When Youngevity Be The Change Foundation was established, I don’t think anyone truly realized the impact that it would have in a little over a year. It began as doorway for all Youngevity members to give back and help the community should the need arise, and not long after the formation of the foundation was announced in May 2013, the need did arise in Oklahoma. That was just the beginning for Be the Change.
Now, Be The Change is making a huge impact in Nicaragua. We caught up with the foundation director Lisa “Sunshine” Briskie to find out.
When Youngevity purchased the plantation in Nicaragua last May, what was the initial goal?
When Youngevity purchased the 1,000 acre coffee plantation in the Nicaraguan Rainforest, the goal was to modernize the plantation to produce the best possible coffee, but this goal quickly changed upon realizing the need of the plantation workers and community. This Plantation is not just a business to the company, our commitment to modernization extends to the 180 Nicaraguan families that live on the plantation and the over 500 seasonal workers. The Be the Change Foundation seemed to be the perfect fit to this commitment.
What was the first mission upon realizing the need of the community?
When Youngevity took over the plantation, the school had been closed. There was no clean water or sanitation on the property and very little electricity. The buildings had started to fall apart and were unsafe. This is where we’d have to start.
What improvements have you been able to make since purchasing the plantation?
In less than a year, through the Youngevity be the Change Foundation, we’ve been able to change so much…
We’ve already rebuilt many of the buildings; creating a vibrant happy community. We’ve added a hydro-electric plant to generate clean power. We’ve provided clean water and built sanitation facilities to support the families who live and work on the plantation.
And we’ve reopened the school, hiring the teachers and assistants. Now there’s even a day care facility to provide the children a safe and happy learning environment. For the first time, the plantation’s children can get up to a 6th grade education!
In what other ways has Be The Change helped the families of the plantation workers?
At the end of last year, we also held a shoe and clothing drive for not only the families living on the plantations, but also the surrounding communities. We had over two tons of new and used clothing donated! That truly is a monumental outpouring of love from our distributors.
What are the future plans for the Be the Change Foundation?
In only the year and a half that the Foundation has been in existence, we have given over $100,000.00 in donations, in addition to thousands of products to communities in need – most notably the over 3000 people we fed through our Go Foods Typhoon Relief campaign last year. This is only the beginning. We will continue to change lives through our RAK Days and, if need should arrive, we will be ready to help in any way we can. The foundation exists to serve and there is literally no overhead. No fundraisers, golf tournaments or art auctions, either. We truly are different from any other charity.
Watch a short video about the Foundation’s work in Nicaragua.