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!