gratittude

Cultivating Gratitude

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The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Studies prove that people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions like a big raise at work or finding your car keys in the morning even though you ran out of coffee. Find the joy and gratitude in the little things that add texture to life. Like the smell of fall in the air or the feeling of the sun warming your eyelids.

Make a decision to be consciously more grateful. Below are just a few ways to help cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude.’

Write a thank-you note

You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationships by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of a person. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Keep a gratitude journal

I love this – there are even gratitude apps available!  Make it a habit to write down the gifts you’ve received each day. Share them with a friend or encourage someone in a rough spot to stop and make a quick list of things they are grateful for. It can be as simple ‘I am thankful for this pillow to rest my head on after this exhausting day.’

Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. If you are having a difficult time starting, challenge yourself to picking just five things, but certainly don’t limit yourself.

Pray

People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude. Pray for acceptance of kindness from others, awe in rainbows and the little but amazing joys of life.

Meditate

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Just being present and accepting. Some people may focus on a word or idea, but you can also focus on what you’re grateful for at that specific time (a beautiful sunset, a pleasant sound, etc.).

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond hardships, loss, and/or depression, there are many more mundane circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. Don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Then share it.

 

What are you grateful for today? What made you smile today?

Building for the Future

BGF constructBuilding Goodness Foundation (BGF) is a nonprofit construction organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Each year, BGF helps build and renovate structures for nonprofits doing great things in local communities both in the US and abroad.  I am proud to say that Building Goodness Foundation is one of the local groups supported through Win Win for a Cause donations.

Domestic

They connect skilled volunteers from the design and construction industries with high-impact nonprofit organizations in need of new or renovated space. Local volunteers are coordinated to design and build structures for non-profits, including health clinics, birthing centers, women’s clinics, schools and community venues.

BGF school

BGF often reduces the cost of U.S. partners’ capital projects by as much as half. This allows a nonprofit’s scarce funding to be funneled back into their life-affirming services.

They also provide critically-needed housing repairs for several low-income U.S. families each year.

International

BGF successfully builds structures for partners in some of the poorest nations in the world.

Through a Field Manager living on site, BGF collaborates with a partner NGO to design and build a needed structure, while employing and training local workers in the construction process, side-by-side with volunteers.

The above-average wages paid to local workers in these communities contribute positive economic impacts on areas in dire need.

BGF house

Help them build communities and improve lives

BFG’s specialty is placing design and construction professionals in volunteer roles that play to their strengths, but they welcome volunteers of all skill sets and backgrounds. Find out how you can help them make a lasting impact where it most needed.

 

 

 

 

“If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”

 

Disciple2

Helping those who are not (currently) able to help themselves is an incredibly important service. This week I am so pleased to bring attention to The Disciples Kitchen – the very first recipient of a Win Win for a Cause Donation.

The Disciples Kitchen in Waynesboro, VA is a local soup kitchen open to individuals and families in need of a hot meal. Since opening its doors in September 2007, Disciples Kitchen has served almost 80,000 meals.  They are one of the deserving, local charities my clients can designate for their Win Win donation from the sale or purchase of a home.

Four days a week, The Disciples Kitchen staff and volunteers provide warm meals to local residents. Averaging about 45 diners per meal, they are served Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm in the Fellowship Hall of 2nd Presbyterian Church at 133 Delphine Avenue (entrance to the kitchen is at the rear of the church off Commerce Avenue).  Breakfast is served each Saturday from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. at Basic United Methodist Church on the corner of 5th & Delphine. All meals are served free-of-charge to anyone in need.

Disciple

Disciples Kitchen is a non-denominational ministry sponsored by more than 30 churches and organizations and close to 250 active volunteers.  The goal of the program is to share what so many of us have, and probably take for granted, by providing a hot, nutritious meal free-of-charge to anyone who needs it. 

The group is appreciative of donations and volunteer resources to help provide warm meals for their neighbors.

For further information, please visit How You Can Help or contact them directly at (540) 943-3211.

How do you plan to volunteer your time?

‘Springtime is the awakening of the land. The March winds are the morning yawn.’

 

 

gerbers

Spring tends to have an invigorating effect – the long days of dark and cold winter are beginning to fade, much missed and necessary Vitamin D is absorbed as we expose our pale skin, birds return in mass, demanding an inordinate amount of seed, spring blooms are popping up. Whatever the cause, the promise of bountiful sunshine and the return of warmer weather, spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to harness our renewed energy to declutter and clean our surroundings.

Removing unused items from our homes and tidying up is also a cathartic experience for many, decluttering our minds as an added bonus. Open the windows, turn on your favorite happy music (“Cheeseburger in Paradise,” anyone?), and get moving.

The mere decision of where to begin can be overwhelming. Don’t let it stop you! Whether the entire home needs a swipe or you have a room or two (or three) that are closed off simply to hide the unsightly clutter, you can absolutely make a clean/spring start, just start with a plan.

Most of us are trained to multi-task. More and more evidence is proving this to be less than effective at best. My suggestion? Break down your spring cleaning into manageable chunks. Allocate a set amount of time to devote to each room. Sarah Aguirre, a housecleaning expert, provides a great tutorial on 15-minute room clean, as well as a thorough room by room clean. One absolute gem she shares:

Classify every item of clutter in a room in to three simple categories:

  • Trash
  • Things that belong in a different room
  • Things that belong in the room, but in a different place

While you are cleaning, you have the opportunity to help others – win-win! Donate your unused items to your favorite local charities or sell them and use the profits to help others. The Guerrant Foundation, throughSpring Cleaning for a Cause’ will match your donations from sales of unneeded items to provide small loans to help some of the world’s poorest citizens, mostly women, rise from poverty.

Get busy – next week we will move on to the outside of your home and discuss projects that will give you the greatest ROI (Return on Investment), both personally and financially.

 

As always, your comments, thoughts, and suggestions are welcome.

 

 

 

Christmas Charity

kid_christmas_giftThe christmas season (and ANY time) is a good time to start thinking about helping other people.  This includes providing food, clothing and toys for families to enable them to experience the joy of the Christmas Season. Giving warmth, love and hope. That’s what Christmas should be all about. A time to share our good fortune with our neighbors in need across the world.

Here’s a list of Christmas related charity programs and humanitarian organizations. Some small, some big. But all good.

ANGEL TREE: Angel Tree is a ministry of Prison Fellowship, delivering love in the form of Christmas gifts and a message of hope to children of prisoners.

CHRISTMAS WISH PROGRAMS: Christmas Wish Program, Inc. is a nonprofit organization run 100% by volunteers and donations. CWP is designed that way to let the public share in the joy of giving and the opportunity to help build a brighter future for local children.

Hans with presentCHRISTMAS SPIRIT FOUNDATION: Help needy children and families in the United States during the holiday season, and promote environmental stewardship throughout the year.

HOLIDAY PROJECT: The Holiday Project’s mission is to enrich the experience of the holidays by arranging visits to people confined to nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions

MAKE A WISH: Make this holiday season special by helping a child’s dream come true. Make a Wish’s unique holiday donation options will help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

MY TWO FRONT TEETH: My Two Front Teeth offers a personalized online gift-giving experience to aid underprivileged children. These children are selected through community organizations and allowed to individually pick their one holiday wish.

xmascharityPLAN COMMUNITY OF CHILDREN : Give a gift to the people of Africa this Christmas and help reduce the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS.

TOYS FOR TOTS: Donate a new toy or give a donation to help make Christmas a little brighter for a needy child in your community

Great Gifts That Give Back

As consumers we have a choice of where to put our dollars, of where and how to spend them so that they are put to the best use possible.  When you are shopping for items for unique holiday gifts this year, why not consider purchasing gifts that give back to those who made them or gifts that pay it forward to charitable organizations? While we can give a beautiful gift to the person on our holiday list, we can pay it forward at the same time and put our dollars to use twice.  With that said, here are 5 suggestions of unique holiday gift ideas that give twice:

A Different Kind of Ballerinatutuproject

Is there someone in your life who has everything but you just want to make them laugh?  Check out Ballerina.  Photographer Bob Carey has taken brilliant photographs of himself wearing a pink tutu in various locations and compiled the photographs into this fabulous table book.  It costs $50, but ALL net proceeds support women with breast cancer.  For more information and to see a few of the photos, go to:  http://www.thetutuproject.com/support-the-tutu-project/ballerina-the-book/.

Cure by Design

Rachel began selling beaded bracelets to raise funds to find a cure for diabetes. Since then she has begun designing bracelets for several important causes. For every piece of jewelry sold at Rachel’s Cure by Design over $30, she donates $10.00 to the cause plus $10.00 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Teardrop2_largeFoundation. Rachel has developed a beautiful selection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings to choose from, all of which would make a terrific holiday gift.  To see her designs, head on over to:  rachelscbd.com

Headbands of Hope

For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s foundation to fund cancer research.  The photo to the right is one of my personal favorites. The rhinestone and pearl trim is detailed and made from premium metal, pearls, and stones. All beading is attached by an elastic strand in the back to fit different head sizes. Cost is $24.85. Purchase your headband for hope and donate one to a girl with cancer at headbandsofhope.org

Let There be Wine

Charity Wines make the perfect gift for the sports fan on your list. The site partners with professional athletes and celebrities to create wines that help raise funds for a variety of charities throughout the country.  To search the site and find a retailer, go to:http://charitywines.com. Hurry, charity wines are exclusively single run wines.  Once they are sold out they are retired and no longer available.

glovesKnitted Beauty

Knits for Life is an Etsy store that makes ethical goods for everyday people.  She uses mostly all organic, recycled, and natural farm-direct materials for her knit wear.  For every hand made item purchased, a tree will be planted through The Nature Conservancy.  To browse the shop for your favorite, go to: http://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitsForLife.

 

Bottom line:  This is the Season of Giving so give the people you love a gift that gives to people you don’t know who need your help🙂  HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!!!!

 

 

Five ways to turn a social media campaign into a movement

86% Of Charities And Nonprofits Use Twitter, 71% Say Social Useful For Donations

86% Of Charities And Nonprofits Use Twitter, 71% Say Social Useful For Donations [STUDY] 98 percent of charities and nonprofits in the U.S. are active on at least one social media site, with YouTube (97 percent), Facebook (92 percent) and Twitter (86 percent) most favored, reveals new data from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. 71 percent of respondents to the poll said that social media was “somewhat useful” or “very useful” for fundraising initiatives.   The use of social media as a powerful tool for social movement is unquestionable. Any individual or organization can launch a campaign on social media, AND do it without spending any money.  Simply starting a movement is not enough. The goal is to champion a cause in such a way that it resonates with others. When it comes to creating a social media campaign that engages with people on a human level, the following five elements are key.
????????????????????????????????????????1.  Pick a cause you believe in The obvious first step is to pick a specific cause – such as raising awareness of a political concern, fundraising for a charity or highlighting an environmental issue. The important thing is that it’s something you genuinely believe in. Authenticity is a key aspect of a successful social media movement. A campaign that appears to be self-serving won’t resonate with others and is unlikely to have a significant impact. 2.  Define the goal of the campaign The aim of the social media campaign must be clearly defined. This objective will influence everything from the language used, the platforms that are leveraged to how people engage with the campaign. Determining the ultimate goal will also help to create a compelling call to action. By giving people something they can respond to and rally behind, you greatly increase the chances of the campaign going viral. 3.  Show what the cause means to you The virality of a movement on social media is determined by whether people can empathise on a human level. You need to show why people should care about a particular cause andwhat impact it could have on them or someone around them. By providing your personal reasons for supporting this cause, you can lend credibility and increase the likelihood that it will strike a chord with people in your network. Share your Story4.  Let others share their story The most effective campaigns have a human touch that people can connect with and that prompts them to share their experiences. A campaign must provide a platform for contributors to express what a particular cause means to them. It should also give people the flexibility to share in a manner that suits them best – the It Gets Better Project enables contributors to share both video and written submissions of their stories. A social media movement that fails to allow people to add their own experiences is less likely to take off. In fact, it is the emotion that others express in response to the cause that enables a campaign to gain traction. 5.  Select the right social media tools The tools you use will depend on your objective. If it’s to raise awareness, effective messaging and a social presence may be all that’s needed. Idle No More was initially viewed as a local campaign before it used Facebook and Twitter to gain international recognition. A petition platform – such as Change.org – can be combined with social networks to urge policymakers to address a political or societal issue. The Guardian-backed End FGM Campaign is a good case in point. If the aim is to gather and showcase personal experiences, it’s important to make it easy for contributors to share their stories. When starting an effective social media movement, it’s worth remembering that the greater the authenticity and flexibility, the greater the chance of virality and, ultimately, success.
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