Darren Chapman, founder of TigerMountain Foundation, thanks Hildy Saizow of 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun for the group’s generosity. (Special to the Progress)

 Everyone loves fresh produce.  Eating healthy and buying locally grown fruits and vegetables is something we all strive to do. We also know it can be expensive to fill our grocery carts with these nutritious items.

There are two community gardens in Phoenix that strive to make healthy food more accessible to challenged communities.

 TigerMountain Foundation operates Garden of Tomorrow, 1823 E. Broadway Road, and Spaces of Opportunity Garden, 1198 W. Vineyard Road, both Phoenix.  They are open on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month from 8 a.m.-noon to the community.

Since 2007, TigerMountain Foundation has empowered communities to better themselves from within. The nonprofit’s volunteers plant fruits and veggies in community gardens, incubator farms, and other cultivated spaces of opportunity in Phoenix.  They also engage in agri-landscaping initiatives and provide internships and paid incentivized participation.

Participants work alongside capable, hard-working professionals as volunteers who encourage and mentor them through every step. These programs culminate in the development of good professionals.

Participants leverage the skills and morals they have learned to build honest lives for themselves, free of criminality and desperation, and have the skills to earn a living wage.

In South Phoenix, and other challenged communities where they work, there are high rates of incarceration, poor health choices and a low-ranking education system.

TigerMountain combats these challenges using an “asset-based community development” approach. This means they don’t give a “hand out;” they give a “hand up” and empower the community stakeholders.

 Their multi-ethnic, inter-generational ABCD approach means they consider each person a reciprocal spoke in the wheel of their organization’s pending success.

Participants learn the “TIGER” values. Tenacity: Aggressively change your own condition. Integrity: Strive for authenticity and honesty in living one’s life. Greatness: Dare to be epic and proud. Empowerment: Take responsibility for life choices and their outcomes.  Resiliency: Never give up.

Participants take their locally grown, nutritious produce to farmers markets where they engage and educate local residents about the foundation, nutrition, community work and more.

All produce is available at these markets on a donation-basis, ensuring equal access to healthy food choices. Locations of the farmers markets are at tigermountainfoundation.org/tigermountain-foundation-at-farmers-markets.

During 2019, TMF mentored over 1,100 volunteers, participants, and their families meanwhile reaching thousands more through events and speaking engagements. Over 10,000 meals were provided.

100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun learned about this organization through member Hildy Saizow.  The group’s Scottsdale members donated $10,000 to support local youth, troubled teens, and adults. 

TigerMountain’s programs help these individuals get paying jobs. They take care of the gardens and learn what it means to be a valued and dependable worker.

TigerMountain CEO Darren Chapman was grateful for the donation.

  “I want to sincerely thank 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun for their support of our initiatives,” he said. “TMF typically struggles to meet the expenses of our self-imposed "high bar" of social responsibility. This donation allows us to jettison into our 15th year and go from survive to thrive mode as we push to a next level of environmental, social and economic sustainability."

100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun is all about coming together as a collective community to make an immediate, direct, and positive impact in giving locally.

Membership in the chapter involves attending four one-hour giving circles a year with the sole purpose of supporting the wonderful work our local nonprofit organizations do by providing funding, exposure, and awareness.

The chapter has groups that meet quarterly in Ahwatukee, Scottsdale and the East Valley. To learn more or register for one of their upcoming giving circles, visit 100wwcvalleyofthesun.org.  

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