Top 10 Gold Medal Moments of 2010

Written by Plant With Purpose on January 6, 2011 in General

by Aly Lewis

Happy New Year! As we say hello to shiny new 2011, I’d first like to take a look back at 2010. It has been an incredible year filled with triumph and adversity, joys and setbacks. A perfect 10? Maybe not, but definitely a year of clutch performances, unexpected heroes, and hard earned victories for the Plant With Purpose family. 

I’d like to share my Top 10 Gold Medal Moments of 2010:

1.     Clutch Performance in Haiti:The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti almost one year ago claimed nearly 250,000 lives and left millions injured, homeless, and hungry. Our Haitian field staff responded with a relief and recovery program that included immediate food aid, road clearing, seed distribution, and a short-term employment program. As a result, desperatefamilies were provided with food to eat and jobs to support themselves while engaging in work that will have lasting benefits. In the midst of tragedy, this project has allowed us to form new partnerships with local and international organizations and begin working with new communities and encouraging new families to implement sustainable, income-generating projects. I have been blown away by the courage, dedication, and professionalism of our Haitian staff and the farmers we work with as they respond and rebuild in unimaginable circumstances. I’d also like to give a shout out to our staff in the U.S. who rallied to keep our friends and partners in the loop with a play-by-play from the field and to the generous donors who helped us raise nearly $1 million for our critical work. Everyone involved must have been eating their Wheaties, because, seriously, this was a clutch performance.

2.     Improving the Playbook: 2010 marked a year of exceptional growth and innovation on the part of our field and program staff. One of my favorite attributes of the Plant With Purpose team is the ability to learn, adapt, and grow in response to the real needs and realities of the communities with whom we work. We saw this as our Haitian team responded to the earthquake, and we saw this in our programs around the world. One exciting new innovation is the transition from a credit-led lending model to a savings-led model. Our team in the DR launched a pilot program incorporating this new system in several communities and we’re excited to see how it will impact families as they increase their savings, security, and stability. There has been so much incredible growth throughout our programs that I’ll have to devote another blog post (or fifty) to highlight our accomplishments for the year.

3.     Burundi Team Named National Champs: Plant With Purpose’s newest program in Burundi made national news when it was recognized as one of the five best non-governmental organizations by the Ministry of Agriculture in Burundi. We aren’t just talking about a pat on the back here; Plant With Purpose Burundi’s work of bringing communities together and creating lasting change was being mentioned next to well-established organizations such as the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)! A major congratulations to our Burundi country director, Lazare, and his staff members who have taken off running with Plant With Purpose’s work in Burundi!

4.     Going for the Gold: Executive Director Scott Sabin’s book,Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God’s People, has been named a finalist for Christianity Today’s 2011 Book Awards in the Missions and Global Affairs category. This book is a great resource for churches, small groups, and anyone who wants to learn more about what we do, why we do what we do, and what you can do to help. Great work on an amazing book, Scott!

5.     Training Camp: Plant With Purpose Tanzania hosted the International Meeting in November (held every two years), where Plant With Purpose staff from around the world gathered together to share success stories, encourage each other and learn from mistakes, and cast vision for the future. While I didn’t attend, the stories of international collaboration, goal setting, and bonding (not to mention the rumors of the US staff singing and dancing to the America the Beautiful) are enough to place fruitful meeting in the top 10.

6.     Gala Grand Slam: Plant With Purpose’s 2010 Planting Hope Gala was a huge success! The elegant evening was filled with meeting and mingling, showing and telling, and not to mention bigheartedness and bidding wars that raised  $235,000 for our life-changing programs. Talk about hitting it out of the park!

7.     Media Blitz: Sure, I think we had a year of gold medal performances, but don’t take my word for it. This year Plant With Purpose’s work received unprecedented coverage in national publications and media such as The New York Times, Christianity Today, and Relevant Magazine.  Read what the experts have to say about Plant With Purpose here:

8.  Assembling a Dream Team: This year we welcomed three new players to the U.S. team: Development Department Assistant, Jimmy Lee, who is superb at handling curveballs, fastballs, and requests from out of left field; always a safe bet, Bookkeeper (not to be confused with bookie), Claudette Zepeda, who has joined our Finance and Administration Department; and, Rookie of Year, Christi Huizenga, our new Program Officer to Tanzania who spent her first months on the job in Tanzania only to return to a waiting moving van and cross country move. Welcome to San Diego, Christi, and to all of you, thanks for being a part of the Plant With Purpose team!

9.     A Word from our Sponsors: We are so thankful for the many new corporate partnerships we’ve formed with companies that want to give back, go green, and partner with us as we empower rural farmers to overcome poverty and transform their lives. We’re inspired by the generosity and creativity of our partners such as Bassett Furniture, Weyerhaeuser, Snapshot Group, Kellogg Garden Products, 1% for the Planet, Google, and many more! 

10.  Plant With Purpose Pro Shop: In the homestretch of 2010 we launched our first-ever online holiday Village Market Gift Catalog, and it was a huge success! As an alternative to traditional Christmas gifts, shoppers looking to make a difference donated economical, unique, and life-changing gifts in honor of a loved one to benefit impoverished, rural communities. The new shopping cart tool allowed shoppers to purchase multiple gifts and we look forward to having a shopping cart on website year round!  On a personal note, I got to utilize every animal idiom I’ve heard in the catalog’s promotion and I even had a share of a women’s micro-credit workshop donated in my honor for Christmas! 

While it may not have been a year full of perfect 10s (which, sadly, don’t even exist in gymnastics anymore), it has been a year of gold medal performances in my book. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this winning team as we partner together to transform the lives of the rural poor!

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