Google-backed drones drop library books so kids in Virginia can do their summer reading

Kelly Passek, a librarian at Montgomery County School District in VA, came up with the idea of having drones deliver library books to encourage more kids to read from the safety of their homes. Passek could receive the book orders from the children, find the books from different libraries, package them, and deliver them to the Wing facility for the drones to deliver them.

Picture retrieved from washingtonpost.com

Wing library book delivery was/is available to nearly 600 students within Christiansburg, VA, which makes it possible for the students to get free reading materials.

This innovation kept alive the interest to read by making available the reading materials during the lockdown. It was also hoped that the innovation of drone-delivered books would instill the desire to read in more kids.

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

More info here or at msergon@my.nl.edu

Avivo opens Avivo Village the nation’s first indoor tiny home community for individuals experiencing homelessness

Avivo Village, an indoor community of 100 secure, private dwellings or “tiny houses” created to provide shelter to individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, opened in Minneapolis’ North Loop Neighborhood on March 8, 2021. Avivo Village was created as a COVID-era means to shelter individuals in a socially distant, dignified way. Residents will have access to Avivo’s unique combination of recovery services, mental health services, and career education and employment services.

In December, a preliminary opening of Avivo Village provided indoor housing for 16 initial residents — many of whom have since found housing while working with Avivo’s housing case managers. As of April 16, nearly 70 residents were housed in Avivo Village’s tiny home community.

Picture retrieved from Freethink

One major inequity in Minnesota’s homeless community is a disproportionate number of Native Americans experiencing homelessness compared to Minnesota’s population as a whole (11% in 2019 of surveyed homeless via hmismn.org compared to 1.4% of MN population via Census.gov in 2019). Avivo Village was created in partnership with the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the state of Minnesota – but also with a strong partnership between Avivo and the White Earth Nation and the Red Lake Nation, to ensure a welcoming community.

Story submitted by Aaron Shaffer, United States of America

More info here or at aaron.shaffer@avivomn.org

NYC Opens Special Centers for Kids of Healthcare and Other Essential Workers on the Front

The New York state school system set up regional enrichment centers for children of front-line works. In these centers, the children do their homework in spaced-out desks, eat three hot meals and learn how to protect themselves from COVID. These centers served the children’s needs while their parents fought COVID-19 at the forefront as medical personnel or as essential workers.

Picture retrieved from Good News Network

8,000 children continued their learning, were well-fed, and learned protective measures against COVID-19. Essential workers were freed up and so, they were able to continue the life-saving work.

Economic inequalities were minimized because the centers were open for all parents who needed the service for their children.

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

More info here or at msergon@my.nl.edu

Single foster dad adopts five siblings

Robert, Carter, a single dad from Ohio adopts five siblings because he did not want them separated. Mr. Carter said he was already fostering the three boys, but decided to adopt them all when he saw how they cried after the visit with their sisters.

The siblings were reunited in one home. The children had a home and a loving dad who promised to be their dad forever.

Providing a home and a family to the children did not only meet an emotional need; it may also have increased their chances of success later in life.

Picture retrieved from Fox 13 News

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

More info here or at msergon@my.nl.edu

Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow

During the quarantine, I set up a nonprofit that makes and sells homemade, pure vanilla extract that donates all of its profits to help hungry individuals throughout East TN by supporting Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. I want to help because I lived in an area that had many people who were battling hunger, and I saw the effects it had on them.

People across the region of East TN that are battling hunger might have a meal because of the support Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow has received.

I am a Freshman in High School and I received one of my largest surges of orders when I was just beginning to adjust to school in 2020 during my fourth day at school. I was stressing about getting all of the orders out, but my family and friends helped me get them out on time. I learned how supported I am and what great people are around me. I could not have made it through that period without their support.

Story shared by William Cabaniss, USA.

More info here or at vanillafeedstomorrow@gmail.com

A hi-tech School Class under the Bridge

For months during the pandemic, the people of India woke up to news regarding the plight of migrant laborers. Stranded on their way home due to stringent lockdown restrictions and the lack of basic amenities brought us harrowing tales of human suffering. However, the news also spurred heroes into action. Under the bridge in the coastal state of Kerala, a heartening sight awaits those who are passing by in Kochi, India. Underneath the Bolgatty-Vallarpadam bridge, teachers can be found engrossed with students of all ages, deep in study.

Hitech class for migrant children
Picture retrieved from Mathrubhumi

Ten children of migrant laborers had been living under the bridge with their families. Now that temporary ‘home’ is doubling up as a classroom, thanks to the dedicated teachers of St. John Bosco’s UP School. Armed with laptops and drawing sets, three teachers—Shamiya Baby, Neema Thomas and Susan Mable—and the school headmistress Elizabeth Fernandez, came to the rescue. Since the beginning of June, when online classes officially began, these teachers have been downloading classes on their laptops and heading over to the bridge to teach the children. They also carry masks, biscuits and sweets for the young kids every day.

This touching story from India shows that commitment and creativity can turn a poor and low-tech environment into a hi-tech opportunity for the youngest in need.

Story shared by Joseph Ance Treesa, India.

More info here or at bmiller2@bsu.edu

Farming in the City

Many low-income neighborhoods lack nearby sources of fresh food. Frequently there are no large markets in the vicinity; residents must rely on foods available in smaller stores, which are generally less healthy and more expensive.

One strategy for addressing this issue is to persuade more markets to locate in the area – but often that’s hard. A different strategy is to teach residents how to grow their own food, right where they live. That’s the mission of the Urban Farming Institute (UFI), a Boston-based nonprofit that not only teaches farming skills, but also how to set up urban farming businesses.

Image retrieved from pixabay

UFI manages seven farms in Boston city, in the middle of low-income neighborhoods. Every summer, it runs two distinct courses: a 9-week course in basic food systems, and a 20-week hands-in-the-ground course in urban farmer training. Both fill up regularly. Each year 700 trained volunteers come to help do the planting, harvesting, and other farm work.

Over the years, additional program features have been developed: a separate Young Farmers Program; a virtual farm stand; public lectures, workshops, and discussions; videos; and sales to numerous restaurant partners. UFI is growing, and it is thriving.

To build strong communities, it helps to strengthen residents’ abilities to address and meet their own needs — and there’s no more basic need than food. UFI has shown how this can be done despite limited funds, but with a clear sense of purpose, a committed staff team, strong organizational skills, and the provision of meaningful benefits; food you can eat.

UFI believes that “any location can be a place where food is grown for local consumption, local sales and local distribution.” When this happens, economic inequities are reduced, and we have made progress toward a just and sustainable society.

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.

More info here or at Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu