July 14, 2022
We’re excited to announce the second $10,000 Non-profit Grant recipient of 2022. Congratulations to Rhonda Watson, Founder of Roots for Life.
Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Jama Hernandez sat down with Rhonda for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.
WomensNet: Hi, everyone. We are so excited today to talk to Rhonda Watson. She is the Executive Director of Roots for Life and she is our second quarter non-profit grant winner.
Congratulations. We’re just so excited to connect with you.
Rhonda: Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here today.
WomensNet: What we wanna do today is just talk a little bit about your nonprofit, your mission and what you guys are doing.
Rhonda: Yes, so, Roots for Life. We’ve been around since 2017 — we are a local nonprofit to the Washington DC area. And our mission is to educate and empower communities to thrive by eradicating food deserts and food insecurity. We have two main programs, which is Countertop Crops and Crops in the Kitchen. And our Crops in the Kitchen is actually a participation program. We go out, we’ve been partnering with local transitional shelters, and we teach participatory cooking classes. We provide nutritional education. And then we also leave recipe cards that when we’re not there, the residents will be able to cook for themselves.
Our other program is Countertop Crops. We are teaching people to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs in any space that they can.
WomensNet: That sounds pretty amazing. I’ve been on your Facebook page and I’ve seen some awesome recipes in there that I definitely wanna try. So thank you.
If there’s one takeaway that you really want our viewers to understand what you’re doing or how you’re running your programs, what would that be?
Rhonda: That health literacy is very important to changing your health. If you learn more about the fruits and vegetables that you consume and how it affects your overall health, I would want people to just learn a little bit more that the foods that they consume actually affect their long term health. And as they go shopping and think about their own health, if they have any health challenges, they can start to shop on their grocery list that way.
WomensNet: And one of the really special things that I’ve learned that your program does is once you give the consumers of your program all these tools and tips and recipes… then there’s this follow-up to make sure that they’re actually implementing some of the things that they’ve learned.
Rhonda: Yes. So we have a health coaching initiative that we’re launching, and we want to pair the residents and program participants that have left the cooking classes, received a welcome home basket (which is a basket of goodies to help them start cooking in their own permanent supportive housing)… But we want them to work with a coach to help them long term have greater success in eating healthy, cooking healthy, and just taking more control of their health. We want that to be a component of our programs, that if you’re going to make changes in your life, sometimes support is often needed.
WomensNet: Absolutely. And so how will the $10,000 grant funds support your business?
Rhonda: Tremendously. We are a still growing small non-profit, and we would like to increase our amounts that we give out to program participants. And when I say amounts, we give out welcome home baskets, and those are for individuals that are going in permanent supportive housing. So our basket is a laundry basket filled with items for their kitchen. And so it can have dishes and cups, kitchen mitts, towels, everything that they need. We have a cookbook that goes in there; recipes for them to start immediately. And so we would like to increase the number that we actually give out to local residents.
Then we also would like to give out more container garden kits that they can grow in any space that they live in. As long as you are getting sunlight, you’ll be able to grow herbs and maybe even tomatoes, so if you’re thinking of what can you have for dinner, this could be an addition that you have. So in addition to that, we also are working with a grant writer because as I said, we’re a small non-profit, and we are going to contract with our grant writer again to increase the number of applications and proposals that we have out.
WomensNet: Amazing. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. We know food prices are just soaring. It doesn’t seem like the situation is going to change anytime soon. So really helping people maximize their dollars when it comes to food or even think about other ways that they can have fresh, affordable, nutritious food is amazing. I love the container garden idea. Wonderful.
So how can women in the WomensNet network show some support for your business?
Rhonda: We are always looking for corporate partners and volunteers. And if anyone wants to go to our website and sign up for more information, we would love to work with them. We are in the D.C. area and we are always looking for local connections and really expanding the impact of the work that we do. And corporate partners and volunteers are always needed. We’re volunteer-run organizations. So we are always looking for others to help on our team and help us with our mission.
WomensNet: Maybe you can share your website with us.
Rhonda: Yes. Our website is https://www.roots-for-life.org/ and there is a hyphen in between our words. So it’s roots hyphen for hyphen life.org.
WomensNet: Wonderful. And I know that you’re also on Facebook and Instagram as well. And again, you share some really tasty recipes on there. On your Instagram, I saw the cookbook. I’m definitely excited to get it and check that out.
So thank you so much, we’re so excited for Roots for Life. We’re excited to follow you and see how you are continuing to do just really amazing things. Food insecurity is certainly a huge issue and we love to see how you’re working to change that. So thank you.
Thank you so much.