Friday, January 29, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Building Futures with Families

The rainy weather in the Bay Area this week made me grateful to have a home and curious to know who is helping our unhoused neighbors. That led me to today’s Feel Good Friday organization, Building Futures with Families.

What started in 1986 as The San Leandro Refuge for Women and Children is now Building Futures with Families. Their mission is “to build communities with underserved individuals and families, where they are safely and supportively housed, free from homelessness and domestic violence.”

Building Futures runs several homeless shelters across Alameda County, California. Some are warming shelters which open up when cold weather or rain is predicted. They offer a warm bed for the night, dinner, breakfast and a connection to housing services. Others are full-service shelters offering a warm bed, three meals a day, shower and laundry facilities, access to computers and telephones as well as permanent supportive housing assistance, linkage to medical services, financial literacy classes and children’s programming. Information on the specific locations and additional resources on homelessness can be found here.

Services for survivors of domestic violence include a safe house, which provides shelter and support services, and weekly support groups for both women and men survivors of intimate partner violence. For those who don’t need shelter services, there is an outreach team that provides advocacy, case management, counseling, and is also available for public education workshops. To access any of these services as well as find resources on domestic violence dynamics, safety planning and boundary setting guides for teens, click this link.

The final program focus is on supportive housing. Building Families has been a “Housing First” agency since 2007, which means their priority is to quickly connect their clients with housing. They do this by running a 52-unit permanent supportive housing community in Alameda as well as partnering with other agencies in the county to place people in permanent housing.

In the last year, as noted in the 2019-2020 Annual Report, Building Families has provided 29,883 nights of shelter, served 84,274 meals and housed 394 adults and children. You can read the stories behind the numbers at this link

If you’d like support Building Families you can volunteer your time, donate your money and amplify their work on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @buildingfuture5.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Tree-Plenish

Time for another edition of Feel Good Friday with a focus on two favorite topics - youth and the environment. Our featured organization today is Tree-Plenish.


Founded in 2019 by two high school students in Massachusetts, Tree-Plenish is “building sustainable communities by leveraging the power of youth.” They do this by working with students’ clubs and organizations to plan tree-planting events that offset schools' paper usage.


As explained in this short video, there are three steps to the process for students to follow:

1.     Plan your event. Find out how much paper your school used in the last academic year and calculate how many trees you need to plant. The estimate used is one tree for every 10,000 sheets of paper.

2.     Market your event. Reach out to residents in your community to request a tree to be planted or to become volunteers.

3.     Host your event. Gather with volunteers to plant trees for residents in your community.


Tree-Plenish mentors will guide and support students through the process while staying focused on their core values: building a sustainable future by replenishing resources, channeling the power of youth to create meaningful change, and leveraging the strength of local communities to take action.


In their first year of Tree-Plenish, students from two high schools in Massachusetts planted 400 trees. This year 90 schools from 20 states across the country are on track to plant 15,000 trees.


You can use this link to find an event near you and request a tree. For those of you living in Oakland, two local students have set the goal of planting 141 trees. Trees cost $10 each and you have until February 20th to decide between apple or apricot. The tree-planting event takes place on March 20th. Read more about it in this Oaklandside article.

If you like what you read and want to support the work of Tree-Plenish you can find an event to participate in, donate some cash to the cause, or amplify their message by buying a shirt and liking their Facebook page.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Feel Good Friday - The King Center

Today is not only Feel Good Friday, it’s also the birthday of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. We’ll celebrate his legacy with a holiday on Monday, giving you plenty of time to learn about the work being done by The King Center. 

Established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King and based in Atlanta, Georgia, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) is the official living memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. and a programmatic nonprofit with a mission to “prepare global citizens to create a more just, humane and peaceful world using Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and methodology (Nonviolence365®).


The website is full of resources explaining the 6 principles of nonviolence6 steps on nonviolence and the Beloved Community, “a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth… (and) racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.


Some of the programs of The King Center include: 

  • Nonviolence365® education and training, which teaches individuals about Dr. King’s methods of nonviolent social change as a means and strategy to accelerate progress in social justice initiatives.
  • Camp Now Leadership Academyan intensive program using technology, financial literacy and public speaking to help 13-19-year-old students become complete global citizens who will inspire nonviolent change across the world.
  • The Beloved Community Talks (BCT), which are “bringing people out of their comfort zone to promote understanding and to influence equitable change to the national infrastructure”.
  • Students with King, an opportunity for elementary through high school students to learn about the Civil Rights Movement from Mrs. King and family and friends of Dr. King.


In addition, The King Center leads the nationwide observance of the MLK holiday. The theme and call to action, for this year is “The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community!” and you can find a schedule of events here: MLK 2021


If you need a shirt to wear on Monday, or some books about Dr. King, you can shop for them at the online store. To support the work of The King Center, make a donation and amplify their work by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @TheKingCenter.


Friday, January 8, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Rocket Dog Rescue

We’ve made it to another Feel Good Friday! This week, I’m thinking globally and acting extremely locally by highlighting an organization located at the end of my street, Rocket Dog Rescue.


Founded in 2001, Rocket Dog Rescue is a San Francisco Bay Area dog rescue with a mission “to save the condemned animals from a cruel fate by providing them shelter through a network of temporary foster homes, until the animals are adopted permanently. Rocket Dog Rescue is operated entirely by a tight-knit group of volunteers and foster families who rehabilitate, train, and provide for the rescued animals.” 


The location I pass on my daily walks in Oakland is both an adoption center and urban sanctuary. What that means is they can provide care and temporary housing to homeless animals, pets of domestic violence victims who are unable to care for them, and rescue animals who require specialized care.


Even with housing at the sanctuary, Rocket Dog depends on a network of foster families to provide safe, stable, temporary homes for the dogs while they wait to be adopted. If you’re interested in fostering a dog, you can find more information here.


The ultimate goal, of course, is to find permanent homes for all of the dogs. If you’re wondering why you should adopt a rescue dog, consider this. In addition to saving a dog’s life, Rocket Dog takes care of basic training and veterinary services. They also perform temperament and behavior training and, since most rescue dogs are adults, you’ll have a pretty complete picture about the dog before you adopt it. Plus, the warm fuzzy feeling you get from rescuing a dog will be both figurative and literal. 


If you’re interested in adopting a dog, check out the adoption page. It provides photos and info on dogs that are currently available as well as guidelines and an application form. Virtual adoption events happen every Saturday on the Rocket Dog Facebook page. Since their founding in 2001, Rocket Dog had saved 9,333 dogs from euthanasia in overcrowded bay area shelters! You can read success stories from new pet parents here.


If you’d like to support the work of Rocket Dog Rescue, there are several ways to do it. Foster a dog, become a volunteer or donate some cash. You can also spread the word about their work by liking their Facebook pageand following them on Twitter @RocketDogRescue.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Feel Good Friday - New Year's Manifesto

Happy New Year and Happy Feel Good Friday!

In the 8 years I've been writing this weekly blog, I've only done a few repeats and here comes another one. 

The transition from 2020 to 2021 seems like a perfect time to bring back the post about creating your personal manifesto. Take advantage of some quality time at home to think about what's important to you and put it in writing.