The conservationists that make up Trees, Water & People (TWP) believe in a simple concept: local people should play an active role in preserving and managing their natural resources. When this happens, the organization believes it fosters involvement, ownership, and long-term financial sustainability. To this end, the organization aims to improve communities in Latin America and the United States through hands-on educational programs. Tree nurseries in Latin America, for example, teach locals about the benefits of reforestation; in South Dakota, gardening workshops held on a farm give Native Americans the tools and knowledge for sustainable food production.
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By 7 a.m. each day, the kitchen staff at Coal Creek Meals on Wheels is already hard at work preparing the day's meals. Along with the typical daily meal based on protein, vegetables, and starch, plus bread, fruit, and a freshly baked dessert, the crew also makes several dozen specialized meals each day to accommodate special dietary needs and restrictions. Volunteers chip in around 9 a.m. to bag and package the food, and when the volunteer drivers arrive at 11 a.m., the food is ready for delivery. But the volunteer drivers do more than just deliver hot meals to the organization's homebound elderly, disabled, or ill clients—they also serve as friendly visitors, providing wellness check-ins in addition to hot, nutritious meals. Coal Creek Meals on Wheels has seen a 16% increase in clients since 2010, and its volunteers delivered more than 16,000 meals in 2012.
CrossFit Julia’s husband-and-wife team takes a personal approach to fitness. Rather than set their clients loose in a jungle of workout machinery, they structure their daily CrossFit workouts around functional strength and cardio exercises in a supportive group setting. The classes themselves constantly vary; one day’s deadlifts and pushups are another day’s sprints and burpees. Success is determined not by any uniform standard, but by each student’s ability to meet or exceed his or her own fitness expectations. Just as CrossFit differs from normal workouts, CrossFit Julia’s facility differs from a normal gym. Ropes hang from the ceiling, and the rows of cardio machines found in typical gyms have been replaced with heavy tires lifted from cars illegally parked outside.
Forward Steps support teens transitioning out of foster care with housing, support services, and life-skills classes in financial literacy, resumé building, and nutrition. The organization also focuses on community, providing its young clients with a place to live in a communal environment and connecting them with successful program alumni who share experiences similar to their own. While Forward Steps' clients are working toward self-sufficiency, it supplements their limited incomes with a monthly stipend and assistance in applying for financial aid and scholarships.
Cliff and Asia Lyons believe in community. Not an online community or an office community, but something that has become all too rare: a community built on shared recipes and helping one another. After achieving success as a chef and a schoolteacher for Cherry Creek School District, the two blended their passions and founded The Spoon to revive that sense of tableside camaraderie. Using cooking as their core, the organization's lessons impart important food-preparation techniques and easy recipes, but also branch out beyond the kitchen. The Lyonses stress the importance of continued education and spread their micro-community into the greater community by having their wards prepare dinners for families at the Ronald McDonald House and sort items at the local food bank.
In an interview with CBS4 Studios, the duo explained that “when kids help make it, they want to eat it.” So their classes focus on healthy eating habits and blending bright flavors with a do-it-yourself attitude. They set up a kitchen area with tools and supplies at local schools, then help kids prepare chicken and rice soup or Vietnamese spring rolls—"one of the kids’ favorites.” Students in series classes, meanwhile, take their lessons to the next level by participating in off-site field trips to restaurants.
See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.