NPOs: The Heart of a NationNPO活動:国民のこころ

If Wall Street, with its constant search for more profits, is considered to be the financial “brain” of America today, then it is also safe to say that organizations that put profit as their last priority are the heart and soul of America.

About two million of these non-profit organizations (NPOs) of varying sizes and types exist throughout the United States today. Let us look at just three such NPOs located in three different regions of the U.S. and their unique activities.

“World Hunger Year” (WHY), based on the east coast in New York City, was co-founded in 1975 by singer/songwriter Harry Chapin. He wanted to create an organization that helped to both feed poor people and raise America’s awareness of “food security” in citizens’ daily lives. Today,
World Hunger Year works with 5,000 local groups throughout the U.S. as well as with the United Nations. Harry Chapin died in a car accident in 1981, but his dream lives on.

Another NPO, the “Windstar Foundation,” is located in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado, amid a breathtaking landscape of rising peaks and silent valleys. It was co-founded in 1976 by the well-known singer/songwriter John Denver. He wanted people to understand the importance of preserving nature in industrialized societies. Today, the activities of the
Windstar Foundation include promoting land conservation and alternative energy resources, and holding “earth camps” for children. John Denver died in a plane crash in 1997, but his dream still soars.

The third NPO is “Bread & Roses,” based on the west coast in San Francisco, California. It was started in 1974 by singer/songwriter Mimi Fariña (younger sister of famous folk singer Joan Baez). Fariña’s goal was to bring the healing power of music to the “isolated individuals” in American society who live in prisons, hospitals, old-age homes, homeless shelters, abused children’s centers and the like. In 2004,
Bread & Roses arranged more than 500 free music concerts to 23,000 people housed in 105 institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mimi Fariña died of cancer in 2001, but her dream thrives.

If there is one lesson we can learn from the nearly two million active NPOs in the U.S., it is that the ripples of true caring and compassion continue to flow outward for many years. That’s a lesson that the “merchants of fortune” on Wall Street would be wise to take to heart.