Friday, January 30, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Locks of Love

This Feel Good Friday we're leaving New York and heading to Florida! I swear this had nothing to do with the big storm this week - I write these blogs from sunny California.

On to the group at hand, Locks of Love. Many of you will know this organization as the "public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis."

You can watch this short video for an overview and/or keep reading. The mission statement from their website is "to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantage children." The most common reason for hair loss among the clientele is alopecia, the second is treatments for cancer.

The focus is on children because growing up and making it through your teen years can be challenging enough without having to add being bald to the list. Also most wigs are manufactured for adults and don't fit smaller heads without a lot of tape and glue that can be very irritating to the scalp. The hair prostheses provided by Locks of Love are custom made for each child and form a vacuum seal on the head so their is no risk of them being pulled off by someone else or coming off during activities like swimming, showering and riding roller coasters. The creation process takes anywhere from 4 to 6 months and children can apply for a new hairpiece every 18 months.

Want to help? Cut off your hair and send it in a ponytail or braid to their Florida office. Minimum length is 10 inches and it takes 6 to 10 ponytails to make one hairpiece. Hair donations of shorter amounts are also accepted though you should know they will be sold to offset production costs rather than be incorporated into a hairpiece.

If you're still not convinced, the website has a page for both donor and recipient photos.

While I couldn't find a Facebook page for this group, you can definitely follow them on Twitter

Friday, January 23, 2015

Feel Good Friday - The Doe Fund: Ready, Willing & Able

Ready, willing and able for what you ask? Read on, my friends.

Last week Feel Good Friday took us to New York City and the inflatable couches of FreeConvo. Since this is the city that never sleeps, it's no surprise there's another fabulous organization in town to profile, this one The Doe Fund.

The summary of their work from their Twitter profile - "breaking the cycles of homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse." You can watch a 30 second spot on the group here.

A bit more detail can be found in their mission statement, as written on the website. "To develop and implement cost-effective, holistic programs that meet the needs of a diverse population working to break the cycles of homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism. All of The Doe Fund's programs and innovative business ventures ultimately strive to help homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals achieve permanent self-sufficiency."

The organization was founded in 1990 by George McDonald and Harriet Karr-McDonald. Moved by the story of a homeless woman who froze to death outside Grand Central Station where she was not allowed to spend the night, the McDonalds wanted to create change.

The flagship offering of the organization is Ready, Willing & Able. This 9- 12 month program "provides homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals with transitional work and housing, case management, life skills, education assistance, occupational training, job readiness, and graduate services." They also have a non-residential version of RWA, a veterans program, affordable housing, supportive housing and an initiative focusing on youth.

You can learn more about the various offerings and meet some of the program graduates by reading  this article by Patty de Llosa from Parabola.

The Doe Fund serves over 1,000 people a day and their website is filled with success stories! Videos can be found on their YouTube channel and if you'd like to support them you can always make a donation, shop at their store, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @TheDoeFund

Start spreading the news!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Free Convo

Free what now?

Conversation! Online communication has become the default way to connect. While it's extremely handy and a way to reach many people at once, it's just not the same as talking to people in person. On this Feel Good Friday I want to let you know about a group of people that's encouraging us to sit down and talk to one another.

FreeConvo is a group created in 2013 by Michael Scotto and Tony Cai. Their goal is "connecting real people in the real world."

It started when the founders sat on an abandoned couch in Brooklyn and wrote "free conversations" on the back of a pizza box. 7 hours of conversing later, they realized they were on to something. You can read more details of the origin story here.

Now the people of FreeConvo, which includes many volunteers, set up inflatable couches around New York, hold up their "Free Conversation!" signs and start talking. To get an idea of what it's like, you can watch this 3 minute intro video or go to their video page to meet the people on the couches.

As stated on their Facebook page, "Each FreeConvo session turns into hours of sharing ideas, forming connections, and gaining new perspectives - all with people who have never met before. We love what we do and hope to meet you soon!"

If that doesn't make you want to take a trip to New York, I don't know what will! Before you go, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @freeconvo so you'll know where to find them. You can also always strike up a conversation with people you encounter in your world, no inflatable couch necessary.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Committee to Protect Journalists

With the recent murders of journalists from the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, it's hard to imagine there is a reason to feel good this Friday, but there is. There always is.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide.

As explained on their website the organization "was founded in 1981 by a group of U.S. correspondents who realized they could not ignore the plight of colleagues whose reporting put them in peril on a daily basis. The idea that journalists around the world should come together to defend the rights of colleagues working in repressive and dangerous environments led to CPJ's first advocacy campagin in 1982."

The group conducts research worldwide, documents cases in which journalists have been censored, harassed, threatened, abducted, jailed or killed for their work and provides high-level advocacy working with news organizations and governments to release imprisoned journalists and provide more freedom of the press. In 2014, CPJ secured the early release of 41 journalists. A full report on the impact of their work in 2014 can be found here.

In addition to their reporting and advocacy work, CPJ provides "legal, medical, and relocation assistance to journalists at risk, along with support for families of slain and imprisoned journalists." Their website also has an extensive Journalist Security Guide with advice on how to prepare for armed conflict, natural disasters and health epidemics and more.

We need journalists to share stories from around the world that we don't have access to as individuals and we need an organization like CPJ to advocate on behalf of these journalists.

To support press freedom you can make a donation, like the CPJ Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @pressfreedom. Those of you with 24 minutes can watch this informative, short documentary film made for the CPJ 30th anniversary.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Feel Good Friday - 21 Day Kindness Challenge

Happy New Year!

Many of us use the beginning of the year to set goals, resolutions and intentions for the upcoming year. On this Feel Good Friday, as you consider your options, I wanted you to know about KindSpring's series of 21-Day Challenges.

First, a little about KindSpring from their website, "KindSpring is a place to practice small acts of kindness. For over a decade the KindSpring user community has focused on inner transformation, while collectively changing the world with generosity, gratitude, and trust. The site is 100% volunteer-run and totally non-commercial. It is a shared labor of love."

The 21-day challenges focus on kindness, mindfulness and gratitude. To get started, "you can join an existing challenge, or you can host your own challenge and invite your friends, organization or school to be a part of it. Each person gets a daily email with a suggestion for a small act for the day. You can share your reflections online with others and where possible, meet in-person with your group."

You can go here to join an upcoming challenge. For those of you who want some scientific support on how a challenge like this can be beneficial, there are tons of articles and videos at this link.

To stay in the loop all year long, follow KindSpring on Twitter @Kind_Spring and like their Facebook page. Here's to a new year filled with kindness, mindfulness and gratitude!