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A Rotta Love Plus

A Rotta Love Plus

In school this past spring, my daughter was given an assignment to write a persuasive letter to her parents.  She attempted to persuade us to get a dog…I think she may have convinced her father, but not me or the cats.  Today’s organization is working to persuade people to understand two specific dog breeds: Rottweilers and pit bulls.

In 1997, A Rotta Love was founded as the first nonprofit Rottweiler rescue organization in Minnesota.  In 2003, A Rotta Love and a Twin Cities’ bit bull rescue named Pits Plus merged to become A Rotta Love Plus.  The organization is a comprehensive and proactive all-volunteer advocacy organization that uses multiple strategies to further their mission of re-homing Rottweilers and pit bulls in Minnesota, raising breed awareness, educating the public about responsible pet ownership, and advocating for the humane and equal treatment of all dogs without prejudice.  They are based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, but they serve the entire greater Twin Cities area.

Pumba

Pumba

A Rotta Love Plus has several programs that further their mission.  Their foster and adoption program takes a “quality-over-quantity” approach to carefully select the dogs that they bring into the program and the homes where they are fostered and adopted.  They also offer ongoing assessment and support for their dogs to ensure ongoing success for the animals.  They rehome approximately 30 to 40 dogs each year.

A Rotta Love Plus builds and foster strong relationships between dogs and owners through their Rott n’ Pit Ed training classes.  These classes, free to fosters and dogs who have been adopted through their organization, offer owners a variety of tools to ensure the right approach is taken for each dog as an individual.  They also offer a Dog Safety/Humane Education program that offers education to youth, adults, and organizations on the humane treatment of animals and reduces the risk of dog bites.  Between 2009 and 2012, this program reached nearly 4,000 individuals.  They also offer free spays, neuters, vaccinations in addition to low-cost micro-chips to pit bulls and Rottweilers.

Vitojoe

Vitojoe

This year they partnered with the Minneapolis Police Department, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, and the Minneapolis Public Schools to bring a Dog Safety program to local elementary schools.  In just one semester, they conducted 46 classes where a group facilitator and two or three volunteers with their trained pit bull or Rottweiler visit a classroom and educate student on the humane treatment of animals and reduction of dog bite risk.

Another program offered by A Rotta Love Plus is their PRIORITY Paws (Pit Bull and Rottweiler Interactive OutReach Instruction and Therapy for Youth) program where they conduct dog-therapy groups with youth in crisis who reside in local youth-services organizations.  The stories of abuse, neglect, and negative social perception of the pit bulls and Rottweilers provide the youth with a powerful parallel that often mirrors their own experiences.  This can inspire the youth and enable them to work through their own crisis using the lessons and skills that only the dogs can teach.  In 2012, their PRIORITY Paws program gave about 700 at-risk youth experience with this unique program.

Sara Nick, Communications Director for A Rotta Love Plus shared just one of their many success stories:

This is the story of Prim, a beautiful brindle pit bull. Prim endured the first couple years of her life in a heart-wrenchingly abusive situation – without going into the ugly details, suffice it to say that when she wound up in a local animal control, it was like heaven on earth. (Food! Rest! Kindness!) Eventually, Prim ran out of time at animal control, but two ARLP volunteers, who were freshly mourning the loss of their 10-year-old pit bull to cancer, decided to push through their heartache and open their home to another dog in need through fostering. ‘When we saw her face and heard her story, we knew without words that we wanted to save her,’ they said. As soon as Prim was in their car, ‘despite not having a clue where she was going, she was smiling ear to ear!’

Ever so gently, Prim’s new fosters took the time to earn her trust. They slowly introduced her to the sights, sounds, smells, and other animals of their household. Prim adjusted well (REALLY well) to their routine and lifestyle, so it came as no surprise when we heard the news not long after that they decided to make Prim a permanent member of their family. In their words, ‘Prim brought life back into our family. She will stop doing whatever she’s doing to come kiss us and let us hold her. She has so much love that she wants to give, and we want to be the ones to give her every success in life.’”

Prim

Prim

How can you help?

The organization’s greatest volunteer need is for foster homes which allow them to save a pit bull or Rottweiler and place them in a loving home until their forever family can be found.  Foster families are provided with everything they need to be successful, including food and supplies as well as free training and support.  Learn more about their foster program on their website.

A list of other current volunteer opportunities can be found here.  You can also give a monetary donation, including dog sponsorships. They also have a wish list of in kind donations.

You can also attend any of their adoption events.  On Saturday, August 10 from 4 to 7 PM, they have a “Beer and Dogs” event at Nomad World Pub (501 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis) where people will have an opportunity to meet some of the dogs they have available for adoption.

You can learn more about A Rotta Love Plus on their website, www.arottalove.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or follow their blog.

ARLP-3

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Life Pieces to Masterpieces

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

According to the 2012 United States Census, individuals who graduate from high school earn an average of $10,000 more annually than those who do not.  Average annual income raises almost $10,000 more with an associate’s degree and jumps even higher with a bachelor’s degree.  Yet, in the United States as of 2011, only 32% of people age 25 to 29 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the US Department of Education.  Today’s organization has focused in on one population in an attempt to increase their education rates.

The mission of Life Pieces To Masterpieces is to provide opportunities for African American boys and young men in Greater Washington, DC by developing character, unlocking their potential, and empowering them to transform their lives and communities.  Their goal is to nurture, embrace, encourage and elevate African-American boys and young men so they can grow into mature men who demonstrate social responsibility and create positive change in their communities.  Their do this by focusing on arts and education while supporting young men and boys in disadvantaged communities in Washington, D.C.

Over 90% of the young males age 3 to 25 in the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program live in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C.  They call their program participants Apprentices.  These participants come from communities with a variety of challenges including social, physical, and mental health problems and gang activity.  Over 70% of the households in these wards are headed by single females which causes a lack of positive male role models for many of the Apprentices.  These conditions cause the boys and young men in the community to stray from academic development and other positive development opportunities.

So, what is Life Pieces To Masterpieces doing to make a difference for these boys and young men?  They utilize their “4 Cs” as part of their curriculum:

  • Students connect to themselves and to their classmates.
  • They create — homework, artwork, and poems.
  • They contribute — sharing their work and their thinking with a greater community.
  • And they celebrate their successes.
America What About the Children

America What About the Children
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

I think this is best brought to life through the stories of their program participants.

Lorenzo was 13 years old and had a lot of responsibilities when he was first introduced to the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program.  His parents had split up and his mother was battling addiction.  Lorenzo was left to help his eight brothers and sisters by ensuring they were fed and did their schoolwork.  He found Life Pieces to Masterpieces as his home away from home.  He is now 20 and is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism while serving as a mentor and teacher at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.  He credits the program for “aggressively pursuing education” and for the importance it places on getting the best grades possible.

You can find additional stories of the difference that the program has made on their website.

Their program results are impressive.  They have served over 1500 young men and boys over the last 17 years with 100% of their young men graduating from high school and gone on to pursue a post-secondary education.  Many of their alumni return to serve as mentors and teachers in the after school program.  In addition, 100% the participant’s parents show satisfaction with the program and state that their young men and boys are more confident, make better decisions, and speak in a positive manner about their future.

Expressing Love (available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

Expressing Love
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

How can you help?

  • If you live near Washington D.C., you can help serve as an after-school program mentor.  Individuals serve as a positive role model and support the lead classroom teacher.  They are also working on a corporate art leasing program to share their Apprentices art with local corporations and provide additional revenue for their program.  Other volunteer opportunities include social media, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment.  You can learn more and contact them about these and other volunteer opportunities on their website.
  • You can show your support by shopping their store of logo merchandise or by making a donation on their website.
  • In kind donations are also appreciated.  Their current wish list includes art easels, healthy food for their summer program, a 14 seat a minivan, and boxes of white printing paper for their office.

You can learn more about Life Pieces to Masterpieces on their website, www.lifepieces.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 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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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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ATMA SEVA

ATMA SEVA

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 atmaseva.org 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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The Raptor Center

The Raptor Center

Most of the organizations I write about are places I have never visited.  In December, I visited today’s organization along with my family.  The Raptor Center was an interesting place to visit and an organization that has been ensuring the health of raptors since 1974.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Gary Duke, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, was conducting some research on grain-eating turkeys.  Dr. Patrick Redig, a veterinary student was working with Duke when four baby great horned owls offered them an opportunity to expand their research to avian meat-eaters.  Redig offered to care for the resident owls as well as other birds that they did not need for their research.  He also began to repair their injuries and return them to the wild, pioneering avian orthopedic and anesthetic techniques that are still used by avian veterinarians today.

Omaha the Red Tailed Hawk

Some of the birds were unable to be released back to the wild, so he used these live birds to educate the general public about raptor behavior, habitat, and threats to their survival.  Since their founding in 1974, The Raptor Center has become an internationally renowned education facility.  The Raptor Center has also made a huge difference for raptors including the Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project which helped remove the Peregrine Falcon from the endangered species list, a book named Medical Management of Birds of Prey that details medical and surgical techniques for birds of prey, a manual named Raptors in Captivity: A Guide to Care and Management that has been adopted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as their standard on captive raptor management, among many other accomplishments listed on their website.

In 2012, The Raptor Center received nearly 800 patients including eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons.  These birds are all raptors because they have hooked beaks, sharp talons, and sharp talons.  When we visited in December 2012, they had 52 bird patients.  One long term winged ambassador resident is Leuc, a male bald eagle that has called The Raptor Center home since 1983.  He arrived with a broken right wing.  It healed but left him unable to fly.  In 1999, Leuc was also treated for a cancerous tumor on his right leg.  Luec has served as an education bird at the center since he was unable to be released back into the wild.

Luec from The Raptor Center

The Raptor Center reaches over 250,000 people annually though their unique public education programs and events.  Anyone can visit the center’s facility for a tour and meet a variety of raptors.  In addition, some of the raptors go on visits to local schools and other events.

How can you help?

The Raptor Center provided me with a many things we can all do to help birds and the environment.

  • Get involved in local conservation organizations such as The Raptor Center or your local nature center.  The Raptor Center has volunteer opportunities including transporting sick or injured birds and helping in the clinic.  You can learn more about volunteer opportunities here.
  • Learn about the various species of raptors here.
  • Lead alternative ammunition will help reduce lead poisoning in bald eagles and other birds.  Click here to learn more.
  • Eliminate unnecessary pesticide use.  According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, approximately 50 pesticides currently used in the United States have caused bird die-offs.  Even the small amounts used by individuals on their lawns have a cumulative affect.
  • Modify your windows to help avoid collisions by adding screens, blinds, or bird feeders.  For examples and more information on this topic, please visit the Audubon Society website.
  • Properly dispose of toxic chemicals such as latex paint and items containing mercury.  Mercury is a potent nerve toxin, which is increasingly found in our water, fish, and loons.
  • Attend special events that The Raptor Center holds throughout the year, including its semi-annual Raptor Release, where rehabilitated raptors are released back into the wild.  You can watch their online calendar or sign up for their e-communications.
  • You can also make a monetary donation using a variety of options on their website or via their fundraising page on Razoo.com.  In addition, there are opportunities to adopt a specific raptor.  You can learn more about raptor adoption here.

Owl from The Raptor Center

You can learn more about The Raptor Center on their website, theraptorcenter.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and their blog.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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The Edible Schoolyard Project

The Edible Schoolyard Project

I grew up watching my mother and grandmother tend their huge gardens full of vegetables and some fruits.  In the last couple years I have started a small garden at home and have watched my kids enjoy helping and even trying the vegetables we have grown (which is a breakthrough moment for my anti-vegetable daughter).  Today’s organization has been bringing vegetables into schools for over 16 years.

In 1995, Alice Waters was quoted in her local paper stating that the school she passed each day looked as if no one cared about it.  The principal of that school, Neil Smith, contacted her to see if she had an idea to help.  Alice, a chef, wanted to start a garden and teaching kitchen at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.  She saw these as tools for enriching the curriculum and the life of the school community.  The idea slowly began to take to form and through the involvement of faculty and parent volunteers, The Edible Schoolyard was born.

The garden and kitchen are not just used to teach gardening and cooking.  Lessons have included teaching fractions in the kitchen and growing heirloom grains to learn about early civilizations.  In addition, students who are involved in the garden are more likely to try the foods grown there.

The mission of the Edible Schoolyard is to create and sustain an organic garden and landscape that is wholly integrated into the school’s curriculum, culture, and food program.  At Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California the Edible Schoolyard curriculum is fully integrated into the school day and teaches students how their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities.

You can watch the Edible Schoolyard in action in this short video:

The Edible Schoolyard Program now supports school garden programs throughout the world by providing resources and tools for teachers, parents, and advocates.  During the summer, the Berkeley location opens their doors to host the Edible Schoolyard Academy to provide hands-on activities, presentations, guided discussions, and curriculum building sessions to provide participants with the tools for teaching edible education.

How can you become involved?

  • Explore the network of school garden programs on the Edible Schoolyard website to see if a school near you is participating.  You can also register your school program.
  • Utilize the resources for school garden programs on the organization’s website or even contribute your own resource.
  • Sign up for the Edible Schoolyard Academy to learn how to incorporate edible education into your school.
  • You can also make a monetary donation to support the Edible Schoolyard program on their website.
  • If you live in Berkeley, California, you can volunteer at the Edible Schoolyard there.  Learn more on their website.  You can also volunteer at a school program near you.  To find one, search here.

To learn more about the Edible Schoolyard, visit their website, edibleschoolyard.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, as well as their newsletter and blog.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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OASIS

OASIS

There is a saying the 50 is the new 40.  Advances in health care, nutrition, and lifestyle allows us to live longer.  Today’s organization is promoting successful aging for those over the age of 50.

In 1982, Marylen Mann took a tour of St Louis senior centers with Father Lucious Cervantes, the St Louis Commissioner of Aging at the time.  The centers were meeting the important basic needs but Mann saw a world of potential.  She mentioned to Father Cervantes, “we can do better for older adults” and with that OASIS (Older Adult Service and Information System) was born.  The first OASIS centers were opened in 1982 with a two year grant from the US Administration on Aging.  Over 300 people attended the launch and to register for their first programs.  In the beginning, there was misunderstanding of what the older people could do.  Today there is a great respect for what 50+ adults can offer and more ways for them to get involved in their communities.

OASIS is headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, but provides programs across the Unites States.  They promote successful aging through a three-fold approach: lifelong learning, healthy living, and social engagement.  OASIS is currently active in 40 cities in 24 states and serves more than 56,000 individuals each year.

Karen Larkin has taken the mission of OASIS to heart.  After retiring from her job as superintendent with the Tucson Parks & Recreation Department, Karen took advantage of the courses that OASIS offered on history, beading, and exercise.  She has met new people and learned things in the process.

OASIS is not just about classes for retired adults.  They connect generations through intergenerational tutoring and their CATCH Healthy Habits program.  The tutoring program connects 50+ adults who have time during the day with children in kindergarten through fourth grade to work one-on-one each week as their tutors, mentors, and friends.  The tutoring program is currently in 105 school districts.  The CATCH Healthy Habits program brings children and adults age 50+ together to learn good eating and physical activity habits for a lifetime.  Over 1,000 children and 200 adults have participated in the CATCH program to combat obesity.  The program has helped children participants eat more fruits and vegetables, increase their knowledge of nutrition, increase their physical activity, and decrease their screen time.  At the same time, the adults in the program reported a 71% increase in their physical activity.

How can you become involved?

  • If you are over 50, you can find a class near you on their website and sign up.  You could also sign up for the tutoring or healthy habits program.
  • Volunteers are also needed to teach classes since 49% of their classes are taught by volunteer instructors.  You can learn more on their website.
  • You can also make a donation to the OASIS organization on their website.

To learn more about OASIS, visit their website at www.oasisnet.org.  You can also connect with them on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Earth Rangers

Earth Rangers

My daughter loves animals.  She has been reading about animals since she was old enough to read.  She loves all animals so when I saw today’s organization I immediately thought of her.

Earth Rangers is a Canadian conservation organization for kids based in Woodbridge, Ontario.  The organization was founded in 2001 and is focused on communicating a positive, science-based message on the importance of protecting biodiversity.  Their programs, including a children’s website, earthrangers.com, a television presence, and a School Outreach Program, educate children about the threats facing animals and their habitats.  These programs allow Earth Rangers to reach, inspire, and enable millions of children each year to take action to help ensure the lasting survival of species in Canada.

The Earth Rangers Animal Ambassadors are the live animals featured in the School Outreach Program that visit over 550 schools across Canada annually with the organization’s Wildlife Biologists.  The program includes an animal demonstration in front of a full school assembly focusing on the natural science as well as the challenges facing Canadian biodiversity today.  The program inspires students to learn more about animals, their habitats, and protection of biodiversity.

The Animal Ambassadors call the Earth Rangers Centre home.  This building was designed to embody the Earth Rangers values and inspire everyone who walks through its doors.  The building is certified LEED Platinum for Existing Buildings utilizing advanced green building features such as energy monitoring, solar generation, green roofing, and geothermal heating and cooling.

Earth Rangers also has a kid-powered conservation program called Bring Back the Wild.  This program is design to help protect endangered animals in Canada by raising funds to purchase, restore, and protect their wild habitats.  Since launching the program in September 2010, over 150,000 children have registered to help protect animals and their habitats.  The Bring Back the Wild program allows children to visit the Earth Rangers website to learn more about the threats to a species and their habitat, and then create a fundraising campaign to help make a difference.

Some kids have done so much to make a difference, Earth Rangers have featured them as Super Rangers.  Some recent Super Rangers include:

  • Natalie and Haley who are selling cakes to save wildlife,
  • Alex who is selling chocolate chip cookies to save Caribou, and
  • Veronica who started an Earth Ranger Club at her school.

How can you help?

  • You can encourage the children in your life to visit EarthRangers.com to learn more about the threats facing animals and their habitats.  You can also help them create a Bring Back the Wild fundraising campaign.  Families can support children by getting involved and helping them to raise funds to meet their goal.
  • Children and adults can also hold an Earth Rangers themed birthday party to raise funds for wildlife.
  • There are also opportunities for corporations to get involved through the Corporate Volunteer Program.
  • There are also opportunities to make a donation on the Earth Rangers website.
  • You can also follow the Earth Rangers blog to stay updated on their work and organization.   

You can find out more on their website, earthrangers.org.  Their children’s website can be found at earthrangers.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

 

Related post: One More Generation

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Life Vest Inside

Life Vest Inside

This year I have had a series of posts about kindness to highlight that kindness makes a difference.  Some stories included a volunteer becoming a client, how to be kind to those who are different, and how to make habits of kindness in your family.  Today’s organization is on a mission to spread kindness.

Life Vest Inside is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading kindness, empowering people to see their potential and building self-esteem and self-value.  They use inspirational films, a newly developed educational curriculum, and a social platform that connects people across the globe.  Life Vest Inside has an exciting kindness experience to bring back the human connection.  This connection helps people become more aware of their surroundings, not just by words, but through gratifying and uplifting acts of kindness.  Kindness is a universal language.

Orly Wahba always knew in her heart that she wanted to make a difference in the world; “I wanted to leave my mark and I wanted more than anything to bring people together under the banner of peace, respect, and kindness.”  Orly had a difficult time in middle school and high school until one day she looked in the mirror and asked if this was still the girl that was going to change the world with kindness.  “This would not be my end; it was just the beginning. I promised myself back then that I would rise back up and that I would be there for people the way I had wished someone would have been there for me. Been keeping to that promise ever since.”  That promise led her to work with community service organizations, led her to become a middle school teacher, and ultimately led to Life Vest Inside.

So what’s with the name “Life Vest Inside”?  In January 2007, Orly was on a plane to head off on a family vacation when she received the tragic news that a young girl in her community had passed away.  Her mind immediately went to her 7th grade students who had just begun to open up about a classmate who had passed away just three years earlier.  Her eyes became fixated on a small sign that read “LIFE VEST INSIDE” and felt instant comfort.  “A life vest stays afloat regardless of how much you push down upon it. The message hit me to my core. How do you stay afloat? Your life vest is inside! Through the kindness you bestow upon others and through the kindness others bestow upon you we can keep each other afloat through life’s rough seas. We can’t stop or prevent life’s tragedies or curve balls from coming our way, but we can most certainly extend a lifeline to someone in need. And hence, Life Vest Insidewas born.”

The philosophy of the organization is to Inspire, Engage, Educate and Connect. They strive to use these four steps to guide people from mere inspiration to follow through.

  • Inspire: They inspire and instill faith, hope, and belief in a better, brighter tomorrow through the production of inspirational films as well as the use of social media.  Their first short film, Kindness Boomerang has been viewed by over 20 million people. 
  • Engage: The organization offers an exciting and accessible kindness experience, so that people will become more aware of the opportunities that surround them.  Experiences will include Kindness Mission Days, Flash Mob Events, Acts of Kindness Cards, and an upcoming mobile app.  In addition, in February, they will be raising funding by participating in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.
  • Educate: Life Vest Inside is educating children in kindergarten through high school to see the beauty within them.  They seek to empower the youth to raise their voices in kindness, love and respect through our wonderful and interactive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Kindness Curriculum.
  • Connect: Life Vest Inside is working to connect people and organizations through a worldwide volunteer database making it fun and easy to turn inspiration into action by allowing individuals to be matched with organizations that match their interests. 

The organization is based in Brooklyn, New York, but anyone around the world can become involved. 

  • Most importantly, you can spread the message and raise awareness about the organization by sharing this post.
  • You can also make a monetary donation through the Life Vest Inside website
  • There are also volunteer opportunities.  If you are interested in film, computer programing, graphic design, music, social media, education, blogging, or pretty much anything else, Life Vest Inside can find something you can help with.  You can connect with them about specific opportunities on their website.
  • If you are interested in participating in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, visit www.runforkindness.com
  • You can learn more about the kindness curriculum and sign up your school their website.
  • They are also interested in connecting with volunteer leaders to help plan and organize events and fundraisers to bring awareness to the organization.  You can e-mail the volunteer contact on their website to learn more.

You can learn more about Life Vest Inside on their website, www.lifevestinside.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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