Friday, July 12, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Zdravotní Klaun (The Healthcare Clown)

Happy Feel Good Friday from the Czech Republic! I’m in Prague and want to highlight the local organization, Zdravotní Klaun, which translates into the Healthcare Clown.


Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Prague, Zdravotní Klaun has helped both pediatric patients and seniors endure the process of medical treatment with a smile. Their mission is “to bring joy, good spirits, and hope to places in need”. Those places are primarily hospital rooms and specialized clinics and care centers for seriously ill children or seniors.


Let’s start with their programs for children. The most common is pairs of medical clowns dressed as doctors and nurses visiting children’s wards to “prescribe laughter, banish stress and sadness, encourage small patients and prescribe more than a large amount of humor.” The medical clowns consult with medical staff on the condition of the children before their visit. You can watch this short video to see the clowns in action without having to translate the website.


In addition to children’s hospital wards, the medical clowns also visit intensive care units, emergency rooms and host virtual clown parties. For children with long-term illnesses, there is a weekly program that teaches them skills such as magic and juggling and culminates in a performance for their parents, other patients and staff.


The programs for seniors include medical clown visits to geriatric departments of hospitals, homes for the elderly, treatment centers for the chronically ill, and hospice centers. The clowns enlist the seniors to perform in variety shows based on their memories and favorite activities. Zdravotní Klaun also provides seminars for healthcare professionals to share techniques and methods of open communication the professionals can use with their patients.


Currently, there are 93 professional healthcare clowns in the Czech Republic who make over 300 visits each month to 66 hospitals, 11 nursing homes and one hospice center. That’s a lot of laughter and joy.


If you’d like to support the work of Zdravotní Klaun there are many ways to do so. If you live in the Czech Republic you can become a healthcare clown . The rest of us can make a donation and spread the word on social media. Like the Zdravotní Klaun Facebook page, follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel.


Friday, July 5, 2024

Feel Good Friday - The Happy Camper Project

Summer is in full swing and for many children that means summer camp. That makes today a great time to learn about an organization that supports summer camps around the world, The Happy Camper Project.

Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the mission of The Happy Camper Project is “to inspire giving and sustain youth center programs by funding informal learning experiences.” As the philanthropic arm of Happy Camper Live their vision is “ to bring the joy of summer camp to every kid in the world.”


The Happy Camper Project raises funds and provides programming support to help summer camp and youth programs meet their financial and operational needs. This allows these camps to continue to offer their activities to their students, campers, families, and communities. Founder and CEO Allison Miller talks more about the organization in this short video.


The Happy Camper Project works with “diverse, mindful, positive youth organizations” that empower young people to learn new skills, take healthy risks, share their stories and create community. Supported programs include summer camps, after school programs, extracurricular clubs and virtual and in-person youth programs serving children ages 2-18.


One year-round, virtual experience is the Happy Camper Hangouts. Focused on children in the foster care system, the hangouts have virtual camping activities like classes in martial arts, dance, or arts and crafts. Campers make connections with their peers and counselors in breakout rooms and build confidence doing group activities.


Donations are used to create Happy Camper Care Packages, which are sent to camps based on their individual requests and needs. Items in care packages for individual campers may include sleeping bags, headlamps and backpacks; clothing and toiletries; or books and games. Programs receive kits focused on camping essentials, arts and crafts, games, science and sports.


If this has inspired you to send your kids to summer camp you can review a list of options here. If you’d like to help The Happy Camper Project bring the joy of summer camp to every kid in the world you can do that too. Volunteer your time, make a donation and spread the word on social media. Follow The Happy Camper Project on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. Happy camping!


Friday, June 28, 2024

Feel Good Friday - SF LGBT Center

It’s Pride weekend in San Francisco, which culminates in a giant parade on Sunday. What a great time to learn about an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community year round, the SF LGBT Center.


Opened in 2002 and located in San Francisco, California, the mission of the SF LGBT Center (the Center) is “to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies.”

 

The four priorities of the Center are: “to foster greater opportunities for people to thrive, organize for our future, celebrate our history and culture and build resources to create a legacy for future generations.” They do this through their programming and resources.


Programs cover areas such as arts and culture, community building, and services focused on employment, finances, small businesses and youth. Specific examples include art gallery exhibitions, first-time homebuyer workshops, a New Entrepreneur Training Program and a drop-in program and mental health services for LGBTQ youth. This calendar shows upcoming events.


In addition to the programs and resources located at the Center, this link on the website has information about 181 other Bay Area organizations which you can filter by education, employment, health, housing, immigration, legal, social, trans and youth. If you have questions, the Center has answers.


In 2023, the Center saw over 100,000 visitors and provided direct services to almost 6,000 people. That’s 1,500 people attending programs and events, 1,000 hours of gender-affirming mental health support to LGBTQ youth, 1000 people accessing financial literacy resources and over 500 job seekers receiving employment support. You can read more details about the Center’s impact in the 2023 Year in Review.


Much of the way the Center achieves these results is with the help of over 1,000 volunteers who provide administrative and event support as well as staff the welcome desk and provide drop-in mentoring. 


If you’re looking for a way to help the Center build a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBTQ+ people and their allies, volunteering is a great way to do it. Other ways to support the Center include making a donation and amplifying their work on social media. Follow the SF LGBT Center on Facebook or Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Happy Pride!

Friday, June 21, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Family Equality Council

Pride month is in full swing and it’s a great time to learn about organizations supporting the LGBTQ+ community. The focus of today’s Feel Good Friday is Family Equality Council.

Founded in 1979 as the Gay Fathers Coalition and headquartered in New York City, the organization officially changed its name to Family Equality Council in 2007. The mission of Family Equality is “to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing equality for the LGBTQ+ community.”


In order to achieve the goals of their mission, Family Equality has several strategic priorities that inform their work such as advancing racial and social justice, shaping the LGBTQ+ family narrative through storytelling, and building resilient communities. They advocate for policy changes at both state and federal levels, develop programmatic initiatives to protect LGBTQ+ families and youth from discrimination in schools, and help families share their own stories. These stories are given to decision-makers and the media so they have the tools they need to treat families with dignity and respect. You can view some examples in the story library, including this one from Niecy Nash.


Family Equality also provides LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion training for employers and professionals involved in family-building such as healthcare providers, family law practitioners and social workers. With an estimated 3.9 million LGBTQ+ millennials planning to build their families in the next few years, it’s important that providers are equipped to support these families.


People looking for connection and resources can find both on the Family Equality website. For those interested in starting a family there is information on all the ways to do so, as well as a provider directory. There are also virtual peer support spaces and in-person events to help families build community. 


If you’d like to help Family Equality protect love, family and freedom, there are many ways to do so. Share your story, shop for merch, donate your money and amplify their work on social medial. Follow Family Equality Council on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn and subscribe to their YouTube channel.


Friday, June 14, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Juneteenth USA

Next week, on June 19th, people in the United States will celebrate a recently recognized federal holiday, Juneteenth. That makes today a great day to learn about the oldest Juneteenth nonprofit advocacy organization in the United States, Juneteenth USA.

Founded in 1985 by the late Hon. Al Edwards Sr. (D-TX), the original purpose of Juneteenth USA (J-USA) was “to raise awareness and advance the Juneteenth holiday to a national one.” Today, their mission is “to fund exceptional projects to bring all Americans to celebrate, support, and continue to elevate the common bond of freedom through the recognition, observance, education, and historic preservation of Juneteenth in America.”


First let’s start with a history lesson from JUNETEENTH.com. “Juneteenth is the oldest internationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.”


In 1979, legislation recognizing Juneteenth Day was initiated by Senator Edwards. It passed the Texas State Legislature and was signed into law that same year. In 1985, J-USA was founded to raise awareness and advance the Juneteenth holiday to a national one. Sadly, Senator Edwards passed away in 2020 a year before Juneteenth became a federal holiday.


Now J-USA supports several projects such as the Absolute Equality mural at the site where General Granger issued General Order Number 3, and purchasing the OST Theater in Houston to use for Juneteenth related and culturally relevant events. They also offer scholarships for HBCU students and funding for community projects highlighting the arts and education.


If you’d like to support Juneteenth USA in their continued advocacy and education work, there are many ways to do so. Make a donation and raise awareness on social medial by liking their Facebook page and following them on Instagram or LinkedIn.


Friday, June 7, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Lesbians Who Tech & Allies

If you’ve noticed more rainbows than usual this week that’s because June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month. That makes today a perfect day to learn about Lesbians Who Tech & Allies.

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, the mission of Lesbians Who Tech & Allies (LWT) is "to reach pay equity and representation at every level, for women, women of color, and nonbinary leaders.” With a global community of over 110,000 LGBTQIA+ women, trans and nonbinary individuals, and allies, they are the largest LGBTQIA+  technology community in the world!


LWT programs are designed to ensure these leaders have the skills and support they need to achieve success. These programs include the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship Fund, which provides coding scholarships for non-binary and LGBTQIA+ women, and a Squad Leadership Program that supports members moving into senior leadership roles and onto corporate boards. There’s also a job board where companies can post openings and techies can look for work.


Another big focus Lesbians Who Tech are the summits held in San Francisco and New York. The 5th annual Pride Summit in San Francisco takes place June 11 - 13. The agenda  is packed with presentations and networking opportunities. Best of all it’s virtual and FREE! Find more information and register here.


The New York Summit takes place in person September 17 - 20. If you’re interested in going but unsure you can get approval, LWT provides a letter template called Convince Your Boss, which you can download and modify before sharing with your employer.


If you’re not able to attend one of the upcoming summits, there are still many ways you can help LWT promote equity, visibility and intersectionality in the tech world. Volunteer your time, shop for merch and spread the love on social media. Like the Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Facebook page and follow them on Instagram and LinkedIn.


Friday, May 31, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Ratical Rodent Rescue

Today’s post is a bit of a rodent offset for me. Having to address some unwanted visitors in my home, I’m counterbalancing that by highlighting an organization that supports small rodents, Ratical Rodent Rescue.


Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Vallejo, California, the mission of Ratical Rodent Rescue (RRR) is "to improve the lives of domestic rodents and other small animals through education, rescue, and rehabilitation.”


The types of animals RRR works with includes rats, mice, guinea pigs, chinchillas and any other small rodents who need rescuing. According to this article, in 2022 RRR had 150 guinea pigs that people purchased during the height of COVID and turned in after realizing they could no longer provide adequate care for them.


While RRR provides housing and sanctuary for these animals, their goal is to find them forever homes. The adoption process is both simple and serious. You must sign a contract confirming that you will provide safe, suitable housing and food for the animal as well as humane treatment and veterinary care. RRR provides care guides to help you provide the best environment for your new friend.


If you’re concerned that having a pet will affect your ability to travel, fear not. RRR offers boarding services at a reasonable fee and if your pet stays longer than 3 days, they’ll receive complimentary grooming.


Interested in supporting the work of Ratical Rodent Rescue? As always, there are many ways to do so. People living in the San Francisco Bay Area can sign up to volunteer at RRR. You can also foster or adopt an animal and provide them with a happy home. No matter where you live, you can show your rodent love by buying and wearing some merch, making a donation and spreading the word on social media. Follow Ratical Rodent Rescue on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Monday is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday to honor U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. That’s why today’s Feel Good Friday organization is Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Virginia, the mission of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (Fallen Patriots) is “to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.”


As they explain on their website, “approximately 25,000 children have lost an active-duty parent in the military over the last 35 years. 97% of casualties are men, leaving behind single mothers to care for their families. Of those families, 60% report having trouble making ends meet.” 


This is where Fallen Patriots comes in. Their vision is to ensure these children receive all necessary college funding. They provide scholarships that fill the gap between benefits offered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, other grants, and the total cost of college.


Fallen Patriots supports Gold Star families in all 51 states and territories, in all branches of the military. Scholarships include, but are not limited to room and board, tutoring, summer courses, study abroad courses, living expenses, books, and a one-time $1000 computer stipend. On average, students are eligible for up to $6,250 in scholarship assistance per academic year. If you know a student who would be eligible for one of these scholarships, they can fill out this enrollment form.


Since they began, Fallen Patriots has provided more than $75 million in support to over 3,200 students. This interactive map of graduates shows how widespread their impact has been and you can hear from the graduates themselves in this 2-minute video. Their website also has resources for scholars and a job board to help new graduates find work.


If you want help Fallen Patriots ensure that every child of a fallen patriot receives the funding they need to attend college, there are many ways you can support the mission. Shop for merch, donate your money and spread the world on social media. Follow Fallen Patriots on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.


Friday, May 17, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Insight Garden Program

Spring is in the air, what a great time to learn about Insight Garden Program, an organization that teaches gardening skills to people in prison. 

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Berkeley, California, Insight Garden Program (IGP) began as a collaboration with the Insight Prison Project at San Quentin State Prison. Their mission is “to facilitate an innovative curriculum combined with vocational gardening and landscaping training so that people in prison can reconnect to self, community, and the natural world.”


IGP knows in-prison programming and reentry support are crucial to help people in prison reintegrate into society and prevent recidivism. They take a restorative, collaborative and participatory-centered approach to their curriculum. The “inner gardener” classes use tools such as meditation and emotional process work, while the “outer gardening” classes teach people the basics of organic gardening and ecological systems. This combination is transformational for people in the program. In this 9-minute video program participants in San Quentin are interviewed about their experience. One man asks himself, “If this rose can grow in these harsh conditions, why can’t I?”.


Part of the success of IGP depends on partnering with like-minded non-profit organizations as well as other correctional facilities or state correctional systems interested in programs that end ongoing cycles of incarceration. IGP works with these partners to train new facilitators to provide weekly classes as well as providing ongoing technical assistance. Since the first program in San Quentin, IGP has expanded and now operates in eleven prisons across California serving men, women and youth.


The impact of all this gardening has been a recidivism rate of less than 10% for program participants, which IGP estimates has saved $40 million for the state of California and its taxpayers.


If you’d like to support Insight Garden Program and their work to help people in prison reconnect to self, community, and the natural world, there are many ways to do so. Volunteer your time, donate your money and help more people find out about this program. Follow IGP on Facebook and Instagram and amplify their message on social media.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Mother to Mother

You’ve likely already figured out today’s Feel Good Friday post is inspired by the fact that Mother’s Day in the United States is this Sunday. What a great time to take a closer look at Mother to Mother.


Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the mission of Mother to Mother is “connecting those in a position to help financially with the case workers and healthcare professionals who see firsthand the enormous needs of struggling mothers and children.”


There are hundreds of thousands of low-income mothers in Tennessee, and living in poverty makes accessing basic care and supplies financially impossible. Mother to Mother works with over 100 community partner agencies such as hospitals, domestic violence centers, homeless shelters, and public schools. They are active in 35 of the 95 counties across Tennessee.


Initial work focused on providing three basic essentials that often slip through the cracks of government subsidies and charitable support: diapers, car seats and cribs. Now Mother to Mother also provides families in need with clothing, strollers, toys, books, and other essentials. They accept donations of gently used supplies because that means valuable and needed items stay out of the landfill and go into the hands of children and mothers helping them to live a healthy and safe lifestyle. Watch this 2-minute news story from 2023 to learn more.


Since they began almost 20 years ago, Mother to Mother has provided supplies that helped 386,944 babies have a safer, healthier life. That includes 4.1 million diapers, 7,264 car seats, and 8,832 cribs and Pack n’ Plays to provide a safe place to sleep. Scroll to the bottom of this page to read stories of mothers who benefitted from a donation of supplies or get details from the latest impact report.


If you’re interested in celebrating Mother’s Day by helping Mother to Mother, there are many ways to do so. Make a donation of money or supplies, volunteer your time or amplify their message on social media. Like the Mother to Mother Facebook page and follow on them Instagram.

 

Friday, May 3, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas

Feliz Viernes! Cinco de Mayo is on Sunday and many organizations are planning events commemorating Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, including the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas. 

Founded in 1999, the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas (HOWA) is headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas. Their mission is “to advance educational opportunities for Hispanic women and their families, to celebrate and teach others about our cultures, and to become active participants in the community.”


Let’s start with the programs HOWA offers. The GEM Program (Guiding, Empowering, and Mentoring) provides language minority residents with educational programs and support systems to help them reach their full potential. Current offerings include free, weekly parenting classes and computer classes. 


The RAD Program, (Reaching for the American Dream) encourages civic engagement by “promoting naturalization assistance, registering voters, and updating political and election year information at the local, state, and federal level.” Citizenship clinics and voter registration information are parts of this program.


In addition, since the year 2000, the HOWA Scholarship Program has awarded 588 scholarships to deserving Latino students, enabling them to pursue higher education. You can see the 23 scholarship recipients from 2023 on the impact page.


Now on to the Cinco de Mayo event! Taking place on Saturday May 4th this year, the event commemorates the Battle of Puebla and brings the community together to enjoy live music and delicious food, and to learn about and embrace each others cultures while supporting a good cause. All proceeds from the event benefit the HWOA Scholarship Program. This is a great exemplification of the HOWA motto of "Celebrating Education, Culture, and Community.”


If you’d like celebrate Cinco de Mayo by supporting the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas there are many ways to do so. Volunteer your time, donate your money and share the love on social media. Follow HOWA on Facebook and Instagram.


Friday, April 26, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Arbor Day Foundation

Happy Arbor Day! This holiday has been celebrated on the last Friday in April since 1872. That makes today a perfect day to learn about the Arbor Day Foundation.

Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Arbor Day Foundation is the world’s largest member nonprofit dedicated to planting trees. In fact, their mission “is to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.”


With more than 1 million members and supporters, and projects in over 50 countries, the work of the Arbor Day Foundation is divided into two main categories: Trees in Communities and Trees in Forests. This 3-minute video, 500 Million Trees and Counting, explains more and celebrates the planting of the 500 millionth tree!


Many of the trees planted by the Arbor Day Foundation are located in communities to counteract some of the destructive effects of climate change such as “natural disasters, food insecurity, urban heat islands, unsuitable air and water quality, and desolate landscapes”. Examples of specific programs include one that helps cities around the globe maintain and grow their tree cover, one that fosters positive connections between youth, grades K-12, and the trees in their community, and another that recognizes health institutions that make a mission-aligned impact on community wellness through tree education, investment, and community engagement.


Forest programs include vetting, funding, and selling carbon credits to climate-conscious corporations, reforesting five priority planting regions, and supporting local partners and communities in their efforts to protect, sustain and restore tropical rain forests.


A look at the FY2023 Annual Report breaks down the impact tree by tree. In 2023, the Arbor Day Foundation planted and distributed 632,990 trees through community events, 

distributed 4,012,925 trees to members to plant in their yards, and supported 129 individual reforestation projects in 25 countries! You can go to the stories section of their website to learn more.


If you’d like to spend this Arbor Day helping the Arbor Day Foundation celebrate trees, there are many ways to do so. Become a member, shop for trees to plant, coffee to drink and apparel to wear, or make a donation. If you’re in Nebraska, you can visit and explore Arbor Day Farm, and no matter where you are you can amplify their work on social media by following the Arbor Day Foundation on Facebook and Instagram.