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Color A Smile

Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~Albert Einstein

Color A Smile

One of my favorite things that my daughter has brought home from school is a journal.  It was actually a series of drawings that showed her memories throughout the year.  A child’s drawing can put a smile on your face and warm your heart.  Today’s organization is spreading smiles through art.

In 1986, Jerry Harris was visiting a friend when he noticed how cheerful their refrigerator door looked with all the colorful artwork from their children.  Jerry’s children were not yet old enough to draw, but he realized how a cheerful drawing can make people smile and brighten their day.  A schoolteacher friend agreed to have her class draw the first batch of pictures to distribute to seniors, adults who live alone, shut-ins and anyone else who wanted them and Color A Smile was born.

The mission of Color A Smile is to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to experience the rewards of volunteering.  Their main program is collecting crayon drawings from school children to distribute to senior citizens and active military personal overseas.  They are based in Morristown New Jersey, but they receive drawings from every one of the United States and even a few other countries.

Color A Smile

Jerry Harris told me in an e-mail that they receive thank you letters every day from people who receive drawings from the program.  “People say how the drawings make them smile and remind them that someone is thinking about them and took the time to send them a cheerful greeting.”  They have boxes of cards and letters full of thanks and encouraging the organization to keep sending more drawings.  In addition, many parents, teachers, and scout leaders thank them for a program that allows young children to participate and learn the joy of volunteering.  Kids who participate in the program learn that they can help someone else by using the skills and resources available to them in their own home and school.

Since starting in 1986, Color A Smile has sent over one million drawings.  They are proud to have sent drawings to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as thousands of seniors in the United States.  Color A Smile provides a unique opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to make a difference.  Jerry Harris states, “Everyone can help us to spread smiles as long as they like to create cheerful colorful drawings.”

How can you help?

  • Anyone can color a cheerful drawing for Color A Smile to distribute.  Simply go to colorasmile.org to download pages to color.  Then simply mail your completed drawings to the address listed here.
  • You can also nominate someone to receive drawings or request to receive a group of drawings each month for a nursing home on their website.
  • You can also spread cheer by sharing the monthly masterpieces that Color A Smile posts on their website.
  • You can also send a monetary donation to Color A Smile at PO Box 1516, Morristown NJ 07962-1516.

You can learn more about Color A Smile on their website, ColorASmile.org.  You can also contact the founder, Jerry Harris, directly at jerryharris@colorasmile.org or 973-540-9222.

 CAS2

 
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Posted by on February 27, 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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