RHLCT Honors Arnold Rutkin by Establishing Scholars Fund at the Center for Children’s Advocacy
On Oct 12, 2017, The Ruth and Hal Launders Charitable Trust honored Westport attorney Arnold Rutkin with the establishment of the Arnold Rutkin Scholars Fund at the Center for Children’s Advocacy. The Fund will support the Center for Children’s Advocacy’s legal advocacy for youth who are aging out of state care and need assistance to find safe housing and enroll in post-secondary education programs.
Rutkin’s friends, family and associates gathered to celebrate his lifelong support for underserved children and youth. Their added contributions to the newly-established fund are helping the Center provide legal support for even more youth.
Pacific House Shares Young Adult Program Member’s Success Story
In late August Mike Garcia boarded an airplane for the very first time, bound for Nebraska and Wayne State College after a lifetime of chaotic living environments and homelessness. Mike’s story, and the help he received from Pacific House, is an example of the success our organization is having in turning people’s lives around.
Growing Up: Mike grew up in Stamford with a mom addicted to drugs and a father who passed away when Mike was turning 13. He attended a Magnet School, but lived in 18 different apartments, and sometimes on the street, until he quit high school in his junior year and moved out on his own to an apartment and a roommate.
He paid his portion of the rent by working at Home Depot and taking on graphic design jobs, whenever he could get them. A friend had given Mike an old computer with Photoshop, and he taught himself the program. He went on to get his GED. When his roommate left, Mike couldn’t afford a place of his own and came to the Pacific House Young Adult Program.
At Pacific House: With his maturity and work ethic, Mike quickly advanced to a leadership position in the program – a member of the program, but with responsibilities to help support and supervise other members. A donor learned of his design talents and purchased a new laptop for Mike.
Upon meeting, the two talked about Mike’s future and it was the first time Mike ever considered the possibility of college. “He took the time out, and came and met me,” said Mike speaking appreciatively of the donor. “He made me feel like I should take a different path and get my degree.”
From that point forward, Pacific House took the steps that parents typically take to prepare their child for college. The Young Adult Program Coordinator took Mike for a college visit at SUNY Purchase and enrolled Mike in a SAT prep class, where he scored a 1390 out of 1600. Pacific House counseled Mike on weighing college choices, paid for his application fees and his airplane ticket to Nebraska. Supporters provided suitcases for his trip, a winter coat and funds to purchase items for school.
“I’m excited to have the experience, to be somewhere different. I want to get internships at local companies, and network with people. There’s a lot of things I can do to help my situation. By getting away and focusing on what I’m doing, I feel like I could graduate top of my class.”
Before he left, Pacific House explained how to navigate an airport, and helped him to get his driver’s permit. A supporter from Christ Church in Greenwich, Randy Wolf, met with Mike to help him create a resume, and prepare for his arrival at college. Randy, serving as an invaluable mentor, continues to exchange texts with Mike almost every day. Seeing this all the way through, Pacific House coordinated with advisors at the college so that supports were put in place for his arrival – including a van to pick Mike up at the airport.
“It’s all what you make of it; you’re in your situation because of choices you’ve made. You can dwell on them and stagnate, or try to move forward. Everyone here tried to help me move forward, they’ve been amazing, and it’s greatly appreciated.”
Rhode Island Food Hub Takes Shape Thanks to Grant from the Ruth and Hal Launders Charitable Trust
Farm Fresh Rhode Island is a 501c3 nonprofit, begun as a Brown University student project in 2004 as a means to connect farmers and eaters in Rhode Island. Farm Fresh RI has since grown into a nationally recognized organization working on significant innovation in the farm-to-table and food justice movements, playing a critical role in changing RI’s food system by identifying and solving missing pieces of infrastructure–from markets and technology systems to transparent wholesale delivery systems.
Building the Rhode Island Food Hub represents an opportunity to scale up local distribution and processing to address these critical infrastructure needs. At the same time, the Hub will address the growing constraints of Farm Fresh’s current spaces on its operations, enabling all of its Community Access and Food System Enterprise programs to be consolidated in one location with opportunities for growth and expansion.
In May 2017, Farm Fresh RI purchased a 3.2-acre site in the Valley district of Providence. This neighborhood has a rich history as an industrial and manufacturing stronghold, but many of its buildings today are either severly underutilized or totally vacant. The area represents a tremendous opportunity for transformation, so that it once again becomes a thriving center, bustling with 21st-century jobs and businesses.
Farm Fresh RI will be the RI Food Hub’s anchor tenant, and will occupy about half of the planned 60,000 square foot building. The Hub’s co-locators will be food and farm-related businesses whose operations and markets will be enhanced by their proximity to Farm Fresh and each other.
Thanks to the generous support of Launders Charitable Trust and other donors, the RI Food Hub will include:
• A hub for the aggregation and distribution of locally produced food
• Production facilities for co-located businesses
• Markets reaching the individual consumer and the wholesale trade
• Culinary skills and food-handling job training for at-risk youth
• Facilities for health and nutrition education programming
The Rhode Island Food Hub will be a vibrant and transformative center where locally grown, harvested, and caught food arrives fresh from fields and waters and is delivered whole, processed, or frozen to a wide variety of purchasers—from schools and hospitals to diners and corner stores. And it will be a place where Rhode Islanders can see, purchase, and learn about the excellent food grown, caught, and made in their own backyards.
Grant from the Launders Trust Brings a Beacon of Hope to Puerto Rico
After Hurricane Maria savagely crippled Puerto Rico in late September, 2017, its citizens were dependent upon the humanitarian deliveries of food, water, and medical care. What remained scarce was electricity.
Grants from the RHLCT Used to Enhance the Neurological Center at Misioneros Del Camino in Guatemala
Misioneros Del Camino was founded in 1986 by Leonor Portela with the mission to help abused, malnourished, and abandoned children of Guatemala, offering them a healthy environment to grow, where they receive love, care and an education, preparing them to be productive citizens of society, breaking the cycle of ignorance, poverty, and abuse. From a small Home in Guatemala City with only 6 children, it rapidly grew to 50. In 1990 the municipality of Sumpango donated approximately 10 acres of land with several abandoned buildings. After several years of rebuilding, the Home moved to its new location capable of housing 100 children. Since then a school has been added for 200 children, as well as a vocational school, and a Nutritional Ward. In 2001 MDC in conjunction with Emmaus Medical Missions began conducting 2 medical missions per year attending 3000+ patients. The Neurological Center began operating in 2007 with the objective of improving the quality of life of children with Developmental Disorders (Autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral Palsy, etc) their parents and siblings. The Center provides neurological and psychological evaluations, speech, occupational, sensory and physical therapies, parental and therapeutic training, medical tests and medications. Most recently Special Education classes have been added.
The Center is currently providing services to 165 patients free of charge with more that 100 on a waiting list with a wide variety of disorders. To date the Center is the only facility in Guatemala that provides such comprehensive services to low income individuals and families. It is fast becoming a teaching facility for new therapists and other organizations interested in helping children with neurological disorders. (To learn more about the children featured on the left, please click on the individual photos.)
The grant funds from the Ruth and Hal Launders Charitable Trust will be used to enhance the existing services at the Misioneros Del Camino Neurological Center. It will provide some additional Neurological and Psychological evaluations and medications to patients that have no financial means to obtain them without assistance. The grant will also assist in replacing or obtaining new therapy tools and supplies for the Special Education classes and increase the hours of therapy provided to some of the patients.
Two Grants from the Launders Trust Support Innovation Center at Edesia
Edesia is a nonprofit social enterprise on a mission to help treat and prevent malnutrition in the world’s most vulnerable populations. From our state-of-the-art factory in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, our dedicated staff (hailing from over 23 countries) produces peanut-based, ready-to-use therapeutic and supplementary foods that have reached over 5 million malnourished children in over 48 countries. Edesia’s lifesaving foods are distributed in partnerships with humanitarian agencies such as the US Agency for International Development, US Department of Agriculture, the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and others.
In mid-2016 Edesia relocated its factory and offices within Rhode Island to a new state-of-the-art facility. Production capacity doubled and the more-efficient factory expanded our potential to reach up to two million malnourished children each year. The new factory plans also included an Innovation Center, where a small team is now working on new research and development initiatives for international and domestic use.
The need for real-world solutions to combat malnutrition are enormous with each country posing unique challenges that demand innovative solutions. In Guatemala, for example, there is a need to address the stunting crisis in children under the age of two, while in Yemen there is an urgent need to help malnourished pregnant women regain their health. New ideas, formulas, and products are desperately needed for the humanitarian workers involved with the nutritional programming on the ground.
With two generous grants from the Ruth and Hal Launders Charitable Trust, Edesia’s Innovation Center has become well poised to successfully make and launch new product formulas — for countries like Guatemala and Yemen — fully customized and adapted in terms of ingredients, fortification, and visual messaging that is culturally appropriate. This will have a life-changing impact for many malnourished people, who would not have otherwise been reached.