Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Citizens Plan for 'Make a Difference Day'

Over the next few weeks, The Daily Prism will intermitently feature the plethora of projects set for Make A Difference Day, Saturday, Oct. 25.

From the Chillicothe Gazette in Ohio:

CHILLICOTHE – More than 100 volunteers are expected to gather Oct. 25 at Sherman Park during a Make a Difference Day event being led by the Kiwanis Club of Chillicothe that will bring a new look to the area.
New picnic tables, an improved basketball court and an overhaul of the baseball diamond are just a few of the projects planned at the housing complex…The organization will be assisted by the Lions Club and the Rotary Club…

…officials identified a need for work to be done at Sherman Park after (noticing) grass growing on the basketball court, nets missing from the basketball rims and graffiti on the benches in the area. In addition, picnic tables were rotting or missing wood…

Friday, September 26, 2014

Making Chocolate "Fair"

Project Hope & Fairness (PH&F) makes chocolate even tastier.  “We are a volunteer organization based in San Luis Obispo, California, that was created to assist African cocoa farmers who suffer disproportionately from the inequities in the world cocoa trade with particular focus on the participation of chocolate producers and consumers in the United States,” explains the nonprofit’s website.  

Here’s why the group was formed (from the website):

  • More than 75% of chocolate consumed in the United States comes from 600,000 cocoa farms in Ivory Coast.
  • That U.S. consumers eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate annually, representing nearly half the world's supply.
  • 60% of Ivorian children of cocoa farmers receive no education at all.
  • Large chocolate companies who control most of the American market are not doing enough, and by buying Fair Trade you are bypassing conventional systems of exploitation to the benefit of impoverished cocoa farmers and their villages.

PH&F works to provide in-kind grants, mirco-enterprise, community development and educational tours. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thousands Work to Save the Monarch Butterfly

From a recent Facebook post, The Daily Prism couldn’t help but notice that while there are, indeed, people on the planet that remain bent on negativity in thought and behavior, the exact opposite lives with the passion for life and all the beauty found on the planet.  This army of those who care brings voice to living.
The particular post was about monarch butterflies—a beautiful insect in danger of extreme population reduction, due to a number of environmental reasons—most at the hand of humans.  
A quick internet search brought up a multitude of volunteer organizations and efforts that span the North American continent to save the monarch butterfly.
According to the Monarch Butterfly Fund, this summer, volunteers planted 32,350 trees in the Buffer Zone of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve — an effort to save the Mexican forest in peril that play a role in the monarch butterfly’s two-way migration.
In June, the University of Minnesota wrote:Save Our Monarchs Foundation, a new foundation dedicated to saving the threatened monarch butterfly, has launched in the Twin Cities…
A grassroots non-profit organization, Save Our Monarchs is the only foundation in the U.S. whose sole mission is to save the monarch butterfly by planting more milkweed – the sole source of sustenance of the monarch caterpillar.
The organization’s goal is to distribute 100,000 milkweed seed packets in 2014 to “help save our beloved butterflies.”
The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy in Virginia notes on its website, We can plant milkweeds and fall nectar plants - every garden plot, especially when added to the gardens of our neighbors and their neighbors and their neighbors, can make a difference. We can also serve as a model or catalyst for other communities to do the same.
Their campaign includes:
Restoring habitat and planting Monarch Waystations at schools, homes, churches and businesses that will flourish for Monarchs and other wildlife; and raising and releasing Monarchs, especially in the late summer and fall. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Traveling Ethically

Ethical Traveler is dedicated to educating travelers about the social and environmental impact of their decisions, showing how travel can be a potent form of diplomacy, and giving travelers a forum through which their united voices can serve the world community. 

Ethical Traveler is a nonprofit organization, founded to "empower travelers to change the world." We seek to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.

The seeds for Ethical Traveler were planted in 1996, when author and journalist Jeff Greenwald—Ethical Traveler's founder—wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post supporting the boycott of tourism to Burma. In the essay, he called upon the community of travelers to "vote with their wings," and use their combined power to chastise the military government that had imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi.

--From Ethical Traveler Website

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Averting Maternal Mortality Via Community Partnerships

Growing up in a developing country, Dominique Vidale-Plaza knows what it is like to have big dreams and to feel disempowered to achieve them. Believing that simple, community-based solutions can create incredible impact, she created the Kwetu Initiative to address the critical health issues of women in Mwenga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Reproductive and maternal health are significant issues for the DRC. In addition to the sexual violence it has become known for, it also has among the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. Most of these maternal deaths can be averted by ensuring that communities have access to equipped health centers that can provide emergency obstetric care.
The Kwetu Initiative will work in the Mwenga territory to equip a local clinic and village activists to prevent maternal deaths. The three key components of this initiative are: equipping a local facility with some critical pieces of equipment and medication, training the staff at the facility and other key local activists and leaders to become advocates for good reproductive health in their communities and creating a photo-series titled ‘Kwetu’ that will demonstrate what effective community partnership and development looks like.

Dominique explains that, “The Kwetu Initiative is part of my vision to ensure that rural and vulnerable women in the DRC have access to good, quality, empowering, reproductive health care in their own communities.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

"More volunteers; less trash"

Hooray for us when on Coastal Clean Up Day, some areas can boast, “More volunteers and less trash.”

In Valleyjo, Ca. for example, 765 volunteers picked up over 13,000 pounds of trash and recyclables, whereas in 2013, 611 volunteers picked up over 32,000 pounds of trash and recyclables.  Officials say the reduced debris indicates better city management of waste and improved public awareness.

The California Coastal Commission reported, with 75 percent of Saturday’s tallies in, that 54,124 volunteers participated in the event statewide, and cleaned up a total of more than 686,000 pounds of trash.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Makeup Artists Create Faces of the Deep Sea

Paragorgia, Bubblegum Coral. Make up by Maeva Coree, Paris, France.
BLOOM is a non-profit organization which works to protect the oceans through a process of raising awareness and explaining environmental problems using scientific mediation, by producing relevant and independent scientific studies, as well as by participating in public consultations and institutional processes,”  writes the website.
Recently, “Fresh Handmade Cosmetics shops across Europe hosted a campaign to raise awareness about the destruction caused by deep-sea bottom trawling and to ask European governments to support a ban of what scientists have called ‘the most destructive fishing gear in history’…BLOOM (teamed) up with LUSH to draw public attention to the plight of the remote deep waters of Europe..(with a) a live performance of body painting deep-sea creatures…in flagship LUSH stores across Europe to symbolize the amazing diversity of deep-sea life and its extreme vulnerability to destruction.
(Visit Deep Sea Body Painting for more photos.)
“…European Fisheries Ministers are currently discussing the reform of the EU deep-sea fishing regulation, in particular the proposed prohibition of the most destructive fishing gear: deep-sea bottom trawling.
“BLOOM and LUSH are calling on the public to pressure Fisheries Ministers and EU governments to ban deep-sea bottom trawling…

“The ban of deep-sea bottom trawling has been called on by more than 300 international scientists.”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Zero-Waste Grocery Stores Begin

The Germans have opened a zero-waste grocery store, and now one is slated to open soon in Denver, Co.
From Indiegogo   website:
Our mission is to create a more convenient way of living zero-waste and helping the community prevent and divert as much trash from the landfills as we possibly can. Stop the trash at the source. Shop ZERO.

ZERO market (opening in late 2014 - early 2015) will offer customers non-toxic, preservative-free groceries, organic and locally grown produce, cruelty-free body care and eco-household products all in bulk and without disposable packaging. All of our products are healthy alternatives to the products available at conventional grocery chains and are specifically sold to be a “zero-waste” product. The creation of the market is in response to the growing demand for more convenience when it comes to a sustainable market offering zero-waste products.

ZERO market will be a comfortable place to meet for a bite to eat, find all the products you need that are hard to find "zero-waste" elsewhere, and a resource center for zero-waste education, cooking classes and nutrition workshops.

Along with our eco-friendly foundation of values, ZERO market will give back to the community. We will participate in community projects and host fund-raisers for local community services. We will offer workshops for healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyles while keeping a sliding scale to make it affordable for all income families.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pouring Wine for Hope

ONEHOPE is a social enterprise that integrates causes into products and services to make a social impact. ONEHOPE Wine is…one of the most recognizable cause brands due to the success of our cornerstone product…with every bottle sold by donating HALF of the profits to partner causes. Today, ONEHOPE consists of the following products and experiences: ONEHOPE Wine, ONEHOPE Coffee & Tea, Hope at Home, and ONEHOPE Weddings.

ONEHOPE’s motivation began as a personal mission to help a friend with her fight against cancer and evolved into a thriving business that always remains focused on a very basic, but compelling principle: giving back is good business. Eight founders came together in 2007 and created, ONEHOPE Wine, with the goal of selling a quality wine that would enable them to donate to worthy causes all year round.

In just five years, ONEHOPE Wine has expanded into a variety of markets across the country and continues its positive growth. It is now available nationwide in hundreds of hotels, restaurants, bars and retail stores including Whole Foods, Destination Hotels and Resorts, Fleming’s, and many more.
---From the ONEHOPE website

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mainstream Athletics for Challenged Kids

How can you measure a child’s smile? A laugh? A touch?
The pure joy that comes from being connected and interacting in a ‘normal’ way?
Being seen as a valuable member within their family and community?
Seeing your child succeed at something they never knew was possible?

The goal of iTRY is to empower special needs children and their families through a mainstream athletic event. They will be a vital part of a team, be challenged mentally and physically, benefit from ongoing training, experience the thrill of competition, and be cheered across the finish line!
Co-Athletes are young, energetic and able athletes with conditions such as autism, paralysis, down syndrome, cerebral palsy and obesity. Through training and [hopefully] triathlon participation, co-athletes benefit both mentally and physically through increased self-belief, confidence, perseverance and commitment, mental focus and physical stamina, proper nutrition for an athlete, and learning what it’s like to be part of a team.

Through iTRY, co-athletes are provided not only with the training, guidance and support necessary to complete a triathlon, but also all of the equipment and gear necessary for training and event participation (bikes, chariots, helmets, nutrition).
--From the TeamiTry website

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sharing a Village Harvest

C. Coimbra Photo
“Village Harvest is a nonprofit volunteer organization in the greater San Francisco Bay Area which harvests fruit from backyards and small orchards, then passes it along to local food agencies to feed the hungry.  We also provide education on fruit tree care, harvesting, and food preservation.”
The group’s 2013 total harvest weighed in at 245,419 lbs.
According to the non-profit’s website:
Our mission is to bring together neighbors and community organizations to provide food for the hungry, preserve our agricultural heritage and skills, and promote sustainable use of urban resources.  We do this through the following:
Backyard Fruit Harvesting and Harvesting Coordination.  VH organizes and coordinates volunteer harvesting teams to pick fruit and distribute it directly to community charitable organizations. We maintain computerized lists of homeowners who call and ask for help harvesting their trees, of volunteers interested in assisting, and of organizations who are able to redistribute the donated fruit to people in need.
Homeowner Education and Information.  VH provides information and referrals at no charge on fruit tree care, harvesting instruction, and where to take their excess fruit. VH maintains a list of local organizations who accept and use fruit (or vegetables) directly from homeowners, and we encourage homeowners who are physically capable of harvesting their own fruit to do so.
Food Preservation Education and Resources.  VH volunteers provide training sessions, tastings, and recipes on using home-grown fruit to create jams and other preserved foods.  Educational sessions have been held for both adults and for younger volunteers such as 4H clubs.  Volunteers use a small quantity of donated fruit to make preserves which are sold at crafts fairs and other nonprofit organizations to raise funds.

Orchard Preservation.  Using our expertise in caring for abandoned or lightly maintained orchards, we assist public and private orchard owners in restoring the health and sustainable use of their orchards, with excess fruit provided to the hungry.

Monday, September 15, 2014

An International Effort to Clean Beaches

Around the world, on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, thousands upon thousands of volunteers will take to cleaning their beaches and waterways of ocean-bound trash.   International Coastal Cleanup Day, is promoted by the Ocean Conservancy.

According to the non-profit's website, "The ocean sustains us with the basic elements of life—it produces half of the oxygen in the air we breathe, and it is an essential part of the water cycle, helping to provide the water we drink.

"The world’s beaches, the frontier of this essential resource, support ocean health. They provide habitat and nesting grounds for important ocean wildlife like sea turtles and sea birds, and they attract vacationers from around the world, helping to sustain complex coastal economies.
"Whether we live on a beach or hundreds of miles from the coastline, we all have a profound stake in an ocean that is healthy and abundant."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tweet a Donation #tinygive

By Megan O’Neil
What if just some of the millions of Tweets sent last month about the shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., included modest donations to relevant, reputable nonprofits?
Clarence Wardell, cofounder of the microphilanthropy platform tinyGive, says his startup company’s Twitter-based donation tool can be such a conduit. To donate through Twitter, users must create an account and send a tweet that includes the dollar amount, the recipient organization’s Twitter handle, and the hashtag "#tinygive." The minimum donation is $1.

The tool comes as Twitter dips its toe into e-commerce—the company said this week it is testing a button that allows users to make purchases—or donate money—directly on the social media platform.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Make Your Days "Extraordinary and fill them with passion"

9/11 Peace Story Quilt 
Metropolitan Museum of Art
“The Shelley A Marshall Foundation funds intergenerational nursing home tea parties, children’s story hours, art workshops, and other events to commemorate Marshall, who worked at the Pentagon. ‘A few months after 9/11, I was cleaning out our car and I found her notepad,’ her husband Donn Marshall told Parade.The last thing she had written was, ‘We have only a finite number of days on earth — make them extraordinary and fill them with passion.’”
“The focus of the Foundation's efforts are simple yet significant activities such as these - activities that inspire and enrich the spirit and have a direct impact on peoples' lives, even if that impact is only to cause someone to smile for a time.”
According to the foundation’s website, it has funded:

  • 600+ children's story hours for almost 80,000 children and parents at public libraries and schools 
  • 70+ Intergenerational tea parties for more than 3,000 seniors and high school students at nursing homes 
  • Creative writing contests for students 
  • Five Summer Art Workshop series for promising High School art students 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"While we have time, let us do good"

Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter, “… had everything to live for, a great wife, five wonderful children, devoted extended family and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, ‘While we have time, let us do good.’  Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy” —the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

On September 11, 2001, Siller “… had just finished his shift in Park Slope, Brooklyn, when he heard the first plane had hit the Twin Towers. He ‘drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it was already closed,’ says the foundation’s website, ‘so he strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back, rushed on foot through gridlocked traffic and ran from the Tunnel to the Towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.’The organization founded in his name helps seriously injured first responders and soldiers regain their independence.”

--From the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Foundation website

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

From the Ashes to Scholarships

Editor's Note:  For the next few days The Daily Prism will showcase how the human spirit can rise to bring good back in action, even after a shocking act of violence.

The Michael Lynch Memorial Foundation is a scholarship program. Its purpose is to provide grants to enable children of firefighters and other victims of the September 11 attacks and other fires and disasters to afford higher education.

Thanks to the continued generosity of donors over the past 12 years, the foundation has granted 137 college scholarships totaling more than $3.5 Million dollars to a very deserving group of students. Importantly, since the Michael Lynch Memorial Foundation is an All-Volunteer organization, 98 cents of every dollar donated is directed to the scholarship program…This foundation provides the means to help change the world in which we live, one person at a time, by building a vision for the future where the students of today become tomorrow’s stewards of peace and freedom.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Full Moon Mediation for Peace

During this time of peace disruption, it seems wise for those who seek a better world join in a full moon prayer and meditation today.   From Full Moon Meditation:

"Imagine, if you will, the world at the time of the full moon, with people from around the world sharing in meditation. A massive global intent is manifest in human hearts and minds, an expression of human will to serve in a spiritual sense. Each meditating unit adds to the network, adds to the focus. Like a series of radio telescopes focused on a particular part of the night sky, the worldwide meditation network focuses on the unimpeded relationship between sun and moon, and through that to the opportunity this time presents for unimpeded relationship between the soul and the human heart and mind, between humanity and sources of spiritual light, love and power."
With that thought, we add these prayers for your full moon meditation:
Prayer For Peace
I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love.
 - Mahatma Gandi
Peace Chant
Peace be to the East!  Peace be to the West!
Peace be to the North!  Peace be to the South!
Peace be above!  Peace be below!
Peace be to all creatures of this universe!
Peace be everywhere.
 - Sri Swami Sivananda

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Giving-Circle Fosters Respect, Community, Learning, Global Outcomes

Pangea is a Seattle-based international giving circle run primarily by its member volunteers. After a rigorous grant review process each year, Pangea makes monetary grants to small grass roots, community-based organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Learning about issues pertinent to the regions we serve and developing close relationships with our partners is central to our work. 
There are many ways members contribute to Pangea’s mission. They participate as much as their time and interests allow by:
Providing financial support. Members contribute a minimum of $1,500 ( per individual) or $1,650 (per couple) each year which goes into a grant pool. While we do receive some outside funding, this provides the core of our grant pool dollars.
Participating in one or multiple small groups organized by geographic regions (pods) to  solicit and review grant proposals and plan site visits.
Engaging with Pangea’s partners by being a Pangea liaison, observing partner projects in action (on site visits) and/or assisting with on site workshops.
Attending Pangea sponsored education events to learn about global development issues offered 2-4 times per year.
Joining one of Pangea’s committees;  Grants, Education, Finance or Communications.
Serving on Pangea’s Board  – Elections are held each winter 

Pangea has four major value areas which connect head and heart to promote sustainability for the organization and the planet.

  • Respect  We demonstrate our compassion through listening and walking with our partners toward equality and social justice
  • Community  Our Pangea community includes our relationships with our members and our connectedness with our global partners
  • Learning  As a learning organization, we are open to new ideas, dedicated to thoughtful exploration of global issues, and appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity
  • Global Outcomes  Pangea aspires to be a catalyst for peace, social and economic justice.  We address root causes of poverty and inequality.  We share our time and wealth toward forming trusting relationships and models for useful change around the planet.
--From the Pangea website

Friday, September 5, 2014

Impact Investing To Benefit Society

“An article in Bloomberg explores the rising tide of wealthy investors looking to support for-profit enterprises that also benefit society. They include AOL co-founder Steve Case and his wife, Jean, who have backed a handheld device to detect head trauma, which initially will benefit people in the military,” announced Philanthropy Today.
Bloomberg writes: “Jean Case and her husband Steve, who co-founded AOL Inc. (AOL), invested in BrainScope Co., the device’s developer, through their family office in 2008. The billionaire couple say they are using some of their fortune to help ease some of society’s ills while hopefully making a profit. They committed in June to spend $50 million in the coming years on mission-driven investments.
“A new generation of investors is emerging that wants more than just a financial return,” Jean Case, 54, said in an interview…
“…The phrase “impact investing” was coined in 2007, according to the Rockefeller Foundation. Proponents say it differs from socially responsible investing because people seek companies they think will make them money and improve society, rather than shun certain ones. The causes that impact investors have backed range from a water project in Africa to a venture capital fund with stakes in companies such as electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Non-Profit With Guide to Boldly Give

"Bolder Giving is a national nonprofit that inspires and supports people to give at their full lifetime potential toward a just and sustainable world. We seek nothing less than to transform our collective culture of giving and expand philanthropy dramatically.

"We do this by collecting and sharing the inspirational stories of people who give way beyond the norm, and by offering tools that help people step up to our motto of "give more, risk more, and inspire more." We celebrate outrageous generosity, and offer encouragement to those who want to be enthusiastic givers.

"Giving Communities is a resource developed by Bolder Giving to help you find communities of donors with whom you share common interests and values."

--From the Bolder Giving website

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Technology for Social Good

Technology has huge potential to be used for social good. Mobiles and mapping software can be used to gather data, and visualise patterns and trends; predictive analytics can be used to help translate 'big data' into useful statistics; unmanned aerial vehicles can monitor real-time crises; and social media helps mobilise groups around the world.

These technologies are getting more accessible to diverse groups by the day. Just as mobile phones and cameras have spread across the world and are now in the hands of people and organisations in remote areas, some highly advanced technologies that seemed to be once reserved for computer scientists and technology firms are becoming increasingly available to non-government organisations.

Connecting the raw data to the human stories is key, for example, the International Centre for Advocates Against Discrimination (Icaad), Nazdeek, and Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights for Adivasis (Pajhra) are developing a programme to combat maternal mortality in Assam, India. The programme marries community mobilisation with mobile and mapping applications and the potential for legal intervention. The aim is to make reproductive health services more accountable.

—Hansdeep Singh is the co-founder and director of legal programmes at International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination. Jaspreet Singh is also a co-founder, and director policy & advocacy. They tweet @IcaadGlobal. Linda Raftree is on the board of directors at Icaad. She tweets @meowtree.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Act Can Make A Difference

Everywhere you look today, you see people struggling just to get by. Kids right here in our own backyard  go to bed hungry at night.  People have lost their homes to tornadoes and floods.  Our humane shelters are being overrun with dogs and cats that have been tossed away.  Some people are just lonely and need a friend. 

So, you are probably thinking, "What can I do? There are so many out there that need help...but there is ONLY  ONE  ME, and I'm just a kid!" That's why in April, 2012,  I started my own foundation, It Starts With One, to encourage you to make a difference and to share ideas with you of ways that you can volunteer in your own community.

My family always said that every good thing ever done began with one person who took that one first step to get it done!  

Looking for ways to get involved?  There are lots of ways to help in your community:

  • The Humane Shelter. Help with feeding the dogs and cats. Spend some time playing with them.  Have a supply drive for your local humane shelter.
  • Visit a nursing home to play games with the residents. 
  • Do you play an instrument?  The senior citizens LOVE for you to come play music for them.
  • Write thank you letters to service members or veterans! Your local Veterans Office can give you some ideas.
  • Read to children at your local library or school.  
  • Mentor a student or help a younger child with homework.

Don't forget about the Random Acts of Kindness. That is an easy way to get started.  Just challenge yourself to do some act of kindess for someone each day! 

  • Open a door and let someone walk in first, 
  • Let someone cut in front of you in the grocery line or in traffic,
  • Compliment someone…
  • Give someone a smile or a hug! 

 Once you get started doing these things, you'll find that you want to keep doing them.  These simple things don't take much time, and they make life so much better for everyone.

—From Starts With 1