promoting naturalization assistance, registering voters, and updating political and election year information at the local, state, and federal level.” Citizenship clinics and voter registration information are parts of this program.

In addition, since the year 2000, the HOWA Scholarship Program has awarded 588 scholarships to deserving Latino students, enabling them to pursue higher education. You can see the 23 scholarship recipients from 2023 on the impact page.

Now on to the Cinco de Mayo event! Taking place on Saturday May 4th this year, the event commemorates the Battle of Puebla and brings the community together to enjoy live music and delicious food, and to learn about and embrace each others cultures while supporting a good cause. All proceeds from the event benefit the HWOA Scholarship Program. This is a great exemplification of the HOWA motto of "Celebrating Education, Culture, and Community.”

If you’d like celebrate Cinco de Mayo by supporting the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas there are many ways to do so. Volunteer your time, donate your money and share the love on social media. Follow HOWA on Facebook and Instagram.