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,