Friday, December 30, 2016

Feel Good Friday - AAA Safe Ride Home

For those of you who have been following this blog for the four years I've been writing it, you'll recognize this as a Feel Good Friday flashback favorite! Because, New Year's Eve. 

Formerly knows as Tipsy Tow, it's now called the Holiday Safe Ride Program, which is much less catchy but still gets the job done. The original blog post from 2013 (with updated links) is below.

The American Automobile Association, really?


AAA makes me feel good every day, not just Friday. They can assist you with travel, buying a car and connecting you with tons of discounts. If you're me, they'll also jumpstart your car, change your flat tire and tow you when you blow a head gasket, burn out a clutch or otherwise breakdown on the side of the road. As a side note, I swear I spread these (and other) distress calls over 22 years and two cars.

The reason they are the topic of today's Feel Good Friday post is because of their Tipsy Tow program. New Year's Eve is this Tuesday and a lot of people will go out, celebrate and ring in the new year with a cocktail or two. This can be problematic if you've driven to the festivities. Research from the CDC states, "Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impared drive. This amounts to one death every 48 minutes."

AAA is here to help. From 6pm on December 31st to 6am on January 1st, AAA will provide a free ten-mile tow home for drinking drivers and their vehicles - whether your an AAA member or not!

If you need this service, call 800-222-4357 (AAA HELP), tell the operator "I need a Tipsy Tow" and they'll send a tow truck out to get you and your car and drive your drunk butt home. Even if you don't need a tow but you're happy that it's an option, show your support by liking their Facebook page.

For those of you living and celebrating in San Francisco, MUNI is FREE from 8pm Dec. 31st to 5am Jan. 1st. Most other Bay Area public transportation companies are offering free, and extended hour services that night as well so do yourself a favor and use them!

2017 is going to be an interesting year but I still have faith I'll be able to find 52 new reasons for Feel Good Friday. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Feel Good Friday - Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly

The holiday season is upon us and while there is generally a festive air everywhere you go, it's important to remember that not everyone is surrounded by friends and family at this time of year. That's why today's Feel Good Friday is highlighting the work of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly

As explained on their website, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) "is a national network of non-profit volunteer-based organizations committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly". Seniors are the fastest growing segment of population in the US and by 2025, one in every five people will be over 65!

Originally founded in 1946 by French nobleman, Armand Marquiset as Little Brothers of the Poor, LBFE opened its first US chapter in 1959 and now has seven locations in the US and chapters in nine other countries around the world. You can watch this 4:19 minute LBFE video from the San Francisco chapter that explains the work they do and the people they serve.

Their motto "Flowers before Bread" signifies that, "in addition to the basic necessities of life, each one of us has a strong need for the special joys that make life worth living." Across the world, 21,000 volunteers give their time to 52,500 elderly which enables these services to be offered free of charge. 

Those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area who want to volunteer can start by visiting an elder on December 24th or 25th and bringing along a provided gift. Details at Little Brothers San Francisco.

You can also check out the work being done in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and the Upper Peninsula Michigan. As they say on the website, "we offer to people of goodwill the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and the celebration of life." That sounds like a lovely way to spend your time.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Feel Good Friday - Delancey Street Foundation

It's Feel Good Friday and for those of you in the market for a Christmas tree, I suggest visiting one of the lots run by the Delancey Street Foundation.

If you live in the Bay Area, you may recognize the Delancey Street Foundation for their Christmas tree lots, moving services or namesake restaurant along the Embarcadero. What you may not know is the history of Delancey Street and what they're all about.

As they explain on their website, "we are a community where people with nowhere to turn, turn their lives around." Since 1971, Delancey Street has been taking in "people in poverty, substance abusers, former felons, and others who have hit bottom."

If you've got 16 minutes to spare, I'd recommend watching this PBS New Heroes segment about Mimi Silbert, the Founder and CEO of Delancey Street. You get to hear about the program directly from her and current residents, and you get to see how hard it is to move a piano out of a San Francisco apartment.

Residents of Delancey Street stay a minimum of 2 years, with an average stay of 4. During that time, they learn three marketable skills and get their GED. Both the vocational and educational training is based on the "each one teach one" model with residents teaching each other the skills they've learned.

Their model is further explained on the website: "Our daily operations are not funded and we charge no fees. We pool all of our resources. There is no staff. The whole place is run by the residents themselves. All money is funded into the community, and each resident receives food, housing, clothing, education, entertainment and all other services at no cost."

In the 45 years Delancey Street has been operating, they have graduated over 18,000 students as "successful, taxpaying citizens leading decent, legitimate and productive lives." They now have facilities in San FranciscoLos AngelesNew MexicoNorth CarolinaNew York and South Carolina. You can read more about their accomplishments here.

If you already have your Christmas tree for this season, you can still support Delancey Street with a donation or by hiring them for catering, landscaping or moving services. You can also show your love on social media by liking both the foundation Facebook page and the restaurant Facebook page. Delancey Street Foundation, "Enter with a history, leave with a future."

Friday, December 9, 2016

Feel Good Friday - Family Giving Tree

It's Feel Good Friday and this week, I'm switching my focus away from politics and towards the spirit of giving, starting with Family Giving Tree!

Family Giving Tree (FGT) is the largest holiday gift and backpack donation program in California and they have been "bringing hope and joy to those in need" for 25 years!

According to FGT's website, despite the affluence of the Bay Area, "one of every four children here lives in poverty". What began as a San Jose State MBA project has grown into an organization with the mission to "fulfill the exact holiday wishes and provide backpacks filled with school supplies to those children in the most need in our communities while inspiring the values of kindness, philanthropy and volunteerism." Since their inception, FGT has served more than 1.2 million children and individuals throughout the greater Bay Area through their two main annual drives:

For the Holiday Wish Drive, FCT partners with schools, service agencies and nonprofits to get students exact wishes and work with drive leaders and people like all of us to get those wishes fulfilled. In 2015 they fulfilled "more than 72,000 holiday wishes, 85% of those being children's wishes." Watch this video to see just how happy the children are when they get their gifts.

If you're participating this year, gifts are due to the warehouse by December 12th and you still have until January 5th to make monetary donations to the 2016 Holiday Wish Drive.

There is also a Back-to-School Drive which was "launched in 1995 with the goal of closing the educational gap for in-need K-12 students. New backpacks full of essential, grade-appropriate school supplies are collected and delivered to Bay Area students." This event takes place during the summer so backpacks can be picked up and distributed in early August. "In 2016 the Family Giving Tree exceeded its goal of 37,000 backpacks".

To help FGT keep going for another 25 years and expand their services to more children, there are numerous ways you can get involved. Those of you in the Bay Area can lead a drive or deliver toys as an elf and people everywhere can support this group with a donation and some social media love by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @FGTtweets.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Feel Good Friday - Anti-Defamation League

It's Feel Good Friday and, continuing my post-election theme, I'm here to tell you about another organization in the US fighting for justice and civil rights. Today, the Anti-Defamation League.

As the description from their website explains, the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, "was founded in 1913 'to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all'. Now the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all." Their slogan is "imagine a world without hate", and you can learn more about them by watching the 100 year anniversary video, narrated by James Earl Jones.

With offices around the country (and one in Israel), the ADL's main areas of focus include:
  • Anti-Semitism - fighting it is still a priority because it's still an issue. One example is that the number of anti-Semitic instances on college campuses nearly doubled in 2015.
  • Combating Hate - working at both state and national levels to deter and counteract hate-motivated criminal activity as well as tracking cyber hate, monitoring domestic and international terrorism and providing a database of hate symbols for law enforcement.
  • Israel and International - monitoring and reporting hate crimes internationally.
  • Civil Rights - filling amicus ("friend of the court") briefs in legal proceedings protecting religious freedom and preventing discrimination against immigrants, women, Muslims and the LGBT community.
  • Education and Outreach - information, resources and training on anti-bias education and many other topics!
Like the Southern Poverty Law Center,  ADL is tracking anti-Semitic, racist and bigoted incidents. If you are a victim of hate or are aware of an incident, follow this link to #ExposeHate.

Now more than ever, organizations like the ADL can use your support. There are a number of ways you can take action, including making a donation, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @ADL_national.