Posts Tagged ‘community’

Non-profit Spotlight: Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank

September 24, 2010

Consider these statistics: 

  • Nearly 1 of every 6 Americans does not have enough to eat.
  • Almost half of all the food the United States produces or imports for consumption every year is wasted.
  • Roughly 18% of that discarded food is recoverable.
  • It would only take a little more than 1/3 of that recovered food to end hunger in the United States.
  • Unfortunately only 21% of what is needed, less than 8% of what is available is actually recovered. 
  • An estimated $4 billion annually would cover the cost to save and distribute enough food to end hunger in the United States.
  • It current costs the United States 22.5 times that amount in healthcare, crime and lost productivity related costs as a result of ignoring the epidemic of hunger in our nation.

While these figures are staggering something is being done.  Even better news is that progress is being made by one very unique organization – Feeding America.  Since 1981 the West Michigan chapter has helped their community at large as a non-profit clearinghouse for saved, donated food that is distributed to area churches and charity agencies to help people in need.  Their goal has always been to end hunger in West Michigan.  For them, ending hunger means making sure that people who need food assistance can not only get it, but can get enough for what they need. 

In mid-1990, Feeding America West Michigan was able to determine just how much “enough” was.  For their 40-county service area, (which stretches from the Michigan-Indiana boarder to the Upper Peninsula) they needed to provide their agency food banks with 55 million pounds of food every year.  The problem was that at the time they determined what the actual need was, they were only handling 5 million pounds a year.  Compounding the challenge was a need for more agencies to help distribute the food at the point of need.  Most food pantries could only handle about 45,000 pounds per year and Feeding America West Michigan was only serving about 300 of them.  In order to help end hunger with 55 million pounds of food, they needed almost 1,300 agencies.

Over the next 7 years, Feeding America West Michigan launched a huge-scale project to recruit and develop 1,100 – 1,300 agencies located within the 40 county service area so that any person in need had access to food at an agency located no more than 10 miles (for rural areas) or 10 blocks (in urban areas) away.  They understood that many times the causes of hunger are not always within our control.  However being a source of help when needed was definitely something they could.  When a person or family has enough food to eat they are less likely to be sick, become homeless, commit crimes of despiration or lash out in anger, fear or frustration.  A simple gift of food is often a catalyst to breaking a cycle of need. 

This is by no means an independent venture.  Without help from volunteers and supporters Feeding America West Michigan would not be what it is or be able to help in all the ways that they do.  Through their 7 warehouses, they serve 1,300+ food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, domestic violence shelters, rescue missions, and other charity agencies across the western third of the Lower Peninsula and entire Upper Peninsula.  In 2009, they distributed over 24.5 million pounds of food and other goods.

You can definitely be a part of ending hunger in not only West Michigan, but also the entire United States.  However, please consider this:  if you would like to give a gift of support a monetary donation goes so much farther than a donation of food.  When you or I buy food at the store we are only able to receive $1 of food for every $1 spent.  With a gift of money, your $1 can be turned into as many as 7 complete meals worth of food.  Plus your monetary donation can be considered a tax deduction  while a bag of groceries cannot.  (Consult your tax advisor for specific details.)  Of course a donation of your time has tremendous value too.

If you would like to get involved, visit the Feeding America West Michigan website to find a location near you.  To Find a Feeding America Food Bank in other states, visit the national website.  Feeding America West Michigan will continue to be a regional nonprofit clearinghouse for saved, donated food to assist needy people, with an ongoing mission to end hunger in West Michigan.

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You Say it Best

April 27, 2010

“After comparing quotes from 3 mortgage companies, we chose Awareness.  Not only were their fees substantially less, they provided us with great service.  In order to get our home we needed them to work with a tight time crunch.  They were friendly and very easy to talk to, gave us options, and answered all our questions.  When they donated $250 to our church, we were pleased to see how much they care about the community.”  –Carrie

“My mortgage officer at Awareness Home Funding was there for us, answering questions and making sure things ran smoothly all the way through our closing.”  -Lisa

Have you ever watched a commercial where a product or service was given glowing endorsements and wondered if the actor or celebrity was really a satisfied customer?  While the ad creates interest does it instill trust?  Now what if your friend, relative, or co-worker told you about a company and the service they provided.  You would probably be inclined to believe the endorsement.  Why?  Trust.  We trust those we have a relationship with.  We trust those who are like us, and view the world much the same way we do.

This is why we want to share what others have to say about us.  We could just create a bunch of flowery marketing pieces, but unless they share real sentiment it doesn’t carry real value.

We strive to give you our best, to be honest, to work to meet your goals and to keep your interests in front.  We want you to feel comfortable referring your friends, relatives, co-workers, and charity supporters to us.  Growing our business by referrals means we can continue to give back to the communities we serve.  Referrals mean money won’t be spent on elaborate ad campaigns or towering corporate offices.  Referrals mean more $250 donations will be made to your favorite charity when a loan is closed.

Please help us to continue to support your important non-profit causes by referring your friends, relatives, co-workers and charity supporters that might need our help to purchase or refinance their home.

“My home loan specialists at Awareness Home Funding are the most competent, on top of it people that I have ever worked with.  I say this even though I purchased a repossessed home that was in foreclosure and as a result, it had many complications with the red tape and paperwork.  I would recommend Awareness to my family and friends any time.”  -Richard

The Awareness Works 4 U program and You

April 19, 2010

As you read our blog or visit our website you hopefully get a sense that we really do have a passion for helping others.  We want our company to look far beyond the bottom line and at how we can strengthen our communities.  We feel the most effective way is to support organizations that are already doing that.

Our Awareness Works 4 U program is very simple.  When we close a home loan, we make a $250 donation to a non-profit organization that our client chooses.  The idea is to create a complete circle of support.  We make a donation to an organization to help them continue their work.  The organization continues to touch lives making positive impacts.  Those involved with the organization (as a volunteer or member) connect with us to help them with their home loan needs; and more donations to the organization are made.  The cycle is endless.

The obvious question that many have asked is how we really do this.  Where does that $250 come from?  What portion do our clients pay for?

The truth?  Our clients don’t pay a dime for this program; it comes from us and our profits.  We could use this money for large corporate offices in high rise buildings, but we don’t.  We could use this money for elaborate advertising campaigns, but we won’t.  We could use this money for lavish yearly bonuses, but that just doesn’t seem right. 

The saying that, “to those that much is given, much is expected in return,” seems to fit.  We have found that there is huge reward in helping others.  And when we do, the benefits are always returned.  This is not just our program, but yours as well.  Do you have a favorite charity?  Tell us about them!  We are licensed to handle home loans in 5 states, but we have supported organizations nationwide. 

Help us continue to support your communities by referring your friends, relatives and co-workers that might need our help to purchase or refinance their home and keep the circle of support going. You’ll be glad you did, and so will the people you ultimately help.

Paying It Forward

March 5, 2010

You may recall the 2000 movie, “Pay it Forward” directed by Mimi Leder.  It starred Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment and was based on the book by the same name written by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  The storyline is that a young boy was inspired to make the world a better place after his teacher challenged his class to come up with an idea that would improve mankind.  The student came up with the idea to ‘pay it forward’.  The concept was to do a good deed for three people who then in turn did good deeds for three other people creating a ripple effect of good will and generosity.

While this movie may have pushed the idea into the limelight, the concept of helping someone else is as old as time.  Helping someone else not only benefits the recipient, but also benefits the giver.  Think about the feeling you had the last time you did something for someone else for no other reason that to just be helpful.  That feeling is empowering.  Most often the deed done for another is something very simple.  The thought counts here and it’s because you put someone else’s needs before your own.

Examples of genuine kindness and compassion are all around us.  Like a soccer game some years back between Australia and China.  Two Australian players had collided leaving one lying motionless on the ground.  As soon as China noticed the injury they kicked the ball out of play, so the trainers could tend to the injured player.  When the ball was put back in play, Australia threw the ball to a Chinese player. 

What about something very current like the reality show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  Every week residential construction companies rally huge teams of contractors to build a brand new home for a family facing hardship.  Families are selected because they still try to help others in the midst of their own struggles.

Okay, too big?  What about stories of average kids raising money with lemonade stands to support victims of natural disasters?  What about someone in the drive thru lane paying the bill for the car behind them?  What about a child ‘filling’ a box with blown kisses for a parent before they leave on a business trip?

The point of paying it forward and random acts of kindness isn’t about how big or noteworthy.  The point is that we have all been blessed in a multitude of ways and can use those blessings to help someone else.  You may not be blessed with money, but are you blessed with love and support that you could brighten someone else’s day with a kind word?  Occasionally you need to ‘empty your hands’ of what you have been given so that you can receive more.

Our company has taken this approach with our program, ‘Awareness Works 4 U’ It’s really very simple.  When you give us the opportunity to help you with a home loan, we ‘pay it forward’ with a donation to a charity of your choice when your loan closes.  The charity uses this money to continue their efforts to support the people they reach.  Those involved with the charity live, work and interact in their communities knowing they have a full circle of support.  And on the ripples of support go on. 

We would appreciate your help in letting others know about our efforts.  Alone, acts of kindness are often just single events.  Working together we can create a wave of generosity that betters mankind.  What organization would you like help supporting?  We’d love to help pay it forward.