+
This Woman is Closing the Gap for Those in Poverty - And It’s Working
TD Bank

Tanya Whitaker (right)

True

Tanya Whitaker's life mantra is a large part of why she's so driven to help those in need in her community of Clinton, Maryland. It boils down to a Gilbert Young painting called "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother."

"I knew I needed to do something to help break down systemic barriers and build bridges for not only the underprivileged, but the underserved," Tanya tells Upworthy. "I am assisting my brother in our community."

Tanya has been working to lift up underserved communities in almost every aspect of her life. She works in the career and technical education department for the District of Columbia's State Superintendent of Education, and helps students realize goals they didn't even know were possible. That work informed the development of her nonprofit, Skills Today Advance Tomorrow Development Center (STAT DC), which aims to "advance the economic mobility and social progress in low and moderate-income communities," she explains.

Even before starting STAT DC, Tanya felt compelled to help people have access to what they need, regardless of their circumstances. This became particularly clear to her during the pandemic, which left so many more people in need of food and/or shelter. "It has been my experience through this pandemic that all economic lines have been blurred," she says.

One thing that really stood out to her is how many children went hungry during the pandemic because schools were closed.

"America was faced with the fact that most school-aged children were getting most of their nutritional needs from the school," explains Tanya. "And without that outlet to tap into, parents were forced to get into food lines that they never thought would be part of their daily or weekly needs."

In response to the need she saw, Tanya created a sizable network of volunteers to feed the homeless in her community. Just like in her day job, she's the manager making it all happen, from organizing donations, deliveries and all the other working parts it takes to carry out such a gargantuan task on a regular basis. "I have such an awesome group of dedicated volunteers," says Tanya. "This could not be done to this magnitude without such a group." Even her 78-year-old father is involved.

Tanya Whitaker (left)Photo courtesy of TD Bank

She often doesn't have enough funds to cover the costs of her food distribution program. Thanks to a donation from TD Bank from their #TDThanksYou campaign, however, she should be able to keep her work going through the holidays — when food insecurity and homelessness are most prevalent in the U.S. "This directly impacts the daily operation of the food distribution. What the public does not see is the day-to-day expenses that we incur to make this happen," says Tanya.

TD Thanks You is TD Bank's annual campaign that aims to bolster its customers, colleagues, and communities by giving back to them in meaningful ways. This year, the 2021 #TDThanksYou campaign is highlighting stories of people who are spreading positivity and optimism in their communities without asking for anything in return. Tanya's work certainly seems to fit the bill.

Tanya's team distributes food every Thursday, but that means organization and packing of food has to begin Tuesday. Food is assembled into sections, non-perishables, meat, dairy, frozen food and produce. Thursdays tend to be the busiest days because they typically get a surprise batch of food that needs to be sorted. After all the food is sectioned out, they start assembling it into bags and prepare those bags for distribution.

Tanya's been able to keep food distribution efforts of this magnitude going with the help of several businesses. And she made those connections by literally knocking on doors.

One relationship came about when she realized a nearby mall, and its parking lots, had been sitting unused. "I drove around the parking lot until I found a security office door. I knocked on what seemed to be an abandoned, empty room, and met my wonderful angel, Ms. Carolyn Martin, the property manager for the Landmark Mall's division for Howard Hughes Corporation."

Tanya explained her mission to feed the homeless, and the next day, Ms. Martin welcomed her to use one of the mall's parking lots free of charge.

"It is imperative that we, as socially responsible individuals, not wait on government programs or a 'knight in shining armor' to come to the rescue," says Tanya.

People like Tanya use compassion and fervor to fight food insecurity, homelessness and economic inequality every day. They're not waiting for a "knight" to come to the rescue; they just pick up the proverbial sword themselves.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 08.05.21


Six years ago, a high school student named Christopher Justice eloquently explained the multiple problems with flying the Confederate flag. A video clip of Justice's truth bomb has made the viral rounds a few times since then, and here it is once again getting the attention it deserves.

Justice doesn't just explain why the flag is seen as a symbol of racism. He also explains the history of when the flag originated and why flying a Confederate flag makes no sense for people who claim to be loyal Americans.

But that clip, as great as it is, is a small part of the whole story. Knowing how the discussion came about and seeing the full debate in context is even more impressive.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Tod Perry

This article originally appeared 8.18.21


18-year-old Twitter user Aimee recently took to Twitter to ask something most of us have probably wondered about without even realizing it:

"Serious question, what the fuck is this for?" she asked, next to a photo of that handle on the ceiling of every car that we all knew about and probably wondered about but never thought to even ask for some reason?!?!?!?!?!?

Keep ReadingShow less