Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sixth Ride in A Year of Centuries – A Benefit for the ML&J Fund for Children and Youth

Century number six was a ride of thankfulness.  As always, I rode being grateful for my recovery from my crash, but yesterday I was also thankful that I was well enough to ride after having had a fever for several days earlier in the week.  I guess it was some kind of virus.  It was strange being completely off of my bike for three days, which is the longest stretch since the crash.  But I kicked some virus booty and had a wonderful ride yesterday on behalf of the ML&J Fund for Children and Youth.  I did the Wheels to the World Century in Athens.  (Having ridden in Rome last month, it seems fitting that I visited Georgia’s other city of antiquity this month.)

One Ride – Two Great Charities
When I participate in an organized ride as part of A Year of Centuries, I’m usually helping two charities: 1) my personally designated charity of the month and 2) the charity designated for the ride itself.  It’s a good thing because I get to leverage my own limited resources.  Yesterday, I got to ride for the ML&J Fund (my charity of the month in A Year of Centuries) and Women to the World (the beneficiary of the Wheels to the World century).  Even better, these two charities complement each other beautifully.  ML&J addresses the needs of children and youth, and Women to the World helps vulnerable and disadvantaged women.

The ML&J Fund is about meeting needs at the most grassroots level.  It is local people caring about local people.  The ML&J Fund provides basic things – clothing and school supplies – to impoverished young people.  If these young people’s physical needs are met, they can better focus on their education, which is the key to them making real, permanent change in their lives.

Women to the World also helps people, women specifically, build better lives for themselves.  It works with women locally in Athens and in a number of countries around the world.  The local program is called Partnering Ambassadors for Life and Service (PALS), and it helps women get their GED, find jobs, and learn other life skills.  Internationally, Women to the World helps women in countries including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, and Kenya.  It goes into very remote areas that generally are too small to be served by larger NGOs.  A typical Women to the World project might be installing a well in a village.  The Women to the World mission statement summarizes its work well: “Rescuing women and children from poverty, dependency, and abuse.”

I had read about Women to the World’s work on its website before the ride, but I got much more of a sense of its realness from the ride volunteers, who also volunteer with the PALS program.  There was a rest stop at mile 50, where I had a conversation with a man who tutors women in math as they work on their GEDs.  As he described a typical woman in the program – in her 30s, unmarried, and with four children – really making strides in her life, tears came to his eyes.  What a privilege to be a part of this, even as just a participant in the Wheels to the World century.  I had been dragging a little bit on the first half of my ride, but this conversation truly energized me for the second 50 miles.

Wind and Water
Because I didn’t know anyone else there, I did the whole ride by myself.  Well, I did ride the first six miles with a group of guys.  Then, the two cups of Irish breakfast tea that I drank during my drive to Athens hit me with a vengeance.  I had to pull off into the brush for a nature break, and I never caught back up to the group.  It didn’t bother me because I was up for the challenge.  Besides, it was a perfectly lovely day for a ride!

The route was beautiful, mostly through farm country.  I even saw an old windmill that looked like one from Holland.  It was across a big field, and the lighting wasn’t great, but here’s the best photo I could get:

The second half of the ride went through Watson Mill Bridge State Park.  Traffic (including bicycles!) actually travels through the one-lane covered bridge:

I also took a picture of the South Fork River flowing below as I crossed the bridge:

It Must Be a Sign
Athens is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in Georgia.  As I pedaled on the roads leading out of and into Clarke County, it was quite gratifying to see so many signs like these:

Speaking of gratifying signs, I was very impressed with the road marking for the ride.  It was so easy to follow the blue arrows indicating the century route.  I didn’t refer to my cue sheet or paper map the first time.  It’s a uniquely fun feeling to ride along on unfamiliar roads and simply follow the pavement markings, not being concerned with getting lost.

I must admit, however, that as an REM fan, this was my favorite sign of the day:

When they were still in Athens, the REM band members often ate here at Weaver D’s, a meat-and-two restaurant.  Owner Dexter Weaver has a motto, “Automatic for the people,” which REM co-opted as the title of the Grammy-winning album.

Being in REM land, a number of their songs floated around in my head throughout the day.  The main one that got stuck there was “Shiny, Happy People,” which I thought of as my theme song for the day. 

Shiny, happy person

Jittery Joe’s Roaster
For someone who doesn’t even like coffee, I had such a good time at Jittery Joe’s Roaster after the ride.

It was even fun washing my hands in the restroom.  Check out this highwheeler in the sink:

As you can see Jittery Joe’s is very friendly to cyclists.  In fact, they even sponsor a racing team.

Our ride organizers put out some yummy post-ride vittles.  Who doesn’t love pizza and homemade pimento cheese?

We even had live music.  The guitarist/singer was great, playing all kinds of bluesy and folksy tunes.

And can you believe they even offered free massage?  I had never seen this at a ride!  A few minutes of work on my neck and shoulders were heavenly.

I started talking with the Jittery Joe’s manager about the operations there, and he offered to show me the roasting machines.  It was fascinating.  They have two 25-lb. roasters, but they have shifted to two 50-lb. roasters to keep up with demand.  This facility supplies all of the Jittery Joe’s stores and anyone who sells their coffee, including canisters.  There were a number of pallets of coffee beans waiting to be roasted, which the manager says is about a week’s worth.  They go through two tractor trailer loads of beans per month, more in the wintertime.  The beans come from 31 countries.  I learned that the medium roast beans come from the tropics, like Costa Rica, which I got to visit over this past New Year’s.  The darker roast beans come from Africa.

After buying some whole bean coffee for my husband (who loves his java!), I headed home with these words of wisdom:

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