Volunteer to Work at the Olympics in Rio 2016

14-rio-2016Volunteer application opportunities have just opened up for those who want to work at the Olympic Games and/or the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. Applications will be accepted from today through November November 15, so act now if you want to be one of the many, many dedicated souls who make Olympic magic happen.

Volunteers are needed for myriad roles, including Ceremonies Production, Customer Service, Health Services, Operational Support, Press & Communication, Protocol and Languages, Sports, Technology, and Transport. The volunteer squad will number about 70,000 individuals! 

It’s kind of a big deal, with many steps and interviews and training along the way, but what a hoot to be able to say at your next get together with friends that YOU are going to be helping make the Olympics happen. They even need volunteers to be in the “cast” of performers/dancers/marchers/etc for the opening ceremonies!

There is online training, then later, in-person training, and you get a full uniform specific to your volunteer placement, certificate of appreciation, local transportation, meals on days you work, exclusive gifts, and a whole slew of international friends and colleagues. You must be 18 years old by February 28, 2016, and be available for ten days during the Olympic or Paralympic Games. You are responsible for your own travel and housing during your stay, so start your planning early…like today! Full information and Frequently Asked Questions here

Happy National Dog Day!

Today, August 26, is National Dog Day.

I am re-posting from 2010 when we adopted our perfect rescued companion, Cooper, from a shelter we love in Connecticut. Since then, we also adopted Finn, the big blond bruiser whose picture follows (also from the same Connecticut shelter–links below). They are the best wrestling-tumbling-chasing-did-I-mention-wrestling-love-buckets on the planet.

Shelter Dog

This weekend, we went and adopted our own magnificent Black Dog from the amazing volunteers at the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. DAWS is a non-profit (they could sure use your support/donations–easy to do at the link here), no kill shelter, and is truly run by the most loving, caring volunteers. They made every individual and family member who came over the weekend (and it was super busy–the first spring-like weekend of the year with warm weather and sunshine) feel that among the busy buzz, they were important and maybe the perfect home for one of their adult dogs or puppies.

Our boy, Cooper, is a 2-year-old lab/shepherd…and Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Scooby Doo, and Snoopy combined ain’t got nothing on him. He is brilliant, and has found his last, forever home…and has truly honored us by being part of our pack.

I promise you there is a shelter near you that needs volunteer help. It is unheard of to have too many volunteers and regulars tend to be spread awfully thin. Wouldn’t it be a brilliant way to spend a morning or afternoon, bringing families together?

Finnyardcrop

Burning Man Volunteering

BurningManIn spite of some mean rainstorms keeping today’s gates closed on the launch of this year’s Burning Man happening (the weather is supposed to be nice for the rest of the time the masses will be on the Playa), this is THAT season.

I’ve never been to Burning Man–I suspect I will one year, but haven’t yet. There is so much I find endlessly intriguing–especially about the systems and non-systems set up as a for community agreement. No money changes hands, barter agreements, specializing in something great to give regardless of whether you receive anything in return. These are concepts I like.

As you might guess, if you know a little or a lot about Burning Man, it takes more than a village to make it all happen. So much is user-generated, but there is much behind the scenes that occurs–only the most careful planning can make so much feel so spontaneous.

Toward that end–they need legions of volunteers. There are year-round volunteers handling logistics and planning leading up to the late summer shindig in Black Rock City, and there are volunteers at-event. Cleanup, the “Gazette” staff, security, rangers, greeters, lamplighters, temple guardians, technology teams, earth guardians, the Department of Mutant Vehicles, and so many other roles are filled by volunteers. Once the dust settles (literally) and ash disappears from this year’s event, it’s not too soon to plan on Playa service for 2015. Find out more how to take your community giving, and commitment to the crowds, to the next level–volunteer to make the magic happen.

Updated View: Heifer International

PR_Logo-Full_ColorIt’s been a while since I dropped in on Heifer International. They cycle onto my radar around the winter holidays because it is such a sublime fit for gift giving (give a goat, or a share of bee hives, or a portion of an ox, etc to communities of need around the world)…but of course, their calendar is jam packed with outreach, education, and great volunteer opportunities year ’round. Getting involved is an outstanding way to help eradicate hunger and poverty, and help children and families become self-reliant.

The beauty of the Heifer model is that it provides tangible, life-changing gifts to families…livestock (a Heifer or one of many other options–also shares in an animal in case you can’t plunk down the donation to fund one in its entirety), trees, bees, education, small business funds, clean water access, and so many more categories…and part of the structure includes passing on the gift to others. The recipients of your offering donate offspring of the donated animal to another family, as well as the education on care. It is built in to keep the giving going. I truly love that! This practice of passing on the gift means your impact is multiplied by as much as nine times! Thus far, Heifer has reached 20.7 million families. More than 105 million children, women, and men are on the road to more sustainable living due to the giving and support of folks like you.

It just so happens that TODAY, August 22, is a big event for them: the third annual “Beyond Hunger: A Place at The Table” gala, to support and empower marginalized women, in Beverly Hills. Dang, I clearly need to check their calendar more often…Next Year!

Who in the World Gives the Most? Here Are the Top Charitable Nations

1381374_71397914With all the cynicism these days and distressing news domestically and internationally, it is a pleasant surprise to the jaded many among us that the United States has regained the distinction of being the most generous nation in the world…but in the recent report from the Charitable Aid Foundation World Giving Index, there are some definite surprises.

160 nations were examined in relation to the willingness of citizenry to volunteer, help strangers, and donate money to causes. The number one country in the world in these three criteria is, once again (after falling behind Australia in the recent past) the US, followed by Canada, Myanmar(?!), and New Zealand.  Among the top ten are a couple more that might not immediately come to mind: Qatar and Sri Lanka. 

Interesting to note, that in the Top Ten giving nations, the least popular category is volunteering. Bummer. Among all the nations, the highest rating for volunteer activities among the populace, is…drumroll, please…Turkmenistan.

Also interesting and also a bummer, global rates of all three criteria have fallen since 2007. We just don’t give money, time, or assistance like we used to.

Lots of good news here, too…The biggest jumps are, encouragingly, among the world’s youth, and generosity is on the rise in super-sized nations India and China!

What Shark Week Really Should Recognize

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Depression Hides Until It’s Too Late

RobinWThe news of the passing of Robin Williams is only hours old, many are assuming suicide, and based on his previously disclosed history with addiction and depression, it would not be a shock. Depression, anxiety, self injury/cutting, to some extent eating disorders, and attempted or successful suicide are issues being dealt with every day by people right next to you. Perhaps you. Guaranteed those waters run in places you don’t expect.

To Write Love on Her Arms is an organization I’ve long admired, and not just for their brilliant name. They are a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly in treatment and recovery.

They have amazing resources to seek help and understanding, and they have some tremendous opportunities to get involved and volunteer, as well. From street teams to conferences to targeted outreach, there are ways to lend strength and understanding. We all need connection. There are times when the level of love and connection is not clearly seen or felt, no matter how full and robust it feels from those giving. Our correct course is to continue giving. Continue supporting. Continue loving. Continue respecting, even if someone, even someone dedicated to making others laugh, takes themselves from the game.

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