1 in 8 people in the United States struggles to put food on their plates. That’s according to the latest 2017 statistics released by the non-profit FeedingAmerica.org.
But, a South Carolina woman has been on a mission to lower that number, one garden at a time, since she was in elementary school.
Katie Stagliano proves that age is just a number and it’s never too early to achieve your dream.
“I started all of this when I was 9 years old.” Katie’s dream? To reduce food insecurity in the United States, and it’s a real and big problem.
40 million people live in a household that’s food insecure, including more than 12 million children.
So back in 2008, as a 3rd grader, Katie got to work in the garden.
Katie says “I brought my seedling home. I planted it in my back yard and it just kept growing and growing.”
And before she knew it, that seed turned into a cabbage checking in at a whopping 40 pounds.
“I was just blown away,” says Stagliano, “I didn’t even know cabbages could even grow to be that big and I was just like this is far too much food for my family and I to eat.”
It was at that moment that Katie knew exactly what she wanted to do with the cabbage. “I decided I wanted to donate my cabbage to a soup kitchen and help families who didn’t have enough to eat.” And that 40-pound cabbage fed 275 people. “That’s when I got the idea that would change my life forever.”
Katie’s dream, planted and from that, her non-profit Katie’s Krops was grown.
“Imagine how many people an entire garden could feed and that was the start of Katie’s Krops. It all kind of snowballed from there.”
Snowballed into her non-profit that now has 100 gardens growing in 31 states across the country, all run by youth between the 9 and 16, in their backyards, at schools, community centers, churches, and libraries.
In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, students at Oak Christian school are getting their hands dirty while giving back.
Cheron Bryant, the teacher who runs the garden there tells us “We’ve been a Katie’s Krops grower for about four years now” and continues, saying “In 2018 alone we grew over 500 pounds of fresh produce that we donated.”
“The kids love it, they love it,” Cheron says. “I can be walking in the hallway and they will be like when do we get to go to the garden again?”
And that garden has been transformed into an outdoor classroom.
“They find worms, they find lizards and frogs, and they get to see how their gardens are growing.” Cheron says the kids can’t get enough and are learning in the process. “I’ve had parents say how did you get my child to eat salad? How did you get them to eat lettuce? It’s because they planted it and harvested it, they got to touch and feel it.”
This is the amazing impact Katie’s Krops is having around the country. Katie tells us “It’s so important for kids to learn about gardening at an early age or how to be able to feed themselves, feed their neighbors.”
And Katie’s work and good deeds over the last 11 years have not gone unnoticed. She’s received national recognition, including from US food company General Mills.
In 2018, Katie’s Krops donated more than 40,000lbs of fresh produce to people in need.
And there are so many ways you can help her organization end hunger. You can start a garden or buy something off Katie’s Krop’s wish list, just head to KatiesKrops.com.
Oh, and if you’re curious. The 40-pound cabbage she grew in 2008 is still her biggest vegetable to date, and cabbages are still her favorite thing to grow.
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Professional and passionate, that’s the best way to describe Janelle Coleman, a power player at “L-Brands.” She started as an intern and worked her way up the corporate ladder.
“My mother had the talk with my brother and I that you have to work twice as hard to get half as much and so I have approached everything with that attitude, and I don’t expect anything to be easy,”, says Janelle Coleman.
She is a black woman on the move in corporate America, but that doesn’t stop her from getting the job done.
“I think being a black woman is a bonus and a value and I absolutely love being a black woman, and I live that in everything I do. I hope my preparedness leads me to opportunities and those opportunities are made available for me to be successful.”
Janelle Coleman says when it’s time to make decisions, it’s not about black or white, she says its about how you get the job done – with results. She was born and raised in Cleveland, graduated from Ohio University, where she sits on the board today.
She says she learned early on to always be ready and to have a plan B. “So I’ve always had a love for fashion and so while I was at OU taking journalism classes I decided I want to take some fashion merchandise classes and learn about the fashion industry.
And while taking classes on the business side of it, I saw a flyer on the wall that said The limited.”
After open interviews on campus, Janelle fell into her passion of public relations. She landed a job with “The Limited” in 1997. It’s now known as L-Brands which includes Victoria’s Secret, and Bath and Body Works. Now, 21 years later, Janelle is the Vice President of Community Relations and the President of L-Brands Foundation.
Janelle believes women in corporate America don’t get a pass. She says they must show up for work every day, ready to work with no attitude and no drama. Her goal is that diversity in the office and in top positions is something that doesn’t have to be discussed – it just is.
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DES MOINES — For many women serving at the Iowa State Capitol, their day job means time away from their families.
Committee meetings. Hearings. Votes. Serving the public with the support of loved ones at home.
Representative Megan Jones (R – Sioux Rapids), however, brings a special guest with her to the statehouse each day.
Arriving at the golden dome, before 7:30 a.m. each morning, her precious cargo? 3-week old daughter, Alma.
“These moments are so precious and they’re only little for so long,” Jones says.
Alma goes everywhere with mom, including the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives.
Jones’ husband, Will, is a farmer. And in the farming world, there’s never a perfect time to have a baby.
Even though having a rock n’ play at the capitol might be a first in state history, Jones knows she has the support of her colleagues.
“If she needs something, we’ll be there for her,” says Rep. Mary Mascher (D – Iowa City).
It’s not always easy, but with a husband at home doing laundry and cleaning dishes, the Jones family feels they’re right where they need to be.
“He does not think what he does is remarkable,” Rep. Jones says. “And I think that says so much about our generation. We don’t see gender roles as much anymore, so he’s just doing what he needs to do to get the job done.”
Babies, as it turns out, are bipartisan.
And regardless of how long Rep. Jones serves in the legislature, young Alma certainly has broken down barriers at the statehouse.
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Men have traditionally made up the larger majority of the homeless population, but recent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development show women represent more than 40 percent of homeless Americans.
Homeless shelters across the country are evolving to better equip women get back on their feet, like Crossroads Rhode Island. One woman detailed her experience from being homeless to now having an apartment for her and her children.
Tracy, who wished to not give her last name, struggled for months before she took her two young children to the family shelter at Crossroads Rhode Island. The room she was placed in was a shared space with other families in need.
After several weeks in the shelter, Tracy received word from Crossroads Rhode Island that an apartment had opened up for her and her growing family.
“The hardest thing was watching my kids watch me struggle,” Tracy said. “I love it [my apartment]. It’s a blessing— anything to get me out of the shelter.”
According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, women often exhaust every other option they can before they stay in a shelter or transitional housing.
“Nationally, the number of individuals who are homeless is around a half million. Women represent about 40 percent of that,” Crossroads RI Executive Director Karen Santilli said. “The chronic homeless tend to be more men, so if you are a woman not part of a family, not a veteran, or not chronically homeless, there are not a lot of resources for you to get out of homelessness.”
Santilli said the leading causes of homelessness continue to evolve. Lack of affordable housing, mental illness, addiction, and domestic violence are all cited as reasons women are in shelters.
She explained that agencies across the country have recognized the gap and the shelter system is trying to evolve to keep up with the changing demographic.
Fundraisers like the “Women Helping Women” event that’s held each year in Rhode Island have raised more than $1 million to help fund a new women’s only shelter and women’s educational training.
For the past 10 years since this fundraiser began, influential women in the community got together to raise funds and awareness on this issue. Santilli said the event has evolved into supporting women experiencing homelessness, housing support, education, employment and financial literacy.
It’s this very funding that helped Tracy forge a better life for her and her children. She received training to become a certified nursing assistant through a program offered by Crossroads Rhode Island.
Tracy, who is pregnant with her third child, had to take public transportation for hours each day to make the classes.
“The hardest part was we had a test every two days,” Tracy recalled. “So I had to go home and study at the shelter and I still had to do my chores. It was hard. I did what I had to do for my children to get on my feet because I love my kids.”
Tracy is on track to receive the CNA certificate and credits several dedicated staff members at the area shelters she was placed in with helping her create a solid future for her and her growing family.
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Upstate New York native Breanna Stewart won four NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship titles with the University of Connecticut.
In 2016, she won a gold medal in Rio with Team USA and also picked up two ESPYs for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Collegiate Athlete.
That same year, Stewie was unanimously voted WNBA rookie of the year after being the league’s No. 1 draft pick to the Seattle Storm.
Last year, the Storm claimed the WNBA Championship and Stewie was awarded the MVP title.
At the young age of 24, the dynamic forward may soon run out of room in her trophy case.
She openly says she has her sights set on going down as the greatest to ever play the game of basketball, but at the same time, Stewie is also making assists off the court.
Last December, Stewie hosted her first ever youth basketball camp and she brought it home to North Syracuse, N.Y.
It’s been years since Stewie has had the chance to be home during the holidays due to collegiate tournaments as a UConn Huskie and playing overseas in China as a pro.
Despite the time crunch and short visit home, Stewie dedicated an entire day of her vacation to working with aspiring basketball players.
Once lighting up high school hoops for the Cicero-North Syracuse North Stars — Stewie and a team of other players and coaches ordered up drills on the junior high school hardwood she once played on.
Emphasizing the importance of making it affordable — the price was set at $25 per child. Participants came from all over New York state, New Jersey and the Carolinas. Each child also received an official Nike T-shirt with “Breanna Stewart Basketball” donned in Storm colors.
Slots for Stewie’s camp sold out in a day and a few hundred children got the chance to dribble, shoot and pass alongside the hoops star.
“When I dreamed about things, it was kind of like, when I was in high school I dreamed about, you know, college and then when I was in college, I was like oh, I can go play in the WNBA,” Stewie shared.
Stewie is not just “playing in the WNBA,” she is breaking records and picking up even more honors.
During her second year with the Storm — Stewie became the fastest WNBA player to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in just 55 career games.
“I don’t know…Not thinking too far ahead of myself,” Stewie said. “I mean, now I know that anything’s possible, really.”
Stewie has proved she can conquer the court and since she started, she’s been aiming from well beyond the arc to make an even bigger mark on the world.
“I’m playing basketball for a living which is amazing, but like there’s other things in life that are more important,” Stewie shared.
Last year, Stewie stood up and shared her truth with the world in the Players’ Tribune echoing, “Me too,” with countless other survivors of sexual abuse.
“I couldn’t sleep. I was always up just because that would be the time that things would happen,” Stewie shared in an E60 interview. “You know, when I was at a family member’s house and it was night time.”
She was nine years old when her uncle started molesting her.
Years went by and she didn’t feel safe — even the basketball court did not make her feel completely safe, but it did give her a space to be a kid and be free of haunting thoughts.
When Stewie was 11, she broke her silence and told her parents. After filing a report, Stewie’s father told her “the guy had confessed everything to the police.”
“Saying that my article helped save their life or that type of thing, those are powerful statements,” Stewie shared.
Several months after sharing her own truth, Stewie still hears from survivors.
Years removed from what she describes as a childhood with pain, black holes and blank spaces — Stewie admits some memories flash into her mind every day.
“Opening it up to the rest of the world was like an additional weight lifted off my chest,” Stewie said.
While some may never speak their truth, Stewie wants survivors to know how much it can help and heal. Saying, “Me too,” on the world stage is just part of her mission that goes beyond breaking records and winning awards.
“If it’s something that I believe in, I’m going to share my opinion,” Stewie said. “Our worlds are colliding between sports and everything else that’s going on outside of that.”
Stewie’s long list of awards and fame put her in a league of her own but her beginning tethers her to what many can connect to.
“All I have to do is play basketball,” Stewie said. “I can be a relatable, normal person because it may happen to me and it may happen to a random person on the street and that’s life.”
What many of us know about Stewie’s life and legacy so far is really just the beginning as she continues dazzling the world of basketball, building her own brand as an athlete and advocate, and being a voice for those who may never have one.
Stewie says she plans to host more youth basketball camps.
Her first camp held in North Syracuse, N.Y., benefited Vera House Inc., an Upstate New York agency that supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Stewie plans to make the North Syracuse camp an annual event.
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It was in the tiny upstate New York town of Seneca Falls in 1848 that the Women’s Rights Movement got its start. Today, that history is still celebrated as home of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
2019 marks the Hall’s 50th anniversary, which every other year inducts a new class of women, honoring them for their enduring contributions to the nation and the world.
The 276 women whose photos currently hang on the walls include authors, actresses, athletes and of course, the suffragists. Many are world famous, while others, you have never even heard of.
“That’s the beauty of visiting the Hall. People ask ‘Why have I not heard of this person? Why don’t I know about the woman who invented pediatric cardiac surgery techniques?'” says Betty Bayer, Board President for the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Visitors will find plenty of famous faces in the Hall, but will also find cherished artifacts, like the program from Billie Jean King’s match with Bobby Riggs, an outfit donated by Amelia Earhart’s family and a torch carried from Seneca Falls to a women’s march in Texas.
Many items remain in storage because the Hall of Fame has outgrown its space, but that is about to change. The Seneca Knitting Mill, four times the size of the current Hall, is currently being transformed into the tourist destination’s new home. Built when the Women’s Right’s Movement was born, it will be a world-class showplace for the history of American women.
“Even our small little hall is inspiring and this one will be so much better,” says Jean Giovannini, Chair of the Mill Rehabilitation Project.
It is on the third floor of the new space that the past and present will really come together. Visitors can look across the water and see the Wesleyan Chapel, the site of the Women’s Right’s Convention of 1848.
“There is nothing little about this project,” says Brennan Gilbane Koch of the Gilbane Building Company. “This is a special project that will leave a community stronger and better and leave a history honoring women that have done incredible things.”
The new Hall of Fame is being built in phases, with the first expected to be completed by September, just in time for the induction of this year’s class.