The Green Bay Packers and Head Coach Mike McCarthy have partnered to make a $100,000 donation to the Green Bay-based Seven Loaves Project, it was announced Wednesday.
The organization was founded in December 2009 by Ron Schoenfeld, owner of Chives Restaurant in Suamico, Wis., to support villages in Rwanda, Africa, by giving training in bread baking and small-business skills. McCarthy and his wife, Jessica, learned about the project and its goals and decided to assist with its cause.
"Ron's vision with the Seven Loaves Project is very inspiring, and its mission will help many people by providing enduring skills," said McCarthy. "Green Bay is made up of many fine and caring people, and to be able to support a member of our community who is doing very meaningful and needed work in a disadvantaged part of the world is a privilege for us."
Schoenfeld's inspiration for the organization stems from a trip he took to Rwanda in 2009 when he traveled with a group for a humanitarian project that fed 4,000 villagers. He took a tour of a local mission compound and learned that the villagers enjoy bread only about once a year. It was then that Schoenfeld decided on his project: to work with the villagers to create wood-fired bread ovens to produce naturally leavened products with both imported and local grains to bake healthy, nutritious breads. Development of small-business and vocational skills for the people of the villages also would be a focus.
The grassroots project will provide a training program, training facility and green, energy-efficient wood ovens to communities and/or individuals. Communities will be chosen on the basis of need, enthusiastic participation and personal evaluation. The recommendation process will be handled by local authorities and the church, with the first training center to be built at the Marian Formation Center in Kibeho, Rwanda.
"We can't thank Mike and Jessica and the Packers enough," said Schoenfeld. "The donation will touch so many people nutritionally, personally, and professionally. With this help, it has given our project a turbo boost into the future. Our vocational training center is in the process of being built with a completion date much earlier than expected. They have made our dream of helping the people of Rwanda come true. With continued support, we will achieve our goal of building many community bread ovens throughout Rwanda and beyond."
In addition to the donation from the Packers and McCarthy, a fundraiser, Chivefest, is set for Aug. 21 to benefit the Seven Loaves Project. The festival, from noon to 9 p.m. at the Vicker Village grounds in Suamico, will celebrate food, wine, beer, music and artisan crafts, and also have a farmers market.
McCarthy and the Packers previously teamed up for $100,000 donations to the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay in 2008 and the Autism Society of Northeast Wisconsin (ASNEW) in 2009. In 2008, '09 and '10, McCarthy and the Packers also partnered to make a $100,000 donation each to Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., to endow an athletic scholarship in McCarthy's name at his alma mater, and to the Pittsburgh-area neighborhood of Greenfield, in which McCarthy grew up.