Friday, July 31, 2020

Feel Good Friday - CERF+ The Artists' Safety Net

Another Feel Good Friday, another organization helping people during the pandemic. Today let's learn about CERF+.

CERF+ is a safety net for artists founded in 1985. As they explain in their own words, "we help artists get ready for emergencies and back on their feet after disasters." Originally known as the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, CERF+ was created to expand on the grassroots mutual aid efforts of artists within the craft community.

Right now, CERF+ is offering one-time COVID-19 relief grants to help artists meet urgent food, housing and health needs. Learn more and apply here.

Other programs go beyond emergency relief. There are career resources with information on business practices, marketing, financial management, legal issues and self care. Artists can take advantage of research and workshops to assist them in sustaining their careers. There are also tips on emergency preparedness, and of course, access to grants and other sources of emergency relief.

The artists being helped by CERF+ include ceramicists, woodworkers, glass artists, violin bow makers, and jewelers! If you're curious to learn more you can read their individual stories here. In the 30+ years CERF+ has been around, they've provided $1.2 million in grants to 640 artists, $1 million in loans to 537 artists, and $500,000 of in-kind donations to 375 artists.

You can help CERF+ support artists with a donation of your own and help spread word of their work by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @CERFplus. Be sure to share this information with your artist friends!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Feel Good Friday - First Book

I'm going to spend the next few Feel Good Fridays highlighting organizations that are helping people during the pandemic, starting with First Book.

Founded in 1992, First Book is "a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials and other essentials to children in need." They do this because they believe education is the best path out of poverty.

Why books? "Books and resources have been shown to have a positive relationship with interest in reading, academic and writing performance, and language development." You'll find a more detailed breakdown of the need and benefit of books at this link.

First Book's model is designed to address the systemic causes of educational inequality and their programs reflect this. You can watch this short video of First Book in action or keep reading.

The First Book member network consists of 475,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. First Book provides these educators with no and low-cost books and educational materials for children ages 0 - 18 to help them be successful in school and life. If you're a teacher, check the eligibility requirements and register for membership here. Over 1,000 educators join the network each week.

First Book also provides research and insights for their member network to use. Recent reports focused on barriers to learning, stress and anxiety in the classroom, and social and emotional learning. Their Community Connect program matches nonprofit organizations with local classrooms serving children in need so that available resources, like flu shots and food, go to communities that need them most.

First Book currently reaches an average of 5 million children every year and supports one out of every three classrooms and programs in need. Since their founding in 1992, First Book has distributed over 185 million books and educational resources in over 30 countries!

If you'd like to support the work of First Book there are many ways you can take action, including making a donation and sharing the social media love by liking their Facebook page, following them on Twitter @FirstBook and tagging your posts with #bookstokids.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Center for Disease Control and Prevention

If you follow the Feel Good Friday blogs, you know I typically share work being done by smaller organizations. Today, however, there's a very big organization that needs some love and recognition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

What we now know as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), started off as the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1946 their primary mission was preventing malaria from spreading across the nation. Today, as part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC has an expanded mission: "We work 24/7 to protect the safety, health and security of America from threats here and around the world." Not only are they focused on protecting health but also on promoting quality of life through prevention and control of disease, injury, and disability.

Let's start with COVID-19. There is an overwhelming amount of information on the CDC website, including health resources for individuals; guidelines for businesses, schools, parks, faith-based organizations and first responders; resources for health departments; and tracking of cases and data. There are also communication plans, videos, and print resources in English and 34 other languages! Honestly, after spending some time in this section of the website I'd be impressed if that was the end of the story, but wait, there's more.

The CDC has resources and data on: diseases and conditions such as cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS; healthy living topics related to food safety, weight, alcohol and smoking; travel notices, advice and recommendations for international destinations; emergency preparedness for pandemics, natural disasters, and chemical or radiation emergencies; injury and violence preventionworkplace safety and health; and environmental health. They also partner with organizations around the world to address global health issues.

As we've seen in recent news, the agency is not without problems and controversy, however they are  still a valuable public health resource. To learn more about specific work of the CDC, visit their website or watch informational videos on their YouTube channel. I recommend the playlist I Am CDC, which is full of people who proudly explain the work they do.

Share the love and keep up on the latest news by liking the CDC Facebook page and following them on Twitter @CDCgov.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Hollaback!

I've been looking for ways to be a better ally to the Black community and that's what led me to today's Feel Good Friday organization, Hollaback!

Founded in 2005 by a group of seven young people in New York, Hollaback! is "a global, people-powered movement to end harassment in all its forms."  Here's how they do it.

Hollaback! offers FREE bystander intervention training to help you learn how to respond when you witness someone being harassed. I took the training a few weeks ago and highly recommend it. They teach you five methods you can use, known as Hollaback!'s 5Ds: distract, delegate, document, delay and direct. You can read about them at the bystander resources section of their website. It was helpful for me to learn that there are ways to be supportive without directly confronting the harasser.

Other training offered by Hollaback! includes conflict de-escalation, responding to and preventing harassment, and resilience - both in the workplace and in the face of Covid-19. In addition, Hollaback! has trained over 550 young people to become site leaders in their communities so they have the skills to launch a site and take on-the-ground action. Learn more about customized resources and site leaders.

Since the early days, Hollaback! has expanded to 21 cities in 16 countries. You can find your nearest Hollaback! office at this link or check out their online resources to learn how to deal with harassment in the workplace, on the street and online.

The final program to share is HeartMob, a platform created in 2015 to help end online harassment. People being harassed online can ask for the immediate support they need and the HeartMob community will respond. To date over 7,500 actions have been taken to support more than 1,600  people.

To get involved with Hollaback! and their work, you can join the HeartMob or sign up for a free training. I took "Bystander Intervention to Stop Police Sponsored Violence and Anti-Black Racist Harassment" and the schedule for that is here. You can also make a donation, and follow Hollaback! on Facebook and Twitter @iHollaback, to amplify their message and help them end harassment in all its forms.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Feel Good Friday - The American Flag Foundation

It's the first Feel Good Friday in July, Independence Day is tomorrow and U.S. flags will be flying high. That makes today a great day to brush up on your flag facts with The American Flag Foundation.

Chartered in 1982 and based in Baltimore, Maryland, the mission of The American Flag Foundation is "to encourage Patriotism in children and adults, achieved through our education and outreach programs, focused on the American Flag."

Over 100 volunteers at AFF work with school systems, all levels of government and other organizations to provide educational opportunities to understand the history and origins of the flag. Resources for teachers can be found here.

For example, did you know the original flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes was adopted as the national flag in on June 14, 1777, but it was another hundred years before the first national observance of Flag Day in 1877? It wasn't until 1949 that the holiday was made permanent by a Congressional resolution.

If you have questions about flag ettiequte and Public Law 829, aka "The Flag Code" you'll find answers in this pamphlet. Some facts I found interesting... DO raise it briskly and lower it slowly and ceremoniously, DON'T use it for any advertising purpose, on anything intended to be discarded after temporary use or as part of a costume. So much for that parade.

There is a rather dramatic reading of the Star Spangled Banner origin story at this link and, if all of this information has inspired you to buy an American flag (or a state flag or the flag of another country), you can do that here. No social media links for The American Flag Foundation, though you can always make a donation to support their work. 

Have a wonderful, socially distanced, 4th of July! 


Friday, June 26, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Victory Fund

It's the last Feel Good Friday in Pride month and it's election season so today I'm highlighting the "only national organization dedicated to electing openly LGBTQ officials", Victory Fund.

Victory Fund was founded in 1991 with a mission "to change the face and voice of America's politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ officials at all levels of government."

Modeled after EMILY's List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice, Democratic women, Victory Fund recruits, trains and supports openly LGBTQ candidates for public office around the country.

Candidates are given strategic, technical and financial support. In addition, endorsements from Victory Fund help increase the candidates' exposure to potential donors.

These methods work. In 1991, the first candidate Victory Fund ever endorsed won her election. Sherry Harris became the first openly lesbian African American city council member in Seattle. Since then, Victory Fund has helped over 600 candidates win elections all across the country! You can read more of their success stories on their history page and visit this interactive map to view 2019 election results.

Victory Fund wants to ensure the LGBTQ community has a voice at the table and there are many ways you can get involved to help them. Search this list of current candidates to see who needs your vote in November. Support multiple candidates with a donation to Victory Fund.

You can also join a virtual Sunday Social on June 28th to hear elected officials discussing the impact of LGBTQ leadership and how current events will influence their decision making.

To stay in the loop for future events, like Victory Fund's Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @VictoryFund. Happy Pride!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Movement for Black Lives

Today's Feel Good Friday falls on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. The Movement for Black Lives has put together a list of events for Juneteenth which I'll share at the end of the post after we learn about M4BL.

Formed in 2014, M4BL is "a national network of over 150 organizations creating a broad political home for Black people to learn, organize, and take action."

Their website explains that M4BL was created "as a space for Black organizations across the country to debate and discuss the current political conditions, develop shared assessments of what political interventions were necessary in order to achieve key policy, cultural and political wins, convene organizational leadership in order to debate and co-create a shared movement wide strategy. Under the fundamental idea that we can achieve more together than we can separately."

Their work is organized around six areas: policy, organizing/base building, electoral justice, the rising majority, culture, and resource. Groups within those areas organize strategy and programming that supports M4BL's long term visions.

These visions are outlined in a 5-year plan titled Black Power Rising 2024. Goals include: mass engagement (of 4 million Black people in the US), local power (establishing self-determined Black communities), building across movements/multiracial strategy, leadership development (training 500,000 Black organizers, activists and strategists) and an electoral strategy that aims to prevent the rise of white-nationalist and authoritarian rule.

Read more about M4BL's specific policy platforms at this link and visit this page to find out how you can create a customized week of action in defense of Black lives. From low risk activities like donating to bail funds or organizing a Twitter storm, through higher risk activities such as engaging in civil disobedience, there are many options of how you can participate and resources to help you.

If you want your activities to coincide with Juneteenth, here is the promised list of resources so you can find an event near you! 6.19

If you'd like to support the work of M4BL directly, you can join a virtual event, make a donation and amplify their message by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Mvmnt4BlkLives.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Unicorn Riot

Today's Feel Good Friday highlights Unicorn Riot, another organization I learned about in the Black Vision Collective's resource page.

Founded in 2015, Unicorn Riot is "a volunteer-operated decentralized media collective comprised of multimedia artists and journalists" operating in Boston, Denver, Minneapolis and New York City.

Unicorn Riot's mission, as explained on their Facebook page, is "to amplify the voices of people who might otherwise go unheard, and broadcast the stories that might otherwise go untold, as we further understanding of dynamic social struggles."

In pursuit of this mission they "are committed to producing media that exposes root causes of social conflict and explores sustainable alternatives in today's globalized world." To get an idea of what that entails, watch this short video that follows reporters on the ground.

Unicorn Riot's reporting focuses on the following areas: arts and culture, borders, community, Covid-19, eco, labor, LGBTQ+, police, prison, racism, social control, and tech. Visit their website or video archives, to search by topic and find stories that interest you. Examples of recent reporting include nurses in Minnesota striking over lack of protective equipment, council members vowing to disband the Minneapolis police department and Mother Goose's Bedtime Stories - a cabaret event where marginalized artists share their talents and perform in front of a live audience.

I normally end these posts with information on how to donate to the profiled organization, however, Unicorn Riot set a fundraising goal of $5,000 on May 27th and by June 10th they had raised over $560,000! While you are still more than welcome to donate, you can also help Unicorn Riot maintain free, independent media by amplifying the stories they tell. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @UR_Ninja.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Women for Political Change

Last Feel Good Friday, I profiled Black Visions Collective and the work they're doing in Minnesota to organize Black communities and dismantle systems of violence. In that spirit, they've shared a list of other organizations that can use our support. I'll highlight some of them here, starting with Women for Political Change.

It began as a student group at the University of Minnesota in 2015 and became a non-profit organization in 2018. As explained on their website, "Women for Political Change (WFPC) holistically invests in the leadership and political power of young women and trans and non-binary individuals throughout Minnesota."

Student chapters of WFPC are active on campuses at UMN, St. Olaf College and Spring Lake Park High School. They provide space for the students to identify and take action on issues important to them.

WFPC also has a new program called the Campaign Leadership Cohort, designed to create leadership opportunities in electoral politics for young people from historically marginalized communities. The first cohort consists of six young women who are receiving training, support and compensation in preparation to move into campaign leadership positions in local 2020 elections.

There are two additional programs. The Young Women's Initiative Network hosts events to connect young people interested in professional development and community building. The Mutual Aid Project provides a list of mutual aid funds where you can both receive or give financial aid, as well as resources related to health, housing, food assistance and safety.

You can support Women for Political Change with a donation and amplify their work by liking their Facebook page, following them on Twitter @MNWFPC, all while dancing along to their playlist on Spotify, WFPC Mix!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Black Visions Collective

If you are coming into this Feel Good Friday distressed about the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis and wondering what you can do, I invite you to support Black Visions Collective (BLVC).

I learned about BLVC in the article, "5 Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White and State-Sanctioned Violence". You can find it here.

Black Visions Collective was founded in Minneapolis in 2017. It's a "Black-lead, Queer and Trans centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence."

They accomplish this work by building movements from the ground up and developing Minnesota's emerging Black leaders so they can lead strategic campaigns that put healing and transformative justice at the center. Whether the actions they take involve mobilizing with national groups, or focusing on local campaigns they support their long term vision in which "ALL Black lives not only matter, but are able to thrive."

In response to the murder of George Floyd, BLVC is encouraging supporters to call Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, and ask that the police department funds are redirected to mental health resources, affordable housing and public health approaches to violence prevention. 612-673-2100.

Other ways to support the work of Black Visions Collective is by making a donation and keeping up with the latest news on social media. Like the BLVC Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @BlackVisionsMN. #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter

Friday, May 22, 2020

Feel Good Friday - College Track

Last week's Feel Good Friday blog focused on high school graduation. This week, we take the College Track.

Founded in 1997, College Track "is a unique, comprehensive 10-year college completion program that empowers students from underserved communities to graduate from college". They started with a group of 27 students in East Palo Alto, California and now have over 3,000 students around the country on the path to college graduation and beyond.

The mission of College Track is "to remove the academic, financial, and social-emotional barriers that prevent low-income and first-generation students from earning their college degree." They start working with students in 9th grade and stay with them through high school, college and post-graduation.

During their high school years, students attend one of the 12 College Track centers and participate in programs focused on academic affairs such as tutoring and SAT prep, student life engagement in service projects and wellness programs, and college completion where they are advised on filling out college applications and applying for financial aid.

While in college, students work with an advisor on academic and financial issues, and on building social-emotional skills. Students also participate in corporate residency programs, mentorships and internships. Post-graduation, College Track helps connect students with the resources they need to further their careers.

So, does it work? Yes! 79% of students are employed within 6 months of graduation and 95% have a job with employer-provided benefits. 75% borrow less than $30,000 in loans and the median salary for graduates age 25-34 is $62,500.

If you know a student who would benefit from this program, have them apply at this link. If you'd like to support all the students in College Track you can volunteer, donate, and spread the word on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @collegetrack.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Feel Good Friday - #GraduateTogether

Another Feel Good Friday sheltering in place means coming up with more creative ways to share experiences that usually happen in person. #GraduateTogether is reimagining, you guessed it, graduation.

#GraduateTogether is a national, virtual ceremony honoring the 3 million students graduating from high school this year. As explained on the website, "Artists, athletes, musicians, commencement speakers, influencers, and cultural icons will show their support with performances and messages featuring students, teachers and their families from coast to coast."

It airs tomorrow, May 16th at 8pm ET/PT and 7pm CT/MT, on major broadcast channels and all your favorite social media platforms. But don't just watch, participate! There are options for you to get involved whether you're a student, teacher or family member. Submit a photo, a speech, a tweet, a note of appreciation or tell the world what the class of 2020 taught you. All entries are welcome.

If you want to plan a graduation ceremony in addition to tomorrow's celebration, there's also a toolkit full of ideas, resources and guidance on logistics. Download it here.

This program is brought to you by the Entertainment Industry Foundation (helping members of the entertainment industry find philanthropic opportunities), The LeBron James Family Foundation (investing in education for kids in Akron, Ohio) and the XQ Institute (rethinking the high school experience).

If you've got a graduate in the family, or you want to share in the excitement of graduation, be sure to tune in tomorrow. Help spread the word by liking the XQ Facebook page, following the event on Twitter @GradTogether and tagging all your posts with #GraduateTogether when you Tweet up a storm or submit your #GradWalkTikTokChallenge video. Congratulations!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Global Midwife Education Foundation

Mother's Day in the U.S. is this Sunday so we're devoting today's Feel Good Friday to a group that works with mothers, the Global Midwife Education Foundation (GMEF).

Founded in 2010 by Genevieve Reid, MD, the mission of GMEF, as stated on their website, is "to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in rural areas of the developing world."

Current projects are active in Boliva and Peru and GMEF is addressing the various root causes of maternal and infant mortality with a multi-level approach. Keep reading, or watch a short video here.

Since most families live hours from the nearest hospital and lack access to transportation, hospital births are rare. GMEF trains birth attendants (both women and men) how to prevent infections and hemorrhage associated with childbirth, and how to provide basic newborn care. GMEF also trains Ministry of Health doctors and nurses in critical newborn care and provides supplies and equipment.

More of their work with the Ministry of Health includes providing access to safe birth control options for women who desire contraception. Family planning helps women secure their autonomy and well-being by spacing out pregnancies and/or limiting family size.

In 2019, GMEF's work focused on clean water and sanitation. Contaminated water causes diarrheal diseases, which account for 1 in 9 child deaths worldwide. GMEF coordinated efforts between the government, Ministry of Health and the community of Oplaca (over 4,000 people) to build a new water system that now provides clean water to the village. They also used donations to purchase a new water pump for the 600 people living in Tomatas.

GMEF also helps people construct bathrooms and sanitation systems that keep water and food sources free from contamination. In the 2018-2019 year they provided 12 schools with bathrooms and sinks, bringing their grand total to over 750 bathrooms serving 6,000 people.

If you'd like to support the work of the Global Midwife Education Foundation, you can do so by making a donation, shopping for a gift and liking their Facebook page.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Feel Good Friday - The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York

The days tend to blur together when sheltering in place so we're going to spend this Feel Good Friday talking about Tuesday! Cinco de Mayo is a holiday commemorating the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. While you're raising your glass to Mexico next week, take some time to learn about The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York (MCINY).

Founded in 1991, the mission of The MCINY is "to strengthen the image of Mexico and foster a  better understanding of our country through the promotion of its art and culture."

They do this by organizing music concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, film screenings and book presentations. The MCINY also participates in local festivals and partners with art institutes around the world. You can explore past events at this link.

With no current events scheduled, and in-lieu of an annual luncheon, The MCINY is supporting the Cinco de Mayo Eat, Drink and Support Week. From May 2 - 9, New Yorkers are encouraged to order delivery and takeout from participating restaurants who will all be offering special Cinco de Mayo menus. Sounds delicious!

If you're not in New York, perhaps you live near another Mexican Cultural Institute. You can find them in Miami, San Antonio, Washington DC, Paris, Spain and Costa Rica!

As you celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday, consider supporting and promoting Mexican culture in New York with a donation to The MCINY and by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @MCINY. ¡Viva!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Women's Aid

It was a virtual performance of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" by London City Voices that gave me today's Feel Good Friday idea. The community choir was raising money for the organization, Women's Aid. Let's find out why.

Founded in 1974, Women's Aid is a national charity in England working to end domestic abuse. One of the services they offer is Live Chat, a way for women to connect with expert support workers for assistance. In the first two weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown, visits to the site increased by 41%. Women's Aid wanted to raise £200,000 ($247,100) so they could expand the hours of the Live Chat service. I'm happy to report they met their goal and you can now contact Live Chat from 10am - 2pm, Monday - Friday (GMT).

In addition to chatting with a support worker, survivors of domestic abuse can get help via email, by calling a 24/7 hotline, connecting in a survivors forum or by reviewing the survivors handbook. The handbook answers questions about domestic abuse and how to help your children, as well as refers women to safe houses, legal assistance and mental health resources. In 2018 the hotline handled over 100,000 calls and connected callers to almost 300 local services.

Women's Aid also shares information, training and resources with other organizations that support survivors. They educate local communities, schools and football clubs about the issue of domestic abuse and raise public awareness with innovative campaigns like this interactive billboard, Blind Eye. I recommend clicking the link to see how it works.

In order to bring about social change, Women's Aid also conducts research into key areas of domestic abuse to influence government policy. In 2018, they secured £55m in emergency funding from the government.

While Women's Aid met their fundraising goal this week, the need doesn't go away. You can support the global sisterhood with a donation, by campaigning (if you're a local) and by raising awareness on social media using the tag #notalone on the Women's Aid Facebook page and Twitter @womensaid.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Action Against Hunger

Another Friday in the middle of a pandemic but there is always something to feel good about. Today that's the work being done by Action Against Hunger.

The COVID-19 crisis and resulting unemployment has highlighted the need for food assistance in the US, but we're not the only country where people are suffering from food insecurity. Worldwide, over 800 million people go to bed hungry each night and 5,000 children die each day from hunger-related causes. Here's what Action Against Hunger is doing about it.

Founded in 1979, Action Against Hunger is "a global humanitarian organization that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger." As explained on their Facebook page,  "we save the lives of malnourished children. We ensure everyone can access clean water, food, training and effective healthcare. We enable entire communities to be free from hunger."

In 2018, Action Against Hunger served more than 21 million people in 47 countries. They employ nearly 8,000 people, 95% of whom are working in their own communities.

Programs include: screening and treating children for undernutrition; improving the access of vulnerable communities to food, income and markets; strengthening infrastructure to provide clean water, safe sanitation and good hygiene; and providing emergency response to populations affected by natural disasters and armed conflict.

Action Against Hunger is also responding to COVID-19 by restricting travel for their employees, having field teams take precautions to prevent spreading the virus and promoting access to safe water and healthy hygiene. Last year, their Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs reached 8.9 million people.

The best way for you to support the work of Action Against Hunger is with a donation. 93% of your contribution goes directly to people in need. You can also make a donation directly to the COVID-19 Relief Fund. I realize there are many people and organizations in need right now so if you're financially tapped out, show some social media love by liking the Action Against Hunger Facebook page and following them on Twitter @acfusa.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Feel Good Friday - National Domestic Workers Alliance

Thank you for letting me take a tiger-related COVID-19 time out last Feel Good Friday. I'm now back and ready to focus on organizations that are helping people most affected by the pandemic. Today, let's talk about the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

As explained on their website, "the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the nation's leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States." The organization was founded in 2007 and "works for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of who are immigrants and women of color."

Every day, over 2.5 million nannies, house cleaners and care workers provide support in our homes, yet they are rarely covered by federal labor laws mandating minimum wage, overtime pay and protection from sexual harassment. NDWA is working to change this by organizing and innovating at the state and local level.

There are 60 affiliate organizations and local chapters in 30 cities that domestic workers from all 50 states may join. Members get discounts on vision, hearing and prescriptions, connection with other workers, opportunities to get involved in the domestic worker movement and access to training to help in their work, as well as leadership development courses.

Membership with NDWA also provides you with many resources ranging from those related to coronavirusimmigrant rights and workers rights broken down by state. There's also a section on skill building whether that's dealing with toddlers or elders in your care.

The campaigns supported by NDWA are working. In 2015, members won a federal rule change that granted 2 million home care workers across the country the right to minimum wage and overtime pay. In 2019, NDWA introduced the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to ensure rights and dignity for all domestic workers around the country.

Other initiatives focus on stoping human trafficking of domestic workers, creating improvements in elder care, and supporting immigration rights that keep families together.

If you're getting all your needs met during this crisis and are able to help others you can make a big impact by donating what you can to the Coronavirus Care Fund. This money is providing emergency assistance to domestic workers that enables them to stay home and stay healthy.

If you're also struggling during this time, you can still show your support by liking the NDWA Facebook page and following them on Twitter @domesticworkers.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Lions Tigers & Bears

Hello friends. My last two Feel Good Friday posts have been related to the COVID-19 pandemic and while this will understandably be a huge focus for people around the world for months to come, I want to use my time here to talk about something else that's on everyone's mind. Tigers.

The Netflix documentary, Tiger King is keeping many people occupied while they shelter in place. Facilities like those featured in the show exploit the animals. Today's organization Lions Tigers and Bears does the opposite.

Established in 2002 by Founder and Director, Bobbi Brink, Lions Tigers and Bears is a "no kill, no breed, no contact animal rescue, sanctuary and educational facility" located on a 93 acre ranch outside of San Diego, California. The mission statement explains they are "dedicated to providing a safe haven to abused and abandoned exotic animals and to inspiring an educational forum to end the exotic animal trade." Watch this 5-min video to hear Bobbi talk about the organization's history and see the ranch and the animals.

You may be surprised to learn that wild animal trafficking ranks fourth in the world after drugs, weapons and humans and there are more tigers in the world kept as backyard pets than there are tigers in the wild. The Lions Tigers and Bears ranch provides a refuge for rescued animals to run, play, swim and live out the rest of their lives with dignity. Over 400 animals have been rescued since the group's inception and there are over 60 animals living in the sanctuary today. In addition to lions, tigers and bears there are mountain lions, leopards, bobcats and servals. You can meet the animals and get to know more about them at this link.

If Tiger King, or this post, has inspired you to take action in support of exotic animals you have several options. First, Lions Tigers and Bears released a statement about Tiger King with several recommendations including:
  • Pledge to never take a selfie with, or handle, a wild animal of any age.
  • Visit only those sanctuaries accredited or verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the American Sanctuary Association, and/or members of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance.
  • Call your legislators and urge them to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would end the private ownership of big cats and this cycle of abuse.
What else can you do to support the tigers? It costs between $10,000 - $15,000 each year just to feed them so a donation is always welcome. You can also volunteer, shop for merch and, once we can freely travel again, you can pay a visit to the sanctuary. While we're on lockdown keep up with the latest news by liking the Lions Tigers and Bears Facebook page and following them on Twitter @LnsTgersandBrs.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Feel Good Friday - World Health Organization

In the seven years I've been writing this Feel Good Friday blog, I've never talked about the World Health Organization (WHO). Until today.

You've seen representatives from the World Health Organization in the news sharing information and resources about the COVID-19 outbreak but just who is WHO?

WHO is the United Nations' health agency, created in 1948 to achieve better health for everyone, everywhere. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO works with 194 Member States across six regions and from more than 150 offices.

Their activities address many aspects of health care. For example, WHO staff work alongside governments and healthcare professionals on the ground fighting infectious disease, providing vaccines and ensuring access to safe water and sanitation. Other programs include: producing international reference materials and making recommendations to bring people better health, running global health campaigns on prevention of diabetes and high blood pressure, extending mental health care in 110 countries, highlighting the consequences of maltreatment of children, sexual violence and elder abuse, tracking and analyzing data in all of these areas, and responding to humanitarian emergencies. Whew! If you're looking for details, the full list of programs can be found here.

The work WHO does makes an impact. Globally, life expectancy has increased by 25 years since 1950. Smallpox has been defeated and polio is on the verge of eradication. Between 2000 and 2015, malaria deaths dropped by 60% and tuberculosis deaths by 37% because of expanded prevention, diagnosis and treatment. A current goal of WHO is "to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being." All of this by 2023! Learn more about these triple billion targets in this short video.

To support the World Health Organization and their work, use the many resources on their website, celebrate World Health Day, make a donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and share the social media love by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @WHO. Now that you've finished reading - go wash your hands.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Feel Good Friday - COVID-19: Zoo cams and opera and art! Oh my.

With the COVID-19 outbreak now a pandemic, it's a challenge to find something to feel good about this Friday. Luckily, I'm not one to shy away from a challenge.

In today's Feel Good Friday we're going to go out while staying in. Before we get to the fun free resources, if you have questions about this outbreak, consult websites from the World Health Organization and your local government, in my case Oakland, California.

Following the advice of Mr. Rogers to "look for the helpers", I've compiled a list of arts and education organizations that are helping people deal with the stress, boredom and loneliness that comes with sheltering in place.

Zoos and Aquariums
Live streams of jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, weekday "zoo school" from Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania and round-the-clock view of giant pandas at the Smithsonian!

Opera and Theater
The Metropolitan Opera is streaming shows nightly at 7:30pm which you can watch for free up to 20 hours after the initial stream:

BroadwayHD has a streaming service with a free 7-day trial. Make the most of your 7 days by staying focused on Cats and not the panda cam:

Google has partnered with hundreds of museums to share their art collections online. Here are just a few - The British Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Uffizi Gallery, Palace of Versailles, Museo Frida Kahlo, Guggenheim... so many museums!

Exercising Mind and Body
If you're feeling compelled to make productive use of your time at home, you can take hundreds of classes from Ivy League schools to exercise your mind: free classes. Or go to this site to exercise your body:

Thanks to friends who have been sharing these links on social media. If you've found a resource not listed - add it to the comments. Enjoy! And please wash your hands.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Kindness for Cats, Inc.

Happy Feel Good Friday the 13th! On this superstitious day, let's talk about black cats and the people who are helping them find forever homes, Kindness for Cats, Inc (KFCI).

You may not know this, but black cats have the lowest adoption and highest euthanasia rates among felines. That's why Kindness for Cats, Inc. works with Orange County Animal Services in Orlando, Florida to foster cats in their program.

Founded in 2008 by Cindy Patton, KFCI's mission is "to provide temporary nurturing homes for homeless kittens and cats and to find them loving forever homes." They also educate the public about the abandon pet overpopulation, the high rate of euthanasia at local animal shelters and promote spaying and neutering.

KFCI places cats and kittens from OCAS with foster parents to spare them from euthanasia while they wait to be adopted. Those most likely to need extra time and attention are cats that are too young to be adopted, have special needs or are sick or injured. A typical foster placement is for one month and OCAS provides assistance with food, bedding, crates and bowls.

If you live in Orlando and are in the market for a kitty, the KFCI website is a great place to look. This link lists cats and kittens currently available for adoption. Once you bring a cat into your home, their website has tons of resources on topics such as introducing a new cat to your home, whether or not to declaw your cat and what to do about feral cats in the neighborhood.

But what about all those black cats you ask? KFCI promotes their adoption with fun links like Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Black Cat. While reasons 9 and 10 might be a stretch ("black goes with everything" and "you can always find your black cat in the snow") the number one reason is why KFCI focuses on black cats, they are "least likely to get adopted".

Depending on where you live, there are many ways you can support this work. Floridians can foster or adopt cats from KFCI. All of us can make a traditional donation, automatically donate a portion of our online shopping purchases, and share the social media love by liking the KFCI Facebook page and subscribing to their YouTube channel. Cat videos anyone?

Friday, March 6, 2020

Feel Good Friday - National Women's History Alliance

We're kicking off Women's History Month with a Feel Good Friday post about the organization that brought us Women's History Month, the National Women's History Alliance.

Founded in 1980 in Santa Rosa, California as the National Women's History Project, the NWHA is "an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to Writing Women Back into History." And yes, this group successfully lobbied Congress in 1987 to establish March as National Women's History Month!

The mission of the NWHA is "to recognize and celebrate the diverse and historic accomplishments of women by promoting information and educational materials and programs." They focus on the achievements of women past and present to inspire girls and young women with positive role models.

For example, you can learn all about the suffrage movement on the NWHA website. The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was passed by Congress in 1919 and became part of the Constitution in 1920 after being ratified by 36 states. This publication has history, pictures and links to additional resources. 

On March 28, there will be a celebration of the 100 year anniversary of women's right to vote. The theme is "Valiant Women of the Vote" and it takes place in Washington DC. Living honorees include women such as Eleanor Holmes Norton, civil rights leader, lawyer with the ACLU, and current Congressperson, and Maria Teresa Kumar, voting rights activist and CEO of Voto Latino, an organization "dedicated to registering Latinx voters and encouraging civic participation." Historical honorees include suffragists Lucy Burns, Carrie Chapman Catt and Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee. You can learn more about these honorees and all the others at this link.

While you're on the site, you can connect with speakers and performers who can help bring women's history to life at your school, company or next event. You can also test your knowledge with a quiz! Be warned, they're difficult but educational.

To help the National Women's History Alliance write women back into history, support them with a donation, a shopping spree or by sharing their message on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @officialNWHP. 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Feel Good Friday - CREW

Concerned about ethics violations in politics? So is Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, aka CREW, and that's why they're today's Feel Good Friday organization.

CREW is a non-partisan legal watchdog group that was founded in 2003. As explained on their website, "in a political moment where profits are prioritized over ethics and anonymous money damages the democratic process, CREW highlights these violations of the law and abuses of power through aggressive research and legal action."

As you might imagine, they've been quite busy lately and have taken over 450 legal actions since the beginning of the current administration.

Their work focuses on three areas: legal, research and policy. The team at CREW researches the flow of money in politics and identifies violations of campaign finance, ethics, tax or other rules. The first step is to file complaints asking the appropriate government agencies to investigate. If those agencies don't follow up, the second step is to file lawsuits to compel them to enforce the law. CREW also supports government agencies and public organizations working to reform campaign finance systems, strengthen federal corruption laws and increase government transparency.

You can go to this link to read up on the latest actions such as filing a complaint against Rudy Giuliani for violating the Hatch Act, requesting DOJ records on Roger Stone's reduced sentencing and requesting Army records on the removal of Lt. Col Vindman. These were some of the latest stories when I was writing this on Tuesday. Who knows what will be there by the time Friday rolls around.

There's an entire section of their websites devoted to reports they've compiled on unethical behavior. Reading them will get you riled up and ready to act. Then what? If you're an attorney, you can sign up with their pro bono program to volunteer your skills. Everyone else can make a donation so CREW can continue their work or send in tips if you've found evidence of unethical behavior. Keep up on the latest news by reading their blog, liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter @CREWcrew.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Feel Good Friday - NAACP

Happy Feel Good Friday! We're celebrating Black History Month with a post highlighting the NAACP.

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was founded on February 12, 1909 and, as they explain on their website, it is "the nation's foremost, largest, and most widely recognized civil rights organization." With 111 years of history, half a million members and over 2,000 volunteer branches nationwide, it's worth a visit to their website or a branch to find out more. You can also watch this short video from the History channel for a great overview.

The mission of the NAACP is "to secure political, educational, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons."

Some of the early focus of the NAACP was fighting Jim Crow laws, ending school segregation, and lobbying for the civil rights and voting rights acts. Current efforts are directed at six game changers: economic sustainability, education, health, public safety and criminal justice, voting rights and political representation, and expanding youth and young adult engagement.

In practical terms that means activities such as awarding scholarships to outstanding students and advocacy to combat gun violence and encourage voter participation. There's also the NAACP Image Awards, "the nation's preeminent multicultural awards show from an African American point of view." The 51st annual awards show is airing Sunday!

To get involved supporting the work of the NAACP you can become a member, make a donation or attend the annual convention in July. You can also share the social media love by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @NAACP.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Feel Good Friday - WomenHeart

Happy Valentine's Day! Today is all about matters of the heart, which is why our featured Feel Good Friday organization is WomenHeart!

Founded in 1999 by three women who formed a support group after having heart attacks, it is the "first and only national patient-centered organization dedicated to serving women with heart disease."

48 million women in the US are living with or at risk for heart disease and it is the number one killer of women. That's why the mission of WomenHeart is "to improve the health and quality of life of women living with or at risk of heart disease, and to advocate for their benefit."

They do this while embracing the values of empowerment, equality, inclusiveness, collaboration and quality. WomenHeart believes that education, support and training will enable women to take charge of their heart health and inspire them to advocate for other women. In the 20 years they've been around, over 900 women heart disease survivors have been trained to be community educators.

WomenHeart has also developed 100 patient support groups in 30 states, hosts advocacy institute conferences to train women to become public policy advocates, created the educational Red Bag of Courage program and held the first National Policy and Science Summit for women's cardiovascular health.

Not only that, their website is full of resources that help you prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease. You can also find information to educate yourself, connect with a support group and learn to become an advocate for women with heart disease. Get some information and inspiration in this short PSA video.

You can support WomenHeart in the traditional ways by making a donation or becoming a volunteer. You can also knit a red scarf as part of the HeartScarves program. Your scarf will be donated to women heart patients in hospitals to offer them comfort and support. Since this program started in 2009, over 5000 scarves have been delivered. Get on it, knitters!

Other ways to spread the love? Like the WomenHeart Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @WomenHeartOrg.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Detroit Hives

What happens when you transform vacant lots into urban bee farms? You get featured on Feel Good Friday, that's what.

I first learned about Detroit Hives a few months ago from this PBS Newshour story. It's an organization founded by Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey with a mission "to raise bee awareness and to protect the conservation of honeybees within the City of Detroit."

There are approximately 75,000 vacant lots in Detroit. The goal for the team at Detroit Hives is to buy and revitalize 45 of those lots in the next five years and expand their operation to 200 hives. Bees play an important part in pollinating blossoms. When hives are nearby community gardens, it increases the yield of the those gardens. Plus, you get honey!

The team at Detroit Hives also engages urban communities by creating cultural experiences focused on education and conservation. They are dedicated to teaching conservation and sustainability, especially to young children, by encouraging them to grow gardens in their yards and helping them overcome a fear of bees. You can learn more about their work by watching videos on their YouTube channel.

Whether or not you live in Michigan, you can support the work of Detroit Hives by shopping for merchandise and honey, making a donation and showing the love on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @DetroitHives. #Workhardstaybumble

Friday, January 31, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Everybody Wins! Iowa

You know who wins on Feel Good Friday? Everybody!

Today's organization is Everybody Wins! Iowa. While it sounds like it has to do with the upcoming caucus and presidential election, it's a nonprofit focused on literacy. 

Everybody Wins! Iowa was founded by Phyllis and Arthur Tannenbaum with a mission "to increase children's success in school and life through one-to-one reading and mentoring experiences with caring volunteers." The program started in New York and was brought to Iowa in 2002 by Senator Tom Harkin

In Central Iowa, nearly 1 in 5 fourth grade students are not reading on grade level. Everybody Wins! Iowa addresses this with their signature program, Power Read. Teachers recommend students who are struggling with reading, are English language learners or those who might benefit from mentoring. Those students are matched with volunteers and they meet one-on-one for an hour every week at elementary schools and community organizations. 

Mentors and students read, talk and bond over books. Reading out loud with students helps them build vocabulary and learn new information, models fluent reading, and motivates children to read on their own. It also increases students' confidence and self-esteem and instills in them a positive attitude about reading. Watch this 2-minute video to see the program in action.

When they started in 2002, Everybody Wins! Iowa served 15 children in 3 schools. In the 2018-2019 school year, over 900 children were matched with mentors in 36 schools across central Iowa. That's how everybody wins: students get consistent interaction with caring adults, mentors get to make a positive impact on the children, schools see an improvement in their students' literacy skills, and companies have an easy way to provide volunteer opportunities to their employees.

If you want to support the work being done by Everybody Wins! Iowa and you live in Iowa, you can volunteer to become a mentor. The rest of us can donate cash, buy and donate a book from their wish list and spread the word on social media by liking their Facbook page and following them on Twitter @EverybodyWinsIA.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Feel Good Friday - The Ocean Cleanup

Solving the problem of plastics in the ocean is a recurring theme of the Feel Good Friday blog. Why? Because the oceans are still full of plastic!

I learned about today's organization, The Ocean Cleanup, from this article on the Good News Network, which I recommend you follow if you can't wait until Fridays to feel good.

When Boyan Slat was 16 he was diving in Greece and surprised to find more plastic than fish in the ocean. What did he do about it? Researched plastic pollution as a school project, came up with an idea to develop a passive concentration system, gave a TedX talk in his hometown of Delft in the Netherlands, inspired people to crowdfund $90,000 and founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013. Like you do.

As explained on their website, "The Ocean Cleanup is designing and developing cleanup systems to clean up what is already polluting our oceans and to intercept plastic on its way to the ocean via rivers." With over 5 trillion pieces of plastic littering the ocean and accumulating in 5 gyres, or garbage patches, Slat's floating system captures the plastic so it can be collected and recycled. Models put together by the team show that "a full-scale cleanup system roll-out could clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years." Learn more about that here.

That's not where it ends. The research team at The Ocean Cleanup found that 80% of the trash that ends up in the oceans comes from 1,000 rivers around the world. Enter the Interceptor, a ship of sorts that can extract up to 220,000 pounds of trash in a day. Slat's goal is to have Interceptors in all of the 1,000 worst polluting rivers by 2025. See how they work in this 2-minute video.

The Ocean Cleanup team, with over 80 engineers, researchers and scientists, aims to "reach a 90% reduction of floating ocean plastic by the year 2040." You can help them make it happen! Make a donation, shop for merch and raise awareness on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @TheOceanCleanup and @BoyanSlat. #TheOceanCleanup

Friday, January 17, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Sydney Wildlife

If you've been reading the news, you know that even though they're getting some rain, wildfires continue burning throughout Australia and the loss of human and animal lives is devastating. That's why in today's Feel Good Friday I'm following Mister Rogers' advice to "look for the helpers", like Sydney Wildlife.

Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services (aka Sydney Wildlife) is an all-volunteer organization founded in 1997 to "rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned native animals and to educate the community, at all levels, about the need to protect our native animals and to preserve their habitats."

You can tell you're dealing with an Australian organization when the FAQs include what to do when a Kookaburra attacks your windows or a an Eastern Water Dragon lays eggs in your driveway. Sydney Wildlife cares for a range of animals including: snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, birds, possums, bats, flying foxes, kangaroos, wallabies, long-nosed bandicoots and wombats! If you're wondering what a bandicoot is (like I was) it's a small marsupial you can learn more about here.

Because Sydney Wildlife offers rescue and advice service on a 24/7 basis, they rely heavily on their volunteers. If you live in Sydney and want to get involved in wildlife rescue, you'll need complete the two-day rescue and care course. Volunteers also give educational presentations at schools, offices and nursing homes and can set up an information booth at community events.

For those of us not in Australia, we can support the work of Syndey Wildlife with a general donation, a donation targeted to the "bush fire and drought relief wildlife recovery fund", and by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @SydneyWildlife1.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Feel Good Friday - Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Hello my friends! I've returned from my travels in Jordan and Egypt, where everyone we met was warm and welcoming. Unfortunately, conflict in the region is heating up. That's why today's Feel Good Friday is focused on the anti-war Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

WILPF is an international NGO founded in 1915, during World War I, by suffragists who saw the connection between their struggle for women's rights and the struggle for peace. The mission of WILPF is "to end and prevent war, ensure that women are represented at all levels in the peace-building process, defend the human rights of women, and promote social, economic and political justice."

There are national sections in 50 countries around the world with an International Secretariat in Geneva and a New York office focused on the work of the United Nations. Programs are divided into four areas:
  • Building the movement by "sharing knowledge and articulating agendas for action, securing sustainable funding, expanding our networks, and being responsive to our grassroots."
  • Leveraging feminist perspectives on peace by advocating to include women in the peace process and for a feminist UN Security Council.
  • Redefining security from military might to an economy that invests in environmental protection, social, and economic rights. Example programs in this area include advocating for peace in Korea and nuclear disarmament around the world.
  • Promoting socio-economic justice by connecting grassroots activists to decision-makers in the UN and monitoring developments within the UN and creating publications, articles and newsletters suggesting solutions.
The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in both 1931 and 1946!

If you'd like to get involved in being an advocate for peace (Nobel prize not guaranteed), you can become a member, sign up for the WILPF newsletter, make a donation and show your support by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @WILPF.