Friday, August 27, 2021

Feel Good Friday - International Refugee Assistance Project

No matter your thoughts on the situation in Afghanistan, there are thousands of Afghan refugees who can use some help. That’s why today’s Feel Good Friday is focused on the International Refugee Assistance Project

Founded in 2010, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is “the legal advocacy organization for refugees and displaced people in need of a safe place to call home.” 

From offices in New York, Washington D.C., Amman, Lebanon, and Berlin, IRAP organizes both lawyers and law students to “develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid, litigation, and systemic advocacy, IRAP serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders.” 

Work focused on the people of Afghanistan is being prioritized and includes providing legal resources for Afghans, petitioning the State Department for the immediate evacuation of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, and encouraging people to take action such as signing this petition and contacting your elected officials to encourage them to bring as many people to safety as possible.

The other areas of focus for IRAP include: family reunification, helping clients navigate private sponsorshippathways for refugees, protecting the integrity of the US asylum system, expanding legal protections for climate displaced people, and protecting and expanding U.S. refugee resettlement.

 As they explain in their 2020 Annual Report, in the last 11 years, IRAP has:

  • Provided legal aid to more than 30,000 individuals
  • Assisted more than 14,000 people through our artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot, which helps individuals navigate refugee resettlement and visa options
  • Led the passage of 12 provisions of bipartisan U.S. congressional legislation, opening and improving pathways to safety for over 173,620 people
  • Leveraged the courts in cases that could maintain pathways to safety for more than 339,000 individuals 

If you’d like to support IRAP and the people they support, there are several ways to do so. In addition to the actions listed for Afghan refugees, you can also make a donation and help other people learn about IRAP by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @IRAP and Instagram @refugeeassistance.

If you’re looking for more organizations that support refugees. Check out these previous Feel Good Friday blogs on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Rescue Committee.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Project HOPE

In times like this when there is so much going on in the world it’s easy to get overwhelmed. My goal with the Feel Good Friday blog is to stay focused on the positive so today, we’re going to learn about Project HOPE and their response to the recent earthquake in Haiti.
On August 14, Haiti was struck by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Over 2,000 people have died and 500,000 need humanitarian assistance. “Project HOPE’s Emergency Response Team is on the ground in the Sud department, delivering critical medicines and medical supplies, including bandages, sutures, and antibiotics, to health facilities in Les Cayes and the surrounding area.”

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE is “a global health and humanitarian relief organization that places power in the hands of health care workers to save lives across the globe.” They have both global and local staff comprised of technical experts and medical volunteers who work in over 100 countries to build the capacity of the health workforce in communities that need it most.
Their work encompasses several different areas including: Global Health SecurityHealth EquityInfectious Diseases, Training Health Care WorkersMaternal, Neonatal & Child HealthNoncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and Health Affairs. Two programs I’m going to highlight are their responses to disasters and COVID-19.
When there is a natural disaster or health crisis, Project HOPE deploys staff and volunteers to provide medical support and works with local health facilities to distribute medicine and relief supplies. This is what their teams in Haiti are doing now. They also stay in the location to train health care workers, provide emergency preparedness training and help health systems rebuild. In 2020, Project HOPE helped 170,000 people affected by natural disasters and humanitarian crises.
In response to COVID-19, “Project HOPE has delivered over 17.5 million pieces of PPE and over 5,000 pieces of medical equipment, hygiene, and sanitation supplies, trained more than 116,000 health workers and frontline personnel, and reached more than 150 countries worldwide, including the U.S.”

In 2020, Project HOPE helped 1.4 million people through their global health programs and donated $56.2 million in essential equipment, medicines, and medical supplies. To support them in this work there are several ways to get involved. If you have a health care background you can volunteer. You can also help fund their programs with a donation and raise awareness of their work by liking their Facebook page and following them on Instagram and Twitter @projecthopeorg. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Oakland Zoo

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Oakland Zoo with my nieces so today’s Feel Good Friday is a great time to find out more about this nonprofit organization.

Founded in 1922 by naturalist Henry A. Snow, Oakland Zoo is now managed by the Conservation Society of California and focuses on “connecting people, animals and the natural world to inspire conservation and wonder.”


It will come as no surprise that Oakland Zoo is full of animals. You can visit over 850 native and exotic animals at the zoo or spend some time on their YouTube Channel learning all about the residents. Oakland Zoo not only cares for the animals, but also the local community. They offer free and discounted education programs to schools, support other non-profits, host holiday parties for local charities, and offer free and discounted admission to underserved community members.  


Oakland Zoo’s education programs include training Teen Wild Guides to be interpreters in the Children’s Zoo, overnight ZooFari experiences for the community, and visits with the zoo’s Education Animal Ambassadors to name a few. While some of these programs are currently on hold, you can still connect with Zoo@Home and take a virtual field trip, Zoom with the animal ambassadors or tune in to hear zookeepers share animal anecdotes.


Finally, Oakland Zoo is actively involved with many researchers and organizations dedicated to various conservation projects around the world. You can use this map to find the zoo’s wildlife conservation partners and learn more about their work. And click this link to see how Oakland Zoo exemplifies sustainability through their actions around composting, solar power, the Green CafĂ© and more!


If you want to support all the work being done by Oakland Zoo to “inspire conservation and wonder”, there are many ways to do so. Bay Area locals can volunteer or become a zoo member. No matter where you live you can make a donation and share the work of Oakland Zoo on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @oakzoo and

Instagram #oaklandzoo.


Friday, August 6, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Crayon Collection

Did you know August is Crayon Collection Month? Yet another reason to keep up with Feel Good Friday as we delve into the details of Crayon Collection.

Founded in 2009 by Sheila Michail Morovati and based in Los Angeles, the mission of Crayon Collection is “to inspire a commitment to environmental consciousness and the infusion of art education in underfunded schools.” This 2-minute video gives a great overview of the organization.

One of their major programs is crayon recycling. Have you ever wondered what happens to the crayons that restaurants provide to kids to keep them busy? They get thrown away. And we’re talking about 150 million crayons a year! Meanwhile, teachers are spending their own money to provide supplies for underfunded schools. How can we connect these groups? Enter Crayon Collection.


In their own words, “Through our Crayon Recycling Program, we establish partnerships with national restaurant and hotel chains that distribute free crayons to children when they dine. Instead of throwing these crayons away after each meal, we establish a collection process for each location and ensure these gently used crayons are donated to a local school in need.” In addition, preschools and elementary schools throughout the country hold crayon drives then donate the crayons to neighboring schools. 


That leads us to the Color Kindness Program, which encourages children who have collected crayons to group a rainbow of 10-12 crayons into a bag and include a hand-written note of positivity. As Crayon Collection explains, “this gentle expression of care goes a long way and is a source of joy for both recipient and writer.”


Another focus of Crayon Collection is arts education. A partnership with The Getty Museum, provides studio sessions for children from kindergarten to 5th grade, while volunteer artists working through the Boys and Girls Club provide after school art education programming.


Finally, Crayon Collection has launched a new venture called Habits of Waste which encourages people to rethink wasteful behavior and change their habits. That will require its own FGF post.


Since their founding in 2009, Crayon Collection has collected and donated over 20 million crayons! If you’d like to be part of this success, there are many ways to get involved. You can volunteer to run a crayon drive, teach an art program, and of course, make a donation. As always, help amplify the work Crayon Collection is doing by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @CrayonCollectio and Instagram@crayoncollection.