Friday, June 21, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Old Skool Cafe

It's Feel Good Friday and time for a food-related story. Know why? I like food.

Today we go to the Old Skool Cafe in San Francisco to see a program where at-risk, previously incarcerated youth are taught marketable employment skills in the restaurant industry. They work (and get paid) in every area of the business, including entertainment. Entertainment? Yep, because Old Skool Cafe is a 1940's styled supper club!

It was created by Teresa Goines, a former corrections officer working with gang-affiliated youth who wanted to provide an alternative to gangs and opportunities for career training. Participants have to apply for the program, go through a series of interviews and complete a four month training before they can be employed. You can read more details in this CNN article.

If you'd like to meet some of the team and the founder, watch this six minute video. To keep up with the latest news, like them on Facebook.

Better yet, call me up and let's make a plan to eat there! For those of you who live locally, I am totally serious. Check out the menu. If you need my number - ask. Or you can find me on Facebook too.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Monkeybiz

We've spent the last few weeks talking about projects in the San Francisco Bay Area so I'm feeling the need to leave the country. Today we're going to Cape Town, South Africa - passport not required.

Monkeybiz, as stated on their website,  is a "nonprofit income-generating bead project started in January 2000. Through creating sustainable employment, Monkeybiz focuses on women's economic empowerment and health development in the most economically under-resourced areas of South Africa.

The community now includes 450 artists who work from home so they become self-sufficient, learn how business works and take responsibility for their products. Much like the people working at Ocean Sole who I profiled in February, they earn an income from their creativity and the art they make. Monkeybiz encourages women to have dignity and pride in their work. You can learn more about the artists and their stories here.

Not only is there a focus on women, but also on people with living with HIV and AIDS. For six years Monkeybiz ran a wellness clinic for their HIV positive artists and in 2003, they created an educational beadwork-illustrated book in English and Xhosa called Positively HIV, targeted at people between 15 and 24 to raise their awareness of the issue.

Goals for the future include helping artists establish organic gardens, planting trees in the townships and spreading the spirit of "ubuntu" - a philosophy of interconnectedness and generosity - "I am what I am because of who we all are."

Want to learn more about Monkeybiz and how you can support them? Well, if you've got a minute, okay one minute and 13 seconds, you can watch a video about the organization here. (When else are you going to see Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Donna Karan in the same video?) 

Nelson Mandela
sure likes them!
For those of you who want to support them with your wallets, you can shop online and, as with most of the groups profiled here you can like them on Facebook to stay in the loop with the latest and greatest.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Feel Good Friday - Help Others

In the last 6 months of Feel Good Fridays we've been all around the San Francisco Bay Area, to New York, South Carolina, India, Uganda, Kenya, Paraguay, Brazil, Israel - you get the idea.

Today we're going to talk about a group that exists only online but whose influence can be felt world wide. Help Others is an organization founded by a group of anonymous college students 10 years ago. When thinking about how much fun they had planning pranks, they came up with the idea of making a game out of doing anonymous acts of kindness and leaving behind a "smile card" to encourage others to keep the ripple going.

The idea is you do a random act of kindness and you leave a card that tags someone as being "it" in the hope they pass on a random act of kindness to someone else.

Can't think of anything to do? Visit their website for ideas like play the role of doorman for 15 minutes, write a note to a teacher who inspired you or clean up litter on your block.

Don't have a smile card? You can download them here in a variety of languages or place an order to have some sent to you. Can't afford them? Someone has already paid for your cards, because that's the way this site works.

Last but not least, like them on Facebook so you can stay in the loop with what's going on.

Tag - you're it!