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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.

classy_consignmentsHoliday time is giving time and representatives for many good causes have written to Scarsdale10583 to appeal for your support and help. Whether you’re interested in shopping for a cause, writing a check or donating blood, your help is needed. See below: College Fund for the Draper Boys: A college fund has been established for the two sons of Elisa Draper, Michael and Will. Michael is currently a junior at Marist College and Will is a senior at Rye High School. They are warm, thoughtful and terrific young men. Many of you have had children in either Elisa or Bob Draper's classes and know firsthand what wonderful teachers they have been and how they have had such a special and meaningful impact on your kids. Please send your check to “The Draper Family College Fund” to:

The Draper Family College Fund
c/o Mr Martin Barry
24 Willets Road
Harrison, New York 10528

Toy Drive: Engel and Völkers Scarsdale is participating in the 2010 Toys for Tots program to provide a bit of joy to abused, underprivileged and institutionalized children ages 0 – 18 in Westchester County. Gift cards and checks will also be accepted, and should be made out to "Toys for Tots." All donations are used exclusively for the youngsters needs and are tax deductible. From now through December 18th, you can drop off any new, unwrapped toys or gift cards at the office at 300 Heathcote Road.

Shop at Classy Consignments To Benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.: From December 1 through 24, Classy Consignments on Garth Road will donate 25% of all sales to benefit children with cancer. The store is packed with goodies including new, vintage and antique objects of art, vintage jewelry, mirrors, small furnishings, glass items, pictures, prints, and small, unique items. Perfect for holiday gifts.

Classy Consignments
30 Garth Road, Scarsdale – Next to the Freightway Commuter Parking Lot
Phone: 914-723-1818

Store Hours: Tuesday through Friday 11:00 – 6:00PM and Saturday from 11:00 – 4:00PM (available by appointment at other times)

Blood Drive at the Scarsdale Public Library: Announcement: Please come and donate blood at the Scarsdale Public Library on Thursday December 16 from 1:30 to 7:30. For information or an appointment email: libraryblooddrive@gmail.com

Art Show at the Girl Scout House: The Scarsdale Art Association's current art show in the Jeannette Leahey gallery at the Betty Taubert Girl Scout House is splitting 20% of its proceeds with its organization and Scarsdale and Edgemont Girl Scouts. The remainder goes to the individual artist. Nancy Abbe, is the contact person for the show and you can reach her by e-mail at: nunia727@verizon.net

musicaltheatreHitchcock Presbyterian Church is proud to sponsor the second annual benefit concert for Midnight Run, an organization that feeds and clothes the homeless in NYC, on Sunday, November 21 at 4 PM. The program, entitled "The Best of Musical Theater by the Stars of Tomorrow" will feature four spectacular voice students of Shirley Love, a local Hartsdale resident and former singer at the Metropolitan Opera. The program will include works by Bernstein, Gershwin, Sondheim and Kurt Weill.

This fun event for the entire family will be followed by a reception, where people can meet the artists and participate in other giving opportunities in support of Midnight Run. All tickets are $15 and can be ordered in advance through the church office at (914) 723-3311. This event was very popular last year, so make sure you get your tickets early!

Hitchcock Church
6 Greenacres Avenue
Scarsdale
For tickets, call (914) 723-3311

 

 

bowlA

The 2011 Scarsdale Bowl Committee will begin its work in early December to select the 2011 recipient. The Scarsdale Bowl, under the sponsorship of the Scarsdale Foundation, has been awarded annually since 1943 to an individual (or in rare instances, to a husband and wife) who has given “unselfishly of his/her time, energy and effort to the civic welfare of the community.” The founding donors of the Bowl believed that, “Many who serve generously and voluntarily, without office, honor or publicity, are those deserving of having their names permanently inscribed on the Scarsdale Bowl.” Committee members serve staggered two-year terms. The newly appointed class of 2011 includes Jane Buck, Marc Carter, Malula Gonzalez, Liz Gruber, Anne Moretti, Bill Natbony, and Robert November. Members of the continuing Class of 2010 are Matt Callahan, Jonathan Drescher, Joyce Hirsch, Carolyn Mehta, Laurence Mintzer, and Tara Tyberg. Seth Ross, a Scarsdale Foundation trustee, will serve as liaison.

As previously announced, Rita Golden has been appointed as this year’s chairman, and Nancy Michaels will serve as secretary/treasurer. Jackie Irwin, president of the Scarsdale Foundation, is an ex-officio, non-voting member.

The Scarsdale Bowl will be awarded at a dinner on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at Lake Isle Country Club. The ceremony will pay tribute to the 2011 honoree and to the spirit of volunteerism, central to the civic life of Scarsdale, and the entire community is invited to attend the celebration. The Bowl Committee enthusiastically welcomes community input. It will hold its first meeting December 12th and requests that residents contact any member of the committee with suggestions of potential recipients. If you have any questions, please call Rita Golden at 723-3969.

 

 

mysistersplaceMy Sister’s Place hosted their annual luncheon at Brae Burn Country Club on Thursday October 28th. The focus of the luncheon was “Media, Technology, Violence and our Children, and the excellent group of panelists and their enthusiasm for a good cause brought out 400 guests. The pre-election event also attracted many candidates running for office the following Tuesday.

Event Co-Chair Libby Pataki, wife of former Governor Pataki greeted the group and credited My Sister’s Place for their important role in legislative changes over the past 25 years. Deborah Slaner Larkin, Chairman of the Honorary Board of Directors presented the Community Partner Awards to the Pelham Junior League for their role in supporting those in need with a holiday party, specially selected holiday gifts, a Mother’s Day event and gift baskets and to Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester for providing wellness packages and raising awareness about domestic violence.

NYS Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who chairs the Senate Task Force on Domestic Violence and Crime was given the Milestone Award for her legislative leadership in passing 12 bills this fall to improve treatment of victims of domestic violence and strengthen penalties against those committing the crime. It should be noted that Hassell-Thompson was re-elected to her Senate seat the following Tuesday with 96.7% of the votes.

A panel of four experts on children and cyber bullying took the stage and imparted some wisdom on alerting teens to the dangers of cyber bullying and preventing it. Anne Engelland, a pediatrician who specializes in teen health encouraged parents to encourage fundamental values such as character, competence and confidence and to be a model of good behavior.

Jane Randel of Liz Claiborne discussed their research on teen dating abuse and reported that one in three teens receive stalking messages and one in four teens are harassed. Randel advised parents to talk openly to their kids about drugs, sex and drinking and let them know what to expect and demand from their relationships. Learn more about this issue on their information website, Love is Not Abuse.

Noopur Agarwal, Director of Public Affairs for MTV shared a short video, A Thin Line that addressed digital abuse and discussed MTV’s campaign to raise awareness about online abuse. She explained that bullying is now more common as teens have easy access to technology, they can’t see the reaction to their words, and it is easy to maintain anonymity. MTV seeks to help kids draw the line between appropriate use and abuse of technology and to empower kids to turn to adults for help when they need it. Check out their informative website

Audrey Stone a D.A. with the Special Prosecution Division of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office spoke about the real consequences of online abuse. In some instances an email or a text message can be grounds for criminal prosecution. She encouraged the group to keep a record of abusive emails, texts or online postings as they can be used as evidence. She assured the audience that the D.A.’s office seeks to protect victim and change behavior, not to ruin the future of offenders.

The informative discussion alerted the group to abuses that they may not see on their children’s computers or cell phones and raised awareness of this troubling trend.

My Sister’s Place works to end domestic violence through advocacy for social change, community education and direct service to abused women and children. To learn more about My Sister’s Place and find out how you can help, go to www.mysistersplace.org

Pictured Above: Executive Director, Karen Cheeks-Lomax, Esq, Terri E. Simon, Esq, Chair, Board of Directors and NY State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin

Photo by Paula Wittlin

 

 

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