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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Operation Shower

I have had two babies and each time friends and family threw me a baby shower, my husband was even dragged to the one that his family threw for us.  Some military wives do not get to have their husband by their side during pregnancy and may not have friends or family nearby.  Today’s organization helps fill in the gap for those women.

Operation Shower is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization dedicated to celebrating and honoring military families.  They provide joyful baby showers for military families to ease the burden of deployment.

The organization was founded in 2007 by LeAnn Morrissey after she asked for ways to support her uncle who was deployed overseas.  He asked her to send a card to four women who were expecting babies.  Rather than just send a card, LeAnn sent a “shower-in-a-box” to each woman.  She received overwhelming support from her friends and delighted thank you notes from the moms.  She decided to continue to honor the women at home whose sacrifices are not always seen.  She joined with Kris Jackson to hold the first unit-wide baby shower at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in June of 2007.  It was from the success of that shower that Operation Shower was born.

Since 2007, Operation Shower has hosted 17 beautiful showers honoring over 600 military mothers-to-be all across the country. They are growing rapidly and in 2012 plan to host at least seven showers for about 300 military expecting moms.  These showers not only provide mothers-to-be with a signature “shower-in-a-box” full of high quality products, but also a shared experience and a chance to meet and interact with other women in a similar situation.

I think this line from the Operation Shower website sums this organization up nicely, “Operation Shower was founded specifically because we know that moms in a military family who hold it all together at home — moms who go through a pregnancy without their spouse by their side, deployed to a another part of the world, proudly serving our country, but wishing they could do more for those at home — these moms deserve our support, our thanks, our love and of course, they deserve a party!”

You can watch a great video about Operation Shower here.

How can you help?

Individuals and groups can volunteer with Operation Shower by collecting donations or hosting a product party to collect donations.  There is even an easy opportunity to shop the Operation Shower Wish List at Amazon.com.  If you are near one of the shower events, you can help with decorations, setup, and cleanup at the event.  Volunteers can also offer their professional services, help secure party rentals, and assist with administrative tasks.  You can visit their website to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

In addition, monetary donations are accepted on the organization’s website.  Donations are used to purchase items for the showers to ensure that all the boxes at a shower include the same items.

You can learn more about Operation Shower on their website, www.operationshower.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Forgotten Voices

Based on the 2006 report on the global AIDS epidemic from the World Health Organization, 500 people die each day from illnesses related to AIDS and 1,800,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.  Approximately 16% of children in Zimbabwe have lost one or both parents due to AIDS according to the 2010 UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic.

Today’s organization is working to make a difference for these children.  Forgotten Voices is a United States based non-profit that works through partnerships with churches in Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Their mission is to equip churches in southern Africa to meet the physical and spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities.

Forgotten Voices was founded in late 2005 by Ryan Keith in response to the AIDS pandemic in Africa.  The organization formed after campfire discussions with Zimbabwean pastors.  At the time there was no other organization partnering with local churches in Zimbabwe and Zambia.  They now partner with dozens of organizations to maximize the resources available.  With each new project, local church leaders are asked to first determine what resources are already available to them through their community, other organizations and churches.  After potential partnerships are identified, Forgotten Voices helps the local leadership explore ways to fill in the gaps that remain to create a sustainable orphan care plan in the community.

The organization focuses on education, home based care, and skill development.  They offer financial support and training to church pastors to prioritize the overwhelming challenges before them.  Projects are run by the church which allows them to have local ownership and limitless possibilities.  Some of the projects have included project management training workshops for over 800 pastors; annual retreats for orphaned children; agricultural training and supplies; grief counseling and support; training for home-based care workers; new wells to provide clean water; community gardens; school fee payments; nutrition programs; and more!

Something else unique about Forgotten Voices is that they don’t take credit for their work whenever possible.  That seems a backwards from how many non-profits operate, but they feel this helps limit dependency and creates ownership, as well as accountability. It also helps position churches to stand on their own after the funding from Forgotten Voices ends.

How can you help? 

There are several volunteer opportunities posted on the Forgotten Voices website.  They are also running a fundraising campaign called Ten Together that encourages groups of 10 people to give $10 a month and donate 10 hours of community service locally.  There is also an option to make a donation directly on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about Forgotten Voices on their website, forgottenvoices.org.  You can also follow their blog and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Project Management Institute Educational Foundation

Project Management is a career, but it is also a great life skill.  Think about it – everything is a project – my daughter’s birthday party, a food drive, or a fundraising gala.  Today’s organization is providing training and scholarships to help improve project management skills in the nonprofit and education sectors.

PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF) was founded in 1990 by the Project Management Institute (PMI).  It is a nonprofit, non-political, public charitable organization that has adopted the slogan “Empowering the future of project management” to demonstrate its commitment to advancing project management knowledge and the application of project management concepts and theory by society.

PMIEF focuses its work in three areas:

  • Building a better prepared workforce through academic scholarships, awards, internships, doctoral research grants, and professional development scholarships.
  • Preparing youth for success in life through educational resources, programs, and workshops in project management for youth and their teachers.
  • Helping people in need and those struck by disaster by aiding nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations to better utilize their limited resources through PMIEF grants, scholarships, and workshops in project management.

Annually, PMIEF awards over US$400,000 in scholarships, awards, and doctoral research grants.  The scholarships are available to students, teachers, nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations, and project managers.   They also partner with nonprofit organizations to incorporate project management into youth programs, workforce development programs, and teacher training materials.   They offer no cost educational resources for noncommercial use to nonprofits including curricula for youth ages 6 to 20, career resources, training materials for teachers and nonprofits, and materials to build project management skills for life.

PMIEF continues to seek opportunities and partnerships to leverage project management for social good, so if you work with nonprofits or schools, please share this blog post to help them get in contact with resources that the PMI Educational Foundation has to offer.

How can you help?
You can make a donation directly on the foundations website to help them continue to offer their programs free of charge.

If you are interested in learning more about the PMIEF scholarships, you can visit the scholarship page of their website.  Many of the deadlines for application are June 1, so there is still time to apply.

To learn more about the programs that are available through the PMI Educational Foundation, please visit their website, pmief.org.  You can also sign up for their e-mail newsletter and view their most recent edition here.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Random Acts of Kindness

February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day in the United States. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has designated this week as RAK week!

I encourage each of you to do one thing this week for someone else.  Buy coffee for the next person in line, take cookies to a neighbor, take a meal to someone who lives alone, or scrape the windows of the car next to you in the parking lot (for those in the winter months right now).  If you want even more ideas for kindness, take a look here.

After your random act, stop by to share your story in the comments!

Update: Let’s keep the stories going.  Stop back any day of the year to share your Random Acts of Kindness – either given or received!  I am continuing to add additional stories in the comments.

 
32 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Other

 

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The Princess Alexa Foundation

Kids love to play dress up.  I frequently have an animal or a super hero running around my house!  Today’s organization celebrates this spirit of imagination for seriously ill children through dress up and play.

In June of 2008, Crys Aigner sat with her very sick daughter Alexa in a hospital room at Children’s Hospital in Dallas.  Alexa, who was wearing a princess outfit, turned to her and said, “Mom, I want to go to a pink park and I want a new pink dress.”  Alexa listed off several more things which her mom promptly wrote on a large piece of paper and hung up in the hospital room with the title, “Things I Want To Do When I Get Better”.  Sadly, a week later Alexa passed away, but that list lived on with her mom.

Crys Aigner founded The Princess Alexa Foundation in August 2008 in memory of her daughter Alexa Aigner, a beautiful 4-year-old girl who loved dressing up to escape the reality of cancer.  The mission of The Princess Alexa Foundation is to build that pink park and to carry Alexa’s love of dress up to other kids like her.  The foundation celebrates the childhood spirit of seriously ill children through dress up and play.  The key word there is “celebrate”- every day of life for these children should be celebrated and that is the main idea the organization wants to promote.

They are based in Keller, Texas, so that is where they are planning to build Alexa’s pink park.  They have given the park the name “Remember to Play” park and even have some concept drawings for a wheelchair accessible park.  You can see the drawing as well as a list of sponsors here.

The playground is just one of the programs offered by this organization.  They also collect donations for several Dress Up Closets around the state of Texas.  These closets allow seriously ill children staying in the hospital to pick out and keep a dress up outfit.  In addition, the Dress Up Delivery program allows people to request a Dress Up Delivery for a sick child and it will be shipped right to their door.

How can you help?

They are always in need of new costumes and accessories for boys and girls in sizes 2 through 10.  You can mail donations to the PO Box listed on their website.

They also accept cash donations either for the playground or their dress up program via PayPal.

You can learn more about The Princess Alexa Foundation at their website, princessalexafoundation.org.  There are some great videos on their website, including one featuring a fun dress up party at a local hospital.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or via e-mail.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Youth Frontiers

It seems like bullying and poking fun are just facts of life for kids in school these days, but today’s organization doesn’t feel that needs to be the case.

In 1987, Joe Cavanaugh heard the question, “there are kids who make fun of me every day, can you do anything to stop them?” from a 10th grade girl and he took her question seriously.  Since then, Cavanaugh built an organization based on the idea of fostering safe, positive school communities where students and educators can thrive emotionally, socially and, therefore, academically.

Youth Frontiers is a Minneapolis, Minnesota based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that partners with schools to build cultures of respect where students thrive socially, emotionally and academically. They facilitate retreat programs on the values of kindness, courage, respect and responsibility.  Founder and CEO Joe Cavanaugh states, “We are not succeeding as a society if our children receive an ‘A’ in Math… and an ‘F’ in life.”

There are approximately 2.7 million students who face bullying at school every day.  Youth Frontiers is making a difference!  So far, the organization has served more than one million youth across the country, with the vision to change the way young people treat each other in every hallway, lunch line and classroom of every school in America so that today’s young people can make tomorrow’s world better.

To accomplish their mission, Youth Frontiers offers retreat programs for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. These interactive programs are designed to have the greatest possible impact and function as a catalyst for getting students to care about character. The retreats are developmentally appropriate for each age group and take into account what stressors and issues kids may be facing at school.

The programs can be described as MTV-meets-Aristotle days, featuring loud music, team-building activities, small-group dialogues, powerful presentations and large-group sharing times. Led by professional actors, musicians and youth workers, Youth Frontiers knows how to “speak kid” in a way that students understand, and challenges students to think deeply about their character and behavior.

These retreats enhance social-emotional learning competencies like empathy, perspective-taking and conflict resolution.  Eight of ten students believe that since participating in the Kindness Retreat, their peers are more likely to help someone who is being picked on.  After the Respect Retreat, more students reported feeling a part of their school than before the retreat.  And in focus groups, students reported the retreat leaders’ storytelling and other students’ remarks during the retreat’s closing activity helped them gain perspective.

Youth Frontiers retreats are just one piece of a school’s network of support.  Comprehensive follow-up materials are customized for each age level to remind students of the themes they learned on their retreat, while challenging them to continue to stand up for respect in their schools. Youth Frontiers knows it takes more than curriculum to get kids to care about issues of character and acknowledges that it takes more than one day of each year to truly change a school’s culture.  Yet, these retreats are a critical piece to the puzzle of building healthy and safe schools, and each retreat and its follow-up curriculum contribute to shaping the way students treat each other every day.

How can you help?

Youth Frontiers has opportunities for high school students and adults to be small group leaders at their retreats.  Each year nearly 15,000 volunteers support their programs by leading small groups, establishing the energy and tone of the retreat activities and influencing the student participants with positive leadership.  In addition, they have opportunities to visit a retreat to experience it first-hand. Since they work with kids, all volunteers do require an application and background check.

You can also provide financial support via the Youth Frontiers website.  Youth Frontiers maintains affordable retreat prices for the schools they serve and this would not be possible without philanthropic support from individuals, foundations and corporate donors.

You can learn more about Youth Frontiers on their website, YouthFrontiers.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

In addition, there are opportunities to stay connected with this organization though their newsletter programs.  Visit their newsletter signup page to learn about their weekly character challenge that provides an activity or thought to help us think critically about kindness, courage and respect in our lives as well as newsletters for youth educators.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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