What My World's Like

Born in September?

Aug
20

Help charity: water provide clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. Their “Born in September” campaign asks people born in September to forgo gifts and ask friends and family to donate to charity: water. For those not born in September, charity: water asks that they donate $33 to the organization in honor of the founder’s 33rd birthday.

Last year, those funds were used to build wells in Kenya. This year, the money will go to building wells in Ethiopia. The goal is to raise $1.5 million to help 300 villages access clean water.

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Are you an ingrate?

Aug
06

yourlifeisbeautiful

I had a conversation with myself the other day that went a little something like this:

“I would like to have this, that and the other.  I would really appreciate that.”

“Would you?”

“Would I?  Ye—no.”

 
No.  As it currently stands, my record is precisely not to appreciate so many aspects of my life.  I’ll be very decisive about something I want, get it, and then complain about it or take it for granted.  Either way, there’s not a lot of actual appreciation.  True appreciation is more than an intellectual concept; it requires action.  It means to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on.

How much in your life do you “appreciate” without truly appreciating?  What can you do to express the importance of the things, people, and situations in your life, even if just to yourself?

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Embrace: saving the lives of babies

Jul
23

Embrace is an infant incubator designed to save premature and low birth weight babies. Every year, 20 million infants around the world die because their families cannot geographically or financially access traditional incubators that cost up to $20,000.  To find out more about Embrace and how you can help, visit EmbraceGlobal.org.

“Do more than belong: participate.
Do more than care: help.
Do more than believe: practice.
Do more than be fair: be kind.
Do more than forgive: forget.
Do more than dream: work.”

– William Arthur Ward

Hunger = poor thought process

Apr
06

feedingamericalogo

After a work out, typically, a ravaging hunger awaits me. Tonight, I came in and ripped open a pack of tuna while I checked my email. I laid the packet of tuna down on my desk only to discover minutes later that all the juice in the packet spilled all over my new magazine.

The lesson: I can’t multitask when I’m hungry.

Apparently, I can’t think either. Read about another hunger snafu.

I’d just come from the gym. Opened the fridge, and pulled out a new carton of large cage-free brown eggs. Poured olive oil in the wok and turned it on. Open the carton of eggs, pulled one out, cracked it and opened the shell, allowing the contents to drop into the wok. Reached into the carton to pull out another egg, except the shell broke, spilling over into an empty compartment. I removed the pieces of the shell, put my hands over as many eggs as I could, knowing I couldn’t cover all of them, but for some reason continuing with the plan of transferring the egg in the carton into the wok. As the cracked egg fell into the wok, an egg that my hand wasn’t covering dropped right out of the carton and onto the carpet. I looked at it and finished cooking. Sprinkled a little salt and a little 21 spice seasoning on them. When they were finished, I put them on my plate, sat down and started eating. After about four bites, I thought, “I guess I should clean that up now.” My very next thought was “why didn’t I turn off the wok and clean up the egg right after it fell?” It never occurred to me. Priority number one was eating.

As I cleaned up the egg, I played back the scenario and came to an interesting conclusion:

While I agree that students at schools in low-income areas don’t necessarily have adequate resources to perform well, I’m convinced that many of them don’t perform well because they can’t think. Because they’re hungry!

That said, please support your local food bank. Many of them have the BackPack program that discreetly provides children with backpacks of food for consumption over the weekends and during vacations. It’s a wonderful program. The San Antonio Food Bank also participates in this program. Volunteers are always needed at food banks, as well as, well…food and money. Please be aware that the food bank has greater purchasing power than the average consumer. For instance, $1 is worth $13 if the San Antonio Food Bank purchases the food. Give what you can or do what you can, even if that’s simply spreading awareness.

Let’s feed the children. People can’t think when they’re hungry…at least some of us can’t.

Help starts at home

Apr
03

mentoring2

Sometimes, I get all these big, fancy ideas and I’m so broad-thinking that I forget about what’s closest to me. “Help starts at home” comes to mind. For weeks, I’ve been talking about how I’d love to mentor more frequently than I do. I currently give one hour a week to a girl I just met, yet call my brother once every few weeks. Backwards. Ridiculous, really.

Mentoring, for me, is such a valuable relationship that allows me to understand the world of the youth today, the people who will one day be the ones in charge, while sharing the best of what I’ve learned with them. It truly is a mutually rewarding relationship. After I began mentoring, I realized how much I enjoyed it and how much I want to positively impact young people. What I overlooked, though, is that there is someone already in my life who needs my attention. Someone I can impact so much more simply because of the current standing of our relationship. He’s my brother.

I will sing the benefits of mentoring to anyone who’ll listen, which might not be that many people if I actually decide to sing them. Some may complain about not having the time or the availability within the set hours mandated by some program or school district. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to realize that there is something you can do right now. Single parents are not anomalies. Emotionally unavailable parents are not anomalies. Parents who just need help are not anomalies. I am more than certain that you know someone who fits into one of the three categories. You don’t have to wait for the perfect moment; it will pass you by. You don’t have to wait to find the perfect program. Pick a child that’s already in your life and choose to make an impact in that person’s life. You can start today. Undoubtedly, there is a child who needs you.

What’s good? Alternative currency

Feb
26

timebankcycle-full-screen
Click to see full image

Pay it forward with Time Banking, an egalitarian concept where communities offer services to each other in exchange for time dollars, not real dollars. For instance, I build you a basic website, which takes me 6 hours. In exchange, I’m able to use that 6 hour credit in exchange for services some else offers. Perhaps, I need someone to babysit my brother for 3 hours, take me to grocery store for 1 hour, and landscape the front yard for 2 hours.

Time banks draw on a community’s resources by  listing the services every member can offer.  When in need of something, members log-in to the Time Bank’s website to find someone offering those services.  It’s an incredibly easy system that can reduce financial limitations and is inclusive to all members of society that have something to offer.

Given the economic climate, I’m curious to see if we’ll see an increase in Time Banks and other forms of alternative currencies.

To learn more about Time Banking, go to TimeBanks.org.  Below are a few articles recently written about them.

Detroit Free Press – Time banks pay off for community
San Francisco Chronicle – Sweat Equity:In this East Oakland community, time really is money
The Jerusalem Press – There’s no time to lose

Go to jail or get a degree?

Feb
06

Being as rich as he is, Bill Gates can definitely effect great change. He spoke at TED this year on how he’s trying to change the world right now. During his 20 minute talk, he asked how do we stop malaria and how do we improve education.

I truly enjoyed this speech in its entirety, but the highlights were at 5:05 – 5:30 and generally everything after 7:57 when he starts talking about education. He provides some startling statistics at 9:51 – 10:50.

According to the research Gates references, if you’re low income, you have less than a 25% chance of finishing college should you not drop out in high school. Over 30% of students entering high school in this country never finish. In some areas, the drop out rate is over 50%. I think it’s 40% here in Bexar County.

Everyone’s not built to be a teacher, and definitely not a good one. While effective teachers are certainly a large part of the solution, so are tutors and mentors. Get involved however you can. I recently signed up to mentor a high schooler since there’s one right across the street. One hour a week. Such a small commitment that can make a huge difference. Really, I wish I’d thought of it sooner. Yet and still…it’s never too late.

Communities In Schools is a nationwide nonprofit focused on preventing kids from dropping out. Sign up to tutor or mentor an elementary, middle, or high school student. Mentor multiple students…whatever your time permits. Call your nearest school and see how you can get involved to help. Let’s all do our part because none of us are disconnected from this phenomenon. None of us.

Dumpster Diving

Feb
04


I assure you that this is not what I did or ever will do.

Time waits for no one…every moment counts. Make it matter, right?

Yeah, I know. I need to keep all of this in mind. The blog entry you’re about to read was supposed to be written several weeks ago, but it was late…then, I was getting up early…and it happened all over again.

No more excuses.

So…dumpster diving. Considering the response I’ve received when I tell people this story, I might want to start with a definition of dumpster diving. A more accurate designation for the concept is called “urban foraging,” a tactic commonly used by freegans and homeless everywhere.

According to Freegan.info, “this technique involves rummaging through the garbage of retailers, residences, offices, and other facilities for useful goods. Despite our society’s sterotypes about garbage, the goods recovered by freegans are safe, useable, clean, and in perfect or near-perfect condition, a symptom of a throwaway culture that encourages us to constantly replace our older goods with newer ones, and where retailers plan high-volume product disposal as part of their economic model.”

One Friday evening, me and my companion VISTAs were enjoying frozen treats at Amy’s Ice Cream when Tina suggested we find a Panera and try dumpster diving. I was all in. Paul was hesitant, but more than willing to observe. We drove around in a circle for ten minutes before we finally found the Panera and started sleuthing around to find their dumpsters. We found a few different sets of dumpsters that, naturally, smelled atrocious and effectively killed the idea of eating, should we actually find anything.

Ready to give up, I suggested we ask where the dumpsters are, already expecting the answer to be no. We decided that Tina, being white, would ask…even if she couldn’t keep a straight face. While we were clean and well-groomed, I’m black, Paul’s Filipino, and we didn’t want to be negatively stereotyped.

We approach the set of front doors, now being wiped down by an employee since it’s past 10 and they’re closed. We motion for her to open the door. She tells us they’re closed. We persist, so she comes to the door. Tina, in her best efforts to be serious, blankly asks, “Yes, we’re wondering where your dumpsters are.” The lady doesn’t speak English very well, so Tina starts speaking in Spanish.

“This is even better!” I tell Paul.
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Reporters Without Borders

Sep
06

Also known as Reporters San Fronteires, Reporters Without Borders is a registered French nonprofit organization with consultant status at the UN that advocates for freedom of the press.  They operate in all five continents to investigate and expose cases of media censorship and persecution.  Additionally, RSF supports the media by defending imprisoned and oppressed journalists, providing financial aid to media outlets, journalists, and families of imprisoned journalists, as well as working to improve the safety of journalists.

In order to fund their initiatives, Reporters Without Borders publishes photography albums twice a year and calendars and accepts donations, member dues, public grants and partnerships with private firms.  They also have their own blogging software; it’s overpriced, but goes towards a good cause, if you can change your perspective.

Safe water shortage…solution

Jul
18

LifeStraw

The UN established Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as part of the Millennium Declaration adopted in 189 nations and signed by 147 state and government heads in 2000. Those eight goals are as follows:

One company that understands the roles of corporate social responsibility and social enterprise is working to address a few of those MDGs. The name is Vestergaard Frandsen and they offer several innovative life-saving and quality-of-life-enhancing products that would make any social entrepreneur or human rights activist proud.

The product I fancy most at the moment is the LifeStraw, available for individual or family use. LifeStraw Personal filters a minimum of 700 liters, while the LifeStraw Family filters a minimum of 15,000 liters of water. It would take 40 faucet-mount Brita filters to treat the amount of water just one LifeStraw Family can. And how much is it? $15, half of the cost of one Brita filter. Awesome.

At any given moment, about half of the world’s poor are suffering from waterborne disease, of which over 6,000 – mainly children – die each day by consuming unsafe drinking water.

Today, more than one billion people of the world’s population are without access to safe drinking water, causing lack of safe water supply to rob women and young girls of dignity, literacy and time.

Safe water interventions have vast potential to transform the lives of millions of people. Water filtration tools not only provide safe drinking water but also have a positive health impact on the most vulnerable populations, including young children, pregnant women and those with debilitated immune systems.

Go here if you’d like to help end the safe water shortage by donating a LifeStraw Family. Read more about the LifeStraw here. Discover other portable water systems here.
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