Friday, October 25, 2019

Feel Good Friday - 'WEEN DREAM

It's Feel Good Friday and the time to get your Halloween costume together is running out! Luckily, there's 'WEEN DREEM.

Founded in 2014 by Kelsey Meeks and located in New Orleans, Louisiana, 'WEEN DREAM "gives free Halloween costumes to children in need across America." To date over 10,000 "'WEENSTERS" in 38 states have received costumes.

As explained on their website, 'WEEN DREAM focuses on children "who are faced with unique challenges, including those with special needs, physical and/or mental disabilities, homeless children, kids living in poverty or at shelters, children with serious medical issues, kids in the foster care system, and kids who have experienced a recent trauma or natural disaster." Whew!

The costume application period runs from August 1st through 30th every year and includes applications for individuals, families and groups. Matching begins August 31st and costumes are picked up or shipped between October 1st and 12th.

The organization is run by volunteers and depends on costume donations from people around the country. If you have some new, or gently used, complete costumes you no longer need, you can check the FAQs to find out how to donate them. Bonus points if you've got one of the highly requested costumes such as Black Panther, Wonder Woman or Harry Potter. Donations are accepted year round.

If you don't have any costumes but still want to support 'WEEN DREAM you can make a monetary donation, purchase storage and shipping supplies from their Amazon Wish List, or review the guidelines posted online and host a costume drive. As always, you can stay in the loop by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @WEENDREAM. 

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Arts Outreach

I'm headed to Los Olivos, California today and so is Feel Good Friday! Although only one of us will be wine tasting.

Our Los Olivos destination is Arts Outreach, a nonprofit community arts organization based in the Santa Ynez Valley. Their mission is "promoting the visual, literary and musical arts in the Santa Ynez and Los Alamos Valleys".

They began in 1980 with five volunteer artists as an arts-in-schools program, placing artists in the classrooms to teach and perform. Today, they have over 70 professional artists helping them out.

Arts Outreach still places artists in the classroom to work in partnership with the teachers and holds art classes after school and during the summer. Summer classes can include, art, music and theater. There is also a 20-week singing workshop called Valley Glee, which culminates in a performance for the community.

Adult programs include art classes that teach a variety of mediums and an outreach program that brings concerts and artistic events to retirement communities and senior living centers.

If you live in the area, you can get a taste of Arts Outreach by participating in the upcoming Gingerbread Wonderland fundraiser. Enjoy dinner and wine, then decorate a gingerbread house. Or maybe you should reverse the order.

For people not in the area, you can show your support of Arts Outreach by making a donation, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @ArtsOutreach1.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Feel Good Friday - It Gets Better Project

Did you know today is Feel Good Friday and National Coming Out Day? What a great reason to highlight the It Gets Better Project, an organization whose vision is "a world where all LGBTQ+ youth are free to live equally and know their worthiness and power as individuals."

The It Gets Better Project began in 2010 as a social media campaign run by columnist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller. Now it's a global movement. Their mission is "to uplift, empower and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) youth around the globe." They do this through storytelling and building community.

Over 60,000 people have shared their stories of resilience and hope in order to inspire others. These videos are on the website and include posts from Laverne Cox, Adam Lambert and even President Obama. If you want to share your story use this link to upload a video or submit it in writing.

Community building takes place a few different ways. There is a support page on the website that will connect you to over 1100 organizations in 40 countries that offer support to LGBTQ+ youth. You can filter by location and category to find the best resource for your situation whether you're in crisis, need legal help or want to find a social community. There are also resources for educators, and over 625,000 people have taken the pledge to speak out against hate and intolerance.

You can support the work of the It Gets Better Project by taking the pledgevolunteering, donating, and as always, connecting on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @ItGetsBetter.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Feel Good Friday - The Town Kitchen

It's been two months since I posted a Feel Good Friday story about Oakland so it's about time I told you another tale from the Town.

The Town Kitchen is "a community-driven food company that employs and trains our youth by delivering chef-crafted meals to corporate clients." 

Founded in 2015 by Sabrina Mutukisna and Jefferson Sevilla, the Town Kitchen provides underserved youth (ages 16-24) with fair-wage jobs, healthcare and job training programs. About half the employees are foster youth. That's important because Only 50% of children in the foster care system finish high school, making it harder to find employment, and 20% will experience homelessness during their first year on their own.

The Town Kitchen is located in East Oakland and 75% of employees live in the community. When they deliver meals in the wider Bay Area, it gives them increased responsibility beyond the kitchen and exposure to corporate environments. When they first started, the Town Kitchen was delivering 20-30 meals a week, now they deliver 700 - 2,000 meals a day!

Get a glimpse inside the kitchen with Chef Sevilla and the employees in this short video.

If you'd like to support the work of the Town Kitchen you have many delicious options. Go to the website to order lunch for your office or fill out this form to book catering for your next event. You can also show the social media love by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @TheTownKitchen.