CCA student is changing the world — one quarter at a time
Commonwealth Charter Academy student runs Fore Change nonprofit to aid Haiti.
Not all of us have that one moment we can point to and say, “that’s when everything changed.”
For York County native Taylor Pratte, this moment came when she was only 11.
After hearing the horrifying statistic that one child dies every five seconds because of hunger — and watching an eye-opening video of Haitian children eating dirt mixed with water to survive — Taylor decided she had to take action.
Thus, in 2012, Fore Change was born. It is now an accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit that allows for tax-deductible donations.
The nonprofit’s name is a golf reference. “Fore” is the term used to warn anyone standing in the way of an oncoming golf ball, and it is a unifying phrase for those who stand for positive change.
Taylor, now a freshman in her third year at Commonwealth Charter Academy, originally intended for the organization to raise funds through miniature golf events. This strategy was expanded to include “family fun” events and sponsorships from larger organizations.
The money raised at the end of each year goes toward developing and teaching agriculture in Haiti by collaborating with Food for the Hungry, an organization that works directly in the Caribbean nation to train farmers. Those who are taught to farm are expected to continue to teach others, creating a cycle of agricultural education. Fore Change’s proceeds provide food and seeds, as well as the resources to teach farming “in an effort to create sustainable change,” Taylor says.
Beyond farming, Fore Change has collected more than 50 pairs of shoes to send to Guatemala. It has provided clothes for orphanages and hundreds of cereal boxes, used by women to make jewelry, to people in Haiti. It has raised more than $60,000 in its first four years.
Responding to a crisis
In light of the recent disastrous effects of Hurricane Matthew, Fore Change has amped up its aid efforts to Haiti. Taylor says it felt as if Fore Change’s work to provide agricultural support had been quite literally swept away. Rather than giving up, Fore Change has taken the challenge to increase its efforts to help those affected not just in Haiti but in the United States.
“From Florida to North Carolina, at least 17 people have died from the hurricane, and some towns, including orchards and plantations, have been washed away,” Taylor says. Half of the organization’s proceeds will go toward its continued work in Haiti, and the other half will go to people affected by the hurricane in the U.S.
Every February, Fore Change organizes Got Change?, a weeklong campaign to encourage people to give as much change as possible. “Even as little as a quarter can feed a child for a day in Haiti,” Taylor says. However, in response to the hurricane, Fore Change has moved this campaign to October and November.
“Statistically, 80 percent of Haiti’s crops have been wiped out by the hurricane. With the news fresh on people’s minds, now is the time to bring people together and encourage them to help out,” Taylor said.
This isn’t the first time that Fore Change has organized an aid effort at home. Last year, Fore Change’s members decided they wanted to make a difference in the U.S. They began working with nonprofits in the community through volunteer service and fundraising. They plan to collaborate with Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina in the future.
Thus far, Fore Change has donated approximately $10,000 domestically, along with over 300 cans to local food pantries and more than 500 hours of volunteer work.
Bringing in the CCA community
There are several ways that the CCA community can come alongside Taylor and her team to support their mission. Awareness is the first step, whether that means inviting others to Fore Change’s community events, sharing with peers about the need in Haiti and around the world, or spreading the word about what the organization is accomplishing.
Taylor invites CCA students to join community service projects. As the current Fore Change leaders continue to gain other responsibilities, they have begun a process of “vertical mentoring” to get younger learners involved in serving and to prepare them to step up in leadership.
Of course, CCA students and staff can join by helping to raise money.
“Set your own goals. Your fundraising doesn’t necessarily have to align with our Got Change? campaign. You can pick a week or a month and try to raise as much change as you can. Encourage a few friends to raise money with you,” Taylor said. You can do this through word-of-mouth fundraising, asking people to sponsor you for activities or setting up change jars in strategic locations.
In the words of Taylor, “Imagine the change we can accomplish if everyone worked together.”
To find out more, go to forechange.org.