Get involved in the fight for Alzheimer’s disease

blog_title_image_alzheimersTwo of my good friends have lost their mothers to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a heartbreaking experience. I watched as the women I knew disappeared into themselves and blankly became someone who didn’t recognize their own child.

One friend described it as losing her mother twice – once to Alzheimer’s and once to death. And it’s the ultimate role reversal: The parent who taught you how to tie your shoes now needs you to do it. That’s true for so many simple, everyday actions.

The sixth leading cause of death in the United States, flickr_ann_gordon_mom_handsAlzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Every 67 seconds, someone in the US develops the disease. Today, more than 5.2 million Americans are living with it.

Recent studies found low Vitamin D can double the risk of Alzheimer’s but didn’t show a direct cause and effect link. Why it strikes older adults is still a mystery, and scientists don’t yet understand what causes the disease. It’s most likely a mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

As the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s continues to soar (tripling to 16 million by 2050), it’s maddening there are no clear ways to slow or stop the progression of this life-robbing disease. It’s the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that can’t be cured.

What can we do?

Fund research and advocacy.

Here are three organizations making a difference through research and policy changes:

The Alzheimer’s Association, started in 1980, is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Committed to accelerating the progress of new treatments, preventions and ultimately, finding a cure, the association reaches millions of people affected by the disease across the globe. If you’d like to support Alzheimer’s Association and get some exercise at the same time, join one of the Fall Walks to End Alzheimer’s. Find one in your area here.

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BrightFocus Foundation supports research and provides public education to eradicate brain and eye diseases, including Alzheimer’s. The foundation awards research money annually to fund highly innovative, experimental ideas it believes will lead to revolutionary therapies.

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The Alliance for Aging Research advances scientific and medical discoveries that can maximize healthy aging, independence and quality of life for older Americans. Founded in 1986 in Washington D.C., it has become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. The Alliance believes that research helps people live longer, happier, more productive lives, and reduces health care costs, long term.

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Give to organizations that support caregivers.

Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) is one of those organizations. Founded in the late 1970s, FCA was the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. The alliance raises awareness about caregivers’ daily challenges, provides the assistance they need and deserve, and helps improve the quality of life for them and those they care for through education, services, research and advocacy.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15.5 million caregivers provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in 2013.

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Be there for friends who are caregivers.

Don’t shy away or do nothing when you learn a friend has a family member with Alzheimer’s. Instead of asking them to let you know if they need something–just step in and help: Tell them you’re bringing over dinner on a given night. Or when flickr_Susumu_Komatsu_ALZ_TYyou’re stopping by with groceries. Send them cards of encouragement in the mail.  Call or visit when it’s convenient, and listen while they vent. On any given day, you have no idea how much it can mean to them!

While there is no single answer for tackling Alzheimer’s disease, I know the care I’ve shown and donations I make can help . . . until a cure is found. I challenge you to do the same. Join the fight today.

-Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

Mother’s Day – Musings on the Meaning of Mothering

image source: flickr: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

image source: flickr

As a child (and an only child, at that) I was frequently jealous of the attention, love and mothering my mom would give to other children in our community.

Working individually with kids at my elementary school (and later on in her long career in the juvenile justice system), my mom focused intently on helping children with special needs. She treated them all with love, kindness and respect, which is the very best way to teach those qualities. She did everything as a volunteer—from large-scale organizing to providing childcare and tutoring, and even raising awareness about diversity and body positivity—issues that continue to be important to me to this day.

Truly a mother to anyone who needed one, my mom was a lifelong nurturer. At home, she never said no to me . . .  even when I brought in a foundling stray kitten, or once, a pair of miniature aquatic crabs we found inexplicably crawling up Fillmore Street in San Francisco. In addition to the cat I have now adopted, her social justice work and her extensive networks of friends and family, my mom left behind a large number of rather brilliant abstract paintings, a sassy assertiveness I strive to emulate every day, and a deep respect for treating all living things with kindness and care that’s instilled in me.

When my mother passed away unexpectedly on April first of this year, I created a charity registry in her name, to raise funds for animal rescue and nonprofit veterinary organizations ASPCA and Pets Unlimited, plus our local Make-a-Wish chapter. And you know something? Each heartfelt donation and sympathy message that came through my registry made me feel incredibly cared for and loved. It’s amazing that even someone who might not be related to me, or know me very well, can give me that kind of love, strength and support with a simple gesture. It’s certainly made this time a lot easier.

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Source: Alex Mechanic

I honor my mother by striving to carry on her legacy of compassion, in the warm, giving spirit remembered by all who knew her. And the best feeling lately has been having that same warmth and generosity offered to me by all the various people in my life who I know in so many different ways. They have all been caring for me like one of their own.

Anyone can nurture like a mother does. It doesn’t depend on gender. It doesn’t even have to entail raising children. Caring and compassion are universal: Every one of us can give love and nurturing to anyone else – a child, adult, plant, or animal.

My good friend Sara can’t help but rescue a dying houseplant whenever she comes across one. It doesn’t matter what type of plant it is, she revives them back to health with a little work and TLC. That’s a perfect example of someone taking time to nurture the world around us in just the way a mother might.

So while it’s in my mother’s honor that I remember to smile and say hello to my neighbors and their kids, offer a listening ear to anyone I see having a bad day, and will continue to adopt as many animals as fit in my house, my models of mothering extend beyond her personal example.

I will never have children of my own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to be mothering, and nurture everyone I share this earth with for some finite time. We can all do it. All we need to do is care for each other.

—Alex Mechanic, Service Team Manager

Five Charitable Causes That Need More Help During the Holidays

image source: flickr

image source: flickr

During the winter months, charities need extra assistance as they work with the challenges of cold weather and the holidays. These five causes need additional help right now, and can do more with your donations of supplies and money.

1. Children

Low-income and foster kids have an especially hard time during the holiday season, when a lack of money can mean no Thanksgiving or holiday meals, and no toys under the tree.

How you can help

2. Animals

This time of year, many animal shelters are overrun with animals, and, cold weather means they face even more challenges. .

How you can help

3. Hunger

In a season that revolves around food, charities that help the hungry are stretched to fill food packages and supply meals.

How you can help

4. Homelessness

The homeless need extra care during the freezing-cold winter months. Help them stay warm and provide the basic necessities.

How you can help

5. Disaster Recovery

Many victims of recent natural disasters lost all their possessions and may have no place to live during a time of year that should bring comfort and joy. Give them a reason to smile this season by helping them recover.

How you can help

Donating supplies may seem like a great idea, but an influx of tangible items is often difficult to handle and to deliver after a disaster, when systems are overtaxed. Donating money is a better choice and allows nonprofits working in the area to provide what survivors need most—even sourcing items locally that can help rebuild their economy.

Donate money to help survivors recover from:

This holiday season, put your money in the hands of the charities making a difference for these pressing causes. That creates a happy holiday for you and for those in need.

5 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

Five Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

It’s already begun: it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and the holiday season is everywhere. Babies R’ Us was playing Christmas carols last week, and Target has the candy, decorations and gifts out in full force.

I find it a little bit exhausting, don’t you?

My goal for the holiday season is always the same: Simplify. This year I’ll be sharing how I do this, right here on the JustGive blog. For me, a big part of creating a simple and meaningful holiday season is about redefining the season itself—which means less stuff. With less stuff, I feel less stress.

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to bring meaning to the season is to give back instead of giving “stuff.” Here are five ways to give back this holiday season, taking the stress out of gift giving and making you (and your recipient) feel warm and fuzzy inside:

1 — Create a Charity Wishlist

Create a Charity Wishlist

I started working at JustGive earlier this year, and was thrilled to learn about Charity Wishlists for the holiday—it’s a totally new concept to me. As much as I love the thought behind gifts, I really don’t need anything. By creating a Charity Wishlist, I can raise money for my favorite charities instead of receiving gifts from my family and friends. And that makes me feel better than any piece of jewelry or retail gift card ever could. Here’s my wishlist for the season—check it out, and consider creating one of your own!

2 — Give Gifts of Charity 

Charity Holiday Gift Guide

This year at JustGive, we’ve created an exciting new Holiday Gift Guide to make giving more meaningful. It’s filled with charitable gifts that show you the impact your donation has on the world. Choose from 12 of the timeliest issues, including hunger, job support, LGBT rights, and peace—there’s a gift for every budget.

3 — Give Charity Gift Cards

Charity Gift Card for Holiday Gifts

Charity Gift Cards are perfect for someone you might not know that well (a holiday gift for a co-worker, for example), for a friend or family member who has a charitable heart, and for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list. You choose the amount for the gift card, and they choose the charity (or charities!) to receive the donation. There are email, print-at-home, and physical cards – and more than a million charities on JustGive they can donate to.

One of the coolest features (in my opinion) is the ability to buy your gift cards ahead of time, and then schedule them to be emailed whenever you’d like.

Another fun option is to upload your own photo, making for a very personal gift.

4 — Give a Charity Collection

Charity Gift Basket

If you know someone who cares about a specific cause, a charity collection is a unique and great gift. Each collection includes four charities working toward a particular cause. There are 16 causes to choose from, including Animals, Arts, Education, Homes & Jobs, and Military. Check them all out here. 

5 — Share the Message

What better way to create a more peaceful, simple holiday season than to get others involved too? After you make a commitment to help others this holiday season, spread the word to your friends and family. You can start a new tradition and include charity as part of your gift exchanges.

You can also join JustGive in the #GivingTuesday movement, which counters the consumerism and commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’ll be offering an amazing deal to help you give more generously, too—so check JustGive on November 27 or sign up for our newsletter to hear all about it.

How will you celebrate the holiday season? Do you incorporate charity or volunteering? Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook!

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Wait. There are how many days ’til Christmas?

Twelve. (And Hanukkah is in just a week!)

Despite all the emails, ads, music, and festive decorations (not to mention the holiday clichés all around) – it’s easy to put off shopping while your list continues to grow. The stress of what to get, how much to spend, and the time it takes to wrap and send can be overwhelming….

Have no fear. Here are some great holiday gift options for any procrastinator. Unique, meaningful, and hassle-free–they may be last minute gifts, but they’re coming from your heart.

GiveNow Charity Gift Cards

You choose the amount, they choose the charity. And now, you can upload your own photo for that personal touch. Select an email card and schedule a delivery date or print the card at home to hand deliver. (And here’s a secret: On Tuesday December 20 all email and printed GiveNow cards purchased on the JustGive site will be fee free!)

They’re perfect for Hanukkah, Secret Santas, stocking stuffers, host gifts, client thank you’s and more.

Donate in their Name

It’s not hard to find a cause or charity that your friend or family member cares about. Maybe they have a love for animals, have served in the military, or recently ran a marathon to benefit breast cancer—try checking Facebook to learn about their favorite organizations and interests. Then just use the JustGive search tools and donate in their name for a personal gift that means more.

 Choose a Charity Gift Basket

Select from 16 Charity Collections that feature four nonprofits supporting a specific cause. From education to global aid, women’s rights to health, military to peace – there’s something for everyone!

Each of these charitable gift options shows you care. Even at the last minute—these are memorable gifts that share the true spirit of the season.

P.S. Follow us on Facebook for more holiday tips, ideas and stories.


– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Homes for the holidays

What does home mean to you? Is it simply the roof over your head? Your life’s savings or investment? Where you raised your children and where your family gathers for the holidays?

Having a place to call home is the pillar of the American Dream and the center of our childhood memories. As the weather turns cold and plans center around festive gatherings, our homes become more precious than ever. And we think of those who are have no place to call home during our iciest and most challenging time of year.

Despite growing up in a fairly affluent county in Northern California, my family is no stranger to homelessness. When there’s expensive rent, five mouths to feed, credit card bills, and trying to keep up with the Jones’ (or Kardashian’s for a younger reader) – everything can get turned upside down quickly when the primary breadwinner loses his job. For a short time while I was in high school, my sisters and I stayed with friends so our parents could get back on their feet when we lost our home.

With “president” and “vice-president” of software companies to his professional credit, time and time again my father was denied positions for being over-qualified. He stayed in a shelter for months so that the money he earned working a retail job could contribute to a small apartment for my sisters, mother and me. Every weekend, we would open the door to groceries left on our stoop, a symbol of the indignity he felt as well as his desperate attempt to care for us in one of the only ways he could.

We were fortunate enough to have family and friends to lean on, beds to sleep in, food in our bellies, and to remain in school. But my story isn’t uncommon nor is it the worst case scenario. With the state of the economy, fewer job openings and more layoffs, families across the country are at risk of losing everything.

Between five and six hundred thousand people are considered homeless at any given timewithout a “permanent, safe, affordable place to live.” Families constitute about one third of all homeless and are the fastest-growing group. The homeless elderly are also an important group as America ages in the next decades.Preventing Homelessness in America

What difference can one person make?

If you’re wondering how you can give back during this season, consider the following organizations and gift options that are close to my heart. You can make life better for individuals and families in need.

  • Homeward Bound of Marin: The Mill Street Center is the county’s only emergency shelter for homeless men and women. Half of the center’s beds are for night-to-night stays, while the other half are for those who are determined to end homelessness in their lives and are working on a personal action plan to accomplish it. >>Give Now
  • Raphael House: As the first shelter for children and families experiencing homelessness in Northern California, they provide an environment of loving support where families can find stable housing and achieve financial independence, while strengthening family bonds and personal dignity. >>Give Now
  • JustGive’s Homes & Jobs Charity Collection: Provide jobs, training, shelter, and homes through four organizations that reverse homelessness and joblessness. >>Buy Collection
  • Search for other organizations helping to end homelessness in your community, nationally and worldwide. Make your gift recurring, something you can be proud of all year long. >>Search Guide

This holiday, as you cozy up to the fire, light the menorah, hang twinkle lights on your roof, and sit down to your dinner table with loved ones… pause and think about ways to share your warmth and light with others. And give what you can to help the homeless find an affordable, safe and secure place to call home.

Do you support a charity that does a great job of helping the homeless? Like us on Facebook and let others know.   


– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

This holiday, let’s reconnect.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard (and probably made) comments about the holiday season already: Why was jingle music playing while shopping for Halloween costumes? Why are snowy decorations overtaking stores before Thanksgiving? How will I afford gifts for everyone on my list and a sequined holiday outfit with my budget? And how much stuff do we really need for Christmas?

Hearing and joining in on the negative remarks has made me take pause. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed or get swept up in all the consumer hogwash, I’d rather enjoy the season. My sisters will be back from college and the holidays are the perfect time to reconnect—with my family, my community, and the true spirit of the holidays. Showing my loved ones I care in new and meaningful ways without breaking the bank or gifting unwanted items seems like a great place to start.

Here are some great charitable gifts that can change lives:

  • Charity Gift Cards. Take advantage of JustGive’s Cyber Monday promotion: fee-free GiveNow cards*. Pull out your favorite photos to upload, and on November 28th, create customized gifts for your friends, family, and colleagues – with ZERO fees. You chose the amount, they choose the charity (from more than 1.8 million on the site). >>Buy Gift Cards
  • Personal Charity Registry. Create a wish list and ask for charity as your holiday gift. It not only makes you feel good, but also spreads holiday cheer to others in need. Select organizations working to make a difference for your favorite causes, and share your wishes by email or on Facebook. It’s a selfless way to celebrate the holidays. >>Create A Registry
  • Charitable Donations. Donate in your friend or loved one’s name to a local charity that means the world to them. Or choose a collection of four charities supporting a specific cause like animals, the military, or children. Experience the joy of giving back. >>Give Locally   >>Select Charity Collection

Spending and cherishing time with family is another way of getting back to what’s most important about the holidays. I know that gifting charity will let them know this year is different. Imagine how things would change if we all did the same.

Spread the spirit—Like us on Facebook and share what you’re doing. We’re posting up creative and inspiring ideas for the holidays.

*Promotion Terms & Conditions – Eastern Standard Time

– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Our veterans deserve our thanks and support

According to MilitaryReporter.Net, the United States is home to more than 22 million veterans. This Memorial Day show your support, not only for our military currently fighting overseas and those that gave their lives, but also for our veterans at home as well.

Their changing needs

Nearly one in all 10 veterans has served in our Armed Forces since September 2001, and these veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have different needs than veterans of the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Most are men and women in their 20s and 30s who are just starting families and trying to find employment in a tough economy.

Many veteran assistance organizations are struggling to survive when the services they offer aren’t meeting the needs or being used by vets today. Thankfully, some organizations are finding new ways to reach out and assist today’s veterans. Retired U.S. Air Force Major, Dorian de Wind, writes about how the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization is responding to the issue in his Huffington Post article:

“VFW posts are often times viewed as smoke-filled ‘watering holes’ where a bunch of old guys sit around drinking beer, playing bingo and telling war stories.” Members of the VFW Post 4443 in Texas want to be “a safe haven for returning veterans…a place where they can enjoy the quiet peace and tranquility needed for them to find themselves…a place where they can bring their families and enjoy the swimming pool, quiet game rooms, picnic and BBQ areas.”

NPR News addressed the same topic with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. They talked about a relatively new organization located in Milwaukee, Dryhootch, whose motto is “helping the veteran and their family who survived the war, survive the peace.” It started as a coffee house where veterans can re-connect and find the support they need without feeling forced to commit to a VA program or using alcohol or other substances to fill a void. Dryhootch offers peer-to-peer support to veterans of all eras. They also have an online community and resources—offering services in other ways that may make new veterans feel more comfortable receiving help, advice, or counseling.

Organizations helping veterans

There are many great organizations working to provide veterans with the support they need. A few I’d like to mention:

  • The Wounded Warrior Project offers numerous resources for veterans—advocacy, counseling, family support, peer mentoring, and work programs. Their Combat Stress Recovery Program addresses the mental health needs of recently-returned soldiers, providing them with the tools to recognize what they are going through and helping them understand how to deal with it.
  • Soldier Ride gives returned soldiers a way to “reclaim their confidence and strength through the exhilaration of cycling.” The focus of the ride is to give wounded soldiers a way to empower themselves and improve their physical and mental health.
  • The Warriors to Work program helps veterans figure out how to use their military skills to enter the civilian workforce. They also educate employers on the benefits of hiring veterans as well as fight common misconceptions about veterans.

This Memorial Day, why not make it a point to help a veteran’s organization continue to offer necessary services by starting a monthly recurring donation to one of these organizations? We enjoy the freedom they have fought to give us—and they deserve our thanks and support. I think we owe them that.

Do you have a special way to honor and support those who have served? Share it with us on Facebook and let’s get others on board too!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes

A Gift from the Heart

Mother’s Day is a time when we look at the mothers in our life, appreciate all that they do for us, and try to give something back to them.

Turning 30 this year made me realize I have been giving funny little gifts to my mother and grandmother over the years. Not only is it hard to think up new gifts to buy them, but I find they no longer need or want things. They already have too much stuff as it is.  As a mother of a three year old, I also think about what I would really want from her on Mother’s Day.  Although it sounds cliché, a drawing or something that she makes for me—from her heart—would make me the happiest.

I’m older . . . and crayon masterpieces for my grandma or mom don’t quite cut it. Then there’s the flower option: Most women (including me) love receiving flowers. They brighten up your living space and are a nice treat. But for me, they’re not quite enough. So I’ve found another way to honor the special women in my life – with a gift that’s a bit more personal, from my heart.

My Grandma was a wonderful elementary school teacher for many years, so I made a donation in her name to DonorsChoose.org — a great organization that helps teachers raise money for special projects or classroom materials that they need. Since she doesn’t really like to use computers, I didn’t want her to have to go online and search for a project or an organization. So I printed the donation confirmation to enclose in a special card with the flowers I’ll give her, letting her know how I am honoring her on Mother’s Day.

I wanted to do the same thing for my mom. She supports organizations that protect the environment, and gives to local food banks and rescue missions. The arts and public education are also important to her. And I wasn’t sure which organization to donate to: What would she appreciate the most this year? So I decided to give her a charity gift card with a bouquet of flowers. Letting her make the choice. She can go to JustGive.org and find the charity (or charities) she wants to support right now…there are more than a million on the site. And I’ll know that her donation will make a difference for a cause that is both meaningful and personally close to her heart!

This Mother’s Day, consider a charity gift collection that gives back and says thank you from your heart—donating to a cause that’s special to your mother’s (or grandmothers, or wife’s, or…you get the point) heart!

If you’d like to honor all she’s done in a bigger way, all year round – make it a monthly recurring donation.

Enjoy a very special Happy Mother’s Day!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes

For me, for you – One action at a time for our planet

April 22 is Earth Day—a great time to think about our impact on the planet. I find myself considering what I already do to help, and trying to figure out what else I can do. The Bay Area has great recycling and compost programs. I already recycle paper goods, plastic, metal and glass. Green waste is picked up weekly with garbage and recycling. These options really cut down the amount of waste going into our landfills.

JustGive has waste, recycling and compost bins in our office. So I always try to make sure and put everything in the correct waste bin! I take the casual carpool to work to do my part to cut down on car emissions. When the carpool isn’t available, I take public transportation—the bus or BART. I shop at the farmer’s market to support local business and the environment. I bring lunch to work in re-usable containers so there isn’t trash each time I have a meal. It’s the little things I do every day—and that we can all do—that will sustain the planet. Each action makes a difference.

Even with all the easy changes I’ve already made I feel like there must be more I can do to keep the Earth healthy. Where do I get ideas about what else I can do? I can start with one of f several organizations I found that are working to save the planet:

  • Earth Day Network works to secure a health future for all of us, addressing many different aspects of environment—how the environment affects our health, greening deteriorated schools, green jobs, and activism to stop pollution.
  • National Arbor Day Foundation helps teach children and families about connecting with nature. For a small $10 membership, you plant 10 trees in our nation’s forests or get 10 trees you can plant in your yard or share with someone else. They also have many online resources available I can use with my daughter when we go exploring the great outdoors.
  • Supporting local organic farming is a great eco-consciously way to live “greener.” Find a farm in your area like Shooting Star CSA and sign up for their weekly vegetable boxes. Join me and support organic farming by shopping your local Farmer’s Market or grocery stores that carry local farms’ produce.
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency has some tools to discover more things we can do to protect the environment. Their international program, Pick Five for the Environment, encourages each of us to choose 5 ideas and begin to take action. My thought was: Why not choose 10 or 15?

Earth Day San Francisco is the biggest Earth Day event in the Bay Area. It is a free public event to help community members learn about local and global eco-solutions. The event features an alternative vehicle exhibit, a youth eco zone, green films, eco fashion, organic food and beverages, holistic wellness choices and much more!

This month, there are many events going on around the word to protect the environment—easily check out the events in your area online!

Every change we make in our lives helps create a smaller footprint on the planet. Make a difference today by supporting organizations that work to protect our environment. When you donate, consider checking the box to make it a monthly recurring gift and walk the green talk year round!

Julia Hughes, Marketing Assistant