Friday, January 28, 2022

Feel Good Friday - The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.

January is National Braille Literacy Month and we still have time to celebrate. In today’s Feel Good Friday we’ll learn about an organization with a braille literacy program, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.


Founded in 1918, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is “a private, not-for-profit social enterprise providing employment, support, and training opportunities for people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities.” They are the largest employer of blind employees West of the Mississippi and the largest employer of individuals who are DeafBlind in the United States.


As they explain on their website, they focus on employment because “seven out of every ten adults who are blind are unemployed. For people who are DeafBlind, the unemployment number climbs to over 80% and for people with multiple disabilities, over 90%.


The Lighthouse has three manufacturing locations in Washington and South Carolina where workers produce “an array of machined parts and plastic injection molding for various aerospace manufacturers, as well as a host of office products and hydration equipment sold to the Federal Government and the U.S. Military.” They also provide managed and administrative services to commercial, federal and military customers, as well as own and operate supply stores on military bases along the West Coast. This news story from King 5 in Seattle gives a good overview.

In addition to providing employment opportunities, the Lighthouse offers a wide range of programs and services for employees who are blind and DeafBlind. Examples include training in braille and access to the Braille Reading Library as part of the Braille Literacy Program, computer training classes, orientation and mobility training to help employees travel independently and safely, guide dog training and additional programs to support DeafBlind employees.

You can read the Lighthouse employee success stories at this link to see how a focus on accessibility, independence and empowerment are making an impact. If you’d like to help the Lighthouse for the Blind make an impact, you can do that with a donation and by supporting them on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @Lighthouse_Inc and Instagram @thelighthousefortheblind_inc.


Friday, January 21, 2022

Feel Good Friday - Volunteer Match

Are you still in the “new year, new me” spirit but don’t know where to direct all your energy? Then it’s time to spend your Feel Good Friday learning more about Volunteer Match

Founded in 1998, Volunteer Match is, “the web’s largest volunteer engagement network”. Their mission is making it easy for good people and good causes to connect. 


As a frequent volunteer with Habitat for Humanity International, I can attest to the satisfaction, joy and friendships a volunteer experience can bring. I’m not the only one who feels this way, as you’ll see in this 2-minute video, “Introduction to Volunteer Match: 3 Good People, 3 Good Causes, 3 Perfect Matches”.


If you’re a good person looking to get matched with a good cause, the place to do that, of course, is the website. There you’ll find open volunteer positions from over 130,000 participating nonprofits. These listings are viewed by more than 15 million people each year and an average of 72 connections are made every hour. Since Volunteer Match began, there have been 16,916,689 connections made!


Participating nonprofits not only get volunteers to help their organizations, but they’re also provided with resources such as volunteer engagement tips, industry insight, and management best practices. You can see the list of upcoming free webinars at this link.


In addition, Volunteer Match has tech solutions and other resources to help 150 corporate network partners, campuses and government agencies with their volunteer engagement. You can read some of those success stories here.


The best way for you to get involved is to volunteer! You can pick your opportunity by topic (animals, environment, education, etc.), sort by city or do some virtual volunteering.


Since Volunteer Match is also a nonprofit, you can choose support them directly with a donation and by spreading the word on social medial. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @VolunteerMatch and Instagram @volunteermatch.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Feel Good Friday - Better World Books

The start of a new year is a great time to refresh your reading list. That’s why we’re highlighting Better World Books in today’s Feel Good Friday.

Headquartered in Indiana, Better World Books (BWB) is a “for-profit social enterprise and a global e-retailer that collects and sells used books online with a matching donation for each sale.” It was founded in 2002 by Notre Dame alumni Xavier Helgesen and Christopher Fuchs. They started their business with $7,000 in seed money they won in a social venture plan competition held by the university. Watch them tell the story in this short video.


Their inspiration came from success they had selling their used textbooks online. When they found out that millions of excess books end up in landfills every year as libraries make room for new editions, the founders realized something could be done to rescue these discarded books and help the environment at the same time. BWB started partnering with librarians all across the country to rescue books from landfills and sell them to raise money for the libraries.


Now BWB has a network of over 4,000 libraries located in Canada, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. They handle all aspects of inventorying, marketing, selling and shipping the materials they collect from libraries, and each saleable item generates funds for the library. In addition, for every book sold, BWB donates a book to someone in need. Along with libraries, BWB generates revenue for over 500 bookstores, wholesalers and distributors by selling surplus materials on over 30 channels around the world.


To date, Better World Books has donated over 32 million books, reused or recycled over 392 million books and raised over $33 million for literacy and libraries! Testimonials from librarians explain how using BWB to clear out their excess inventory has not only generated revenue, but also saved time for library staff.


If you want to help rescue books from the landfill and redirect them to people in need, or to your own bookshelf, there are many ways to get involved. College students can participate in one of the textbook drives held at over 1,800 college campuses. The rest of us can use this dropbox locator to donate any of our unwanted books.


The most fun way to support Better World Books of course is by shopping! For every book you buy for yourself, you’re actually rescuing two books – the one you get and the one donated on your behalf. Now that’s a story worth spreading on social media. Like the BWB Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @BWBooks and Instagram @betterworldbooks.


Friday, January 7, 2022

Feel Good Friday - A Plus

We’ve made it to the end of the week and another Feel Good Friday story. But what if you don’t want to wait seven days for more good news? Let me introduce A Plus.

Founded in 2014 by Ashton Kutcher, A Plus is “a digital media company devoted to spreading the message of positive journalism, a kind of storytelling that focuses on our shared humanity. It is rooted in our heartfelt beliefs that each person can effect positive change in the world and that we are all inextricably connected.” I love it already.

Topics of the stories on their website are divided into five categories: originalnewsentertainmentlifestyle and innovation. The videos range between 2 and 10 minutes and samples of what you can watch include a woman who created a farm cooperative for Black farmers, news of CVS providing mental health counseling, YoYo Ma playing cello at a vaccine clinic, reusable “jelly” ice cubes, and a pizzeria in Philadelphia run entirely by formerly incarcerated men and women.


In addition to all the shorter stories, you can also follow an A Plus series. Going from Broke chronicles a team that helps people pay off student loan debt. A Plus Heroes and Thriving You tell stories of individuals making a positive impact on their communities and themselves. Stories of immigrants can be found in The New Americans, and you can watch some of the most popular stories in the Featured section.

Most of my posts end with a donation link but A Plus is supported by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment so there’s no need. If you find the A Plus content inspiring and want to let others know about it, the best way is to amplify their message on social media. Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter @aplusapp and Instagram @aplusapp, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Enjoy the videos!