Dear Friends of Plenty,
Plenty turns 35 this year. Thatís kind of a milestone for a small independent nonprofit and weíre just incredibly grateful to all our generous and faithful supporters who have made this possible. You are the reason Plenty continues. Itís that simple.
Certainly the need has not lessened. UNICEF says 25,000 children die every day due to poverty, which means these deaths are preventable. The frequency of natural and man-made disasters never seems to slow. Humankind apparently still believes war is a necessary means to solving problems. These realities also keep us going, along with the knowledge that we are making a difference, however small in the greater scheme of things. Differences must be made. Doing nothing is not an option.
In 35 years Plenty has been involved with projects in at least 20 countries on five continents. Weíve been working in Guatemala since 1976, on Pine Ridge Reservation since 1981, in Belize since 1985. Kids To The Country started as part of Plenty's project in the South Bronx in the early 1980s. After awhile, people weíre working with become like family. We start getting invited to their weddings and birthday parties, graduations and funerals. When one of our Plenty Guatemala soy project volunteers returned to Guatemala 15 years later to do more soy demonstrations she noticed that the little kids she used to hand out soy ice cream cones to were now the young mothers attending her classes and their kids were getting to eat the ice cream and other soyfoods. In this new Bulletin you will read about a family reunion that was held in April in California with Plenty Guatemala volunteers and the original Mayan Soyaria managers, Agustin and Elena Xoquic.
I remember that in the year of Plentyís 25th anniversary we said it was time to do a Plenty book. Well, no sooner did we make that pledge than ten years elapsed. Whew. That was fast. So now we have gotten more serious about that book and a long-time Plenty volunteer and former editor at the Farmís Book Publishing Company, is on the case collecting the memorable stories of Plenty volunteers from over the past three and a half decades. Some of these stories make my hair (whatís left of it) stand on end when I realize how many bullets (some literal) volunteers have dodged. I also get chills remembering how truly courageous, resourceful and talented Plenty volunteers have been. Many were teenagers and twenty somethings when they joined projects in distant lands. Most had never done anything like this before or had any formal training. What they had going for them was a compassionate nature, fearlessness and, I would have to say, some kind of resolute faith in their ability to do heavy things they had never had to do before. Unsung heroes all. We want to tell their stories because their stories are the clearest evidence we have that everyone is already qualified to make a difference. We sometimes even surprise ourselves.
I want to close this letter with the joyful passion of Karen Heikkala, our dear friend and Plenty volunteer, Board member and, most recently, Chairwoman. Toward the end of her life she started writing poems like this:
Life is pure energy
Wield it as you may
Keep it at bay or embrace it in full
Be prepared to open your eyes
And grab the strings that go by
Swinging from gift to gift you can fulfill the pact
That you came in with
And will later retract
To a place we donít know where
But a place of beauty if you cared
Plenty is accepting contributions to our Karen Heikkala Memorial Fund to especially benefit mothers and children through projects enhancing good nutrition, health care and education.