Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Living a grandmother’s legacy, helping families and schools with Lola’s Foundation

Living a grandmother’s legacy, helping families and schools with Lola’s FoundationName of Social Enterprise and URL?

Lola’s Foundation

www.MyLola.org

Who is the person? What is there background?

Analisa Hightower started Lola’s Foundation in honor of her grandmother, Lola. Lola taught her the importance of education and helping people out in any way you can. Analisa began Lola’s Foundation in May, 2011 immediately after Lola passed. She merged helping children and families because she believes they go hand in hand. Kids who are hungry won’t be able to concentrate in school and will not get the education they deserve.

Analisa comes from an entrepreneurial and non-profit background, she began her career by starting up a publishing company focused on educational products. She moved on to work at a small micro-finance company, helping people in the developing world. She currently works in healthcare, but dedicates her spare time to Lola’s Foundation.

What is your product or service?

Lola’s Foundation provides families and shelters in need with food, supplies, as well as health education and access to after school programs. By reallocating goods and services that otherwise would go to waste; Lola’s Foundation strives to promote healthy living for communities in need. Because shelters are limited with space, we work with them to store items and be delivered upon request. We try to alleviate as much pressure as we can on the shelters as they are strapped for resources and give them the ability to concentrate on the core mission of the shelters.

Date officially launched? May 9, 2011. Officially became a 501 3c non-profit in 2012.

How many people need help?

Millions of people in the United States need help and billions in the world. When I was young, my father had a mug that said, “Think Globally, Act Locally” and I have taken that approach with this organization. I want to build enough traction domestically to eventually help people abroad as well.

Currently we work closely with the Berkeley Food and Housing Project in Berkeley. We also work with the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond, but are always happy to work with new shelters to provide goods and services. We work with Farmerville Junior High in Louisiana as they only operate 4 days a week and do not have enough funding to provide supplies for their students and teachers. The reason we work with these organizations is because we have established a close relationship with someone at the organization who we can work with to get the appropriate items delivered. We are happy to work with other organizations who need assistance and we accept all inquiries.

Are you working on decreasing that cost by being more efficient?

I volunteer my time to run this organization and will never pay myself for running this. By being completely volunteer based and having little administrative costs (occasionally shipping, website fees), I’m able to run this company as transparently as possible. I have no interest in making money off this venture, I am just interested in helping people.

Could others help you and how?

Yes! We need donations for our shelters and schools. Ongoing items we ask for are toiletries because many people have samples from hotels, department stores, etc. that go to waste. Instead of going to waste, they can be donated to the shelters for people to use. The shelter only accepts brand new toiletry items and its particularly useful for people who are only spending 1-2 nights in the shelter. It is also extremely useful for the people living in the shelter as it is a basic need for them. We also have an ongoing need for teaching supplies: pencils, crayons and notebooks that are sent frequently to Louisiana.

Other ways I’m looking for help are with outreach and food donations. Bakeries and grocery stores tend to throw away day old food (or produce that is about to rot). The shelters can use baked bread (even if it’s a day old) for their meals (think croutons, bread pudding) and the produce can be donated before spoiling and can be used for the meals. I think since we’re strapped for resources on Earth as well, its important to pay attention to using everything we grow and let nothing go to waste.

I am also looking for assistance to create awareness about the organization. Marketing is one of the harder parts of running a business and that is why I chose to help shelters out with this area of work. While I concentrate on the marketing, they can concentrate on working within the organization. However, any leads or writers looking for an article about non-profits can contact me directly and I am happy to supply more information about the organizations we work with.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

I use WordPress to host the website and only paid for the URL. While I’d like to have a nicer website, I understand that the money can be better served going to feeding the people in the shelters. I also use Twitter and Facebook. I’m trying to work with Constant Contact and PayPal to provide a non-profit discount. (So its not really free, but discounted heavily).

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

There are two of us. There’s me and my little brother, Kevin Chen also works on Lola’s Foundation. Lola also helped raised him from a baby and she meant a lot to him. He is extremely caring and he handles our newsletters for the foundation as well as outreach in Boston.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out? (Please provide links)

We do! Follow us on Twitter @mylolaorg and “like” us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/LolasFoundation)

What is the best advice you never got?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

What is the one thing that you did right?

Going for it.

 

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One Response to “Living a grandmother’s legacy, helping families and schools with Lola’s Foundation”

  1. Jay Lee says:

    We remmeber Lola as such a wonderful, strong and beautiful lady; I am always impressed by Anand and Luisa’s family and their way of living and loving each other…mostly thanks to Lola who quietly grew them all as solid and wonderful mentors in many ways.

    I still remember Lola sitting her chair watching korean soft dramas when I visited her years ago – while it was the first time to meet each other, she smiled so comfortably and lovely hence I felt like she was my old friend…a strong inside, calming and beautiful.

    Miss her so much…

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