Mark and Amy Meyers bought their first donkey, Izzy, more than a decade ago. Though they only sought a pet, their close relationship with Izzy inspired them to take up a cause. Soon after buying Izzy, they noticed that other donkeys in the neighborhood were suffering from abuse and neglect. They took immediate action: Amy began adopting the donkeys, and Mark spent his evenings talking to the donkeys and tending to their ailments. After they adopted their 25th donkey, they decided to start their own rescue organization, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue.
Peaceful Valley, which currently cares for more than 2,500 donkeys, rescues domestic donkeys that have been abused or neglected and wild burros that have been displaced from their natural habitat. The donkeys are often found injured and wandering in the wilderness or are surrendered by their owners. PVDR has a network of rescue professionals stretching from Coast to Coast and Border to Border. Satellite locations include Scenic, Arizona approximately 90 miles north of Las Vegas near Mesquite Nevada. After being rescued, they live in one of the farm sanctuaries in Texas, Arizona, Oregon, or other satellite locations. Peaceful Valley has worked with capture programs, private landowners, and numerous government agencies—including the National Park Service, Fish and Game and Bureau of Land Management—to ensure that all donkeys have a safe place to live. Toward that aim, Peacefully Valley also holds clinics, trains donkey owners to better care for their animals, and educates the public about the nature and history of donkeys to improve their plight.
Paula Lucas lived in the Middle East with her husband, a Newsweek photojournalist, and their three sons. To family members back in the U.S., her life appeared exciting and glamorous; in reality, it was anything but. Paula was suffering from domestic violence—her children, child abuse—at the hands of her husband. Each day things got progressively worse. When she finally confided this secret to her brother, their attempts to receive help from the State Department and American Embassy proved futile. It wasn't until a chance robbery in Germany divested her husband of his passport and money—effectively locking him out of the country—that Paula got her chance to escape. She hunted down her children's hidden passports and forged her husband's name on a check, securing just enough funds to fly them back to the U.S. It was here, following many years of legal battles and economic hardship, that Paula eventually won her freedom.
Vowing to use her newfound independence to help others, Paula founded American Women Overseas—a crisis line she manned in her living room when not working a full-time job to support her kids. Today, Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center operates 24/7, responding to enquiries from 175 countries and juggling 150 international cases at any one time. Together with the international toll-free crisis line—866-USWOMEN—the center provides advocacy, resources, and tools for abused Americans and their children. It helps secure legal representation for custody battles, and provides funds for emergency needs including rent, utilities, and passports.
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.
Hands & Voices was originally founded to unite people within the deaf community who had chosen different methods of communication. It began when a parent-support group in Colorado witnessed a national debate over the merits of oral versus ASL communication within the deaf community in response to an exhibit at the Smithsonian. Aggrieved by anger that resulted in the exhibit being shut down, the parents worked to create an entity that would represent and aid all deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
A local autonomous chapter of this national movement, Hands & Voices of Oregon helps new parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. When children do not pass the newborn hearing screening, Hands & Voices of Oregon contacts their families with information about follow-up diagnostics and educational and communication services. Each family also gains access to a guide who can provide emotional support, connect parents to resources and other families, and attend developmental planning meetings at schools.
Since 1966, Outdoor School has been supplementing Oregon’s public-education system with lessons on the environment, ecology, natural resources, and flora and fauna held in a camp setting. Friends of Outdoor School was recently founded to preserve this experience for youth and to make it available to all students regardless of their socio-economic statuses.
During day-camp courses, student leaders from local high schools work with middle-school students to explore the wonders of science through hands-on outdoor activities and traditional camp experiences. Students remain active from sun up to sun down, conducting field studies, engaging in recreational activities, preparing meals, and building campfires. The student leaders emerge from the experience with greater leadership abilities and both sets of students can bring their newfound knowledge to their science and math classes.
For low-income, undocumented, underserved, immigrant, LGBTQ, gang-affected, and otherwise at-risk youth, the path to prosperity can seem impossibly arduous. No one understands that viewpoint better than the crew at Momentum Alliance, a group composed entirely of youth who have faced down and conquered dire circumstances of their own. They leverage a number of tools at their disposal—namely a guiding cadre of coaches, a network of allies, and each other—to inspire their peers to become leaders themselves. Through programs such as summer camps and workshops, the team instills leadership skills in its charges and prepares them for the transition from vulnerable individuals into effective community advocates and decision-makers.