A Mother’s Pride: A Daughter’s Giving

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Kids are amazing. They notice everything. They question everything. They are curious.

My daughter J’Nyah is 7. Since she was born, I’ve been amazed as how quickly she learns things. When she was a baby, it was learning to hold her head, smile, or sit up.  As a toddler–crawling, walking, running. It felt like she went from speaking gibberish to full sentences in the blink of an eye.

One of the best things about your child growing up is getting to know them as a person.

Her caring, giving spirit started young

J’Nyah has always been very independent and a leader. The first time I realized what kind of person she was growing into, I was so proud. At 2 years old, on her first day of preschool, we walked in, met the teachers, and she saw  other kids she knew from the neighborhood and local parks. They all went right to playing.  My little girl was very interested in the “house” area and started playing with the dolls.

My DaughterThere was one little girl who wouldn’t let go of her mother and was crying, out of control. J’Nyah asked me, “Mama, why is that girl so sad?” I said she was probably scared because it was her first time in a new place and she didn’t know anyone. J’Nyah picked up an extra doll, took it to the girl and started playing with her. Before I knew it, the two girls were giggling. The other grateful mother gave her little girl a kiss and we slipped out. The girls are friends to this day.

This happened again on the first day of kindergarten and first grade. J’Nyah is always ready to help someone having a hard time and make them feel better. Knowing that she isn’t using her strong personality to bully people and instead, to include and take care of them, makes me proud every day.

One day while walking downtown, we saw a number of homeless people panhandling and sleeping. My curious 4-year-old was staring at people as we passed. I didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable, but I also didn’t want her to ignore them.

As we went into the subway station, her questions started, “Why are those people there? Why are they asking for money? Why do they have a dog? Why are their kids with them?” I explained they probably didn’t have homes or jobs so they ask for money to get food and things they need. J’Nyah thought about this a lot, especially the kids that might not have a house or food. And she decided that she wants to help them.

At age 5, she started raising money

jnyah_five_s_256_254Since I work for JustGive, making giving a part of everyday life is always on my mind. So when J’Nyah decided she wanted to raise money for the homeless for her 5th birthday instead of getting gifts for herself, I was SUPER glad to we offer the tools to make that happen.  I’ll admit that I planted the thought to raise money, but since the idea to help others was already there, she agreed right away.

At 5 years old, she raised $376 for a local organization, BOSS: Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficency, which provides resources and housing for homeless families. And the idea stuck with her.  She remembers.

When she was turning 6, they were studying seals and sea lions in school, and J’Nyah heard her teacher say the pups are often abandoned. So she asked, “Can we help save the seals and sea lions this year for my birthday?” I was very proud she wanted to do it again, and together, we looked online for the charities rescuing marine life.  We were lucky to find local organizations, the Marine Mammal Center (which we could visit too!) and Save the Bay.

jnyahsmile_s_259_275While we were looking at these charities, she saw an ad for the ASPCA with an abused dog on it. She was very sad to hear that other animals are homeless and added East Bay SPCA so she could help them too. That year she raised $735 for the 3 charities.

When she was getting ready to turn 7, I wondered what we would do to celebrate. She was going to a lot more birthday parties this year and talking about elaborate plans for her party. As we were planning her party, she surprised me and asked, “Who are we going to help this year for my birthday?”

We talked through her many ideas, and since dolphins are her favorite animal right now, she decided to help them. This year she raised $830 for Blue Voice, The Dolphin Project via Earth Island Institute, and Wild Dolphin Project.

Her giving example

jnyah7_s_259_259This Mother’s Day, I am so proud to have a child that wants to help others every day. I’m glad we’re talking about issues in the world and figuring out that making things better is something we can do together.  I know J’Nyah will grow up to make a profound impact in the world.

If we all had her giving spirit, can you imagine the good we could do in the world?

-Julia Hughes
Product Manager

Nonprofit Spotlight: Bubble Foundation

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

At first blush, the Bubble Foundation seems like an unusual name for an organization that helps kids live healthy and happy lives, but then again…. Not wanting to pigeonhole their holisticbubble_logo efforts or be heavy handed about wellness, the name was chosen to keep it fun and focused on kids.

Funders ask about our name, says Executive Director Lizzie Redman, but never the kids. In fact, it’s a contagious echo in school halls where kids are heard chattering about “Bubble, Bubble.”

Bubble’s mission

Bubble believes every child in the United States, regardless of socioeconomic status, should have access to activities, food and information that helps them live healthy and happy lives. To accomplish this in New York City, they partner with schools in underserved communities, supplying core curriculum and program activities to fill a gap. They provide – free of charge – information, food and activities for schools, students and families who would otherwise get little or no health and wellness education.

School programs that deliver

The power of going directly into schools is how Bubble succeeds. Not just with kids, but their parents and school leaders too. Redman explains, “We reach kids while they’re young and expose them early on. We also bring in parents for family meals and workshops where we work with them about how to make healthy changes at home. We plant the seeds for healthy habits and empower school leaders to carry it forward.”

Bubble’s programs make “food, fun and fitness float”:

 

Bubble EATS is nutrition education delivered through weekly classes, cooking demonstrations and more from volunteer teachers. For instance, “kids may never have seen broccoli before, but they learn about it, cook it and find it enjoyable to eat,” describes Redman.

Bubble GROWS teaches the science of how food grows and basic farming and irrigation principles, and includes visits from farmers and to community gardens. Bubble brings portable grow boxes into classrooms and starts outside or rooftop gardens where there’s space available.

Bubble MOVES connects the school to other organizations and experts for fitness classes, recess programs, sports clinics, and special programs like yoga and African dance.

Results

Started in 2010 as a small organization to help one school – the Mott Haven Academy in the Bronx – Bubble will partner with eight schools during the 2015-2016 academic year. A few stats:

  • Bubble programs teach 1,200bubble2 students each week
  • Around 50 volunteers work for Bubble each semester – 30 teach weekly and 20 others support special programs
  • School partnerships last for 2 years (with support afterward)
  • Impact: 5 schools are successful program graduates, 6 schools are currently partners, and 4 more are being added next year

Giving practices

JustGive is proud to help the Bubble Foundation raise money online. “The ability to have a platform we can easily use is huge,” comments Redman. “And from a data perspective, to know where the money is coming from is valuable.”

Following best practices, Bubble has its Donate button built into every page of its website, and has customized its Donation Page, telling donors exactly what different size gift can do.

Check out how you can help the Bubble Foundation do even more.

– Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

P.S. If you’d like to be featured in the JustGive Blog, submit your nonprofit!

THE MANY FACES OF HOMELESSNESS: HOW YOU CAN HELP

blog_title_image_homelessnessKnowing how to help a homeless person can sometimes feel difficult, confusing and overwhelming. The dollar you give might be used to buy drugs or alcohol. Even offering food can be a problem – imagine handing an apple to a homeless man and then discovering he has no teeth. Just as there are many reasons people become homeless, there are also many ways to help. Understanding the leading causes of homelessness is often the best way to learn what the homeless need and how you can make a positive difference in their lives. The chronically homeless, who often struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, need a safe and stable living environment where they can get counseling and health care. To help them, consider volunteering at a local shelter or halfway house that provides longer-term housing. Donating clean towels, pillows and blankets can also help create a comfortable and safe living environment. The majority of homeless youth bw_homeless_teens_21461332have been kicked out of their homes or abandoned by parents or guardians. Others who left on their own accord have suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their families. For many, trusting another adult or authority figure can be difficult. One of the best ways to help is to simply ask them what they need. Maybe it’s a hot meal, a warm coat or a clean pair of socks; or maybe it’s information on how to get into foster care, enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program or register for the GED. Taking the time to listen to their needs, and to follow through, can go a long way in helping them regain their trust in others and get off the streets. imm needs housing homelessFor many veterans, physical disability, mental anguish and post-traumatic stress can make readjusting to civilian life very difficult. This can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, the inability to hold down a steady job and homelessness. Because many veterans have very specific needs to help them get back on their feet—job placement services, medical services, housing assistance, counseling—there are numerous ways to get involved. Consider donating your time or money to organizations which help homeless vets:

While we need to address the problem of homelessness as a whole, the more we can understand each person’s individual circumstances, the more we can help. Before making assumptions or judgments, take the time to ask some questions and do a little research. It can make all the difference. The Face(s) of Homelessness

  • Number of homeless in the United States: 610,042
  • Number of chronic homeless: 109,132 (18%)
  • Number of homeless youth under 18: 380,000
  • Number of homeless veterans: 57,849 (9%)

For more charities helping the homeless with shelter, counseling services and job training.

-Amelia Glynn, Marketing Contractor

Hunger and Food Justice: Community Building for Food Equality

Hunger: it’s a daunting problem the world over. Even though I was eager to research and write on this topic, when I started to dig into it, I got more and more overwhelmed with how broad and profound the issue … Continue reading

Not Just a “Family Matter” – Domestic Violence in the U.S.

Image Source: Flickr

Domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and battering are all different names for the same alarmingly widespread social problem. It affects more people than you think—one in every four people experience abuse—and what we see in the media isn’t the whole picture.

Recently we’ve seen domestic violence news about high-profile celebrities, framed in a typical manner: a male abuser and a female victim. Although every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten, domestic violence isn’t just a problem between women and their male abusers. It affects us all.

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Image Source: Flickr

Domestic violence affects entire families, endangering the safety and mental development of young children. And elderly adults and disabled family members are often the most vulnerable to domestic violence, due to dependence on caretakers and lack of mobility. Family pets are often treated cruelly too. A study from 11 U.S. cities revealed that a history of animal abuse is one of the four largest indicators for potential domestic abusers.

Domestic violence doesn’t only affect women.  More than 830,000 men fall victim to domestic violence every year in the U.S. (National Violence Against Women Survey). Men, women, same-sex couples, and gender variant folks are all victims. Recently, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) survey showed that one in five trans people experienced domestic violence for their non-conforming gender identities.

Intimate partner violence doesn’t begin in adulthood. One in five high school girls has been physically or sexually assaulted by a dating partner. Sadly, eight U.S. states don’t consider a violent dating relationship domestic abuse, leaving teens unable to obtain a restraining order for protection from their abuser.

Domestic violence is closely related to gun violence. While it can, and often does, extend beyond physically abusive behavior to include sexual violence, financial exploitation, stalking, harassment and emotional abuse; tragically, it commonly ends in gun violence. According to an analysis of mass shootings since January 2009 released by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (a coalition from around the country), “There was a noteworthy connection between mass-shooting incidents and domestic or family violence.” A majority of the mass shootings in the four-year period studied were domestic-violence related.

The epidemic of domestic violence affects every one of us. We need to stop it together. Here are a few resources that help victims, and actions we each can take to make change happen.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Resources

The Hotline provides crisis intervention, information and referrals for victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. Their toll-free number is available nationwide—helping victims find the courage to act and a local shelter.

The National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory lists resources for free legal help for survivors of domestic abuse.

SafeLink is a government-provided safe phone service for survivors.

What you can do to help

Give to organizations that provide resources to survivors and work to end violence:

Image Source: Flickr

For more charities working to end domestic and gendered violence, take a look at this list.

-Alex Mechanic

Service Team Manager

This local tragedy stirs deep emotion

I’ve been having great difficulty dealing with the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My kids are often in Sandy Hook for sports and other activities, and I have spent many weekends on the sidelines of the soccer fields directly behind the school.

Holiday AngelNewtown is almost identical to my town of Weston, Connecticut, so it is very hard for me to let go of the horror by rationalizing to myself that it is far away or such a different type of community than my own. This trauma is deeper for all of us because the reality is that this could have happened anywhere and to any of us. That is what is most profoundly frightening about this event.

I have a 7 year old who is always curious, and he came home from school on Friday asking a lot of questions. After asking all the main questions, he paused and asked, “How did the kids know what to do when their teacher died?” He was obviously putting himself directly into that situation. I am very sad he has to think about these things at such an early age. As he was going to bed that night he asked, “Does God make these bad people?” I had to explain that everyday, we all wake up and have to make many decisions that can make us “good” or “bad” for that moment.

Every night now when I put him to bed, I first get a chill of realization that he could have been in that 1st grade classroom, and then I give a grateful hug that he is still here to tuck in.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the depth of tragedy and anguish that will always be a part of the Newtown community. Life is so precious—and at the same time, it can be unfair and unpredictable.

While our hearts are broken for the victims and all of those affected by this senseless tragedy,  the healing process must begin. There are many nonprofits that are currently supporting the town with: cleaning up the old school, setting up the new school, providing health services to residents in the community, supporting the firefighters, supplying aid for the memorial services, and offering ongoing activities to help the kids heal. To find out more and how to help Newtown, here’s an article that gives several ways you can be supportive.

A few charities providing the community with services that you can donate to:

kindnessMy personal belief is that we all must put a little bit of goodness back into the world and do what we can to overcome the horror by being kind to those around us. In addition to helping Newtown directly, random acts of kindness should be part of our daily routine to spread goodness. More than something we do in response to Ann Curry’s tweet…something we make part of our everyday life.

—Kendall Webb, Executive Director

Summer of Fun, Sun, & Giving Back!

School is almost out, kids can’t wait to enjoy their summer vacation, and it’s time for parents to figure out how to keep them entertained! It is great to encourage our children to be outdoors and active all year ‘round, but during the summer months especially when the sun is shining and the days are long. There are many organizations to choose from that help us find ways to do just that and offer a variety of interactive classes, camps, and full summer programs.

As a kid I went to camps through my local YMCA, an organization that strives to strengthen local communities. The Y works side-by-side with neighbors to give everyone the opportunity regardless of age, income or background, to learn, grow and thrive. I remember singing Y-camp songs on the bus up to the lake for swimming and hiking in our local national park. There were also barbeques with plenty of hot dogs – very exciting for a 10 year old!  Most YMCA locations still offer both summer and year-round programs for campers of all ages including a variety of activities from games, sports and art, to science experiments and cooking. This year I enrolled my 3 year old in swimming lessons. She looks forward to seeing her teacher every day and jumping in the pool with her green floaties.

JustGive’s Founder and Executive Director, Kendall Webb, participates in the Fresh Air Fund programs each summer with her family:

“For the past 2 summers, we have had the opportunity to host an amazing girl named Kayla, now 10, through the Fresh Air Fund. Fresh Air’s programs give New York City children a chance to live outside their low-income communities and experience many special new activities, sports and opportunities they might not otherwise enjoy. The program lets children get to know themselves through personal challenges of culture, food, and communication—and gain personal confidence, providing life-long growth for both the child and host family. Kayla has brought the gift of open-mindedness, patience and humor to me. I have given the experience of bike riding, swimming, blueberry picking and walking on grass barefoot to her. Kayla came to us a visitor but is now an integral part of our family. We are so excited to have her spend time with us again this summer for the third year. I hope more families will consider hosting through the Fresh Air Fund….there is a lot to learn as a host family. We opened up our home, but Kayla has opened up our hearts.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are several other great organizations with summer programs to check out for yourself. Many offer life-changing opportunities to children throughout the year:

  • Girls Inc is a nonprofit organization that inspires and empowers all girls to be strong, smart, and bold and to reach their full potential while asserting their rights.  Girl Power!
  • Soccer Without Borders runs community-led, year-round youth development programs in under-served areas. Soccer provides these youth with an avenue for positive interaction, personal growth, and a brighter future.
  • Drawbridge is an expressive arts program for homeless and formerly homeless youth that provides a supportive community and a place to foster creativity.
  • Camp Good Days is dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families who have been touched by cancer through summer camping experiences.

Support these innovative youth organizations by starting a recurring monthly donation today!

What are your best tips and summer activities? Take a few minutes to jot a note on Facebook—share what works for you while making life just a little easier for someone else. You can help them enjoy the summer even more!

JustGive
Marketing Team

Living the dream

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’m thinking about his impact on our world today. His massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, caught the attention of the entire world, generating what he called a coalition of conscience. King directed the peaceful march of 250,000 people in Washington, D.C., to whom he delivered his address, “I Have a Dream.” At 35, he was the youngest man to be awarded a Nobel peace prize, announcing he would donate the prize money to further the civil rights movement.

What he accomplished—at such a young age—shows how taking action makes things happen. Your donation to one of the organizations below may be what makes the difference in a young person’s life. Someone you help today may be the person who changes our world tomorrow.

I Have a Dream Foundation

The “I Have A Dream” Foundation empowers children in low-income communities to achieve higher education by providing guaranteed tuition support and equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and habits they need to pursue a higher education and succeed— in college and beyond.

Big Brothers Big Sisters (find your local chapter)

Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a measurable impact on youth. Your donation helps recruit new volunteers and provides cultural and social activities for children.

Center for Youth Development through Law

Every summer, the Summer Legal Fellowship Program provides a group of youth from low-income backgrounds with instruction in legal topics, practical life skills workshops, paid internships in law and government offices, conflict management training, and mentors.  Your $25 donation provides resources for five new mentors. A $100 donation sponsors a writing skills workshop for 15 disadvantaged youth.

For more organizations that support Mentoring & Youth, or Human Rights, check out the JustGive Guide.

I’m constantly reminded that when I leave this world it will not matter how much money I had, what kind of house I owned, or what degrees I earned. What will matter was the impact I had on the lives of others. Honor the legacy and pursue the dream for a better world. Then tell a friend and make a difference today!

– Sarah Myers, Program Manager

Philanthropy for a new generation


In the wake of National Philanthropy Day, and with the holidays right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to inspire the giving spirit in a new generation. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Being involved in your community is a powerful way to teach children about caring for others, and finding their own passion for giving.

Need some ideas?

Learning To Give understands the importance of teaching philanthropy to new generations. They offer over 1,200 K-12 lessons and educational resources for teachers, parents, youth workers, religious instructors, and community leaders free of charge. Lessons focus on educating youth about the importance of philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and civic engagement.

Technology raises awareness and makes giving easier.

New research and nonprofit experts credit technology with the rising trend in philanthropy among the nation’s youth. “Technology is democratizing philanthropy so giving is not only easier for people of all ages and means, but also trendier. And children are starting to organize at the grass-roots level to give” says Phillip Rucker, a staff writer for the Washington Post. Adds Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, “The next step is to help kids move from that awareness to action.”

Young people as agents of change

With a passionately active and philanthropic new generation, it’s no surprise young adults are inspired to get involved beyond the usual annual donation. JustGive is proud to feature stories about how Jean and Brandon, as children, thought about giving and made a difference for years to come:

Jean Beale, at age 7 – “When I was a baby, my mom and dad would push me in a baby jogger. We would pick up soda cans while my mom and dad ran. We store the cans until we get a lot of them, then we take them on our friend’s big truck to the recycling place. One time, I sold 410 pounds at once. I help the world by making the roads, the lakes, and the trails prettier, and because all my cans are recycled.”

Brandon Keefe, at age 8 – One afternoon at a parent-teacher meeting to discuss the building of a library for a children’s home, Brandon heard how difficult it was to get books and thought “everybody had books on their shelves that they’d outgrown, why not give the ones we’ve already read to kids who need them?” What began in 1998 as a community service project for his class is now the grassroots nonprofit organization BookEnds. To date, over 170,000 student volunteers have filled 499 barren libraries throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, delivering more than 1.4 million books into the hands of over 401,000 at-rish students.

Want to spread the word? Tell a friend.