Garden Station has recently installed a wheelchair ramp and ADA-accessible entryway, and now volunteers aim to build wheelchair-accessible community-garden beds for residents with disabilities. Three 2-foot-wide and 6 foot-long garden beds will sit in each 18-foot-long table, which sits 36 inches off the ground. The beds all have 6 inches–8 inches of soil to accommodate growing vegetables. The specifications of the beds allow wheelchair users to easily access the table, reach across the bed, dig into the soil, and plant seeds. Garden Station requires additional funding to purchase untreated, weather-resistant western-red cedar to ensure that the plants the beds produce will be free of unwanted chemicals and safe to eat.
InReturn’s life-skills classes include a weekly reading class, where production associates read new fiction and nonfiction books aloud to one another, helping improve their literacy skills as they stay current on world events. The production associates also learn social skills from the stories that can be applied to their daily lives. InReturn hopes to purchase new books so each production associate can have their own copy for continued reading and learning.
The organization’s Operation School Bell program supplies low-income kids who are currently participating in the Ohio Free and Reduced Price School Meals program with school-uniform packages that include other necessities such as new jackets, socks, underwear, belts, hygiene supplies, and shoes. Children are fitted for their uniforms at Operation School Bell’s facility, ensuring a proper fit to maximize kids’ confidence in school. This year, the number of low-income schoolchildren that the program serves has risen, and many students requesting assistance must be put on waiting lists for uniform packages.
In partnership with more than 20 community churches, the Ohio State University Extension, and the city of Cincinnati, the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center (MEAC) provides vital assistance to individuals and families in need. MEAC distributes donated food and clothing and offers rent and utility assistance to underserved members of the community. In 2011, MEAC served more than 3,900 families through its Choice Food Pantry, which provides cleaning products and toiletries in addition to food.
Papers with colorful illustrations taped to the walls, students acting out a story to fit it into context, words mixing together to retell a tale in a new way––these are the activities that inspire a love of learning and that Cooperative for Education (CoEd) seeks to make possible in Guatemalan schools. When lessons exchange rote methodology for engaging activity, students are excited to attend class and return home spreading the love of learning to their siblings. Brothers Joe and Jeff Berninger founded CoEd after visiting Guatemala in the 1990s. Jeff volunteered in a local school, where he noticed students lacked adequate access to learning resources. Together, the brothers left their careers to dedicate themselves to improving the availability of resources, giving students a chance to succeed academically and professionally so that they might break the cycle of poverty. Today, CoEd team members focus on textbooks, reading, computers, and scholarships. The Textbooks program, which currently reaches about 10% of Guatemala's rural middle schools, rents out books for a small fee to allow students access to resources that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. Computer Centers give children access to technology, equipping them with in-demand work skills, and the Culture of Reading Program delivers books and supplies to children and teaches them how to become better readers and writers.