“Nonprofits are the intermediaries between generosity and social change.” – Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, founder of the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, the Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation, and author of the book Giving 2.0: Transforming Your Giving and Our World
There’s a part inside all of us that wants to change the world. To make it a better place for everyone—where no one goes hungry and diseases are eradicated. A world that prospers and is guaranteed to be beautiful and bountiful for the generations to come. For many of us, this spark was lit as a child. We saw a movie, read a book or a poem, maybe we met someone who showed us that one person can truly make a difference. That even small acts can make a big impact in the long run.
As children, we see the world a little differently than adults. For one thing, there is a whole lot more time for everything. We don’t usually see the adversities, the pushback, the struggle. Inside us, a dream was ignited and many of those dreams turned into nonprofits.
The term ‘nonprofit’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people but the boiled down version, the origin of the concept, stemmed from 'an entity designed to better its community by facilitating donations and grants into programs.' In short, it’s an organization that strives to do good, to create a better world. For all of us.
The focus of River Discovery is on joy and trying things outside of your comfort zone. “Our longer river trips operate on a lottery system, where we get about 100 applicants a year and can only take around 20. Give or take. So, what I like to tell people is that you are here for a reason, your name was chosen to do this for a reason,” Betsy Carver shared passionately.
Betsy is the Executive Director of River Discovery, an Idaho nonprofit organization ‘focused on sending cancer survivors, of all ages, on outdoor adventures that promote healing and strengthening of the mind, body and spirit.’
There is no shortage of benefits that the outdoors provides. Strength, connection, healing. The list seems as boundless as the river seems endless. Betsy sees many beautiful experiences as the director of such a valuable nonprofit.
“The nature of our organization can be challenging because of who we serve. But these stories are always inspiring. We had one woman who went on a six-day trip. She had cancer when she was much younger. One night around the fire she said, ‘I don’t feel like I deserve to be on this trip because my cancer was so long ago.’ But like I tell everyone, ‘Your name was drawn for a reason.’ A month later she had a recurrence, but this time she had a community of people to help and support her. I'm proud to say that same woman is now on our board!”
First Tee of Idaho
“Golf is such a unique sport. For one thing, you are your own referee. It's your responsibility to call penalties on yourself and play the game with integrity. It can also be one of the most frustrating sports! The difference between golf and many other sports is you have a lot more time to think about the mistake you just made; you have to have the ability to let things go and put mistakes behind you and move forward,” explained Katie McKelvey, Program Director at First Tee of Idaho.
Katie has been involved in First Tee since 2016 and gets to witness first-hand the power of the sport. “Stories range from seeing the excitement in participants when they hit their first amazing shot, to our longtime participants being selected for First Tee National Opportunities!”
The mission of this nonprofit is to ‘build game changers by empowering kids and teens through golf.’ First Tee provides focus, goals, and mentorship to kids and teens across the country. They are given the space to make the right decisions, to support their communities, and to learn the power of positive self-talk.
“To see their dedication come to fruition is very special and makes me proud and honored to be a part of a program that offers such incredible opportunities and truly is making a difference in young people's lives. This year, we had just under 1,000 participants, nearly triple what we had in 2019. We are grateful to have the opportunity to share our story and continue making the Treasure Valley a better place, one young person at a time!”
Wild Hearts Idaho
“Since our first trip in 2016, we’ve taken over 300 girls on a wide array of adventures,” said Serena Rasmussen, Executive Director of Wild Hearts Idaho. “Last year alone, we were able to take 38 participants on 12 adventures, ranging from day hikes to local hot springs to multi-day river trips. Forty-five percent of these girls had never experienced Idaho’s great outdoors in that way, and every single participant had the opportunity to meet new friends, learn important wilderness skills, and take away new growth for their own development as leaders.”
Wild Hearts Idaho is a girl-focused, girl-led nonprofit that strives to build leadership skills in teen girls through the magic of outdoor adventure. And they mean adventure—rafting, hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, rock climbing—adventure.
“A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that teens who participate in outdoor recreation experience numerous benefits like enhanced self-efficacy, confidence, and improved body image,” Serena shared. “However, the same study notes that women are more likely to experience barriers to participation in outdoor recreation, including lack of exposure, fear, and gender-normative socialization.”
Wild Hearts Idaho was formed to eliminate these barriers and provide girls the opportunity to flourish, both within themselves and their communities. “It's about nurturing our future female leaders. It's also about combating the mental health challenges our youth face by giving them a chance to breathe, to reflect, and to grow.”
Boise Urban Garden School
Celebrating their 20th summer, the Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) has seen over 60,000 participants since their merge with the City of Boise. They reach Treasure Valley children through several programs, including outdoor preschool, on- and off-site outreach/field trips and on-site gardening and culinary classes.
"Everything we do at BUGS is hands-on,” Executive Director, Megan Heryet explained. “Kids are in the garden planting, pulling weeds, and harvesting vegetables. In our cooking classes and camps, kids are using real knives, a hot stove, learning how to make bread and sauces, sautéing, stir-frying, making pasta. There’s no waiting around for someone else to do it! We run a Junior Beekeeping camp and they are inspecting hives, harvesting honey, and making candles. Our volunteers are in the soil, using tools, harvesting produce. We’re forging strong connections with food. It’s a unique experience that I don’t think you can get anywhere else in Boise.”
"There is no shortage of benefits that the outdoors provides. Strength, connection, healing. The list seems as boundless as the river seems endless."
“To see their dedication come to fruition is very special and makes me proud and honored to be a part of a program that offers such incredible opportunities and truly is making a difference in young people's lives."
“A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that teens who participate in outdoor recreation experience numerous benefits like enhanced self-efficacy, confidence, and improved body image,”
“Kids are in the garden planting, pulling weeds, and harvesting vegetables... using real knives, a hot stove, learning how to make bread and sauces, sautéing, stir-frying, making pasta."