Wednesday, 30 April 2014 19:58

30 Days of Made | Day 30: Hashtag Lunchbag

30 Days of Made // April 30, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

We made it! Day 30 of our 30 Days of Made: Giving Back! It’s been a month’s worth of inspiration, learning about the change being created around the world by caring individuals. Equally inspiring has been talking to a whole different niche of entrepreneurs, those in the nonprofit sector. People like our Made Woman of the Month, Keren Taylor who started WriteGirl—an organization which uses writing to prepare young girls for college. On the last day of our initiative, I got the chance to talk to another one of these entrepreneurs. Ajay Relan is an L.A. based go-getter, who in the midst of running a few businesses (including the Parlor, a Westside favorite) started the social media version of “pay it forward”: Hashtag Lunchbag.

If you hadn’t heard, Hashtag Lunchbag is made up of pockets of people give back in an easy and fun way. Ajay started it all here in L.A. but it has since spread to other cities. Their “giving back” story starts off the way most do, with a group of friends who want to do something small but significant. Check out the interview below:

What inspired you to start Hashtag Lunchbag?

Hashtag Lunchbag started on Christmas 2012, with a group of us just in our living room. A buddy of mine and I have an apartment here in L.A. We were looking for a way to give back, and in true L.A. fashion we kind of procrastinated a little bit with all the planning. Another friend of ours—whenever she would get down, she would just lift someone else up. She would prepare a small amount of lunches and go to the Santa Monica beach and pier by herself and pass them out. She would share her experience on Facebook and it was always an inspiration for us.

What was your role in starting the nonprofit?

Christmas is a day people typically think to get involved or volunteer and do something outside themselves, so that’s kind of what we did. Basically, I went to the grocery store and bought a hundred lunches worth of food. And it was a kick-ass meal that I would have been totally stoked to get as a seventh-grader: sandwich, fruit snacks, fruit, Capri-Suns, chips, some Hersey’s Kisses. We went back home, put on some music, popped a little bottle of champagne—some of our friends were over—and we just got to making sandwiches. And over the course of the morning, we had gotten some phone calls —typical “Merry Christmas” calls—and sooner or later we had five people in the living room and we were all just having a good time. If there is anything we know how to do it’s have a good time. We made a hundred lunches, wrote little Christmas notes on the bag themselves, went down to the pier and passed them out.

#HashtagLunchbag: All Around The World - June 2013 from #HashtagLunchbag on Vimeo.

MW: That’s awesome. How has social media help spread the word about Hashtag Lunchbag?

In today’s fashion, you share what you are doing on social media. At the time I had just started my Instagram, but some of the other guys already had a pretty substantial following. So, everyone shared what we did—posted photos and videos. We just called it Hashtag Lunchbag, primarily because it rhymed…We always made fun of hashtags and how people just misuse them all the time. We got all this narley feedback—calls, text, likes, comments. People were like “Omg, I’ve never heard of this thing. Let me know when you do it next time.” And we were like “We aren’t a thing, we are just some guys trying to do something good.” So, we decided that we did have a good time and we did want to do it again. We ran it back a month later, at the end of January. We thought we would have like ten people at our house. We made double the lunches we had the first time and we did the same exact thing, except this time one of the guys shot a very short, GoP­ro video. And we put it up on YouTube. Someone in our network retweeted it and they had a hundreds of thousands of followers. So we thought we should probably build a website, just in case. So we put it up, just our story and then as a step by step guide on how you could do it yourself.

MW: What encouraged you to continue doing this on top of all our other projects?

Well, we got a ton of feedback again and we decided to do it again. So February, the following month, happened to be my birthday, and I own a restaurant/bar in West Hollywood. So I thought, let’s just do this for my birthday. I said this is what I want to do, I want to do is set this crazy goal of making a thousand of these things, let’s see how many people we can get to come out, and then we’ll just go down to skid row, because that’s where the need is. Long story short we had about a hundred people show up. A hundred people with various followings all shared it with their networks. And the rest is history.

MW: How many cities are you guys in now?

Now we are in over 76 cities all over the world… We filed for a 501(c)(3), and become an official nonprofit organization, called the Living Through Giving Foundation. We like rhyme over here. On the surface, it’s kind of a happy accident. As much as it is about feeding homeless people at the core of it, what we really have found is a simple and fun way for people to organize a small community wherever they are, and do something that is outside of our daily routine. And that creates gratitude for what we do have. It just makes life a lot more beautiful.

MW: What brands or companies have you partnered with?

We just shot a national campaign with Wells Fargo, in collaboration with their new mobile app that will be live in a couple weeks. That’s our first corporate sponsorship, with a few more that have kind of popped up.

MW: How often do you host the local events?

We here in LA— the home team, if you will—host our events the last Sunday of every single month. And we’ve done that every month since 2012. That’s kind of like the platform that re-ignites our momentum, even though there are several movements: there are several churches that host their own Hashtag Lunchbag events. A monthly event every second weekend in Leimert Park. New York has several groups—they are a flagship, Phoenix has a huge following, San Diego, Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta. All these cities have consistently been a part of it. No matter how big or small, our goal is to be in every minute, of every day, everywhere; until an issue like hunger no longer exists.

Show your support for Hashtag Lunchbag!

Published in Current
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 20:09

30 Days of Made | Day 29: Kate's Club

30 Days of Made // April 29, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

About a year ago, a close friend invited me to spend Saturday morning volunteering with her at Kate's Club. When she told me about the organization, I was hesitant about working with grieving children. However, I was impressed with the upbeat, energetic atmosphere of the clubhouse. The issue of childhood grief resonates with me because I lost my father at the age of seven and can empathize with children in this situation. I understand the desire to enjoy being a kid and relate to peers, but feeling a little different and not knowing how to cope with the loss of a parent.                                


Kate's Club Video from Rachel Ezzo on Vimeo.

Kate's Club is an Atlanta based non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting children who are coping with the death of a parent or sibling. Kate Atwood, the founder of the organization, lost her mother to cancer at the age of 12. Kate's desire to provide a safe place for grieving children to play and express their feelings about the death of their loved ones inspired her to start Kate's Club in 2003. The program consists of a clubhouse where kids can enjoy arts and crafts, interactive games and therapeutic group activities including yoga, art and dance. Club members also participate in quarterly field trips and an annual summer camp.  Kate's Club started with Kate, six kids and their families in 2003. Today, the organization has served more than 500 children and their families with the support of a well trained staff, licensed counselors and 100 volunteers.

Support Kate’s Club

Volunteering with Kate's Club was such a great experience. I really enjoy helping children boost their confidence and have fun. To learn more about Kate's Club and how you can support this unique organization, please visit Or use the buttons below!

Published in Current
Saturday, 26 April 2014 19:27

30 Days of Made | Day 26: Dress for Success

30 Days of Made // April 26, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of creating a business that would help underprivileged women make their way back into the workforce. I'm a girly girl at heart, so I envisioned it as a place they'd come get a fly outfit, a makeover and be cheered on as they set out to go conquer the world.

Luckily, unlike my 12-year-old self, the people at Dress for Success realize that there is so much more involved in empowering women to re-enter the workforce. Over the last 17 years, they have worked to build a variety of programs that support promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women. Sure, providing professional attire is an element of this -- but the game-changer is the network of support and career development tools that help women thrive in work and in life.


I was able to touch base with Eunice Liriano, VP of Marketing & Communications in the New York office, and she shed additional insight. She told me about YES (Young Executives for Success), where young executives can serve as ambassadors -- going out into the community to rally people to donate and give back. She spearheads initiatives like the upcoming (5th Annual) Dress for Success Power Walk with spokesperson and businesswoman Bethenny Frankel. The walk has grown over the last five years, and now takes place in five countries, and over thirty cities! Click here to see if your city is on the list:

Reena De Asis -- Director of West Coast Operations -- passionately explained, “At Dress for Success, we help women go from surviving to thriving. We believe that “self-sufficiency” is more than just a suit or a job -- it’s an overall commitment to being independent in all aspects of life. We want the resilient women we serve to not only secure a job, but to also dream big and reach her full potential. We want her to take pride that she’s a 'Made Woman!' After all, 'The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.' -Eleanor Roosevelt

Click below to get involved!

Published in Current

30 Days of Made // April 25, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

When I decided to get a divorce over seven years ago my family was not supportive, so I felt alone, isolated, and disconnected from the world. I lacked the support that I needed at such a transitional period in my life, so I decided to do something about it. My personal need to connect and  my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I founded Women Empowered (WE) in 2008. The group initially began as a social support group. I simply wanted to make friends.  What started out so small began to grow rapidly. Women were learning about us through word of mouth and social media. Two years later, I decided to make WE more real and tangible and formed it into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.   

Currently, I am the Founder and CEO and oversee the organization, fundraisers, and events , among other things. I wear many hats, so my day-to-day operations are always different, which makes for an exciting role. I love it because I am constantly being challenged. But more importantly, I love Women Empowered because it stemmed from such a personal space and other women got involved. Our membership base is so diverse. Women from all walks of life join our organization and all have one common goal, that is, to support other women. It’s really what makes us stand out from the rest of the organizations out there. The diversity and very hands-on approach to our volunteer work is unique and makes me so proud. We are also very personable. I’m from New York, so what you see is what you get. Thus, this motto is the foundation of the organization.  

The majority of our members are either entrepreneurs or are aspiring to be, and also include students and professional women. We host events that facilitate relationship building among our members, empower them, as well as foster their growth professionally and personally. Our programming and events are geared towards educating, connecting, and supporting women. Such events include professional networking mixers, personal development workshops, and panels on various topics. We also provide mentorship to at-risk teen girls in Boyle Heights, host volunteer days at the Downtown Women’s Center, and conduct health and fitness activities and workshops.  We aim to inspire our members to give back to their communities through our group mentoring activities with our mentees.  

As mentioned, I initially began the group to make friends. But what makes this group even more special to me is watching the growing friendship among the other members.  Seeing them collaborate outside of the group brings me so much joy. I cannot explain the feeling I get when I walk into a room at one of our events and watch the connections being made, the support given, and the smiles on everyone’s face. As humans, we innately are social beings, but to be able to facilitate those relationships is what I absolutely love about what I do. And to add on to that, our mentoring program holds a near-and-dear place in my heart. I personally mentor two young girls and to be able to make an impact in a young girl’s life is the most impactful way to truly  give back. It is how you make someone feel that goes a long way. So as a whole, our organization’s mission is  not only to empower our members, but to inspire them to give back to their communities.  And this is why I love WE! 

Support Women Empowered!

Show your support for Women Empowered using the buttons below. Or tweet at them at @WELosAngeles!

Shelly Ulaj is the Founder and CEO of Women Empowered, a nonprofit organization that educates, connects, and supports women of all ages and backgrounds, and inspires them to give back to their communities through mentorship, networking, and volunteerism.   Shelly is passionate about giving back and making a true impact in the lives of others, and as a result of her own personal need to connect with others, she found her calling as a nonprofit leader.  In addition to running and overseeing the organization, Shelly is a also a mentor to two young women.  Shelly is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, and has written articles for the Los Angeles Business Journal, Zocalo Public Square, The Daily Beast, and other publications.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and has also earned her law degree. 

Published in Current
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 18:19

30 Days Of Made | Day 18: Playworks

30 Days of Made // April 18, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

When California public schools started cutting recess and physical education programs from their itineraries due to budget cuts, they couldn’t staff recess and/or no longer had time for it. I knew that I had to figure out a way to help local youth receive the physical activity they need to grow into mentally and physically fit young adults. Then, somebody introduced me to Playworks and I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who was thinking about bringing recess back.

Playworks started at an Oakland, California, elementary school that didn’t have the resources to provide organized activities at recess. At that particular school, even children who would not be considered “behaviorally problematic” were getting into trouble. After all, recess in elementary schools is the period when children develop their conflict resolutions skills. Without professional guidance, children were unable to relieve their frustration in a productive fashion, which wasn’t just a problem at this school. Jill Vialet, Playworks’ CEO and Founder, was then inspired to bring professionally trained activity leaders into the picture. Their programs now exist in 20 states across the United States.

Play Works from Playworks on Vimeo.

According to Playworks, they are “the only nonprofit organization in the country providing trained, full-time coaches focused on recess to hundreds of low-income schools in major urban areas.”

Playworks coaches facilitate play with various games and activities to provide children with some rules, which promotes inclusivity and fun. They “believe in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. Playworks creates a place for every kid on the playground -- a place where every kid belongs, has fun and is part of the game.” This drastically reduces problems from bullying and disciplinary issues in the schoolyard.

Love Playworks! Give Back!

Want to see how you can affect our youth? Get involved by volunteering or help fund the cause! Use the buttons below! You can also follow them on Twitter at @Playworks!


Published in Current

30 Days of Made // April 10, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

Project for a Village, Inc. began with one mission—to improve the lives of people in rural villages in developing countries. The initiative began in Nepal, a country in dire need of help.  Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. With one third of the country living below the poverty line, the Project for a Village team realized that what we were able to do in Nepal would go very far.

Project for a Village was officially founded in Spring 2013, however the work in Nepal began three years earlier. Founders Rene and Kathy Perez-Silva, a doctor-nurse/husband-wife team, first visited Nepal in 2011 for a one-time medical-based charity trip. When they returned home, the Perez-Silva’s knew they couldn’t leave it all behind—the country, the culture, the people.  After several trips back to Nepal, Project for a Village was born with the primary goal of providing better access to health care and education.

During their second trip to Nepal, the Perez-Silva’s visited a home in the hills where a young mother had just delivered a daughter.  Dr. Perez-Silva was called there to examine the infant who had a mass on her spine.  After examination, he diagnosed her with spina bifida, a developmental disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube.  It is a terrible disorder, but one that is often preventable with folic acid supplements or prenatal vitamins—something that is hard to come by in Nepal, especially in these rural areas.  Babies born with spina bifida have a difficult life ahead of them.  They will have severe physical disabilities.  But in countries like Nepal, where the care for these afflicted children is lacking, their quality of life is bleaker.

Nepal faces a severe lack of maternal and infant care available to women outside of the larger cities. This has become Project for a Village's focus.  According to the CIA’s “The World Factbook,” Nepal ranks 53rd in Infant Mortality, and 61st in Maternal Mortality, with 4% of children dying before the age of five.  Most causes of death for both mother and child are related to infection, something that is easily preventable with proper and inexpensive care.

This organization is already creating change in Nepal. In the past year, Project for a Village has donated an ambulance so that a women in labor no longer have to make the four-hour walk down a hill to deliver their babies.  We have placed two young women in school to train to be midwives so that when a mother delivers her baby, she does so in a clean and safe environment.  And most recently, we distributed vitamins to the pregnant women in the village so that their children can hopefully have a healthy and happy childhood.

Just last month, Project for a Village sponsored a general health camp in the village of Rupakot, the small town in North-Central Nepal that the Perez-Silva’s family have been visiting since 2011.  967 villagers were seen by Dr. Perez-Silva and his team of 12 Nepali doctors who volunteered their services for the two-day camp.  For many of the patients, this was their first ever visit to a doctor.  Patients of all ages were seen, from babies to a 91-year old, and the range of diagnoses was vast.  In several cases, life-saving interventions were made.

Project for a Village is working to improve the lives of villagers throughout Nepal.  Soon however, we envision expanding our project to villages in need in other countries.

If you are down for Project for a Village's cause use the buttons below to show your support! Or tweet at them at @ProjForAVillage

Published in Current
Sunday, 06 April 2014 17:03

30 Days of Made | Day 7: Doing WIT

30 Days of Made // April 7, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

I met my friend Sarah Hernholm at a meeting for Junto (an intimate gathering of like-minded go-getters who come together weekly for accountability and to help each other accomplish their dreams.) I could tell from the minute I met her how passionate of an individual she was and the conversation between the two of us set off at lightning speed.

I told her about my dating business and Sarah’s face lit up as she talked about the non-profit she started after years as a teacher called Doing WIT (Whatever It Takes.) I learned about her overarching vision of communities where teens are valued as innovative social entrepreneurs and leaders and was instantly excited. You can see how passionate she is about what she teaches in her Ted Talk below.


As she explained it to me, Doing WIT provides a space for ambitious and entrepreneurial students to take their passions and skills to the next level while benefiting their community, school or the world at large. WIT teens, who are between the 9th and 12th grades, apply for the program, and once accepted, meet weekly for a course on social entrepreneurship and leadership. They earn college credits for their work and build social impact projects which they launch with the help of their peers and their WIT mentors and teachers.

Past campaigns have revolved around everything from ending bullying and preventing childhood obesity to helping teens with body image, acquiring school supplies for classrooms in need and pairing up students with seniors to reduce loneliness… and they have made a seriously sweet difference! You can see more about their projects here.

I instantly felt aligned with the cause as I thought about how valuable having something like Doing WIT would have been for me earlier on in my life.  I discovered my entrepreneurial passions in college after attending a few great lectures within the USC entrepreneurship program, but before that, there wasn’t anything really like this. Something to surround me with other young leaders and budding entrepreneurs.

A program like this boosts self-esteem for teens and gives these students an amazing accomplishment to add to their college applications. Additionally, WIT teens are role models to many of their peers and are the next generation of social entrepreneurs and leaders.

WIT teaches it’s participants the power of taking action and how much of a difference you can make on the world. This type of experience is invaluable as it sets the rest of your life in motion and forever changes how you view both yourself and the world around you. Next thing these kids know, they’ll be graduating from college, and adding even more to their list of awesome accomplishments.

Do you love Doing WIT? Show your support!

While Doing WIT is currently only in San Diego, it has plans to expand to Los Angeles and San Francisco in the near future.  Donations support its expansion to other cities as well as helping students with financial need partake in the program. Use the buttons below to give back or tweet at them at @doingWIT!


Published in Current
Sunday, 06 April 2014 15:08

30 Days of Made | Day 6: F.O.R.C.E.

30 Days of Made // April 6, 2014

The risk of cancer is something that I have always had to live with. When I was ten, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although surgery and radiation therapy were terrifying experiences, the most harrowing was the risk of the cancer coming back.

When I was 22, she was diagnosed again. The first time, my mother opted for a lumpectomy; the second time she underwent a double bilateral mastectomy without batting an eye. I understood. After 12 years and two different breast cancers, she felt that her breast tissue just “wanted to make cancer.” The decision to remove her breast was for ease of mind, practicality and medical reasons.

The hereditary risk of breast and ovarian cancer is a very real thing, nearly 1 million people in the US are living with this risk and 90% are unaware. The “risk” comes from a genetic mutation known as the BRCA gene. Those with this gene have a much higher chance of developing breast, ovarian and other cancers than the average population. The numbers, however, are not exact. According to Dr. Ora Karp Gordon, Director of the Cedars-Sinai GenRisk Adult Genetics Program, the danger of inheriting these types of cancers could be anywhere from 60 to 85 percent higher than normal.

For some women, having higher chances of getting cancer has led to the decision to undergo prophylactic surgery to remove breasts and/or ovaries without a cancer diagnosis. The Journal of Oncology reported that the number of preventative surgeries increased 6.8 percent in a six-year period.

Recently, Angelina Jolie brought a lot of media attention to this issue when she announced that she underwent a prophylactic mastectomy without a cancer diagnosis. It sparked a media frenzy and debate -- but the honest truth is that those who are have the BRCA gene have a much different perspective on life, family, womanhood and loss than even cancer survivors.

This is where FORCE comes into play. FORCE --or Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, is a non profit organization focused solely on helping those with a hereditary risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Susan Friedman founded FORCE in 1999 after being diagnosed with breast cancer and discovering that she was positive for BRCA II, but received little information and support from the cancer community as a whole. In an effort to fill the information void, she started FORCE as a place to gather information, share similar questions and advocate for those with a hereditary risk of cancer.

FORCE was founded on the principle that no one should face the risk alone. They focus on providing information, community -- and as many answers as possible to women facing impossible choices.

“If people have a hereditary risk of breast or ovarian cancer, one of our missions is to get the information out there. If people have the right information, it is preventable,” said Joi Morris, Board Vice President of FORCE. “We know we are saving lives.”

Since its founding, FORCE has become the largest repository of peer-reviewed research and medical information for those looking for answers. They also partner and collaborate with researchers on new and better solutions.

Recently, FORCE and researchers at the University of South Florida received a grant to focus on patient-centered outcomes. “It is exciting to be able to find answers to questions that science hasn’t been able to answer yet,” said Morris. Apart from research, FORCE’s other main aspects are raising awareness and providing community for those who are affected. More than 50 FORCE chapters around the country hold peer-coordinated support groups for women to gather and discuss pressing questions and to be able to meet others facing similar issues.

Additionally, FORCE runs and staffs a 24-hour hotline for women to call and ask questions and talk with a trained volunteer. For many women, this community is a critical support system where there was once a void.

“Part of what we do is demystify what it means to have a hereditary risk of breast or ovarian cancer,” said Morris. Morris underwent a bilateral mastectomy seven years ago for preventative reasons and like a lot of women, faced ignorance even from friends. “The idea that you would have that surgery without a cancer diagnoses, people think of you like you have a third head,” said Morris. “We want to show the community at large that we are not outliers and communicate that we have options.”

For women with a hereditary risk of breast and ovarian cancer, FORCE is a community that they can turn to for answers and support.

Show Your Support!

If you love the mission of FORCE show your support by using the buttons below to giving back or volunteer! You can also tweet at them at @FacingOurRisk!


Published in Current

30 Days of Made // April 3, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

Why do I love “Good Sam?” So many reasons, I don’t even know where to start! The Good Samaritan Health Center is a healthcare home dedicated to providing affordable comprehensive medical, dental, mental health and health education services for underserved individuals and families in Atlanta. It was formed in 1998 after Dr. Bill Warren left his private pediatric practice in Sandy Springs to fulfill a calling; he wanted to serve those in Atlanta without access to healthcare or insurance.

The Center started off with a staff of eight and a handful of volunteers in downtown Atlanta. Today, a full-time staff of 40 and 400 volunteers work together to provide high quality medical care to individuals and families in Atlanta that could not otherwise afford it. In 2013, The Good Samaritan Health Center provided 28,000 patient visits for primary healthcare services, health education, and community outreach through its urban farm and special days of service.

Working as the Health Education Coordinator for Good Sam, I get to witness the direct impact that The Center makes on people’s lives every day. I coordinate our health education programs including Diabetes Management, Kidney Smart, Healthy Cooking/Nutrition and Environmental Education. There isn’t a day that goes by without a patient personally thanking one of our staff or volunteers for serving them with dignity and respect--regardless of income, religion or ethnicity. Restoring the smile of a woman searching for a new job, watching a young woman regain her health and confidence after a 100lb weight loss, or providing a prosthetic leg to a homeless amputee: these are just a few of the experiences I’ve had that make Good Sam an exciting place to serve. This isn’t some sterile medical center, it’s a place where lives are changed and communities grow.

The project that has me the most excited right now is The Center’s growing urban farm. Located in the heart of the city, the urban farm is one acre of organic crops including kale, tomatoes, root vegetables, berries and fruit trees available to both patients of The Center and members of the community. The Center is located on Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy in the highly underserved Bankhead neighborhood. Low food security and few grocery stores within walking distance make access to fresh, healthy produce a challenge for the community. Produce from the farm will provide a valuable resource to both community members and patients who need healthy food. The urban farm is just the latest way that The Good Samaritan Health Center is working to provide people in need with the resources necessary to thrive.

How YOU can get involved!

The Good Samaritan Health Center is a non-profit organization that operates solely on donations. Gifts will go to support healthcare, health education and outreach like our food prescription program. The food prescription program will allow doctors and nurse practitioners to write a prescription for fresh produce from the farm to patients who are in need. There are many chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity that can be managed with the help of a healthy diet. The food prescription program will allow healthcare providers to treat these issues with healthy food.

If you love the mission of The Center and want to donate a monetary gift, then visit the website and give online.  The Good Samaritan Health Center can also use your donation of unexpired, unopened medications, newborn infant supplies, travel-size hygiene products, family first aid kit items and certain healthcare supplies. For more information please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

You can also use the buttons below to show your support! Or tweet at them at @atlantagoodsam!

Published in Current
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 07:19

30 Days of Made I Day 2: Global Soap Project

30 Days of Made // April 2, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

I’m sure most of you have stayed overnight in a hotel somewhere. Whether the Ritz Carlton or the Holiday Inn, we’re all familiar with hotels having housekeeping services and we often take those amenities for granted - like the soap we use in the shower.

To accommodate their guests, hotels will provide personal hygiene products such as mouthwash or shampoo for use during their stay. Shampoo and mouthwash get replenished when they’re empty, but other amenities like soap are a one-time use. After a bar of soap gets used, housekeepers will discard the used soap into the trash and replace it with a fresh, newly-wrapped bar. That’s a lot of wasted soap for a single-use shower, approximately 2.6 million bars daily in the United States. There has to be a better way to repurpose that soap so it isn’t just tossed away, creating more waste. Enter the Global Soap Project.

The Global Soap Project is a non-profit out of Atlanta, GA that partners with leading hotel brands to receive partially used and discarded soap to recycle it. The new bars they create are distributed to those in need around the world. That’s great, but what can a bar of soap do? Actually, it can do a lot -- even save lives. Surprisingly, the leading cause of death for children in underdeveloped countries are hygiene-related illnesses. A staggering 1.6 million children die each year from poor hygiene, accounting for nearly one-third of all child deaths. Although vaccines, clean water initiatives and medications can help fight the diseases, the best way to effectively prevent illness is by hand washing with soap. So by repurposing soap, The Global Soap Project is eliminating waste and saving lives. Not only are their efforts servicing those abroad (reaching 32 countries on four continents), but they also work in collaboration with health organizations like the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Partners in Health to aid those domestically. The Global Soap Projects aims to ensure that all who lack access to soap receive it as well as receive an education on why soap is important.

The Global Soap Project :30 PSA from Gregory Miller Pictures on Vimeo.

The Global Soap Project Process

Once hotels release the discarded soap to The Global Soap Project, a thorough recycling process has to occur before the soap is ready for use:

1. Sorting: Once the soap is collected and received into the warehouse, it is sorted into boxes for the designated hotel. Each hotel brand is distinct with their own soap ingredients, so The Global Soap Project does not mix soap.

2. Sanitizing: Soap only holds bacteria when it’s wet, which is how the dried soap is able to be reused. To eliminate any bacterial remnants, the top layer of the soap is scraped off before the soap gets heated and filtered through an extremely fine mesh screen to remove any excess dirt or particles. After cleaning the soap, it is then melted and molded into finished bars. The soap is then cut into individual bars and ready for verification.

3. Verification: After the sanitation process, a third-party laboratory test is used to screen for pathogen samples from each batch of soap before it gets packaged and ready to ship.

4. Packaging/Shipment: A packaged box holds 120 four oz. bars and weighs 30 pounds. One pallet is 50 boxes totaling 6,000 bars. Those boxes are then shipped via non-governmental organizations (NGO's) to assist their intended populations.

I’ve been a supporter and volunteer for The Global Soap Project for two years. I love that they aren’t just giving away soap to help people (even though that’s awesome!), but that they are also encouraging better hygiene practices through education on how and why soap is crucial. I also love that they’re encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health and hygiene by not just relying on free soap, but also implementing what they now know into their lives as a lifestyle change. If giving someone soap to wash their hands or body is all we need to do save a life, I’m on board for making sure they have those resources.

Love the Global Soap Project? Give Back!

If you love the mission of the Global Soap Project show your support! Just click the buttons below or Tweet at them @globalsoap!

Published in Current
Page 1 of 2