Friday, May 30, 2014

May Showers of Love

May is lots of things—the gateway to summer, the last full month of school, the month of flowers after April showers—but also it’s national foster care month. I know some foster care parents and have shared their stories before, but not all of us are able to be foster care parents. So, I want to share some things that we can get involved in to help foster kids without being a foster parent. The first one is Together We Rise.

What I like about Together We Rise is that it started out of a real need. Danny Mendoza had a cousin who was living on his own. Danny couldn’t find a way to help because he was told he was too young. He decided to start his own charity that could help children in foster care while mobilizing young people to make a difference in the world.

Through its fundraising and network of passionate volunteers, Together We Rise gives foster children a brighter future and a sense of normalcy and belonging. They provide bikes, sports camps and simple suitcases for foster youth. Their Aging Out program also provides resources to older youth who are leaving the foster care system.

You can donate a buck a month or more if you have it or give a onetime gift. If you don’t have any money, then start a fundraising page of your own.

Another way to help foster children is to become an advocate for them. You may have heard of guardian at litems or court appointed special advocates. They become an advocate for a child by learning about that child’s situation through reviewing records, interviewing the children, family members and professionals in their lives.

They appear in court to help explain what is in the child’s best interests. They seek cooperative solutions for the children. They recommend services and monitor plans and court orders to make sure plans are being followed and keep the court informed.

Advocates commit to stay with the child until they are put in a loving, permanent home. They can be the only constant adult presence in a child’s life when they have been taken from their parent’s home.

I’ve also written about Foster Care to Success before. It offers many ways to get involved – from sponsoring a student’s education to buying textbooks, knitting scarves or providing care packages.  

There are lots of ways to help children who have been separated from their families because of difficult circumstances over which they have no control. They are at the mercy of their parents, the court system and foster parents. But a helping hand can remind them that they are not really on their own.

These are some options if you want to be that helping hand. We can continue the showers of April into May and provide showers of love to foster kids. God bless.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Custom Culture

Remember those cool surfer shoes Van’s made with the checkered design? Well, now you can make your own design and earn money for the art program at your school.

It’s called Van’s Custom Culture and it’s a nationwide contest where the first place winner gets $50,000 for its art program. Only schools can enter and each school can send in four pairs of shoes that its students design.

Fifty finalist schools go to the public vote and then surprise celebrity judges make the final determination of the winners from the top five finalists. The four runners up receive $4,000 for their school art programs as well.

Registration begins in January and the schools submit their designs February through April. The final event when the winners are announced is June 10 in New York City, where the finalists get a tour of art sites in the city before the main event.

School is winding up around the country now and I usually talk about treats for teachers to show them how you care in May. Well, some cash is a real treat for art teachers!

If you have artistic ability and are a student, check this out! God Bless and have a marvelous and safe Memorial Day, everyone!

Friday, May 16, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons


Can you imagine getting the news when you’re just four that you have cancer? It might not mean much, until you start the medical tests, shots, surgeries, chemotherapy and so on. What if while you were going through this, you decided to do something about it, to help people find a cure. That’s what Alexandra “Alex” Scott did.
Alex, at age four, held a lemonade stand to help find a cure for all childhood cancers, including her own. Since that time, more than 20,000 Alex’s Lemonade Stands have been held across the country!
Alex is no longer with us, but her idea of helping to find a cure is still alive and is part of a nationwide movement.
It was just last weekend that I was raising money for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life. Our Relay raised over $100,000 and I am so excited to have been part of it.
But the reason I relay is for my son who was healed of cancer when he was 6. So, Alex’s Lemonade Stand is dear to me, too.
National Lemonade Days are coming up in about three weeks, June 6 to June 8. Held the weekend before Father's Day every June, this three day event is open to all who want to participate by holding their own fundraising stands or events.  
If you decide to do it quickly enough, Alex’s Lemonade Stand will also send you a free kit of materials including posters, balloons, coupons and more!  
So think about serving up some lemonade and helping fight childhood cancer at the same time. God Bless!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

RFL Niceville Here We Come!

Today is the day! My Relay for Life in Niceville, Florida. I haven’t spoken much about being on the steering committee for Relay this year because it’s just not as exciting as having your own team. I have been calling people, recruiting teams, setting up chairs at team meetings and helping to plan the event.

It’s not like planning events to fundraise. You don’t get to count the money at the end of the evening and know it’s going to fight cancer. Of course, everything you do on the steering committee helps the teams do their fundraising so it’s all important.

We have had rain in too many of our past Relays in Niceville I’m told and it looks like it might happen again. There’s a fifty percent chance of rain pretty much throughout the Relay. The skies have been cloudy but it hasn’t actually rained yet as I write this. I wish it would rain early and get it over with or hold off until Sunday. But we don’t know God’s plans.

I just know we have almost 50 teams and we are ready to roll! We’ve raised $71,000 so far but we are going to get a lot closer to $100,000.

It’s going to be a busy weekend. After Relay is over, I’m going to catch a few winks and then go to a friend’s book signing. Sunday is Mother’s Day so we’re going to take my husband’s mother out for lunch and then I’m delivering dinner to a friend who shattered her ankle and had two surgeries the last week to try and fix it.

I started a new job this week so I’m finding I have less time and am more tired! But I really do like the job so far, more on that later.

God Bless and have a great weekend!