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.