When I realized that my daughter was lactose intolerant, I looked into buying a soy milk maker. But they’re almost $200… But, our neighbor has one. We brew our own beer, which is a something she doesn’t make, nor does she want to invest in the equipment. So we built an exchange.
So every monday evening, we exchange a bottle of beer for a quart of soy milk. Everyone says that she’s getting the better end of this deal, but I need the soy milk! I’ve always liked the sweet soy milk that you buy at the store, but I wasn’t fond of the unsweetened variety. But now, my husband and I often look forward to the warm, fresh soy milk to make hot chocolate. (OK, it’s still sweet, but fresh soy milk is good!)
Nonprofits have been good at coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems for a long time. Several nonprofits went in together to share an HR staff member–something none of them could afford by themselves. POWER, Bethlehem Haven and the Center for Victims of Violent Crime created this joint position to handle the increasingly difficult HR issues that arise.
After I pick up my soy milk, (this time on a Monday morning) I’m headed for my volunteer shift at the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library–a cooperative started over 34 years ago for families to have a safe place to play with developmentally appropriate toys for children ages 6 and under. It is open six days a week and has no paid staff. Because of its proximity to Oakland, there is an incredibly internationally diverse group of families who frequent the “Library”. Long term friendships are developed between parents. Babysitting leads are shared, playdates are arranged, parenting advice is easily discussed. It is one of the unsung gems in Pittsburgh. It is a major parental stress reliever. But it is an incredibly creative solution to a lack of funding for staff–and a way to make all families invest because it is THEIR center.
Let’s keep thinking creatively. Now my neighbor and I are considering bees & chickens… honey and eggs. Yummmm.
There are many ideas coming out of the nonprofit sector in Pittsburgh–I’d love to hear some more stories!