how to build a strong girl

Girl PowerI recently read a very inspiring story that I wanted to share with my Win Win followers in hopes that they will take away the same inspiration from it that I have.  Popular Bollywood actress, International Recording Artist and UNICEF India Ambassador, Priyanka Chopra, recently visited Chandrapur on International Youth Day at request of UNICEF to visit a new generation of strong young Indian women.   The girls she met are part of the Building Young Futures program, run in partnership with UNICEF.  The program is determined to challenge the difficulties many girls are facing across the world, providing girls with the knowledge and skills they need to become strong financially independent women and also very importantly, to become the agents for change and development in their own communities.

Chopra has been a UNICEF Ambassador for more than 8 years championing the cause of adolescent girls. She  passionately believes that young people are bursting with potential… that they can transform society.  But they need help.   Chopra says “We need to urgently invest in their future and help them realise their potential and I am determined to help make that happen.”

There are 1.2 billion adolescents in the world today.  I remember the dreams I had for the future when I was a teenager.  I had support and encouragement that I could make those dreams a reality.  With support, opportunities and a lot of hard work, I’ve been able to make them happen. But I know that many youngsters aren’t this lucky.  In Maharashtra, for instance, girls are held back by not completing education, early marriage, ignorance around health issues and a lack of financial understanding.  Mostly, they have no voice for decision making.  We need to show adolescent girls around the world that they DO have a voice and that we’ll support them in their dreams for the future because it’s OUR future too.

Support for young people can only have a positive impact on our nation and society as a whole.  So what are the ingredients for a strong girl or boy?

• Teach a young person not what to think but HOW to think
• Encourage a young person to dare to believe because they have the skills to realize their dreams
• Foster a young person’s confidence to voice their own opinions and solve their own problems
• Instil an understanding of savings, money and business so she may become financially independent
• Nurture an interest in their community so their impacts can be shared and beneficial to others

Alongside all this… add a bit of magic… encouraging adolescents to share their new power and use it to do good for the community. Teach others and the ripple of empowerment spreads.  It’s a real, tangible, positive effect that is there for all to see.

All girls and boys can make their own name and fate and be independent.  I thought that was a great message for young people everywhere on this international youth day. With ‘Building Young Futures’ and UNICEF’s involvement these positive stories and messages will only grow in number.

Tis The Season for Giving

Give gifts that keeps on giving!santa-claus3

A big chunk of holiday tension comes from figuring out what gifts to give. Sure, there’s the run-of-the-mill sweater for mom, tie for dad, and gift certificate for Uncle Gerry (who is always difficult to shop for). But what do these gifts really say other than, I couldn’t think of anything else to get you?

Luckily there is a positive trend in gift giving that may be just the right cure for holiday-shopping anxiety.  This holiday, give a gift with extra meaning. Provide clean drinking water for people around the world, help for disadvantaged kids — and much more.  Besides the above giftcard, there are many ways you can give gifts to your friends and family while giving to those in need as well.  Here are some examples:

TisBest Charity Gift Cards empower your gift recipients to support good causes they are passionate about. The Card is a donation gift that works like a conventional gift card but instead of buying stuff, the recipient “spends” the TisBest card by selecting which of our 300+ charity partners receives the money. Personalize the card with your own message, image and/or company branding.  Eco-friendly, customizable, and #1 ranked, TisBest Charity Gift Cards make ideal business giftsteacher gifts, wedding favors, Hanukah gifts, and Christmas donation gifts. TisBest Philanthropy is a Top Rated 501(c)(3) nonprofit and earned the Gold Seal from GuideStar.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
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This holiday, give a gift with extra meaning. Provide clean drinking water for people around the world, help for disadvantaged kids — and much more.  Besides the above giftcard, there are many ways you can give gifts to your friends and family while giving to those in need as well.  Here are some examples:

Help For The Troops  –  Even when a service member finds out that he or she can take off for the holidays, sometimes the good news comes so last minute that it’s impossible to find a reasonably priced ticket during peak travel time.  That’s when Let’s Bring ‘Em Home steps in.

Since 2001, the organization has been collecting donations in order to purchase tickets for servicemen and servicewoman so that they can spend the holidays with their families, no matter the ticket price.  Last season, the organization booked 122 flights. It received more than $80,000 in donations and more than half a million frequent flyer miles.

acspc-041567Help For Cancer Patients – Did you know that there are many people who must travel great distances on a daily basis to receive treatment? Who pays for that?  I just recently noticed the American Cancer Society’s TV campaign asking for text donations of $10 to raise money for hotel rooms to help traveling cancer patients.  American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, which provides free housing in 31 locations throughout the U.S. We also (as humans) get caught up in the holiday activities forgetting that cancer doesn’t take a break for the holidays. People still need treatment. People can’t be home. Imagine the tears. Extended Stay America and Hope Lodge are especially important this time of year. They help ease some of that sadness and some of the financial stress. I will be home for the holidays this year, will you?  Donate to American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge HERE.

The universal theme that circles around every December–regardless of one’s religion or spiritual practice–is to put others before yourself. And what better way to do that than to give gifts to the people you love that benefit the people you know need help? Charity gifts tug the heartstrings. You can’t always hold them, but you can feel them, which means they stand a chance of living in your memory longer.

To you and yours, have a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!!

 

 

Celebrate The 4th With Cleaner Water

american-flagYou’d probably rather have a nice cold beer and a hot dog, and you can, but let’s consider something a little more important as well.  As you celebrate the birthday of our Country, there is an opportunity to pledge to more than the American flag.

charity: water is an organization whose goal is to provide cleaner water for everyone on the planet and they have developed a unique way that you can pledge YOUR next birthday to the cause.  800 million people still live without clean water on our planet. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.  Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.

dirty water90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are in children under five years old.  The WHO reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.  charity: water focuses on life’s most basic need — water. But to significantly cut down disease rates in the developing world, water is just the first step. Almost everywhere charity: water builds a freshwater well, we also require sanitation training. In some communities, we build latrines; at the very least, we promote simple hand-washing stations made with readily-available materials. Clean water can greatly alleviate the world’s disease burden, but only with education and hygienic practice. charity: water is committed to using water as a gateway to sanitary living.

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ADDING IT UP: THE RETURN

Every $1 invested in improved water supply and sanitation can yield from $4 to $12 for the local economy, depending on the type of project.

Even in regions prone to natural disasters, water infrastructure has proven to be a smart investment, sometimes reducing flood damage or disease rates among survivors. Clean water transforms lives, communities and generations — and at a surprisingly low cost.  Just $20 can provide clean water for one person.

Do you remember your best birthday ever?  Bring that feeling back.  Pledge your birthday.

Sign up with a form here.  When your birthday is near, the folks at clean: water will remind you to start a fundraising page and ask your friends to donate to clean water for your birthday in lieu of presents. They will use 100% of the money you raise to fund clean water projects. When complete, you’ll see the exact projects you funded with photos and GPS.

Here’s a story of a birthday boy named Leroy:

 

A Place Called Home

Welcome Home

“Home” means so much to so many. It’s a place where we feel safe… where we can be ourselves… where we can be with our friends, family, and loved ones. Most of all, home is where a community comes together. Home is where the heart is.

Circle Kids for Front PageA Place Called Home is a safe haven in South Central Los Angeles where underserved youth are empowered to take ownership of the quality and direction of their lives through programs in education, arts, and well-being; and are inspired to make a meaningful difference in their community and the world.  At A Place Called Home, caring staff, supporters and volunteers come together to provide South Central children and teens 8 years old – 21 years old with love, safety, enrichment, training, and opportunities through educational programscounseling, and mentorship. After-school, weekend, and all-day summer programs and services include tutoring and homework support, as well as a full spectrum of instruction in the arts, athletics, dance and music. Our high school dropout recovery partnership with LAUSD is open in the mornings and they provide year-round support for college preparation, SAT tutoring, and college counseling and scholarships.  The children ARE our future… it’s not just a song, so finding ways to help troubled youth can certainly be very beneficial.  Having a place to grow, learn and do better things with your life (HOME) is essential to a child.a-place-called-home-logo2

How often do you think about child hunger?

We are full of food choices, with restaurants on every corner, markets adjacent to one another, and convenience stores galore. Leftovers are continuously thrown away, without a care, while right outside our doors, across the country, and beyond, there are hungry children.

You local food banks do their best to make food available for underprivileged children and their families, but over the last several months food donations have diminished. Replenishing those supplies in your own community provides hope for those children in need.  214_dkserve

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, located in Charlottesville, exists for a few very simple reasons: Food sustains life. It restores options. It provides hope. They are an emergency food assistance agency that serves more than 120,000 people each month, a record in the Food Bank’s history. Last year, they distributed more than 17 million meals to hungry families across the Blue Ridge. The number increases every year.

Disciples Kitchen in Waynesboro, and Valley Mission in Staunton rely on outside help to attempt to meet the basic needs of shelter, food, clothing, spiritual encouragement and personal growth for the homeless and hungry of our community.

You can visit their websites to support those children in your community or bring non-perishable foods directly to their drop off places.  Whatever you can give will be of help.

 

 

 

The History of Earthday

Earth Day 1970Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.

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The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.

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Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.Earth

The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

Make Earthday count this year.  REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE as often as possible.  Look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint.  Convince others to do so.  Happy Earth!!!!

 

Top Rated Charities

 

You want your donation to go to the right organization, so here are some top places to consider according to charity-rating website Charity Navigator.  Here’s our top 5 list:

No. 5:  Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Featured previously as one of the best charities that receive no help from the government, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation uses donations to support members of the elite special forces units of all branches of the military — Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, Army Rangers and Air Force rotary and fixed-wing squadrons, as well as several others.

The group’s annual revenue (more than $13 million last year) goes to two very specific areas: providing educational scholarships to the children of special forces soldiers who die in the line of duty and helping families of severely wounded soldiers visit their loved ones in the hospital.

No. 4: Homes for Our Troops

 Another organization that comes to the aid of soldiers and military families, Homes for Our Troops collects donations and secures volunteer labor to build houses for disabled veterans or to modify existing houses so they are handicap-accessible. Managing revenue of more than $11 million in 2010, the group addresses the struggles of injured soldiers after they leave the hospital and begin to live with their injuries, an area of recovery and rehabilitation that the Veterans Administration addresses through Specially Adapted Housing Grants of up to approximately $63,000, which do not always cover the entire cost of construction. Homes for Our Troops steps in when those grants run out, and the group says it has completed projects in 30 states.

No. 3: The Navy SEAL Foundation

 Another military-focused charity, the Navy SEAL Foundation targets an even narrower group than the larger Special Operations Warrior Foundation (our No. 5 highest-rated charity) does, and with revenue of just less than $6 million, less than half of SOWF’s receipts. And in many (but not all) ways, the groups’ missions overlap.

According to the NSF, “Our programs center around three pillars: health and welfare, including tragedy assistance and family events; education and motivation, including scholarships and tuition assistance; and history and heritage, including the funding of monuments and memorials.”

No. 2: Patient Advocate Foundation

Congress may have passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the beginning of 2010, but a complex law to ensure universal health care is bound to have some holes. To fill them, the Virginia-based Patient Advocate Foundation manages more than $35 million in donations to provide comprehensive support to those struggling with health problems. The group helps the uninsured, disabled patients who need support in the workplace and patients whose medical-related expenses have become unmanageable. And by all accounts, it’s doing a great job: After a steep drop in donations from 2007 to 2008 (during a recession, remember), the organization’s fundraising in 2010 marked a 50% increase, compared with pre-recession levels.

No. 1: Give Kids the World

Featured previously as one of the best charities that receive no help from the government, Give Kids the World uses its revenue (more than $28 million in 2009, the last year for which filings are available) to bring terminally ill children to Florida’s famous theme parks, such as Disney World and Universal Studios. The organization even built its own theme park in the area, Give Kids the World Village, to provide its own fantasy vacations for sick children and their families.

With 93.2% of donations going to program expenses instead of administrative or fundraising costs, the organization also is notable for the conservative salary of its president, which is just shy of $190,000 and represents only 0.53% of the organization’s expenses.