Wednesday, Dec 12th

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teentourStan Rosenberg SHS ’10 is a freshman at NYU and the Founder and Chairman of Trip of a Lifetime. whose mission is to provide funding for underprivileged students to go on summer travel experiences. The completely student-run and operated organization has twelve members, ranging in age from 15-19. Since its inception in the fall of 2008, the organization has raised over $75,000 and has sent five deserving teenagers on life-changing trips to the West Coast. This year, Trip of a Lifetime plans to send 4-7 students on summer trips.

The idea for the organization stemmed from an amazing travel experience Stan had three years ago. In the summer of 2007, he went on a teen tour to the West Coast and the experience changed his life. Besides seeing awe-inspiring sites such as the Grand Canyon and The Golden Gate Bridge, the trip allowed him to develop self-confidence and leadership skills and gave him the impetus to start the organization.

From his experience, he realized that traveling is contagious; one positive experience can impact many lives. This is the premise Trip of a Lifetime is built on. The vision is for students to use these amazing experiences to make an impact in their community. One of the students who went on a trip this summer remarked how: “I’ve always wanted to help out in my community but was never motivated enough. This trip was the motivation I needed. I am now going to look into assisting in a hospital or soup kitchen. Volunteering is an easy way to help out in the community that can make a big difference. This trip gave me the confidence to really be a big impact my community in the coming years and the rest of my life.”

Trip of a Lifetime works with local high schools and organizations to identify students for these trips. All eligible students must be in ninth or tenth grade, qualify for financial need, and use the experience to make a difference in their communities. In order to be considered, any student must fill out an application and get a recommendation from their dean or organization leader. The group has partnered with a national teen tour corporation to provide discounted trips and to ensure that as many students as possible are able to take advantage of this opportunity. All applications are due by March 15th 2011. More details about the application and the trips can be found on their website: www.projecttoal.org or email Stan Rosenberg at srosenberg@projecttoal.org .

 

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hotchocolateWarm some hearts at Evan and Joshua Greenberg’s fifth Annual Hot Cocoa stand while they raise money to help children with cancer. Event will take place at Last Licks in Scarsdale, 1076 Wilmot Road, Scarsdale, NY 914-725-5932. The dates and times are: January 14, 3-5pm, January 15, 12-5pm and January 16 from 11am-4pm.

Sponsors include: Last Licks, Chocolations, The Peak, Party by Lisa & Company, and Bellizzi Restaurant.

Pediatric Cancer Foundation President, Cheryl Rosen, embraces this event and says about the boys: “Evan and Joshua Greenberg embody what our charity is about. These boys demonstrate that our mission to ... hold the hand of a child… can begin at a young age with small hands. Evan and Joshua’s energy, spirit and kindness are priceless. This cocoa stand is a success of the heart. “

Pediatric Cancer Foundation has been a leader, raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer for 40 years. As a non profit organization, PCF funds the vital work of hospitals by allocating money for treatment, patient/parent care, fellowships and research equipment in the study of pediatric cancer. To learn more about how you can get involved with Pediatric Cancer Foundation go to: www.pcfweb.org or call: 914-777-3127.

 

 

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juniorleaguephotoThe Junior League of Central Westchester (JLCW) is inviting women from Eastchester, Greenburgh, Scarsdale and White Plains to its semi-annual “Recruiting Coffees” at historic Wayside Cottage on January 13, 2011 at either 9:30 a.m. or 8:00 p.m.

Prospective members will learn about the JLCW’s efforts to improve the lives of our neighbors in need. New members enter a training course where they work together to complete a short-term community service project. Recent projects have included Reading Fun Day benefitting Eastchester Community Action Program (ECAP) and Healthy Kids Day for Head Start Preschool children in White Plains. They will learn to use resources and support offered by the JLCW.

The JLCW’s upcoming projects include: Family Literacy Program, engaging members in reading activities with Head Start students to build literacy skills; Kids in the Kitchen, combating childhood obesity by teaching children about nutrition and exercise; Safety Town, arming children with information about fire safety, traffic safety, poison issues and stranger danger; TGIF Workshops, helping to empower girls to reach their full potential and to understand, value and assert their rights; and Grace Church Soup Kitchen, providing 1,500 meals annually to local residents.

JLCW members have been effecting positive change in the area for over 60 years. As JLCW President Allison Weiss puts it, “Our communities need our help now more than ever before, and the League is proud to be able to make a difference in the lives of the individuals we serve. And, while working to improve our community, League members have the opportunity to develop new skills and to meet a great group of likeminded women.”

The coffees will be a chance to meet current JLCW members, get to know other prospective members and to enjoy a visit to Wayside Cottage, a historic landmark that has recently completed a “period” renovation.

The coffees will be held on Thursday, January 13 at 9:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. at Wayside Cottage, 1039 Post Road, , Scarsdale. Please RSVP by January 6 to jlcw@verizon.net or by phone to (914) 723-6130.

 

 

 

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plattus1Westchester Jewish Community Services held their annual “Have a Heart for the Holidays” luncheon at the home of Linda Plattus on Friday December 10th. Attendees brought gifts and gift cards to be given to children who attend the Amazing Afternoon after-school program at the Edward Williams School in Mt. Vernon.

Mary Figueroa, Program Coordinator at Edward Williams spoke to the group about the program and how these gifts will benefit the disadvantaged children who go to the program. She also discussed the meaningful relationships Scarsdale children who volunteer at the school have built with the program’s students.

Over the past five years, Scarsdale families have donated close to 1,000 toys and gift certificates for plattus2developmentally disabled and disadvantaged children and adults who are served by Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS). If you were not able to attend the luncheon, but wish to donate a gift, please contact Meryl Lewis, WJCS, 845 North Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603.

 

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freyerchildrenHere’s an amazing story of how a woman’s first job out of college in 1965, drove her dreams for a post-retirement career 39 years later -- helping to rebuild a war-torn country and get thousands of people back on their feet. Upon graduation from Connecticut College, Dana Freyer took a job at the United Nations working for the Afghan Ambassador from 1965 -1968. She went on to law school, graduated and worked for a year as an attorney. Then with her husband Bruce, she took a year off and embarked on a life-changing adventure. They rented a Volkswagen Beetle in Germany and toured rural Afghanistan; a picturesque country, filled with old-growth forests, vineyards and fruit and nut trees that were a staple of the agricultural economy. The Freyers were moved by the hospitality of the people of Afghanistan, which was known as the orchard of Central Asia.

They returned to the United States to pursue their careers and start a family, only to see Afghanistan destroyed by 30 years of war. During the Soviet invasion in 1979, all of the country's treasured trees were cut down, leaving farmers without a livelihood or a future. Though the United States provided aid to the Mujahideen to drive out the Soviets, we did little to help rebuild the country once the Russians were gone.

Dana Freyer worked diligently for years, rising to become a partner at Skadden Arps in New York. In 1977, she and her husband moved to Scarsdale, where they still live today. Fast-forward to 9/11/01, Freyer describes watching the World Trade Center burn from her office in New York and thinking about how she might help to convert Afghanistan from an incubator for terrorists to a responsible nation. How could she help them to rebuild their lives rather than foster terrorism?

With these thoughts in mind, the Freyers returned to Afghanistan in 2003 and toured the countryside, meeting with villagefreyerorchard elders to see how they could help. They spoke to farmers and villagers, and drank endless cups of tea and learned that the greatest need was to rebuild the orchards. With trees in place, people would have an income and a job, and could then rebuild homes, schools and clinics.

The Freyers returned home and worked on plans to build an Afghan NGO – or enterprise --, which would be run by Afghans. The purpose would be to work with Afghan farmers to help them to restore their orchards and woodlots. Rather than sending foreigners with expertise they hired and trained Afghans to take charge of their own futures and lead the rebirth of this critical sector of the economy.

In 2004, with $150,000 raised from family and friends, the Freyers began the Global Partnership for Afghanistan (GPFA) and hired two Afghans to begin operations. The Freyers traveled to rural Guldara where they offered to help 30 farmers develop 30 fruit orchards by providing them with 50 tree saplings, fertilizer and training. But the village elders asked them to do more with less – they wanted the GPFA to help 60 farmers get started on half of the land, which they agreed to do.

Since 2004, the organization has grown steadily and now has a staff of 180 professionals of whom 40 are women. To date, they have helped 15,000 rural farmers by partnering with local leaders and farmers in 450 villages. The group helps both men and women to plant and prosper.

The partnership is funded through individual contributions, as well as government funding from the US and the European Union, and the World Bank. The Partnership now has an active Board of Directors, a Comptroller, a Finance Director in Kabul, and a Director in New York who run a transparent, professional organization.

The fact that Afghans -- not foreigners -- run the partnership, does much to lessen interference by the combatants in the ongoing hostilities in the country. The farmers and the staff are part of the communities in which they work and they are invested in protecting their land. Farmers produce apples, apricots, plums, peaches, pomegranates, pistachios, almonds, all of which are sold in Afghanistan. Since 80% of the Afghan economy is tied to agriculture, the GPFA is making an impact in returning the country to prosperity.

Freyer and her husband originally travelled to Afghanistan several times per year, but now go only once a year, when they drive from province to province in a dusty Toyota Corolla. When she visits, Freyer does not see a nation at war - instead she sees people toiling in the fields in an effort to rebuild their lives.

Most recently, Dana Freyer was honored for her achievements when she was named one of ten winners of the 2010 Purpose Prize for her work to alleviate rural poverty in Afghanistan. Now in its fifth year, the $17 million Purpose Prize program is the nation's only large-scale investment in social entrepreneurs over 60 who, in their encore careers, are using their experience and passion to make an extraordinary impact on society's biggest challenges. Dana was chosen among 1,400 nominees for her work through the Global Partnership for Afghanistan to alleviate poverty from the ground up by providing Afghans with the tools, materials and skills they need to rebuild their farm-based economy.

Freyer says that the $50,000 in prize money will go to GPFA to be used to enhance their ability to improve their programs and to further their reach. The prize will also draw attention to their work, and hopefully help them to raise additional funds.

freyerportraitAccording to Freyer, "The prize money will fund our attack on the severe poverty afflicting the 80% of Afghans who depend on agriculture for income, and whose lands and livelihoods have been destroyed by war. We will continue to train agriculture professionals and farmers who suffer from a 25-year knowledge gap, to empower women to own high-income agriculture enterprises, to restore the devastated environment by supporting orchard, woodlot and other tree-based enterprise development, to improve water management, and to strengthen local agricultural institutions."

See a three-minute video featuring GPFA staff and farmers in Guldara district, north of Kabul, where GPFA began its work in 2004, and learn more about the work of the Global Partnership for Afghanistan here.

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