Friday, June 27, 2014

Feel Good Friday - DreamPower Horsemanship

If you're like me, when you think of Gilroy, you think of garlic. Not only is Gilroy the "Garlic Capital of the World", it's also home to DreamPower Horsemanship, the organization I'm profiling on this Feel Good Friday.

Founded by Martha McNiel in 2002, DreamPower Horsemanship is a non-profit organization that provides equine assisted activities and therapies to people with special needs. They have a variety of programs, including equine facilitated psychotherapy, therapeutic horsemanship, and working with veterans with PTSD.  Their mission is "Building lives filed with dreams, and the power to make dreams come true."

As explained on their website, "Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is provided by the synergistic team of the horse and the therapeutic riding instructor, who is a licensed mental health professional. In the barn setting, therapeutic activities provide powerful tools for building self-awareness, self-esteem, appropriate boundaries and a sense of personal responsibility. Therapeutic interactions incorporate the power of the horse, the clinical skills of the therapist and the hopes, dreams and challenges of the person working with the horse." While this treatment is still considered experimental, according to the Equine Psychotherapy website, "Equine therapy provides students with skills of patience, self-confidence, trust, and compassion." All that and you learn to ride a horse!

DreamPower also a Ponies & Preschoolers program to help children get ready for kindergarten and you can set up a team-building retreat if you want to get your whole crew to experience the power of working with horses. It's the only organization I've seen so far that not only includes a link to meet the staff but also a link to meet the horses.

To learn more, watch this short documentary by Alexandra Granados or like their Facebook page to so you can be in the loop with their upcoming events.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Orange Duffel Bag Initiative

I've had the color orange on my mind lately - probably because I've been watching the newest season of Orange is the New Black and trying not to race through the episodes too quickly. While I think it's a great show, it's not very appropriate for Feel Good Friday.

Luckily I found something orange that is! The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative is a program in Georgia that helps at-risk former foster 

Founded in 2010 by Sam Bracken, he was inspired by his own experience which he describes in this CNN interview as  "Being raised like a whacked out version of the Brady Bunch on an episode of Cops." Yikes. There was a point in his life when all of his belongings fit into an orange duffel bag and that became the title of the book in which he shares his life story, as well as the name of the foundation. 

As stated on their website, "ODB’s focus: To provide life plan coaching via certified life and executive coaches to at-risk youth, award ODB graduates a laptop computer to bridge the digital divide, and provide ongoing advocacy and to raise awareness about the barriers at-risk youth face in their quest to become self-sufficient." They have a coaching program to help high school students who are homeless or in foster care to complete their educations, as well as a program focused on coaching for college completion.

You can get more details by watching this 4 minute PSA, listening to an NPR interview with an ODBI graduate or reading this article from the Christian Science Monitor.

To stay in the social media loop and get the most up-to-date info  like their Facebook page or follow them on Twiiter @OBDInitiative - I do! Now back to Netflix...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Oceana

I just found out that June 8th was World Oceans Day. You may have spent the day cleaning up a beach cause you're cool like that, but I totally missed it.

In order to make up for my oversight, and because I just saw my ocean rowing friend Roz Savage in San Francisco last night, today's Feel Good Friday is going to cover the work of Oceana, an international organization dedicated to "protecting the world's oceans".

Why worry about the oceans? Oceans cover 71% of the globe and are the beginning of the food chain, yet we treat them as giant dumping grounds and expect them to be an infinite resource of delicious dinners.

As explained on the Oceana website, the problem is "we are taking too many fish out of the water... we are putting too many pollutants in the water... (and) we are squandering the ocean's resources." (click here for more details)

So what is Oceana doing to help? Again from their website, "Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation. Our offices in North America, South America and Europe work together on a limited number of strategic, directed campaigns to achieve measurable outcomes that will help return our oceans to former levels of abundance. We believe in the importance of science in identifying problems and solutions. Our scientists work closely with our teams of economists, lawyers and advocates to achieve tangible results for the oceans."

Impressive, no? They have campaigns focused on stopping ocean pollution, promoting responsible fishing, protecting marine wildlife and more. To support their work visit their take action page to see how you can be a voice for the oceans.

You can also visit their page on living blue for sustainable seafood guides, recipes and ways you can help. As always, take a moment to like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @Oceana. We don't have to wait for World Oceans Day to make a difference for the oceans of the world.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Feel Good Friday - Kiva

Believe it or not, this is the 80th Feel Good Friday post and we're going to celebrate by talking about Kiva

Kiva is a San Francisco organization with a worldwide impact. Their tag line is "Loans that Change Lives". Founded in October 2005 by Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley, Kiva combines the concept of micro lending with the power of the internet so that people who have money to lend can support entrepreneurs around the world. The process is illustrated in this short video titled How Kiva Works.

To answer the question of what motivates the people of Kiva, we turn to their website. "We envision a world where all people - even in the most remote areas of the globe - hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others. We believe providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need helps people create better lives for themselves and their families."

In the last nine years over 1 million lenders have given almost six-hundred million dollars in loans to Kiva entrepreneurs with the very impressive repayment rate if 98.84%! If you every felt that you couldn't make a difference in the world, get your $25 out and see just how much you can do!

This post only scratches the surface of what Kiva does and the impact these loans have. If you want to learn more visit their website, watch a Ted Talk by Jessica Jackley or a 15 minute documentary from Frontline where the reporter goes to Uganda to visit Kiva entrepreneurs.

If you like what you've seen and want to get involved, lend some money to an entrepreneur, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @kiva.