Tag Archives: Volunteer

4 Stunning Examples of Community Love (Video)

The first definition of community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. The second definition is much more interesting though – a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  A feeling of fellowship. What does that mean to you? As we look at the different kinds of love that we give this week, what do you consider your community? Do you give back? How do you celebrate it?

The following videos are about people who went above and beyond for the love of those they share a common attitude, interest or goal with. They are community leaders and kids. They start massive construction projects or simply add a little extra joy to their day jobs. The common thread is that they care about the world and people around them, and are taking the time to show it.

Many of the children currently living in Ethiopia have never known a world outside of the HIV/AIDS crisis. It is something that impacts them every day. These teenagers used their phenomenal dancing skills to create a group called the BEZA Anti-AIDS youth group. They travel around the country performing these dances and hand out fliers and information to the crowds that watch them to help create a more educated society and prevent the transfer of AIDS. Talk about using your artistic talents for a good cause.

We all know that hospitals can be a depressing place, but this nurse makes it his mission to give each of his patients something to make them feel warmer and loved. They call him “The Singing Nurse.” It started with him mindlessly singing as he handed out medications and went about regular tasks. Then he realized it was a great way to give his patients some personal care and make them feel special despite their less than enviable situations. It just goes to show how much joy you can bring even in the toughest jobs if you just open your heart.

Jonny Benjamin was 20 years old when he was diagnosed with a mental disorder that left him hopeless for a normal life. So he decided to take his life, but the kindness of one stranger named Mike convinced him not to do it. Instead of committing suicide, Jonny became a campaigner for mental health regulations and research. He’s a leader that tries to shine a light on illnesses that we still don’t fully understand. A few years after that night on the bridge, Jonny started an internet campaign to find Mike, to thank him for saving his life. His story touched millions as the campaign went viral. Above is the video of their second meeting, and proof of what happens when you just take the time to lend an ear.

Your community doesn’t have to just be the people or places around you. We’re all part of a global community because we have this one thing in common – Earth. So it’s important to show love for that too. In Milan they are creating vertical forests to show some love for Lady Earth. Not only does the project beautify a part of town that has become overrun, but it gives a home to over 900 trees per building. Something to pretty, and it benefits the planet? Where do we sign up?

Do you have an example of someone showing love for their community? Share it with us in the comments below!

A Million Reasons to Volunteer This 4th of July

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 10.40.44 PMBy Levi Newman

I’d like to believe that most of us are actively looking for ways to live healthier, more meaningful lives. It may be a “glass half full” way to view life, but to me you should always be looking to do more with the time you have. That’s why I think we should become more responsible citizens of this planet by finding ways to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Think about it; we’re always asking for help from dieticians, aestheticians, yoga instructors and life gurus, but how often do we ask what we can do for someone else? I’m going to let you in on a secret that I’ve been using to fill my own health and wellness needs—it’s called volunteering.

Wait, you mean you’ve heard of it? Okay, you caught me, it’s not a secret, but it is amazingly good for you!

There are a million and one reasons to volunteer at either a local or global level, but let’s focus on just a few. For starters, people who volunteer are linked to having better mental, physical and emotional health. According to a study by the UnitedHealth Group and Optum Institute, 76 percent of people surveyed said volunteering made them feel physically healthier, while another 78 percent reported lower stress levels. Researchers at the London School of Economics have even found a correlation between the amount you volunteer and the chances you’ll have of being “very happy.” In essence, the more you volunteer, the happier you become.

Of course, I don’t need statistics to tell me that if I trimmed my waistline and dropped some stress that I’d be a lot happier.

Did you also know that people who volunteer are more likely to land paid employment? In fact, people who volunteer are 27 percent more likely to find a job according to research by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Looks like all that time you spent passing out meals on Thanksgiving could pay even more dividends than you imagined.

Let’s not forget the social aspect. Your selfless service helps your community grow and come together. In today’s society we can sometimes lose those close ties because of social media, so it’s imperative that we build strong bonds with those around us. And while making new friends, expanding your social network (hooray for jobs!) and even boosting your interpersonal skills are important facets, we’re not even scratching the surface of the benefits of volunteering.

We’ve talked all about the selfish—in a good way—reasons we should volunteer, but let’s talk about how volunteering our valuable time affects those in need.

The single most important thing you provide those you serve is hope, and even a little hope inspires. Giving your time, time you may have otherwise wasted on some mundane, forgettable task, could have been time used to inspire someone that may have all but given up on life. It doesn’t matter if it’s volunteering at a food bank like Feeding America, or rebuilding communities around the globe with Team Rubicon, the point is that you’re providing a service to people that truly need help.

Volunteering is one of the few activities on earth that benefits the givers as much as the recipients. That’s why when you’re looking to take on a new hobby, project or adventure, choose something that can impact someone’s life in a positive way. It doesn’t matter if you decide to start down the street at a local church, or choose to take on the big jobs with the United Nations, know that you’re making the right decision.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If we’re all looking to be happier people living more fruitful lives, I challenge you to take those words and volunteer to be that change. Here’s hoping I see you out there.

* * *

-1Levi Newman, a 10-year Army veteran and graduate of the University of Missouri, currently serves as the senior author for the Veterans United Network. He also works as the Director of Outreach for Veterans United Home Loans, where he builds and maintains relationships with businesses, organizations and individuals.

Reach Further: Your Life is Only As Big As the Communities You Serve

In a recent TED Talk, Dan Pallotta boldly stated, “No one ever went bankrupt giving to charity.” I love that line. The words remind us that we can give a little cash and still have enough to fill our own needs. That’s true of our energy, too. We can give a little time and still have enough to do the things we need to do.

So often we get caught up in the complexities of our lives and forget that we co-exist in a big world filled with people who need our help.  My vlog today is a loving challenge to parents. The hope is to inspire families to work together to serve the greater community, to spend time helping folks who can offer them absolutely nothing in return. Today’s message focuses specifically on parents because I blog about mindful mothering on Bringing Up Buddhas; but really this message is for everyone. CEOs and introverts, democrats and yogis, students and circus performers. We all have something to give.

So I’m officially dubbing this season the Summer of Service. A perfect time to let our babies use their superpowers to give freely, love wildly, and live fully.

Click to read the Huff Post article.

Click to read the story of my mentee and me.

Go Inspire Go: Why YOUth Matter

Zararwadi SmileIf I could choose one quote that defines the ethos of our youth today, it would be, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Simple but sweet words carefully crafted by my favorite poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.

This is a bold statement, I know, but hear me out.

Before I was invited to develop curriculum at the Academy of Art’s (AAU) Multimedia Department and the University of San Francisco, I too believed that many young folks were apathetic, entitled and not in touch with reality.

Boy, was I wrong. Or as my students would say, “You got moded.”

Reality Check #1: A few years ago, I was given the rare opportunity to build and teach a high school summer bridge program at AAU. I thought that my students would be excited to execute the final I had prepared. “You are going to create a short video on ‘hot spots’ in San Francisco. It could be a cool place to hang out, shop or eat.” I instructed in a sure tone of voice. I thought hands down, students would be stoked.

Instead, hands eagerly went up. The questions they asked changed the trajectory of my stereotypes toward the youth.

One student raised her hand and said, “My mom was so excited that you were teaching us because she follows Go Inspire Go (my nonprofit) on social media.” Another student said, “Yeah my friends follow you on Twitter in Sweden.” A third student said her friends who live in the Midwest follow our stories. Their collective wish: “Can we do our video on a story for GIG and if it’s good enough, would you post it?” My heart skipped a beat. Chills ran from head to my feet.

I was taken aback.

Julian Cohen, a high school junior from Jersey City, N.J., saw an article in his local newspaper about a reverend who wanted to build a high school in Grande Saline, Haiti, following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Cohen was sad that there was no high school in Grande Saline and was inspired to make a video to engage action. This led to two youth movements that eventually sent 32 kids to school for one year in Haiti.

This led me to create a GIG program called GIG Spark, Lesson on Compassion. Students think about a problem and how they could be part of the solution. They create a short 90 second video and send it to us to multiply their message.

Reality Check #2: I’m exited to announce that Go Inspire Go partnered up with The Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA, YouTube, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and National Youth Radio to create GIG Sparks with youth at the Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA. They wanted to make videos that inspire compassion, change and a shift in perspective.

If you watch the local media here in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’d think that this area is only known for its crime, violence and destitution. I found that there was so much hope for the youth living in this area of the City.

Photo Courtesy: Oscar Nilsson/ Interview with Betty Sells-Asberry, YMCA Teen Services Director

When I spent an afternoon training six of these young YMCA change makers, I was filled with pride. Kier Wilson, Tajae Hill, and Jonkia Davis were amazingly inspiring. They were so proud to call the Bayview Hunter’s Point their home, but were deeply saddened their neighborhood is viewed as “the ghetto.” They wanted to do something to change the negative perception of their community.

Thank you to YouTube and the Mayor’s office for inviting us to share our “GIG Spark” as an innovative, organized and fun way to inspire the YMCA kids to accomplish this mission.

* This video was created by four of my students at AAU — youth — who asked to come along on the shoot. Thanks Oscar Nilsson, Marcus Pettersson, Eva Broman, and Hugo Albrektsson for your great work!

Reality Check #3: At the University of San Francisco, my alma mater, I was asked to design and teach a Blogging for Social Change course. On the first day, I asked students, “What is your passion?”

With optimism and determination, one student said, “I want people to get out of their bubble and do something to help the people in their community.”

‘Nuff said! Amen to that.

As a kid, I felt insignificant. I thought I didn’t matter. I didn’t feel like I had a voice. What would a Chinese immigrant boy, growing up in a rough South Sacramento neighborhood, say of any importance? Why would anyone care?

I wonder how many youth feel like that today. What if adults took a moment to listen to the youngsters in their lives and hear them out. With a little guidance, support and inspiration, we too could be a part of inspiring a new generation of people who teach what they learn and give what they get!

* * *

Take Action:
* Check out “I LOVE Bayview” on Improve SF!
* Share their stories on social media and by word of mouth.
* Volunteer at your local YMCA

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Photo credit: Flickr

Pilot Inspires Compton Kids to Dream Big (VIDEO)

What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say the words, “Compton, Calif.?”

A hood that’s up to no good? OK, not fair, that’s more than one word. It’s also not a 100 percent fair representation of Compton. I recently met an aeronautical angel in this city, about 16 miles south of Los Angeles, who, for the past 15 years, has helped more than 2,000 kids earn their wings.

Robyn Petgrave, founder of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM), is using aeronautics to get at-risk youth in Compton off the streets and into the air — educating, inspiring and empowering them to soar high and reach their dreams. Starting at age eight, kids who stay out of trouble, get good grades and have positive attitudes earn the privilege to fly planes.

“I talked to the kids about staying away from drugs and gangs, communicating, using aviation as a real life application of math and science, and working hard in school and life. As I noticed that some of them listened and followed through, I realized that I wanted to help kids succeed using aviation as a magnet to keep kids off the streets for a living,” Petgrave said.

As the founder of Celebrity Helicopters, a flight school and tour company, he still felt empty. He’s rubbed elbows with celebrities, garnered media recognition and even got the attention of Oprah. But what he’s most proud of is the title of “role model” to more than 8,000 kids at more than 21 different schools where he’s been a guest speaker.

Jump in and take a look at our Go Inspire Go video and come along for an inspiring journey. Fasten your seat belts — I promise your spirits will soar when you hit play.

After spending the day with several TAM kids, I was on a high. I was most impressed with the kids’ maturity, their willingness and duty to give back and responsible demeanors. Many TAM alum, like James Knox, are giving museum tours to the public and mentoring newcomers. Way to pay it forward!

It’s interesting to witness how the kids were drawn to TAM because of the planes, but it’s clear that they’re just a vehicle that gets the kids in the door and cockpit. Petgrave says there’s a tremendous amount of responsibility when you fly a plane, life skills that can be transferred from the air and to the streets.

I was lucky enough to be flown by James high above downtown Los Angeles. That’s when it occurred to me — what if we all took time out of our day to spend time with the youth, to tell them “YOU matter.” To what new heights would this child take us in our lives and our society?

Robyn and the kids told me many sordid stories — both heartbreaking and harrowing — of kids who’ve come through the doors with no hope. “Gangs, shootings…” says teen Cinthya Hernandez who found her calling and life’s purpose after meeting Robyn and the other TAM kids.

“One of the kids got shot in the leg right in front of his house for no apparent reason,” Robyn explained.

Courtesy: TAM

What’s next for Robyn and his kids? He’s joining forces with NASA’s SpaceX program. His dream is to send one of his TAM kids to space! Something tells me this out of this world idea will become a reality in the near future. Cinthya shared her favorite quote with me. “Why shoot for the stars, when you can go to the moon?”

High five to Robyn and his crew for taking these amazing kids under his wing and catapulting them past the sky’s limit. What a great way to use his power and fueling the dreams of these bright kids and challenging them to soar to new heights.

Take Action:

1) Learn more about Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum: Tamuseum.org
2) Use your power to support TAM
3. Mentor a Child in Your Community. Inspire them to follow their passion.

What can YOU do?

*Thank you Connie Chan Wang for introducing GIG to TAM!

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10 Ways to Help the World This Holiday Season

By Kathryn Hawkins, from Razoo.com, the site for charitable giving.

The giving season isn’t just about exchanging gifts with friends and family, or watching your kids eagerly check the contents of their stockings to see what Santa brought them. While the holidays are the perfect time to share presents with the people that you love, this time of year also provides a great opportunity to give back to your community and your world. Here are ten ways that you can spread the cheer this holiday season.

1.    Be Santa. Traditionally, it’s a felony to open mail intended for someone else—but around Christmastime, the U.S. Postal Service is willing to bend the rules a little, at least as far as Santa Claus is concerned. Some U.S. cities provide volunteers with the opportunity to read letters from children addressed to Santa Claus, and fulfill the kids’ wishes by sending them Christmas gifts. If you don’t live near a Santa-approved post office, make a donation to Be an Elf (through their sponsoring nonprofit, Friends of the Levitt Pavilion) to help promote the program and recruit new secret Santas to make sure that disadvantaged children wake up to full stockings on Christmas morning.

2.    Purchase alternative gifts for your friends and family. Does your mother already have everything her heart desires? No problem—get her a cow instead. Many charitable groups, such as Heifer and Oxfam America, offer unique giving opportunities that let you purchase farm animals, educational supplies, or other life-enhancing tools for people in developing nations on behalf of your loved ones. If you’re not sure whether a charitable donation will make the right holiday gift, read this article for tips on when to give a charitable gift. For a free $10 gift card that can be used to donate to any US-based nonprofit, email give@razoo.com with “Intent” in the heading (valid while supplies last).

3.    The holiday season is often the time to surprise your loved ones with the new puppy they’ve always wanted—but this is the perfect chance to help an unwanted pet find his forever home instead.  Visit Petfinder.com to pick up a Pet Promise Certificate to give as a gift, to make sure that your giftee is ready for the responsibility of a pet. If you’re not ready to adopt just yet, donate to an animal shelter instead—a donation to Best Friends Animal Society will help care for the 2,000 special-needs animals living at their sanctuary.

4.    Donate new toys to needy children in your local community through the Toys for Tots program. You can make a drop-off at Toys ‘R Us and Babies ‘R Us stores all around the country, or make a financial contribution to the cause online.

5.    Give a Christmas tree to a military family or a soldier stationed overseas through the Trees for Troops program, an initiative of the Christmas Spirit Foundation. Last year, donors contributed enough money to deliver more than 16,000 trees to troop members and their families at home—your donation can make an even bigger difference this year.

6.    Celebrate Hanukkah with a tzedakah box. For Jewish families, tzedakah (Hebrew for charity) is an essential component of religious tradition. If you’re celebrating Hanukkah with your family this year, devote at least one of the eight ceremonial nights to giving back by placing money into the family’s tzedakah box to designate to the charity of your choice.

7.    Purchase your presents through the GoodShop. This online shopping portal allows you to select your favorite charity, and donate a portion of your purchase price to the cause you select. Make sure to bookmark the site—it’s the perfect way to make a contribution whenever you make a purchase through your favorite online shops.

8.    Check out a charity auction. This time of year, plenty of local nonprofit groups hold charity auctions, where you can purchase collectible art, vacation packages, and all sorts of other goodies, with all proceeds going to charity. If there’s not one happening near you, check out an online charity auction site like BiddingForGood.com, or bid on the drool-worthy prizes available through the food bloggers’ annual auction, Menu for Hope, which benefits Friends of the World Food Program.

9.    Volunteer to serve Christmas dinner to the residents of a local homeless shelter or senior care facility. To find holiday volunteer options close to home, run a search on VolunteerMatch.

10.    Sponsor a child in a developing country through an organization like Plan USA or World Vision. Your ongoing contribution will help you establish a meaningful connection with a child, helping to pull him or her out of extreme poverty. It’s what the giving spirit’s all about.

Learn more about ways to help the world, and donate to any US-based nonprofit, at Razoo.com.

Originally published in 2009

A Volunteer Story to Inspire All of Us

If you asked me who my heroes are, my answer would be: my mother (the subject of a future blog post) and Alison Thompson. Whether responding to an earthquake in Haiti, a tsunami in SE Asia, or a terrorist attack here on US soil, Thompson selflessly devotes her life to serving those in need.

I had the good fortune to work with Thompson on compiling and editing her memoir about volunteering around the world, The Third Wave, which hits bookstores this week. However, I am writing this article for just one reason: because knowing Thompson has made me a better person.

Ten years ago on September 11, most New Yorkers fled lower Manhattan in horror as the first World Trade Center tower collapsed in a paroxysm of glass, metal and fire. Not Alison Thompson. The investment banker-turned-filmmaker feared that many of her friends, who had been working on the building’s top floors, were at that very moment fighting for their lives. "I had to help," she recounted.

So Thompson strapped on her rollerblades and fought her way south from her apartment against an endless stream of shell-shocked refugees toward Ground Zero. There, she tore off her blades and dove, unmasked and unprotected, into the rubble to search for signs of life. The petite blonde-haired, blue-eyed young woman must have appeared as a hallucination to anyone who caught sight of her through the dusty haze: an angel descended to Earth.

Thompson remained volunteering at Ground Zero for the next nine months with the Red Cross, caretaking the rescue workers. The experience gave her "the volunteering bug." She realized that service to others mattered more to her than any career objectives or personal goals.

Therefore when a massive tsunami hit Southeast Asia just three years later in December 2004, Thompson dropped everything to go help. Her boyfriend at the time, Oscar Gubernati, decided to join her. They quickly pulled together their meager savings, solicited donations of medical supplies and took off for Sri Lanka, where they wound up living for the next 14 months. Partnering with volunteers Donny Paterson of Australia and Bruce French of Colorado, they rebuilt the coastal village of Peraliya, including a school, hospital and shelters for hundreds of people.

In Sri Lanka, Thompson relentlessly combated corruption from international NGOs and death threats from disgruntled locals who accused her team of pocketing their aid money. She witnessed people at the edge of survival behaving cruelly towards one another and at one point "lost faith in humanity." But in the end, laughing with local children or consoling a grieving mother always kept her going.

Thompson’s background makes her uniquely suited to a life of volunteer work. Born and raised "in the bush" of Australia by missionary parents, she spent her childhood traveling to remote areas of Asia. Moreover, she acquired valuable nursing credentials by working for years at her mother’s elderly hospital.

Nevertheless, leading the relief efforts in Peraliya taught Thompson that everyone who wants to help can, regardless of their training or expertise. She witnessed dozens of volunteers with "no skills" make a positive impact in Sri Lanka. "You don’t have to be a doctor or a construction worker to be of service after a crisis," Thompson insisted. "Anyone can give a hug."

Being a filmmaker, Thompson had brought a video camera with her to Sri Lanka. Upon returning to the US, she put together a documentary to inspire other people to volunteer. Sean Penn ended up choosing "The Third Wave" as his Presidential pick at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. That’s why, when an earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince in January 2010, Penn reached out to Thompson first. He texted her just one word: "Haiti??"

Within 48 hours, Thompson had gathered an expert team of doctors, and Penn had solicited a major donation from Bosnian philanthropist Diana Jenkins. Donna Karan offered her private jet to fly Alison’s team from Manhattan to Miami. Penn’s political pull got them all safely into Port-au-Prince. Thompson then spent months helping Penn to establish the Jenkins/Penn Haiti Relief Organization, or J/P HRO, which manages one of the largest tent villages in the city.

Thompson has remained working in Haiti ever since. However, she has left Penn’s non-profit to run her own, called We Advance, which she co-founded with actress/activist Maria Bello and lawyer Aleda Frishman. The NGO’s vision is to advance the health, safety, and well being of Haitian women.

Winking, Thompson said, "Come to Haiti to help. You’ll lose weight, get a tan, make hundreds of new friends and save lives. You might even fall in love like I did." Thompson met her new love, Albert Gomez of Miami, while volunteering in Port-au-Prince.

This is My Heaven on Earth

Joy. Seeping out like the gritty brown grout we spread between the bathroom tiles each day as we wiped the salt of sweat and sea from our brows. Swelling up over and over again, like waves rising from the ocean. Lighting up our spirits like an explosive orange and pink tropical sunset. Uninhibited, heartfelt joy.

This was my predominant feeling state for the past 10 days, as I led my first Karma Yoga Adventure in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. And I believe it’s safe to say the same holds true for each of the six magnificent women and one brave man who traveled with me. The journey combined my greatest passions into one absolutely spectacular life experience: volunteer service; yoga; surfing and other outdoor sports such as hiking, biking, swimming and snorkeling; fresh, organic local food; all served up in a postcard-perfect tropical setting. (View my photos of the trip on Facebook.)

Our days were jam packed with joy-creation possibility. We began at 6:30am with a two-hour meditation and yoga class, which I led in a studio at our simple yet cheerful hotel. By the time we said our final “Oms” we were starving, so we raced off to an entirely made-from-scratch breakfast at Bread and Chocolate, run by our buddy Tom. We’d then gather up our water bottles and sun hats, and walk two blocks over to the local elementary school for our five daily hours of volunteer work.

Alex Fang, the irrepressibly positive and hilarious founder of San Francisco-based non-profit Surf for Life was our troupe leader, not only organizing our meals and lodging, but also managing us and the locals he’d hired to help with the service component of the trip. Throughout the week, we completely renovated two bathrooms and tiled a classroom floor. Most of us had little to no prior construction experience. We learned on the fly to tile and grout, we sanded and primed wood to build a roof over the bathroom area, we laughed, danced, and reveled in our filthy, stinky state at the end of each day.

We’d take off mid-afternoon for some R&R, usually heading to the beach for surfing or just lying out and reading our books. One day, we hiked to a two-story tall waterfall and plunged in for a swim. Standing with my back pressed into the slippery rocks just next to the torrent, my travel companions gathered around, feeling the slice of the crisp water as it plunged relentlessly forward, I never felt so vigorously alive.

One afternoon while working at the school, we had unexpected visitors. A group of kids came by with their music teacher, Carlos, and played a short concert to thank us for our efforts. The site and sound of these youngsters plucking and strumming at their guitars, offering up their simple, haunting tunes in gratitude, made my heart well over with happiness.

I believe what made the adventure most rewarding was how it bonded us so powerfully to each other and to our own higher selves. Not a single one of us brought a partner along. This was in no way your typical tropical vacation, comprised mostly of lounging in beach chairs, consuming fruity drinks and romantic sunset dinners, or even dashing off each day to tour the sites and pack in physical activities. Although without a doubt vacation fun was on the agenda, we had a greater purpose—to be of service. I watched as each woman blossomed throughout the week, grounded in her commitment to making the world a better place, but best of all, connected to her own innate power.

I can’t wait to do it again! Hope you’ll join my next Karma Yoga Adventure.

Haiti 2: Tent Village Tour

Haiti 2: Tent Village Tour from MeiMei Fox on Vimeo

 In March, I traveled to Haiti for a week to volunteer with Sean Penn’s organization, J/P Haiti Relief Organization. I made this short film after I returned – a tour of the 50,000-person tent village for which J/P HRO has been providing water, food, shelter, and medical care since just a week after the earthquake. I was deeply touched by my experience serving as a psychotherapist to people who had recently lost parents, children, friends, and their homes, many of whom were suffering from PTSD.

On September 24th, the NGO posted this update to their website: "A sudden and violent storm raged through Port-au-Prince… Due to heavy winds and rain, J/P HRO lost a hospital, pharmacy and many medical supplies."

Please don’t forget that Haiti still needs our help, even though the memory of the damage done in the January 12th quake is fading fast. Send your prayers and positive intentions for the nation’s recovery. If you can, donate to: www.jphrodonate.org or your favorite organization.

Photo: Flickr CC//United Nations Development Programme 

Mallika Chopra: How To Support Your Community Library

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend about how the librarian at her kids school was just let go due to budget cuts in California.  We talked about how important it is for kids to have access to books and information, and how studies have shown the link between having access to a library and good test scores.

So, when I saw that one of the Pepsi Refresh grant recipients was using $5000 to fill his school’s library with books, Intent was inspired.  Check out our video and thoughts on how you can help your community library:

Library visits are higher than ever before. Due to the ongoing recession, more people are going to libraries to enjoy books, music and movies for free. More unemployed people are also taking advantage of the free internet and information resources available at libraries to aid them in their job search.

And ironically–funding lags in public libraries and school libraries to meet these increased demands. Research conducted by the American Library Association found that a majority of states had to cut back on state funding to public libraries and state library agencies that support libraries and statewide library programs.

This is an urgent issue for our nation’s children. Past research has shown that there is a direct correlation between kids’ test scores and the quality of their school libraries. When the quality of school libraries decreases from funding cuts, there is a direct negative impact on the education our children are receiving.

Check out other resources from around the web to learn more about libraries, the importance of literacy, and inspiring more reading in your community for kids and adults alike.


How-To Articles

5 Steps To Launch A Teen Book Club From RefreshEverything.com

5 Ways To Help Functionally Illiterate Adults From RefreshEverything.com


The Top Fifty Librarian Blogs


American Library Association

I Love Libraries



This series was inspired by Tom Quiram whose intent is to fill the shelves in the elementary schools with library books. Tom Quiram was the recipient of the $5,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project.

To learn more about the idea and get your own idea funded, visit www.refresheverything.com

PHOTO (CC): Flickr / ciro

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