Making an Impact
By: Lauren Metz,
2013 delivered strong growth and a few major changes for Greenheart’s missions, including a new name. Our branches, which focus on issues ranging from environmentalism, volunteerism, fair-trade, cultural exchange, and personal development, came together to create the umbrella organization, Greenheart International. This new canopy serves to unite our unique branches: Greenheart Travel, Greenheart Transforms, CCI Greenheart, Greenheart Shop; as well as our volunteer network: the Greenheart Club. As Greenheart Outreach Director and veteran employee, Andrea Dennis, put it, “Greenheart International finally gave us a way to describe all that we do. It gave us a home.” With a new name came a new fundraising initiative, and in May of 2013 Greenheart International hosted its launch party and first official fundraiser, a night to raise awareness for our missions as well as money for our ever-expanding scholarship opportunities.
Last year also expanded Greenheart Club’s volunteer reach, extending the volunteer opportunities beyond just exchange students to include a global community of alumni, international volunteers, and staff. With over 94,000+ alumni, 8,500 exchange participants, and 250 partners in 97 countries worldwide, we reached 15,000 volunteer hours in 2013—a number that is only expected to increase with Greenheart Club’s new initiatives and grant incentives.
Our Greenheart Shop also blossomed with recognition and a new address in 2013. Moving from Wicker Park to the well-trodden River North area, it found a new home a few blocks north from Chicago’s renowned comedy club, Second City. Soon after, GHS was featured on WGN as Chicago’s premier destination for fair-trade and eco-friendly materials. Accolades also came in the form of awards, as our wholesale line, Sobremesa, earned the Eco-Choice Award for Most Sensitive Use of Materials at the New York International Gift Fair in August.
Despite the changes and expansion we experienced in 2013, we found that we are more connected than ever. The beauty of our new umbrella organization is the strong tie it provides to our original mission: to connect people and planet and to create a more peaceful and sustainable global community. Our name has changed, but our greenheart remains a constant.