Jeffrey Helton, VISTA at the GA headquarters, here with some exciting news:

The GA pocketbook just grew by $10,000!

A few months ago, I was trying to nominate Grow Appalachia for the Tom’s of Maine “50 States for Good” program. Even though I’m merely a VISTA with GA, this program has affected my life in more ways than I could have imagined. As a creative writer, I naturally got carried away describing these positive changes in my nomination. I wrote about how I value that GA has expanded my writing repertoire to include blog posts, technical writing, and even grant-writing. I wrote about how the position has heightened my confidence in myself. I wrote so much, actually, that when I began to dive into how the program has impacted the lives of others, I’d run out of space. I was faced with a tough choice, since I was so attached to what I’d carefully crafted, but the solution was simple.

I emailed the GA family, urging our partners and participants to nominate our organization if they felt that their lives have been positively affected by our work. This ultimately made the most sense, since I believe that there are few things more powerful or persuasive than people sharing their own stories. Apparently, it worked!

Grow Appalachia was selected as the organization to represent Kentucky in this program for 2014. There is only one winner from each state, as well as one from the District of Columbia, which makes this whole thing… pretty impressive, when you think about it. For those who don’t know, Tom’s of Maine is a company that creates excellent toothpaste, deodorant, and other personal care products, all while placing an emphasis on naturally-produced ingredients. We’re happy to be the recipients of their award, which is just one of many of Tom’s philanthropic endeavors.

The GA headquarters is planning to use these funds to support our ongoing efforts heirloom vegetable preservation project, including supporting the development of safe and sanitary preservation facilities for our partners. We’ll keep you all posted as things develop!

One more thing, this certainly wouldn’t have been possible without the outpouring of nominations from all of you. We received at least ten nominations–and that’s just the ones that we know about. Without our family, this wouldn’t have been possible.

Thank you all, and thanks to the folks at Tom’s of Maine for believing in our work!