Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Vision to Empower Kenyan Girls

Mission With a Vision photo
Mission With a Vision is a non-religious, non-political, non-profit group in the Republic of Kenya.  It was formed to "stamp our female genital mutilation and forced early marriage.  It later expanded its program to poverty alleviation, malaria,  HIV prevention, a provision of clean water and sanitation."

The organization states, "We believe if we empower the woman, we have empowered the society.  our focus is to train women on how they can start and sustain income generating projects."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Caring for Pets of the Homeless

Photo from Pets of the Homeless
Pro-Bone-O is an Oregon non-profit that is solely dedicated to providing free veterinary services, food and supplies for the pets of people who are homeless. Through Pro-Bone-O’s work, they met people who, for a variety of reasons, could not afford veterinary care for the pets who brought them love, security and a sense of purpose. Their three goals remain are the non-profit’s mission.
Pro-Bone-O operates two free clinics per month in a space generously provided by the Community Veterinary Center. Each volunteer-run clinic provides medical exams, vaccinations, flea treatments, nail trims, food and referrals to spay/neuter or emergency medical procedure.
Another organization, Pets of the Homeless, can be found in local communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.  According to their website:
  • Over 10,700 pets of the homeless were successfully vaccinated and/or treated for illness or injuries.  Many were spayed or neutered.
  • Over 295 tons of pet food and supplies were dispersed to the homeless and disadvantaged who own pets across the U.S. and Canada.

A recent Psychology Today article states, “…in many cases the animals are the lifeline and reason for living for these people without a home, human beings living in a stigmatized and marginalized environment in which few if any would choose to live.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

1-Million Acres Donated To Chilean State for National Parks

Outspoken billionaire environmentalist Douglas Tompkins has defined plans to donate several large tracts of Patagonian wilderness to the Chilean state, the latest and possibly last of the U.S. retired businessman’s grand-scale land gifts in the country.
…plans to transfer the land from the Conservation Land Trust (CLT) — private company set up by Tompkins to manage his numerous estates — to the government would see around 1 million acres of territory passed to the government, under the sole condition it be made into several national parks.
The largest section of the proposed donation, the Pumalín Park, is 742,000 acres of dramatic scenery located at the gateway to Patagonia proper situated in the Los Lagos Region.
…Also likely to be donated is 65,000 acres in the Magallanes Region, named Cabo León, and Ex Estancia Chacabuco, a 200,000 acre tract in the Aysén Region.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bragging Rights for Ocean Environmentalists

This past weekend, Oceana hosted the seventh-annual SeaChange Summer Party, a sold-out fundraiser event that raised $1.4 million for the oceans…The program this year focused on protecting the waters off the California coast, and Oceana’s California campaign director Geoff Shester inspired the audience by sharing how the Oceana approach has already produced results in protecting the Pacific. 
“Oceana got more than 140,000 square miles of fragile seafloor habitat off this coast closed to destructive bottom trawling. This is an ocean area nearly the size of the state of California! We protected more than 40,000 square miles of critical feeding habitat for the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle off the West Coast,” Shester told the audience. “And we helped ban the sale and trade of shark fins in California, Oregon, and Washington…”

“For seven years, everyone involved with SeaChange has contributed to raising millions of dollars; dollars that provide Oceana with the resources to make a direct, positive, and real impact on the oceans. We’ve raised a staggering $7 million for the oceans!”
--From Oceana

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Concert Proceeds Benefit Cage-Free Animal Shelter

Billy Joel donated all the profits from a New York concert to an animal shelter.
The 'Uptown Girl' hitmaker has been hailed a ''hero'' by Beth Stern - the wife of controversial U.S. DJ Howard Stern - after he gave the proceeds from his Madison Square Garden birthday show in May to help her with Bianca's Furry Friends, a facility at the North Shore Animal League America in the city that will provide a cage-free home for shelter cats and dogs.
She told Social Life magazine: ''Billy is my hero. Howard and I call him 'Saint Billy.' Because of his huge donation, we are on target to break ground next spring!''
Beth also revealed Billy, 65, and his girlfriend Alexis Roderick have adopted two rescue dogs.
--From AZ Central

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pop Star Benefits Homeless Issue

Pop star Miley Cyrus sent a homeless man to the podium at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday to accept her prize for video of the year and simultaneously kicked off an online fundraiser for a Los Angeles charity serving homeless young people, reports The New York Times.
Taking the stage after Ms. Cyrus’s name was called for her “Wrecking Ball” video, the man identified himself as Jesse and said he was “accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving and lost and scared for their lives. I know, because I am one of those people.”

At the same time the singer’s social-media pages introduced a fundraiser for My Friend’s Place, which provides housing, health care, and other assistance to homeless people ages 12 to 25. Donors will be entered in a prize lottery for a chance to join Ms. Cyrus on tour in Rio de Janeiro. She was advised in the effort by Global Philantrophy Group’s Trevor Neilson, a prominent consultant on celebrity giving.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chinchilla Fur Farm Bought by Animal Rights Activist

(Reuters) - Hollywood mogul and co-creator of The Simpsons, Sam Simon, has bought a chinchilla farm in Southern California as part of a drive by animal rights activists to close the breeding facility.
In what all parties described as a "win-win" deal, 90-year-old owner Lurlie Adams was able to offload the farm she did not want any more to Simon for $50,000. And the 425 chinchillas were moved to much larger cages while awaiting adoption.
The San Diego Humane Society also received a $100,000 donation from Simon to care for the furry animals, which will be offered to new homes at a cost of $25 each.
"This is your last day of abuse," Simon, 59, told the animals as he walked somewhat unsteadily through the facility's cramped rows of mesh-wire cages on Tuesday, accompanied by a nurse. "This is your first day of freedom."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Humanitarians Rush to Assist Nepal Landslide Victims

NEPAL.  Heavy rain since 13 Aug, has triggered floods across at least 17 districts. 89 people died, 39 people were injured and 128 people remain missing. Access along major roads, including the East West Highway, is limited. 5.220 houses are submerged and 428 houses have collapsed.
Humanitarian partners have strengthened their presence on the ground to support the delivery of food, water and medication. Logistics remain a major problem.
Caritas Nepal is responding…The government has evacuated thousands of people to safer locations, but the evacuees “don’t have cooked food or basic items like blankets and mattresses,” says Arpana Karki, Programme Coordinator for Caritas Nepal’s Disaster Management Department. “They’re sleeping on the bare ground.” Arpana says the evacuees also do not have proper access to drinking water and sanitation.
Though travel is difficult due to washed-away roads, Caritas has mobilised its field staff and local partners to aid families in districts like Banke, Bardiya, Surkhet and Dang. “Our regional staff have been taking vehicles to the affected areas when they can, though some roads are impassable because of flooded culverts,” says Karki.
Caritas plans to provide food such as rice, lentils and cooking oil, along with essential items like blankets, tarps, and material to purify water. “People are staying in camps, so we might have to have a mess programme where people can have cooked meals,” says Karki. “But once the water recedes, we expect some percentage of people to go back home.”

Foundation Supports Tropical Andes Conservation

The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced grants totaling $3.4 million in support of conservation and sustainable development in the southern Tropical Andes.
Grants were awarded to fifteen nonprofit organizations working in Colombia and Ecuador to help preserve natural and productive ecosystems from the effects of climate change and development and secure their benefits for human well-being. Grant recipients include the Runa Foundation, which was awarded $325,000 to create incentives for sustainable forest management and strengthen the community resource rights of indigenous Kichwa in the upper Napo watershed in the Ecuadorian Amazon; Conservation International, which will receive $200,000 to create digital tools and bolster provincial and municipal planning processes to promote ecosystem conservation in the Ecuador portion of the Mira watershed; and Corporacion Semillas de Agua, which was awarded $200,000 to reduce the effects of cattle ranching and open-pit gold mining on biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems in the central Magdalena-Cauca watershed of Colombia.

Volunteers Glean Post-Harvest Fields for Needy

Rachel’s Table, a Springfield, Mass., non-profit, gathers volunteer harvesters in late summer and early fall to glean ugly, but perfectly edible produce left behind in area farms.  The harvest is  “up for grabs” by food service organizations.

The beauty of this project is the fresh local produce that agencies don’t normally receive. “When we bring in apples and watermelon, people’s eyes light up,” the nonprofit’s founder told Vegetarian Times.  

Volunteers are often students. “It’s an amazing way for them to think about how they can give back in their community, and where their food comes from, and what choices they will make in buying food,” the founder said.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Surfers Help Patients with Cystic Fibrosis

C. Coimbra Photo
The Mauli Ola Foundation in Laguna Beach, California, naturally treats people with cystic fibrosis by teaching them how to surf.
Researchers have found that the ocean’s salt water helps to clear and open up patients’ lungs that are clogged by thick mucous. And while surfing might not be a cure, Australian doctors discovered that cystic fibrosis patients who surfed breathed better than those who did not, according to the Associated Press.
World champion surfer Josh Baxter volunteers with Mauli Ola and helped teach the (local kids with cystic fibrosis) how to surf. “They’re spitting up their mucous. I mean, I’m out there going, ‘Hey, cough it up man. No shame,’” Baxter told the Associated Press.

The Mauli Ola Foundation began as a group of surfers who banded together to introduce surfing as a natural treatment to people with cystic fibrosis. Since 2007, Mauli Ola has taken nearly 1,300 CF patients surfing at nearly 100 Surf Experience Days and has now expanded it’s reach with hospital visits and other activities that touch the lives of kids with cancer and a variety of other health challenges. have cystic fibrosis.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Water For the Critters During Drought

This photo and suggestion came from a social media post yesterday.

"This is something I have been doing to help out our wildlife in the area since the creeks are dry. What got me started is when I noticed the foxes going into my goat pen to get their drink and of course the goats weren't jumping for joy . So I decided to put a bucket out just for them at the edge of my property and before I knew it, it was the place to go! I have seen all kinds of birds at it, and just last week we watch 4 large bucks come to drink and even had a little stand off over it. What I want to ask is, if you can fill a bucket and set it out for our wildlife too it might help out some of our little friends that we all love. Let pay it forward for our little friends and give them a drink. This shot was taken from my kitchen table about 100 yards. We want them to have their space and water too. Don't forget to fill your bucket before 10 am or after 5 pm. Also if possible put under shade tree. Thank you for helping out our little friends."

Thousands Stand Together in Peaceful Protests Across U.S.

It reads as though someone made a terrible mistake when an unarmed young man was shot and killed  by law enforcement. Compounding the first error in judgement was what appears to be over-reaction by the same law enforcement agency to US citizens who protested in the street.  Then something happened...

  • in San Francisco
  • in Philadelphia
  • in Milwaukee 
  • in Chicago
  • in Colorado Springs
  • in Indianapolis
  • in Phoenix
  • in Miami
  • in Los Angeles
  • in Seattle
  • in Washington, D. C.
  • in Eugene
  • in Detroit
  • in Denver
  • in Nashville
  • in Baltimore
  • in Montgomery
  • in Oakland
  • in Pittsburgh
  • in Des Moines
  • in Brooklyn
  • in Portland
  • in Atlanta
  • in San Diego
  • in Orlando
  • in Austin
  • in Burlington
  • in Boston
  • in Minneapolis
  • in New Orleans
  • in Manhattan

citizens came together in a moment of silence and peaceful protests to decry the unfortunate incident in Ferguson, Mo when a young man lost his life in the street.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

An Empathy Quiz

At The Daily Prism, we often highlight words like empathy and compassion.  We feel that when these two elements of human behavior are more prominent, a path to both personal and communal peace shows itself.  

"Empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. Research suggests that empathic people tend to be more generous and concerned with others’ welfare, and they also tend to have happier relationships and greater personal well-being. Empathy can also improve leadership ability and facilitate effective communication,"  writes the Greater Good website.

Do you consider yourself empathetic?  Are you unsure?  Do you want to discover the level of your empathy?  Well, there's a test for that.

"The quiz will help you find out. It draws from three scientifically validated scales that researchers have created to measure empathy: the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire, developed by Nathan Spreng and his colleagues; the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, developed by Mark Davis; and the Emotion Specific Empathy Questionnaire, developed by Sally Olderbak and her colleagues."

Visit the Greater Good website and take their Empathy Quiz.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Music To My Ears--Student Musicians "Play it Forward"

Music To My Ears is a volunteer organization where middle and high school children teach free weekly musical instrument lessons to elementary school-age children. It was started in October of 2009 when Hanover County budget cuts removed the strings program from the elementary school curriculum…  

“In Hanover County, we are offering guitar, piano, flute, and violin beginner lessons this year. We have a team of middle and high school experienced musicians that volunteer to teach the elementary school children 30 minute weekly lessons. This program is open to all Hanover County students. 

“...Ninety-seven students have now benefited from the program, with over 1500 of service hours being given back to our communities. We have started an outreach to provide instruments to those children that have been unable to participate because they do not have a practice instrument."

--From the Music To My Ears website

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Empathy Education

“Our church took a group of elementary school children and created an entire summer of activities to develop empathy for others…

“…Perhaps one of the most meaningful was the week we dealt with homelessness. Outside the back of our building is a small grassy area that resembles the alley area behind many restaurants and shops. We placed large cardboard boxes and other types of things one might find in an alley around the area.

“The children were introduced to the concept of being homeless in today’s world. They learned many homeless people are afraid of shelters for a variety of reasons and choose to stay on the streets.

"We took the kids into our mock alley and instructed them to build some type of shelter. They struggled to create something that would protect them from the current high heat and humidity as well as the rainstorm they could see coming.

“After completing the activity, we spent time discussing what they had experienced. We examined the emotions, fears and needs the homeless might have. After our discussion, the children were much more empathetic and connected as they worked on the service project we had planned."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Be a One-Percenter! Give 1% of Your Time to Service

The website, good.isput forth the following challenge: 

We can do better than good. Together, we can be great.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve." 

…Spend one percent of your work hours this year (that's 20 hours) changing a small corner of your world for the better.

Pages and pages of comment from everyday persons read like this:

  • I volunteer in my local public elementary school in NYC with both the Lego Robotics program and the organic farming and gardening initiative. Both program enrich the education of our community's children to think out of the box.

  • I've dedicated my time to organization Honeylove this year. They're trying to legalize urban beekeeping in LA

  • I volunteer as a crisis interventionist on Common Ground's (Oakland County, MI, USA) crisis telephone line.

  • Last week I went with my Rotary group to prepare and serve dinner at a homeless youth drop-in center in Venice, CA. These are mostly teenage kids who are homeless and/or living in very poor circumstances.

  • Devoting three months of service in Africa, 6 months here in the US... The more people get involved, the bigger the impact. I'm leaving for Kenya in two days, yes Kenya, despite what's happening there now, I've made this commitment to the people there. 

  • One of the ways I am giving back is working hard to fund-raise as well as participate in a Make-A-Wish rafting event. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Kindness & Angels on the Trail

C. Coimbra Photo
“ESCAPING a grim world of war abroad and inequality at home, I fled with my teenage daughter here to the mountains of Oregon to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and commune with more humane creatures. Like bears and cougars,” begins a recent Nicholas Kristof, New York Times column.
And as he stated, a nature hike is therapy for the soul. But the column went on to note the kindness of strangers in the wild:  “Humans pull together in an odd way when they’re in the wilderness. It’s astonishing how few people litter, and how much they help one another…And, in thousands of miles of backpacking over the decades, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard one hiker be rude to another.”

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Volunteers Engage to Reduce Plastic Pollution

“2014 announces the collaboration between Drifters Project Kefalonia and Plastic Pollution Coalition!  For Plastic Free Island, we will be creating a template of social & artistic engagement. We are creating a international team of 40 students from Greece, Australia and the US:
to engage the local communities in plastic reduction
study forensic evidence of plastic pollution and remove it from sea caves and on beaches
create large-scale public art to expose the problem
create re-design alternatives to plastic for local businesses

We begin on one island, removing plastic pollution, making art, and engaging the local community.”
--Drifters Project

Faith-based Group Provides Housing for Immigrant Children

A San Antonio-based Baptist nonprofit started 70 years ago to run a home for orphans has emerged as a key player in the government’s response to the surge of unaccompanied migrant children coming into the country, writes Time magazine.
BCFS, formerly known as Baptist Child and Family Services, runs two of the largest temporary housing facilities for immigrant children and six permanent shelters in Texas and California. Since December it has received more than $280-million in federal grants, some 40 percent of U.S. spending this fiscal year to house young migrants until they can be reunited with family members or placed in foster care.
Dozens of other organizations have been involved in the housing effort, which has drawn criticism from congressional Republicans because the shelters are operated in undisclosed locations and shielded from the media. In a July 17 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Sen. Charles Grassley sought information on BCFS contracts, saying the organization’s “aversion to basic transparency is extremely disturbing.”

Immigration advocates and federal officials say the secrecy is necessary to protect the children’s identity and ensure their safety. Armed protesters have demonstrated against relocating undocumented children to their communities, and scam artists have preyed on immigrant families, promising to reunite them with their kids for hefty fees.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Special Camp for Oncology Treated Kids

“Established by the American Cancer Society in 1987, Camp Sunrise started with only seven campers. Today, Camp Sunrise is maintained and sponsored by Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center's Division of Pediatric Oncology over 100 patient campers. Camp Sunrise is a week-long, overnight summer camp held in early August in Maryland, for children who have been diagnosed with or have survived cancer. Campers are given the opportunity to establish strong peer relationships with the other children they can relate to that are going through the same experiences and feelings as they are with their cancer treatment. At Camp Sunrise, campers also gain independence from the regimen of cancer treatment, and enhance their self-confidence by trying new activities offered while attending the camp.”
--Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"I Forgive You," Heals Wounds

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don't practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
Healthier relationships
Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
Less anxiety, stress and hostility
Lower blood pressure
Fewer symptoms of depression
Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happiness Secrets

Pope Francis’s secrets to happiness
1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”
2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”
3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.
4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.
5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.
6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.
7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we're not asking ourselves is: 'Isn't humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?'”
8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, 'I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”
9. Don't proselytise; respect others' beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.
10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Translated by Catholic News Service

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Donor Benefits Kids at Risk

A generous grant from the Gene Hass Foundation, will allow the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme to expand its programs, add technology, offer scholarships and upgrade a club.
The foundation’s website notes, “Of special importance to the Gene Haas Foundation are children’s charities and organizations that feed the poor, especially within the local community of Ventura County. In addition, the Gene Haas Foundation provides scholarship funds to Community Colleges and Vocational Schools for students entering technical training programs, especially machinist-based certificate and degree programs.”

“The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme help youth reach their fullest potential through a positive environment, lifelong learning, and quality programs dedicated to the arts, education, character and leadership development, health and recreation,” according to the nonprofit’s website.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Students Remove 20 Tons of Plastic from Shoreline

Vacation's over.  There is good news to share.

Three cheers for the Cabrillo College students and The Clean Oceans Project who removed 20 tons of plastic debris from an Alaska shoreline in just 5 days.