Friday, September 29, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Guide Dogs of America

I just learned that September is National Guide Dog Month so let’s talk about the work being done at Guide Dogs of America.

Founded over
70 years ago the mission of Guide Dogs of America (GDA) is “to transform lives through partnerships with service dogs.” They provide highly skilled, professionally trained service dogs across the United States and Canada at no cost to the recipients.

GDA raises and trains four classes of dogs: guide dogs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired; service dogs for veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or mobility limitations; service dogs for children with autism; and facility dogs that are placed with professionals in hospitals, schools, and courtrooms.


All training takes place on a 7.5 acre campus near Los Angeles, California. Training for the visually impaired includes a 21-day in-residence training program while training for veterans, individuals with autism and facilities dogs includes 3 weeks of online instruction, followed by a 10-day in-residence training program. While students are on campus learning how to care for and work with their service dogs, they are given private rooms in the dormitory and three meals a day.

The trainers at GDA take many factors into consideration when pairing students with a canine partner to ensure it is a good match. This includes the personalities of the students as well as their physical abilities, and work and home environments. Graduates of the programs are given free support for the lifetime of the team.

Currently, GDA is providing one on one support and in-home visits to over 210 working guide dog teams and 52 working service dog teams. According to the most recent annual report, in fiscal year 2022, GDA placed 22 new guide dog teams and 20 new working service dog teams. Watch this short video to hear from a GDA graduate about how having a guide dog enhances her life.

If you’d like to help GDA train and provide dogs that increase people’s confidence, mobility, and independence there are many ways to do so. Raise a puppy, volunteer your time, shop for merch or make a donation. You can also help spread the word on social media by subscribing to the Guide Dogs of America YouTube channel and following them on Facebook and Instagram @guidedogsofamerica.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Latino Public Broadcasting

We’re continuing our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month with a visit to Hollywood and the nonprofit organization, Latino Public Broadcasting.

Founded in 1998 by actors
Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dermer, and located in Los Angeles, California, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is “the leader of the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural media that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans.” 

As of 2022, LPB has delivered 275 hours of programming to public broadcasting stations throughout the United States and has won over 125 awards. This programming includes the documentary series VOCES, shown on PBS, which features the best of Latino arts, culture and history, and shines a light on current issues that impact Latino Americans.

LPB also fosters emerging Latino filmmakers who create the content. Filmmakers are provided with resources such as recommended reading, PBS program guidelines, and sample proposals. In addition, they can apply for funding! LPB has given out 15.7 million dollars to help amplify the diversity of voices represented within the public media system. 

Sixteen newly-funded projects have just been announced for 2023. Story topics include: the New York Latin jazz scene, a young Afro-Latina community activist running for the presidency in Colombia, and the first undocumented attorney to argue a case before the Supreme Court. If you can’t wait for the new projects to be completed, you can watch several other documentaries on the website now. 

When you’ve finished exploring, take a moment to help Latino Public Broadcasting in their mission to provide a voice to the diverse Latino community on public media. Support them with a donation and spread the word on social media. Subscribe to their YouTube channel, like their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram @latinopublicbroadcasting.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

Today is the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month and we’re kicking it off by celebrating a longstanding Bay Area organization, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Located in the Mission District of San Francisco, California, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) was established in 1977 “by artists and community activists with a shared vision to promote, preserve and develop the Latino cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Central and South American, and Caribbean people.” 

MCCLA is the largest Latino cultural center in the continental United States. For the last 45 years they have been developing, promoting and preserving the Latino Cultural values through the arts. Each week, instructors at MCCLA teach over 35 classes in multiple artistic disciplines. You can learn Afro Peruvian dance, screen printing on paper and textiles, or Brazilian carnival drumming! Low cost and free art education programs are also offered for both adults and children.

In addition to all the classes, Latinx artists living and working in San Francisco can apply for the Reimagining Art In Community Education Spaces Fellowship. Each year four artists are chosen and hosted by four Latinx led art and culture organizations in the city. During the twelve month fellowship the artists are required to develop a community informed art project in their discipline. The program culminates in a public presentation.

If you live in, or are visiting, San Francisco, you can take a tour of MCCLA, stop by one of the National Hispanic Heritage Month events or rent space for your own event! No matter where you live, you can support MCCLA in their goal to make the arts accessible to people in the community. Make a donation to the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and increase their visibility on social media by liking their Facebook page following them on Instagram @mcclasf.


Friday, September 8, 2023

Feel Good Friday - 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Sunday, September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, a time to remember those affected by suicide, to raise awareness, and to focus efforts on directing treatment to those who need it most. At the forefront of this work is today’s Feel Good Friday organization, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Launched in 2005 as the National Suicide Prevention Line, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (the Lifeline) is “is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.”

The CDC reports an estimated 49,449 suicide deaths across the U.S. in 2022, and suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people. The Lifeline is “committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.”


Since 2005, over 23 million people have called the Lifeline and been connected to trained counselors from one of over 200 local crisis centers in the Lifeline network. These counselors provide emotional support and crisis counseling, as well as connect callers to resources in their area. Visit the get help page to see how to contact the Lifeline.

In addition to being able to call, text or chat with counselors at the Lifeline 24/7, you can also visit the website to find information for specific communities such as veterans, youth or LGBTQI+ individuals. If you want to learn about warning signs that someone may be at risk for suicide and actions you can take to help, visit the prevention page. There is also a page dedicated to stories of hope and recovery to inspire you.

If you’d like to support the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline there are many ways to get involved. Promote National Suicide Prevention Month, learn about actions you can take to help others in crisis, make a donation, support your local crisis center, and raise awareness on social media. Like the 988 Lifeline Facebook page, follow them on Instagram @988lifeline, and use the hashtag #BeThe1To

Friday, September 1, 2023

Feel Good Friday - American Library Association

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month and if you know me, you know I love libraries. Those are the only reasons I need to spend today’s Feel Good Friday talking about the American Library Association.

Founded in 1876 during a Convention of Librarians in Philadelphia, the mission of the American Library Association (ALA) is “To provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”

As a professional association, much of what the ALA does centers on supporting their 58,000+ members. That includes information on career paths and salaries, publications and resources, as well as professional development and conferences that help librarians build connections and advance their careers.

The ALA also has a Public Policy and Advocacy Office in Washington, D.C., that works to advance policy issues critical to libraries, such as library funding, net neutrality and access to affordable, broadband internet. They provide toolkits and training for people interested in becoming library advocates. In recent years ALA advocates have protected $27 million in funding for school libraries and supported legislation for broadband development in rural America and in Tribal lands. 

In addition, the ALA website is full of information and resources for librarians on topics including banned and challenged books and how to fight censorship, how libraries can create programming to promote diversity, and toolkits to help libraries expand adult and multilingual literacy services.

If you’d like to support the American Library Association and their goal of ensuring access to information for all, there are many ways to do so. Make a donation, shop for banned books products and raise awareness on social media. Follow the ALA on Facebook and on Instagram @americanlibraryassociation. #LibraryCardSignUpMonth