NEED event: subscriber movie night

Throughout the summer NEED will be hosting fun events in the Twin Cities. Here are details about a movie night for subscribers.

Join the NEED crew at our office to watch one of our favorite films,

When: Friday, July 10
Come to the office at 8 pm to chat and enjoy some snacks. The movie will start at dusk.

Where: NEED office
2303 Kennedy St. NE, Suite 502
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Spaces are limited! For info contact Lauren Fischer.

Child Addiction

This post was submitted by photographer Nathan Golden

Street children living at the Howrah Railway Station near Kolkata, India, take care of themselves and each other in an otherwise uncaring environment. I was moved by their ability to generate a community and to survive. They represent tremendous potential that is wasted and in danger of being lost altogether.


Posted by Elizabeth Zabel

Yellowed bike posters hang on the classroom’s grey and brown walls. Old bicycles hang down from the ceiling. I did not come to buy a bike or even to look at a bike, but to teach English to Somali speakers. I came here to check out a literacy program led by friends of mine in the Seabury neighborhood of Minneapolis.

The program was difficult to find because I did not know what I was looking for—an apartment, a schoolhouse? I pulled up in front of a small grocery store and a bike shop. I double-checked the address against what I had jotted down on an envelope. The address was the same. ‘There must have been a mistake,’ I thought.

I would have turned around and gone home, but I noticed my friend Jessica waving from behind the glass doors of Scallywag’s Bike Shop. She unlocked the door and let me in. Several women smiled at me from behind the fold-out tables in the corner. The bright, bursting colors of their hijabs contrasted starkly with the drab walls.


"Save The World" Challenge Images

Refugee children in Egypt/ant-prejudice activities at a Peace Camp.
photo | Khalil Ansara
organization | Catholic Relief Services/Caritas

Kosovo Roma are still refugees in Serbia 10 years after the end of the
photo | Franek Strzeszewski
organization | NEXUS

This photo parallels the song "Society" by Eddie Vedder. Bend, OR.
photo | Emily C. Green

Submit to the "Save The World" Challenge


Posted by DrewBenton on March 10th 2009 in Organizations Edit

It seems like yesterday I stepped onto the property of SafeHouse Outreach (SHO) and was totally freaked out at the sight of several hundred homeless men and women. Being a middle class suburban kid I had never been exposed to such a sight.

At first, I was not sure how to respond. I did not know if I should go up and talk to people or keep to myself. To be honest, I think I was on homeless people overload. I felt as though I had stepped into a third world country. The poverty these people were living in was too much for me to bear.

My background in the suburbs had taught me these people were lazy, crazy, or addicted. Much of my impression of “homeless people” had been shaped by television and pop culture. These thoughts and others raced through my head as I began to walk across the parking lot of SHO and began looking into the faces of these people.

About that time I heard someone shout out at me, “Young man!” I turned and saw a man sitting in a chair wearing layered clothing and a sock hat, holding a cane. I went over to the man and introduced myself. He told me his name was Marlon and he could tell I was new.

Marlon and I had a good laugh at the fact that I looked totally freaked out. We then talked about all kinds of different topics. We talked about God, family, life, and more. His insight was incredible. The more we talked the more we began to connect. The more we began to connect the more I forgot I was talking to a “homeless” man.


Thanks it was Great!

NEED magazine subscribers and friends had a chance to escape the heat and chat over a glass of wine with NEED staff, writers and photographers at Spill the Wine in Minneapolis. It was great seeing all the people that make NEED possible in the same space meeting one another. We had Spill the Wine overflowing with inspiring stories and great conversation.

Thank you to everyone who made it out!

It was truly great to see you all. We look forward to seeing you, along with many new faces next time!

Keep an eye on the NEED website sidebar for more events throughout the summer.

all photos | Madeline Buck

A Minnesota Social Entrepreneur Wins $20,000

The four Social Entrepreneur’s Cup finalists. (L to R) Jennifer Leimaile Ho from Hearth Connection, Jason Edens from RREAL, Jim McCorkell from Admission Possible and Dr. Michael Helgeson from Apple Tree Dental. photo | Steve Floyd

Last Thursday I attended the Second Annual Engaged Philanthropy Conference, which was hosted by Social Venture Partners Minnesota (SVP). As I entered the banquet hall I immediately felt energized. People were enjoying coffee, mingling with peers and learning about local philanthropic efforts.

There was a heightened sense of excitement floating around the room because one of the four Social Entrepreneur’s Cup finalists would walk away with $20,000 USD to further its efforts. Who would it be? The four finalists in the running were Admission Possible, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, Hearth Connection and Apple Tree Dental.

The keynote speaker Don Budinger, business and social entrepreneur. photo | Steve Floyd

Throughout the day we heard from a keynote speaker, business and social entrepreneur Don Budinger, attended informative learning sessions and listened to the finalists’ presentations.

After each organization gave its final pitch, SVP turned the floor over the audience. A buzz filled the room as soon as the emcee told us we would be casting a vote for our favorite organization. My table launched into a discussion about the finalist we all agreed on. After a slight debate between Apple Tree Dental and Admission Possible, we cast our vote for Admission Possible. Although each table had weighed in, the final decision came down to the Social Entrepreneur’s Cup judges.


Posted by Sudhin Shah on March 12th 2009 in Organizations Edit

Close friends Jessica Wilson and Alexandra Krockow were not deterred by their youth or the difficulties of the task when they undertook to bring awareness and help to a little known children’s organization. They were just 24 years old when they founded Cane International. Soon after the tsunami disaster in 2004 they sought ways to provide substantial help to those in need, but due to their lack of expertise and to the political climate in the affected region they were not successful. They did not give up and after a year-long search for an appropriate cause they encountered Thanh Xuan Peace Village in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Peace Village serves as a refuge, providing shelter, care and education to second and third generation descendants of the victims of dioxin (Agent Orange). The chemical was used during the America-Vietnam War to deforest land and subsequently has entered the water supply. The effects of dioxin are trans-generational and range from neurological disorders, like the inability to form memories, to babies being born without vital organs or limbs. Moved and inspired by the children and the dedicated staff, and armed with an initial set of needs, Wilson and Krockow established Cane International.

The mission of Cane International is to act as the necessary support vehicle for organizations such as Thanh Xuan Peace Village that serve peoples around the world who are crippled by devastating and unsafe political climates. The needs are different everywhere, and sometimes rather surprising in nature. For instance at Thanh Xuan the first priorities included renovating bathroom and kitchen facilities, raising funds for heating fuel and increasing staffing.


Kids These Days! (Part 2)

Posted by Monique Dubos on June 25th 2009 in Organizations, Volunteers Edit

David Burstein – “18 in ‘08

David wasn’t old enough to vote when he realized that his generation was underrepresented at the polls. He was 16 during the 2004 elections, and the story that was repeating over and over on TV was that today’s youth don’t get involved in politics. He decided to do something to spur his peers — “a generation that has so much at stake, ranging from education to college tuition, from health care to global climate change,” he says — to get involved in the 2008 presidential election. David launched a non-partisan campaign aimed at launching activism and encouraging voter registration. “Whatever way they get involved, we don’t take sides. That they get involved is what’s important to us,” he says. A documentary targeting 17 to 24-year-olds was sold across the country. The Los Angeles and New York City school districts bought the film to show in civics classes. Sales of the film funded public service announcements featuring celebrities and policy forums that were held around the US. The campaign encouraged 25,000 new voters, said Burstein. Since the election, “18 in ‘08” continues to spur political participation through policy forums that spark discussion and ideas about how to solve the problems that face his generation. David says, “Young people are increasingly drifting away from party, moving toward ideas, beliefs. As a political observer, I think that’s a good thing.”

Eric Glustrom – Educate

Teachers at Mt. Masaba High School, one of Educate’s partner schools in Mbale, Uganda with Eric. Photo | Margaret Wokuri

Eric was told he was too young to go Africa alone. His parents had misgivings about sending their 17-year-old son to Uganda to execute his plan of making a video about life in the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. But Eric would not be deterred and his parents finally consented. The first person he met when he stepped off the bus became his best friend and the catalyst for an initiative to educate people to become leaders for social change in their country. Benson Olivier had lost his family and was living in the refugee camp where he dealt with the challenges all refugees face: malnutrition, poverty, malaria, the threat of violence and hopelessness. Benson said he needed an education so he could help solve these pressing problems, and Eric made a commitment to help by paying for Benson’s education. Since 2002, Educate has evolved into a network of US high school and college groups that mentor Ugandan students ages 16 to19 through the two-year leadership curriculum. The first students to graduate have taken their leadership skills and “started an orphanage, sent 70 kids to school, and raised over $10,000 from farming” to fund it all themselves, Eric says. He estimates that they have “directly impacted 9,000 people, about half the people” in the settlement. But, he says, the biggest thing Educate! has done for the people of Kyangwali was to believe in their ability to create change.

Darius Weems – “Darius Goes West

Darius and friends at the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy | Darius Goes West

In the summer of 2005, Darius and his buddies took a road trip. Twelve guys, most still in high school, jumped in the van and headed west from their home in Georgia to California, in the hopes of getting MTV to pimp Darius’ ride. It was a typical adolescent lark, except that Darius lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and his ride is a wheelchair. DMD is a genetic disease that causes the deterioration of the voluntary muscles, eventually leading to heart failure, usually before the age of 30. Darius hoped that an appearance on a national TV show would bring much-needed attention to the fatal disease. He didn’t get on MTV that time, but it has since offered to produce a news special about Darius and DMD. Darius’s friend Logan Smalley, the videographer for the cross-country trip, spent a year editing what became “Darius Goes West”, a documentary that has won 28 film festivals awards worldwide. When they began to get requests for copies of the movie from around the country, they decided to sell the DVD, donating proceeds for DMD research, which so far amounts to $1.6 million. “It’s not always about what you do for yourself,” Darius said. “Putting a smile on the faces of parents with kids with this disease, giving them a little hope, makes me want to keep on fighting. It won’t save me, but these kids are the ones who will discover a cure in the future.”

18 in ‘08
Darius Goes West


Posted by Michael Duffield in Organizations Edit

A trip to Uganda six years ago put Sylvia Allen face to face with people in desperate need. She saw households headed by children as young as 12 years old, and schools filled with orphans; all of this the tragic effects of the AIDS epidemic. She describes herself as having been “emotionally drained” by what she saw. Allen, by nature, is not one who thinks problems will solve themselves or that they are someone else’s to fix. And while she never, ever thought she would start a non-profit, if that was what was needed, she was going to do it. “We have an obligation, those of us who are living comfortably… to help other people,” she said. So when the head of Mbiriizi Primary School in the village of Masaka asked her to be the school grandmother, she said, “Yes!” She accepted this new responsibility with her characteristic enthusiasm and determination. Grandmotherly letters to students and an occasional gift would not be enough. No, Allen returned home and formed Sylvia’s Children, then set about improving the lives of her new grandchildren.

Allen, the founder of a public relations firm, Allen Consulting, is by her own description “a strong salesperson” with a “for-profit mindset”. She quickly put these skills to work for the Mbiriizi Primary School. First she found it a sister school in New Jersey, and got a commitment of help and support, “Children helping children”. Then she set about raising funds for projects at the school, at first to meet its basic needs, now with the aim of making the Mbiriizi Primary self-reliant. When she accomplishes this, Allen won’t be resting though, she plans to use the success as a model for schools in other places. She is already talking to groups in Malawi and Nigeria.

So far, Sylvia’s Children has supplied the Mbiriizi Primary School with a library, a dormitory for students, four blocks of classrooms, and teacher housing. It financed construction of a well, stocked the library with books, and brought in computers with internet access. It has supplied musical and sporting equipment, and brought nurses and a dentist to the school to treat the children. The school has more than 1000 students, and about one quarter of them are orphans. Sylvia’s Children sponsors over 200 of these students.


"Save The World" Challenge Images

A Rwandan orphan.
photo | Kresta King Cutcher Venning
organization | Gisimba Memorial Center

Juan refuses to take the oral medication that goes with his chemotherapy.
photo | Jennifer Ditona
organization | Mi Gran Esperanza

Mixing compost and putting it in tree sacs to plant for our arboretum.
photo | Naomi Brown
organization | SIM International

Submit to the "Save The World" Challenge

Delicious Food, a Worthy Cause and Good People

Photos | Krista Reynolds with Never Missa Moment Photography

A few months ago I began volunteering at People Serving People (PSP), a local homeless shelter for families in Minnesota. I started in the children’s library reading books and coloring and then moved to tutoring and playing house with five-year-olds. All of my volunteering experiences at PSP have been great, especially the unusual one I just took part in.

I recently spent a Monday night serving guests in PSP’s dining hall. Chefs for Change is a monthly event that invites the public to an elegant dinner hosted by top chefs from the Twin Cities. Thirty to 40 guests enjoy a five course meal and wine pairings. The restaurants donate everything from the meal, including recipes for guests to take home. This generosity allows PSP to receive 100 percent of the proceeds.

If you are unable to afford a place at the table, you can take part by volunteering. As a recent college grad, I decided this was my best option. I arrived at the shelter two hours before the dinner and was warmly welcomed by veteran volunteers. After introductions we all set to work and transformed the dining hall into an intimate setting.

Seven The Steakhouse soon joined us and filled the kitchen with their plates, ingredients and delicious smells. Executive chef Andre Smith and executive sushi chef Devane Sumontha gladly introduced their menus to the volunteers, and made sure we knew what we would be serving. The chefs also chose a few volunteers to be their assistant in the kitchen.

I jumped at the chance to work next to a top chef! Chef Devane needed help plating his sushi masterpieces and asked for my help. After a demonstration, two other volunteers and I were intensely focused on the art of sushi. Twenty minutes later we had assembled 40 Japanese salads and 40 salmon roll dishes.

In between prepping and serving I spoke with Seven’s Wendy Schallock about the restaurant’s involvement. Upon learning about PSP’s Chefs for Change dinners, Wendy knew that Seven had to get involved. “Our owners are from Minneapolis, and everything that we do is within the city. … And both of the chefs are happy to do this on their night off.”

Knowing that the chefs were cooking on their only night off, I had to speak with them. Smith was happy to donate his time. He said, “This is such a worthy cause. [PSP] is an organization that deserves of a lot of praise and I’m sure things will work out for people who have this type of assistance. I’m glad I could participate. … Hopefully I’ll be able to do it again, and as well as the food I’ll do the music, I play the saxophone and piano.” Sumontha told me that this was his first time volunteering and it was a great experience; he too hopes to participate in Chefs for Change again.

Volunteer Andrea LaChapelle feels the same way: “I think it’s a great thing to contribute to. I can’t necessarily afford to buy the meals, but I can definitely volunteer. I get to try the food, it’s for a good cause and I get to meet new people.” She has participated four times already.

To volunteer or purchase a ticket for dinner, or if you are chef interested in hosting Chefs for Change, contact Amy Jenkins at 612.277.0221 or

People Serving People


Posted by Michael Duffield on March 19th 2009 in Organizations, Volunteers Edit

Jeff Conant went to northern Mozambique on the unusual mission of looking for the world’s simplest effective latrine. He found what might be it, and more surprisingly, he found a truly remarkable musical group, Massukos. Mozambique’s most popular musical group, Massukos sing about sanitation and hygiene, about washing your hands and drinking clean water. Not your typical pop fare, but band leader Feliciano dos Santos is not your typical musician. He is the founder of Estamos, an NGO dedicated to improving sanitation and preventing AIDS in Niassa, the large rural area of northern Mozambique that is his home.

Conant was co-writing the book “A Community Guide to Environmental Health” for the Hesperian Foundation when he went to Niassa. His trip was one of a number of field visits he made as part of his research, seeking examples of successfully functioning sanitation projects. He had come to Niassa to see a dry latrine system in use locally. Santos was one of Conant’s guides who showed him the simple but very effective toilets which Estamos was promoting and installing.


Kids These Days! (Part 1)

Posted by Monique Dubos on June 23rd 2009 in Organizations, Volunteers Edit

2009 Rock Stars of Social Change. Photo Courtesy | DoSomething.org

DoSomething.org was founded to dispel the myth that teenagers are apathetic, using “the power of the internet to help young people change the world,” and for 16 years has been empowering them with money and tools to do good work. Each week the organization gives two $500 grants, one for seed projects and one for disaster relief. Each year, it gives $10,000 grants to several young finalists whose vision and effort have really made a difference. A grand prize is awarded to one of those finalists to continue their work. On June 4, 2009, Maggie Doyne won $100,000 for her Kopila Valley Children's Home in Nepal, which she built using babysitting money. The other 2009 finalists — the rock stars of social change — are Marvelyn Brown, David Burstein, Eric Glustrom, and Darius Weems. Read on to learn the awesome stories of these young people.

Maggie Doyne ― Kopila Valley Children's Home

Maggie with residents of Kopila Valley Children's Home. Photo | Kayla Sponza.

A vision, a shovel and a stash of babysitting money was all Maggie needed to build a children’s home in Nepal. At the end of her senior year in high school, Maggie says, she took what was supposed to be a year off to travel to learn her purpose in the world. She stopped at an orphanage in India where she had been told volunteers were needed. From there she traveled to Nepal, where she met hundreds more street children without the most basic necessities. “I’d seen orphanages that were causing more problems than helping,” Maggie said, where kids are more susceptible to disease than they are on the streets. “They come out with no skills and end up right back on the streets.” She resolved to build a children’s home, and talked to everyone who would listen about how to make that happen. She then identified a piece of land in a valley beside a stream. When she found out the asking price ― $5,000, exactly the amount she had in the bank — she knew it was meant to be. Twenty-six orphans, aged 3 to 10, now live at the Kopila Home. They learn sewing, gardening and husbandry, skills they will need in their region of Nepal, where subsistence farming is the norm.

Marvelyn Brown — Marvelous Connections

At 19, Marvelyn and her friends didn’t have a care in the world. She had a good time dating a guy from work. That is, until he infected her with HIV. When HIV had been discussed in high school, Marvelyn had shrugged off the information, thinking that it was an infection reserved for drug users and prostitutes. So when an unrelated hospital visit prompted tests that came up positive for HIV, she was shocked. Marvelyn met others who were infected and realized she “wasn’t the only one who had missed the information” about HIV. As word of her diagnosis spread quickly from friends out into the community, she understood the impact her story could have on other young people. “I realized the power of my voice,” she says. These days, as the head of her own consulting agency, Marvelous Connections, she goes into “high schools, colleges, universities, churches, sweet 16 parties, anywhere I can get the word out” because, she says, young people need an example. “They need to see someone who has it, how easily they can get it, that it’s not the image that you think.” The Marvelous Connections tour aims to reduce the stigma of HIV and influencing 5,000 students to get informed and tested.

Marvelyn with fans after speaking on HIV/AIDS awareness to a public open forum in Charleston, SC. Photo Courtesy | Marvelyn Brown/Do Something.org

Kopila Valley Children's Home
Marvelous Connections

Liberian Girls: Ruth

Originally posted on Scarlett Lion: Liberia by Glenna Gordon. Gordon has been working with UNICEF on a project about Liberian girls.

Ruth Dureng wants to be a reverend and a doctor. A Reverend Doctor, Rev Dr. Dureng. She doesn’t feel the limit of choosing among careers – she wants it all. And when she smiles, anyone nearby couldn’t help but want to give it to her. Especially because when her smile breaks, you understand how much has been taken away from her.

Ruth was abused and forced out of her house when she refused to become to the second wife to her aunt’s husband. She left home and has the strength to speak out. In a culture where women are shamed for saying no, or shunned when they are the victims of sexual violence, Ruth’s strength and perseverance are an outlier, but also an example of hope and pride for other girls.

“Your ‘no’ can save and protect generation unborn,” she says. “I stood up to protect my pride, you can do the same, no matter what the case is. Stand up. Life is better, live it positively.”


"Save The World" Challenge Images

An AIDS orphan in Mozambique teaching other children how to say the alphabet.
photo | Mansir Petrie
organization | Save the Children

Philadelphia Homeless Man: Destitution in America
photo | Ronald Modro

A group of students eagerly anticipate candy at a school in Thaton, Thailand.
photo | Rachel Marie Robichaux
organization | Full Life Development

Submit to the "Save The World" Challenge

1,000,000 books to Sierra Leone

Posted by Katy Petershack on March 24th 2009 in Organizations, Volunteers Edit

Cindy Nofziger, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, traveled back to the country after the long civil war ended in 2002. During her visit, an old friend asked her to help rebuild the education system that had been destroyed during the decade of fighting. Nofziger wanted to do all that she could to help, “Sierra Leoneans gave me so much when I lived there as a Peace Corps Volunteer. When … one of my Sierra Leonean colleagues from that time asked if I would help him rebuild a school in his village that had been destroyed during the war, I told him I would try.”

War had destroyed much of the country’s educational infrastructure. Nofziger returned to the US and brainstormed ways to help. Within two years she had started Schools for Salone (SFS). The organization builds schools in rural communities where the government spends little of its resources. With access to education, children are often empowered to break the cycle of poverty in their towns.

Nofziger explains, “I work full-time for Seattle Public Schools and am a single mom with an 8-year-old son, so SFS is done in the wee hours of the AM or night. We are a completely volunteer organization with everyone working full time at day jobs.” The first school was funded by drawings from kids in Sierra Leone who wanted a chance to receive an education. Eight more schools have been built since and others are being constructed and planned.


Monday, June 22
The 1000th person to take the Humanitarian IQ WINS five subscriptions to NEED magazine!


LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

As part of our commitment to the community of photographers, NEED donated to the annual LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph festival this year in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The LOOK3 festival brings together photographers from all over in order to create a community in which everyone can share insights to improve their work and expand the impression that their imagery makes. As part of the festival, NEED photographers Steve Floyd, Paul Corbit Brown, and others attended workshops such as “The Photographic Essay” lead by David Alan Harvey and James Nachtwey — whose imagery has also appeared in NEED.

James Nachtwey. photo | Steve Floyd

“They only compare your work to the best, and after we were challenged in that way, we get back out and work, and your stock, your skill, everything just goes up a couple of notches simply because of their critiques,” say Floyd. He says that Nachtwey, in particular, challenged him and helped him understand what it means to make a photograph that will change the world. Steve’s project during the event was to photograph an urban project area known for having troubles with violence. “I spent a few days just wandering through and taking pictures. … Then I started talking to a few kids and I asked them who had the most history and knew the most about this neighborhood, and they led me right to who I call the ‘Barack Obama of the block,’ the community organizer.” This man arranged for Floyd to spend time with families in the project and become a part of many of the things that people in that community did on a daily basis. After four days of shooting, Floyd donated his images to the project’s youth center. When members of the community saw the photographs, “everybody just broke into tears and said that ‘this is not the community that we see,’ meaning that the photographs just showed a real community. It didn’t just show the typical violence. … It demonstrated to them all the activity that goes on in that community.

Image from the urban project photo essay. photo | Steve Floyd

Image from the urban project photo essay. photo | Steve Floyd

The feeling that moved me was walking up out of there and knowing that I had made an impact on people who had lived there all their life.” Showing members of that community a different way to view their surroundings gave them a new attitude and Floyd says that this was what the LOOK3 festival had challenged him to do.

photo | Steve Floyd

As part of our support for the festival, NEED donated almost 400 copies of the magazine to attendees of LOOK3. The magazines were placed out on a table for anyone to take. Floyd says there were quite a few people clamoring to get a copy. Every single copy was gone within 15 minutes. We hope to be even more involved next year.

LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

Steve Floyd

"In the Crossfire" from NEED Issue 5 photography by Steve Floyd