A Small NPO Helping in a BIG Way
The most common non-profits you have heard of are NPO’s that operate on huge scales. Everyone has heard of the Salvation Army and the Make a Wish Foundation, but the majority of NPO’s are all on a smaller scale. These smaller non-profits just wish to see change in their communities. This can be providing shelter, food or clothing.
Otis Vernon, the owner and operator of the Vernon Ranch, is a name you may have never heard but he is doing big things in his small community of Ashland, Alabama. On his 60-acher farm his has goats, cows, chickens, pigs, donkeys and a handful of dogs. Vernon is working with the local schools in his county to help provide a health start to each student’s morning.
Vernon is making it possible for each child in his community to have breakfast at their school if they would like it. Vernon said, “Growing up my family sometimes didn’t have the money to feed me and my siblings, so I wanted to help those who may be in the same situation”. While Vernon would love to help on a larger scale he does what he can. “I know one day I will be able to help large quantities of people but I do what I can right now”.
Vernon provides the poultry, beef, eggs and large varieties of fruits and vegetables to the schools. He also has a team that handles preparing the food. Vernon referred to himself as a “down home farm boy”. “I didn’t know what a non-profit was but I knew that there were people in need and I knew I could help”, said Vernon.
Not only is he giving these kids a free breakfast but it is also very healthy. Vernon’s farm is entirely organic. “All of the animals are free range and are not harmed in anyway, other than the butchering”, laughed Vernon. Vernon stated, the food is a different taste when animals are free range and the garden has no pesticides. He also said that goat meat was some of the best meat you could ever have.
Raised in western Alabama, Vernon moved to Ashland around the age of twenty-five. He was married and had children and did a little farming for his family and really enjoyed it. He knew he could help more people. Around his fortieth birthday he decided to try something knew. He was getting older and no longer had children at home and he began looking into what exactly it would take to start a NPO. He had always given food to personal friends but never thought feeding schools would be possible. He says today his farm is ten times larger than when he farmed just for his family.
Right now while the NPO is still in the beginning stages he has a sign up process for people to receive the free breakfast. Families must make under a certain bracket of money to become eligible. Vernon hopes one-day people will see the importance of his NPO and people will donate to his cause. He hopes that one day every child will have the chance to have the free meal with no sign up process necessary, also he would like to expand and move to the other counties around him. He also couldn’t stop talking about the people who help run his organization. He said without his teams help it wouldn’t be possible. He started with his wife and his team has grown to over fifty people, from those helping on the farm and in the schools.