At the Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy, professional instructors, including Olympic bronze medalist Zdravko Stoianov, design gymnastics, dance, and fencing classes to increase the strength, flexibility, and self-awareness of each student. Inside of the 17,000-square-foot facility, gymnasts of all ages and skill levels can learn fundamentals, technique, and agility, while dancers can hone jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, and ballet abilities. Fencing classes implement classical Italian instruction for both beginner and advanced students, preparing them for showdowns with scarlet pimpernels and orchestra conductors run amok.
After spending time in Quaking Grass's furnished loft studio, you learn why some of the yoga, Zumba, and holistic-dance instructors refer to the space as their "big living room." Once inside the studio, you find yourself in a sprawling, high-ceilinged loft. Natural light spills in from tall windows and onto green walls, where African art and decorative Asian fans hang. Scanning the room, you see plush furniture, a kitchenette, and a massive Native American dream catcher, painted white and hanging 6 feet to the floor.
Quaking Grass is home to the Healing Arts Collective; many of its members left positions as businesspeople, teachers, and lawyers in favor of a more relaxed lifestyle. According to director Heather Straube, they each felt called to help others through techniques such as massage, yoga, and dance. Instructors lead students through progressive poses in Vinyasa yoga, dances set to Latin and Caribbean beats in Zumba, and blends of meditative martial arts and freeform movement in Earthquake Ecstatic and Nia dance. Though they guide some classes step-by-step, instructors emphasize free exploration over adhering to a strict routine—reminding students that they can meditate silently, pair off with partners, or dance alone to practice leading and following at the same time.
Once each month, Quaking Grass's members also host an open community clinic, experimental salon, and potluck. Practitioners stationed throughout the space introduce curious guests to basics of tarot-card reading, massage, hypnosis, quantum touch, and a host of other holistic methods—with the hope that visitors, like babies balancing their first checkbooks, experience something new. Individual members, artists, or community practitioners may also lead workshops or lectures explaining their craft.
When the First Presbyterian Church founded Friendly House—then named the Marshall Street Community Center—in 1926, it was dedicated to a spiritual mission. But when the 1930s gave rise to the Great Depression, its focus quickly shifted to social concerns out of a desire to help those affected by the economic catastrophe. Friendly House’s scope and reach continued to expand over the next few decades, and today it enriches the lives of community members from every age group with educational, recreational, and life-sustaining services.
The neighborhood center and social-services agency help prepare children for school through playgroup and preschool programs. Friendly House also provides housing assistance and transportation for seniors and homeless families and brings the community together through martial-arts classes and other workshops.
See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand to projects big and small at the Groupon Grassroots blog.
Whether they're dangling from a tree, a club's ceiling, or pull-up bars inside the studio, A-WOL's cohort of dancers dazzles with a unique combination of dance and aerial fitness. Classes range from aerial yoga to trapeze, helping participants fly through the air like projectile cream pies. Instructors ensure that each participant soars safely by building a strong foundation before testing out skills and tricks.
Oregon Food Bank seeks to address the problem of hunger through local advocacy and by distributing food to relief agencies such as food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters in Oregon and Clark County, Washington. The organization's network of partner agencies then provides that food directly to people in need. Oregon Food Bank obtains nutritious fare through a combination of bulk purchases and donations. As the need for hunger relief has increased during the last few years, so has the number of Oregonians and Washingtonians whom Oregon Food Bank serves.
Because joining the organ, eye, and tissue donor registry is an important decision, Donate Life Northwest actively engages and informs youths through its website and online video game, Scalpel Pal. The organization also conducts educational sessions at high schools to aid students with facts and information regarding organ donation and transplantation and the positive impact they can have. As of March 1, 2010, more than 2.1 million Oregonians were registered as organ, eye, and tissue donors, due in part to the efforts of Donate Life Northwest.