Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Microgrant recipient Ana’s project Teach, Grow, Reach was something she started after her relative passed away due to malnutrition. Ana wants to prevent this from happening to others. As part of the project 9th graders in the environmental magnet program at her school grew organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables and give them to the elderly. As far as distribution, Ana worked with an assisted living center in her community.
- How many volunteers participated in your project? How many hours did it involve? Approximately 150 volunteers have participated in my project donating 88 hours of service and counting, as it is still in progress.
- What did you learn from this experience? Not only has Teach, Grow, Reach benefitted my community and peers, it has also positively affected me. It has enabled me to learn how to effectively communicate with others in order to achieve a goal. This experience has also allowed me to pursue my goals and gain confidence in my ability to positively impact my community and others around me. The memorable moments throughout this initiative are what has allowed me to gain this confidence in myself. One such moment is the look on the faces of the elderly when I deliver the produce to them. I can see their surprise in the fact that a young person cares about them and wants to help them. I can also see the gratitude on their faces; not all the elderly at the assisted living center have someone that visits them, so the fact that I come and visit to bring them food makes them feel loved and cared for. This touches my heart because I can see the happiness I am giving them, showing me that I can make a difference in people’s lives.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? Teach, Grow, Reach has a significantly positive effect on my school’s freshman environmental students. It provides them with a strong foundation for the rest of their years in the academy, introducing them to environmental concepts they will likely encounter in the future. Not only do they learn about different agricultural methods and develop a variety of horticultural skills, students also learn about nutrition, with such education possibly improving their health. Additionally, since students know the plants grown in class will be given to individuals who need them, they will feel a sense of civic duty and are more likely to become engaged citizens in the community and continue this project in the coming years. This project is also beneficial for the community, since donating the organic food to a local assisted living center gives the senior citizens that live there a better chance of combating malnutrition, which is widely common among this group. This group of elderly individuals will also benefit from the interactions with the students from the handmade cards and the food delivery. I aim for this project to expand to other assisted living centers and schools, where more students will be civically engaged in the community and more senior citizens will have a smaller risk of experiencing malnutrition. I have a friend who will take my place as leader of this project once I graduate, where it will expand with the next generation of students. He, in turn, will find someone else to take his place when he graduates, and that person will find their own successor; so on and so forth, ensuring the project’s legacy will go on.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went. The project is still in progress. So far, the project has had many positive effects on the community, as I previously mentioned, and I have learned much from it. I intend to continue serving the community wherever I attend college, hopefully at the University of Pennsylvania.
- How was the Karma for Cara microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? The Karma for Cara microgrant that I received has allowed me to buy materials for the expansion of this project. At first, Tower Gardens were being used to grow the organic food for the elderly; now I am expanding to include vermiculture in addition to aeroponics. Using money for the grant, I have bought the peat moss and other organic substances to begin this, and will soon purchase the worms to begin this second phase of Teach, Grow, Reach.