Category Archives: Causes

Find information and resources on advocacy, donating, philanthropy, volunteering and causes.

Being Supportive

When we are choosing the people in our lives, we like to pick ones that comfort us and support us in our times of need. Part of our relationships with these people means supporting them as well. Some of us don’t really know what it means to be supportive, and we do the best we can.

So, what does it mean to be supportive? What can we do to connect with our loved ones better, and help lift them up without any burden to ourselves? Luckily, the answer is quite simple.

Many of us are fixers – we like to solve other people’s problems, lend a hand, and make sure everyone else’s lives are running smoothly. As a fixer myself, I know that more than enough time is spent on these tasks. Living as an adult child of an alcoholic means that I am well versed in the art of fixing, whether it is cleaning up after someone, fixing their mistakes, or bailing them out of trouble when that might not be the best thing for them. Being a fixer is not a bad thing; many of us are caregivers by nature, and we genuinely do love to help out. Being a fixer just means we spend a little too much time focused on fixing others.

Unfortunately, the best intentions can sometimes go astray. We know that we are coming from a loving place or wanting to help and connect with the other person. Constantly telling them how to fix their problems, however, is not what someone wants out of a supportive friend, and we often get pushed away. Continue reading

Mildly Medicated: Wall Street, Parkinson’s Disease and the Music at the Root of it All

Michael Basile is the manager and the “man behind the scenes” of the modern rock bandScreen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.40.37 PM
Mildly Medicated”, a group of very talented young people all sharing the bond of a medical disability. In his old life he was in investment banking on Wall Street until the world changed forever in 2008 and he re-invented himself as the owner of a school that teaches rock and roll music to budding musician’s. He is the modern day Rubin Kincaid to Mildly Medicated, producing their music, booking shows, and of course paying all the bills, which over the last 4 years have amount to around 150K. A diagnosis he wasn’t expecting changed his perspective on life and the work he is doing.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.
If someone told me I’d be in this position 20 years ago, I’d have said they were nuts. I thought I had cut a deal with the universe that I’d be the modern day Peter Pan. I surely felt invincible at the time. But as I’ve learned, life provides no guarantees, and sometimes you have to play the cards you’ve been dealt. Just to give you some background, I came from a lower middle class family in Brooklyn and an only child because my father really didn’t like children. When I asked him why he even had me, his reply was straightforward and honest, “That was your mother’s idea”, and then he resumed reading the morning addition of the New York Times. My father never quite understood me. When I was in art school pursuing a degree in film, he handed me a copy of the entrance exam to the postal service. In is brute honesty, he proclaimed, “Let’s face it Michael, you’re not capable of anything more complicated than that. Look on the bright side, you put 3 or 4 years in the sorting room and maybe they will promote you and let you sell stamps behind the window. At least you’d have the honor of handling money which is a great responsibility, and after 30 years there will be some sort of pension.” It’s fair to say my father and I did not see eye to eye on most topics. At best he tolerated me. In the late sixties and early 1970’s, dyslexia wasn’t really understood, or even recognized. In the third grade I was labeled “stupid” and a “daydreamer”. I think that was hard for a parent to deal with. Truth be told, I’m far from stupid. I’ve been label a savant, but honestly I think I’m more idiot than savant, but that is a story for another time. In the fourth grade I realized on my own that I had a very strange ability to memorize things, even things I didn’t study. If I saw it sometimes it stuck in great Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.41.34 PMdetail, like the electrical schematic of a microwave oven. I wasn’t even conscious of doing it. My best friend Kim from the old neighborhood will sometimes call me and ask “What’s my password for my online checking account?” and I’ll know it. Yes, I’m weird. During the summer between the 3rd and 4th grade, I realized that I had the ability to “Pattern read” so I memorized the entire pattern of words. To make this easy to understand, I memorized shapes. A lot of them. For me “eht” and “the” is the same word. This ability allows me to read very fast. My friend gave me his discarded copies of Popular Mechanics and I found a partial set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in a garbage can. I spent my summer reading them all and memorizing. By the end of the summer I was able to read with blinding speed, because I could read an entire word at a time, forward and backwards, and just to keep myself from getting bored, I tried to read as much as I could while holding the book upside down because the pattern of words would change. I was devoid of the concept that I was different. I actually thought everyone was like me because no one bothered to tell me I was different, just that I was born stupid. When the fourth grade rolled around, we had our bi-yearly standard testing, and my reading level was off the charts. I was many years ahead of everyone, and the school and my parents accused me of cheating. They tested me again, all alone to be sure I had no help, and I scored even higher. The school was forced to put me in the IGC class, which stood “Intellectually Gifted Children”. I hated it because I just didn’t learn that way, and I was bored. To spare you reading more of this, let’s fast forward to High School, that I completed in 3 and a half years, excelling at things that involve abstract thinking, like music and art. I can play multiple instruments, all self-taught because my parents had no money, and those skills were not really valued at home. When I applied to art school in NYC, my father went ballistic. He was right. When I got out, I could barely make a living. I was literally starving. Things needed to change. Continue reading

In Memoriam…


by Arsenio Rodriguez

These incredible arms that we are endowed with can move at will, to gesture praise or curse, to caress and strangle, to protect and destroy. These thoughts, feelings and speech that I carry, can arrange to communicate humbly and generate laughter, consolation, forgiveness, or in self-aggrandizement and ignorance, stimulate fear, violence, prejudice.

Thoughts and feelings, that in a secret whisper can poison the other through calumny and generalization, and fueled by my darkest fears, can align with the fears of others to give rise to a wave of hatred and animosity, however those same thoughts and feelings, when attuned to that inner voice that once said “let he who has no sins cast the first stone” they can shower instead, compassion, and the gift of forgiveness. This fascinating mind of ours! It has blessed us with technology, to heal and prolong life, to alleviate suffering, to look beyond our senses and magnify our awe, at the cosmic miracle of universe and life. But it also has given us the tools of mass destruction, the capacity to magnify the power of our strangling and sword carrying hands, to shower death in an instant, not just to a fighting face-to-face adversary, but to dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of our fellow living beings.

From the mass graves of Eastern Europe, the ovens of Germany, the fields of Rwanda, the prairies of western United States, the coliseums of Rome, the squares of Tienanmen, the slave trade of Africa, the religious wars of India, the crusades, the Armenian purge, the conquest of America, the “collateral damages”, the rape of Nanjing, the burnt flesh of Hiroshima, to the dance halls of Orlando, massacres have occurred all the time, as we know from recorded and not recorded history, perpetrated by governments, tribes, religions, ethnic groups, individuals, all who have become possessed by the fear inside, disguised as hatred for the demonized others. We have shed the blood of others so many times. Continue reading

The Real Story Of The Prince Tragedy


For many people hearing about drug abuse, addiction is seen an issue faced by those with limited resources and limited ability to make changes in their life. However, celebrity drug addiction, including the recent death of Prince, shines a light on just how pain medication addiction can be found at any level of society.

According to friends of the late singer, Prince had an addiction to opioids that has been with him for at least a decade. He was first seen taking opioids after a hip strain, and he continued to up his dosage to continue to perform as early as a decade ago. Continue reading

Battling the Myths of Foster Care


There’s an ongoing battle to tear down the myths about foster care. In a recent NPR interview, one foster parent discussed the negative impressions that the public is often given related to foster care—and how it’s a barrier to the great work that can be accomplished: “I think all too often the focus is on the negative and not on the good things that happen, the kids that were reunited with their family or the adoption.”

To hFoster-Care-IG-for-Publish-Smallelp counteract negative perspectives and continue to educate Master of Social work students and social service professionals, SocialWork@Simmons created “The Facts of Foster Care.” This infographic provides the latest objective and authoritative data published by collecting bureaus related to foster children and foster families—as well as data that will help to dispel myths about foster care. The goal is to achieve better support for those who need it most—especially the children and those who are caring for them. Continue reading

Care Connects WWII Survivors and Syrian Refugees to Bring Happiness

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As of almost 1 year ago, there were more than 4 million Syrian refugees, a number that increases daily as conflict grows across Europe. Babies are being born in refugee camps. Children are experiencing years meant for exploration, imagination and fun in a landscape that is scary, violent and often times changing moment to moment. They’ve experienced loss at far too young an age but they are not alone in this.

Care is an organization responsible for sending care packages to children affected by WWII. If anyone understands even a margin of what modern children in war-torn nations are experiencing, it is the survivors of WWII who are now being recruited by Care to write letters to children receiving packages today. Care was created in 1945

Does he go to school? Does he have a father? Does he have something to play with? I never played as a kid.
-WWII Survivor And Letter Writer

The first 20,000 Care packages reached the shores of France in 1946 and 70 years later, Care packages are still arriving on far off shores. Today those Care packages include letters from alumni who seek to help children feel known, heard and understood in this time of crisis. Watch their story: Continue reading

Growing Too Old: Aging out of Foster Care


Each year, between 20,000 to 25,000 foster children age out of the system and attempt to begin life on their own.  Of the 500,000 children in care in the United States each year, this is a large number and disturbing percentage.   For many foster children, foster care is a temporary service before returning home to a parent, moving in with a biological family member, or even beginning a new life in an adopted home.  Yet, for thousands who do not find reunification with family in their lives, reaching 18 years of age can be a tremendously frightening experience.  For others, 21 is the year where they may find themselves no longer part of the foster care system, depending upon the state the foster children reside in. Continue reading

A Response to Terrorism: 5 Ways to Bring About Change


By Michael Bianco-Splann

Once again the world is infused with a sense of horror and shock by the heinous attacks on innocent Parisians enjoying a Friday night in the City of Lights. And our collective response sensationalized by the media leads us where? The facts leading up to this attack should in no way be received as a surprise, for the endless stream of human barbarism and war has not receded in millennia. Our contemporary world order looks strikingly similar to many civilizations of the past.

What is an alternative response to terrorism? Merriam Webster defines terrorism as, “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” The heart of terrorism is to get under your skin, churning a sense of dis-ease and fear.

Any response powered by fear demonstrates low frequency, low vibration and has an internal destructive nature that ripples across the collective unconscious. Let us find a better solution than more killing, more savagery and attending to the lowest human frequency.

Here are 5 ways to address terrorism to bring about change. Continue reading

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