Friday, September 29, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Save the Children

If you've been watching the news, you know that Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria and the people living on the island need our help. Natural disasters aren't a reason for a Feel Good Friday but the people and organizations that turn out to help are.

You can check this PBS blog for a list of organizations that are bringing assistance to the area. Today, I'm focusing on one - Save the Children.

First off, Save the Children has people on the ground in Puerto Rico and has set up a Hurricane Maria Children's Relief Fund. You can make a donation here. Now for some background.

Save the Children began in 1932 with programs that provided "clothing, school supplies and hot lunches to school children in Harlan County, Kentucky." The organization now has programs in 120 countries and reaches 157 million children around the world.

This 3:25 minute video gives an overview of the work they're doing to provide children with a brighter future. It can also be summed up with this statement from their website: "Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In the U.S. and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children - every day and in times of crisis - transforming their lives and the future we share."

Programs focus, not only on emergency response in natural disasters, but also on disaster preparedness, literacy and early education, global health and nutrition, child protection and child sponsorship. You can read about the programs in more detail here or watch videos on their YouTube channel.

With 86.5% of funds received going directly to the programs that affect children, Save the Children is a great place for you to donate your money or shop for farm animals and refugee basics bags to support people in need. As always, stay connected by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @SavetheChildren.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Feel Good Friday - The Obama Foundation

Happy Feel Good Friday! Yesterday I was at a conference in Utah where Michelle Obama was a featured speaker. She was inspiring, articulate and charming and it made me wonder what she and that husband of hers have been up to lately. Here's the answer: The Obama Foundation

You can click here to watch a short message from President Obama or, you work in an open office environment and forgot your headphones, you can read more below.

The foundation has just been created and, as stated on their website, "Our mission is to inspire and empower people to change their world." The goal is to make programs accessible to people with and without experience. "We'll equip civic innovators, young leaders, and everyday citizens with the skills and tools they need to create change in their communities."

There are four programs in place to help realize this goal:

  • A fellowship for civic innovators, which they see as "organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists, and more" to help amplify the impact of their work. 
  • A summit for civic leaders from around the world, which is taking place in Chicago. 
  • Training Days to teach young people across the country to engage in civic life.
  • My Brother's Keeper Alliance to address opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color.
The Foundation will be located in the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, and construction is underway.

This is a developing story and since there aren't always opportunities to chat with Michelle about it, the best way to keep up with what's happening is to jump on the social media train by liking the Obama Foundation Facebook page and following them on Twitter @ObamaFoundation.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Feel Good Friday - AWARE

I got back from Singapore this morning and while I'm still awake, I wanted to share the work of AWARE on this Feel Good Friday.

AWARE stands for Association of Women for Action and Research. Established in 1985 by a group of women who wanted to use research to approach women's issues in a coherent, consistent way, AWARE is Singapore's leading gender equality advocacy group.

Their vision is "a society where there is true gender equality - where women and men are valued as individuals free to make informed and responsible choices about their lives." Their mission, "to remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes." AWARE fulfills this mission through research and advocacy, education and training and support services.

Current research and campaign efforts include programs focused on housing for single parents, ending marital immunity for rape, and training low-income women to become professional caregivers in the eldercare sector. Educational information includes fact sheets and resource links on issues such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, contraception, abortions and eating disorders. Support services include a helpline you can call to get connected to counseling, a legal clinic and a sexual assault care center.

How does AWARE make people in Singapore aware of the issues and their services? Through links on their website, a book series, and training workshops for corporations, schools and the community.

If you'd like to stay aware of all the great work AWARE is doing in Singapore, you can get involved by volunteering, making a donation and liking their Facebook page.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Feel Good Friday - United Way

This week in nature has brought us hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes. While there are many organizations that work in disaster zones, the one I'm focusing on for today's Feel Good Friday is United Way.

In response to recent events, they've created a Harvey Recovery Fund to support communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. "100% of individual donations to this fund will be distributed to local United Ways in the affected areas." If you've been affected, call 2-1-1 to get connected to resources for health and human services 24/7.

Now, back to the beginning. In 1887 a Denver woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi got together - not for drinks at a bar - to create United Way. As explained in the history section of their website the purpose of United Way was "to collect the funds for local charities, to coordinate relief services, to counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies and to make emergency assistance grants for cases that could not be referred." That year they collected $21,700. In 2016 public support was over 90 million dollars!

United Way is the largest privately-funded nonprofit in the world. There are 1800 United Ways in 40 countries and territories, 2.9 million volunteers, 9.6 million donors and 61 million people served annually. If your short on time, this intro video gives a brief overview of the work they do.

Their mission is focused on three areas: "United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community." For details on the various programs, I encourage you to browse the sections "Our Focus" and "Our Work".

One educational initiative is Born Learning, which provides parents and other caregivers with tools and information to understand childhood development as well as advocate for policy change. Income related programs include career training, job search assistance and credit counseling, to name a few. Their health initiatives include not only providing people access to medical care and nutritious food, but also working with local schools, governments and community-based non profits to provide parks, bike paths and playgrounds.

If you want a reason to feel good Saturday through Thursday, you can read success stories here that include connecting 26,000 youth in San Francisco to jobs and providing Hepatitis B vaccinations for 9,000 people in Mumbai, India. You can also check out the United Way docu-series, The Hero Effect, for uplifting stories of individuals making a positive difference in their communities.

Support this organization by joining a group in your area, volunteering your time or making a donation. United Way is the first Feel Good Friday organization I've found that will let you donate Bitcoin! You can also stay current by liking their Facebook page, following them on Twitter @UnitedWay and connecting with your local chapter.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Akili Dada

These Feel Good Friday posts give me an opportunity to do some virtual globe trekking. Last week we were in California with the Surfrider Foundation so this week we're going to Kenya to profile Akili Dada.

As summarized on their Facebook pageAkili Dada is "a leadership incubator empowering the next
generation of African women leaders." In Swahili, "akili" means intellect, ability, strategy, knowledge, competence and "dada" means sister; a term of endearment, respect and familiarity among women.

I learned about this organization when I read Zachary Ochieng's blog on about a 19 year-old woman in Kenya who established a library that now serves 1000 students! As explained in the HerStory section of the website, "Akili Dada was founded in 2005 by Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg to address the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in Africa." She and her husband used money given to them as wedding gifts to fund the first four high school scholarships.

"Akili Dada's mission is to nurture transformative leadership in girls and young women from underprivileged backgrounds to meet the urgent need for more African Women in Leadership." Their vision is, "a world in which African women leaders are actively participating in key decision-making processes across sectors." The strategies to achieve this vision focus on financial investment, leadership development, mentorship and skills training and are carried out through three main programs. 

The Young Changemakers Program provides high school scholarships, mentoring, leadership academies and requires the participants to develop a community service project. 121 girls, ages 13-19 have developed leadership skills and created social change initiatives that have affected over 27,000 community members. Watch this video of an Akili Dada graduate who has founded a developer school to teach people programming.

The Gap Year Program takes advantage of the mandatory gap year between high school and university to provide girls with skills based learning, such as coding and social media, experiential learning through internships and mentorships and intensive college preparation courses. The 52 girls that have been through this program have logged 8,778 hours of community service and volunteer teaching.

The Innovation in Leadership Program is a year-long fellowship targeted to young women ages 18-35 and helps them build entrepreneurial and career readiness skills so they can develop solutions for the challenges facing their communities.

You can watch this 16 minute introductory video for more details and to hear from program graduates  or check out their entire video library. If you like what you see and you live in Kenya you can become a mentor at Akili Dada. If you don't, you can always make a donation and support their work by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @AkiliDada