Caption: Joy Smith, founder of Joy Organics, believes giving back is more than just writing a check. To her, it has always been about forming relationships.
What do you do when you’re living in pain and can’t find a CBD product that fits your needs? Create your own CBD company, of course! At least, that’s the path Joy Smith of Joy Organics took.
Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and guided by a humanitarian heart, Joy saw her company grow exponentially. Today, Joy Organics is still family-owned and one of the country’s leading producers of broad-spectrum CBD oil. You can feel the love in these products, and see the love in this business.
Recently, we talked to Joy about her past, present, and future philanthropic efforts, what it takes to start a corporate giveback program, and the almighty Oprah.
Nick Musica (CBD Oil Review): Giving back is a big part of Joy Organics’ story and mission. Did this start with your own personal experiences?
Joy Smith (Joy Organics): For sure, absolutely. I feel like there's something about our own humanity, that when we see somebody suffering or somebody in need and you know you have extra, that urges us to come alongside other people and do what you can.
I feel like I started doing that kind of thing when my kids were young. We would go on short-term mission trips. Whether it's a service project or playing with kids, I wanted to expose them to life outside our small little circle. Especially here in America, you know?
What was the first mission trip like?
I want to say it was 2002 and my kids and I went to Haiti. And yeah, it was pretty amazing. Heartbreaking, amazing. And those kinds of trips, Nick, I don't know if you've been on those kinds of trips, but it's really not about the people you go to serve or come alongside. It's really the work that is done in your own heart. I know that we get more than we are trying to give.
It sounds like you have employed that same philosophy with Joy Organics, specifically with Joy Day?
Yeah, for sure. Joy Day was my birthday, so, last February 15th. We decided that we were going to have the biggest sale of the year and that we were going to give a portion of every product sold to this project—I want to say project, they're people.
I've been working with this organization, with folks in a refugee camp in northern Uganda. And so two years ago on my birthday I had a big birthday party and invited all my friends, this was in Sarasota, Florida, and I tried to fundraise for this. At that point, it was just a lunch program for these kids in a school in a refugee camp, which at that time, I think the budget was about $30,000.
This year, with the company, we decided to do a big sale and we’d give a portion of each product sold to this organization, now with a breakfast and lunch program, for 600-plus kids in this refugee camp at the school.
Caption: Joy smiling with children at Hope Primary School in Uganda. The funds raised during Joy Day helped provide over 200,000 meals to the school children.
It was fantastic. It was the largest check I ever wrote. It was over $24,000 and has fed their breakfast and lunch program for the year.
Are there other organizations Joy Organics gives back to?
Yeah, yeah. So I'm in charge of our giveback program, and if it were up to me I'd probably give it all away.
We have local programs here in Fort Collins, where we're based. And it really comes from the stuff that tugs on my heart. So, we have partnered with an organization here called The Matthews House and they are an amazing local organization that started by helping kids in foster care. Once you get to be 18 years old, you're basically kicked out of foster care–they're done. The Matthews House helps with the transitionary time period from the age of 18 to about 21. They give them housing, help them get a job, get adjusted into the community. They do so much in the community. They do parenting classes, they do cooking classes, they have counseling, afterschool programs.
It's really a cool local organization. They just had their fundraiser, we did a sponsorship there, but we also did a birthday party. Each month they actually have sponsorships for birthday parties so each month, the kids who are in their program can come and have a birthday party. And a lot of these kids wouldn't even have a birthday party if they didn't go to The Matthews House, which is really cool.
We also sponsored the Murphy Center, which is a local organization, and they are here in Fort Collins. They help the homeless in our community with clean clothes, with food, when it's freezing in the winter.
Is there one event, memory, or story that stands out to you most?
Right now, I would say it was Joy Day because honestly, my goal was to at least do half of the budget for the school breakfast and lunch program. And to write the check and know that those kids are good for a year, was super awesome. I have been there a couple of times, so for me it's about building relationships and going back to these places so they know you.
These are people. They're people just like us and by no fault of their own, they find themselves in a refugee camp. I don't want to be about handouts, I want to be about coming alongside. It feels different to me when you're trying to build relationships with folks instead of, “Here's a check.”
I don't want to be that white savior complex kind of thing. We're all people, we're all in this together.
As far as givebacks go, what have you found to be most impactful? Money? Time? Is there a formula?
I think you need a combination. I definitely like to be on the ground and hands-on and building relationships. Like doing the birthday party at The Matthews House, you get to know the kids, that the organization is actually coming alongside and supporting and encouraging their growth. And going to the refugee camp and just sitting with people and hearing their stories.
I don't want to be about handouts, I want to be about coming alongside.
So I wouldn't say one over the other is good, I feel like the combination is really good. They need financial support. These organizations need financial support but they also need relationships. They also need to know that it's not just about writing a check.
It's like, “No, I want to come alongside you and I want to sit with you. I want to hear your story. I want you to hear my story.” So I feel like you need that combination.
Who do you look up to when it comes to corporate philanthropy?
The first person that comes to my mind is Oprah. I grew up watching Oprah, love her. I definitely feel like I would like to do that kind of thing.
I also think about the Gates and the impact that they've made on all of us, really. One of my goals is to start a foundation through what we do at Joy Organics. And I want to set it up to empower women and children around the world with education being the forefront. So yeah, Oprah number one, huge impact on me, and I would say followed by the Gates.
What would you say to folks who want to create their own giveback programs but don’t know where to start?
For me, it was about, “Okay, what burdens my heart?” What do I think about or what could I stay up all night thinking and dreaming about? And the things that I'm giving towards, giving to, and partnering with, I feel come from my own heart and maybe my own story. I think people should start there.
I mean, a lot of people run for cancer awareness because they've had cancer or they know somebody who’s had it. And I feel like these things that I'm coming alongside, is because of my own experience, my own story.
So, I would encourage people to start where they are. What burdens their heart? What are they passionate about?
And you could start small. I mean, it doesn't have to be a huge chunk. But consistency I feel is really good and now that we have Joy Organics, I feel like corporately, we want everybody to come alongside these organizations.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of our guest (the interviewee) and not necessarily of CBD Oil Review.
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