But it gets better...
This evening I received an email from Linda Meyers. She's a part of the Heifer organization and she had seen my blog post, "Ask Questions!" She read it! And she even tried to leave a comment! (but she didn't have an appropriate account to respond, so instead she sent an e-mail) After reading my post she went out of her way to contact the Senior Director of Branding & Communications to gets answers to all those questions I had asked and then made sure the message got passed along to me somehow.
This truly just tells you what an awesome organization they are - they take the time to read the blogs of those interested in supporting their cause and they go out of their way to find answers to their questions. Linda could have read my post and just assumed that I would have to wait on a response from Ms. Reed. Instead, she made sure I got those answers by contacting people on her own time and getting the message to me personally. Below is the e-mail...just so that YOU can read first hand about what's going on with the nationwide effort of Heifer and maybe find a way that you can help.
We saw your blog post “Ask Questions!” and wanted to send you a response. I tried to post it on your blog as a comment, but couldn’t because we don’t have an appropriate user account to do so. So, here is the response from Joedy Isert, Senior Director of Branding & Communications.
First, we at Heifer International want to thank you for all your support, in your blog and in your gifts, for our work. Nothing we do would be possible without help such as yours, and the fact that you take it and make it so personal through your blog is an even more special gift.
In answer to some of the questions you raised in your post, “Ask Questions!” Heifer International had regional offices in five areas in the United States, including the Chicago area, Southern California, Massachusetts and other regions. In 2009, responding to the economic downturn and decisions to commit additional resources to programs and reduce operational expenses, regional officers were closed. Heifer retained staff in many of the areas, working out of their homes or storefronts as Community Engagement Coordinators, but we stopped spending on brick and mortar offices.
And while Heifer has worked in the United States for most of our nearly 70-year existence, the work in the United States has been on a much smaller footprint than our work in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. We have worked with American Indian reservations in the Southwest, with high-poverty areas in the central Appalachians and in some hard-hit inner-city communities with urban gardening, but there has never been a true nationwide U.S.-based program.
Another challenge is the scope of need and our very limited resources. While we are very proud of the 94.5 million people we have been able to help since 1944, that pales compared to the fact that nearly 1 billion people are chronically hungry around the world. And while we are very generously supported, raising about $100 million annually, to tackle the problems here in the United States and around the world would cost tens of billions of dollars, according to the World Bank. We simply don’t have access to those resources, so we try to work in areas where we can leverage and best use the limited resources we have.
Thus the reason behind our work in the United States high poverty areas in Appalachian North Carolina and in the Arkansas Delta. These are areas with rich soil, but with little economic hope or opportunity. By working with small-landowner farmers and other agricultural interests in these areas, it is our goal to help them produce more and better crops to feed themselves and eventually, to connect to the value chain so they are selling their crops to help provide good, affordable food to hospitals, schools, distributors, groceries and others.
This will create jobs, help give people greater access to better foods, build community networks and as they become independent and successful, we can move to help in other areas such as Raleigh or the Mississippi Delta or the many other areas of high need in this country.
Our mission is to end hunger and poverty and protect the planet, and we wish we were in a position, as do many other similar organizations, to make that happen sooner rather than later. But we have to work to our resources and to our abilities. Every decision on where we work is difficult as we would love to be in every city, state and country where people need help feeding themselves or their families and where agriculture could continue to be a strong contributor to the community.
I hope we have been able to answer some of your questions, and we deeply appreciate your help and support. Thanks again and please keep asking the good questions.
Senior Director, Brand & Communications