Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ocean Connectors

Greetings all.  I'm back in the Charity of the Week game with an exciting one for today.  What are three things that I love?  The ocean.  Mexico.  Stretching my dollar.  With Ocean Connectors, I have the chance to support the ocean and Mexican students (plus students in the U.S. too).  And today, for one day only, it also gives me the chance to stretch my dollar.  Read on!

First of all, some disclosure:  Ocean Connectors is run by a well-educated, highly motivated friend of mine, Frances Kinney.  We went to grad school together, so I know a thing or two about her and a thing or two about the org that might not be readily available on the website.  Ocean Connectors is a charity that a) helps kids in San Diego and in towns/cities around the Gulf of California, Mexico develop a connection to the ocean/coast that they might otherwise never make and b) fosters connections between students in the U.S. and in Mexico (and maybe someday in Canada), which achieves the combined goals of learning about environments further from home and getting some cross-border exchange of ideas, friendships, etc.  Anybody who has lived near the border (or for that matter far from the border but near immigrants) knows just how important it is to understand someone else's living situation/environment.  It's a valuable lesson.  Ocean Connectors is a great organization that I am happy to support.

And like I said, Ocean Connectors can help me stretch my dollar.  TODAY ONLY (May 6), Ocean Connectors is in a charity drive that allows them to get a little bonus funding, based on the number of donations that they receive of at least $25.  That is a convenient amount for me, as I want to give $50.  This week, I'll make two donations of $25 each and help them grow the total number of donations that they receive.  If you are interested in supporting this great, small (one woman show) charity, then today is the day to do it.  Find the link to their page for the special donation drive here, and help them help kids know the ocean, know their international neighbors, and connect to their natural world!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  -grant

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Whoops - how did this happen?

Hi friends.  Yes, I have not posted something on here in about 2 months.  So much for "charity of the week."  I guess that isn't quite the right name for it, if I don't post something every week!  Things got away from me for a minute there, but now I'm back.  I have still been supporting charities (most weeks) and will post a little update piece about what those are/were.  Then, I'm back in for the weekly posts!  Stay with me, and I promise (like a resolution, if you will...) to highlight some more cool charities that I like and that you might too.

Happy Thursday, everybody!  -grant

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back on My Feet

I have never been homeless, and I almost certainly never will be.  I was fortunate enough to be born into a family and a situation that offers me a support system that is stronger than most.  I'm lucky to not know what it is like to be homeless.  But clearly it sucks.  And clearly it often involves circumstances that are out of one's control.  I can imagine that it leads to all sorts of emotional issues that make it even tougher to get out of the situation.  
The Charity of the Week is Back on My Feet, a really cool organization that gets homeless folks moving and in the process helps to grow their emotional strength.  To get started, volunteers host early morning (5:30!) runs for folks who rely on local shelters.  Runners meet 3-4 times per week.  After a month, those who have shown dedication to the program (by completing 90% of the runs) move into a phase of next steps that involves jobs training, help with housing, and other skills that build on the momentum of following a running schedule.  Finally, alumni of the program start their own running groups or continue to run and provide support in their existing groups, compounding the group's efforts.  What a great idea and a great organization!  Who would of thought that something as simple as running every morning could make such a difference?  It really can.  

I am happy to support Back on My Feet and happy to send in my donation of $50 to support the folks who get up and run at 5:30 every morning!  If you are interested in supporting as well, you can find a direct link to the donation page, here.  $50 buys a complete set of winter running gear or almost two sets of summer gear.  That's not bad!  What else could these folks buy if a few others chip in as well? If you do decide to support Back on My Feet, let me know in the comments below!

Happy Sunday, everyone!  -grant

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Black Girls Code

February, as you know, is Black History Month.  So in honor of some of the great African Americans that have helped to shape the U.S., this month I want to highlight a few excellent charities that serve Black Americans.  First up is Black Girls Code.  This really cool organization recognizes the underrepresentation of women of color in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) and tries to begin fixing the problem by providing pre-teen and teenaged girls of color with highly marketable, technological skills - particularly computer programming.

Founded by Kimberly Bryant, a professional computer programmer, Black Girls Code originally concentrated its efforts in San Francisco, Bryant's home town.  But in the past year, their efforts have allowed for workshops all over the country and at least one bilingual effort to provide young Latino American girls with an equal opportunity to learn some of these skills.  With programs like Build a Game in a Day Memphis, and Build a Webpage in a Day NYC, and Build a Mobile AppBlack Girls Code provides workshop participants with more than the theoretical knowledge to work in computer programming.  These girls are given the practical knowledge to create products that serve their communities and their own needs.  Tapping into these underrepresented communities is also good for the technology industry - diversity in programmers directly leads to diversity in technology and increased creativity and problem-solving ability that can translate to new, lucrative technologies.

I think Black Girls Code is a great idea, and I am happy to support it as this week's Charity of the Week.  If you are interested in also supporting this great org, you can find a direct link to their donation page here.  Let me know in the comments below if you decide to donate!

Happy Sunday, everyone!  -grant

Thursday, February 6, 2014

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Ok, I'll admit it.  The commercials got me.  You know the ones.  Those sad commercials, narrated by TV stars, with absolutely pitiful looking animals just looking for some TLC.  In fact, now that I mention it, I probably saw that commercial on TLC.  Anyway...

This update is actually for last week's Charity of the Week.  I was travelling in Ecuador for work, and I did not have much time or access to reliable internet, so I was unable to blog about the charity.

Last Sunday, I donated my weekly $50 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).  The fact of the matter is, sappy commercials or not, the ASPCA does pretty darn good work.  And small donations go a long way.  ASPCA fights to end animal cruelty - whether by rescuing dogs from dog fighting operations; taking care of abandoned animals; urging policymakers to support humane laws; etc.  This isn't an organization that is fundamentally against keeping animals for food, pets, etc.  Instead, it is an organization that wants these practices to be done responsibly.  I can certainly support that effort.

For example, an excerpt from their website:  The ASPCA believes that at every step of their lives – from birth to death – farm animals must be treated with compassion, protected from suffering, and provided with the Five Freedoms: freedom from fear and distress, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, and freedom to express natural behaviors.  In my opinion, those freedoms are absolutely reasonable.

The ASPCA, like many charities, really likes to sign up people to monthly giving schemes, so the website is a bit confusing if you are trying to make a one time donation, like I was.  To find that page, click here.  If you decide to support the ASPCA, let me know in the comments below.

Happy Thursday, everybody!  -grant

Monday, January 27, 2014

Malawi Children's Village Donation Page

It's a bit late, do to some hectic travel and wonky internet, but I just sent in this week's donation to Malawi Children's Village in honor of my wonderful friend and her wonderful mother.  If you care to donate as well, you can do so here.  Apparently, a donation of $92 will support an orphan in Malawi for an entire year.  We are more than half way there!  Another $42 and we will achieve that goal.  Who wants to join me?  If you do decide to make a donation, let me know in the comments below.

Today's is a short post, I realize.

Happy Monday, everyone!  (from Ecuador!)  -grant

Friday, January 24, 2014

Malawi Children's Village

I did not plan to choose Malawi Children's Village as the Charity of the Week.  I had some other plan to go with some big, American charity.  But someone close to me lost her mother this week.  It was not particularly sudden or particularly unexpected, but that doesn't matter.  Losing a loved one hurts, and you are never really prepared.  Malawi Children's Village was one of her favorite organizations to support, so given the arbitrary nature of this endeavor, I can't think of a better place to donate this week.

Margaret Mary Elizabeth Warren Jumbe was a brilliant, caring woman with many names - most of which honor the strong women in her family.  She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi and didn't want to leave.  So she didn't.  She fell in love and started a family there, continuing her work in literacy and development.  Once her two beautiful girls were getting further in to school, the Jumbes moved to Minnesota and ~15 years later, her youngest did Peace Corps in Belize.  Service begets service.

I must admit that I do not know as much as I should about Malawi Children's Village before recommending it as a charity to consider.  That being said, if Ms. Jumbe supported it, then I have no problem supporting it too.  Through my little bit of research, I've learned that the organization does both education and health work - two things that certainly improve the lives of Malawians in small villages.  I mean, who can't get behind targeted, grassroots education and health work?

So this week's Charity of the Week is the Malawi Children's Village.  In a couple of days, I'll send in my contribution and will post a link to the donation page, in case you are interested in doing the same.

Happy Friday, everyone!  -grant