Category Archives: News

How to Make Your Home Handicapped Accessible

When someone in your household has begun to experience a mobility limitation or a disabled loved one will be coming to live with you, it may be necessary to make some modifications to your home. Here are some things that you can do to make your home more accessible to an individual who relies on the use of a wheelchair.

Widen Doorways

It may be necessary to widen some of the doorways of your home. A wheelchair needs approximately 36 inches of space to In order to be able to pass through a doorway easily.

Modify a Bathroom

Several modifications may be needed in order for a handicapped person to use a bathroom with ease. A bathroom remodel for disabled persons requires adding a shower without any obstacles to entry. In addition, you may need to install your sink directly to the wall so that a vanity doesn’t prevent a person in a wheelchair from reaching the sink comfortably and safely.

Add an Exterior Ramp

If your home has front steps, you will need to install a ramp for ingress and egress. Ramps need to be constructed at a relatively low angle.

Install a Stair Lift

If someone in a wheelchair will need to get up and down a flight of stairs inside of your home, you may wish to consider installing a stairlift. An electronically activated wall-mounted stairlift is the safest way to enable access between two different levels in your home.

Change Out Door Handles

It may be necessary to lower door handles to a height that is easily accessible from a seated position. Alternatively, you may need to replace turn knob door handles for levers. Push-activated automatic door-openers may be the most ideal solution because it spares someone who is seated from having to reach forward to access a handle or having a door pushing inward push against them as they pass through.

Create Storage Solutions

You may need to give some thought to making changes to your home’s storage areas. A closet may need to include a low-hanging rack for clothes. Certain items in your kitchen may need to be moved from above-counter cabinets to a low-level storage rack.

The most important changes that you need to make are those that facilitate entry and make the most frequently used areas of your home more functional. It’s advisable to get a professional evaluation of how to ensure that certain modifications to your home will be safe and effective.

Natural Ways To Ease Anxiety

Anxiety can be distressing, and it can feel like it’s taking over your life. This can not only be troubling, but it can be exhausting, too. That doesn’t mean, though, that there isn’t anything you can do to help ease your situation. If you’re looking for natural ways to help keep your anxiety at bay, here are a few things to try.

Herbal Supplements

One simple way to help calm your anxiety is to try stress-curbing supplements. One kind of substance that can be helpful is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help improve your mood by balancing your body’s response to stress hormones. Some commonly used adaptogens include holy basil and ashwagandha. Besides adaptogens, there are many kinds of supplements that can be helpful for your mood like kratom pills or supplements high in calming minerals like magnesium. Either way, doing some research before you make a selection can be beneficial.

Yoga and Meditation

In addition to supplements, yoga and meditation can be powerful tools for reducing anxiety. When practicing yoga, you often have to focus on the pose that you are doing. This increased focus on your body and the sensations you experience while you move through poses can help shift focus off of feelings of anxiety and help you to feel calmer. Meditation can be beneficial in a similar way. Because you focus your attention on your breath during meditation, it can help you take your mind off of your anxious thoughts, as well as soothe your nervous system.

The Bottom Line

Anxiety, whether mild or severe, can feel like it’s taking over your life. Dealing with this can not only be troublesome emotionally, but it can be exhausting, too. That doesn’t mean, though, that you don’t have any options. By trying natural solutions like an anxiety-reducing supplement, to practicing yoga and meditation, you can help keep your anxiety at bay and feel your best.

Setting New Roots: How to Obtain Italian Citizenship

When it comes to obtaining citizenship in another country, things can get a little complicated. If you’re looking to become an Italian citizen, here are some of the most common methods that allow you to do that.

Citizenship by Descent

The first method of becoming a citizen of Italy is by descent. Becoming an Italian citizen by descent means you have to have a paternal or maternal line of Italian heritage. If you have an Italian bloodline that you can prove, you can become an Italian citizen without going through the traditional route.

Obtaining Italian citizenship by descent may be simple for those who are eligible, but proving you’re eligible can be a bit of work. If you were born in a country where your citizenship was granted to you at birth, you need to have a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, great-grandmother or great-grandfather who was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth to be eligible. If you want to become an Italian citizen by your bloodline, you will need to provide the proper documentation to prove your heritage.

Citizenship by Marriage

One of the most popular ways to obtain citizenship in any country is by marriage. When you marry a person who is a citizen of a particular country, you can also become a citizen of that country. The good thing about obtaining Italian citizenship through marriage is that it’s one of the simplest ways to become an Italian citizen. Of course, it does require you to marry an Italian citizen in the first place.

Citizenship by Naturalization

In general, the most difficult way to obtain Italian citizenship is by naturalization. To start, you’ll have to live in Italy for at least 10 years if you want to apply for citizenship by naturalization. If you have some Italian heritage, you may be able to obtain citizenship in as little as four years. On top of the strict requirements in terms of how long you live in the country before becoming a citizen, the Italian government may also deny your application if they deem you a security risk of some sort.

While becoming an Italian citizen takes a bit of work, it’s far from impossible. In fact, there are numerous ways to become an Italian citizen. If you’re interested in becoming an Italian citizen, you need to look into citizenship by descent, marriage and naturalization and choose your best option.

Focusing on Eye Health: Warning Signs and Symptoms

Your vision is a critical part of your overall health and wellness. Changes or problems with your eyesight can affect your ability to perform everyday tasks or enjoy simple hobbies and activities. More importantly, they can actually be a sign of underlying issues that need to be addressed promptly. If you are experiencing any of these common yet serious symptoms, it may be time to see an eye care professional.

Noticeable Changes in Vision

Have you recently experienced trouble focusing on objects either close up or far away? Are these issues relatively new? Whether you’ve never needed corrective lenses or already use them, recent or sudden vision changes should never be ignored. In some situations, it may be the result of pregnancy or medications. However, it can also point to diabetes or a degenerative condition that needs to be treated by an ophthalmologist.

Chronic Headaches

Some people experience frequent headaches or migraines due to stress or vitamin deficiencies. However, many chronic headache problems can be solved with the right corrective lens prescription. If you suffer from this issue frequently, be sure to have your eyes checked, as it could provide a simple pain relief solution.


From time to time, you may notice floaters in your field of vision when you’re in a well-lit area. This occurs when the eye is able to focus on tiny, otherwise invisible organisms or debris that move over the surface of the eye. If you start to notice an increase in how often you see floaters, you should talk to an eye doctor, as it could be a sign of retinal detachment.

Blurred or Impaired Vision

Blurry eyesight can happen for a number of reasons, including

  • Allergies
  • Viruses
  • Common infections, such as conjunctivitis
  • Outdated corrective lens prescriptions

However, these can also be a sign of more serious conditions, such as dry eye disease, cataracts or an eye tear. If symptoms do not improve with eye drops, require continued lubrication or are accompanied with severe eye pain, it is important to seek medical evaluation and treatment. While a prescription can help in some situations, others may require surgery to resolve the problem.

When you experience any of these symptoms, early detection and diagnosis can help lead to a more favorable outcome. In addition, it’s important to maintain regular, annual checkups with an eye doctor, as some signs of a serious condition can go unnoticed due to their gradual progression. Make your eyesight a priority and stay on top of any changes you notice for healthier vision and a healthier life.

Inspire Girls Around the World to Continue Their Education with CARE #SimplySaid

Growing up, any time I wanted to know the answer to something, my grandmother told me to look it up. Who invented something; the roots of a tradition; the motivation behind a movement. Whatever it was, she would send me upstairs to the bookcase that stood in her hallway to find the encyclopedia (yes, the encyclopedia!) that contained the information that I sought. She didn’t send me to look up an answer because she didn’t want to help me, but rather, because she did.

As she would tend to a project or chore, I read aloud from the thick books and we would discuss whatever the topic happened to be. If it was more sensitive subject matter, which came up more frequently as I developed an interest in politics and social justice, she would encourage me to share my opinion and how I came to it. Sometimes she shared a different point of view and challenged me. More often than not, one teachable moment would lend itself to another. Before we knew it, we had spent the day (or wee hours of the night, being classic night owls) in deep discussion.

My grandmother always made learning exciting, and she still does. Because of this, it should not come as a surprise that I actually enjoyed school. Well, for the most part anyway. There were some years during high school when I was not so enthusiastic about school, but hey, that’s being a teenager for you. Even so, I know how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to attend school. To learn about the history of the world; develop and hone skills that would serve me into adulthood; do well so that I could do well in the future.

But not all girls have the opportunity to attend school and receive the education they deserve. For more than 100 million girls around the world, hunger, early marriage, extreme poverty, and threats to safety are all barriers that keep them from attending school.

CARE Simply Said Bridget

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls. They have worked tirelessly to eliminate barriers to education for girls in developing countries. They know that when you invest in education, children will pay it forward. Equipped with knowledge and confidence, educated children grow up to lead healthier, more productive lives.

Bridget, pictured above, is inspired to work hard so that she may become a doctor. There is no health clinic in her community and patients in need of care must walk over six miles to get medical attention. She hopes that access to education could help her make a difference.

CARE Simply Said: Inspiring Girls’ Education


The CARE Simply Said campaign inspires girls around the world to continue their education and follow their dreams, regardless of adversity. Moni is an 11-year-old fourth grader whose education inspires her to someday be able to take care of her family. She wants to be successful in life, and in order to do so, she says she will study accordingly. Having watched her parents suffer since her early years of school, she is inspired to get an education and then a job so that she can one day take care of them.

Click here to join the CARE Simply Said mission and write a letter of encouragement supporting students in developing countries who are working to achieve their dreams.

Hurricane Preparedness Week: Red Cross Issues Safety Steps for Hurricane Season

It’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week and the American Red Cross has put together some crucial steps people should take now to get ready for hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

Hurricanes are thought to typically cause the most problems for those living in coastal areas, but it’s important to know that these storms can also cause damage hundreds of miles inland. In 2011, tropical storms caused devastating flooding in Pennsylvania and New Jersey hundreds of miles from the coast. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes ravaged the mid-Atlantic region from central Virginia through Pennsylvania to New York.

“A hurricane is a serious threat to residents in coastal areas as well as hundreds of miles inland,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “We’re ready, and we want people to know it’s important for them to get prepared, too.”

Thousands of trained Red Cross disaster workers all over the country are prepared to respond if and when needed. The organization stocks items like food, cots, blankets, and other relief supplies in warehouses across the country — enough to support thousands of people who might need shelter. Through a variety of methods and partnerships, the Red Cross has the ability to serve one million meals a day, if needed. Thousands of shelter locations are already identified and Red Cross emergency vehicles are ready to move into action.

Getting ready for hurricane season now is the best way to be prepared for these dangerous storms. Hurricane preparedness should include:

  • Build an emergency kit containing one gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, any necessary medications, supplies for an infant or child if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important documents, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area, and emergency contact information. Many of these items are available through the Red Cross Store.
  • Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan will minimize confusion and fear during a necessary evacuation.
  • Be informed. Learn about the community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required, and make plans for pets.
  • People should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on their mobile device. The content includes expert guidance on what to do before, during, and after different emergencies or disasters from home fires to hurricanes. All Red Cross apps can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

If someone already has a disaster kit, now is the time to make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date. If a household emergency plan is already in place, begin talking about it with family members so that everyone knows what to do if an emergency should occur.

Hurricane Preparedness for Businesses, Schools & Organizations

The Red Cross Ready Rating™ program helps businesses, schools, and other organizations prepare for emergencies that can disrupt daily operations by offering specific steps that can be taken to be better prepared. It includes a planning tool to help their employees or members know what their roles are in the early hours of an emergency, what their next steps are, and a resource center with tools that help businesses, employees, and students develop and practice preparedness plans.

Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarianism aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. To find out more about the American Red Cross, visit,, or follow them on Twitter at @RedCross.

Projects Abroad Offers Accessible Gap Year Volunteering Options for Anyone

Taking a gap year before embarking onto the next stage of their academic careers is an increasingly popular trend for North American high school graduates. Some, like Malia Obama, are even deferring their college enrollment to do so. With volunteer organization Projects Abroad, a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs, bridging high school and college with a gap year is an option that can still help make a difference around the world for anyone eager to experience it.

Typically, a gap year can take place over a full year, a semester, or even just a month or two spent fulfilling an inner calling before heading back to the classroom. Volunteering abroad is just one meaningful way to spend a gap year, and it’s an option that offers several benefits, says Elizabeth Cauchois, a Program Advisor for Projects Abroad USA.

“Students taking their gap years in developing countries find that their experience as volunteers impacts them significantly. They devote their time, energy, and skills to helping others, learning about cultural exchange firsthand by living and working in local communities, and exploring the world. This gives them a measure of independence and maturity that few other experiences can, and many students feel more confident and prepared for their impending studies. A well-planned gap year can make all the difference.”

Projects Abroad has more than one option for gap year students. Global Gap is a pre-designed gap year volunteering program for a group of students to volunteer together throughout the course of an academic year (eight months). The group travels together to five countries — Ghana, South Africa, Peru, Nepal, and Thailand — to participate in a wide variety of volunteer projects and internships, such as helping local teachers improve their English and learning new classroom management techniques.

Students can also customize their gap year by participating on standard projects of their choice. They can choose exactly what they want to do, where they want to go, how long they want to go for, and when they want to start. This gives gap year students enormous freedom when planning their gap year and their travels can take them across the globe.

“A gap year is accessible to everyone,” Cauchois emphasizes. “We have a number of projects that are available on a budget, but that still offer safety and are well-coordinated. Volunteering abroad is possible on any budget and we are always happy to speak to and advise students who are looking to make their trip a reality.”

A gap year is an experience for anyone, and there are various ways to go about planning a year focused on traveling and volunteering. Learn more about gap year volunteering with Projects Abroad.

5 Reasons to Intern on a Public Health Project

In many of the countries that international volunteer organization Projects Abroad works in, basic primary healthcare infrastructure cannot support the demands of the population. To ease the pressure on these services, it is vital to prevent disease at a community level by providing basic treatments and diagnoses. This, along with improving the overall health of local communities, is a priority of each Public Health Project run by the organization.

Here are the top five reasons to get involved at a Public Health Project.

1. Provide Primary Medical Care Where it is Needed

Accessing medical care and treatment can be difficult for underprivileged communities and at-risk groups. Public Health interns take on an important role in these communities by working with local medical professionals to provide basic care. This can include cleaning and bandaging minor wounds, testing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and testing for illnesses like malaria. This has an immediate effect on communities — not only do doctors, nurses, and interns treat any immediate symptoms as best they can, they can help people get further medical care at a hospital or clinic if needed.

2. Contribute to Long Term Impact

While local medical staff and interns can provide immediate treatment, Public Health Projects also focus on prevention and causes of illnesses. By educating communities on how to prevent illnesses and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), interns ensure that they have the knowledge to pass on to others and future generations. This is especially important considering the increasing prevalence of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Public Health interns regularly contribute to health campaigns, such as the larviciding campaign held last year to help prevent the spread of Dengue fever in the Philippines.

3. Enhance Personal Medical Knowledge

Public Health interns learn various practical skills for their resumes during their placements and working alongside local medical professionals also gives interns the opportunity to improve their medical knowledge. Projects Abroad encourages interns to ask questions and take notes every day, particularly when observing illnesses and conditions not usually seen in North America.

4. Experience Cross-Cultural Exchange

One of the main motivations for volunteering and interning abroad is to immerse yourself in the culture where you will be working. Interning on a Public Health Project is a fantastic way to do this. Not only do interns work directly in the community every day, they also live with local host families. Having an understanding and respect for different cultures and mindsets is an extremely valuable skill to have, especially in the healthcare field.

5. Stand Out From the Crowd

Medical school admissions are tough! Participating on a Public Health Project shows that you are prepared to challenge yourself, you are passionate about healthcare, and are committed to helping those in need. Internships also give applicants relevant experience to talk about during interviews.

Projects Abroad offers Public Health Projects in five destinations in the developing world. These programs typically run from one to four weeks or more at any time of the year. Start dates are flexible and participants can choose when they depart and return. The organization also offers Public Health placements for university students over spring break and for high school students during the summer.

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 30 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States.

For details on volunteering abroad, visit Project Abroad’s website.

Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking in Today’s World

An estimated 2.5 million people across the globe — many of them children — are victims of modern day slavery in the form of human trafficking. Some are forced into brutal manual labor, while others become captive to the sex trade. Still others are forced to act as soldiers and, in some cases, participate in war crimes. Unbound believes we have a special role to play in combating this epidemic.

Solving a problem begins with understanding its scope. With human trafficking, that is a particularly unique challenge. Some worldwide estimates make no distinction between trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, while others separate the two. The difference is that, while both acts involve coerced and prolonged exploitation, human trafficking also includes the element of displacement. Victims of trafficking are, either by force or deceit, taken from their homes and, often, across borders.

For obvious reasons, criminal exploiters work hard to keep their activities hidden, making it extremely difficult to track traffic between countries. Compounding that challenge is the varying degrees to which nations are willing to cooperate in both providing reliable trafficking data and prosecuting traffickers. But there is another factor that sometimes makes trafficking difficult to identify. Exploitation comes in many forms and is not always easy to recognize. For example, many who work in the sex trade appear to do so freely, but surveys consistently show that a majority of adult prostitutes were sexually abused as minors, which demonstrates that the psychological trauma — and the consequences — of such abuse can endure long after abusers have moved on. The fact that some victims seem to willingly participate in their own ongoing exploitation makes them no less exploited.

Exploitation also often comes in the guise of friendship. To illustrate, in Kenya there are nearly 3,000 agencies that purportedly help impoverished young people find work outside the country. Two-thirds of those are estimated by the Kenyan government to be fronts for human trafficking.

Amos Kihoro is the coordinator of the Unbound youth program in Nairobi, Kenya. An estimated 65,000 of his fellow Kenyans, most of them young people, are now being victimized by traffickers. Kihoro knows what he and others who care about these youth are up against.

“Kenya is not only [a] source but it is also used as a transit, particularly by our polarized neighboring countries,” Kihoro said. “Many have been apprehended while in houses that are poorly ventilated, as they await the “proper time” to be ferried out of the country, hence risking their lives from diseases, dehydration, and hunger.”

Kihoro understands the special threat that traffickers pose for youth who live in poverty.

“There have been many cases of young people being promised well-paying jobs in Asia,” he said. “Some have succeeded in heading out for “greener pastures” only to find themselves doing menial jobs contrary to their expectations, some receiving little payment or nothing at all.”

Once in that predicament, it becomes next to impossible to escape.


Unbound counters these forces by empowering young people with the tools they need — education, hope, and self-esteem — to make them less vulnerable to traffickers. When they are able to rely on their own abilities and skills, and with the encouragement of their Unbound sponsors, these youth are much less prone to the kind of desperation that human traffickers feed upon.

Kihoro explained how sponsorship helps protect young people from victimization:

“Unbound sponsorship prioritizes education, hence ensuring that they do not drop out of school due to school fees. This reduces their vulnerability. In addition, youth mentorship programs, counseling, and empowerment programs help in dealing [with] and resolving other personal struggles that may lead our Unbound teenagers to drop out under the pressure of the promised big job opportunities in Nairobi, along the coast, or in other big towns or countries.”

Big problems can seem overwhelming, and human trafficking is a big problem that must be fought on many fronts. Unbound is working to do our part by bringing light — in the form of empowered and hope-filled young people — into some of the many dark corners around the world where those who would use others for profit lie in wait.

Thank a Veteran in Your Life with a Great Clips Haircut

Now that Halloween has passed, there’s almost no time to catch our collective breath as we gear up for the string of holidays that will soon be upon us. In addition to giving thanks, as well as the birthday festivities that open and close this month in my family for myself and my grandmother, November also gives us the prime opportunity to acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate the veterans in our lives and communities with Veterans Day on November 11.

I have written about my family’s history of military service here before, and about the tremendous impact my aunt’s 26 years of service had on me as I grew up.

Aunt Jenn military awards

Witnessing my aunt’s accomplishments in the military over the years taught me to be strong and determined, to never back down from what I know is right, but also to remember to take care of myself.

If anyone has given me a thorough lesson on the importance of pampering in a woman’s life, it is my aunt. Every year for my birthday and Christmas, she packs up a great, big basket full of bath and body products, no doubt delightfully enabling my shameless addiction for all things smelly. It is because of these baskets that I cannot remember the last time when I didn’t have my pick of bubble bath, body wash, and bath fizzes when all I wanted in the world was to relax in a hot bath.

Another great way to pamper yourself is with a haircut. Whether you get your hair cut regularly to maintain a certain length or style, or let your hair grow for years and then go in to get several inches cut off at once, a great haircut can significantly improve how you feel about yourself, no matter who you are. So why not pass on that feeling of new-found confidence to a veteran or military serviceperson in your life?

For the third year in a row, Great Clips is thanking veterans and active military members for their service with the gift of a free haircut — and you can help!

Thank a Veteran with Great Clips

Active or retired military members get free haircuts or a free haircut card on November 11, and any customer who gets a haircut at Great Clips on November 11 receives a free haircut card to give to a veteran.

*Only veterans and active members of the military are eligible to redeem the free haircut card. Family members of said military members do not qualify.

Great Clips is the only major salon brand that offers customers a way to thank veterans in their lives. With more than 3,800 salons throughout the United States and Canada, they are the world’s largest salon brand and employ nearly 35,000 stylists. Great Clips is dedicated to improving the communities in which they operate, with a focus on philanthropic and volunteer activities.

Find your local Great Clips and make a haircut appointment for Veterans Day, November 11.

Do you have a veteran or active military member in your life whom you would give the free Great Clips haircut card to?