Friday, November 24, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Feeding America

I hope this Feel Good Friday comes as part of a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend for you. With much of the focus of this holiday on both family and food, I want to highlight an organization that is Feeding America.

As succinctly explained on Twitter, Feeding America is a "nation-wide hunger relief charity helping more than 46 million Americans yearly including 12 million children and 7 million seniors." You can read some statistics on hunger here. The quick story is that 72 billion pounds of edible food goes to waste each year in the U.S. while 1 in 8 Americans struggle with hunger.

Feeding America came about in 1979 when Van Hengel, who established a food bank in Arizona in the 1960s, created a national organization for food banks called Second Harvest. The name was changed to Feeding America in 2008 to reflect the mission of the organization and it's since grown into a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs across the country.

Here's how it works. "Feeding America secures donations from national food and grocery manufacturers, retailers, shippers, packers and growers and from government agencies and other organizations." The food is shipped to and stored at food banks across the country who distribute it through pantries and meal programs like the SF-Marin Food Bank. There are also a variety of programs such as Disaster Food Assistance, a Backpack Program and a Senior Grocery Program, all of which you can read about here.

Last year, with their partners, Feeding America provided food for 4 billion people! To see what this looks like in action, watch this short video. When not distributing food, Feeding America also raises public awareness about hunger, conducts research and has policy staff in Washington DC to advocate for programs that protect people from hunger.

To support their work you can take action by becoming a volunteer, an advocate, or donating some cash. You can also show your appreciation by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @FeedingAmerica. "Together we can solve hunger".

Friday, November 17, 2017

Feel Good Friday - The Circle

Ever find yourself wondering what Annie Lennox has been up to post-Eurythmics and solo music career? Then this is the Feel Good Friday post for you!

In 2003, she performed at the inaugural concert for Nelson Mandela's HIV/AIDS Foundation - 46664. The next day several of the musicians visited hospitals, orphanages and townships to meet people affected by this health crisis, many of them women and children.

Motivated by what she saw, Annie Lennox created a non-governmental organization called The Circle. As she explains in her intro message on the website, "the concept of The Circle came from the notion of women supporting, connecting and inspiring each other to become advocates and change agents, through our passion, skills and ideas."

Because women around the world remain disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation, the vision of The Circle is "equality for women and girls in a fairer world."

They strive to meet this goal by connecting and advising women, amplifying their voices and funding their causes. The Circle has "raised over £1.86m which, working with partners, has been used to reach and make a difference to over 100,000 women and girls in more than 13 developing countries."

Current projects include youth empowerment workshops in Rwanda which teach up to 150 young people about gender equality, domestic violence, business skills and more. You can see a short video of the project here. There are also projects to run a women's shelter in South Africa, educate girls in India, prevent child trafficking in Nepal and train women to become rickshaw drivers in Pakistan! The complete list of current projects is here.

If you'd like to support the work of The Circle, you can join one of the member circles organized by region and profession, volunteer your time, donate your money and keep up in the social media circles by liking the Facebook page and following them on Twitter @TheCircleNGO.

Right now, if you donate through this Charity Stars link, you'll be entered in a contest to win a fight to London and join Annie Lennox for "An Evening of Music and Conversation" next spring! Sweet Feel Good Friday dreams ARE made of this.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Mercy Housing

Not only is today Feel Good Friday, for me it's also moving day! That's what inspired me to share the work of Mercy Housing.

What I learned from a visit to their website is that, "Mercy Housing is one of the nation's largest affordable housing organizations." It was started in 1981 by the Sisters of Mercy to provide affordable housing options to local residents in Omaha, Nebraska. Since then, Mercy Housing has grown to serve over 152,000 people across 41 states.

Their mission is "to create stable, vibrant and healthy communities by developing, financing and operating affordable, program-enriched housing for families, seniors and people with special needs who lack the economic resources to access quality, safe housing opportunities."

This is achieved through the the Mercy Loan Fund, which provides loans to community developers to build affordable housing, and the Mercy Housing Management Group, which provides property management for the Mercy housing communities. In 70% of Mercy properties, resident services are available to help residents create stable lives. These services include health and wellness classes, health screenings, cooking classes, finance classes, after-school care and more.

To support the work of Mercy Housing, you can volunteer your time or you can donate your money, knowing that 93% of donations go directly to program delivery. To stay in the know, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @mercyhousing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Tress for the Future

"We believe in the power of trees." Me too! That' why Trees for the Future is today's Feel Good Friday organization.

Since 1989, Trees for the Future has been working with farmers in dozens of countries to plant over 115 million trees! As they explain on the website, "planting trees provides families with more than just food. It provides income, empowerment, unity, leadership, education and even saves lives. When we can teach people to value themselves and their environment, they see amazing improvements in their standard of living."

Here's how it works. People from the Forest Garden Program provide training, mentoring, seeds and nursery supplies to groups of farmers over a four year period so they can plant specific types of trees and crops in a systemic manner. First comes fast-growing fertilizer trees to stabilize the soil. Next are the fruit, vegetable, nut and timber trees which have a higher value and require advanced skills to maintain. The final phase of the project is transitioning ownership of the trees to the farmer groups that have been planing and maintaining them.

These forest gardens "provide families with sustainable food sources, livestock feed, products to sell, fuel wood and up to 500% increase in their annual income." All that and combating deforestation too! You can learn more about Trees by reading some stories from the field or watching this short documentary (19 min) released in October, 2017.

If you like what you learn, there are a variety of ways you can help including fundraising, donating and volunteering. As always, stay in the loop by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Treesftf. "Plant Trees. Feed Families. Change Lives."