Friday, January 25, 2013

V-Day: One Billion Rising

In less than three weeks, Valentine’s Day will be here. Now that beautiful day celebrating love has a new meaning. Not only is it the day of love for couples, it is also a day to end violence against women. Not by parading or picketing, but by dancing.

One Billion Rising on V-Day is the movement. It’s named for the one billion women who are raped or beaten in their lifetimes. According to the slogan: One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.

Other than with a few close friends, I have never shared that I was raped when I was 22. I was living in Japan and seeing a guy there. I invited him over to my house for dinner and he took that as an invitation for more than just dinner.

It affected me in my relationships with men for at least five years. When I met the man I was to marry, I had to tell him that it was still affecting me sometimes. It wasn’t a constant pain or ache, but sometimes I didn’t want a man to touch me.

Now there’s a chance for women to fight back, not by fighting but by dancing. Flash mobs will be appearing around the world to show women’s power, not their helplessness in the face of this epidemic.

Legendary dancer Debbie Allen has choreographed a simple dance sequence to the One Billion Rising anthem “Break the Chain” written by acclaimed songwriter Tena Clark.

The One Billion Rising website features how to organize a flash mob with videos to help people learn the dance moves and a tool-kit for how to organize and publicize your own flash mob.

Even if you don’t organize a flash mob, you can still plan on where and with whom you’ll dance on that day. You can also find the closest dance event already planned in your area using the search function on the One Billion Rising website. The site has other ideas for what you can do as well. Inviting leaders against violence to speak and writing your congressional representatives about sponsoring legislation against violence are two of them. There’s also a monologue called “Rising” that can be read at a V-day occasion.

V-Day is on a Thursday in about three weeks. That doesn’t leave much time for organization but it’s still not too late to do something even if it is just stop what you’re doing at work, school or whatever to say a word about ending violence against women. And if you like to dance, then here’s your chance to do it for a reason.

Friday, January 18, 2013

E what? E mentoring

You may already know that January is national mentoring month, but did you know you can mentor children as far away as Africa and as close as Philadelphia without ever leaving your home? Or that you can become a buddy to someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities from your computer?

It’s called E mentoring.

There are many different ways of doing it, from video conversations to email pen pal programs.

Infinite Family matches children in Africa affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty with adults around the world, who through weekly half hour video conversations, improve the life and future of these children.

E-Buddies pairs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in one-to-one e-mail friendships with peer volunteers who do not have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Matched pairs exchange emails once a week. E-Buddies provides people with IDD an opportunity to develop new friendships and acquire much needed computer skills.

The Philadelphia Youth Network recently launched Project Mastery, a program in which volunteers help students with their writing through a digital portal. Students submit work to their tutors through the portal and tutors send back comments the same way. Volunteers can work on their own schedule. The next six week mentoring period goes from March to April and focuses on science narratives in journalism and creative nonfiction.

One program in New York blends e-mentoring with traditional mentoring. iMentor NYC is a school-based mentoring program matching public high school students in New York City in one-to-one relationships with college-educated mentors. Mentor-mentee pairs are matched for three to four years and exchange weekly emails and meet monthly in person.

Sure, you’ve probably thought about doing something to help youth or maybe you’ve been asked to mentor a child, but honestly when you thought about adding something more to your busy week, maybe you shuddered and thought, How can I do it?

Now there’s a way. E mentoring can make what seems like an impossible addition to your schedule a more manageable task. You can help others in your own city, somewhere else in America, or around the world from you without begrudging yourself or your family too much time away from them because of the convenience of doing it from your own computer.

Sounds perfect, right? Well, you will have to go through some checks and probably some training for most programs. They don’t want to match perverts up with kids and they want to make sure you have something to talk about with your child. But you can handle this. You chat on Facebook and Skype your family members in other states and I’m sure you send emails about every day.

So think about it, think about helping a child who needs it. It's not for everyone, but it just might be for you.

Friday, January 11, 2013

26 Acts, or Even 1

I cried so much doing the research for this week’s blog. I guess that’s nothing new. My husband often sees me with tears running down my face as I work on my blog. It’s usually a mixture of sadness and happiness at what happens in this world that causes it.
Have you heard about the 26 acts of kindness that NBC News Host Ann Curry suggested people do in honor of each person who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School? She started out just suggesting people do 20 acts for the kids, but everyone wanted to do something for each person who died.
If you want to see some examples of what people are doing and her explanation of how it all happened, visit the NBC News page about it. I think it’s such a fabulous idea that I had to mention it.
I also found out about a local mother who started her own random acts of kindness initiative.
Were your kids bored over the Christmas holiday when they were out of school?  Courtney Fell’s two boys were, too. She decided instead of sending them to the movies, she wanted to do something better.
“I just wanted to think of something fun for them and their friends to do. I wanted to do something that would benefit the community and hopefully inspire them and their friends,” Courtney, who lives near Pensacola, Florida, said.
She wanted to make a game out of it, so she made up a Facebook page for a Random Acts of Kindness Scavenger Hunt. People could sign up to help or give money.  Then she came up with the following list:
1. Take cookies to local fire station.

2. Hand out balloons to small children.

3. Deliver handmade cards and mardi gras beads to folks in a local nursing home.

4. Purchase a gift card while in line at a store. Turn around and hand it to the person behind you in line.

5. Tape a bag of quarters to a washing machine at local laundry mat.

6. Purchase a dozen doughnuts. Deliver to a parked police officer.

7. Rake a random yard full of leaves. Leave note explaining :)

8. Locate 5 parking meters almost out of time. Feed the meters.

9. Leave a gift certificate for a car wash on the dirtiest car you can find.

10. Deliver supplies needed to the Wildlife Rescue or Humane Society.
About twenty kids aged 7 to 13 met Courtney at her surf and skate shop Waterboyz in Pensacola, got the lists, and had two hours to do all the tasks.
What did they like the best? Raking the random person’s yard because the recipient of the raking, a single woman, was so grateful.
Surprisingly, not everyone was. “It was funny that when we tried to give out balloons. People were skeptical. They asked why are you giving away free stuff?” Courtney explained.
Courtney said most people were appreciative, though, and the whole group couldn’t wait to do it again because it was so much fun. She’s thinking about making it a regular quarterly event and having a club and everything, but even if she doesn’t, she is sure she will do it again.
Random Acts of Kindness week is coming up in just a month, from February the 11th to  the 17th, so here’s a warm up and a great list of ideas for everyone! You only have to do one act of kindness to touch someone’s heart. Reading and hearing about all these acts of kindness greatly touched mine.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Thirteen Ways to Change the World in 2013

Last week I asked you to think about which charities you might want to support in the new year. This week I have thirteen ways to do so. Not all of these ways allow you to choose the charity you benefit, but many of them do so get ready to give back!

1.       Open a savings account with ableBanking and get $25 given to the charity of your choice and a quarter percent of your average balance once a year as well. They are an online bank with no fees so you will be saving money, too!

2.      Give a dime a day to charity without thinking about it. Help Every Day takes what it calls a “coin of compassion” each day, charged monthly to your credit card, to support various charity projects around the world. You don’t miss it, but it’s helping other people.

3.      Like Carrie Underwood, James Taylor, Katy Perry or the Rolling Stones? Then buy your ticket to their concerts at Tickets for Charity and you not only get to see a great show, you will also be supporting a charity.

4.      Have something to say? Do you write a blog or have a website? Then create a lens (or computer site) for your topic and have the royalties from it go to charity. You can do it, at Squidoo.

5.      Did you know research projects need your computer down time? They do and they’re willing to pay for it, pay a charity, that is. That’s what SuperDonate does. While your computer is idle, SuperDonate uses it to solve problems and then gets money for charities for doing so. It’s that easy, and free!

6.      We Give Books does just that. You read a book online, they give one to someone in need.  It’s that easy. It’s meant to encourage reading to young children so get your kids or your friend’s kids and start reading to them!

7.      Need a vacation? Book it through Hotels for Hope and $2 to $5 will go to charity when you do.  

8.     Like shopping? You can choose a charity to receive ten percent of the price of your purchase from

9.      Heard of TOMS One for One plan? If you haven’t, it’s time. TOMS donates one pair of shoes for each pair it sells and eyeglasses or eye saving surgery for each pair of eyeglasses sold, too. 

10.  Take a survey. Fifty cents goes to charity. Take another, fifty more cents goes to a charity you choose. At the same time, you get entered for a chance to win a hundred bucks. That’s why Survey Monkey is great and it lets you pick the charity, too!

11.   Cleaning out for the new year? Try Ebay Giving. You can donate ten to 100 percent of the sale of your stuff to a nonprofit. (Or you can browse items that benefit charities you support and purchase them as well).

12.      Have a smart phone and like to work out? Download the Charity Miles iPhone/Android app that keeps track of your distance as you walk, run or bike and gives money for a charity of your choice. Bikers earn 10 cents per mile. Walkers and runners earn 25 cents per mile.

13.      Love magazines? Instead of stealing them from your doctor’s office, get your own subscription and fifty percent of the cost can go to a charity through ReadGive.

Find twelve more free ways to help others on my website Helping Hearts, along with two bonus ways to save money while helping others. Have another great way to help others this year? Tell me! Email me at Happy New Year!