Midwest Living Good Neighbors
In 2020, Midwest Living began its Good Neighbors program to shine a spotlight on good deeds and unique Midwest nonprofits. We feature the nonprofit in the magazine and also donate $500 to each. Here’s the list so far.
1. Good Neighbors: Little Free Garden
In 2015, three friends from Fargo, North Dakota, launched Little Free Garden. The goal: Build community and increase access to fresh food. Participants plant veggies and herbs in front yards or outside schools, churches or libraries with a sign encouraging people to help themselves. (Get one with a $25 starter kit.) “As the project grows, we believe it represents a positive sign for the progress of humanity,” says cofounder Gia Rassier. littlefreegarden.com.
2. Good Neighbors: Living Lands and Waters
The crew behind Living Lands and Waters, a nonprofit environmental organization based in East Moline, Illinois, spends most of the year living and traveling on a barge, hosting conservation efforts like river cleanups, workshops and tree plantings. Since its inception in 1998 by founder Chad Pregracke, and with the help of more than 108,000 volunteers, the group has removed 10.7 million pounds of trash from our nation’s rivers. This year, Living Lands and Waters is focused on the next phase of its MillionTrees Project. Having already met a goal of planting 1 million trees along waterways to increase biodiversity, reduce erosion, and improve air and water quality, the group is working toward its second million. livinglandsandwaters.org
Read here about other Good Neighbors recognized specifically for their efforts to fill community needs in the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Good Neighbors: DreamBikes
DreamBikes may look like an average bike store, but the work happening inside goes beyond repairing two-wheel rides. This Wisconsin-based nonprofit (with Midwest shops in Madison and Milwaukee) provides on-the-job training for underprivileged teens, teaching them how to refurbish and resell gently used bicycles. Since its inception in 2008 DreamBikes has returned more than 10,000 bikes to the community—and kicked up a little you-can-do-anything magic dust in the process. “The struggles of a pandemic and social injustice in the world support our realization that our drive to educate and empower is more important than ever,” says Matthew Martinez, branch manager. dream-bikes.org
4. Good Neighbors: Veterans Community Project
Since 2015, Veterans Community Project in Kansas City, Missouri, has supported more than 4,000 veterans. The nonprofit offers emergency assistance and other services at its Veterans Outreach Center, plus transitional housing for homeless vets, many suffering from PTSD. The 240-square-foot homes include bed, bath, kitchen and Wi-Fi—plus stability, security, privacy and a sense of pride. A second village will open next summer outside Denver; the organization is aiming for five more by 2022. “With each expansion,” says Jason Kander, president of national expansion, “a new group of American veterans is mobilized to once again contribute to the community it calls home.” veteranscommunityproject.org