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AmpleHarvest.org

AmpleHarvest.org

In Minnesota, this is the time of year where home gardeners are harvesting their bounty and cooking or preserving their harvest in canning jars.  Today’s organization is working to encourage growers not to allow their harvest to go to waste.

Shortly after Gary Oppenheimer became the director of the Sustainable West Milford Community Garden in late 2008, he learned that some of their garden plot holders left large amounts of their garden unharvested when their crops produced more than they could possibly use.  Gary was aware that hunger was a problem in his community so he suggested that they create a committee to help gather the extra harvest and deliver it to local food pantries.  The program was named Ample Harvest West Milford.

Food pantries are hard to find because many operate without an Internet site or yellow pages listing.  Even Google doesn’t provide an answer since it can only list those pantries it knows of.  This challenge is shared by backyard gardeners throughout the United States who wish to share their excess bounty.

To address this dilemma, Gary created the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign, new supply side channel in our national food network that educates, encourages and enables gardeners with extra produce to easily donate to a local food pantry.  AmpleHarvest.org gives food pantries the opportunity to register themselves in a central nationwide directory so that gardeners and other donors can share their fresh produce and, garden-by-garden, help diminish hunger in America.

The organization’s mission is to move information instead of food to diminish hunger and malnutrition in America by educating, encouraging, and empowering growers to share their excess harvest with the needy in their community rather than letting it rot in their garden.  Their “No Food Left Behind” goal is being spread via a virtual solution to hunger.  Today nearly 6,400 food pantries from 50 states are registered in the AmpleHarvest.org database.  This allows the 40+ million Americans with home gardens to easily donate what they cannot use.

In August 2010 when AmpleHarvest.org was only 15 months old, a survey of registered food pantries indicated that more than 3 million pounds of freshly harvested locally grown produce had been donated to food pantries. At the end of 2011, it had increased to more than 20 million pounds.  There are other benefits as well.  Families who utilize the food pantries are introduced to new varieties of food they may have had no prior access to and gardeners across America can enjoy the satisfaction of helping their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyard instead of their back pocket.  With one out of six Americans (including one quarter of all children under age six) without access to healthy fresh food at their local food pantry, AmpleHarvest.org can make a significant difference!

Below you can view a TEDx talk from AmpleHarvest.org founder, Gary Oppenheimer.

How can you help?

Learn more about Ample Harvest on their website, AmpleHarvest.org or contact them directly via e-mail.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or their blog.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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NeighborLink Network

NeighborLink Network

A couple weeks ago, after a series of rainy days, my husband was attempting to mow the lawn.  He was struggling because the grass had grown so much since the last mowing.  The neighbor stopped by and asked if he could help.  He has a riding lawnmower that easily cuts even long grass.  We accepted his offer and plan to pay him back with an invitation to dinner.  Today’s organization is enabling neighbors to help other neighbors even if they cannot directly witness the need.

In 2003, John Barce and Doug Crane participated in a competition called Leadership Fort Wayne.  Their idea to create a web platform to connect volunteers with people in need received second place in the competition and the NeighborLink model was born.  Since 2003, similar platforms have been created in nine other cities using the same model.

NeighborLink uses a web platform to connect vulnerable homeowners including the aging, people with disabilities, and low income single parents, with volunteers who would like to help.  The volunteers typically help with home repair or yard work projects.  In addition, they encourage volunteers to build relationships with the recipients of their help.  NeighborLink’s goal is not only completion of the projects, but also developing a sustainable solution for community development by connecting neighbors.

NeighborLink is a Christian, faith-based organization with a mission of “practical, neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God’s love.”  They frequently work with churches but appreciate and welcome volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.  They are currently in nine locations: Fort Wayne, Indiana; Indianapolis, Indiana; DeKalb County, Indiana; Porter County, Indiana; Liberty County, Georgia; Van Wert County, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana.

One NeighborLink volunteer named Andrew volunteered, along with a small group, to help Jean paint her house one summer.  During that project, Andrew was made aware that she also needed assistance with other projects from a long list of code violations.  He was able to raise funds to make repairs to her porch.  Just before Christmas, Andrew stopped by with a basket of food and learned that Jean’s son had just passed away.  Andrew continued to show Jean love and support by mowing her lawn and helping with other tasks in the years that followed.  This relationship encouraged Andrew’s involvement with NeighborLink and he eventually became the organization’s Executive Director.  This willingness to continue helping and desire to get to know her better instead of just completing the project at hand is the type of relationship that NeighborLink strives for.

How can you help?

Any individual in the cities that NeighborLink exists in can get involved.  Individuals simply register to be a volunteer on the NeighborLink website for their city.  You can find the current cities on their affiliate and non-affiliate pages.  Once registered, volunteers can look through current projects and choose one.  There are also opportunities for groups to do projects together.

You can also make a monetary donation through any of the specific city NeighborLink websites.

You can learn more about NeighborLink by visiting their website, neighborlinknetworkfoundation.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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TechSoup Global

TechSoup Global

I have worked with and written about many nonprofits in the last decade.  One common issue that many share is the lack of funding for technology.  Computers and software are necessary to run most nonprofits, but much of it is expensive.  Today’s organization is making a difference for other nonprofits.

In 1987, Daniel Ben-Horin was inspired by discussions in an early online community to create a program that connected those with technology skills with nonprofit organizations who wanted to learn more and start utilizing new technologies.  The organization created in 1987 was called CompuMentor because those with computer skills “mentored” nonprofits on new technologies.  In 2008, CompuMentor formally announced a name change to TechSoup Global to better reflect the organization’s evolution to serve nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world.  As of March 2013, TechSoup is the largest not-for-profit provider of technology assistance services to NGOs, libraries, and other organizations worldwide.

Since their founding, the organization has aimed to harness the power of technology as a means to accelerate social impact.  They believe that a strong civil society is as critical to local communities as healthy business and government sectors.  Technology has a significant role to play in strengthening an organized civil society because it can democratize access to information and resources to achieve effective, system changing outcomes.  This has inspired TechSoup Global to continue their work with partners to deliver relevant, innovative, and scalable programs.  They have support from 90 leading technology companies including Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Cisco, Intuit, and Redemtech and have reached more than 208,000 NGOs around the world.  To date, they have distributed more than 11 million software and hardware solutions and enabled recipients in 56 counties to save more than $3.62 billion (US dollars) in technology expenses.  You can see their impact on their local impact map.

In 2012, they had 209,660 unique visitors per month to their websites from over 190 countries.  Their websites include articles, webinars, and forums.  They also delivered newsletters around the world to over 200,000 subscribers in 16 languages.  In addition, through their NetSquared program, local groups hold regular in person events.  Together with their partners, they strive to ensure technology solutions are complemented by practical, locally relevant educational content.

How can you help?

  • Please spread the word about TechSoup to any nonprofits or NGOs that you work with.  Encourage them to visit techsoup.org to learn more and explore the various discounted software and hardware options available.
  • You can also contribute your knowledge – learn more about their knowledge sharing programs on their website.
  • TechSoup makes use of volunteers in a variety of ways at their headquarters in San Francisco as well as in their Europe office in Warsaw.  Please direct any inquiries to pr@techsoupglobal.org.

You can learn more about TechSoup on their website, techsoup.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Children’s Law Center of Minnesota

Children’s Law Center of Minnesota

The legal system can be a difficult place to navigate for anyone, but imagine a child in foster care or a homeless young adult trying to navigate the system without any professional guidance.  Today’s organization was founded to help these kids.

In 1995, an interdisciplinary group of attorneys, social workers, youth workers, judges, teachers, pediatricians, and other children’s advocates in Minnesota realized a need to create an organization that focused on increasing the impact and effectiveness of legal advocacy for foster care and at-risk children.  They established the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota in order to help them through some difficult situations and help prepare them for successful adult lives ahead.

The mission of the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota is to promote the rights and interests of Minnesota’s children, especially children of color and children with disabilities, in the judicial, child welfare, health care, and education systems.  The organization’s vision is that through their work, abused and neglected youth achieve stability, hope, and opportunity.

Since their founding, the organization has trained over 650 volunteer attorneys, represented more than 1,800 foster children, and helped promote systemic change and advocacy for vulnerable youth throughout the state.  The majority of the organization’s volunteers are trained to provide legal representation for youth who are at-risk, homeless, or in foster care.  Other volunteers work on special projects such as legal research, copyediting, and graphic design in addition to other legal, paralegal, social work, and administration volunteers and interns.

Today, they serve over 560 child clients each year.  They also collaborate with individuals and organizations in the county, court, educational, and health care systems to support coordinated efforts to ensure the basic needs of the state’s most vulnerable youth are legally met and optimized.

The Children’s Law Center also works on reform efforts that result in policies, procedures, and legislation that protects the safety and stability of foster populations.  They also provide education to lawyers, judges, social workers, educators, school administrators, law enforcement officials, youth, and other youth serving professionals on the issues that youth in foster care or at-risk situations face.

To better understand the difference that the organization makes, Heather Wolfgram, Director of Development, shared Steven’s story with me:

“Until he was 10, Steven lived with his mom and her boyfriend who was a pimp and drug dealer. The boyfriend routinely beat up Steven and his mom. Steven watched as the boyfriend killed his mother. Child protection placed Steven with his father who had remarried. Steven’s step mother hated and abused him. Eventually, Steven’s father kicked him out of the house and he ended up on the streets. Steven reentered the child protection system where he bounced from foster home to foster home and school to school. He began to act out at school, was put in detention almost daily, and was then placed in a special education program. This all happened before Steven was 14.

Children’s Law Center (CLC) was court appointed to represent Steven when he was 14. When the volunteer attorney took the case, child protection was about to place Steven in a residential treatment program for kids with mental health problems. The CLC attorney fought to keep him out of the facility and to get the mental health assessment that he had never been given. That assessment determined institutionalization was not needed. The attorney then fought to get Steven a stable placement where he felt welcomed and comfortable. The attorney also advocated for an education assessment that resulted in Steven being removed from the special education program and put into a mainstream high school program. As a result, Steven graduated from high school. Finally, the attorney fought the county’s efforts to discharge Steven from the foster care system on his 18th birthday and successfully advocated for transitional living education and funding for living expenses and job training. Steven currently has a full-time job and is living in his own apartment.”

You can also watch Sophie’s story below:

How can you help?

  • Children’s Law Center is always in need of financial support from individuals or corporations.  You can donate via their website.
  • They also have a wish list of in-kind goods and services they are seeking on their website.
  • They also have opportunities for lawyers to provide pro-bono attorney services.  You can find information on their website.
  • In addition, they are looking to partner with groups to put together birthday and graduation packages filled with items such as boxed cake mix, frosting, a card, and a gift card for the youth they work with.  Please contact them to arrange a donation.

To learn more about Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, you can visit their website, www.clcmn.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 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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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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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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