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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Nisha Varghese

I am a lucky person…I have never had to wonder where my next meal or glass of water will come from.  Not everyone is that lucky.  Today I am profiling a volunteer that believes no human being should die because of lack of water or food.

Many of us have heard of The Water Project – they are an organization that brings relief to communities around the world who suffer needlessly from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation.  Nisha Varghese set a goal in March 2010 to raise $6,500 for The Water Project.  This is the average cost of building a well in Africa or India.  She created a fundraising site through FirstGiving.com to collect donations and has promoted her fundraising efforts on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.  She has already raised over $6,000 and with our help she can meet (and maybe even exceed) her goal.

Nisha doesn’t stop there.  She also created another project called Virginia’s Sandwich Run.  The idea is simple, raise enough money to put together 48 sandwiches a week for the people in her current housekeeper’s neighborhood.    This project is named for the housekeeper that Nisha’s family had as a child.  According to Nisha, Virginia was a person who gave her best to the world and the people around her.  You can make a donation to Nisha’s sandwich project here.

When I asked Nisha why she volunteers she said, “I believe that it is up to each and every one of us to create the world we want.”  Her most memorable volunteer experience is “knowing that 15-20 kids don’t go to bed hungry because I spent an hour every Saturday making sandwiches.”

Nisha recommends that those who are new to volunteering should contact their local homeless shelter for volunteer opportunities.  Nisha is an inspiring 20 year old who is wheelchair bound as a result of Cerebral Palsy.  She says, “if I can be of service to the world in spite of my ‘disability’, nobody else has an excuse not to be.”

Update: Nisha’s fundraiser is complete and the well has been built!  Stop by The Water Project to see photos of the well.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Volunteer Profile

 

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Pajama Program

Tomorrow is pajama day at my daughter’s school.  She gets to wear comfy pajamas to school all day – she can even bring a blanket or stuffed animal along with her.  It makes me a little jealous that I don’t get a pajama day at work.  Maybe I will work from home tomorrow and have a pajama day on my own.  Well, some kids don’t even know the comforts of nice pajamas.  Today’s organization is trying to change that.

The Pajama Program was started in 2001 by Genevieve Piturro.  She was volunteering at a homeless shelter reading to the children and noticed that they did not have pajamas to wear to bed at night.  Instead they slept in the clothes that they had on all day.  Genevieve came back the next week with 12 pair of pajamas.  She handed them to each child when one girl asked what they were and when she would wear them, Genevieve’s heart sank.  Within weeks the idea for the Pajama Program was starting to form.  She told everyone to bring her new pajamas and she gave them to the children.  In late 2001, Parenting Magazine published an article about the pajamas and new books that were being donated and suddenly boxes started arriving from around the country.

The mission of the Pajama Program is to provide new pajamas and new books to children in need.  These children may be waiting to be adopted, children in homeless shelters or temporary living situations, orphanages, or children removed from their homes for various reasons, such as abuse.  The program headquarters is in New York, but there are over 70 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Since their founding, over 1,000,000 new pajamas and new books have been given to children.  These books are theirs to keep – a book and a pair of pajamas to hopefully bring some comfort to these kids.  It doesn’t take long reading thank you notes from children who have received a Pajama Program donation to know that they really make a difference.  The Pajama Program also has additional programs for teens to help them express their feelings with poetry and to learn about money and budgeting.

You can help!

  • The Pajama Program website has everything you need to run a pajama collection in your community, school or business.
  • You can also donate online using a credit card.
  • You can find a chapter near you and volunteer your time.
  • There are also some wish lists on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about the Pajama Program on their website, pajamaprogram.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Friend of EduSport

Volunteers change their local environment by improving quality of life for their neighborhoods, communities, and local charitable organizations.  Regional recipients of their altruism are made better by their presence.  Quality of life is enhanced and personal satisfaction soars.  Knowing that they make a difference in their home towns, local church groups, or community action programs creates a net worth within these enclaves that cannot be measured by dollars dropped into donation jars.  For many volunteers, it is the personal satisfaction that comes with knowing that he or she has helped in some meaningful way.   But while volunteers often illicit change close to home, many seek out charity that inspires them, correlates with a set of personal values, or as a means to pay forward a generous act.  When we think of the volunteer, though, it can sometimes be easy to forget that this microcosm in which we live isn’t confined to our neighborhood blocks.  It is not zoned along districts or dissected across city, county, or state lines.   People don’t give in silos or receive in shackles.  We don’t inhabit only our place on a map, we inhabit the map.  No, giving is not a local phenomenon, it’s happening in places all over the world.   When we can begin to think in such grand terms as nations, the world, or the human race then we are reminded that ultimately, we are a community of one.  Then our actions take on grander scale and we begin to improve not just the lives of those closest to us, but the lives of humans as a global society.  Perhaps then we can be one step closer to achieving global unity and peace.  With that in mind, the Blogunteer has stepped to the periphery of community action blogging, looked out on the vast expanses of the global volunteering community and has decided to once again profile an organization beyond the borders of the United States — an organization with a global “playing field”.

Friend of EduSport, based in the United Kingdom, is an International fundraising and advocacy support organization with global influence.   It originated in Falkirk, Scotland in 2007 and now has regional development committees operating in Scotland, Bath, Southampton, and London with International links to dedicated supports all across the globe – America, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Norway, and Zambia (to name a few).  Their mission is to, “unlock the potential of young people through education and sport”.   Using sport as the platform, they have three basic outcomes to achieve this mission: to educate, to empower, and to inspire.

Friend of EduSport was founded by natives of Scotland; Fiona Campbell and Derek Keir; after a visit to Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia.   Now, I must interject here with a bit of history for you, my loyal reader.  This is not, of course, to suggest that you need any help in expanding your world view, but when speaking in such broad terms as global altruism provides, there must necessarily be an educational component.  Only by knowing where a place is, can we truly understand the vastness of goodwill and the physical boundaries it supersedes.   And has, in all recorded history, there ever been a better way to share information than the “World Wide Web”?   Lusaka is not only the capital of Zambia, a landlocked country in south-eastern Africa; it is the largest city within that country.  With 1.7-million people, four major highways pumping life-blood into its core, and the seats of three branches of national government, Lusaka (a primarily English speaking community) is the cultural hub of the nation.

Consequently, Lusaka is also fueled by its passion for sport and community action.  As evident, Campbell and Keir were attending a series of workshops set in Lusaka when they became enamored with the achievements of the local NGO EduSport’s peer leadership program.   At every turn, they noticed that boys and girls were playing key roles in their local communities through organized and coordinated volunteer programs centered on sports.   When they returned to Scotland, they began seeking sponsors to fund the schooling for the peer leaders they had worked with.   Once it registered as an official charity, Friend of EduSport began receiving global support that has allowed it to work even closer with partnership organizations in Zambia.

Its signature event is the Go Sisters World Series – a series of sporting events aimed at promoting girls in sport.  An event that started as a football match, is now an International event geared towards personal empowerment and advocacy for girls in all countries.   So global is this competition that the Friends of EduSport website (see link below) encourages its followers to register and organize their own events!

But organizing sporting events and breaking down gender barriers are not the only outcomes of Friends of EduSport.   Of its many accomplishments, it has recently secured a site to build Chawama SEE at the Chawama compound of Zambia.   This will be a specialist sports college that will extend the educational and sports influence of Zambian culture to Zambians and students world-wide.  They have had two fundraisers, and 13 volunteers have successfully biked a route from London to Paris to raise funds for this college.   If you would like to donate to this worthwhile cause, please see contact information below.

As Friends of EduSport will tell you, an old Zambian proverb states that, “If you run alone, you run fast; if you run together, you run far.”   Similarly, if we give regionally, we give a LOT.  In fact, we should aspire to improve the quality of life in our local communities.  That is a very admirable goal, one in which The Blogunteer obviously supports unconditionally.  But, we should also always keep in mind the global stage.  Ultimately, we are all a community of one – the human race.   Don’t forget that and together, we can run far!

Friends of EduSport contact Information:

e-mail: info@friendofedusport.org

Website: www.friendofedusport.org

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/friendofedusport

Twitter: FoEdusport

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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363 Days

Recently I helped setup for a community event that served people struggling to meet basic needs by providing a wide variety of services such as medical care, haircuts, housing information, employment assistance, legal help, and a meal.  During this setup I helped make bagged lunches of sandwiches, chips, and an apple.  Kids and adults came together to assemble hundreds of sandwiches with bread, meat and cheese for what may be the only guaranteed meal for some of the people visiting the event.  Today’s organization also brings people together to assemble sandwiches and provides a way to get them into the hands of people who need a meal.

Mr. Allan Law taught in Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Schools for over 30 years.  During that time he began working with youth to provide after school, weekend and summertime programs and started a non-profit called Minneapolis Recreation Development, Inc, but that is another story.  In 1999 when Mr. Law retired from teaching, he set off on a mission to help feed the homeless.  The organization inspired by Mr. Law’s work is called 363 Days because the focus is feeding people on the 363 days a year (all but Christmas and Thanksgiving) that others forget about those in need.

He began by asking local convenience stores for the sandwiches that they were about to throw out.  He would drive to dozens of stores collecting sandwiches then would take to the streets handing the sandwiches to those in need.  In 2007 he ran into a former student of his and after hearing the story the former student had his bible study make 150 sandwiches for Mr. Law.  This was the birth of the 363 Days organization which has since grown to 15 drop sites with freezers full of sandwiches that are distributed to the homeless.  The organization helps coordinate sandwich making and delivery to freezers at drop-sites around the Twin Cities Metro Area.

Mr. Law now spends his nights driving to shelters in Minneapolis and St. Paul to drop off sandwiches. Shelter residents take sandwiches when they leave in the morning.  He also hands out sandwiches to those he sees on the streets.  Now he delivers over 500,000 sandwiches per year.

How can you help?

363 Days is always looking for groups to make sandwiches.  You can find all the instructions on their website.  In addition, they also distribute mittens, hats, coats, blankets, socks, toiletries and money that will help buy bus fare.  Monetary donations are also welcome to assist with the cost of transporting sandwiches from the drop sites and administration.  You can also find other in kind donation opportunities on the organization’s website.

Learn more about 363 Days at www.363days.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or via e-mail, info@363days.org.

Update: In 2012, the mission of 363 Days split into two separate organizations, The Sandwich Project and MRD 363 Days Food Program.  You can learn more about each organization by visiting their joint website, 363days.org.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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