I took a break from my usual job search routine yesterday to explore different volunteer opportunities in D.C. Using VolunteerMatch.org, I was able to identify quite a few different opportunities that are flexible and fun. In case you’re interested in volunteering in the D.C. area, here are the ones I found most exciting.
Rural Dog Rescue: Rural Dog Rescue is in need of volunteers every Saturday afternoon from 12-3 to help at our adoption events. Events are located in SE DC, NW DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland. If interested, please fill out our Volunteer Questionnaire and we will be in touch.
Arts and Culture
Spark!Lab Ambassador: The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is reopening July 1, 2015! We are recruiting a new group of volunteers (called Ambassadors) to work with museum visitors in Spark!Lab, its hands-on invention space for children and families.
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: Family day will explore the amazing accomplishments in astronomical observing from Galileo to Hubble. Through astronomy presentations, hands-on activities, and more, learn how different cultures see the sky. Family Day volunteers help by staffing activity stations.
Filmfest DC: We are currently looking for volunteers to assist us in theaters at our 29th annual festival this April 16 – 26. Our mission is to bring the best in new international cinema to the Nation’s Capital and to present these works in a spirit of appreciation and cooperation. Volunteers help us usher guests inside theaters, help with the box office, collect tickets, hand out and receive ballots for audience choice awards and much more.
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine Inc.: We need volunteers to help expand our Washington DC operations! We are rescuing food that would have been thrown out by restaurants, and bringing it to the people who need it most in the local community.
Bread for the City: Each growing season on Sunday afternoon, Bread for the City partners with several local farmers markets to glean or “rescue” leftover produce. We then rely on dedicated volunteers to help us sort and pack this produce into family sized servings so that we can quickly and efficiently distribute it to our Food Pantry clients the following week.
Food & Friends: Assist chefs with food preparation and packing meals in our high-energy kitchen. Have a ball slicing, dicing, chopping and stirring – all while making a huge difference in the lives of those living with life-challenging illnesses! No culinary experience necessary. Flexible shifts available Monday through Saturday. (I’ve already signed up for a volunteer orientation next month.)
InterAction: InterAction invites you to be part of the volunteer team at its annual Forum, which will be held from June 22 through June 24, 2015 at the Wardman Park Marriott in downtown Washington, DC. Here’s your chance to play an important role at the premier conference of professionals engaged in developing solutions to key issues facing the world’s poor. Plus, you’ll get to attend the conference sessions for free.
‘Tis the season to drain our bank accounts and buy a lot of useless merchandise that won’t mean anything come, oh, about December 28th. We have an embarrassment of riches in this country. I don’t need 99% of them.
I really appreciate that my friend, Leah, posted this link a few weeks ago from the International Rescue Committee. $58 buys a year of education for a young girl in Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Congo. $18 provides a mosquito net for an entire family that prevents malaria, a disease that impacts half the world’s population and kills one child every 60 seconds. $25 is enough to provide an innovative solar lamp and charger to those in places such as Iraq and Syria who have to flee from violence with little or no access to electricity.
Similarly, gifts can be made to local food pantries, homeless shelters, and schools. I’m blessed beyond belief to have everything I could ever want or need when it comes to material possessions. I don’t need anything else. I’m guessing many of you don’t either. We’re the lucky ones. This holiday, let’s give and receive gifts that count, gifts that help others who really need our care and compassion.
I’m doing a lot of thinking about Compass Yoga‘s direction these days. I’m proud of what we’ve built. I’m overjoyed that we help over 200 people every week thanks to a band of dedicated and loving teachers. However, I’m never satisfied. I always want to do more. I want to reach more people, provide more healing, and expand our capabilities.
I am deeply affected by the aftermath of the natural disasters our nation has faced in the past few years. I’ve daydreamed about a way for Compass Yoga to help. I’ve toyed with yoga fundraisers and donation-based classes to benefit victims, though that impact seems miniscule compared to the need that these disasters create. Additionally, there are so many other ways to give that are more efficient and have wider reach. The innovation to text a donation via our cell phones is brilliant, and I use it often.
When President Obama gave his remarks just after the Oklahoma tornado last week, a lightbulb went off. He said, “So the people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them as long as it takes. For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention.”
His words reignited an idea I had when a deadly tornado hit Joplin, Missouri in 2011. I didn’t want to provide yoga to people in Joplin. That’s not what they immediately needed. They needed the love, care, compassion, and concern that shines in the heart of every yogi everywhere. What we need is a way to harness that love, distill it, and provide it as comfort for people who have lost so much in these disasters. I know that feeling and it is terrifying and isolating.
We have a lot of wonderful organizations that provide basic needs – food, shelter, healthcare. In addition to that work, they also need to be the emotional support for the people they help. This latter responsibility could use assistance from other groups, providing the compassion for these people, giving them someone to talk to, someone whose sole role is to stand with them until they can stand on their own again. Who could do that work? Who could own that mission?
And there it was in President Obama’s quote. We need to do it, to provide comfort to first responders, love, attention, and consolation to those who are frightened. With technology, Compass Yoga could do it. We could live up to our name and guide people along their personal paths to recovery. Yogis are everywhere, in every community. They want to help. Let’s give them a way to put their hearts where the need is. Let’s solve this.
“So the people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them as long as it takes. For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention.” ~ President Obama speaking on the disaster in Oklahoma
It is painful to watch a tragedy from a distance. We don’t need to feel helpless nor hopeless watching the news coverage about the Oklahoma tornado that has leveled entire neighborhoods and claimed dozens of lives. CBS News has put together a list of resources that are on the ground offering much needed support, assistance, and guidance during this terrible time.
As the death toll rises for the massive tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma Monday afternoon, some well-known relief agencies are jumping into action. Here is a quick list of some of the agencies that are providing aid, and how you can help.
Here is the Donors Choose link to help teachers and students in Moore rebuild. Find them on Twitter: @DonorsChoose
The Salvation Army
Here is a link to donate for the Salvation Army’s tornado relief in Oklahoma
The Red Cross
Here is a link to donate to the Red Cross’ tornado relief in Oklahoma
Or use your cell phone to donate: Support #OKwx efforts – give online @SalvationArmyUSA.org or text “STORM” to 80888 2 make $10 donation #tornado
Let others know you’re okay! Very critical in search & rescue efforts. #ok #okwxhttps://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
OU Sooners @UofOklahoma
The University of Oklahoma is opening up spaces in Housing for the displaced families! Call 405-325-2511
Google Crisis Map
Home page for AmeriCares organization
Oklahoma Disaster Relief
Home page for Baptist Church’s disaster relief
As a way to build a sustainable revenue source for Compass Yoga, I’m creating a line of yoga-inspired fashions for you and your home as well as personal care products under the brand One Fine Yogi. Proceeds from this line of products will support Compass’s work to get more yoga to more people in more places. If you want to be notified about the launch this summer, please visit http://onefineyogi.com and add your name to the mailing list.
Right now I am in the midst of the design / test phase. The launch timeline is as follows:
Late June: I’ll launch the first t-shirt design. I’m working with Teespring, a start-up based in Rhode Island, to create an exclusive line of original short sale t-shirts. T-shirts will be ladies cut and made from super soft material. Short sale designs are limited editions sold for a limited amount of time. Designs will be available for 3 weeks starting in late June and you place your orders for that design during that window of time. Every 3 weeks a new design will launch. Once each design session closes, the t-shirts ordered during that window will be created as limited editions and sent directly to your mailing address. Pretty cool, eh?
Late Summer: To kick off the home fashion line, I’m creating a line of limited edition yoga-inspired wall decals and prints.
Fall: We encounter a lot of stressors in our lives so we could all use a little more pampering, right? One Fine Yogi has you covered with a line of heavenly scented bath salts and sugar scrubs to ease tension, calm the mind, and lift your spirits. Our therapeutic blends of herbs, spices, and oils infuse the highest quality salts and sugars to help bring out your glow, inside and out. Also, if you have a specific fragrance or benefit you’d like to receive from our bath salts and sugar scrubs, we can create a custom blend just for you.
I’m tremendously excited to create and share my first line of original products and to build out this brand with a mission that takes its inspiration from a practice that has brought me so many gifts. I hope you’ll share in the journey!
Compass Yoga is working hard to get more yoga to more people in more places. We now teach well over 200 people per week in a dozen classes with a team of a dozen tremendously talented teachers. We’ve been applying for grant funding so that we can expand our reach online and off.
In addition to philanthropic funds, we have also started to reach out to companies to establish corporate yoga programs that will generate a new revenue stream to support our work in the community.
Why companies should partner with Compass:
It is daunting for a company to construct, manage, and assess a yoga program. I have worked for the Walt Disney Company, The Home Depot, Toys R Us, and American Express as a product developer. I know first-hand that corporate employess are increasingly being asked to do more with less, and that is particularly true for human resource professionals inside these companies.
Enter Compass Yoga, a New York City-based nonprofit that focuses on improving the health of all people by teaching therapeutic yoga and meditation classes. For two years, we have partnered with the New York Public Library to bring over a dozen weekly classes to communities in Manhattan. Our incredibly talented and dedicated group of teachers provides open level classes that are suitable for all levels from beginner to advanced.
What companies get by partnering with Compass:
– Receive open-level yoga and meditation classes, pre- and post-natal, and therapeutics for those who have health challenges.
– Support a nonprofit that is helping underserved communities where your employees live and work. Currently we teach open level classes, senior chair yoga classes, and we are putting together the city’s first free pre- and post-natal evening yoga program through the New York Public Library.
– Benefit from the highest levels of professionalism and customer service in the yoga industry as well as regular qualitative and quantitative assessments of the program to help us craft a customized program that perfectly suits your company.
Why companies need corporate yoga:
On Tuesday, March 19th, Arianna Huffington co-hosted Squawk Box. Her guest that day was Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna. To increase both the quality of life for its employees and its bottom line, Aetna has invested in a corporate yoga program for all of its 30,000 employees to help them decreased stress levels and health care costs while increasing creativity, productivity, and performance.
A quick snapshot of the costs of chronic stress are astonishing and explains why Mr. Bertolini has placed wellness at the forefront of his human resources strategy:
– The World Health Organization puts the cost of stress to American businesses is as high as $300 billion per year.
– The CDC estimates that 75% of all health care spending goes toward preventable chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. High blood pressure alone costs $130 billion per year to treat.
– The American Academy of Family Physicians found that 2/3 of doctor visits are for preventable stress-related conditions.
Additionally, Michael Porter, Elizabeth Teisberg, and Scott Wallace recently published research findings in HBS Working Knowledge, that showed that U.S employers spend 200 – 300% more for the indirect costs of health care — in the form of absenteeism, sick days, and lower productivity — than they do on actual health care payments. Their main recommendation to employers is to “mount an aggressive approach to wellness, prevention, screening and active management of chronic conditions.”
If your company would like to find out more, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us.
Ten years go, John Wood embarked on a courageous journey. He left his job at Microsoft for one simple reason: so that “children everywhere have access to literacy and books in their mother tongue from a young age.” Sound audacious to you? It did to Charlie Rose as well. “Every child,” Charlie repeated in an interview with John. “Every one, without exception,” John said.
It is that kind of resolve, focus, and elegant vision that I find so exhilarating and inspiring. As a nonprofit founder, fundraiser, and a consultant who works with a number of nonprofits, I also know how hard it is to identify and maintain. John will not be deterred. It is his commitment to the children of this world that has allowed Room to Read, his nonprofit, to open 10,000 libraries around the world in 10 years. 10,000. It is astonishing.
In 2007, John wrote the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children. Today, his new book, Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy, goes on sale. It has valuable information for everyone who has ever cared about a cause or mission, for-profit, non-profit, or otherwise. It’s a story about the value of a dream and the determination to make it real. John talks about his all-star team, their site evaluation process, and what it truly means to work side-by-side with people you want to help in pursuit of a common goal. In equal parts, he gets down into the details about his fundraising and management philosophies and then shares his powerful emotions such as his misty-eyed moment when the 10,000th library opened in Nepal with his parents by his side.
John’s story is inspiring for all of the goodness he conveys though he is not shy about the hardships he, his staff, and the communities face. Global literacy is a battle in every sense. Moving into Africa was a particularly harrowing decision and an even more harrowing process. His team literally risked their lives to make it happen. In countries like Cambodia, 43% of grade-three students in his country could not read at an age-appropriate level. Statistics like this led Room to Read’s mission and activities to evolve. It wasn’t enough to build libraries and furnish them with books. First, they had to teach people to read. Without literacy programs, the libraries would be of zero value to half the population.
Once I cracked open this book, I couldn’t put it down. Nose pressed against the pages, I would look up and realize that hours had gone by. After a while, I stopped using my highlighter because I was highlighting every sentence. John Wood and Room to Read are paving the way toward a brighter future. Thank goodness he left Microsoft to change the world. With this book, I’m certain he will inspire many people to take up a cause that matters and make it their life’s work. And we will all be better off for it.
This year’s Social Good Summit was full of examples of people fusing their passion for a cause with their expertise in technology. Thankfully all of the sessions are available online if you need a healthy dose energy and motivation. Here are my favorite highlights from yesterday’s events:
Making It Real
Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and co-author with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, of the book Half the Sky, delivered one of the most-anticipated and talked-about conversations about their partnership with Games for Change. Kristof and WuDunn have dedicated their lives and careers to covering social cause issues in the most ravaged parts of the world. To raise societal consciousness, they have co-developed a set of Facebook games to help others understand the impossible choices and desperate circumstances of marginalized populations. Their book has also been expanded into a mini-series that will air on October 1st and 2nd on PBS. Details here: http://www.halftheskymovement.org/
Empowerment Through Low-Tech Solutions
Anthony Lake and Clay Shirky made the case for low-tech two-way communication over high-tech one-way communication. They highlighted u-report, an initiative in Uganda, that is empowering local communities to take responsibility for their health by disseminating information and results of programs through mobile SMS service. To date, u-report has 147,000+ users that are spreading information and local data about health topics such as vaccinations, sex education, and breast-feeding. This program fits the principle that, “Ideas must be aggregated for impact,” said Shirky. “Go where the people are. Tech in the field needs to be low-tech to be widely accessible.” Follow the conversation on this topic on Twitter, hashtag #Promise4Children, and come together for child survival by visiting APromiseRenewed.org.
It Took a Village to Get the Lady to the Harbor
The crowdfunding discussions rehashed a lot of the facts and figures on their impressive impact that have been surfaced over the last few years. There’s no doubt that tech has vastly improved the efficiency and speed of crowdfunding. In all of our tech crazed eyes, we forget that crowdfunding is an ancient concept. For centuries, people have been banding together to do good work in their communities. My favorite example comes from New York Harbor. When France gave the Statue of Liberty to America, they forgot to create a pedestal. The people of New York, rallied together by Pulitzer, the publisher who ran a small print publication that would become the New York Times, pooled their funding to construct the pedestal. Over 100,000 people gave an average of $0.89 each to make it happen. Thanks to Danae Ringelmann, Co-Founder, Indiegogo, for reminding us of this historic act of generosity that demonstrates the power of community.
Of Food and Music
Angelique Kidjo is a world-renowned singer and songwriter. Originally from Benin, she is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and never one to back down in the face of adversity, she spends a lot of her time advocating for women and girls around the globe. Anthony Lake shared the stage with her and explained that simple basic nutrition information is a tool that is incredibly effective and drastically underutilized in development work. He went on to detail the condition of Stunting that affects 160 million children worldwide. If children do not receive proper nutrition (not quantity but quality and variety of food) by age 2, they will suffer from permanent cognitive impairments. Getting help to these children in the earliest days of their lives is critical to building a peaceful, productive world.
In honor of the work of UNICEF, Angelique sang a gorgeous impromptu spiritual for all of us. I have no idea what she was saying, but I felt her emotion in every syllable and she brought tears to my eyes. For the first time in 3 days, the auditorium went completely silent except for her voice.
Everyone’s an Idea Person
So, you’re an idea person who wants to stretch the boundaries of human impact? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has thrown down the gauntlet. Get your idea down, send it in, and they’ll evaluate it for funding – $100K for a pilot with the potential of $1M to gain leverage and grow it. Visit grandchallenges.org for more information.
Audacious Ideas Get Support
The Global Fund and Wikipedia called on all of us to get creative with our mission statements. If Wikipedia had called people together to write a series of articles on any given topic, the reaction would have been mild at best. Instead, Founder Jimmy Wales put together a far grander vision – “to create a free encyclopedia for every person in every language.” It’s an enormous, unfathomable goal, and impossibility excites people to get involved. Who doesn’t love to be the underdog and triumph?
Transfer this kind of thinking to the issue of HIV / AIDS and you understand why The Global Fund has the audacity to dream of a world free of HIV in our lifetime. As they pointed out, we have eradicated diseases before. Small Pox is an excellent example. So why couldn’t we do the same thing with HIV / AIDS?
Reuniting Families Torn Apart
The Danish NGO Refugees United has partnered with Ericsson to reunite refugees separated by war. They have developed an online and mobile platform that creates profiles of refugees and then runs these profiles through a series of algorithms to match people to family members. They’ve engaged with 200,000 people to-date, mostly in Sub-saharan Africa. In 3 years, they want to grow the platform to 1 million people. Find out how to be a part of the solution at RefugeesUnited.org.
Conferences like the Social Good Summit fire people up in the moment, but what happens when they get back to their everyday lives. How do we keep this goodness going? Here’s my advice: go through the agenda from this year’s Social Good Summit, identify the cause you care about, and then connect with the people from the Summit who are involved with that cause.
Email them, follow their blogs and social media channels, send a card, or heck, send a carrier pigeon. Do what you can to reach out and build a bridge to someone who cares about the issues you care about. Build something together for the good of the world. In the words of Timothy Leary, “Find the others.”
– American Red Cross: The Red Cross is providing relief to people across the hardest-hit states, providing shelter and relief to survivors. To support these efforts, donations can be made to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit Red Cross’s website, www.redcross.org, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to make a donation. Checks can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.
– Convoy of Hope: Convoy of Hope disaster response team members, aided by volunteers who have contributed more than 3,000 hours, are operating a distribution in Birmingham, Alabama. Two additional points of distribution were activated Saturday, April 30, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, including a site at a Baptist church on the University of Alabama campus. Convoy of Hope distribution sites will provide food, water and supplies to those affected by the disaster. So far, over 1 million pounds of product have been provided or slated for delivery to the affected areas. To learn more about their work and how you can support their efforts, visit their website.
– Salvation Army: The Salvation Army has provided food, hydration and other services to more than 6,000 survivors and first responders in the southeastern United States since the April tornadoes. The Army will continue to do so in the hardest hit cities, including Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, AL; Cleveland and Chattanooga, TN; Kemper County, Webster County, and Oxford, MS and others. To support the challenges facing survivors, The Salvation Army’s Florida Division deployed 10 mobile canteens and a team of 30 volunteers and staff to assist in the relief efforts in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.
You can donate to the Salvation Army by going to their website, disaster.salvationarmyusa.org, or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Text “GIVE” to 80888 to make a $10 donation to assist the organization’s disaster response efforts. Or send a check to: The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 100339, Atlanta, GA 30384-0339.
– World Vision: World Vision’s domestic relief team is preparing to deploy this Saturday morning from the Dallas area to Alabama and nearby states hardest-hit by last night’s storms. They plan to work with local churches and other organizations to identify families with limited means, families left destitute, or people who may have difficulty accessing other assistance. To support these efforts, visit www.worldvision.org to donate to call 888.56.CHILD (24453).
Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund: The Fund, part of the Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, provides additional recovery assistance to Alabama residents who have exhausted all other coverage provided by relief organizations, government programs and insurance. To donate, visit their online donation page.
Roll Tide Relief
My friend, Preston, sent me a link to this site that was sent out by the University Alabama and a link to donate to the UA Acts of Kindness fund that helps out students affected by the tornado.
Tzu Chi Foundation
MJ, an active and generous reader of this blog, sent me this link. Tzu Chi Foundation for Compassion and Relief helps victims of natural disaster all over the world in addition to their work within the U.S.
Do you know of other ways we can help? If so, please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!
If you have an interest in supporting entrepreneurship as a way to give lower-income individuals and families a greater chance for economic independence and freedom, please read on and consider supporting this partnership.
“We’re excited to tell you about two huge developments with Kiva and Grameen America.
First, there’s a new film featuring Grameen America showing for just one night on Thursday, March 31. To Catch A Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America tells the story of how the Nobel Prize winning Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen America are helping bring the microfinance revolution to bear on addressing poverty in the United States.
Second, we’re proud to announce that we are partnering with Dr. Yunus’s Grameen America to provide financing to low-income entrepreneurs in the United States.
Thirty years ago, Dr. Muhammad Yunus began a quiet revolution. He found that poverty could best be alleviated in his native Bangladesh not through charity, but through unleashing entrepreneurship. By grouping rural women together, he was able to provide financing for businesses that banks weren’t interested in serving.
Fast forward thirty years, and Dr. Yunus is working to bring group lending to low income entrepreneurs in the United States.
And Kiva is going to be there to help. Through our new partnership, entrepreneurs like Elizabeth, pictured to the left, are able to grow their businesses and communities.
Browse Grameen America’s loans, and learn more about Elizabeth and other Grameen America entrepreneurs.
To Catch A Dollar
Speaking of Elizabeth, she is featured in To Catch A Dollar, along with several other Grameen America entrepreneurs.
The documentary introduces viewers to Grameen staff and borrowers, as they work together to prove that the group lending model can work in the United States. Following the documentary, there’s a special panel, recorded earlier this month in New York, featuring Robert De Niro, Kiva President Premal Shah, financial guru Suze Orman, Dr. Yunus, and CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo.
The film will be showing at over 200 theaters across the country. Remember, this is a one-night-only event, so please get your tickets now!
A strong showing on Thursday will help guarantee international distribution for the film and get the word out about microfinance, so buy a ticket and take a friend. For those in the San Francisco Bay area, the Kiva team will be attending the screening at Embarcadero Cinemas. Drop by and say hi!
Grameen and Kiva are in many ways a natural fit. The inspiration for Kiva came during a lecture by Muhammad Yunus at Stanford in 2005. His experience in Bangladesh inspired Kiva’s founders to travel to Uganda and begin the long journey of building what would one day become Kiva.
We’re thrilled to announce that earlier this month we passed $200 million in loans made on Kiva. This would have never been possible without Dr. Yunus’s inspiration, and for that we’re eternally grateful.
Speaking of microfinance in the United States, Kiva will be co-presenting the Microfinance USA Conference in New York on May 23-34. For more information, click here.
One final note: don’t forget we have borrowers from over 40 countries who are looking for loans every day.”