I have been a volunteer for this organization for the last 7 years, the volunteer coordinator for the last 5 and a board member for the last 4. I am deeply committed to our work in Nicaragua (which Eileen mentioned) and to the amazing amount of work our volunteers have accomplished here in Pittsburgh and in Nicaragua.
I would like to talk a little more about our relationship with the El Porvenir Coffee Cooperative in Nicaragua and our coffee project in general. We were one of the first (and only) organizations in Pittsburgh to partner directly with a coffee cooperative and to promote the issues of Fair Trade in the Pittsburgh region. With the help of our volunteers and our roaster, we have sold over 150,000 pounds of coffee from this cooperative since 2001. We pay way above a Fair Trade price to the farmers as well as the shipping from there to here. It is shade grown, bird friendly and organically certified at the farm (promoting bio-diversity and healthier ground water for the families).
The coffee is served at several local area restaurants, cafes and sold in several retail outlets. It is also used by several local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms and by several local school, civic and church groups as a fundraiser. The most successful of these groups is Franklin Regional Middle School and I would like to provide a testament by Mr. Poole (the teacher who started this in 2003.
"I was shocked to find out we have been doing this since 2003! I have estimated that we have made close to $20.000 in profits, half of which has stayed in our community helping local families to have food on their tables for the holidays. The other half has provided donations to BNH, The Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh, The American Cancer Society, The Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti, Two High School scholarships to students in Nicaragua and a new computer to a rural school in Costa Rica delivered by our students. Over the years this experience has taught my students the value of serving others, the difficulty of living what we consider a normal daily life, and what fair trade means to the people who actually receive the fair trade price. Thank you Building New Hope!"
This inspires me and I know the rest of the board to keep up the great work ahead of us. I want to close by saying I see first hand the high quality of work we have and are still accomplishing and the many lives we are changing for the better, both here in Pittsburgh and in Nicaragua. We just celebrated our 20th Anniversary in October, 2012 and my hope building is for another 20 years. Thank you Building New Hope indeed.
I've been involved with Building New Hope since I went to El Salvador with them in 1994 and helped set up a solar-powered clean water system for the small village of Nueva Esperanza (New Hope). I was hooked from the start with their people-to-people focus and high energy.
Since then, I've participated as a volunteer in many ways, including as a board member. Currently BNH runs two innovative supplementary schools serving the poorest neighborhoods in Granada, and also an animal clinic that has alleviated the public health problems associated with Granada's large stray animal population as well as increased the health and welfare of the working horse population of the city. They also support Granada's only lending library (which also serves 14 public shools) and a worker-owned coffee cooperative of about 50 families.
BNH also began a music program in public shools in Granada and outlying areas that has since become its own nonprofit organization.
This organization does incredible work, almost entirely with volunteers.