Writing Samples

From: Genetic Mistakes, Understanding and Living with Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders

 

What are metabolic disorders?

 

There are many rare genetic disorders that affect the way the body metabolizes, stores, and uses food (fuel). People are generally familiar with diseases of the digestive tract.  Ulcers, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome are all common terms in modern society; some even have their own television commercials or sections in the grocery market.  But, metabolism (the break-down or oxidation of food) does not occur solely in the digestive tract.  Most of the work of energy production is carried out in the mitochondria.  These are specialized subunits, called organelles, within the body’s cells. Mitochondria are in almost all human cells except for red blood cells.

 

 

Unlike digestive disorders, which often are caused by lifestyle or develop over time, metabolic disorders are genetic. That is, they are inborn errors of metabolism.  Such disorders occur due to rare mutations (changes) on various single genes. These genes all produce enzymes or proteins that assist in the metabolism of various substances.  The gene affected determines the disorder.  The kind of mutation and whether both parents have contributed identical genes determine its severity.

 

Fatty acid oxidation disorders (FAODs) are not caused by chromosomal error, as is Down syndrome, or errors in fetal development, as is spina bifida. They are also not environmental or caused by a bacteria or virus and cannot be contracted later in life, though some do not appear until later in life. Mutations in each parent’s DNA are passed on to a child who then has these mutations present in every cell of his or her body.  A fuller explanation of the genetics of FAODs follows in Chapter Two.

From: A grant

No one has a greater impact on children’s development and growth than mothers. 

 

The Mommy Boot Camp will equip women with the parenting skills necessary to parent successfully and develop the competencies to provide a safer and healthier childhood for their children.

 

This program will impact children’s growth and development, increasing the likelihood for children to have normal developmental outcomes. We believe ultimately the Mommy Boot Camp will enable mothers to replace negative cycles within their families with positive ones. Children raised by competent mothers are more likely to successfully transition into healthy and productive adults.

 

From: A Final Grant Report

  1. The name of our program is Reaping Hope, an organic garden.

  2. Our target audience is a) the families we serve and b) the greater community.

  3. Our timelines were driven by nature.  Due to the timing of the grant in late March, we hit the ground running to get in our spring garden.  This took priority over some of the other projects, such as putting up our garden shed and running the irrigation.   We immediately ordered the items needs and within two weeks of the receipt of the grant had things well underway.  After the garden was safely planted, we found a community partner to help us install our combination shed and greenhouse.  Later we implemented our water reclamation and irrigation systems.  Due to personal health problems, our nutritionist got a late start with us but her assistance is proving invaluable.

  4. Our activities included a lot of hard physical work: setting up our garden beds, laying out weed fabric, shoveling dirt, planting, watering.  There was also a great deal of planning that went into our project.  The garden coordinator worked with the women to research garden methods and plants. We discovered that our soil was not only hard-packed and poor, but spotted with scrap concrete from the previous landowner. Therefore, a raised-bed, square-foot system was settled upon.  Classes were held on composting, organic gardening and various techniques.  We had to brainstorm how to overcome problems as they presented themselves and we discovered some unique fixes to some of them, such as using inexpensive curtains to cover our garden beds against swarming insects. We formed “The Green Team,” a voluntary club comprising those women and children most interested in doing gardening.  We found several women who demonstrated real dedication to the garden so we gave each of these women their own beds to tend, which fostered pride and responsibility.   

  5. We formed several new partnerships thanks to the garden.  In the spring The Junior League showed up in force and helped us with the heaviest work, weeding and planting around the perimeter where our soil is hard and packed.  An employee group from Georgia Power came out to help us in our transition from summer to fall garden.  A local business, Garden City Organics, gave us much needed instruction and helped raise our shed. John Deere saw our garden and was impressed enough to offer their help with a separate landscaping project.  The University of Georgia Extension Office kept us supplied with flyers and good information on gardening and using our produce.  The nutritionist from there has started a monthly session on campus tying our produce to our menu. This gives the women something to look forward to and to plan around.

  6. The benefits of the garden beyond this grant are many.  There is the produce. There is skill acquisition. This is not just gardening skills.  Our residents have learned research skills and the value of teamwork. There is the pride attached to seeing one’s work literally blossom.  The leader of our Green Team has even quit smoking, so conscious has she become of health!  The children here gravitate toward the garden so much that we had to give them one of their own and buy them tools.  Then there is the opportunity the garden has opened for greater partnerships with those who would help us.  The garden looks impressive and this helps us when we are conducting tours for potential funders or partners.  Everyone remarks on it and we know it has a positive effect.  The bottom line is that this garden provides both work and recreation for our residents and it gives them something that is real and is theirs. It is a tangible asset we enjoy touching and seeing and tasting.  It helps make Hope House home.

  7. The results and outcomes of the garden are both quantifiable and, at the same time, intangible. We currently have 10 garden beds, a top-of-the-line double composter, a garden shed which is part greenhouse and enough tools and seeds to keep the garden going as long as there is the will to do so. Last summer we produced prolific herbs, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, beans, okra, and berries.  Some did better than others and we learned from this.  Our winter garden narrowed our focus and we successfully produced enough collards for several harvests, a harvest of broccoli, mustard greens and a bed full of Brussels sprouts.  All these were incorporated into meals in our communal kitchen.  In the long term, we have grown much more than produce.  We have grown friendship, knowledge, teamwork and pride.  We expect the garden to go on for years.  Our composting program will ensure that we have new nutrients every season without having to purchase anything.  Our shed/greenhouse allows us to grow our own seedlings going forward, which will allow us to spend less on plants.  Our watering systems will make growing during our hot, dry days a pleasure.  As our residents move away from Hope House, they will take with them all the lessons learned here and gardening as a skill will be just one.

  8. Our challenges were those common to all gardeners in the area last year: excessive heat and bugs. This spoiled our tomatoes and put an early end to our zucchini but we learned from it.  This year we will be planting earlier and under curtains. We have also learned other insect-ridding techniques that we can use and still remain organic. As we have a community with ever-changing residents, we have to make sure that those women who enter our program know about the garden and how to become involved, so repetition is important. 

  9. Garden leverage indeed! Georgia Power employees donated a gift card to Lowes for use in our garden and also encouraged us to apply for a grant for our upcoming project, Freedom’s Path, a program that will be similar to the one here, except for Veterans.  We have not yet heard the results. Our garden also inspired one of these employees to mention us to her book club, which in turn provided Christmas for some of our children and books for the residents’ library.

  10. The future of the program is great.  Thanks to your generous funding we have everything we need to be virtually independent.  We will compost and grow our own seedlings. We have saved seeds from our first crop and will plant those this year.  Of course, some funds will be needed from time to time for seeds or plants or tools but if the past is any indication, the greater community will continue to support us by lending a hand or giving us plants, or providing tools, supplies, or money. We expect to Reap Hope from our garden for years to come.

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