Author Archives: blogunteerbrent



Becoming a monk or a nun involves full-immersion into a monastic lifestyle in which one becomes fully devoted to spiritual pursuits.  Devotion like this, be it spiritual or to a broader effort to improve the lives of people, is something volunteers across the globe can relate to and it is something ATMA SEVA has in abundance.

ATMA SEVA — whose tagline is, “Healing & Education for Humanity” – offers a multi-platform approach to service.  Its mission is to, “bring a voice and platform to the needs of indigenous, ethnic, and monastic communities.”  To achieve this, ATMA SEVA incorporates innovate educational programs – such as live video chats with Buddhist monks from Thailand designed to educate and share their knowledge and passion for Buddhism to people all over the world; to teaching conversational English to the Lawa Village, a remote tribal village located in the hills of Northern Thailand.

Based out of Northern Thailand and Bhutan, ATMA SEVA works with local community leaders, temples and other civically-minded partners to offer three key volunteer programs to the region:

ATMA SEVA: Healing & Education for Humanity

  • The Wat Doi Saket Project is an educational project designed to afford volunteers an opportunity to teach English to Buddhist monks in Northern Thailand.  Presently, this project’s scope incorporates eighteen Buddhist temples and three Thai public schools.  The Wat Doi Saket Buddhist temple has been working with ATMA SEVA since it was founded in 2000, and has been a major partner in outreach programs to educate the people of Thailand in HIV prevention and educational programs.  When those projects came to an end in 2009, ATMA SEVA continued its partnership with the Wat Doi Saket temple by adding English education to its outreach programs.

ATMA SEVA: Healing & Education for Humanity

  • ATMA SEVA’s work with the Lawa Village tribe began in 2010.   The local school in Lawa Village had heard about ATMA SEVA’s work on the Wat Doi Saket project and was interested in having volunteers teach at their school.   Continuing in its efforts to teach conversational English to the region, ATMA SEVA places volunteers within the community in a full-immersion approach to both live and teach in the village.   Additionally, the goals of this partnership are not only to bring English speaking skills to the residents, but to aslo build long-lasting relationships with the students and families there and add financial support and fundraising efforts.  But, like many educational outreach programs in other countries, the education is not one-sided.  Volunteers teach English, but also learn about Thailand tribal culture – particularly Lawa-Hill tribal culture.

ATMA SEVA: Healing & Education for Humanity

  • This approach of educating the volunteers spreads to ATMA SEVA’s work in Bhutan where the organization works as a registered tour-company in conjunction with local leaders to offer cultural tours, treks, and “eco-tours” (beyond the main districts, and deeper into rural Bhutan) within Bhutan.  These trips allow participants an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the rich culture of Bhutan through site-seeing, meditation, and reflection.

But ATMA SEVA has even more to offer than these three programs.  It just became a non-profit in Arizona, its founding pilot project to educate the region on HIV/AIDS has reached over 20,000 people, and it is currently talking with Habitat for Humanity and the Embassy of Japan to secure funding to build a school that will focus on housing and educating underprivileged children.

Clearly, ATMA SEVA’s outreach has grown in line with its organization.  It is this multi-faceted approach to bring volunteerism and educate the region of Northern Thailand and Bhutan that is truly as unique as it is diverse.  Need more proof?  Please visit its website at and maybe you too can participate in an online “monk chat”.  You can also connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and their blog.

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Posted by on March 20, 2013 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:




Twitter: FoEdusport

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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Wyman Center

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Statistical Abstract on education, in 2008 approximately 98.7 percent of children ages 7-13; 98.6 percent ages 14-15; 95.2 percent ages 16-17; and 66 percent ages 18-19 were enrolled in our nation’s schools.    Those numbers were significantly lower for economically disadvantaged and minority students (in some cases, as much as a full percentage point lower, depending on race).   High School dropout rates are significantly higher in minority populations and lower-income communities and rose significantly from 2007-2008 among Black and Hispanic populations.    Regardless of race and household income, the United States’ educational attainment and enrollment data suggests a recent trend towards lower percentage enrollment with a growing disparity between lower-income and minority populations. 

Our nation’s youth, particularly our teens, are our immediate future.  Trends downward in educational rates, attainment, and enrollment percentages are disturbing, no matter how slight.  But what can we do to reverse this recent slip, and help prevent it becoming a trend?  For starters, we can support organizations that support economically disadvantaged teens.   Organizations like The Wyman Center.  

The Wyman Center is based out of St. Louis, Missouri and serves youth ages 11 to 18 years who are, “economically disadvantaged and whose circumstances create risk of lower life opportunities.”   This equates to roughly 1,200 teens in the Greater St. Louis area each year.   Through partnerships with many organizations and agencies, Wyman’s Teen Outreach initiatives are projected to reach nearly 41,000 teens across the nation this coming school year.   Always with an eye on the future, Wyman plans to expand that support 6-fold in the next five years. 

Philanthropically supported, Wyman coordinates partners to help identify gaps in youth services.  Working with those partners and programs, Wyman is able to implement solutions and identify barriers to many problems preventing teen development.  Broad social problems, such as low graduation rates are definitely on Wyman’s radar.  Recently, Wyman collaborated with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis to establish a Teen Leadership Program whose ultimate outcome is to offer opportunities to college-bound high school students that will better prepare them to graduate from college.  

Through this partnership, staff will work with 300 students in the Teen Leadership Program from high-school graduation through their sophomore year of college and help them to integrate educated goals and outcomes for integrating financial, psychological and institutional support.  According to Wyman’s data sources, those are the three key reasons that nearly 75 percent of students are likely to leave college.   

How successful is Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program?  Well, according to Wyman’s data, in a  12-year study of the program participants, those participating in the program are:

  • 52% less likely to be suspended from school;
  • 60% less likely to risk course failure;
  • 53% less likely to become pregnant and;
  • 60% less likely to drop out of school.

Those are positive and measurable outcomes that serve as strong building blocks towards success.

Wyman is supported through partnerships, as well as grants and offers teens access to the Scholarship Foundation’s Interest-Free Loan Program – with a default rate less than half of the rate of peers borrowing from other programs. 

With so many roadblocks, and obstacles towards college graduation facing today’s disadvantaged and lower income teens, it’s comforting to know that organizations such as Wyman exist to help guide these students towards a successful education that will carry them into successful careers and successful lives as adults. 

If you’d like to reach out to the Wyman Center or follow their successes online, their contact information is below:  

Email: info@wymancenter.og
(636) 938-5245


Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Shoeman Water Projects

Turning donated shoes into drinkable fresh water would take one heck of a water purification system. A feat Rumplestiltskin might be so lucky to achieve. But George P. Hutchings, founder of Shoeman Water Projects, is doing just that.

Through a non-profit arm of Eagle Wing Ministries – founded by Hutchings – Shoeman Water Projects collects donated used and new shoes from businesses, churches, schools, special events, and shoe drives. These shoes are then shipped to retailers in the developing world, and resold as affordable footwear. Since there is a definite need for footwear in developing worlds, to protect against all forms of foot injuries and illnesses, this is a true act of altruism. But, the story doesn’t end here. The proceeds of these sales are then donated to provide water purification systems, well drilling rigs, and businesses that bring fresh water to regions in need of potable water supply.

Hutchings, who goes by the moniker of “The Shoeman” is a former Marine, and served in Vietnam. He founded Eagle Wing Ministries in 1994 as a non-profit charity dedicated to humanitarian and educational opportunities. Since 1998, Eagle Wing Ministries has supplied Kenya with 21,000 meals for orphans, and $2 million in medical supplies, dental labs, neurosurgeons for pediatric facial reconstructions. But in ten years of traveling back to Kenya, Hutchings noted that without clean water, all other aid would, “be a momentary stop-gap”. Thus, Shoeman Water Projects was born.

Since Shoeman Water Projects began, in August of 2008, the project has collected over 1.4 million pairs of shoes resulting in the purchase of 4 water-well drilling rigs, which has dug more than 250 wells serving 200,000 people. Additionally, water purification systems have been installed and well pump repairs serving schools, clinics, and villages across the globe have been funded – including dry areas in Kenya, and Haiti.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit While there, click the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr icons to connect with them on social media.  You can also search by zip code to find the nearest shoe drop off location on their website.


Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Fishing For Life

When God echoed down from the heavens and spoke to Army Captain Tom Goodrich while on tour in Afghanistan, He issued Tom’s calling. Goodrich was to become a “financial engine” to help raise funds for inner-city youth church programs by casting his line in the water and… fishing. Fishing? The Lord works in mysterious ways.

With a background working in the faith community, and some downtime in Afghanistan, Mr. Goodrich recalled his efforts as an Executive Pastor working with a church in the inner-city of Minneapolis and he knew that many inner-city churches simply do not have the funds for youth ministry programs. He recollected that inner-city pastors spend a great deal of their time raising funds to pursue their work. God’s orders were very clear; Mr. Goodrich was to help motivate 10,000 kids to raise funds for cash-strapped inner city churches to fund their youth programs.

Captain Goodrich, an avid fisherman with a talent for organizing grass-roots community action programs, was steered by the word of the Lord and Fishing for Life was born. Fishing for Life is a nonprofit Christian group committed to raising funds to support urban youth ministries in the Twin Cities.

In order to do this, Fishing for Life coordinates three key operations:

1. Their “Real ‘Em In Kids” program collects fishing supplies (used or unwanted rods, reels, and tackle) to distribute to underserved youth at lake events and community festivals.

2. Fish Fair – an indoor winter fishing event for kids – affords kids an opportunity to create jigs, lures, and tie flies. But there is an educational component as well. They can also learn about the various species of fish and their habitats in Minnesota lakes, fishing techniques, proper and effective use of equipment, and sportsmanship. The event also plays host to clubs, organizations, and camps that offer fishing programs to youth.

3. Fish-A-Thon is Fishing For Life’s main fundraiser. It is an event that allows kids to raise funds for inner-city youth ministry programs and resources for urban communities, and has raised over $110,000 since its inception in 2004. The proceeds are donated to inner-city “Covenant Partners” that provide emergency assistance, summer camps, meals for the homeless, disaster recovery services, and year-round family programs to some of the most economically distressed
neighborhoods in the Twin Cities.

But raising money for these much-needed programs isn’t the only benefits Fishing For Life offers. Aside from helping families and children come together through the art of angling, Fishing For Life brings suburban and inner-city youth together under the net cast by faith. By working together, for the greater good of supporting urban ministries, the entire community is benefitted.

Urban ministries have little or no financial resources, and fundraising efforts like the Fish-A-Thon take time to plan for. Fishing For Life provides the financial mechanism through which a successful fundraising effort can thrive and allows pastors in inner-city ministries the time they need to serve the needs of youth in their communities. In this way, Fishing For Life donates both finances and time to underserved programs that provide youth with positive alternatives to the streets. Take a kid of the streets, put a kid on a lake? Sounds like yet another benefit of this program.

If you’d like to read more about Fishing For Life, please visit their website at or visit them on Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, LinkedIn, or MySpace.

If you’d like to make a donation, you may do so here and if you’d like to sign up for Fish-A-Thon or any of their programs, you can access sign-up sheets at their website or simply follow this link.


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Kid Flicks

When kids are in the hospital fighting against Cancer , what is the first thing they might ask for?  A toy?  Ice cream?  Video games? Computers?   Not according to one Child Life Specialist.  “Movies are the first things kids ask for when they are in the hospital,” she says.  Enter four sisters:  Berni, Romi, Lexi , and Marni Barta.  Motivated by this premise, they founded Kid Flicks – a non-profit charitable organization devoted to stocking the shelves of children’s hospitals everywhere with movies.

While conducting spring cleaning in 2002, the Barta sisters found several used DVDs that they no longer watched.   Thinking of a mutual friend that was being treated for Leukemia at the Pediatric Oncology Department of the Los Angeles hospital, the sisters decided to take action.  They knew that their friend liked to watch movies to pass the time while she was in the hospital and decided to donate those used movies to her hospital.   But they didn’t just stop there, that afternoon they began the first steps towards creating Kid Flicks.  They wrote solicitation letters to family and friends requesting DVD donations.   Within the first week they had gathered over 100 movies, and their efforts gained steam from there.

Thanks, in no small part, to the massive amount of donations that continued to cycle in, the Barta sisters decided to donate a movie library consisting of 100 assorted films to as many hospitals as they could.  After contacting movie studios, and production companies, organizing drives at their schools, working with local pediatricians to advertise their organization, news began to spread.   Their positive efforts became contagious and other people began organizing their own drives to raise new and used DVD collections at religious schools, through Brownie Troops organizations, and promotions by radio and television interviews.

Today, people from across the nation send dozens of DVDs to the girls, and their outreach has included stocking DVD libraries to every hospital within a five-hour driving radius around Los Angeles.  Presently, Kid Flicks is donating movies across the United States and has expanded into South Africa.   As of February 11, 2011 Kid Flicks has donated 57,000 movies to 570 different hospitals.   But shipping these movies isn’t free. Not to be deterred, these four innovative and high achieving sisters began applying for grants and awards to help pay costs to ship the libraries.

While their journey has taken them international, along the way they have won numerous awards, including:

  • The Gladys Marinelli Coccia Award at the National Service-Learning Conference in San Jose.  This award was founded in memory of Gladys Coccia, who began her entrepreneurial career as a young girl in West Virginia and went on to become a successful businesswoman and community leader in Washington, D.C. Berni was one of two girls to win this award and was granted a $2,000 donation for Kid Flicks.
  • Huggable Heroes:  Marni was named a 2008 Build-A-Bear Workshop® Huggable Heroes® finalist. She was one of 31 young people from around the world being honored by Build-A-Bear Workshop® for demonstrating strong leadership, dedication and compassion to make positive strides in the world.
  • Most notably, On January 29, 2008 Marni and Berni Barta received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush when he visited Los Angeles. After he presented the Kid Flicks founders with the award, the girls were given a private tour of Air Force One.

Their goal — which may have once seemed like shooting for the stars, is well on its way to becoming a reality – to, “provide every children’s hospital and pediatric department in the county with a Kid Flicks ‘movie library’.”  You can help them in their cause by visiting  or on Facebook.   On their website you can see their list of recipients and impressive list of donors.

If you know a little boy or girl recovering from a serious or potentially life threatening illness in a children’s hospital, give them all the warmth and love you can, maybe a bowl of ice cream, and their favorite teddy bear, and don’t forget to pop a movie in the DVD player.  Maybe you can pull that movie from a Kid Flicks DVD library, and maybe, you can send the Barta sisters some of your used DVDs to support their cause.   Every child deserves the right to be a kid, and no child needs the diversion of an upbeat and comical movie or cartoon, than a child struggling with a serious illness.

This post was written by Brent Pearson….Blogunteer supporter and husband.


Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Can Do Canines

On the semi-complicated field of pet wars, it seems you are either a dog person, a cat person, or – like me – a lover of all animals big and small.  You may love some animals less than others – mice, for instance, when they are crawling around in your attic (gross!) or bears when you are camping in the north woods (yikes!).  But when it comes to helping those with limited mobility, hearing or sight impairments, diabetes, prone to seizures, and many other disabilities, it’s time to give the dog camp two thumbs… err… paws up!

Since its inception in 1989, Can Do Canines has been creating partnerships that improve and sustain quality of life for people and their canine partners.  Over the past two decades, Can Do Canines (of New Hope, Minnesota) has placed more than 300 assistance dogs in the arms of disabled clients within Minnesota and the four surrounding states.  Their organization’s mission is, “dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people who are disabled by creating mutually beneficial partnerships with specially trained dogs.” 

 Note that these partnerships are mutually beneficial.  While Can Do Canines can train pet dogs, most of the animals they train are donated by breeders and area animal shelters.  According to Can Do Canines, 14% of all Minnesotans live with an impairment (physical or emotional) that leads to a decreased quality of life and increased medical expenses.  While there is a definite need for increased mobility and independence among those with physical and emotional impairments, those needs must be balanced with safety.  Consequently, limited insurance plans and limited finances may make owning a trained dog a cost-effective solution.  As an alternative to high-priced medical treatments, not only can trained dogs be lighter on the pocket book, and provide safety and independence, but they can be emotionally uplifting to people with disabilities as well.

These dogs, however, do more than heal emotional scars, and help people with sight impairments navigate streets, sidewalks, and shopping malls.  Can Do Canines can train dogs for just about any quality of life challenge.  They can train “Hearing Assist Dogs” to assist people that are deaf or hard of hearing; they can train “Mobility Assist Dogs” to do a wide array of tasks from alerting family members to a person’s need for help to retrieving dropped items and serving as a brace to assist with standing or walking; they can train “Diabetic Assist Dogs” that alert their partners when their blood sugar is getting low; they can train “Seizure Assist Dogs” that can retrieve phones or find help for people afflicted with seizures; they can train “Autism Assist Dogs” that prevent children with autism from dashing into dangerous terrain or situations, as well as provide tactile stimulation for the child; and they can train “ Facility Based Assist Dogs” that provide physical, verbal, and emotional therapy.

The obvious financial and emotional benefits would make Can Do Canines a booming business, but they offer their trained animals to clients free of charge.  Through donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and community organizations, Can Do Canines helps dogs from animal shelters find homes, people with disabilities find mobility and independence, and both find friends.  This is one mutually beneficial relationship that even a cat lover could give two paws up!

You can help Can Do Canine’s mission by donating money or in-kind donations.  Learn more about making a donation and view their current wish list on their website.  You can also purchase a children’s book about service dog Ally.  You can also review their website for current volunteer opportunities. 

Learn more about Can Do Canines (formerly known as Hearing and Service Dogs of MN) at their website or becoming a fan on Facebook.

This post was written by Brent Pearson….Blogunteer supporter and husband.

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Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization


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