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America’s Grow-A-Row shares in $100,000 grant

By Hunterdon County Democrat
on October 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Two local non-profit organizations – one focused on feeding the homeless and poverty-stricken and another dedicated to helping at-risk youth – received a total of $185,000 in grants from Impact 100 Garden State, a philanthropic women’s group dedicated to making a difference in New Jersey.

America’s Grow-A-Row and the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown received a grant of $100,000 to help them provide tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce and other healthy food to help alleviate hunger in Morris County.

An $85,000 grant was awarded to Middle Earth, located in Bridgewater, to support its innovative “Big Dan’s Bike Shop” program aimed at teaching bicycle mechanics, business operations and employment-related skills to at-risk youth.

The two organizations were awarded the grants last night after receiving the most votes from the 185 members of Impact 100 at its Annual Meeting at the Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge. More than 70 nonprofit organizations submitted proposals.

AGAR, which strives to help New Jersey communities that are most burdened by hunger, will use the Impact 100 grant for a multifaceted program that involves delivering 50,000 pounds of fresh produce to those in need, educating these individuals about the importance of healthy eating, and engaging them and the wider community, including local youth, in harvesting events.

“The grant will enable us not only to increase our production of fruits and vegetables, but also to increase access to this food through the Community Soup Kitchen and the establishment of 156 weekly Free Farm Markets in the county,” states Chip Paillex, America’s Grow-A-Row president and founder. “These markets will be open all year.”

Terry Connolly, executive director of the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown, added, “As a result of this grant, kids will have access to food they didn’t have before. We will have 200 percent more food, be able to offer 265,000 servings and touch over 2,500 people. “

Middle Earth, working with Raritan Valley Community College’s Enactus Club, an organization dedicated to entrepreneurial development, will use its grant to mentor and provide leadership and business training to teens in low-income communities by teaching them to refurbish bicycles and operate their own bike shop.

“This at-risk population tends to lack employment opportunities, education and positive role models, as well as constructive ways to spend their free time. The Bike Shop program helps to fill this void,” states Maria Strada, executive director of Middle Earth. “It uniquely impacts the lives of disadvantaged youth by giving them the opportunity to develop not only workplace skills, but also confidence in themselves. They realize that they matter and have the ability to succeed in life.”

“We are proud to recognize and support the work of organizations like AGAR and Middle Earth,” said Impact 100’s newly elected president and founding member Elisabeth MacDonald. “Our membership comprises women from all walks of life who care about their communities and believe that pooling resources is an effective way to make a meaningful impact in the state.”

Founded only three years ago, Impact 100 (impact100gardenstate.org) is a unique organization of women dedicated to improving the lives of New Jersey residents by supporting nonprofit organizations that serve Morris, Passaic, Somerset, and Sussex counties . Each member contributes $1,000 to membership and the entire amount funds grants for organizations in five categories: Arts and Culture, Children and Families, Education, Environment, and Health and Wellness.

“Since its inception in 2011, Impact 100 members have contributed $320,000 towards transformative grants,” states outgoing President and founder Carole Rogers. “We have discovered that women welcome a philanthropic opportunity in which they have a voice and can see the benefits in their communities. This is what has helped us to increase membership by 40 percent over the past year.”

For more information or to obtain membership information, go to impact100gardenstate.com.