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Detroit SOUP

Detroit SOUP

Soup has been part of our culture since the first water-proof vessels were created – some estimates are as early as 6000 B.C.!  You can find soup recipes for most ethnic cuisines and taste preferences.  Today’s organization is using this versatile meal to bring people together to make a difference.

In February of 2010, Kate Daughdrill and Jessica Hernandez saw how InCUBATE, a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding, started a soup “potluck” in Chicago.  At these events, grant proposals were collected, a meal of soup was shared, and people were invited to pay, eat, and vote on which proposal should receive the funds raised during the event.  Kate and Jessica decided to bring the event to Detroit to create and engage with a community that is interested by the dialogue about the revitalization of Detroit.

Detroit Soup is now run by Amy Kaherl with a goal to put on a monthly dinner that supports creative people and endeavors while providing a safe space for dialogue and conversation.  They started with about 40 attendees and have grown in their first three years to over 200 attendees.  They raise and grant approximately $1000 at each event with over $30,000 raised during 35 meals.  Five of the groups who received grants have gone on to become nonprofits or small businesses.

Watch this short video to learn more about the dinners:

At the Detroit SOUP dinners, you pay just $5 for soup, salad, bread, and a vote.  Attendees hear from four creative projects around the idea of helping make Detroit better for four minutes each.  These ideas are in the areas of art, urban agriculture, justice, education, technology, and entrepreneurs.   The presenters each get four questions from attendees to help clarify the project, then attendees vote on the project they think should receive the money collected that night.

Amy Kaherl told me, “Our organization provides the opportunity for others to support others.  Those who come to SOUP choose the winner.  Detroit SOUP just provides the location and the possibility to interact with others.”

How can I help?

  • If you live in Detroit, volunteer to make some soup, salad or a dessert to share with the group.  You can also attend the next event to participate in the conversation.  Check their website for the next dinner.
  • Anyone can donate to Detroit SOUP on their website.
  • If you are interested in starting a SOUP event in your community, read the How to SOUP Guide written by Amy Kaherl.
  • You can also visit SundaySoup.org to see if there is a SOUP event in your community.

To learn more about the Detroit SOUP organization, visit their website at detroitsoup.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.  If you wish to start the dinner in your community, read the “How to SOUP guide”.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Brides for a Cause

Brides for a Cause

If you have ever gone shopping for a wedding dress, you know that it is a very expensive purchase for just wearing one day.  Many preserve their dress while others “trash” their dress.  Another option is to donate your dress and today’s organization gives you that opportunity.

In July 2012, Brides for a Cause partnered with the Wish Upon a Wedding organization.  In October of 2012, they opened a retail storefront to sell dresses to benefit the Wish Upon a Wedding organization.  In less than a year, they have collected over 1,000 wedding dresses from all across the country with more arriving each week.

Brides for a Cause is a charitable wedding dress organization that resells donated wedding dresses to support charity.  Half of their proceeds go directly to Wish Upon a Wedding to help them fulfill their mission of granting weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness and other serious life threatening circumstances.  All the dresses sold by Brides for a Cause have been donated by individuals and bridal stores around the country who are interested in helping those in need have their dream wedding.  Their bridal store is in Portland, Oregon, but they also take their inventory on the road to offer local brides an opportunity to find a great dress at a great price while helping a great cause.

Erin Scharf, founder and owner of Brides for a Cause, told me that many of their dresses are new and they are discounted up to 75% off.  They want to help brides who visit their store or their road shows to find their dream dress within their budget.  She also wanted to thank all the donors and brides who have support them.  “We can’t exist without their support.”  She encourages past brides with a dress sitting in their closet to donate it for a good cause and to allow another bride to wear it.

How can you help?

  • You can donate your dress if it is from 2005 or more recent.  You can either mail or drop off your dress.  Read the details of dress donation on their website.
  • Visit their store or one of their traveling events to shop for and purchase your own wedding gown.  Visit their website to find a list of upcoming road shows or sign up to be notified of a road show near you.
  • Volunteer to work at an upcoming road show.  Local volunteers are needed to help with these dress sales.  You can visit their website to sign up as a volunteer.

You can learn more about Brides for a Cause on their website, www.bridesforacause.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or via e-mail.

Related posts: Wish Upon a Wedding and Cinderella Project.

 

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Liz’s Daughter

Liz’s Daughter

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.  Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

Marie Garza was inspired to make a difference.  It wasn’t just one thing that inspired her.  When she was a young girl, she witnessed her father hold a knife to her mother’s throat and has memories of her mother’s screams.  She witnessed her aunt being dragged into the street by her hair and her face beat into the concrete.  Marie then entered into a verbally abusive relationship of her own.  The final inspiration came when she watched the story about Gladys Ricart, a woman who was shot and killed in her wedding gown by an abusive ex-boyfriend just hours before wedding another man.

In 2010, Marie Garza started the Twin Cities Brides March Against Domestic Violence, an event where participants (many dressed in wedding apparel) march through the streets of Saint Paul, Minnesota to raise awareness and honor those who have lost their lives to domestic violence.  The event is inspired by a Brides March in New York that has been held in honor of Gladys Ricart.

Marie also founded Liz’s Daughter, an organization to help those battered in domestic violence named after her mother, Elizabeth Garza.  They are not a shelter.  Marie wants to get in front of domestic violence to work on prevention rather than reaction.  Education and awareness is the only way to stop the generational cycle of abuse in families.

Most domestic violence organizations are not run by survivors of domestic violence and abuse, but Liz’s Daughter is different because Marie is a survivor turned advocate who wants to gather the strength of other survivors who are no longer in abusive relationships.  Marie believes there are new solutions that can be implemented to solve this old problem of domestic violence and abuse.  One such solution is Girlz Take ‘N Action, an after-school program in her old neighborhood on the west side of St. Paul that shows young girls how abusive relationships impact women.

How can you help?

  • For those near Saint Paul, Minnesota, you can sign up to participate in the Twin Cities Brides March Against Domestic Violence held this year on Friday, June 21, 2013.  Please visit www.bridesmarch.myevent.com for more information!
  • They are also looking for event sponsors.  You can learn more about sponsorship opportunities on the event’s website.
  • Other opportunities include help with their marketing, fundraising, photography, videography, social media, website updates, grant writing, graphic design, and more!
  • They are looking for people with a background in politics or legislation to assist them with the passage of bills to protect women.
  • In addition, they are seeking help from future and current law enforcement officers to start changing the police academy curriculum to increase the number of training hours for handling domestic calls.  These additional training hours can help officers to be educated about the cultural and social issues involved in domestic abuse situations.
  • If you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities, please contact Liz’s Daughter at lizsdaughter@gmail.com.

Learn more about Liz’s Daughter on their website, lizsdaughter.org.  You can also connect with them on Twitter, Facebook or via e-mail.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Action For Healthy Kids

Rob Bisceglie CEO of Action for Healthy KidsI recently had the opportunity to interview Rob Bisceglie, the CEO of Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK).  This organization works to fight childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can live healthier lives.  They provide resources to volunteers in schools and school health leaders across the country to learn about physical activity and nutrition best practices in school, act through programs which promote healthy lifestyles and wellness policies in schools, and transform schools to provide healthier foods, physical education and comprehensive physical activity for all students.

Blogunteer: Rob, can you start by telling me how your organization began?

Rob Bisceglie:
We were formed in response to the December 2001 special report, The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, issued by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. That very sobering report examined the serious obesity problem impacting all segments of our communities and identified schools as a key setting for addressing childhood obesity.

It was such a startling call to action that in October 2002, nearly 500 experts in children’s health and education convened in Washington, D.C. at the first Healthy Schools Summit to address schools’ role in reducing childhood obesity. Out of that meeting, Action for Healthy Kids was launched with 51 State Teams (this includes Washington, D.C.) and 30 partner organizations. Dr. Satcher became the founding chair of our Board of Directors.

Since then, legions of truly dedicated AFHK volunteers – from within the ranks of our 50,000+ network – have worked diligently across the country to fight childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can be healthier. Through their efforts, we’re bringing fun physical activity and nutrition lessons and changes to classrooms, cafeterias and school playgrounds so kids can eat nutritiously and play actively every day that they attend school.
Action for Healthy Kids

Blogunteer: There are a lot of organizations working with kids, what makes Action for Healthy Kids unique? 

Rob Bisceglie:
We provide schools with everything they need – programs, grants, volunteer support and technical expertise – to create healthier environments so students can thrive.

Since our founding, Action for Healthy Kids and our 70+ partner organizations have turned the spotlight on the childhood obesity crisis so that it’s now widely acknowledged as a top priority by health and public health professionals, government leaders, school systems and the popular media.

Blogunteer: Do you have any facts you would like to share about your work?

Rob Bisceglie:
Our volunteer and constituent network has grown from fewer than 700 in 2002 to more than 50,000 (and still growing) in 2013.  Last year, our volunteers contributed more than $6 million of their time and resources to schools nationwide.  Last year, we reached more than 20,000 schools and 8 million kids through our volunteers and State Teams.

Although there are tens of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of fantastic non-profit and government organizations working every day to combat the obesity epidemic, the most recent projections around the epidemic state that by 2030, 50% of Americans may be overweight or obese, unless we reverse the trend.  So, there is still considerable work to be done.

Blogunteer: Sounds like there is still a lot of work to do!  What is a recent accomplishment of Action for Healthy Kids that you would like to share with my readers?

Rob Bisceglie:
Through our work to expand school breakfast programming this school year, we are supporting schools as they serve an additional 1 million breakfasts to hungry kids. I’m proud of that program given the importance of school breakfast on student health and academic achievement. We note in The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn, for example, that on average students who eat school breakfast have been shown to attend 1.5 more days of school per year and score 17.5 percent higher on standardized math tests.
Blogunteer: Do you have any specific stories of how your organization has made a difference? 

Rob Bisceglie:
Yes, there quite a few. One of the things I’m proudest of is how truly committed our volunteers are to fighting childhood obesity and ensuring kids and their families understand the importance of physical activity and good nutrition.

Blogunteer:
Rob shared the story of Allison Stewart, a mom who sought out ways to make a difference when her daughter shared that she was rewarded with a cookie for doing her school work.  Allison found Action for Healthy Kids online and was impressed by the number of resources available to parents who want to make a difference in the area of school wellness.  Allison says her efforts are not just about combating childhood obesity, but also about teaching kids how to be healthy.  You can read more about Allison here.

Rob also shared the story of Linda Miller, another Colorado mom who made it her mission to get all the students at her son’s elementary school a free breakfast.  Linda did her research and shared the link between a healthy breakfast and academic success to encourage school leaders to serve breakfast to every student in school.  You can read more about Linda and other AFHK success stories here.

Blogunteer: How can others get involved in Action For Healthy Kids? 

Rob Bisceglie:
Our volunteers focus their efforts on increasing opportunities for kids to play actively and eat well. These are, after all, the two proven paths to ensuring kids are healthy and ready to learn. So, volunteers, for instance, might introduce students to “healthy” foods through tastes tests using our free program Game On! The Ultimate Wellness Challenge. They might participate in a Get in the Action event at a local school and install or refurbish playground equipment. Or, they might provide educational information to school superintendents, teachers and parents to organize statewide meetings on school health issues for legislators. Volunteer work really varies and is always based on the needs of the local schools, communities and, of course, the kids.

Here’s a sampling of how people can get involved as AFHK volunteers:

  • Help schools develop and put into place wellness policies or action plans
  • Serve on or advise school wellness councils
  • Help schools understand and bridge cultural differences
  • Offer expertise and coaching to help schools put in place Action for Healthy Kids’ programs, including Game On! The Ultimate Wellness Challenge and Students Taking Charge, that will bring their action plans to life

Anyone who is interested in volunteering with Action for Healthy Kids can do so  by clicking the “Volunteer” button right on our website.  And, starting next school year, Action for Healthy Kids will launch a new online Volunteer Center in which our volunteers will be matched to volunteer opportunities happening in their local schools.  We see this new technology as a game-changer for our field of school wellness.


Blogunteer: Any last comments you would like to share with my readers Rob?

Rob Biscegle:
Yes, please encourage your readers to visit our website, read The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn and take the Every Kid Healthy Pledge. By doing so, they’ll become informed on the issues and learn how easily they can make the kinds of healthful changes that will benefit their children.

Blogunteer:
Thank you to Rob for taking the time to speak to me about Action for Healthy Kids.

If you would like to learn more, visit their website, ActionForHealthyKids.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Flickr.

 

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Artists for Trauma


Healing yourself is connected with healing others. 
~ Yoko Ono 

The founder of today’s organization healed herself and has since turned to heal many others.  In May of 2008, a helicopter crash on Catalina Island, just off the coast of Southern California, killed three people and injured the other three people on board.  Laura Sharpe was one of those three survivors.  She had 43 broken bones and burns on more than 40 percent of her body.  She spent four weeks in a coma and endured multiple skin grafts and the partial amputation of her foot.

Just three short years after her traumatic accident, she co-created The Laura Project, a collaboration with five artists in Southern California.  The project portrays the crash and her recovery in a variety of mediums including photographs, film, sculpture, paintings, dance, and music.

In an article on the project in the Ventura County Star, Laura said, “It was such a spiritual engagement and so helpful for my healing process.  It’s about how you can make art from tragedy, something beautiful and artistic from the negative occurrences of life.”

Artists for Trauma

After her experience of using art to assist in her healing and feeling compelled to help other trauma survivors through recovery, Laura founded Artists for Trauma.  The organization is dedicated to enriching the lives of both civilian and military trauma survivors by pairing recovering patients with established artists from various disciplines.  They aim to expedite recovery through artistic expression and human connection.  Artists for Trauma provides a creative portal to help patients process complex emotions, regain confidence and build self-acceptance after suffering a traumatic experience.

Watch Laura tell her own story in the video below.

How can you help?
Volunteers are needed throughout the United States.  

  • If you are a trauma survivor, you can sign up to become a student artist.  Learn more on their website.
  • If you are an artist, you can sign up to be a volunteer artist to assist trauma survivors.  Volunteers are needed all across the United States.  You can learn more and sign up here.
  • You can also make a financial donation on the organization’s website.  Donations fund the equipment, supplies, and community outreach among other things to support the work of the organization.
  • If you live in the Los Angeles area, you can help Artists for Trauma at a an event on Saturday, May 4th, from 11:00

    AM-1:00 PM in Los Angeles. There is always room for more volunteers

    so if you would like to join in and participate in this fun, creative day, you can email them at info@artistsfortrauma.org.

To learn more about Artists for Trauma visit their website, artistsfortrauma.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, YouTube, or their blog.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Connecting for Good

Connecting for Good

Most of use the Internet every day – staying in touch with friends, reading about current events, menu planning, and most jobs now utilize the Internet.  Imagine if you were unable to afford having an Internet connection and a computer at home?  While Internet access is available at libraries, schools and other public institutions, today’s organization believes connectivity in the home is essential for families if they are to fully participate in our digital society, and they are making a difference in one community.

Michael Miimatta had been serving as a consultant to several non-profit organizations while his friend Rick Deane had a company that provided technical support to nonprofits.  They both saw the need to close the Digital Divide between the nonprofit world and the corporate world.  They gathered a few other providers of Information Technology services to nonprofit organizations to begin a joint venture in the spring of 2011.  They began by planning a series of training events to teach nonprofit staff members about websites, online marketing, and social media to raise public awareness of their causes as well as utilize the Internet for fundraising. 

Around that same time, Google announced that it had chosen Kansas City as the first city in the United States to build its ultrahigh speed one gigabit fiber network.  Michael and Rick saw this as an opportunity to extend Internet connectivity to underserved kids and families who would be left out of this fiber revolution simply because they cannot afford to pay for fiber service, lack the computer equipment to connect, or the knowledge to become productive Internet users.  A board of directors was formed and Connecting for Good was incorporated in Kansas in November 2011.

In October 2012, Connecting for Good received a jump start when a local mobile applications developer, One Louder Apps, won a national competition where the prize was to give $10,000 to the charity of their choice, and they selected Connecting for Good as the recipient.  In December 2012, Connecting for Good installed their first free Wi-Fi network in a 168 unit low income housing complex in Kansas City, Kansas.  This project brought Internet connectivity to nearly 400 residents as well as digital literacy training to fifty residents and several low cost laptops for residents.

The mission of Connecting for Good is to enable organizations and individuals to use technology to connect with one another in order to have a positive impact on society and the environment.  They are bridging the Digital Divide through free in-home Internet connectivity, Wi-Fi mesh networks, refurbished computers, and digital life skills instruction for low income families.

Rosedale Ridge

Since December 2012, they have brought free broadband Internet to over 600 households in the Kansas City area, along with cheap PCs and digital literacy training to a 168 unit low income housing facility, to a 60 unit building for low income senior citizens and to a 390 unit public housing project.  Their most recent project at Juniper Gardens was accomplished by installing over 70 Wi-Fi transmitters to create a hotspot that covers four city blocks.  Their installation at Rosedale Ridge enabled over 400 devices to connect to the Internet including 21 school issued laptops.  You can read more about this installation on their website.

Connecting for Good believes that Internet connectivity equals opportunity and the Internet is a necessity in order to fully participate as a productive citizen in a digital society.  They also believe that education is the number one thing that lifts people out of poverty and it is nearly impossible to pursue a quality education without access to the Internet.  Connecting for Good also believes that in-home Internet access should be viewed as an essential modern utility like phone service, electricity, and running water.

How can you help?

Connecting for Good has a variety of volunteer opportunities including:

  • Mentoring of low income individuals who are beginning Internet users, teaching digital literacy classes, and working in their computer refurbishing shop.  You can learn more about these opportunities and view their volunteer opportunity calendar on their website or by joining their Meetup group.
  • Donating your used computers for their refurbishing program.
  • Donating to their Crowdfunding campaign to purchase the remaining Wi-Fi antennas they need for their Juniper Gardens project.  You can watch a news story about this project here.
  • Donating to them via PayPal by clicking the Donate button on their homepage.

Learn more about Connecting for Good on their website, connectingforgood.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup.  You can also contact them by phone at 913-730-0677.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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AbleGamers

AbleGamers

I enjoyed playing video games in my youth.  Now there are games everywhere…on our computers, phones, and televisions.  Some offer learning opportunities while others offer opportunities to connect.  Today’s organization offers video games as a catalyst to level the playing field.

In 2004, Mark Barlet his usual Friday evening plans to meet his friend Stephanie Walker in a game called EverQuest for a weekly game time.  When she did not show up in the game, Mark became concerned and called her house.  Albert, her husband, answered the phone with Stephanie crying in the background.  She was experiencing a severe Multiple Sclerosis attack which had left her unable to use her left arm.  She could not feel the mouse in her hand, let alone use it to play.

Mark searched the Internet in search of information to help her play despite her disability and became dismayed to find nothing was available for those who need help gaming with a disability or war trauma.  Mark started AbleGamers as a blog to help fill the void and help others going through a difficult time gaming.  Today, AbleGamers is a large international non-profit that believes there should be no barriers to fun.  They work to improve the lives of those with disabilities through greater access to the world of video games; a world that allows individuals to run, jump and soar despite their physical barriers in life.

The AbleGamers Foundation’s mission is to bring greater accessibility in the digital entertainment space so that people with disabilities can gain a greater quality of life and develop a rich social life that gaming can bring.

You can watch this video to learn more about their mission and impact:

AbleGamers reaches out to the gaming industry to speak to developers and publishers to educate them on game improvements that are most effective and practical.  They do this through direct consultation and their guide to game accessibility.  They also help people on an individual basis with their community website.  Through forums, individuals with disabilities and/or their caretakers can post questions.  The forum community can participate to help come up with a solution.  In addition, AbleGamers holds the largest database for video game reviews addressing the specific purpose of addressing the accessibility of the game.  They also run many grant and outreach programs to help the community members as their funding allows.

Steve Spohn, editor-in-chief at AbleGamers shared one story of their work with me.  “One of my personal favorite stories is from an event called Abilities Expo in Chicago, Illinois. We were there with our Accessibility Arcade™ showing all of the latest and greatest assistive technology the world has to offer. One day, a couple and their son who had a severe neuromuscular disorder came up to our booth and asked what would be possible to help him game.  We noticed that although he was not able to use his upper torso, his feet were still kicking. Mark pulled out a foot pedal, plugged it into our Adroit-a device which we helped create that allows switches to be plugged into an Xbox instead of the standard controller-and held the pedal up to the six-year-old child.  He was ecstatic. He giggled and smiled watching a race car run around the track from his foot operating the controls. They had a great time and we feel very satisfied to have helped another gamer with disabilities.  A few hours later, the father came up to me and placed his hand on my shoulder from behind. I turned around to see a very proud, strong and tall man with tears in his eyes thanking me for giving his son the opportunity to enjoy video game like any other young boy.  It is an image that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

AbleGamers is currently working on a project called AbleGamers to go which will be the first of its kind double decker bus filled with accessibility equipment, assistive technology, and videogame apparel.  They have plans to bring this bus around the country to children’s hospitals and veteran’s centers to help bring gaming to them.

How can you help?

AbleGamers is always looking for new volunteers.

  • Volunteers are needed to write content for the website, help with real-life conferences, assist with fundraisers, and spread the word about the importance of gaming with a disability.  To volunteer, submit the form on their website.
  • You can make a monetary donation through their website.
  • If you develop video games, you can review their guide to game accessibility and incorporate accessibility into your games.
  • You can also spread the word about this organization by sharing this post on Facebook and Twitter.

You can learn more about AbleGamers on their website, AbleGamers.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also visit their guide for game accessibility at includification.com.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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