Sophie Casmano, Development Assistant

The people behind the purpose: Sophie

One of the most exciting things that comes with growth for Plant With Purpose is adding new people to the team. Recently, Sophie Casmano joined our team to help strengthen our fundraising efforts. Sophie brings a passion for sustainability and some impressive baking skills to our San Diego office. We took the time to ask her a few questions to introduce you to our newest teammate!

Hello Sophie! How did you find out about Plant With Purpose and what caught your attention?

I first heard about Plant With Purpose during my time as a student at Point Loma Nazarene University. As I started to become more interested in sustainability and pursuing a career in the nonprofit industry I decided to dive deeper into the work of Plant With Purpose. I knew they had similar interests and values. Finding a nonprofit organization that focuses on improving the environment in order to bring about a long-term, sustainable solution to rural poverty is very unique. The effectiveness in this model paired with the genuine relationships that have been created with Plant With Purpose partners really caught my attention.

So we know you are a baker… what are your favorite items to make?

One of my favorite sweets to make by hand is definitely bingents. Beignets are mini fried dough squares (almost like donuts) that are served hot and then dusted with powdered sugar. Many people might recognize them from the famous Cafe du Monde in New Orleans where they are a very popular Creole cuisine treat. There’s something special about making dough from scratch and then serving them hot out of the fryer. Plus, anything with copious amounts of grease and powdered sugar is a good thing in my opinion! Serving with coffee is a must.

Beignets from Café du Monde are a New Orleans favorite
Beignets from Café du Monde are a New Orleans favorite

What was the most difficult thing you’ve ever made?

One word: Baklava. This rich dessert is made with layers of thin dough called filo and is then layered with nuts and honey. I made this at home once with my back kitchen door open. As I was preparing the honey reduction about 10 bees swarmed into my kitchen trying to get to the honey. It was completely terrifying!

Awesome! While we’re talking about food… what’s your favorite type of cuisine?

This is a loaded question! Although I’ll eat just about anything, most of my favorite foods come from Latin America. I’m a sucker for spicy! I love enchiladas. Anytime I go to a new Mexican restaurant I have to give their enchilada dish a go. Anything from street tacos in Tijuana to Lomo Saltado in Peru is gold to me.

I know… it’s hard to pick just one. Here’s another question like that- of all the places you’ve ever been, which is your favorite?

Another incredibly difficult question! Kauai is a place I have recently fallen in love with. It is one of the Hawaiian islands and is known as the Garden Isle because of its lush jungles. Spending time there hiking, snorkeling and eating all the tropical fruit I can find is my happy place. After I graduated from college I spent two week there looking to move. Let’s just say Hawaii is not the most affordable! I still hope to spend some portion of my life living on Kauai someday.

Thailand is a dream destination
Thailand is a dream destination

And out of all the places you’ve never been… where do you dream about going?

I would love to visit our partners in Thailand. I’ve never been to Asia and would love to explore, meet our partners, and better understand that culture. Thai food is also out of this world. Yes, food is a common theme in my life!

Any good book recommendations?

I always come back to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I can re-read it over and over and each time pick out a new message. It speaks to morality and the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis was a brilliant man, in my opinion. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book: “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

You did a Zero Waste challenge not too long ago. What did you learn from that experience?

I could probably write an entire blog post about this topic alone! I spent a month and a half trying to produce as little trash as possible. By the end of this time I was able to fit all the trash I had produced in a 12 oz mason jar. This meant buying items second hand, items without packaging, and switching from single-use items to more sustainable alternatives. It emphasizes quality of possessions over quantity. The experience, as a whole, made me a more conscious and creative consumer. My eyes were opened to the value I had once placed on material items, and allowed me to reevaluate, not only my consumer habits, but also our countries habits at large. The Zero Waste challenge was very eye-opening and left me with a lot of sustainable practices that I still carry out now to lesson my environmental impact.

A strategic brainstorming session at the Plant With Purpose office.
A strategic brainstorming session at the Plant With Purpose office.

What are some of your favorite spots around San Diego?

I love spending any free time at Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, whether it’s catching a sunset or taking a run along the cliffs. I also really enjoy the Torrey Pines Gliderport. It’s such a relaxing spot to grab a bite to eat and watch the paragliders dive off the cliffs over the water. It’s mesmerizing.

What’s your favorite tree?

One of my favorite trees would have to be a mango tree. I had one in my backyard as a child and loved watching the fruit appear and rippen so I could dig in. It’s still one of my favorite fruits to this day!

Who is the kindest person that you know?

This might sound biased, but it would have to be a split between my mom and dad. They are each so kind in such different and unique ways. I’m seriously blessed to be a half of those two lovely people.

We hope you’ve enjoyed working in our San Diego office so far, but if you could add one appliance, machine, or piece of furniture to it, what would it be?

Maybe an oven to bake a quick batch of cookies during my lunch break 🙂

Here’s a good one to end on… what’s your favorite thing about Plant With Purpose?

Not even a month into my time here and I could already list off so many things I love about Plant With Purpose. For this blogs purpose, I’ll be short and sweet. I am honored to work for an organization that is empowering rural farmers, making progressive change in individuals lives, and is doing all of this through the compelling love of Christ at the center of our work. What a blessing!

Philippe Lazaro

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