Category Archives: Politics

What Will You Do on 9/11? Volunteer Opportunities Around the Country

911 Tribute Movement This Sunday will mark the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks in New York City. Like all of the anniversaries that have come before, there will be anniversary specials and discussions on every media outlet out there. This year, however, MyGoodDeed has partnered with HandsOn Network to “organize the single largest day of charitable service in United States history.”

MyGoodDeed founders Jay Winuk and David Paine remember the outpouring of support, love and generosity that they and many others in need received immediately after the attacks and through this effort, they hope to unite anyone and everyone across the country around that same giving spirit.

Below are several volunteer opportunities where you can lend a hand this weekend. There are events and a need for volunteers all over the country, so wherever you live, you can still give your time and effort to a good cause. Also, if you do plan on getting out this weekend and giving back, or when you complete a service project, be sure to share your story on 911Day.org and join the 9/11 Tribute Movement.

New York
Volunteers are needed for the Hand in Hand Remembering 9/11 event where thousands of people will stand united along the Hudson River starting in Battery Park, joining hands in solidarity. Several shifts are available for energetic volunteers to help with check-in and traffic control.

There are many other volunteer opportunities on both September 10 and September 11 around the city. For information about each one and how to get involved visit the Hand in Hand 9/11 website.

The National 9/11 Flag has been touring the country for the past several years, being restored by people nation-wise. The flag will become part of the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center. Through the New York Says Thank You Foundation you can sponsor a stitch of the flag with a donation of $5. With a donation of $10, you can both sponsor a stitch in addition to acknowledging a loved one in the military or someone special who serves your community as a first responder, educator, volunteer or everyday hero by adding their name to the National 9/11 Flag Honor Roll.

On September 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Pace University Community and Volunteer Mobilization AmeriCorps program will host Chinatown C.A.R.E.S., a Community Resource Fair at the Broome Street Pit at Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Several small service projects will also be underway at nearby locations, including a cleanup of a local park and a care package drive for troops abroad.

Muslims For Life is holding blood drives nationwide at mosques and prayer centers across the country to the honor victims of 9/11. Donate blood and help them meet their goal of 10,000 units of blood collected in order to save 30,000 lives during the month of September.

New Jersey
Jersey Cares are facilitating over 35 different projects in which they are looking for 1,000 volunteers to participate in from today until September 12. Volunteer projects include preparing disaster readiness kits, serving hot food to those in need, helping plant a 9/11 memorial garden, painting murals and building patriotic picnic tables.

Washington, DC
Greater DC Cares is looking for 10,000 volunteers to give back to their communities from Friday to Sunday. Volunteer projects include crafting organic seed globes of flowers to be planted around town and helping to put together educational tools for elementary and middle school students that will be given to schools in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. Get the full list of volunteer opportunities and learn how to get involved on their website.

7,000 students are also being encouraged to get involved by writing letters to troops and their families.

California
Big Sunday is hosting a food drive and potluck community breakfast. They are currently collecting non-perishable food at their office and will continue to do so until Sunday morning when all items will be sorted, boxed and delivered to SOVA.

There will also be a memorial service and interfaith prayer gathering for those in Los Angeles, as well as the opportunity for people to build museum fixtures and models honoring the U.S. military that will be featured in Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum.

September is the Season of Service for those living in the Bay Area. On September 11, 500 volunteers, veterans and first responders will gather at the Veterans War Memorial Building at the San Francisco Civic Center to remember, pay tribute and serve community nonprofits.

Washington
Seattle Works and volunteers will be making blankets to be donated to the Red Cross.

In Tacoma, Habitat for Humanity will be registering for a new volunteer orientation on September 10.

Illinois
The White Sox have organized the largest volunteer opportunity in the state calling for about 500 volunteers to help transform McClellan Elementary School by painting murals, installing new structures and helping with other reconstruction tasks.

A volunteer opportunity for seniors ages 55 and up are being asked by Operation Support Our Troops Illinois to write letters of thanks to the military men and women currently serving our country.

Arab American Family Services are planting trees at Commissioners Park.

Texas
The Volunteer Center of North Texas with the Texas Rangers are hosting the third annual North Texas Volunteer Challenge as part of the National Day of Service and Remembrance. This is a four-hour service project that raises funds for more than 1,700 nonprofit organizations of various causes.

There are even more volunteer opportunities taking place in smaller states throughout the country. Check out the 9/11 Tribune Movement website for the full list.

Remember by doing.

Nine West Fights Breast Cancer with Runway Relief Collection

Nine West Runway Relief

For the second consecutive year, Nine West has released a mini collection under their Runway Relief Program which aims to combine the forces of the fashion and modeling industries in order to raise funds to aid in breast cancer awareness and prevention.

Three items make up the collection–a military-inspired boot containing a Runway Relief dog tag, a rockin’ black tank top and an amazing, road warrior-inspired messenger bag–with 100% of the proceeds being donated to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s charitable organization.

All of the items in the mini collection are available for pre-order now. The tank and military-inspired boot will ship on August 9 and the messenger bag will ship on September 6 just in time for fall collections.

Matt Damon Defends Teachers at Save Our Schools March [Video]

Matt Damon Save Our Schools March Matt Damon was in Washington D.C. this past weekend where he attended and gave a speech at the Save Our Schools March. He was in attendance with his mother, a teacher in the Boston area, who told the crowd she was very proud of him for giving a speech about creating change within the public school system.

During an interview with a reporter from reason.tv, Damon defended teachers and the work that they do all over the country. He even went as far as to speak to the cameraman, who had jumped into the interview with a statistic that 10% of teachers are “bad” and that 10% of people in any profession should have made a different career choice. Damon retaliated with, “Well maybe you’re a shitty cameraman, I don’t know.”

Matt Damon has never been one to shy away from sharing his opinions on a whole host of a social and world issues and I have to say, every time he does, I think I like him more.

Ditch the Disposable Water Bottles for Good

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of hydrosbottle. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hydros Bottle A few months ago I watched the documentary Tapped, a film that examines how the entire bottled water industry works and discloses the major role it has played in the depletion of our environment, the increase of pollution and our reliance on oil. It also spotlights the industry’s less-than-ethical business practices and how these practices have affected the health of countless people. I think we can all say we know at least the basics of why it is important to think green and to be less wasteful in our every day lives, we have been seeing the statistics and hearing about the harm waste causes for years now. Reading this information and being told that we should go green is one thing, but when you see the entire industry laid out in front of you from manufacturing plant-to-landfill and the compounded effects, it is extraordinarily powerful.

Everyone relies on water to stay alive and we all want to make sure we’re drinking the cleanest, safest water available to us. That fact in itself is what drives a lot of people to purchase bottled water as much as they do, often believing that it is the purest water that they can get. There are other options; other options that don’t have such a negative impact on the environment.

The Hydros Bottle is one of those options, and it is a really awesome creation. This bottle has a built-in, Hydros Fast Flow Filter that reduces chlorine, chloramine and particulates from tap water much faster than pitcher water filters. It ensures that any tap water you pour into the cap will fill the bottle with only pure, filtered water. You can then take your bottle with you on the go, filling that need for convenience that we all have when we’re running out the door to the gym, going out jogging, or while running errands.

I especially love that the Hydros Bottle is super durable and therefore able to withstand tumbles and repeated falls. What can I say, I am not always the most graceful person. It is constructed from Tritan Plastic which is a tough material and it is also heat and chemical resistant, so feel free to pop it in the top rack of your dishwasher without worrying it is going to be ruined by the time to the cycle is finished. It is also manufactured without BPA or phthalates, which is not something that the companies who manufacture bottled water can say about their disposable bottles.

I absolutely love companies that have an impact on the bigger picture, striving to create fundamental, lasting change in the world, and that is exactly what Hydros is doing. Operation Hydros is the fight against the global water crisis. Out of every Hydros Bottle sold, $1 is donated to an environmentally sustainable water infrastructure project. Hydros recently partnered with Engineers Without Borders in order to deliver fresh water to people within the Cameroonian village of Gundom where two thousand gallons of fresh water is delivered to people who desperately need it.

There is a much steeper cost to bottled water than the price tag you see listed below it at the store. Help make a difference by filtering your own tap water and carrying around your own, reusable water bottle. Not to mention, the Hydros Bottles look really cool and they come in a variety of colors. Can you say that much about your disposable plastic water bottle?

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Rachel Pally’s Margarita Dress Benefits Surfrider Foundation

Rachel Pally Margarita dress It is always really great to see people and businesses giving back to the environment and doing good things for the Earth in their work. That is exactly what Rachel Pally is doing with the sale of her Margarita dress. This dress is one of those garments you look at and immediately think of all the places you want to wear it this summer. It is a surf blue-colored, fitted dress made of jersey material and spandex.

I should probably state that you will most likely only fall in love with this dress in a realistic sense if you have the body for an incredibly fitted dress made of jersey. I do not, but I sure do love looking at this dress anyway. Adorned with wavy ruffles along the shoulder and front and back of the dress that hang off to the side, it is a really great piece for the occasional outdoor summer party or anywhere else you’ll be going this season where you want to dress to impress.

The Margarita dress is so obviously inspired by the waves and color of the ocean, so it’s only natural that Pally decide to give 20% of the proceeds of this dress throughout the month of June to the Surfrider Foundation.

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit, grassroots organization that is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. They are committed to preserving beach access, preventing beach loss, protecting special places and eliminating ocean water pollution.

The foundation was founded in 1984 by a group of visionary surfers in Malibu, California and has grown to maintain more than 60,000 members and 100 chapters worldwide.

The price tag of the Rachel Pally Margarita dress is $229 and if you have to justify the price, know that a portion of your sale will go to directly benefit our world’s beaches and making them healthy, clean and fun for everyone.

Today is National Barefoot Day — Help Soles4Souls Raise Awareness of Poverty and Donate 50,000 Shoes to Those in Need

Soles4Souls There are currently more than 300 million children and 1.5 billion adults in the world today who do not own basic shoes. Soles4Souls is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 that is working towards lowering those numbers and changing the world one pair at a time.

Shoes are so, incredibly essential to our every day safety and in most of our lives, they are taken for granted. Soles4Souls has donated shoes to people affected by poverty and natural disasters throughout the world for the past seven years. To successfully donate so many shoes to deserving people in need, Soles4Souls receives large donations from footwear companies, retailers, churches, nonprofit ministries, civic groups, schools and individuals just like you and me who feel strongly about donating what we can, where we can. And what’s easier than donating a pair of shoes?

2011 National Barefoot Week

In order to raise awareness of their cause and to encourage people to donate their unused and new shoes to people who desperately need them, Soles4Souls has kicked off National Barefoot Week, starting today with National Barefoot Day.

Barefoot Day

Today will kick off various events across the country and will also celebrate the first U.S. distribution of 2011 Barefoot Week, which will take place in Detroit. To get involved in Barefoot Day, simply take off your shoes and tell people, if you dare venture outside, why you’re not wearing any shoes. Good luck getting into any places of business, but if you’re a kick ass activist willing to take risks, try your luck by walking into a restaurant or store and declaring why you’re not wearing any shoes and how some people don’t have the luxury of walking outside, putting on a pair, and walking back in.

You can also take your barefoot activism online, of course. Change your Twitter avatar and Facebook profile pic to a picture of your bare feet. Be sure to add a caption about why your picture is of bare feet and why not send a tweet while you’re at it? Something like: My feet are bare for Soles4Souls’ Barefoot Week. Learn more on giveshoes.org.

CharityBuzz.com is also hosting a Celebrity Shoe Auction where you can bid on shoes signed by celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Yoko Ono, Justin Timberlake, Derek Jeter, and others.

Tomorrow, Soles4Souls Founder & CEO and staff will go barefoot and they are challenging all members of the press to go barefoot for at least four consecutive hours during the week and report on its effects to their viewers. People in need in St. Louis will receive shoes from Soles4Souls on Thursday and on Friday, people in the Boston area will be receiving shoes.

On Saturday and Sunday, Soles4Souls has asked more than 150,000 churches to join in and get involved by taking off their shoes. As part of this movement, congregants can bring their new or gently-worn shoes to church or donate funds to Soles4Souls to help put shoes on the feet of the 300 million children around the world who must go barefoot every day of their lives. For more information, visit Barefoot Sunday.

On Monday, June 6, shoes will be given to people in need in Los Angeles and on June 7th, Soles4Souls will be headed to Atlanta to deliver shoes.

Updates on what is going on throughout the week will be added to the Barefoot Week website where you will also find more information on other ways you can get involved.

Billy Reid ‘Rise’ T-Shirt Benefits Red Cross Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund

Billy Reid Rise tshirt Areas of Alabama as well as other regions throughout the south have recently been plagued by devastating tornadoes and strong storms. They have led a pathway of destruction throughout some cities and small communities, and in some cases, have left areas completely destroyed. In response to these overwhelming storms, Billy Reid is giving back to the countless people who live in and depend on these areas; to inspire, motivate and give hope to those who need it while they embark on rebuilding their communities.

With the release of a very symbolic tee featuring a distressed print that still manages to radiate the message of the dawn of a new day, the ‘Rise’ tee will help in aiding the communities and areas affected with all profits from sales going directly to the Red Cross Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund.

The tee seems to be selling quickly, now only available in sizes extra small, small and large. It is made of 100% cotton in Canada and sells for $38.

When you buy the ‘Rise’ tee, your contribution to the Red Cross Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund will provide emergency needs including shelters, meals and snacks, as well as physical and mental health services.

It’s Just Compassion, Folks

compassion

It is very seldom that I talk to people and not have at least one social issue topic come up. In addition to keeping up with all things lifestyle and entertainment here, I have always merely just been interested in how society works, which has led to, more importantly, how to initiate conversations with others on creating change in the areas of our world that are downright troubling — in my oh, so humble opinion, of course. Because so often the question of “what I do” comes up in introductory and basic conversation, it is extremely difficult to keep those topics of conversation that you’re not “supposed” to bring up — social issues, politics, sometimes religion — out of my chats with pretty much anyone I come into contact with.

I am a political-minded person. I always have been. Perhaps this is because I have never — not once in my entire life — been told that I am wasting my time thinking that I have the power to initiate and to contribute to change in the world. I have never been told that there are more important things I could be doing with my life other than blogging, letter- and email-writing, reaching out to my district’s Representative in Washington, and rooting my fellow activists on when they are petitioning and organizing marches and protests, and doing all they can do in the hopes for change that is long overdue in several aspects of our society. I have never been told that the beliefs I hold so strongly about the world and our society are a waste of time or effort.

I have, however, been told that I am wrong about my positions on many different issues. Several times, the underlying root of all of my strong-held beliefs have been “found out” and from them, I have been accused of being too politically correct and too compassionate. Too compassionate? I never — not in my wildest, most extreme frame of mind — have thought that could ever be seen as a bad trait.

You see, folks, I’m a feminist. A big one. A radical, sex-positive, fighting-for-equality, all-encompassing, people-loving feminist. I’m also a liberal, although I have been told that I am “too liberal” for even the mainstream liberals to handle. I let all of my stances on most all issues hang out shamelessly on my blog, Menstrual Poetry. It gets trolled a lot. During the 2008 presidential election, I received death threats. There are many, nameless people within the feminist blogosphere in all of its forms, and I suppose throughout the entire blogosphere, that strive to attempt to silence a group of people who muster all of their strength day in and day out to persevere through diligence and passion just to speak their own truth and to stand up and fight for the rights of people who are consistently seen as “less-than” by a large number of people within the walls of our society.

I know a little bit about being seen as “less-than,” and maybe that’s the reason why compassion has always come to me effortlessly. It was never something that I had to think about, nor have I ever had to muster compassion within myself to give to another, or ask myself if I was exhibiting compassion towards others at all. Compassion makes up a significantly large portion of who I am as a human being and is indeed the underlying root of most all of the causes and issues that I am passionate about. This is not to say that I am better, more knowledgeable, or have more heart than any other person out there. I am in no way above anyone else; I’m just coming from a different perspective here.

Bloggers Unite International Day of Compassion BlogCatalog is bringing the topic and act of compassion to the forefront of blog conversations today with their blogging event, International Day of Compassion in Honor of Dr. Patch Adams. This is a conversation I am very eager to have.

Dr. Patch Adams lives his life with compassion for others oozing out of his pores. This is admirable in any person, but when it comes to Dr. Patch Adams, he is truly a revolutionary; leading his fight with compassion leading the way to better lives for his patients and everyone and anyone who crosses his path.

In addition to being an American physician, Dr. Adams is also a social activist, a citizen diplomat, as well as an author. In 1971, he founded the Gesundheit! Institute where each year, he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries dressed as clowns in order to bring humor to people, patients and orphans of those countries.

After learning more about Dr. Patch Adams, I can say that I deeply admire him, especially for his thoughts on the way health care in the US should work. He believes that the health care model should not be funded by insurance policies, which is something I wholeheartedly agree with on every level.

When it comes to most things in life, all we really have to look at as a moral compass and what we do in response to the people around us is look to our own life’s struggles and tribulations. Sure, during the holidays people throw a spare dollar or two into those synonymous-with-the-holidays red kettles either because they want that money to see the hands of someone who desperately needs it; or because it’s something that has been ingrained into their heads as something nice to do, or because they think it’s the “right” thing to do. But when you commit yourself to a cause and to changing the way people think about a certain issue, especially when you do this when it isn’t red kettle money-dropping season, most often, you are grabbing from your own life experiences in order to create the most lasting change for that person or group of people that you possibly can.

As for me, I’m passionate about a lot of things; most of which because I can see myself, my life, and the struggles I have been forced to persevere through in a lot of issues that need some serious reform due to the lack of compassion and justice in the world.

I see some of that same frame of mind in what Dr. Patch Adams has done throughout his life. As a result of being bullied in school, Patch Adams was suicidal as a teenager and was hospitalized three times in one year for wanting so badly to end his life. After these hospitalizations, he made the realization that “you don’t kill yourself; you make revolution,” and that is exactly what he has been doing ever since.

There is so much in our world that needs to be changed. It is possible; do not ever — not for a second — let anyone tell you that the world you envision living in isn’t possible, or that you don’t have the power within yourself to initiate or contribute to lasting change in the world. Take the lead of Dr. Patch Adams and other revolutionaries throughout history, and every time you get knocked down, stand up again and declare your truth louder each time.

Compassion is what contributes to the greatness of humanity; if more people were to look inside themselves and exhibit compassion in everything they do, we would see so much less suffering in the world. We would see the world in the way we have always envisioned it could be; with less struggling, less hunger, less homelessness, less ignorance, less sickness, less silencing; and with more love, more understanding, and more peace.

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding?

Join Bloggers Unite for International Day of Compassion in Honor of Dr. Patch Adams

Bloggers Unite International Day of Compassion Compassion is an integral part of our humanity and sadly, we are seeing less and less of this trait being exercised in many of our everyday lives. On a much larger platform, the political climate we have found ourselves in today, and what we have seen in this aspect of our world throughout the past decade or more, is sorely lacking the degree of compassion for others as many had hoped to see when they cast their ballots for change.

After seeing a post on Dr. Patch Adams’ website, Bloggers Unite were inspired to create a day in his honor centered around this very trait that Dr. Adams so abundantly lives his life by. In the post, Dr. Adams put together a variety of different ways to show compassion in your everyday life. The list was designed to be part of a medical school program, but on May 15th, Bloggers Unite is asking bloggers all over the world to join them in celebrating Dr. Patch Adams and the act of compassion by picking one or two ideas out of this list and incorporating them into your blogging.

How would these ideas change you as a person, and how would that change impact your loved ones and their loved ones?

Take a moment, think about it and share your story with the world on May 15th for International Day of Compassion in Honor of Dr. Patch Adams.

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business. It is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.”
–Dalai Lama

  • Keep a journal about your relationship with love and compassion. What is it? Ask everyday, how are you giving it? (Pay close attention. Be present.) How are you receive it? (From everything, from strangers, from trees, etc.)
  • Do things outrageous for love, like clowning.
  • Actually see if you can produce the vibration of compassion for prolonged periods. What sustains it? (Friends, having meaning, fun.) What hurts it? (Arrogance, apathy, tight underwear.) Are there times you do not want to be compassionate?
  • Be observant of compassion in action around you, everywhere, and give details of its language.
  • Become aware of compassionate projects around the world and plan on at least one elective at a project.
  • Explore the language of love and compassion. Read psychologists and poets, write essays on things you love.
  • How do you recognize love and compassion? Are there measurements?
  • How do you change performances of compassion in different situations?
  • Explore how you relate to other people on issues of class consciousness, race, age, sexual preference. Pay close attention. Decide to connect with people you don’t normally hang out with.
  • Explore this question: Should a medical student be evaluated for compassion and not graduate if they are not compassionate? How is it evaluated? By who?

Verizon Wireless Inspires Survivors of Domestic Violence to Put their Dream to Work with New Grant

Verizon HopeLine To escape from an abusive relationship, a woman must find and rely on the strength within herself that she has been told for years, and sometimes even decades, that she does not possess. She must find a way to cope with and ultimately overcome adversity. She must be diligent and continue moving forward, finding new ways to solve big problems. She must invest in herself after repeatedly being told that she is not worth investing in and without her partner she is nothing. She must become self-sufficient for perhaps one of the first times in her life.

Escaping from an abusive relationship and reinventing oneself on their own terms puts to use the exact tools and skill set that entrepreneurship relies on.

While countless women have escaped from lives of domestic violence and have went on to create lives for themselves that fulfill and inspire them, they all could have used some additional help and support during a time when they needed it the most.

Verizon Wireless is now giving survivors of domestic violence living in New York State an opportunity to secure funding for home-based or small businesses. In cooperation with the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Verizon Wireless has launched its Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program, which grants funding to women to help get their home-based or small business off the ground.

So often, financial struggles are what keep women in abusive relationships, lacking the resources and support they desperately need in order to free themselves. By having the opportunity to secure funding for a business of their own, survivors will have the ability to create long-term safety and financial stability for themselves. The rewards that can be obtained from running a home-based or small business are immeasurable and very much priceless to the survivors who may have not ever been able to achieve this dream, and peace of mind in the process, without the help of such grants.

The Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program provides grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to help women help themselves. According to Verizon Wireless, the funding may be used to make a down payment on a work space, purchase a computer or other office equipment, purchase initial product inventory, or be used as collateral to support the receipt of a small business loan, or to help pay the costs of attending an entrepreneurship program or business course.

Applicants interested in receiving a grant through the Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program will need to submit: a business proposal and a letter from a domestic violence program or advocate attesting to the individual’s participation in domestic violence services.

At this time, this program is only open to survivors living in New York State.