Many would think “Big Mike” is his nickname just because he is tall. To those millions of homeless and underprivileged he had helped through the years through his nonprofit organization, Humanity Heroes, Big Mike refers to his heart and open arms of comfort and support.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Michael Straumietis, crowned “the billionaire cannabis king” and CEO and Founder of Advanced Nutrients about his last trip to Israel and his involvement in a program that integrates adolescents with physical and mental disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces.
Friendly and humble, I had to ask why someone who isn’t Jewish from Portland Oregon is spending so much time, effort and money on Israelis.
Michael’s brother Jon, has an autistic son, nephew Jon Michael. He was in awe of how his brother cared for his son.
Straumietis was fascinated by how Israeli soldiers work with autistic members and involve not only them, but their family members and psychologists into defense work. Traveling around the world for both his company and nonprofit organization, he admitted he never saw that before. He heard that because of the success of the IDF’s work with special needs soldiers, the American armed forces units are looking into similar programs.
Mike Straumietis met with 8 disabled young men and women with cerebral palsy in a heartwarming ceremony in which they received their dog tags, badges and berets and became full-fledged members of the IDF. Big Mike has committed to continue promoting inclusion in society and mainstreaming people with special needs into society.
“Today is a holiday for Big Mike’s children. Mike is SIU’s most generous American partner and donor, and he’s committed to helping Israel’s special needs community,” says Rabbi Mendy Belitzky who founded Special in Uniform in cooperation with JNF-USA and the IDF.
Mike has been a fan of Israel for years and has had a successful business relationship with the Haifa Group for almost two decades. CEO Motti Levine introduced Big Mike to the Special in Uniform unit that his company sponsors.
Motti Levine, CEO of Haifa Group, shares that “Haifa Group has been sponsoring an SIU unit for quite some time, and we’re delighted that Big Mike and Advanced Nutrients joined our mission. This program is not just about the kids; it’s also about us, because our sponsorship and efforts to promote inclusion make us better people.”
Mike grew up in a lower-middle class family. His father died when he was a teenager and his mother became a drug-addict. Those experiences made him determined to be a self made man and adventurer, but never forgetting those less fortunate.
Since he started the firm 1999, Advanced Nutrients has remained steadfast in its commitment to developing research-backed products and has introduced 53 firsts to the world of cultivation. At a professional convention, he got his nickname after speaking, and people came over to him and called him “Big Mike,” as the only speaker they remembered listening to. He loves the reference since and takes advantage of it promoting his international business in over 110 countries.
After a life-changing near-death experience in 2011, lifelong entrepreneur Michael “BigMike” Straumietis felt moved to do his part to help humanity.
Living in Bulgaria in 2012, he launched Holiday Heroes a short time later, a non-profit organization to support families in need. When he returned to Los Angeles, he started Humanity Heroes, his American nonprofit organization. He is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the homeless through direct action.
“We have helped over 60,000 homeless individuals since 2016,” stated Big Mike.
Recent examples of successful projects include the 2021 Backpack Campaign, where the organization donated 7,000 Humanity Packs, Blankets, Toys for the children, 250 Lbs. of Dog Food & Tarps for shelter and the 2022 Humanity Heroes is helping the following homeless demographics:
- Homeless veterans
- Homeless youth
- Homeless LGBTQ
- Homeless families
- Homeless single mothers/pregnant escaping domestic violence
- Homeless in Skid Row
- Homeless in recuperative / rehabilitation care
He has become a social media celebrity with over two million followers on Instagram.
Mike received a personal message from his team helping in Turkey that he shared with his new friends in Israel, “I want to thank all the soldiers from Special in Uniform who helped us organize and prepare all the equipment for “Olive Branches” IDF Medical Aid Delegation to Turkey to help after the earthquake they had. Thank you for all their help and assistance.”
In Mike’s mind, the real stars are those underprivileged he can help to become independent and proud of their success.