Canyon News
One Local Non-Profit Entrepreneur
By Joann Deutch
Nov 30, 2012 - 11:57:05 AM

LAUREL CANYON—While most of us know about run by our neighbor Jackie Hunsicker, this project only scratches the surface of a canyonite who gives of her time and energy thoughtfully. What most of us don’t know is how ground breaking Jackie is in her charitable endeavors. I felt like I had pull teeth to get her to tell me of her successes. Bragging is not her style. She’s been a director, author, and now “non-profit entrepreneur” as part of her vitae. Even that turn of words is emblematic of how she views the world.


The three simple words are code for a form of social action that has been around since the 1990s, but not well understood, and not often effectively applied, which is why lots of service programs fall apart. Non-profit entrepreneurship invites groups that had heretofore been geared to resolve economic or social injustices to include a vibrant profit center as a core goal. Under this strategy a non-profit seeks “to engage in a variety of earned income strategies or trying to launch a business venture.”


What jumps to mind as a model is the Home Boy Industries started by Father Greg Boyle here in Los Angeles. []. They opened a profit center, Homegirl Café, serving simple foods and training previously drug-involved young women or released prisoners how to interact with the public by waiting tables, and learning back-of-the-house skills. These days if you go to a supermarket or a Farmers Market you will see Homeboy employees selling chips, salsa and other branded products. It’s so genius on so many levels.


Jackie has been honing her latest innovative concept, Reading Glass Project! []. Participation in her program is open to all comers. The projects make a simple request. If you’re traveling to a place where there is a disparity in income where ownership of a simple pair of reading glasses makes a world of difference, contact the project to do a good deed. It’s a chance to meet local people. Jackie says once word gets out that you have reading glasses to give away, people come looking for you.


In the last four years, Reading Glass Project has distributed 10,000 pairs of reading glasses in 49 countries. On the website there are heartwarming stories about how gratifying the experience has been for travelers.


Now Jackie is beginning to work on the entrepreneurial side of this project. She is looking for a few good board members. She is investigating working with high school programs where students travel and can become ambassadors for her project by distributing glasses on their travels. She wants to partner with travel packagers, and of course she’ll need a volunteer coordinator to help ramp up this remarkable project.


Jackie herself likes to give out glasses to women artists, of - as she says it - “a certain age,” where reading glasses are crucial. She recounts how these women will put on the glasses and look at the knit of their shirt, or eagerly press forward to see the details in their art, and grin with pleasure.





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