Monday, December 31, 2012

Tens of Thousands Of People Work For Good in 2012

This morning I discovered over 200 sparks of light splashing from the universal prism--or that silent army of humans who work for the common good of others and the planet.  The Daily Prism highlights the members of this unnamed army, and here are just a few featured during 2012:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Group Devoted to Dolphin Protection in 2012

Blue Voice Photo Showing Studied Dolphins has one simple agenda: "... protect dolphins, whales, and other marine mammals and to raise popular awareness about the plight of the oceans. BlueVoice has fought to end the slaughter of dolphins in Japan and to expose the harmful levels of toxins in the marine environment, including mercury, PCBs, and persistent organic pollutants, and their impact on both marine mammals and humans," according to the nonprofit's website.

By need, the worldwide issues of dolphin protection has taken much of Blue Voice's 2012 efforts which include studying why there was a massive die off of dolphins along Peru's coastline; correlating data that indicates eating dolphin meat may contribute to diabetes and cancer; and proactively attempting to end the wholesale slaughter of dolphins in northern Japan.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Special Room For Kids of Critical Care Patients

A young Oregon woman diagnosed with breast cancer,  faced the additional challenge of how  to arrange for child care during her critical care visits.

Her experience led to the creation of My Little Waiting Room, a nonprofit offering drop in child care to the hospital.

"My Little Waiting Rooms mission is to promote the health and well-being of families by bringing drop-in child care to the hospital so that children can thrive as families heal. We figure since grocery stores, gyms, community centers and other locations offer this needed service, hospitals should too. Especially since families at the hospital are often in crisis and could really use the help," notes the group's mission statement.

They further explain: 
We opened our first model center in partnership with Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon in April 2010.  We contract with Volunteers of America Oregon to provide the professional, licensed child care.
Based on our research, there are only a few hospitals in the nation that currently offer drop-in child care. It is our ultimate goal that every hospital in every city will one day offer a similar service.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mariners Change Lanes for Endangered Whales

Incoming Humpback Whale, Monterey Bay, Ca.
The International Maritime Organization approved new vessel lane changes in an effort to significantly reduce deadly ship strikes on endangered whales migrating along California's coast.

Slow-moving endangered whales like the blue, fin and humpback whales  have died from injuries caused by passing cargo ships that follow designated routes along California's Bay Area, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Barbara Channel waters.  This brought about proposed rerouting of large vessels, which was recently approved.

The  Los Angeles Times reports:
The route adjustments were recommended by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after four blue whales were thought to have been killed by ship strikes in the Santa Barbara Channel in 2007 and an additional five whales were suspected ship-strike victims off the Central and Northern California coast in 2010.

The shipping industry has supported the modest lane changes, which shift the southbound lane 1.2 miles away from Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands. The current route traverses a steep underwater drop-off just north of these islands — an area where blue whales congregate to feast on krill.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

" Guns pour in at L.A. buyback events"

From the LA Times:

Thousands of people line up to exchange guns for supermarket gift cards at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and the Van Nuys Masonic Temple.

Mall parking lots were packed with after-Christmas shoppers. But nowhere were the lines longer than at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and the Van Nuys Masonic Temple, where thousands of people came to exchange their guns for Ralphs gift cards.

Cars queued up for blocks at the drive-through events, with the city giving cards worth up to $100 for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and up to $200 for assault weapons. There was a bit of haggling involved, but the guns were all taken.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Equitable and Sustainable Future"

From the New York Times

The nonprofit Zeitz Foundation, founded in 2008,  supports ecologically and socially responsible destinations and programs across the world from its epicenter on its Segera reserve in Kenya, led by  the fashion world’s energetic activist Jochen Zeitz.

Mr. Zeitz is not dreaming of a “green” Christmas. He has a much wider vision of a world in which environmental consciousness and sustainability is a built-in factor to product sourcing and design every day of the year. “We should make it part of the DNA of brand as a new definition of quality,” Mr. Zeitz said.

Zeitz said leaders in the private sector should help to move toward an “equitable and sustainable future.” The mantra of each project is that sustainability does not need to come at the sacrifice of economic prosperity. But rather the opposite: that a holistic system integrates the four C’s: conservation, community, culture and commerce.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ugly Holiday Sweaters For Cancer Research

By this mid-December, over $64,000 was raised by the brave--those folks willing to wear their ugliest holiday sweaters ALL the time.

Taking tacky to the max, each person raising funds thru the Ugly Sweater campaign, benefits cutting edge cancer research thru Stand Up to Cancer.

The contest runs thru the end of December.  Click the link above and bring out that sweater.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Satrical Super PAC Now Benefits Charities

A little year-end donations with humor.

From Politico

Comedian Stephen Colbert's massive super PAC cash stash won't fund political attack ads or anything of the sort.

Instead, it's going to six charitable organizations.

Colbert announced...on Comedy Central's Cobert Report that the $773,704.03 his now-defunct Americans for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow super PAC...In an apparent final act of a nearly year-and-a-half-long gag about the influence of money in politics, Colbert  is giving $125,000 each to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts of charities, Team Rubicon and Habitat for Humanity, plus another $125,000 to Yellow Ribbon Fund, which supports injured military members...Another $125,000 each would go to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Legal Center...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bolivian President Calls for "New Era of Peace...."

From Common Dreams, Dec. 21, 2012

Bolivian President Evo Morales is marking today's winter solstice and the much-discussed calendar date by celebrating a hopeful vision for a "new era of peace and love" in the world, one in which the spirit of community and respect for Mother Earth will win out over the greed induced by global capitalism.
Bolivian president Evo Morales says December 21 marks 'end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a bio-centric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and beginning of truth'. (Photograph: Martin Alipaz/EPA) In an open invitation to celebrate the day, Morales explained that "the Mayan calendar's  21 of December is the end of the non-time and the beginning of time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha, the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood, it is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thousands of 26 Kind Acts

 From NPR

Since NBC News' Ann Curry tweeted that idea earlier this week, it's taken off. Thousands have tweeted back to her about things they've done.
— Donating trees.
— Delivering meals.
— Anonymously leaving money for a co-worker who's struggling.
— Helping a stranger who's short on cash in the check-out line.
— Donating frequent flier miles to Make A Wish.
You get the idea.
There's a 26 Acts of Kindness page on Facebook. It's had more than 31,500 "likes."
And there are variations on the theme: "20 acts" to focus on the children; "27 acts" to include gunman Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, who police say he killed before the attack on the school. Curry writes to those who've joined up: "All good. You are in charge of this wave now."
We'd be glad to hear in the comments thread about things you've done.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Good Hearts Trump Newtown Trajedy

From Philanthropy Today:


More Than $1-Million Raised for Newtown’s Survivors

December 18, 2012, 4:58 pm
More than $1-million has poured into a fund to help Newtown, Conn., and the survivors of the mass shooting there Friday, while a separate effort is raising at least $2,000 an hour online.

The United Way of Western Connecticut, which has created the biggest fund thus far, is now assembling people in Newtown to decide where the money should go.

Isabel Almeida, executive vice president of United Way, said her organization wants to be clear that it was just collecting the money, not setting priorities for distributing the money. “I live in Newtown and want to make sure we are benefiting the community directly. This is very raw and very emotional for us, which is why it’s important the community assesses what their short-term and long-term needs are in moving forward.”

On Friday, Brian Mauriello, a longtime Newtown resident who is vice president for sales at Kinsley Power Systems, established the Newtown Memorial Fund, which has raised over $40,000 in online contributions since its Web site debuted on Sunday. Mr. Mauriello estimates that the fund receives $2,000 every hour in online contributions.

Mr. Mauriello said that the original intention of the fund had been to cover the funeral expenses of those who died in the Sandy Hook shooting, but other donors stepped up to do that, so the fund shifted gears, expanding its focus to provide financial support to needy families of the victims.

In addition, the fund aims to offset unexpected expenses for the town—including compensation for police officers and continued support for teachers, students, and community members affected by the tragedy.
“There has been a tremendous outpouring of support,” said Mr. Mauriello. “In light of the horribleness, it renews your faith in the human condition and in people you’ve never met.”

Mr. Mauriello said he is determined to make sure donors have trust in his fund. “We’re logging each check as it comes in, recording the name of the donor and the amount of money given, including if they requested their money be used in a specific way. We will acknowledge all donors with a letter thanking them for their contribution and we plan to make our first large disbursement in the next two weeks.”

After dealing with the immediate needs in Newtown, the fund plans to finance indoor and outdoor memorials in honor of the victims who died at Sandy Hook and to create an annual scholarship fund.

“With the fund, we want to establish a legacy, and because this tragedy happened at a school, what’s more appropriate than a scholarship? In a couple of months, other organizations will go back to fundraising for other disasters, but we want to work toward something with a multigenerational span,” Mr. Mauriello said.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Food Network, First Lady Improve Kids' Lives

Inspired by the Food Network, today we learned about Horton's Kids, a nonprofit, that according to the website: Horton’s Kids is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to educate and empower the children of Washington, DC’s Ward 8 by providing comprehensive, direct services which improve the quality of their daily lives and nurture their desire and ability to succeed.

  • Education
  • Enrichment
  • Health & Basic Needs
  • Community & Environment

are the four elements the non profit works to improve the everyday life of kids at risk.

"In a special episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine faced his toughest challenge yet when First Lady Michelle Obama assigned him the task of rebuilding Horton’s Kids, a children’s community center that provides many services such as serving after-school meals in one of Washington, D.C.’s neediest neighborhoods... The brand-new kitchen and dining area have enabled Horton’s Kids to run cooking classes and hands-on nutrition programs more effectively. “During a recent class, we had kids sautéing vegetables, making omelets on the stovetop and blending fruit smoothies — all simultaneously,” says Executive Director Brenda Chamberlain," says the Food Network website.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Generational Blending Benefits All

Bridge Meadows is a new community idea that is taking hold around the country.  They are called multigenerational communities.

A nonprofit, Bridge Meadows is a multi-generation housing community serving Oregon's most vulnerable populations; foster youth, adoptive parents and elders (55+). Their mission is to offer permanency in the lives of foster children by providing adoptive homes, supporting those adoptive parents with resources and guidance and giving elders meaning and purpose in their daily lives.

From Philanthropy Today:  
When Lynda Komanecky learned about a new community in Portland, Ore., specifically designed to house elderly people to help young parents raise foster children, she knew that it was the place for her.

“I had a feeling that I could really make a contribution,” says Ms. Komanecky, 65, who moved to Bridge Meadows from her Illinois home last spring. “I have a lot of love left to give, and that’s what these kids need.”

Bridge Meadows, which opened in 2011, is home to three generations of residents: older people, like Ms. Komanecky, who receive discounted rent in exchange for volunteering 10 hours a week; foster children; and the families who are in the process of adopting them.

Derenda Schubert, Bridge Meadows’ executive director, says that the concept is so effective because it responds to the distinct needs of the residents.

“Our elders feel like they have a purpose, that they’re needed, while the families get supported and the kids get loved and cared for,” she says. “We’ve seen an incredibly positive impact in a very short period of time.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Apocalyptic Bargains

Another day when seeking good should be easy, but we remain challenged,  so today The Daily Prism will go with some humor found in apocalypse.

The story goes that the ancient Mayan calendar used by Mayan priests and astronomers during the time of their Pre-Columbian rule, ends this coming week.  That end of the calender is the muse of the apocalyptics.  It is also the muse of some funny advertising:

From NPR  :

One beer-company billboard near the resort of Tulum proclaims, "2012 isn't the end, it's just the beginning — of the party!"

The Mexico subsidiary of Renault is running "end of the world" promotions with interest-free loans for car sales: "Given that the world is ending, we're ending interest rates!"

Oprah Winfrey's website got into the act by publishing a list of "Apocalypse Dinners." It says: "Whether the world is really ending or whether you're just having a busy week, these six make-ahead meals from cookbook author Lidia Bastianich freeze well and feed many."

The Caribbean coast resort of Xcaret issued "million-dollar reward" certificates for anybody who survives the end of the world. "In case the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012, the beneficiary must be in Xcaret the day after the cataclysmic event with a valid photo ID in order to request payment," the certificate reads. "In case the world comes to an end, the beneficiary will be fully responsible for repopulating the world."

And on the esoteric side: 

Sandos Hotels and Resorts, a Spanish-owned all-inclusive resort chain, is promoting a "New Era" celebration at its Sandos Caracol hotel in Playa de Carmen, near Tulum. "We invite guests to celebrate a transition to the beginning of what we, and many Mayan leaders and scholars hope will evolve into a new era of environmental sustainability and cultural consciousness," the hotel's website says.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Find Good Even When It Seems Gone

There are darkened days that make a search for the good that exists everyday a true challenge.  Today is one of those days.

I'm unsure if I'm disheartened, lazy, or depressed, but I've found an easy path to the good things that shed sparks of light by reading thru my local paper.  Here is what local volunteers are doing today in my neighborhood.  Check your local paper for the same, and I pray this will lighten your heart.

  • Songs for the Season:  Fundraising for a public open land preserve
  • Trail Hike with local volunteer docent
  • Volunteers clearing a public trail
  • Make Merry: A holiday event to raise fund for historical lighthouse
  • Historical walk guided by volunteers
  • Free musical performance 
  • Lights parade
  • Victorian Teddy Bear Tea 
  • Local club raised $1,410 and filled 37 grocery bags with food and donated it to a resource center. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Big Picture: Reuse & Share

What started as a computer recycling center has developed a larger focus:"Providing technology and training to children and adults who have barriers to employment and education, while protecting our environment and community from hazardous waste," the mission statement of NextStep Recycling in Eugene, Or.

Since 1999, NextStep has accepted donations of hundreds of thousands of computers and other electronic devices. In the process, we have put thousands of pieces of equipment back into use in the community—including 28,000 refurbished computer systems (current to April, 2012) and hundreds of items sold at an extremely low cost through our ReUse Store—and recycled over 10,200,000 pounds of electronic waste (e-waste). More than 1700 volunteers have donated over 136,000 hours of service refurbishing and recycling computers. 8,500 individuals have enhanced their employment marketability through experiential service learning and extensive training by our staff.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Google Benefits Humanitarian and Environmental Efforts

Seven nonprofits will benefit from the recent first Google Global Impact Awards. They include water-monitoring technology at 4,000 wells across Africa; 500 science and math classes for underrepresented students;  sensors and animal tagging technology to detect and deter poaching;  and DNA barcoding to protect endangered species.

Source: Washington Post

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yes, Virignia, There is a Secret Santa

For non-believers, yes, there is a secret Santa.  Actually, there is a Society of Secret Santas that perform random acts of kindness across all social and economic barriers. 
Using their own financial resources, without a tax deduction and without soliciting funds from others, these leaders share their wealth with those in need. 

The Secret Santa Society, according to the website, is the legacy of the late Larry Dean Stewart who kept his Secret Santa identity secret until just before his 2007 death.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Animal Relief & Awakening Human Compassion

"Animal Aid’s purpose is to both bring relief to suffering animals, and to awaken compassion among people. Showing everyone a path for action is where we begin," explains the website devoted to caring for street animals in India.

Vegetarian Times reports that 37,000 street animals have been rescued, provided shelter and given medical care at the group's animal hospital in Badi, Udaipur.  Volunteers "walk dogs, groom donkeys, and bottle-feed baby goats and cows," says the magazine.

About 200 animals are treated daily.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Giving Tuesday Gets 42% More Online

bags,businesses,cash,charities,currencies,dollar signs,gestures,handouts,money bags,money symbols,monies,persons,symbolsGiving Tuesday, as recently noted here,  showed a 42% increase in online giving over the previous 2011 Giving Tuesday nonprofit campaign, according to Philanthropy Today: 

Propelled largely by charities’ push to promote #Giving Tuesday, the amount of money charities collected online last week increased 42 percent when compared with the same week last year. That finding is based on a study of 8,700 charities that used Network for Good to process online gifts...

...On November 27, the day groups around the country rallied to persuade donors to give online as a way to celebrate the end-of-year holidays, charities that are clients of Network for Good raised 155 percent more than they did on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving 2011.

And it wasn’t just Tuesday that was a robust day. On Wednesday, giving rose 81.4 percent compared with the same day last year.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Literacy & Gender Equality in Education

Now it's a big room that harbored over six-million children around the world during the last ten years.  Room to Read   started in Nepal by an exhausted Microsoft executive.He visited a Nepalese classroom and discovered the shabby building housed only a few books--most inappropriate for young children learning to read.

After his return home and the donation of over 3,000 books, he returned to Nepal, with the books and eventually left his paid job to form Room to Read, which included libraries in rural Nepal.

The program quickly expanded to Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and Sri Lanka, Laos, then on to South Africa, Zambia, and Bangladesh. Tanzania was just added to the list of countries benefiting from Room to Read.

We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.
To achieve this goal, we focus on two areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education.  We work in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond,
 explains the website.

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Give Peace A Chance"

"If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another. If you wish to know that you are safe, cause another to know that they are safe. If you wish to better understand seemingly incomprehensible things, help another to better understand. If you wish to heal your own sadness or anger, seek to heal the sadness or anger of another."  HH The Dalai Lama

 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” MATTHEW 5:9

“Peace is its own reward.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 "Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

"The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned." - Dag Hammarskjold

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Anonymous Nine Nanas Exposed

The Daily Mail wrote this expose

For three decades, nine women have kept a covert baking operation so under wraps that not even their husbands knew about it.

They call themselves 'The 9 Nanas,' and have been secretly whipping up, and delivering hundreds of pound cakes during the middle of the night in a grand scheme to help those in need.

And then before anyone can catch a glimpse of them, they quietly and quickly disappear back into their daily lives in West Tennessee.

But now the anonymous "nanas" are exposed and have a website, The 9 Nanas dot com.  

"There are nine of us (4 sisters, 1 sister-in-love and 4 friends-by-love).  And each week we randomly select total strangers for the sole purpose of delivering a little happiness...Oh we've been called "earth angels" "angels without wings" "happiness-happens ambassadors" and even "fairy grandmothers" but that's not the case. We're just heeding Mamaw Ruth's words, "If you see a need, fill it." We've been at this for more than 34 years. And darling, with a bumper crop of sadness, it looks like we'll be doing this for a long time."