Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Child Who Makes a Difference

 The Joshua’s Heart Foundation is a small group of people with a big dream – to end world hunger.

“Our mission is to empower those in need, to improve their quality of life. We can do this by providing items of basic necessity, including food and water, which every human needs in order to survive. We also engage and educate communities at home and abroad about how to take steps towards fighting hunger and poverty on a global scale. Along the way, we hope to inspire individuals to join us on our mission, and help each other.

“Joshua’s Heart Foundation was born out of a five year-old’s simple wish to feed the hungry. Since then, the Foundation has distributed over 400,000 pounds of food to those in need."

Nine years ago, this nonprofit came from the experience and imagination of a five-year-old, Joshua Williams.  According to the website, the foundation has over 1,200 youth volunteers and over 2,000 registered adult volunteers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Geoengineering Cetaceans

C. Coimbra photo
Whales are magnificent creatures that are assigned a very big job for the health of our oceans.  Recent studies have indicated that the importance of whales is more valuable than imagined in the past.  Enjoy this video from Sustainable Human, "How Whales Change Climate."

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Holiday Pay It Forward Story

The best part of social media is when a friend posts a story that makes one smile at the kindness of others.  Here is a true (slightly edited) Pay it Forward moment as posted by a friend during this 2014 holiday season:

I rarely post a Facebook entry but today I would feel guilty not sharing my experience. Years ago I saw a movie called Pay it Forward... It was about doing a good deed for someone else if someone does a good deed for you. Well today was a pay it forward moment and I was the recipient.

I stopped at the market on the way home from work and purchased $50 of assorted groceries. When I reached for my wallet, all I grabbed was my fat butt. I remembered that I left my wallet in my personal car (at home) when I was walking the dog yesterday...Well embarrassed as I was telling the checker that I forgot my wallet and will put everything back, the lady behind me said "Don't worry, we will pay for it." ... I realize that I am aged but I was wearing a sport coat with slacks and didn't look homeless. The more I insisted that I could not let them pay for my groceries the more the wife insisted. She then said "Do it for someone else next time." An obvious "pay it forward" moment.

I realize that all of us have given some food or clothing to the needy but I can't recall giving someone who did not need a handout a $50 payday. I am still in shock at the generosity of this woman. She would not even give me her name so I could pay her back.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Spark Kindness" Promotes "kindness and respect"

Spark Kindness is a nonprofit with a mission, “To create a community where no child or family feels alone, bullied, unsupported or unconnected.  We support families, schools, coaches, artists, faith and community leaders in creating a culture that empowers youth and promotes kindness and respect.

“...SPARK Kindness began as a local grass roots community effort that addressed bullying and cyberbullying.  It has now grown into an organization with a broader and more proactive mission.  The goal of SPARK Kindness isn't just to prevent bullying, but to promote KINDNESS and RESILIENCY on a community wide scale.  Further, the mission is to provide resources to families and communities so that they can create a network of SUPPORT for one another.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Santa" Gifts Over 40 Holiday Shoppers

C. Coimbra photo
After spending thousands of dollars at a California Walmart during the holiday season—and not on things for himself—a secret Santa surprised a bunch of holiday shoppers this week.

Your Central Valley reports that a local developer surprised shoppers by either paying off their layaway bills, or simply paying for the gifts that shoppers were running thru checkout.

“...I've been blessed in my life, and I come here every year. And when I see folks buying children's clothes and toys, I just like to do what I can to help them out,” said the generous man.

"He paid my whole bill at the register without me knowing," said one shopper.

Some 40 shoppers benefited from the secret Santa's generosity.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Expedition for Global Peace & Friendship Official

The Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship, has received its NGO status from the government of Nepal.  In a recent letter, leaders wrote,

As we are all eyewitness to the present world that it has badly made paralyzed by the terrorism, violence and the various inhuman activities. Each and every individual in his/her community of their societies around the world have been affected of violence and terror directly or indirectly. Today’s human society is looking forward to getting rid of the violence, terrorism to live peacefully. We all agree that we cannot continue our civilizations, social development and mutual understanding ahead without true peace and real friendship. There is impossible to exercise fundamental human rights without true understanding of peace and friendship, and applying it to our everyday life.

 So, to stand still for the sake of true peace and real friendship, we have planed and fixed a peace campaign named Mt Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship, and to say ‘NO’ to get rid of terrorism, violence and instability around the world.

 It is impossible for mankind to get happiness and progress without true peace and friendship. We would like to remind every individuals living globally that we all need friendship for the peace, and the peace for the development. Just a single person or society can do only a little thing. So we all need to be one for the restoration of peace and friendship, and for the betterment of both mankind and the mother earth. For this reason we are going to welcome the national flags, the national symbols of each and every country around the world to put, and let them fluttering and flying high on the roof of the world—Mt Everest to say YES to peace and friendship.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Basket Brigade for Community Residents in Need

In 2005 the Long Beach Basket Brigade was formed by a small group of individuals driven to make a difference in their local community.  We began in the home of a local Long Beach resident, pulling together all of our resources in order to make a difference.  We came together with a common goal to assist families in need .   That year the Long Beach Basket Brigade raised $2000 and delivered 50 baskets to needy families.   Since that year, we have grown immensely, doubling our efforts every year.  What began on the sofa of one family, gradually has become a powerful group making a difference one family at a time.   In 2009, we established our Non-Profit and were awarded our 501 (c) (3) status.   Every year we raise money and we are able to help struggling families all over the Long Beach Community.  Each year the response from the community is astounding.  Even more impressive is the response from people all over the globe.  We receive donations and encouragement from all over the world.     Individuals and local businesses participate by donating their time and resources,  local residents become a team of volunteers and are given the opportunity to serve,  hundreds of families in need are provided a Thanksgiving feast, and as the result, countless people are filled with gratitude and touched by the generosity of one community uniting together.

Maine Conservation Group Promotes Ocean Education

"Whale for Rent" by BOSMC
The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation's mission is to protect marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine through education, research and conservation.

Blue Ocean Society was founded by two whale watch naturalists, Jen Kennedy and Dianna Schulte, who were frustrated with the lack of translation of open ocean research into information that could be used by the public. We strive to learn more about the Gulf of Maine, and particularly an important habitat called Jeffreys Ledge, and then bring our research to the public through a variety of outreach programs. We hope by sharing information with the public and resource managers, more people will be inspired to learn more about the marine environment and help protect it.

--From Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation website

L.A. Kitchen On Multigenerational Mission

L.A. Kitchen Photo
...Robert Egger could be found on a recent morning, inspecting the renovation of a two-level, 64,000-square-foot space, one-third of which will soon house his latest venture: L.A. Kitchen. It is part nonprofit, part social business, with a multipronged, multigenerational mission to reduce food waste and unemployment while combating hunger and isolation among older adults.

"Old people aren’t on the map," said Mr. Egger, adding that there is not a city or nonprofit in the country prepared for the demographic tsunami of aging baby boomers.

The name of the venture, and its philosophy, might sound familiar. In 1989, Mr. Egger founded DC Central Kitchen, one of the first organizations to take excess food from restaurants and hotels to create meals for the hungry. The success of the model, along with several complementary endeavors and social enterprises that followed, made Mr. Egger a celebrity in Washington and beyond.

Chopra Center Asks, "What's your message to the world?"

C. Coimbra photo
When others commit atrocities against humanity, it makes one wonder how can you or I can make a difference to end such behavior.  Frankly, there are times when it seems that it would take a miracle to transfer the negative thinking of those bent toward violence into persons filled with compassion instead of hostility.

The Chopra Center recently published the following suggestion, “What's your message to the world?”

How you live your life is your silent message to others, and it touches people in ways you’ll never even know. This comes across in your actions toward others, but also in how you approach your everyday life. Your true message is less about “doing” and more about “being.” But the right actions help lead to your ideal state of being.

To better serve yourself and others through action, start your mornings or, better yet, your meditation sessions with two questions: “How can I help?” and “How can I serve?” This will plant the seed of that desire in your heart. The universe will hear you and will begin orchestrating just the right answer for you, so pay attention. Be alert to the signals around you. Then wait, knowing that the answer is in process and will be revealed at just the right time, in just the right way. These promptings can help you act in a way that sends a positive message to others.

So what’s your message? Does how you’re living your life say what you want to say? If not, these nine tips will help you get to where you want to be.

1. Focus on Being. Don’t let yourself get so lost in “doing” that you lose touch with what really matters. The best way to break free from that trap is to meditate. Every day. Tune in to the wisdom of your spirit and let it guide you. Oftentimes your spirit speaks through your body, so learn to listen to your body for its signals of comfort and discomfort. Trust those signals; the body never lies.

2. Pay attention to your thoughts. Notice the habitual thought patterns that keep running through your head. When you see a pattern that doesn’t reflect how you really want to live your life, then change it. Learn to use your mind instead of letting your mind run rampant without any control.

3. Speak only in ways that nurture. If critical thoughts arise, tune in to what your body is feeling and refrain from speaking. Conscious communication avoids the pitfalls of habitual responses.

4. Think outside the box. Find creative ways to work through tough situations. When a problem arises, look for a peaceful solution. If you can’t find a solution, ask your inner wisdom for guidance. Ask yourself, “How do you want me to do this?” Then follow that wisdom when it comes, whether you understand the logic or not.

5. Try to see the other person’s point of view. Sometimes, simply being understood opens the door to unexpected answers.

6. Have a generous heart. Wish for others everything you want for yourself. Be sensitive to their fears and concerns. Compassion leads to understanding, which leads to love, which leads to peace.

7. Let your heart lead you. Whenever you feel a loving impulse, follow it. Let your actions be an act of gratitude for your own blessings.

8. Share yourself, your talents, and your gifts in whatever ways you can. A generous heart is an abundant heart.

9. Expand your boundaries. Learn to see beyond the limitations that seem real, and empower yourself to push past those boundaries.

Actions always speak louder than words. As you live from your highest and best self, others will be inspired to do the same. What you do and how you do it sets an example others will follow, whether you know it or not. Your life is your message, and it will be heard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Cleaner" Atlantic Waters Might be Humpback Whale Attraction

Humpback whale tail photo by C. Coimbra
No everyone has experienced the awe and joy of watching humpback whale frolic in the water.  They are creatures of joy, and it appears that they have returned to the waters outside of New York City.  Here is an excerpt from a recent story:

"It is truly remarkable, within miles of the Empire State Building, to have one of the largest and most charismatic species ever to be on this planet," said Howard Rosenbaum, director of the Ocean Giants program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, as quoted by the Associated Press.

An impressive 87 humpback whale sightings have been reported this year, with at least 19 distinct humpbacks identified based on their markings.

Humpback reports have been increasing since 2010, and 33 were reported in 2013.

"It was pretty slim pickings at first, actually," Paul Sieswerda, founder of Gotham Whale, told the AP. "We went on many cruises and had three sightings totaling five whales in 2011."

Conservationists like Rosenbaum say the higher number of whale sightings may be related to cleaner water and other environmental factors.

--From Auto News

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Drones Discourage Rhino Poachers

A South Africa news source reports:
Wikipedia photo, license-free

The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal has reported a 92% reduction in rhino poaching incidents during a year-long project involving...drones.

...the custom-made drones clocked over 3,600 flying hours across in four separate deployments across an area home to one of the biggest rhino populations in the world.

...It’s fleet of  drone aircraft was used to stream live video via satellite to ‘armchair pilots’ on the ground.

During the initial one month-long pilot project not a single rhino was lost inside Hluhluwe-Imfolozi.

...“Finally some good news in the war against rhino poaching,” said Shaya chief operations officer, Ben van Dyk. “We’ve proved the value of drone technology in the fight against rhino poaching. The world urgently needs a solution to the poaching crisis, and we believe we’ve found it.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A "Prescription of Hope and Healing"

Photo from Good magazine
The troubles stemming from Ferguson, MO naturally attracts those who thrive on disruption. Consequently, merchants with businesses in areas where trouble may arise proactively covered their store windows with plywood.  And everyone knows that once a business district is thick with boarded up windows, the negative impact strikes both the business owners and the community.

“...a coalition of St. Louis City Alderwomen and community improvement groups hatched a plan almost immediately,” reports Good magazine.” So they put out a call to the artists of St. Louis via social media. Paint us, they said. Paint the front of our restaurants and shops with any imagery you choose.

“Very quickly, the dun-colored boards were transformed into colorful prescriptions of hope and healing for a polarized city...Some of the art has already been earmarked for the collection of the Missouri History Museum, said one source. They’re soon-to-be historic artifacts.

“ 'We’ve had a setback, but the art project is a demonstration of how resilient and connected to each other we all are,' said St. Louis Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia. “Now, this is a jumping-off point for future work we can do together as a community, too.'”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Surfers Set to Save Baja California's San Miquel

C. Coimbra photo
...The international organization, Save The Waves, that is working with Mexican locals to turn the wave and surrounding watershed into a State Park before it’s too late. The campaign, if successful, will preserve not only one of the best waves on the Baja Peninsula but one of the last intact watersheds. Save The Waves is trying to generate 10,000 signatures to send to the Governor of Baja CA, and demonstrate the international support for preservation of San Miguel as Baja California’s first state park.

“We have the chance to do something proactive,” said Nik Strong-Cvetich, Executive Director of Save The Waves Coalition, “and protect something before it needs saving.”

--From The Inertia

Ocean Friendly Gardens Catch On

C. Coimbra Photo
The Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program undertook an awesome effort in 2013, detailed in a newly released annual report. Surfrider chapters, volunteers, student clubs and staff that make up the program implemented an interconnected set of program objectives. They educated the public about a watershed approach to urban runoff, conducted hands-on activities and engaged government agencies to shift policy and programming.

A total of 35 chapters or school clubs participated in 2013, offering a spectrum of activities including indoor classes, hands-on workdays, neighborhood walks, meetings with government officials and more.

While most Surfrider chapter Ocean Friendly Garden programs have been concentrated along the west coast, more and more took hold along the east coast. Programs got launched in Hawaii, strengthened in the Southeast, and seeds were planted in the Northeast. Overall, there was a strong increase in activity during 2012.

Even more interesting than the activities or garden builds is what chapters are accomplishing through their events:

Increased public understanding of how landscapes and hardscapes can be effectively altered to prevent pollution; and the establishment of successful partnerships with governments and local stakeholders to educate about and train through building Ocean Friendly Gardens.

--From Surfrider

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Caring for Disabled Animals

Storybook Acres photo
It's normal for one Daily Prism story to lead us to another with a similar theme.  And that's exactly how we discovered Storybook Acres Disabled Animal Rescue.   St. Francis must be smiling.  The following is from the nonprofit's website:

In our country kitchen sits a wooden rocking chair where animals get cuddled and rocked.  During a visit to Storybook Acres you would 
find animals coming and going to warm up by the fireplace or snacking on cookies and milk.

On this European farm we have goats with congenital joint deformities, a dog and pig that are blind, and a dog with a permanent hip injury pygmy, togenberg, alpine goats, a miniature donkey, chickens, ducks, and sheep. We use herbal medication made right in Michele’s kitchen.  Our herbal cleaners, muscle rubs, bug repellents, and soaps are used by the family and animals alike.

Living on a farm is a privilege.  We take our blessings seriously and 
hopefully earn the right to live this very happy life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Kind Act for an Ill Stray Kitten

Stray kitten photo from GoFundMe
Often it is the tiniest gifts that surprise us.

In this case, it was a tiny kitten found recently.

A business owner ready to decorate her shop, spotted the injured and ill kitten curled beneath a parked pickup truck.  She tried to find the owner of the cat, but when no one showed, she took the kitten to the local veterinarian.  Even with broken bones throughout her body, the veterinarian said the cat could be saved.  The bill, however, will be over $2,500.

The rescuer can't really afford this entire bill, and posted photos and the kitten's story on GoFundMe.

A social media campaign to raise these funds is bringing out the best in the human spirit.  Kindness and compassion is showcased in this fundraising project, and numerous others in an effort to bring "comfort and joy" to those both human and animals in need.

UPDATE!!! Here is the good news about how generously people have responded to "Itty."

Monday, December 8, 2014

Impact Volunteering

Cities of Service is a coalition of nearly 200 cities whose mayors are committed to using volunteer service to solve local pressing challenges. Many cities hire chief service officers to drive and increase the reach and impact of their efforts. From helping to decrease high school dropout rates to increasing energy efficiency in city buildings, coalition members work together, learn from each other, establish and replicate best practices to improve lives in their cities, across the United States, and around the world.

At the core of Cities of Service are the community members who step up to volunteer to make improvements in their own cities. These volunteers work one-on-one with struggling students, dig dirt to plant community gardens to help feed their neighbors, get trained and certified in CPR to be ready for potential emergencies, paint over thousands of square feet of graffiti, and much more.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Medical Students Committed to Women's Health

MuSigma Phi Sorority photo
"Since 2009, the Mu Sigma Phi Sorority of the UP College of Medicine has reached out to over a thousand women across the Philippines through its project, Mu Health Caravan Women Empowerment and Literacy through Health Education (W.E.A.L.T.H.) Campaign, which has already established a total of 13 legs in different provinces in the country. Integrating health lectures on various issues concerning women with screening procedures to battle women’s diseases in their early stages, the Mu Caravan promotes an empowering and holistic approach for women’s health. For its 4th leg this year, members of the Mu Sigma Phi Sorority travelled 631 km to visit Pamplona, Cagayan and serve over 200 women and Barangay health workers through a series of interactive lectures, as well as screening procedures such as breast examination and pap smear," notes a volunteers' website.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Generous Grant for Study of Endangered Forest

C. Coimbra Photo
The rare and endangered Monterey pine forests has taken another hit with the worst drought in 1,200 years of regional history.

The Gertrude and Leonard Fairbanks Foundation recently awarded a generous grant to “describe the condition of the forest and give...the best ideas for preserving...rare and endangered mised Monterey pine forests,” according to a recent news report.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Remedies Ordered for Jailed Human Rights Activists

Human rights, as defined by the United Nations: “...are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.”

Amnesty International expands with, “Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression; and social, cultural and economic rights including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, and the right to work and receive an education. Human rights are protected and upheld by international and national laws and treaties.”

Formerly imprisoned and tortured for his human rights legal work as a human rights attorney in Nepal,  Jitman Basnet “founded Lawyers’ Forum for Human Rights (LAFHUR), a pro-bono lawyers’ network, working in the field of transitional justice...LAFHUR provides free legal service to the victims of human rights violations, including women, children and the poor who do not have access to justice,” :according to Front Line Defenders.

A recent petition to the UN Human RightCommittee by LAFHUR returned a positive decision, that according to Basnet, “This is a step forward toward the justice but practical path is still challenging ahead. At least it gives hope for many victims who are waiting justice for years. The real Justice will be cheered when decision is fully implemented. My sincere thanks to TRIAL team, HRC, journalists, friends, family, colleagues and all supporters for continue backup and solidarity.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Executives Sleep on Streets for Big Money

The Covenant House shelters 1,900 young people in 27 cities across North America every night, while providing other services.

To help support the nonprofit's mission,”With the noise of the Hollywood Freeway in the not-so-distant background, studio executives, lawyers, a luxury-jeans titan, and this reporter curled up on flattened cardboard boxes for a night spent sleeping—or not—on cold asphalt. Each had forked over at least $5,000 for the privilege,” writes Megan O'Neil for Philanthropy Today.

The report continues, “It might have been the most unlikely sleepover in Los Angeles. Not only did the gathering take place in an open-air parking lot, but any of the three dozen attendees could have afforded a room at the nearby Roosevelt Hotel...Crazy or not, the event, known formally as the Covenant House Sleep-Out: Executive Edition, raised nearly $200,000 for Covenant House’s Los Angeles site. It was one of 15 sleep-outs that took place overnight Thursday in cities across the United States and Canada.”

“Over 950 leaders from the business, entertainment, and sports industries slept on the streets to raise funds and awareness for our homeless kids at Covenant House shelters.  The result was over $5 million raised to bring food, shelter, home, and hope to homeless youth across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America,” reports the Covenant House.

Monday, December 1, 2014

World Faith Leaders To Gather on Dec. 2, 2014

“A major global faith initiative to end modern-day slavery is taking root. Leading religious representatives and the Walk Free Foundation signed a groundbreaking agreement last month at the Vatican to work together, establishing the Global Freedom Network. The network will have a reach of more than 2.6 billion people – over a third of the world’s population,” wrote a Vatican newspaper in April 2014.

On Dec. 2, 2014, for the first time in history, leaders of the world’s largest faiths will come together with the goal to end slavery.

“Committed to the dignity and freedom that is the birthright of all humankind, Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Orthodox leaders will sign a Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery on World Day for the Abolition of Slavery,” announced the Global Freedom website.

“The Walk Free™ Foundation’s mission is to end modern slavery in our generation by mobilising a global activist movement, generating the highest quality research, enlisting business and working with government to drive change in those countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for slavery today,” according to the website,

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fitness, Wellness, Service, Nutrition for Teens

The just keep livin foundation  (j.k. livin) is based on the idea that part of living is about giving back.

In keeping with the mindset and goals of j.k. livin, the foundation has set up fitness and wellness programs in public schools where students might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the body and mind connection.

We have partnered with other non-profit organizations in each local community to implement fitness and wellness programs in inner-city high schools. In our after school programs, we encourage students to make positive life choices to improve their physical and mental health through exercise, teamwork, gratitude, nutrition and community service. Participating students have a safe place to enhance their lives with fitness coaches and health experts. The results have been incredible. Participants lose weight and gain confidence while also improving their grades, attendance and behavior. Friendships are built and fears are overcome. At our j.k. livin after school programs, kids learn self-reliance and get a healthy start today, so they can make a better tomorrow.

--From the J.K. Livin Foundation website

Friday, November 28, 2014

More Volunteers Turn Out for Beach Cleaning

More than 66,000 people picked up cans, bottles and other trash along California's beaches, rivers and lakes during this year's annual Coastal Cleanup. And they also picked up the pace of public participation in the state's largest volunteer event, ending three years in a row of declining turnout.
The final numbers from the Sept. 20 event, released this past week, show that 1,129,332 pounds of debris were collected statewide this year -- an increase of 51 percent from last year.

And the 66,292 people who joined in the cleanup effort to haul in all that trash surpassed last year, when 58,158 volunteers turned out for the Saturday morning event.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Generosity Overflows in Barrels

When I went to the local bank to drop off food and toy donations for a local campaign to feed the hungry and round up toys for disadvantaged kids, Season of Hope, the barrels overflowed with a community's generosity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Giving to Immigrant Families in Detention

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has committed to writing and distributing holiday cards to 1,700 women and children held in family immigration detention facilities by Christmas of 2014.

From the website:

What is family immigration detention?

Over the past year, we have witnessed a stark increase in the number of children and families fleeing their home countries in Central America to seek protection in the U.S. In response, the federal government quickly opened two new family detention facilities in Artesia, New Mexico and in Karnes County, Texas. A third facility is currently being constructed in Dilley, Texas and there is discussion around expanding the Berks family detention center, the only one in existence prior to the summer of 2014.

Although a daily reality for many, feelings of isolation and hopelessness are only intensified during the holiday season. While we enjoy abundant feasts and celebration, our incarcerated friends remain separated from the love of their family, the support of their friends, and the comfort of their traditions.

How can I help?

Give the gift of HOPE this holiday season by joining our mission to send a greeting card to every woman and child in family detention centers this December. We ask all congregations and individuals to write encouraging messages of hope on seasonal greeting cards in Spanish to bring light and joy to families in detention.

Monday, November 24, 2014

U.S. Families Begin Holiday Season with Volunteering

National Family Volunteer Day took over most of last weekend, according to a few national media reports.

“Family Volunteer Day is a day of service that demonstrates and celebrates the power of families who volunteer together, supporting their neighborhoods, communities and the world...Family Volunteer Day is strategically held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to “kick-off” the holiday season with giving and service. It also signals the start of National Family Week, sponsored by the Alliance for Children and Families and the Annie E. Casey Foundation,” according to the Points of Light website.

In Logan, Utah, over 82 volunteers gathered inside an elementary school gymnasium where they “...all got together for our clothing drive and started folding and sorting all of the clothing donations we got,” said Shonna Ferree from AmeriCorps Vista. “We had 82 people here last night folding and sorting and setting up tables. They were here for three hours. We invited people back today to kind of finish everything up.”

“Tonight we specifically reached out to refugee families in Cache Valley,” Ferree said.

Ferree said the event has grown so much over the past few years that this year’s may end up being a much bigger community event.

In Roanoke Valley, Virginia, families decided to begin spreading holiday cheer. They made holiday cards for seniors in their communities that will be delivered via a volunteer operated food delivery program

In Redding, California, families continued the spread of holiday cheer by making toys for animals at an exploration park, and dusting off, sorting and repairing holiday ornaments for the park.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

No Roadside Litter Allowed

Most of us are tidy.  We don't toss our trash out from our vehicle's window.  But, there are those who just don't get it and they toss their cups, bottles, wrappers, baby diapers, and all kinds of ugly stuff onto highways, byways, and even private streets.

The good news:  the thousands of wonderful volunteers who take to their community roads and pick up the trash that others mindlessly toss out the window.

When we did a search on roadside cleanup volunteers, nearly every state in the U.S. has a program that welcomes these good hearted, tidy-mindful persons.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Gratitude Party!

According to some research, the impact of any repeated exercise can wear off, so surprise your gratitude center. This comes from Christine Carter, Ph.D., a sociologist, happiness expert, and a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center:

Throw a gratitude party

One day, in the midst of planning her own 25th birthday…Kate realized that her birthday party might not live up to her expectations. She wanted her party to be special, and she wanted to feel celebrated…

And then it hit her: If she kept thinking about herself so darn much, she was bound to feel disappointed. So she radically changed course. Here is the gist of the email I got from her:

…I’m writing you because I’m on a mission! As you probably don’t know, my 25th birthday is coming up, and rather than going the traditional route and having a blowout party for myself, I’m going to throw a SURPRISE party for my parents.  It’ll be a kind of “Thank You for My Birth(day)” party. I cannot wait!

…The party was better than anyone ever dreamed—for Kate and her parents, but also for all the guests. Kate gave us all the incredibly powerful gift of extreme gratitude.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Millions Donated to Ebola Fight from Technology Moguls

"Money from private philanthropies, notably those associated with billionaire technology moguls, has become critically important to assisting aid workers on the front lines of the Ebola battle in West Africa, writes The Washington Post. About half of the $348-million in Ebola giving to date has come from Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

"Much of the private money has been channeled through the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit affiliated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has been able to deploy donated funds more quickly and flexibly than direct government aid, which must work through the politically charged appropriations process and a sometimes sluggish bureaucracy. The federal government has contributed or committed $423-million to the Ebola fight, according to the United Nations."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rain Gardens for Salmon

The Associated Press recently published a report on how highly prized salmon were dying from the runoff from busy highways—a toxic mix of “dirt, metals, oil and other gunk that washes off highway pavement after rains and directly into Puget Sound.”

Researchers went to work, and here is an excerpt from the AP story:  
When that runoff was filtered through a simple mixture of gravel, sand and compost, however, the outlook was much brighter. Salmon exposed to treated water were healthy and responsive, even after 24 hours.

The research being conducted by scientists with NOAA, Washington State University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a promising solution to stormwater pollution, a major problem for Puget Sound and other streams and lakes in the nation.

With pollution from industrial pipes closely regulated, cities and states are more often tackling stormwater runoff that results from everyday activities: oils from leaky cars, pesticides from lawns and other pollutants that wash off roads and sidewalks and into streams and lakes.

Across the country, there's been an aggressive push for rain gardens and other green techniques that rely on vegetation, soil or natural elements to slow and filter stormwater.

"The results are pretty stark," said Jenifer McIntyre, a researcher with WSU who is part of salmon experiment. "So far, what we're seeing is that, absolutely, things like rain gardens are going to be part of the solution.”

…”It’s really promising, showing that rain gardens and bio-filtration are removing the pollutants that are killing the salmon," said Chris Wilke with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

African Stars Release Ebola PSA in a Song

Long before and Irish producer assembled some pop stars to make a Christmas charity record to raise funds to battle the spread of ebola, three of Africa's top musicians wrote and released “Africa Stop Ebola.”

All proceeds from this song go to: Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders MSF

Public service announcements can be useful, particularly if their messages are presented by celebrities. But a catchy song, performed by a starry cast, can be even better. That, at any rate, is the reasoning behind “Africa Stop Ebola,” a new song packed with information about what people can do to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus, for which some of Africa’s top musicians – among them the reggae singer Tiken Jah Fakoly, the duo Amadou & Mariam and the rapper Didier Awadi – have banded together.

The song, which was written by Kandia Kora and Sekou Kouyaté, both of whom are among the performers, is based on ideas and lyrics sketched out by Carlos Chirinos, a professor at New York University who specializes in music, radio and social change. It runs about five and a half minutes, and is packed with warnings (not to touch the bodies of the sick or the dead, to avoid shaking hands) and encouragements (trust doctors, wash your hands).

“We are trying to build the public’s confidence in the public health sector,” Mr. Chirinos said in a telephone interview from London. “This is where the stature of the artists is so important. They are all recognized and respected in their countries, and we felt that people would listen to them. We are combating myths about Ebola not being real, or that it is something that can be cured by a church, or a traditional healer. There have been cases where health teams have turned up at a village and were turned away, or were stoned – some people have been killed. So we’re trying to send a message, that the only way to stop Ebola is to trust in the health services. And also, that there is hope – that the crisis can be overcome.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tiny Village for Tiny Homes for the Homeless

Madison, Wisconsin is "...a city with a homeless population that has risen by 7 percent over the last four years to about 3,370, Occupy Madison organizers decided to tell their local leaders to “put up or shut up” and developed a non profit organization Occupy Madison Inc. In June 2013 OM Build was born and Tiny Homes was decided on as a solution.

"To achieve their goals of a Tiny Village complete with 9 tiny homes, permanent comprehensive day resource center, safer places to sleep at night, as well as access to restrooms, showers, laundry, community gardening space, and other basic needs for people experiencing homelessness, OM Build realized that they would need to work from within the system. The hard and relentless work paid off. Scheduled for November 15th 2014 is a Ribbon Cutting Event for The first Tiny Village for the Homeless in Madison."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Serving Undocumented Immigrant Children

--Excerpted from Philanthropy Today

In past years, the Latin American Association in Atlanta provided full legal representation to about 40 undocumented immigrant children seeking asylum in the United States, according to Executive Director Jeffrey Tapia.

This year, it’s taking on 120 cases.

"We have children who arrive here not speaking for months because they have endured trauma and violence that is unimaginable," Ms. Tapia said...

...The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, in Washington, will provide legal services to about 1,000 children this year, twice the number it served in 2013, according to Executive Director Kathy Doan.

"We have slowly been increasing our children’s program, but this summer it basically just exploded," Ms. Doan said. "In the last couple of months we have essentially doubled our staff. I’m now subleasing three additional offices in [our] building so we are now on four floors."

Ayuda, a nonprofit with offices in Washington and Falls Church, Va., served 94 undocumented children in 2013, according to interim executive director Barbara Laur. In the first 10 months of 2014, it saw 198. The nonprofit currently has about 30 full-time staff members, including seven lawyers who each spend at least some time on cases involving children, Ms. Laur says. Legal representation costs about $1,500 per child, she estimated.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Smart About Trees

Imagine the human condition without trees.  Even the deserts harbor trees.  The human condition, however, sometimes neglects a tree's importance to our environment.  Today we feature Smart Trees Pacific, a nonprofit that works to keep trees a part of Hawaii's legacy, even in the state's urban areas where trees are often replaced with concrete.

From their website:

Smart Trees Pacific (STP) recognizes that Hawaii’s tropical urban trees are a dynamic resource and play a critical role in island communities. Besides the traditional environmental benefits of trees, tropical urban forests are the first line of defense from catastrophic storms and inland water runoff that can impact coral reefs and near shore marine ecosystems, they minimize the effects of climate change occurrences such as a sea level rise and coastal erosion, and they are a dramatic and visual backdrop for Hawaii’s economic engine – tourism. STP has extensive knowledge (more than 40 years collectively) that demonstrates our knowledge and skills in Urban Forestry. Over the past ten years board members have shown their ability to initiate community environmental change through collaborative working groups to:
  • recommend an integrated course of action to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species on the native ecosystems
  • analyze Honolulu’s street tree resource structure, function, value and management needs
  • investigate whether trees could be measures of protection in coastal areas
  • assess Honolulu’s tree canopy
  • develop an urban forestry emergency operations planning toolkit

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Teaching Kindness and Caring

"Making Caring Common (MCC) helps educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, respectful, and responsible toward others and their communities. We’re working to make these values live and breathe in the day-to-day interactions of every school and home. We’re working to make caring common.

"MCC uses research, expertise, and insight to develop effective strategies for elevating kindness and caring, influence the national conversation about raising and educating children, and develop partnerships to enhance our work and elevate our common message.

"After a successful pilot with more than 35 diverse schools nationwide, MCC is excited to launch our new Caring Schools Initiative (CSI). Participating middle and high schools will use survey data and research-based strategies to promote safety, caring, and respect, as well as to develop and implement effective action plans."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Against the Law for Love

The Daily Prism found this current event a showcase of those who give selflessly. It is the opinion of The Daily Prism that we are our brother's keepers and that there are times when standing against a law that prevents kindness is a shard of light.

For more than 20 years, Arnold Abbott has been feeding the homeless in his hometown of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, through his group Love Thy Neighbor.

On Sunday, he was arrested under the city's controversial new ordinance that bans public feedings and faces up to two months in jail. Arnold is 90 years old. After his arrest, he said, 'These are the poorest of the poor, they have nothing, they don't have a roof over their heads. How do you turn them away?'

Abbott plans to fight the charges, just as he did in when he sued the city -- and won -- in 1999 when it tried to stop him from feeding the homeless on the beach. 'I don't do things to purposefully aggravate the situation,' said Abbott. 'I'm trying to work with the city. Any human has the right to help his fellow man.' “

From: Growing Bolder

Monday, November 10, 2014

Those Who Nurse the Ill

The deadly disease, ebola, has dominated international headlines while The Daily Prism was on a temporary hiatus.  Doctors Without Borders takes the news-lead in this battle, but what we couldn't help but notice are the nurses who give care and treatment to victims of this deadly disease. 

Nursing, as anyone who has experienced nursing care, can be a career choice that benefits all elements of healing.  There are numerous choices that interested and potential students may not be aware of their availability.

Nurse Without Borders is an internet site designed to bring “...useful nursing career resources on the internet.   We offer career descriptions, expert interviews, and licensing and degree path information, employer profiles, and organization profiles for anyone that is interested in pursuing Nursing as a career,” writes the nonprofit website.

It goes on to explain how the website“...specializes in bringing free career resources to students and interested parties.   Our focus is to be a part of educating the world about the career of nursing, shedding light on the realities of this profession, dispelling myths and reinforcing truths about what nursing is really about.

“We also support the act of volunteering in the nursing community.  We are firm believers that volunteering and helping others in the community is a part of the journey of a nurse and thus provides amazing personal growth opportunities to anyone that pursues those goals.  We would like to help be a part of that growth and this journey with you.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Share the Beauty, Spread Peace

The Daily Prism editor has work to do--raising funds for a worthy nonprofit.  Thru the end of October, The Daily Prism will rest.  It returns in early November, after a mindful retreat among the trees.

Meanwhile, during this time when we call last summer a "Bummer Summer," with its residual negative news still flooding our eyes and ears, we encourage daily readers to seek peace, be joyful, be mindful, give back, and speak gently.  These are the secret weapons that have and will continue to combat all forms of negativity.