Friday, November 16, 2012

Birthweek Day 5: Let the Change Continue

Today is my birthday! Don't worry, we'll still have two more days of giving thanks by paying it forward, but today my choice is close to my heart.

Two weeks ago we said goodbye to our little Ojo. After suffering a severe traumatic head injury and subsequent seizures life was too difficult. Instead of focus on the pain, I want to reflect on the good.

We adopted Ojo during our time in South Korea. He was rescued after being abandoned in Seoul. Several people combined to provide a loving atmosphere for him, to help him heal and regain confidence in himself and humans. Though our time with Ojo was short, we are eternally appreciative of those who helped him, and people like them throughout the world.

In my hometown Cedar City, like-minded people are working to build a dog park. And so much more. According to their "About" page, "Our group would like a centralized location to conduct educational classes to enhance human-animal bonding, animal assisted therapy, animal adoptions, demonstrations, seminars and other activities to protect and enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the local community." They seek to provide county-wide services, but have been unable to find a suitable location thus far. They have been approved as a non-profit organization and state, "The organization is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes." For more information you can visit their website here.

If you are willing to, you can donate money. But if you want to effect additional change, you can also write letters to the city council members and mayor of Cedar City to voice your support and ask for theirs. The website has all the information for contacting these civic leaders (click here and scroll almost all the way to the bottom).

Or, if you would prefer, find your local animal adoption/education organization and donate/support them in their efforts. The vast majority of these groups are non-profit organizations that require contributions to survive, and provide services to their communities.

Be a part of the change for the better.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birthweek Days 3 & 4

After working a 17-hour day yesterday, I was a little behind getting the organization up for Day 3 of the Birthweek organization/charity pick (do not fear, one has still been chosen!).

826 National focusing on the tutoring, writing, and publishing of student writing from ages 6-18. Initially begun in San Francisco, CA, as a single entity, 826 Valencia, the organization was co-founded by veteran teacher Ninive Calegari and author Dave Eggers (A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius). It has since spread to eight chapters across the U.S. Each chapter has a store front which supports the organization's work, and are themed to represent the area (for instance: in the 826 Valencia chapter the store front is a pirate shop, where the Chicago shop has The Boring Store (which does not sell spy supplies like trench coats or night-vision goggles). The organization has a network of over 5,000 volunteers who range from all careers and backgrounds.

I want to support this organization because the ability to write is a necessary life-skill. Being taught to write well is a gift not many are given. Helping students gain the confidence to express themselves in writing is an invaluable gift.

Help the gift-giving continue by supporting 826 National today. You can do so here. While listed donations begin at $25, you are able to specify an "other" amount in a field below.

Day 4 has me excited. Let's be fair. They ALL have me excited. What I like about the organization for Day 4 is the versatility, the number of ways a person can get involved, and the change that is taking place at an increasing rate.

Fight The New Drug (FTND) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the population about the harmful effects of viewing pornography. Not affiliated with any religious groups or political agendas, FTND seeks to display the scientific facts of how viewing pornography is harmful. From their information page they say, 

"Learning from the past, Fight the New Drug takes a non-religious, non-legislative, non-judgmental approach. We recognize an individual's right to view and produce pornography, however, once they are educated on the harmful effects of pornography we believe they will choose to avoid it. We only wish to educate about the negative effects of pornography on individuals, families, and communities." (You can read the whole "About" page here.)

Recently FTND has begun encouraging college-aged students to begin campus chapters of FTND. Many participate in parades and other community events to spread the word. Additionally, FTND goes on school tours to begin educating the population at an important age.

When a person decides to support FTND a change is made. One is not a supporter, one becomes a fighter.

Fight The New Drug. Become a Fighter! Support can take many forms. If donation is your goal, you can do so here. All donations go to support the Education Outreach Program, University Chapter Program, and Teen Recovery Program. A minimum donation of $10 is required. Their motto is, "Give a little, fight a lot." One can also purchase t-shirts, hoodies, belt buckles, or wristbands to wear their support.

I am a fighter!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Birthweek Pick Day Two

As I sit on my couch with books toppling into my lap, stressed about prepping a lesson plan for tomorrow and Thursday (and the additional stress that implies), I want to make sure I mention the second pick for my birthweek.

During my service as a missionary in the Ohio Cincinnati Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I met many amazing people. One of them was a fellow missionary. Sister Hovik. She was stylish, she was driven, and you couldn't help but love her. Since returning I've been following her blog. Now Ashley Lemieux, she began a non-profit organization called The Shine Project. In its genesis, Ashley encouraged people to effect change wherever they were. Noting that we may not necessarily single-handedly change the world, she makes the valuable point that if we are making positive changes wherever we are, and enough of us join, our circles of influence will overlap, we will inspire others, and we can all shine.

Later, Ashley expanded her vision by beginning a scholarship fund. Now, there is an entire line of items produced by at-risk students that generates funds for scholarships called Threads (you can buy them here--they are incredibly fashionable and trendy).

You can donate directly to The Shine Project here (all funds support a scholarship for students of Cesar Chavez High School), or you can peruse The Shine Shop and a portion of every purchase goes toward the scholarship fund as well.

This video is pulled from The Shine Project's "About" page with the tagline "watch the video to feel the power of TSP."

Feel the power. Be part of the change.

Oh, and when you make a purchase they will send you a card to pass along to others to help share change. Each card comes with a unique number, so you can see where you card has been, and where it goes. Be the change. Track the change!

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's My Birthday: Let's Celebrate by Paying it Forward!

Whenever people ask me what my favorite holiday is, I tell them my birthday. 

Yes, I know it's rather narcissistic. 

The biggest part of what I love about my birthday is the timing. It's right in the midst of the holiday season, just after Halloween, and before things get into the full-swing with Thanksgiving and Christmas. People are kinder, the weather is cooler, and there's pumpkin (one of my most favorite things!) in just about everything.

This year for my birthday I was inspired by my dear friend Bethany. She always does unique and interesting things for her whole "birth week." And they are things that take the focus off of her, and put them onto others. So this year, I've decided to choose seven charities/organizations, one for each day of my birth week, to donate to. I invite you to join me.

In a world where initiatives for change are focused on just about every point of the globe, I wanted to choose organizations that I personally support and believe in; organizations that promote ideas I try to stand for and can get behind. The majority of these are not global enterprises, but groups that focus on more localized change.

For the first day I've chosen one of my first loves. 


Books opened the door beyond my rural Utah home to the world; they helped me see more, live more, and believe more. When I hear of children growing up without books (like one of my husband's favorite artists Skottie Young) it breaks my heart. I think every child should have books. Sometimes they might be their only friends.

The organization, First Book, does just that. It gives books, new books, to children who don't have them. 97% of donated funds go directly to buying books ($10 can buy 4 new books). Thus far, 90 million books have been distributed.You can read more about their impact here.They even have a marketplace which provides qualified groups new books at prices 50-90% below retail.

You can also make memorial or honor donations. There is a minimum donation of $5 (in part to offset credit card processing fees). All donations are tax-deductible.

Visit First Book today and make a donation.

Happy Birthday to ME!

Make sure to check in each day this week to see what other organizations and charities I like to support!