GREENWICH, Conn. -- Amy Guerrieri certainly wasn’t the first person to ever be moved to tears by a broadcast of "20/20" with Diane Sawyer on ABC News, but she might have responded in the biggest way.
After the Old Greenwich resident watched the ABC News story, which was titled ‘A Hidden America’ and brought awareness of the country’s population living in poverty, her first plan of action was to donate goods to the people of Martin County in Kentucky.
Guerrieri sent to the region more than 4,000 bottles of Rockin’ Water, a sweet but healthy drink she invented to boost kids’ vitamin and fiber intake.
“Everybody is always so focused on helping the poor people in other countries, but there are three million people who live in Appalachia,” she said.
And she didn’t stop there.
In 2009, Guerrieri launched RAMP America, an organization geared towards feeding children and adults in Martin County. Through nutritional seminars and family food nights, her team has started to educate locals on the right foods to shop for and to eat. In schools, they have planted vegetable gardens and brought salad bars to cafeterias.
Guerrieri also realizes that the best meals many children get are during their lunch period, and might go hungry when school is not in session. For them, her “backpack snack” program now provides nutritious foods and produce to 360 students on two Fridays each month.
“If we can succeed here, we want to extend this all over the country,” Guerri said. “One day, we hope to end poverty in Martin County.”
Ending poverty isn’t just about distributing food, though. That’s why RAMP’s recently unveiled Microloan Program will grant $300 to $3,000 loans to any resident who presents a feasible business plan. The loans are then used to buy supplies and equipment, hire employees and expand the business. The University of Kentucky Extension office will do its part to train for microloan businesses.
Guerrieri is more than capable of offering sound business advice. In addition to Rockin’ Water, she and her husband own Greenwich’s Upper Crust Bagel Company and the Arcadia Coffee Company.
“I recently presented at an eighth-grade career day, and I ended with my focus on education and choosing career paths,” said Guerrieri. “I said ‘a business is a business. I want you guys to realize how many opportunities you have.’”