Friday, April 26, 2019

Feel Good Friday - SERVE

After watching the news from Sri Lanka about the bombings on Easter, I went looking for something positive happening in the country that I could highlight on Feel Good Friday. That's when I found SERVE.

SERVE, which stands for Socio-Economic, Ecological, Religious, Virtuous Empowerment is "a non-profit organization established in 1999 working with and for the rights of children and families" in ten districts in Sri Lanka.

SERVE partners with social workers to support community development through self-help groups for women and programs for children. Their approach focuses on social empowerment (community problem solving), economic empowerment (forming groups to save money that can be loaned to members), and political empowerment (solving neighborhood issues). You see them in action in this short video.

Current projects include running children's centers to provide homework help, computer classes and art classes; supporting women in prison with skill development, income generation activities and reintegration assistance; and providing karate and life skill lessons to adolescent girls to help them develop self-discipline and confidence.

If you want to support the work that SERVE is doing, they welcome volunteers to help in the classroom with English, computer, arts and music instruction or professionals who can help with teacher training, IT support and social work. Donations are also accepted and you can keep current with SERVE by liking their Facebook page.

If you'd like to make a donation to help the victims of the bombings in Sri Lanka, you'll find resources and options at this link.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Feel Good Friday - World Monuments Fund

As is sometimes the case, my Feel Good Friday inspiration today came from bad news that happened earlier in the week. This time it was the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. It made me wonder if there was an organization dedicated to protecting monuments and historic places and it turns out there is - the World Monuments Fund.

Founded in 1965, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) is a private nonprofit "dedicated to saving the world's most treasured places". They do this by working with "local partners around the globe to provide financial and technical support for preservation, restoration, and long-term stewardship". Since their founding over 50 years ago, the WMF has raised 300 million dollars, trained or employed over 1000 people and conserved over 600 sites!

Not only do they respond to sites damaged by earthquakes, floods and wars, they also have several proactive programs. That includes World Monuments Watch, a global nomination-based program that uses cultural heritage conservation to empower communities. For example training Syrian refugees in Jordan as stone masons so they can rebuild monuments destroyed during the war in Syria. Learn more in this short video.

In addition to training craftspeople in restoration, the WMF works with communities to build economic, technical and governmental infrastructure to protect and preserve historic sites. If you want to learn more you can check this link and read about their featured projects.

You can support the work of the World Monuments Fund by traveling with them, making a donation, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @WorldMonuments. If you'd like to direct your donation to the restoration of Notre Dame, you can do that here.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Feel Good Friday - The GroundTruth Project

I'm always on the lookout for good news to share on this blog. A recent story on the PBS News Hour led me to today's Feel Good Friday organization, the GroundTruth Project.

Based in Boston, the GroundTruth Project, as explained on their Facebook page, "provides in-depth reporting on social justice issues while training a new generation of global correspondents in the digital age."

Since their founding in 2012, they have provided more than 150 fellowships to early-career journalists who are on the ground reporting on social justice issues.

Stories focus on public health, the environment, religion, humanitarian crises and human rights. The PBS report I saw was about survivors of the Rwandan genocide who have turned to photography to document their country's resilience 25 years after the massacre. Click this link to view the story.

All GroundTruth fellows receive journalism security training, funding for reporting time and expenses, and editorial mentorship. Their work, which can be in print, photography, film or radio, is published on the GroundTruth Project website and through editorial partnerships with major news outlets. You can view all the special reports here.

To support the work of the GroundTruth Project, you can make a donation. To keep current with what they're doing you can sign up for one of their newsletters and connect with them on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @GroundTruth.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Legal Services for Children

A friend of mine sits on the Board of Directors for the organization Legal Services for Children. When I learned more about their work, I decided they were a perfect candidate for Feel Good Friday.

Established in 1975 and based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the mission of Legal Services for Children (LSC) is to provide "free representation to children and youth who require legal assistance to stabilize their lives and realize their full potential."

They take a client-oriented, holistic approach that uses both legal advocacy and social work services to help children and youth (up to 21 years old) in three major areas:
  • Safety and stability at home - assistance with the guardianship process and representing children in foster care cases
  • Success in school - help with enrollments for students that are homeless, undocumented or in foster care; representation at expulsion hearings; and assistance filing complaints
  • Freedom from deportation and detention - free legal screenings and advice about legal options, as well as representation in immigration cases
The impact of LSC is impressive. In 2017 they served 1,443 youth in 25 different languages and held 100 outreach and training community events. Victories included helping their clients secure permanent residence, asylum, employment authorization and legal guardianship as well as getting deportation proceedings terminated and school expulsions cancelled. You can read more metrics and watch stories about individual clients here.

If you're an attorney who wants to help and has time to volunteer, you can apply to become an LSC Pro Bono Attorney. You'll receive training, support and access to an online resource library. The rest of us can make a donation and show our support on social media by liking the Legal Services for Children Facebook page.