Location: Akron, Ohio
Profession: Founder, Peace Foods
What was your first connection to philanthropy?:
I donated time or money to many things over the years, but the one that felt the most worthwhile – before Peace Corps – was tutoring people for their GED at a local community services program. You’ve never met people that were more gracious, polite, hard-working, and just trying their best to better themselves and the world around them. You couldn’t help but want to support them in that.
Tell us about your time in the Peace Corps and what inspired you to pursue this meaningful work?:
I was a Community Economic Development Specialist with the United States Peace Corps in Suriname, South America. That means I was working with a village in the rural interior (accessible only by canoe) that had petitioned for a trained development specialist to come in and help them execute on their list of development priorities. They had been waiting for six years and so, wow, were they excited to see me! We were able to do some incredible work to help address infrastructure issues, green energy, youth education, HIV prevention, and business development.
How do you donate your time?:
My business employs people with developmental disabilities and spending time with them is something I love to do – whether it’s stopping buy to help with a task, visiting the clinic where they do therapy, or taking them out to the movies!
Tell us about your company and how have you incorporated giving back into it?
Peaceful Fruits is a social good snack company that is committed to sustainability and economic empowerment – in the Amazon Rainforest where we harvest our fruit and here in Akron, Ohio where we employ people with disabilities to make our snacks. That social mission is built into the core of the business because it has real intrinsic value, but I don’t really think of it as giving anything back.
If you look beyond short term gains, taking care of the environment and the larger community of people out there is just the right thing to do. And, since more and more people agree with me on that, taking that view helps set you apart from the competition. So more and more, doing the right thing also just plain makes good business sense.
That’s also why we don’t buy-one give-one or donate a % of profits – we take care of the people and the environment first. Because it’s either a sustainable, core part of the business or it risks being just marketing.
Who is your philanthropic role model?:
I love One Acre Fund – their model of metric-driven, business minded, do-gooding is the future of both business and aid.
Anything else you’d like to add?:
We recently compiled all kinds of cool information about Peaceful Fruits, our mission, and our delicious, healthy snacks into one place and called it a crowdfunding campaign! Whether you can back us or not, check it out to learn more about us – and tell a friend! You can support us here.