Nonprofits hire Army veteran with community currency's help
Submitted by: Resources For Human Development
Posted: Jul 24, 2009 – 11:42 AM EST
Jul. 24 /CSRwire/ - PHILADELPHIA (July 24, 2009) - James Garton, a veteran of the U.S. Army who recently lost his job in the newspaper industry, has a new job thanks to a community that has embraced Equal Dollars Community Currency.
The SHARE Food Program, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable food in exchange for community volunteerism, hired Garton in July as its Equal Dollars account executive, thanks to an interest-free loan made in Equal Dollars Community Currency. In times when the U.S. dollar is scarce and more and more jobs are disappearing as businesses lay off workers, Equal Dollars - the community currency program spawned by Philadelphia-based nonprofit Resources for Human Development - made a $25,000 loan to SHARE for the purpose of hiring a new employee. While the United States has a long history of alternate or community currencies used in conjunction with the U.S. dollar, the loan is the first of its kind in the nation's history.
"The opening intrigued me,’" said Garton, who was an account representative with the Atlantic City Press before signing on with SHARE. "The economy today is really bad. People are struggling, people are getting laid off. The newspaper I worked for had a lot of layoffs and cutbacks. It’s affecting everybody. This struck me as a way to keep people employed, and keep people working."
Garton served in the Army in South Korea and is now a first lieutenant with the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary unit of the U.S. Air Force. He agreed to take a job that will pay him partly in Equal Dollars because he believes in the community benefits of a companion currency.
"The U.S. dollar is limited," Garton said. "It's a commodity people trade on, in a system based on debt. When the dollar is scarce, people's response is that they're willing to keep pulling out their credit cards and rack up more debt. If you look at other companion currencies out there, they don't have the backing that we have here, with two major organizations (RHD and SHARE) getting together behind it.
"Equal Dollars means more jobs, more buying power for people, more ways to build the local economy," Garton said. "It’s a stimulus package, but it's not from Washington, D.C. - it's from the grass roots, from the people. I'm committed to making sure this is a success."
Steveanna Wynn, SHARE Executive Director of Philadelphia's SHARE Food Program, said Garton has hit the ground running. On his first day, the SHARE office was experiencing a power outage, and Garton walked in to find everyone using flashlights.
"He just said, 'OK,' and went right to work," Wynn said. "He's solid. He's creative, he has a lot of initiative and he isn't afraid to tackle something that's unknown.
"This would not have been possible without the long-term relationship between RHD and SHARE. The exciting part about Equal Dollars is that it goes right along with the philosophy of SHARE. It's another way for people to use limited resources in innovative ways to get goods and services they need. Hopefully, this will encourage more businesses in Philadelphia to acknowledge community currency as another way of doing business."
SHARE's willingness to embrace a companion currency made it a natural fit for the loan from RHD's Equal Dollars.
"We invite people to open their minds to the possibilities of companion currencies as a means to maintain or even increase employment in difficult times," said Bob Fishman, CEO and founder of Resources for Human Development. "SHARE, an organization that provides food for hundreds of thousands of people at a discount rate, has been at the table since Equal Dollars started and has been a wonderful partner. SHARE understands what Equal Dollars can mean to a community where the U.S. dollar is scarce. And they were willing to explore the various ideas in which Equal Dollars can help create economic growth and development in those communities."
Equal Dollars Community Currency is a non-interest bearing currency that promotes the exchange of goods, services and labor through a membership network. Local businesses that accept the currency build stronger relationships and a greater affinity within the community. People who join and use the currency make a conscious commitment to support their local economy by buying within the community first. Since its inception in 1996, Equal Dollars has stimulated more than $1 million in economic activity
About Resources for Human Development
Resources for Human Development is a comprehensive human services organization based in Philadelphia, Pa. Its mission is to empower the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society as they build the highest level of independence possible. RHD oversees and supports more than 160 locally managed programs in 14 states. These innovative and effective programs specialize in helping people who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities, homeless individuals and families, people rejoining society after incarceration, and people with histories of substance abuse so that they may all build better lives for themselves, their families and their communities. For more information, visit www.rhd.org.
SHARE Food Program
SHARE (Self-Help and Resource Exchange) is a nonprofit organization serving a regional network of community organizations engaged in food distribution, education and advocacy. SHARE promotes healthy living by providing affordable wholesome food to those willing to contribute through volunteerism. Everyone is eligible to purchase food at a discounted price in exchange for volunteering in the community. "Do good, feel good, eat good" - a smart idea that brings community and healthy food together. For more information, visit http://sharefoodprogram.org/.
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