Friday, December 31, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Fresh Start Women's Foundation

It’s the last Feel Good Friday of 2021 and time to reflect on the new year ahead. What a great opportunity to talk about Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.


Founded in 1992 by sisters Pat Petznick and Beverly Stewart and based in Phoenix, Arizona, the mission of Fresh Start Women’s Foundation is “to provide education, resources and support for women to positively transform their lives and strengthen our community.”


Over 500,000 women in Arizona are living in poverty. The programs of Fresh Start are open to women 18 and up, and meant to fill gaps in the services already offered. Topics of classes and workshop range from life skills to career development. Examples of support services include access to legal professionals who help with family law issues, and mentors who work with clients one-on-one to set goals and the steps needed to achieve them. Career resources include small business startup training as well as computer literacy classes. If you’re not sure where to start, there is a team of social workers who can help you.


Success stories include a woman who worked with a mentor until she reached her goal of opening a bakery, and another who left an abusive marriage and now publicly speaks on the topic of domestic violence. You can read more stories of women who transformed their lives at this link.


If you’d like to support Fresh Start Women’s Foundation to help women build their self-confidence and get a fresh start, there are several ways to do so. Arizona locals can volunteer or attend next year’s Fresh Start Gala. The rest of us can make a donation and share the work of Fresh Start on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @FreshStartWomen and Instagram @freshstartwomen. 


Here’s to a happy new year and all of our fresh starts!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Feel Good Friday - NORAD Tracks Santa

Not only is today Feel Good Friday, it’s also Christmas Eve. So, let’s talk about an organization that has been tracking Santa for the last 66 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD

NORAD is “a United States and Canada bi-national organization which defends the homeland through aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America.” Given that the people of NORAD are always watching the skies, it makes sense that they are tracking Santa, but the tradition of reporting his progress around the globe on Christmas Eve started because of mistake.

As they explain on their non-Santa website, “tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD. Col. Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the child he was Santa. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls.” Today, volunteers at the NORAD headquarters in Colorado still staff a hotline to provide updates on Santa, but this year there will be 500 people answering phones instead of one.


The increase in volunteers isn’t the only upgrade that’s happened in the last 66 years. The NORAD Tracks Santa website includes musicbooks, computer games and a section full of Santa facts. Did you know Santa experiences time differently than we do, he is at least 16 centuries old, and he gains 1,000 pounds from eating all the cookies? Well, now you do.


You can follow his journey around the world tonight by visiting NORAD Tracks Santa, calling 877-HI-NORAD, or downloading the app on your iPhone or Android. Told you they’ve made a lot of improvements since 1955. You can also keep up with Santa and NORAD year-round by following them on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @NoradSanta and Instagram @noradtrackssanta_official. #NoradTracksSanta


Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2021

Feel Good Friday - One Simple Wish

In today’s Feel Good Friday, we’re profiling an organization that grants wishes to children in foster care, One Simple Wish.  

Founded in 2008 by foster parent Danielle Gletow, One Simple Wish (OSW) “grants wishes for foster children, children who have aged out of foster care and under-served children and families throughout the United States through a vast network of hundreds of Community Partner agencies in nearly every state.” To hear Danielle explain what inspired her to start OSW, you can watch her 2014 TEDx talk at this link.
With over 500,000 children spending time in foster care each year and more than 22,000 of them aging out without stable, permanent connections, there are plenty of young people with wishes ranging from Barbie dolls and cameras to jackets and household essentials.
The process for connecting the wishers and wish granters is simple. Agencies that work with children in foster care join the OSW Community Partner Network and submit wishes on behalf of children they are helping. Those wishes are posted on the website, people like you search through them and choose one or more to fund, then the wish is granted. At the time of writing this blog (ahem, last night) there were 371 active wishes to choose from.
The latest impact information on the website shows that in 2019, OSW worked with 782 community partners in 48 states to reach over 20,000 children by granting wishes, giving experiences and providing essential items to children in crisis.

If you’d like help One Simple Wish make an impact in 2021 and beyond, you can do that by granting a wish, making a general donation and amplifying their message on social medial. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @OneSimpleWish and Instagram @onesimplewish.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Pay Away the Layaway

The countdown to Christmas is on so in today’s Feel Good Friday, we’re going to highlight an organization that helps gets presents to children, Pay Away the Layaway

Founded in 2011 by Lee Karchawer, and headquartered in New York, the mission of Pay Away the Layaway is “to inspire hope and spread kindness.” They do this by raising money and using it to pay off layaway balances for families during the holiday season. 
Geared towards shoppers with lower incomes, layaway programs allow people to make a down payment on an item, which the store then holds for them while they pay the remainder of the price in installments. It is a popular way to make sure the item you want will be there for you when you finish paying for it.
Lee was inspired to create Pay Away the Layaway after seeing a news story about a donor who paid off $25,000 in layaway balances right before Christmas. This allowed people to collect the gifts they had on layaway for their children. Lee had just spent months putting effort in to winning a year’s supply of burritos and realized his ability to rally people around a cause could be put to better use. Watch him tell his story in this TedX link.
In their first year, Pay Away the Layaway raised just over $1,000 which Lee used to pay layaway balances for people at a K-Mart store in the Bronx. Since then, the organization has expanded across the United States and includes both major retailers like Walmart and Burlington Stores and also Army, Air Force and Navy Exchange stores. In a recent promotion with Good Morning America, Pay Away the Layaway raised $328,565 in the 3 days before Christmas!
You can watch videos at this link to see people’s reactions to having their balance paid, or click here to watch donor testimonials. If that inspires you to get involved you can become a Layaway Angel. When there is a payoff event in your city, you’ll arrive on-site and help greet families, deliver the surprise news, and help the partner store associates with day-of logistics. 
Other ways you can support Pay Away the Layaway are by making a donation and sharing their story on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @PayAwayLayaway and Instagram @payawaythelayaway.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Masbia Soup Kitchen Network

Today’s Feel Good Friday falls during Hanukkah, so we’re highlighting a group that’s raising money to feed 3,000 families in need this Hanukkah season, the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network

Founded in 2005, Masbia is a nonprofit soup kitchen network and food pantry located in New York. It’s Brooklyn’s first and only kosher soup kitchen! 
The vision of the founders was “a clean, well-lit and attractive place where poor men, women, and children could eat nourishing kosher meals daily for free.” The first location was a restaurant-style environment with volunteer waiters serving people their meals. 
Since then, Masbia has expanded beyond the original soup kitchen to include three additional locations with both a dine-in option and a food pantry. Here, through their weekend take-home package program, they give out bags of much-needed groceries every week to those with not enough food at home.
The team at Masbia has seen a 500% increase in demand since the start of the pandemic. They are now distributing food to 1,500 families each day, which comes to 2 million meals a year! You can watch a recent news story about Masbia providing food for Thanksgiving at this link.
If you live in New York and want to support the work of Masbia you can volunteer. The rest of us can make a donation and amplify their work on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter@Masbia.