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Difference Maker

Family-to-Family links well-off families to others in need

Pam Koner started a nonprofit group that helps families who want to aid less-fortunate families.

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Despite all this activity, Koner wants to do more. Her phone constantly rings, and the call is rarely about her day job running after-school programs for elementary school children.

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Koner had trained as a dancer and later became a fashion stylist. But she eventually found her niche in providing after-school programs for Hastings-on-Hudson.

In the future, she would like to promote financial literacy, which she sees as a key to families pulling themselves out of poverty – or preventing them from falling into it.

"Simply put, you teach people how to work and live with money and stay away from bad decisions," she says. "It's about when and how to say no to what we want and focus on what we need. Savings should be a part of your budget."

Koner is well aware she can't solve all the problems of poverty herself. But it's enough for her to see individual families thrive. "We've had small success stories; for instance, a family was able to afford Internet access to continue a course of study because they knew there would be food at the end of the month," she says.

Her motives, she says, are simple. "I just see hungry children. It's a basic human right to have food and be fed."

Koner tells the story of a local 7-year-old girl who complained about her meal. The mother told her she should be grateful and remember that there are kids who have nothing to eat.

The little girl replied, "There are no hungry kids, Mom. Pam feeds them all."

• For more, visit www.family-to-family.org.

UniversalGiving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations worldwide. Projects are vetted by UniversalGiving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause.

UniversalGiving recommends:

World Food Program USA (WFP) is a US-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building support for the UN’s World Food Program and other hunger relief efforts. Project: Help feed four families in the Horn of Africa.

The Salus Foundation creates and supports programs to improve the education and health of disadvantaged children and families. Project: Educate and feed a child for one year.

Operation USA helps communities alleviate the effects of disasters, disease, and poverty worldwide. Project: Help with New Orleans recovery projects for children and families.

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