When did you become involved with MATTER? Why?
Vicki Bachmann, VP of Business Partnerships: I joined MATTER a year and a half ago. Having observed throughout my career that most business professionals want to be part of something bigger, I was eager to utilize my skills and experience to help the corporate world make a difference through MATTER’s local and global initiatives.
Katie Johnson, Director of Global Health Initiatives: Though MATTER is engaged in a variety of project areas around the world, there are two specific areas that were instrumental in my decision to join MATTER a year ago. The repurposing of medical supplies to hospitals around the world and the utilizing of nutrient dense food to nourish people in under-resourced areas were an integral part of my background and experience, and areas that I’m just really passionate about.
Amanda Escen, Board President: My initial introduction to MATTER was when it was still called Hope for the City. At my former company, I had been nominated to attend a leadership course in which one module was focused on getting leaders to understand corporate giving policies. I went back to my business and realized we were not giving in accordance with the corporate guidelines. Eventually, I was able to change that and to get charitable dollars allocated to each of our regional offices. One of the stipulations was that funding needed to go to an organization in the local community. I found Hope for the City and organized a food packing event; I thought it would be really fun to create a company-wide competition to see what office could pack the most food. This idea eventually morphed into what we call “MATTERbox Madness” today.
How do you assist MATTER in reaching its goals?
Vicki: MATTER’s mission is to help people launch projects that improve communities. We do this through a variety of initiatives and projects. Most of my time is spent working with community-minded real estate professionals through a unique initiative we call MATTERhouse. The concept is simple. Builders engage their suppliers and venders to participate in building a “House that Matters”. When the house is sold, the proceeds or a percentage of the proceeds are donated to MATTER. Not only does this help us advance projects that improve communities, but it provides these professionals with a way to use their businesses as a force for good. It’s a win-win for all involved!
Katie: MATTER is committed to reducing medical waste by repurposing medical equipment and supplies to aid people and improve environmental sustainability. Through our MATTER 360 initiative, we have established relationships with hospitals, clinics and medical supply companies throughout the United States that donate their used and surplus medical equipment to MATTER. My role is to oversee the medical projects we launch overseas using these donated equipment and supplies. I work with our hospital partners on the ground to assess what is needed most in their communities so they can provide the dignified healthcare people deserve.
Amanda: I joined the Board around 2013 and one year ago accepted the role of Board President. It's been a joy to be part of MATTER and to see its growth. I implemented a weekly call with Quenton Marty [President of MATTER] and Jeremy Newhouse [Chief of Financial Strategy and Africa Projects] and the topics run the gamut; the call has helped me have a deeper understanding and appreciation of what goes on day to day. I share those conversations with the Board, who then work to solve issues or help in other ways, such as through our connections. I'm also on the Finance Committee, so I dig into and really make sure I understand the numbers in very good detail.
How does Matter impact people both locally and globally?
Vicki: In many ways. First, we partner with community organizations to provide 200,000 healthy meals annually to children and families. This work is supported by corporations through employee engagement activities. The companies purchase volunteer kits for their employees that include everything needed to assemble the healthy snack packs that are then donated to our community partners. Second, our MATTER Innovation Hubs provide underserved youth in Minnesota and around the world with creative, student-centered learning environments to develop critical thinking skills while they learn coding and computer skills. Third, we repurpose donated medical equipment and supplies to improve healthcare in hospitals around the world. Fourth, we establish nutrition gardens to provide nutrient-rich foods to communities in under-resourced parts of the world. We’ve also planted 75,000 Chaya trees in Africa to combat malnutrition. This is all done through extensive partnerships and collaboration.
Katie: Over the last three years, we repurposed over 5.6 million pounds of medical supplies and equipment to equip hospitals and clinics around the globe. These healthcare systems serve communities that would otherwise not have access to the care they so desperately need.
Locally, we outfitted a classroom at Saint Louis Park High School for a new nursing program for their students. They had a very low budget, but we were able to help them transform their entire classroom area into a hospital room, complete with all the equipment and supplies they need to offer an educational experience that will hopefully inspire hundreds of students to explore a career in nursing.
Amanda: MATTER has just gone through a new strategic planning process - laying out what the future looks like and aligning responsibilities more flatly, where anybody and everybody can step up and take a leadership role. We have a wide range of experiences and different backgrounds on the Board and we're able to pair our knowledge closely with what MATTER’s core competencies are to help them excel.
What does being a part of MATTER mean to you?
Vicki: I am so proud to be part of this collaborative group of women and men that make up the MATTER team. It's energizing to know the impact we’re making here and around the world. I love working alongside businesses, helping them discover how they can give back to their communities and to see the sense of satisfaction they get from making such a meaningful impact in the lives of others. I don't feel as though I'm working; it just brings me joy.
Katie: I never before believed it when people said their jobs don’t feel like work. Now I understand what that means. This is one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. To be able to see the impact MATTER is having both locally and globally, and to be able to work with such amazing partners to accomplish this impact, is truly life changing.
Amanda: I'm just super energized and excited for what the future holds for MATTER. I've seen it go through some hard times and what I see right now is just this incredible growth and a highly engaged team. When many nonprofits have sadly had to close their doors, MATTER is thriving.
For more information and to support its mission, go to https://www.matter.ngo/.