In Search of Changemakers

Phoenicians are nearing the days when our favorite frenemy- the sun- shows us what he’s made of…But for many months we have enjoyed the lovely warmth of winter’s rays, alongside the tourists traveling far and wide to soak up some Vitamin D. They come and enjoy what we have to offer, maybe only seeing our good side. Then again, how often do we, as locals, choose to only see the smiling faces around our city? Lisa Scarpinato, co-founder of Kitchen on the Street, briefly shares about how she grew in awareness and responded to a specific aspect of brokenness within our state.


Most people who visit our state don’t know that one in four children aren’t sure if they will get a meal tonight. While Arizona educational rankings are always near the bottom of the leaderboard, most of us don’t take into account that children who haven’t received proper food and nutrition can’t possibly score well on tests or master their reading skills. Those who fall behind are more likely to drop out of high school, and needless to say, these trends inevitably cripple the Arizona workforce.

I am ashamed to say that I have lived most of my life in a city I knew little about. That changed in 2006 when a friend of mine, a school principal in the neighborhood where I grew up, opened my eyes to the poverty and hunger that hide just beyond our view.  I learned more after attending Valley Leadership presentations on education in Arizona and another event with Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton. These events tied hunger to education struggles to lack of opportunities for all too many Arizonans. 

Over the last few years through the work of Kitchen on the Street, a nonprofit my husband and I founded, I have had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people who see an issue and take action to resolve it. Sometimes these issues — hunger, poverty, illiteracy, teen pregnancy, sex trafficking, and addiction — seem too big for any one person to tackle.

But when we join forces, we see that everyone has something to give. Week after week I’m reminded that there is power in numbers as churches, youth groups, scout troops, and corporations come together to collect food and to donate time, talent, and treasure to feed the hungry and to love those who are impoverished and struggling. 

I encourage you to get passionate about a cause. Find an organization or individual tackling that issue — or become the changemaker yourself — and give it everything you’ve got. After all, you only live once!

Lisa Scarpinato resides in Phoenix, she and her husband are the cofounders of nonprofits Kitchen on the Street and Street Café; working to eliminate childhood hunger in America!