Building On An Ambitious Idea
Imagine the audacity of an American Buddhist Monk - and a woman at that - saying with conviction, "We've got to make some changes here. Sometimes life leaves scars that most of us never experience. When young people find themselves without a home or a family they can turn to, they have few options other than drugs and the street life. No young person should be thrown away as if they are worthless! "
In 2009, Venerable Pannavati set out to do something about that where she was living in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Immediately she opened the monastery up to young people in need of housing and started a downtown social center where they could connect with one another and adult volunteers. She saw, however, that more was needed by these youth than a temporary respite from hunger and survival fatigue. They needed a pathway into the mainstream of life, and that meant:
Getting a basic education - at least a GED
Learning social skills so they could interact productively with peers, with authority figures, with potential employers, and with the community around them
Learning both the life skills and job skills required to hold down a decent job so they could earn their own way in life without resorting to dangerous and destructive alternatives.
The social enterprise she began in 2012 as a training ground for homeless young people has proven its worth. In June 2013, seven young men were the first graduates of the My Place bakery apprenticeship training program. Four are now employed in MPI's My Gluten Free Bread Company. They now see themselves as accomplished young adults capable of making their way in life. They can appropriately take pride in the long way they have come.
What We Need
The social enterprise founded and run by Ven. Pannavati is on the verge of a breakthrough to a whole new level of sustainability for its social programs. The young crew of My Gluten Free Bread Company, guided by skilled senior staff members, have turned out products of highly recognized quality. A leading Western North Carolina grocery chain granted has them a supplier contract to 10 of their stores, and they are in the planning stage to add an additional 50! To step up to the challenge, however, the bakery needs to buy:
- A used delivery truck.
- A second commercial oven.
A -20° high capacity freezer.
Production Equipment, (depositor, 80qt mixer, scales, slicer).
Branded custom bags for their finished products.
My Place has provided services to over 250 youth (80 in residence) since 2009. The bakery puts the non-profit on a trajectory to continue developing young people through self-funding. The answer to poverty is not found in providing handouts, but in empowering and equipping people with skills, knowledge, and pride in themselves -- and providing them the opportunity to give back positively to the community around them.
Other Ways You Can Help
Help us get the word out. Like our Facebook page and send a personal email to your friends asking them to partner with us. You could become a team member for this campaign, send us your picture, and pledge to share this campaign with 100 friends! Indiegogo has great sharing tools that can make that easy. Thanks for all you can do to help our young people succeed in becoming productive, self-sufficient adults.