Friends of Fresh and Green Academy is a non-profit organization in the United States that supports and funds Friends of Fresh and Green, a school in the capital city of Ethiopia that feeds and educates impoverished children. Learn more about volunteering and fundraising opportunities!
What is Friends of Fresh and Green Academy and what services do they provide?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Friends of Fresh and Green Academy is a nonprofit organization that’s based here in the United States. What we do is we support a school in Addis Ababa, which is the capital city of Ethiopia. Friends of Fresh and Green is the name of the school, and Friends of Fresh and Green Academy is the entity in the United States that supports the school. What the school does primarily is feeds and educates impoverished children in Ethiopia. Now, these kids that come to our school don’t have enough money for food, books, or school uniforms. They need a place to go to school so they don’t end up on the street begging for food or money.
The organization funding goes directly to the school. We feed and educate the children. We provide some living spaces for children who are orphaned or don’t have parents that can house the children. We provide school books and school uniforms. We pay teachers’ salaries and basically pay the rent for the school to make sure the school continues to operate and serve these impoverished children.
What is your role within the organization, and how did you get started with them?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: I’m an executive officer. What happened was my wife went on a volunteer trip, because she was a flight attendant, with another group of flight attendants to go and help the school. While she was there, the people who were funding the school started to back out of the program, and she and a couple of her friends started a new nonprofit organization to continue funding the school.
After a while, she asked me to join and sit on the board, which I reluctantly initially agreed to. Then, eventually, once I went to the school, I just fell in love with the school and saw the direct giving and everything that we were doing, because it’s absolutely amazing. We carry no overhead. All the money we collect goes directly to the school. You can see it affecting their lives, because these kids who would normally be out on the street begging for food or money are attending school, thriving, and going from there. It is just an amazing thing to see.
We even established a mothers’ cooperative, where the mothers help out with some of the meal preparation. They teach them some skills and some crafts, and they produce these beautiful scarves which we bring back to the United States and sell, and all the money goes back to the mothers’ cooperative.
As we’ve been there over the past 10 years, things have continued to grow and change. It has been absolutely amazing. From where we started when it was just kindergarten through second grade, now we have kindergarten through eighth grade, and we even help the older kids go to the public school once they graduate from eighth grade. We feed them at the school. We give them a bag lunch. Then they go off to the public school and then come back to our school for dinner and then go home. We are hoping that those kids graduate high school and then start to give back to the school once they start entering the workforce.
How do you find time to volunteer while running your chiropractic practice?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Liz, I think you’re a busy person too, and we all know that you never find time, you just make it and schedule it. You’ve probably heard the expression, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Because they are the least likely to procrastinate. Don’t get me wrong, I do an awful lot with the practice and I make a lot of time to volunteer and do these things. But you know what? You just make the time for the things that are important, and we just keep on going. There are times where I drop the ball and don’t always get everything I need to get done done. However, we have to keep going, we have to keep trying. As long as you keep doing your best, you’re doing your best. That’s really it. We just make the time.
RC: Absolutely. I totally agree with that.
What do you want your local community to know about Friends of Fresh and Green Academy?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: One of the things that is important is that people often say to me, and, I don’t know, I don’t blame them I guess, but they’re like, “How come you don’t do stuff in the United States? There are plenty of hungry people here in the United States. Why don’t you do things locally?” What I’ve seen ever since I got married to a flight attendant, I’ve been really traveling the world, and I’ve been seeing that it is much more of a global community than most people think.
If you really look into it, the United States sends millions of dollars in aid to Africa, and if we can break the cycle of poverty and break the cycle of people not being able to read or write so they can get gainful employment, if we can stop those problems from repeating themselves, these people can actually lift themselves up by their own bootstraps and go out and get a job and work rather than just relying on handouts. If we provide the education and we provide the resources and we take a mom who is not literate and teach her a craft so she can actually start to make money and work, then we can break that cycle before it starts, and then eventually people will be less reliant on handouts and aid from foreign countries.
That’s really what I tell people when they ask about that. We can do stuff here locally that affects the world and will eventually have a much bigger effect on the way things go in Africa and the way things go in the United States, because we might not need to send as much aid to those countries if they are doing things themselves.
I want people to know that every little bit helps. We have a child sponsorship program. You can donate one time. You can attend our fundraisers. I just want them to know that we’re out there doing what we do. If anyone has any interest, we are looking for active board members or people to join the organization. All they’ve got to do is reach out and get involved.
If others want to get involved with Friends of Fresh and Green Academy, what can they do?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: It’s very simple. Go on the website. Sign up. Join the sponsorship program. Volunteer your time. Volunteer your friends’ time. Come out to an event and just learn more about what we do. You can go onto the website. It’s just www.FriendsOfFreshAndGreen.org. We are really easy to find out there on the web. Just sign up. Get involved. Come to an event. Ask to volunteer. Give me a call. You gave out my phone number before. I am more than happy to speak to anyone. Anyone that wants to get involved, all they’ve got to do is reach out. We always need help. The school is always growing. There is always a need for more volunteers.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call 917-534-6484 to schedule an appointment