How does collective impact save lives? In this episode of Add Passion and Stir, philanthropist Karen Ansara talks with chef Michael Serpa about the transformative power of learning and doing within a group setting. Ansara and her husband founded New England International Donors in 2008 to create a network of donors, grant-makers, social investors, and advisors focused on ending global poverty. “How do you address poverty? It’s more than handing out food. Do people have livelihoods, safe communities, healthcare?,” she says. Serpa believes that you need to understand the problems better by exposure to different cultures. “If you work with Haitians and there’s a big disaster in Haiti, they’re going to be affected by that because everyone has family there. Getting exposed … really opens your eyes to what’s going on around the world,” he says. Both guests have experience with Haiti. In 2010, the Ansaras started a fund and issued a challenge grant in response to the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti. They were sure to include Boston’s Haitian community – the third largest in the country – in the effort. “We knew almost nothing about Haiti, but they did. And they had a stake in what was going to happen in Haiti. We knew they needed to be in leadership to make sure that Haiti was going to be rebuilt in ways that were fruitful and just for the Haitian people,” she explains. “One of the reasons we created New England International Donors is it’s really hard to get training in philanthropy and it’s hard to find mentors, so we created this network so that we would learn from each other,” she says.
A dedicated No Kid Hungry supporter, Serpa shares the frustration he feels when thinking about childhood hunger in America. “This is stupid, why are kids in school in Massachusetts not getting food. Why are they hungry? It doesn’t make sense in the United States that kids are going hungry,” he says. An avid cyclist, he participates in Chefs Cycle where participants ride 300 miles in 3 days to raise money for No Kid Hungry. “With hyper-competitive chefs and restaurant people…it’s fun because it’s a challenge,” he says. Ansara sees a different aspect. “I would imagine the camaraderie — the shared pain and the shared meals together — are a big part of what motivates people to do it because you know you can have more of an impact when you’ve got a great team,” she concludes.
Listen to these two dedicated change-makers describe how camaraderie and teamwork can make giving back greater than the sum of its parts.