People Have a Shorter Lifespan Than Ever Before. Here’s Why That Matters

June 7, 2018
“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness, and your gloom be as the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10, ESV)

What would it take to change the lives of 10 million people?

This is the first generation of young people in the last 200 years whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents. Not only are people suffering from malnutrition worldwide, but many don’t have access to healthy foods. Millions of people suffer from a lack of nutrition, medical supplies, and the education on how to eat healthy.

Crown College alumnus Quenton Marty is determined to “create a world where we all matter.” Marty is the President at Matter, a global non-government organization (NGO) whose mission is to expand access to health, both next-door and around the globe.

“It’s one thing when you have access to nice ingredients for meals,” says Marty. “It’s another thing when you actually get a tangible example of what it looks like to eat healthy. Obesity is an issue. Diabetes is rising like crazy.”

Matter is a non-profit organization that works not only to promote eating healthy, but to distribute food and medical supplies to places where people are suffering from a crisis.

For Marty, the most important thing about being the president of a global NGO is keeping the mission statement front and center. Right now, that mission includes changing the lives of 10 million people.

“There’s a real belief about giving people a hand-up instead of a hand-out,” says Marty. “At the heart of that, every one of us has dreams, skills, and abilities that are God-given. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live. When we come together, we can create better ideas than on our own. It’s about working together.”

While founded by Christians, Matter isn’t an explicitly faith-based organization. Matter has campaigned with people of many different backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities. Several NBA stars including Serge Ibaka, who plays for the Toronto Raptors, and Gorgui Dieng, who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, have donated to the Matter mission. Others such as Tim Cook (the CEO of Apple), Ellen Degeneres, and organizations such as Feed My Starving Children have also engaged with Matter.

“We were established by people of faith, but we work with people in Afghanistan who are Muslim,” says Marty. “We don’t discriminate against the people we serve.”

Here’s the way Matter works: They first meet with a partner and go through a vetting process to make sure there’s enough shared vision. After that, several people on the team will do a site visit and create a list of things the people there need, such as food and medical supplies. It all comes down to whether or not everyone agrees on the outcomes of the project and can provide the finances. According to Marty, there’s nothing as important as doing an onsite visit.

“There’s nothing like human communication,” says Marty. “Our team learned that if we just send things, there’s not a way to be absolutely sure what happens to those items. We want to ensure that it gets to the intended people and is used for the purpose they said.”

Matter doesn’t do any real advertising. Instead, they focus on building relationships and word of mouth. One of the projects Matter is currently working on is based in Dandora, Kenya. The city is home to roughly 300,000 people and is a dump city — meaning the people literally live off the garbage of the rest of the residents of Nairobi. Matter partnered with the University of Notre Dame to help the citizens of Dandora.

“When you start working with groups like Notre Dame and other reputable organizations and institutions, you generate interest through that,” says Marty. “The University of Notre Dame visited and had a heart to help the citizens of Dandora. They built a school, church, and hospital, and we had the chance to equip it with supplies. Now we’re doing another project with Notre Dame in Tanzania.”

In addition to equipping hospitals with medical supplies, Matter created their own food box called the MATTERbox. Similar to the style of Blue Apron (the food delivery startup), the MATTERbox comes with a pamphlet of tips and tricks on healthy eating, six recipes, and fresh ingredients to cook with. The idea behind the MATTERbox is more than short-term nutrition — it aims to educate young people on how to eat healthy long-term.

“We wanted to meet people where they’re at in a dignified way,” says Marty. “Sometimes having an example really changes mindsets and eating habits.”

Determined to stick with their mission, Matter strives to tell people that they are important — that they matter.

“Every MATTERbox has a ‘you matter’ note that is handwritten by the person who packs it,” says Marty. “We want to institute the belief that you matter. I think there are a lot of kids that don’t feel that way. The general public doesn’t feel that way. A lot of terrible things happen as a result. Ellen Degeneres wrote one and so did Tim Cook from Apple.”

When it comes to finances and raising money, Marty says he focuses on the needs of others. Matter would not get much traction if they only focused on themselves. The philosophy Marty has toward fundraising mirrors the mission of Matter.

“My thinking about this has been, how am I going to help the people I’m talking to accomplish their dreams?” says Marty. “If I were to approach them and ask how they could help me accomplish my goals, it’s probably not going to be a great relationship. But if I talk to someone and ask what’s important to them, and they say, ‘healthy foods, I think kids need to be eating healthier’ — great, we can help you with that.”

It’s all about meeting with each person and discussing the different ways they want to engage. Marty is focused on each member having about 20 face-to-face meetings per month. Matter raises money through special events (including one at the Super Bowl), traditional fundraising, and monthly gifts online.

“The man I met with this morning is a hard-working individual,” says Marty. “I asked him for $130,000. Our annual budget is just over $4 million. You might get a lot of ‘no’ answers and a lot of people who appreciate what you do, but you’ve got to be meeting with people, and you’ve got to be asking people.”

Marty received his undergraduate degree from Crown in 2003 and graduated with his MBA (Master of Business Administration) in 2013. He currently serves as a member of Crown’s Board of Trustees. It is a busy time in both Marty’s career and personal life, raising four children (ages 16, 12, 7, and 4). Marty encourages more young Christians who have a business mindset to use their skills for the glory of God.

“The most important thing I do is find the right people to add to the team,” says Marty. “If that’s all I do, we’re going to do pretty well. I believe the greatest sign of Christian maturity is how you love others. It’s not in how many Bible verses you memorize, or how often you go to church, or all these rituals and things we do. Your spiritual maturity is about how you care for others. If you truly care for whoever you interact with, it will show in what you do.”

The vision that Marty has brought to Matter is one that genuinely cares for the wellness of others. Pouring ourselves out for the hungry is part of our higher calling. With that mission in mind and the courage to take action, Matter is setting an example of what it looks like to truly love other people.