Something for all of us to think about during Black History Month (and all year) is the fact that structural racism and destructive economic policies in the United States have deeply affected the relationship Black Americans have with food, the land, and agriculture. People who have such a rich history of growing food, creating varied and healthy cuisines, and using herbal medicine have often been deliberately separated from that knowledge over the past 400 years. Therefore, part of building wealth and health in communities is establishing Black ownership of these systems. This ownership involves access to land, knowledge, and fresh food offerings in communities.
Because of this, our social justice highlight and donation for this cycle is the African Heritage Food Co-op, which is looking to expand and establish a location in the heart of the Buffalo Fruit Belt at 238 Carlton Street!
Here is their vision statement from their website:
Our vision is to create a world where inner city “neighborhoods” can become Communities. Where NO ONE goes without HEALTHY AFFORDABLE food options. Most importantly a world in which we can create Ownership and employment opportunities IN and FOR the COMMUNITY.
In short: A community seeing a problem, attempting to solve it themselves but lacking resources to do so.
Building 238 Carlton will be an economic engine for a community which will hire 60 individuals and provide healthy food options within walking distance and reinvest in other cooperative businesses, further providing opportunities.
We started in 2016 as a community share, branched out to mobile markets and created a brick and mortar facility in Niagara Falls. COVID derailed our efforts, but we are now ready to continue our pursuits and would love your help.
The African Heritage Food Co-op already has a location in Niagara Falls as well as a Co-op garden on Edison Street in Buffalo AND a farm in Franklinville! Part of the Co-op’s mission is to offer programs that teach young people about agriculture as well as entrepreneurship. The Co-op also believes in offering employment opportunities to people who need them most: those who have been incarcerated, experienced addiction issues, or had interruptions in education.
We’re donating a portion of our sales this month to the African Heritage Food Co-op.. Want to contribute to this endeavor with us? Use this donation link to help this important project become a reality!
Want more information about the Co-op? Check out their website or check out this WGRZ article and video interview with founder Alexander Wright!
As January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we’d like to take this opportunity to talk about Project Mona’s House, run by founder Kelly Diane Galloway.
Human trafficking is essentially modern-day slavery and affects many more people (and people closer to home) than we may realize. There are several forms of human trafficking, such as sex trafficking and labor trafficking, that are very difficult to escape from; those who are victimized by trafficking can be affected by the trauma of the experience in deep and lasting ways. Thankfully, Mona's House is an organization working to empower and advocate for victims of trafficking.
According to the Project Mona’s House website,
Mona's House is designed to help women 18 and older who have been victims of any type of human trafficking. WE ARE MORE THAN A SHELTER! Women entering our residence are committed to becoming contributing and functioning members of society, rebuilding their lives, and possibly assisting other women who may choose freedom one day too. Our 12-24 month program is designed to bring healing to the whole woman-- mind, body, and soul. We've specifically designed our holistic restoration program for women who have been victimized by human trafficking.
Mona’s House also offers other programs like Mona’s Group:
Mona’s Group is a support system that is designed specifically for women who have been victims of human trafficking, have worked in most capacities within the sex industry, or have been a victim of sexual abuse or assault.
Our goal is to provide a safe place for women to learn, heal, and grow. Our curriculum is designed to guide women to be the overcomers they were destined to be. Mona’s Group provides a holistic form of coaching that is coupled with life skills classes, workshops, and seminars to help its participants live successful lives and maximize their full potential. In addition to regular coaching sessions we offer:
Mona’s House also includes a drop-in center called the FreeTHEM Center, to “aid human trafficking survivors as well as at-risk women and children in developing life skills and in receiving services in counseling and support.”
And, of course, Mona’s House puts a great deal of time and energy into raising awareness about human trafficking in Buffalo, NY, and the rest of the United States. Be sure to follow them at @projectmonashouse on Instagram for a ton of useful and in-depth information about types of trafficking, groups of people who are most affected by trafficking, issues of consent, and ways to advocate for ending trafficking and supporting victims.
We are donating a percentage of sales for January to cover the cost of an intake care package, and we hope that you will also go to their website to donate!
Images below are courtesy of Project Mona's House:
As November is Native American Heritage Month, we will be donating to support the Haudenosaunee Indigenous Values Initiative to raise awareness about Indigenous history and the ongoing struggle of Indigenous people. We acknowledge that we as a business and as individuals are on Haudenosaunee land here in Western New York and recognize the need for us to learn about, and redistribute wealth to, the Indigenous communities that have experienced land theft and genocide.
The Haudenosaunee Indigenous Values Initiative website offers this information about their organization and mission:
NYA•WEÑHA SKÄ•NOÑH: Thank you for being well
The Indigenous Values Initiative is dedicated to articulating, disseminating and promoting values expressed by the leadership of the Onondaga Nation, the Central Fire (or Capital) of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (made up of the Seneca, Tuscarora, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk nations). Haudenosaunee means “People of the Longhouse,” and are most often mistakenly referred to as the “Iroquois”). The Onondaga Nation is unique to the world, in that they are the only Native Nation recognized by the United States, and the United Nations, that still operates according to their pre-colonial clan form of government. The Haudenosaunee organize themselves in a matrilineal clan system of extended families. Their ceremonies are aligned to phases of the moon, and are based on thanksgivings to the natural world. As we all face climatic changes, it is urgent that human beings reorient themselves to the rhythms of the earth. Indigenous value systems need to be heeded in these troubled times. Intercultural understanding, however, must be based on healing generations from colonization, missionization, genocide and assimilation. The Haudenosaunee understand the need for collaboration with individuals, institutions, communities, governments and businesses to articulate, disseminate and promote the ancient and enduring values of Indigenous Peoples traditions to the world. The Indigenous Values Initiative (IVI) raises funds to support educational projects which will disperse information through conferences, classes, exhibitions, publications, speakers, expositions, etc. (https://indigenousvalues.org/about/)
As November is Native American Heritage Month and we are located on Haudenosaunee land, we will be donating to the Indigenous Values Initiative to support this organization's crucial work in advocacy and education.
We also encourage you to read about the Landback Movement which states that "To truly dismantle white supremacy and systems of oppression, we have to go back to the roots. Which, for us, is putting Indigneous Lands back in Indigenous hands." (https://landback.org/)
Because so much support is needed during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, we wanted to highlight an organization that is working to provide this support for young women (particularly those who have been in the foster care system) who are pregnant or parenting. According to the Homespace website,
“For the past 20 years, Homespace Corporation has been successfully helping young, single women (age 14-21 years old) to forge a better life for themselves and their children. Homespace provides a safe, nurturing environment where these young women can learn the skills to enhance themselves and their families, and break the cycle of public welfare dependency. Residents receive training in job-readiness, budgeting, household management, nutrition, parenting, as well as comprehensive clinical services.”
These clinical services even include access to doula care (see our post on local doulas for more info on this topic) as well as services like counseling to support mental and emotional health. We are donating a percentage of our September website sales to Homespace to support the young parents in this program!
If you don’t already know about the work Jericho Road Community Health Center is doing in Buffalo, be sure to check them out and support them! What we love about this organization is that they focus on anyone who needs medical care and support--children as well as adults, and newly arrived refugees (like those coming from Afghanistan and Haiti) as well as those who have been living in Buffalo their entire lives.
According to their website, “Jericho Road Community Health Center provides high-quality medical care for the whole family — especially people with limited access to medical care, like families living in poverty, refugees, and immigrants. We provide full-spectrum care to all, even those without insurance or the ability to pay. All of our services exist for and with our patients in mind.”
As well as providing medical care, operating the Vive shelter for asylum seekers, and running a variety of community programs, Jericho Road has also been a huge part of the effort to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in the community
We are donating a percentage of our profits this month to support the essential and meaningful work Jericho Road is doing!
We normally donate to local organizations, but right now the people of Haiti and Afghanistan really need some support. We are using a percentage of our sales from August to donate to two organizations:
Locally Haiti is an organization with Haitian leadership whose mission is to “advocate for and invest in locally led initiatives to support the vision of our partner communities in rural Haiti.”
They believe in helping rural communities thrive through programs in education, agriculture, community health, and girls’ empowerment.
They are currently collecting donations for relief following the recent earthquake in Haiti, and they are funneling these funds to local people and institutions.
(Thank you to Nicole Cardoza at Anti-Racism Daily for her Instagram post highlighting local Haitian-led organizations working to channel aid directly to those who need it.)
Women for Afghan Women is working to keep women safe in Afghanistan and also help provide resources to those trying to evacuate. You can use the link to donate and also use the “Resources and Other Ways to Help” button to open a document with links to send an email to the White House, sign petitions, and contact your representatives (it will use your address to automatically find your senators and representative) to advocate for evacuating and accepting more refugees into the US as well as protecting those who remain in Afghanistan.
We have been spending most of our Wednesdays during the lunch hours at Roswell Park for the Market in the Park. Here, we have gotten to talk with so many doctors, nurses, therapists, and other essential staff members as well as patients and their families. From what they share with us as well as our personal family experiences and the experiences of those around us, we know that the quality of care at Roswell is excellent, particularly because it is so innovative. Roswell offers clinical trials, immunotherapy, and personalized medicine to find the care plan that is right for each individual undergoing treatment.
Because of this, we are donating 15% of our July website sales to Roswell Park and along with other local businesses we are also donating a raffle item for a Celebration of Life event for Deborah Guido Sepielli, who passed away at 53 years old, January 31st, 2021 from small cell lung cancer. Her daughter, Nikki, says this about her:
My mom was very passionate about helping people and making people smile. Her dream was if she beat cancer she wanted to donate wigs and wheelchairs to those who couldn’t afford it.
Unfortunately my mom wasn’t able to beat the cancer, however she fought really hard. I still want her dream to come true.
I am organizing a Celebration of Life event September 11th, 3pm at Como restaurant in Niagara Falls. NY.
Along with the Celebration of Life will be a fundraiser for Roswell Park Cancer Institute because that is where my mom received her care.
The link to the Facebook event page is here if you would like to buy tickets or donate. Also, this year's Ride for Roswell will be taking place on August 7th, and there is still time to register and help fundraise through that event as well!
In honor of Pride month and Juneteenth, we donated 15% of our June website sales to Evergreen Health. We support Evergreen because we believe know that discrimination in healthcare is a very real barrier for people who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, and LGBTQ+. We believe that EVERYONE should have access to healthcare that is high quality, compassionate, and inclusive.
According to their website, "Evergreen Health fosters healthy communities by providing medical, supportive and behavioral services to individuals and families in Western New York — especially those who are living with chronic illness or who are underserved by the healthcare system. [Evergreen Health] envisions a future in which all Western New Yorkers have access to affordable healthcare in an environment that is inclusive, compassionate, respectful and judgement-free; that honors diversity and life experience; and that empowers patients to lead healthier, happier lives."
Evergreen has been providing healthcare (including medical, behavioral, and supportive services) for a diverse community for a long time, but now MOCHA Buffalo is officially part of Evergreen, providing services for LGBTQ+ people of color in particular! And following the discussions happening around the recent Juneteenth holiday, we know that legal freedom and recognition are a step in the right direction but there is a great deal more than needs to be done in our communities for real racial and gender equality in terms of economics, education, housing, healthcare, etc.
Know that part of your website purchases are going to Evergreen, but we also encourage you to make your own donations as well!