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.”