By David Radcliff
New Community Project turns 20 this year! Over these two decades, we’ve covered a lot of ground and want to offer some high-lights of our work. Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story, as our impact isn’t always visible and countable. But figures do perhaps provide some indication of progress toward our oft-stated goal of “changing the world.” So let’s see how they add up!
Please pray… For the ministries of the New Community Project over its 20 years.
Learning Tour totals: With South Sudan, Ecuador, Lybrook, Yellowstone, and Denali since May, this brings the total number of Learning Tours offered by New Community Project since 2003 to 78. With an average participation of 10-plus, that means nearly 800 people have climbed mountains, shared with and learned from communities, encountered wildlife, visited reforestation sites, eaten local foods, forded local streams, and ridden buses and boats and land cruisers for miles. And survived, thrived, and returned home with new friends, new ideas, and new majors. And offered encouragement–and often a good laugh–to our neighbors.
In-person In-spiration: Along with Learning Tours, “experiential learning” includes engaging people at our Sustainable Living Centers and during our visits to groups.
Since 2008, NCP Harrisonburg has been working on behalf of those who often don’t have a voice, while drawing on indigenous wisdom, as well as spirituality and the science of ecology. Tom Benevento and crew have initiated a range of programs including Renew Rocktown, the Northend Greenway, the Sustainable Business Coalition, Soil Cycles, Silver Run Forest Farm, Give Solar, school gardens, the Jubilee Climate Farm, and Vine and Fig houses of hospitality. The site has hosted over 21,300 volunteers, 86 10-month interns, and 63 capstone students from nearby colleges who have implemented projects from soil and water testing to a solar tiny house to designing bicycle and pedestrian paths and more. Each year, they house around 25 formerly homeless folks or recent immigrants from refugee camps in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
With us since only 2015, NCP Vermont has already hosted over 600 volunteers and 15 summer interns who have contributed 20,000 hours of service. Their food justice gardens and Food Share program have grown, gathered, and distributed over 20 tons of food along with 4,300 prepared meals to those in need. They have built 2 greenhouses and 2 Little Free Pantries. Pete Antos-Ketcham has been instrumental in expanding a community garden, founding an Energy Committee, and building a community pavilion in nearby Starkboro. He has also coordinated firewood and fuel delivery to dozens of families each winter.
Director David Radcliff has made over 1,900 presentations in these past 20 years in schools and colleges around the country. He has also spoken some 350 times in congregations, camps, and virtual gatherings, including a recent Zoom event with students from China, and led over 70 Learning Tours.
20 years of Giving a Girl a Chance: Educating girls and empowering women have been among the most important things we’ve done over these 20 years. Our Give a Girl a Chance fund has worked through our partners in Africa and Asia to give scholarships to over 7,700 girls and hygienic materials to these and thousands more since 2003; supplied 200 bicycles to girls in Malawi; and provided school supplies, mosquito nets, and even food when needed. For women, we have supported 795 with microloans to start small businesses; trained over 10,500 to be tailors, beauticians, stove makers, or midwives; and provided land for displaced Batwa women in Rwanda. Altogether, NCP has raised over $1.8 million in support of girls and women over these two decades.
Special Campaigns since 2003: Larger one-time efforts include If We Build It (a girls’ school in South Sudan); But Not Forgotten (post-earthquake relief for Nepal); Labor Day Campaign (midwives in Congo); Keep ‘em Safe (wall around survivors’ shelter in Nepal); Covid relief (Africa, Asia, S. America); and more. Total: $219,250.
If a Tree Falls… (we replant it!): Money may not grow on trees, but it can sure grow trees! That’s what the $478,800 contributed to our If a Tree Falls program has done since 2003. Thanks to our partners’ frugality (Jimmy Zan getting avocado seeds from restaurants in Burma; Paskwale Ben using mosquito net packages as planting containers in South Sudan), trees can be planted for 10 to 50 cents each. Based on our partners’ calculations, we’ve planted some 3,700,000 trees in the past two decades in Africa, Asia, and the Amazon. As a tree stores around 50 pounds of CO2 per year, that’s 91,000-plus tons of greenhouse gases sequestered annually–plus habitat, medicines, fruit, shade! In the Ecuadorian Amazon, we have preserved 200 acres of forest and provided critical support to native partners defending the rainforest.
— David Radcliff is director of the New Community Project. Find out more about this church-related ministry at www.newcommunityproject.info.
Find more Church of the Brethren news:
- Remembering Belita Mitchell
- Fitzkee and Hollenberg head the ballot for the 2024 Annual Conference
- Mission Advancement shares matching gift opportunity
- Introducing ‘Shine Everywhere’
- Church of the Brethren general secretary one of more than 20 Christian leaders urging ceasefire in Israel and Palestine