Archive for May, 2010

Playground # 6

Thursday, 27 May, 2010

The following is from Amway Corporate Citizenship Intern and guest blogger Michelle Asmara.

Without a playground, where would our fathers have taught us to swing or to make it across the monkey bars?  Where would TJ and Spinelli (Recess) have rebelled against unfair social norms and celebrated their individuality?  Where would Gracie Hart (Miss Congeniality) have learned to stand up for herself and knock out a bully?  Exactly – I don’t know either.

Without a playground, where would our fathers have taught us to swing or to make it across the monkey bars?  Where would TJ and Spinelli (Recess) have rebelled against unfair social norms and celebrated their individuality?  Where would Gracie Hart (Miss Congeniality) have learned to stand up for herself and knock out a bully?  Exactly – I don’t know either.

We at Amway recognize that a playground is an integral part of childhood, so last Friday we made sure one more community had access to one.  Led by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization, 120 Amway employees, along with 40 more volunteers from the Black Hills community and the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department, transformed the smattering of trees and grass that previously characterized Kensington Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. into a whimsical play area, complete with playground equipment to climb, board games beautifully painted on picnic tables to challenge the mind, and even a stage area to call all future starlets and rock stars.

I have to say, there’s nothing quite like creating something magnificent while working side by side with truly dedicated colleagues and community residents, and the fact that the playground was actually designed by the neighborhood kids made it that much more special. Teams under the leadership of KaBOOM! staff did everything from rebuilding picnic tables, to assembling a jungle gym, to hauling hundreds of pounds of mulch, to clearing brush, to creating fantastic decorative murals.

At the end of the day, when the park was almost complete, a mom approached the picnic table where I sat across from her daughter painting a backgammon board.  “Wow, the kids are really going to love this,” she breathed looking around at the work we’d done.  I smiled at her with gratitude.  After all, that was what this playground build was all about: the kids.

For us at Amway, it’s not “corporate citizenship” or “CSR” or even simply “philanthropy.”  It’s not about labels or coverage or awards; about good PR or meeting a quota.  It’s about the excited smiles, the wondering eyes, the laughs and the joy.  It’s about campaigning for children’s right to be children, about enriching their lives, child by child – One by One.

For us, it’s just another awesome day!  And for me – a new intern in my second week – it was a wonderful start to what I’m sure is bound to be an amazing, rewarding summer.

Click here to see volunteers in action!





IBOs gather to support the US Dream Academy

Friday, 21 May, 2010

One of the best parts of my twelve-month assignment working in the US office is getting close to IBOs and seeing what programs they support.

There are some One by One campaigns that we organize at the headquarters level, and invite IBOs to participate. But there are many campaigns that they already have in place and are actively giving and volunteering to improve the lives of children locally, and around the world.

This week, I attended a gala for the US Dream Academy, an organization supported by a number of IBO leaders. The US Dream Academy provides mentoring programs for at-risk children and youth whose parents are incarcerated. At ten centers around the country, they provide skills-training, character development, and help children dream what their future will be – then they help them go out and accomplish it.

Jodi and Kathy Victor, IBO leaders from Ohio, have been longtime supporters of US Dream Academy. In fact, they have been involved since the organization was launched nine years ago by gospel singer Wintley Phipps.

They have brought other IBOs to the cause, and introduced it to our One by One Campaign for Children about five years ago. Our combined efforts will raise more than $173,000 for the cause this year.

At the event, we saw a host of superstars who support US Dream Academy, including Angela Basset, Charles Dutton, Dan Rather, Louis Gosset Jr and young pop singer Charise.

The most moving part of the night was when about 50 kids from the Dream Academies performed “We are the World.” We repeatedly heard that night how important it is to foster these kids, who are the next world leaders.

In the flurry of building new One by One programs from the top down, it was refreshing to be reminded that many of our best programs begin with IBO involvement, from the ground up.

Dream Academy Welcome

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Success at our first Positive Sprouts garden project

Monday, 17 May, 2010

IBOs, Amway Global executives, Boys and Girls Club members and staff rallied on a beautiful Saturday in Philadelphia this weekend.

Around 90 people came together to build a community garden for the Northeast Frankfort Boys and Girls Club. In fact, it was a series of gardens. There was a pizza garden, a salsa garden,a three sisters garden, a herb garden and several others.

We didn’t just stop at the planting. Volunteers erected a shed, spread a mountain of mulch, cleaned the grounds, added flowers to the landscaping, and even painted the bathrooms in the Club basement.

Our garden experts from the Green Education Foundation did an amazing job, along with three master gardeners from the local community. To keep the Club members engaged while we adults sweated it out on some of the heavy projects, they created Education Stations. Club members made smoothies, planted onions in pots they could take home, they painted pictures pictures and jumped back and forth between the stations and the garden building.

By lunchtime, it was hard to tell who were IBOs and who were Club staff. And by the end, it was even hard to tell who were the kids and who were the adults. We were all a bit dirty, and having a great time.

When the Club’s drill ran out of batteries and our IBOs couldn’t finish the garden tool shed, one of them ran home to grab his own. When the water and Nutrilite sports drinks needed to be chilled, another drove nearby to her house to pick up another cooler and some ice.

One IBO was a garden expert herself, and brought along planting tips, and ideas for the Club members to stay engaged by building ownership of the garden beds. Another one lived just down the street, but had never noticed the old brick building with the small sign in the front. He planned to be return.

In fact, they all talked about how they would come back to volunteer, and continue the project. The nutrition curriculum that Amway Global sponsored was written by the Green Education Foundation, and will be come a standard manual for garden building within the Boys and Girls Clubs. This means the program will have sustainability, and can be replicated at other Club sites.

This was a fantastic way to kick off a new partnership. We will be in six other cities this year, and hope to expand the program into even more over the next couple of years. You can find more information on our initial blog posting about the project.

Thanks to all who made this project a success!

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Calling all IBOs in Philadelphia!

Wednesday, 12 May, 2010

We are three days away from our big kickoff event in Philadelphia, and there is still room for IBOs who want to participate.

We will be building one of seven community gardens with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. This will be our inagural event, hosted by Amway Global executives and local IBOs. So we are inviting media and we will be photographing and filming so we can share with other IBOs around the country, and around the world.

If you would like to participate, please email boysandgirlsclubs@amwayglobal.com.

Following are the event details. We hope to see you there!

What
The first community garden building project through Amway Global and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America

When
Saturday, May 15, 2010 – rain or shine
8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where
NE Frankfort Boys & Girls Club
1709 Kinsey St
Philadelphia, PA 19124

Who
- Amway Global executives and corporate representatives
- Boys & Girls Club members and staff
- IBOs from the Philadelphia area (up to 30)
- Garden experts from the Green Education Foundation

Why
Kicked off in May, 2010, the Amway Global Positive Sprouts project mobilizes community volunteers to get their hands dirty by planting gardens with Boys and Girls Club members in seven cities around the country. The program will provide educational curriculum so Club members learn about the importance of including fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets.

What to Expect
This will be a hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves event working with around 50 youth ages 10 to 17 from the urban Philadelphia area. Additionally, we’re leveraging our expertise as a health and wellness company to educate youngsters about nutrition, organic gardening practices and cooking from the garden.  Tshirts and gloves will be provided prior to the event, so wear your jeans, sunglasses and outdoor shoes – we’ll take care of the rest. Media will be invited and a film crew will be on hand to document our first garden so we can promote to IBOs and consumers in the other six cities we will visit this year. Please fill out and bring the attached photo release forms, which will be collected at check-in.

Agenda
8:00 a.m. – Arrive at Northeast Frankfurt Boys and Girls Club
8:05 a.m. – Opening ceremonies and introductions
8:30 a.m. – Ground preparation, digging, spreading soil, removing rocks
10:30 a.m. – Garden stations, education, planting, watering
12:30 p.m. – Lunch break (food provided by Boys and Girls Club)
1:30 p.m. – Final ground preparations
2:00 p.m. – Ceremonial dedication
3:00 p.m. – Farewell and optional sign up for future volunteering

To Sign Up
Email boysandgirlsclubs@amwayglobal.com with your full name, IBO number, email, phone number, and the names of any guests you would like to bring (only adults 18 and over please).

New Amway Global partnership sprouting with Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Monday, 10 May, 2010

We’ve been planning this one for the last six months and are so excited to see it launch this week!

The new Amway Global Positive Sprouts project with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America will build community gardens across the US and teach Club members about achieving proper nutrition by incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets.

Our first event is in Philadelphia next Saturday, May 15 … and yes, we are looking for IBOs in the area to volunteer.

We will be in seven cities in 2010:

  • Philadelphia, PA – Sat, May 15
  • Denver, CO – Sat, June 5
  • Seattle, WA – Sat, June 12
  • Grand Rapids, MI – Sat, June 19
  • San Diego, CA – Thurs, June 24
  • Buena Park, CA – Sat, June 26
  • Orlando, FL – TBD

2010 is the first year of a three-year partnership that expands opportunities for our Independent Business Owners (IBOs) and employees to build partnerships with local clubs, with a focus on enhancing nutrition among Boys and Girls Club members.

The Positive Sprouts project has three components. First, the kickoff is where we spend a day building a garden with a big group of Amway Global IBOs and employees, along with Boys and Girls Club members and staff.

Next, after the garden is planted, there will be ongoing educational programs for the Club members, including opportunities to bring home fresh fruits and vegetables. IBOs can volunteer for these programs, or for other programs at the local Clubs.

Finally, in the fall, we will hold harvest parties at each Club to celebrate the work and be sure Club members and their families have fresh fruits and vegetables for the holidays.

We are working with amazing garden experts at an organization called the Green Education Foundation, a nonprofit that provides environmental education resources for classrooms and youth groups nationwide.

While this is the first time we have partnered on a nationwide project of this scale with the Boys and Girls Clubs, we have partnered at the local level for many years, particularly in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our headquarters, and Buena Park, California, the headquarters of our Nutrilite vitamin brand.

If you are an IBO who lives in one of these cities and would like to participate, please email us at boysandgirlsclubs@amwayglobal.com. Space is limited, but we want a strong showing at each location, and hope that these events will spark long-term partnerships between IBOs and their local Clubs.

You can see the formal press release announcement on our media site. We also launched a new site that highlights Amway Global’s three primary partnerships through the One by One Campaign for Children. Click on Power of Positive to visit the site.

Amway Customer Support Lends Their Support to Feed Hungry Kids

Wednesday, 5 May, 2010

Submitted by Guest Blogger: Maryann Courter, Supervisor Customer Support

Amway Customer Support employees enjoy participating in a variety of volunteer projects throughout the year, from volunteerting at Gilda’s Club, to helping out at the Special Olympics spring and summer games, to writing Pen Pal letters, and collecting toys for the US Marines Corps Toys for Tots Drive.

There’s one organization, however, that we have supported for almost a year, Kids Food Basket.  Kids Food Basket is a relief agency in Grand Rapids, MI which provides after school meals and snacks to children that might otherwise go to bed hungry.

Once a month, crackers, raisins, M&M’s and other munchies are purchased in large quantities and a small assembly operation is set up. The next morning, the ingredients are all mixed together in large bins.  Volunteers gather early before work and establish a mini production line of mixing, scooping, bagging, sealing, counting and boxing.  Our goal is to produce hundreds of bags of trail mix for hungry kids that need a snack.  It takes 8 – 10 people to bag up all but one batch by 8:30 AM.  By 9:30, three or four people complete the last batch and clean up, wash tubs and put everything away for the next month.  We have a driver from Telecom who picks up the boxes and delivers everything to the west side of Grand Rapids, also on his own time.

We all have fun and even solve some work-related issues while gathered around packing bags of trail mix for the kids.

Teams assemble 600 to 700 trail mix bags each month.  Over 6,000 bags have been sent this year to feed kids who don’t get enough to eat every day when they leave school.

In addition to the trail mix project, we have 2 dozen people who decorate white paper lunch/supper sacks.  The decorated lunch sacks send a message to the kids that they are valued and that they matter.  Three or four times a year, 2,000 decorated bags will be used to send sack lunch dinners to hungry kids via Kid’s Food Basket.  Often, it’s the little things we do that actually mean a lot.

Ronaldinho Scores $120,000 for kids!

Saturday, 1 May, 2010

Here’s a recap – - As a global spokesperson for the Amway One by One Campaign for Children, Ronaldinho earns $10,000 USD for children’s charities for each goal he scores through NUTRILITE’s Goal by Goal program during the 2009/2010 season.

What does this mean?  The proceeds have been earmarked to build a sports center for children near the city of L’Aquila, which was devastated by a massive earthquake hit in Spring of 2009.  The ground breaking ceremony and placing of the cornerstone of the sports center was celebrated in October 2009.

Now the update!!  Topping last year’s charitable donation of $100,000, with 11 goals in Italy this season, plus a ceremonial donation to kick start the program, Ronaldinho generated $120,000, allowing children affected by the earthquake in L’Aquila return to a sense of normalcy through their favorite sport.

“As a professional soccer player, it’s my job to help my team win,” said A.C. Milan Forward and Amway One by One Global Spokesperson Ronaldinho. “As a person who cares about helping children, it’s my honor to connect my profession with my passion of helping kids in need.”

“Ronaldinho not only helps us shine a spotlight on global philanthropic initiatives we support, but also highlights the importance that others can play in helping those in need to live, learn, achieve and play,” said Amway CMO Candace Matthews.  “We applaud his efforts in this program and in the community.”