Archive for the ‘Opportunities’ Category

Royal Watching for Inspiration

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I’m always fascinated by the frenzy of following every movement or breath of famous folks.

Royal Watching has become quite the national and international pastime, and ramps up to a frenzy when the family members of Britain’s Queen get married or bring a new baby into the world.

We tune in or pick up the grocery store checkout line mags to assess (criticize?) dresses and clothes and baby pictures and pronouncements. Are we comparing ourselves? Fantasizing what it must be like to be royalty? Waiting for some weird schadenfreude moment when someone trips and falls?

I am Royal Watching right now for another reason—I’m looking for inspiration. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are in South Africa with their young son, Archie, touring and meeting folks and visiting some fantastic social good causes and NGOs.

That’s the kind of discovery travel I love.

Harry and Meghan have been heart-driven since before they were together, and at their wedding, this benevolence was made manifest with their request that gifts be made as donations to charities. Here is my first look to these particular royals for inspiration.

The Royal Wedding charities they listed were (click the links to find our more about each cause):

CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), working to ensure young people living with HIV have the treatment and care, knowledge, understanding, skills, and wider support to live well and achieve their greatest potential.

Crisis, the UK’s national charity for homeless people helping people directly out of homelessness, working side-by-side in housing, employment, education, and advice services.

The Myna Mahila Foundation empowers women in the urban slums of Mumbai, India, employing women to manufacture and sell affordable sanitary pads back into their communities to improve menstrual hygiene, provide stable employment, and build a trusted network.

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Scotty’s Little Soldiers is dedicated to supporting children and young people who have lost a parent while serving in the Armed Forces.

Street Games uses sport to change lives for healthier, safer, more successful communities.

Surfers Against Sewage inspires communities to protect oceans, beaches, waves, and wildlife.

The Wilderness Foundation UK harnesses the power of the wilderness to transform vulnerable lives and empowers people to conserve nature.

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In addition to those charities chosen by the Royal Couple for wedding gift support, they co-lead The Royal Foundation (alongside Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge). This foundation has multiple initiatives in several areas: mental health and removing its stigma, conservation of endangered species and wildlands, military service & veteran support, programs for young people, early education, and empowering communities.

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While they are in Africa they are visiting several projects, one I particularly sparked to, The Justice Desk, which operates in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, empowering local people to understand and defend their human rights in order to build safer communities for all. They educate and equip, train and advocate for youth and vulnerable groups for justice and equality.

Volunteering Out of This World – Inspired by Lunar and Space Exploration

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When was the last time you went outside and stared up at the night sky? Did you wish upon a star, hang your dreams on the moon, ponder your place in the universe?

50 years ago the entire nation was looking toward the heavens with awe, pride, disbelief, and wonder as our first astronauts visited and stepped foot on the moon. It was too audacious to want, but we did. It was too far out to be realistic, yet it was.

Anyplace in your world where you hold a vision of yourself that your ego tells you is too far out, too audacious, that a wise person would tuck that dream away and never speak its name…? Wouldn’t it be FUN to fly in the face of such…reasonableness?

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Can you tip your chin toward the night sky and imagine yourself in an unfamiliar place, doing unfamiliar things, to help unfamiliar people or animals or communities or places?

Here are a few Apollo/Lunar-inspired volunteer opportunities—maybe one is for you:

NASA – offers unpaid training opportunities to high school and college students to explore career options in the federal agency. Most internships last three to four months and can be done during the academic year or summer. Here’s the info to explore more.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute – is a division of the Universities Space Research Association, established during the Apollo missions to foster international collaboration and gather information about the space program. The LPI in Houston, TX has a summer program for undergraduate students to work with planetary scientists for 10 weeks embedded in cutting edge research and one-on-one work with leading researchers. Find out more here.

The Space Station Museum – In Novato, California, volunteers help bring space education to the Bay Area working as museum volunteers and docents, leading tours, answering questions, and occasionally hanging out with astronauts. No experience is required. Apply here.

The International Dark-Sky Association – works to protect the night skies from light pollution and keep some of the zones of our world pristine enough to see the galaxy and beyond. Volunteers advocate in their local communities, give public presentations/talks, do public outreach at local events, become citizen scientists to measure and study light pollution, and more. Find opportunities to get involved at this link.

The Moon Society – is run entirely by volunteers. The organization seeks to inspire and involve people all over the world in study and exploration of the moon with an eye toward eventual civilian settlements and pioneering. Volunteers are chapter coordinators, publications director, communications and social media, technical writers, project managers, fundraisers and grant-writers, event organizers, and more. Check out their site and available positions here.

The Space Foundation – in Colorado Springs inspires, educates, connects, and advocates on behalf of the global space community. Long-term and short-term volunteers are needed to assist with operations, teaching, development, communications, and marketing as well as helping at the annual Space Symposium. Sign up to volunteer here.

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Good Done Great Manages Your Giving and Volunteering

iPhone in man's hand about to click on app iconGood Done Great is an online platform, and now a mobile app as well, that helps you track and maximize your philanthropic giving and your volunteering efforts.

They are the first mobile giving app to connect users to charities, corporations, and causes, and it streamlines your giving opportunities to a network of over two million non-profit organizations all around the world. You can also set up monthly giving arrangements in the app or GIVING savings accounts that will be tracked for you. You can do all this management yourself, of course, but the app leverages technology that brings lots of features into one place. Additionally, you can follow charities to see their latest programs and projects, search by name or location to find charities, and the app learns your preferences and recommends new non-profits that may interest you based on your history. You can also follow your employer’s impact with their giving and support of charitable causes.

Good Done Great also works directly with Fortune 500 and other corporations to help them maximize their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) efforts so they are able to increase their impact. They are a B Corporation and have, thus far, processed over $500,000,000 for over 28,000 charities globally.

Check out the website, and load the free app on your phone (Apple app store or Google Play) so you can simplify your giving and turbocharge the difference you can make.

Help a Lucky Iron Fish Travel the World

iron fish held in hand and over soup potIron deficiency in the diet is a severe problem in many developing nations. Around 3.5 billion people suffer from anemia and iron deficiency—it ranks as the worst diet/nutritional problem (aside from hunger) and it is so easily treated. The kinds of vitamins and pills we commonly give kids as supplements at our breakfast tables are not as affordable or easy to come by in other societies (and if you live anywhere humid at all, you know your kid’s little cartoon-shaped chewables can, very quickly, get super gloopy and unusable).

Here comes the Lucky Iron Fish to the rescue! Looking like a cool Pottery Barn table decoration, this palm-sized fish made of iron is a simple solution to the problem. This project started in Cambodia, and basically, a family takes this metal fish sculpture, drops it into boiling water for ten minutes, and the small amount of trace iron that leeches from it is enough to help fight the deficiency in a family, straight from their normal food source. Pull out the fish, add all the other ingredients you may want for a soup or stew, and the lucky fish has worked magic in your pot.

The fish is a lucky symbol in Cambodia, and as the project spreads, they can create other shapes for this reusable (just rinse and it is ready to go next time, for hundreds of pots) treasure that in each meal can add 75% of each person’s recommended amount of dietary iron. Locally made and hand-packaged, the project also employs locals, many of them recovering survivors of landline injuries. Safe, easy, socially spectacular, and kinda cool to use. Some lemon or other citrus makes the iron, which doesn’t change the flavor of the food, even better absorbed by the body. Restored iron levels increase energy and health, as well as brain power and focus. In Cambodia, the communities where this project is underway have seen more than a 50% decrease in iron deficiency and anemia.

Check them out, donate, watch the video below to learn more, buy a Lucky Iron Fish for yourself and one is donated to family in need, and help put  fish in every pot.

 

Making Change Grow: The Pollination Project

1415174_51896649Are you one of those incredible changemakers who has grabbed the bull of a particular issue by the horns and wrestled it into submission (or are engaging in the wrestling)? If you have a project or charity or organization or brilliant idea for making a difference in the world, how many others just like you, just as inspired, have been stopped because of money woes? Financial obstacles are some of the most potent blocks needing to be busted through to have the affect on the world we all want to have. Lack of bucks, too often, translates into lack of forward motion. It paralyzes us.

For those earth-shaking, problem solving, paradigm-shifting projects waiting to come to fruition, explore The Pollination Project. This group awards $1,000 seed grants to ordinary folks committed to making extraordinary changes in the world. Every person has the potential and power to transform our world–this belief propels the Pollination Project ahead every day as they grant funds.They evaluate grant applications EVERY WEEK and make decisions much more rapidly than so many granting organizations. EVERY DAY, 365 days a year, another worthwhile project is funded.

How can your impact be amplified if you got a windfall of $1,000 to spend on your project? Dream it, apply, and go out and rock the world the way you deserve…and the way the world deserves to receive your gifts. Don’t be stingy with your passion–we need you!

Our First Contest! Enter Now

Woot Woot–what better for a Friday than a contest? This is the first Change by Doing voluntourism contest. My recent post about Nelson Mandela Day and the partnership between joinFITE, Kiva, and Dermalogica gave you a chance to try out being a Kiva loaner for free (hope you did–and then donated more to enterprising women around the world who are truly making a difference. Kiva ROCKS!)

From that blog posting, Dermaolgica has sent along some products and gifts for me to reward one reader. I’ve got this nifty box here with a copy of what I think is a truly important book—Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, a canvas tote bag, 2 Dermaolgica skincare products, and a really cool sneak peek of their new holiday gift item, “Bullets to Bracelets.” For the bracelets, artisans in Ethiopia collect old bullet casings and melt them down into beads. A really great initiative, reclaiming a symbol of violence and transforming it into powerful jewelry.

You know you want this! All you have to do is answer this question in the comments section below: If you could custom design a dream volunteer vacation anywhere in the world and tackle any problem, where would it be and what would you do?

You can answer in the comments or email me your ideas (500andrews@gmail.com). Entries will close September 1, and a winner will be chosen from all your fantastic inspiration. It needn’t be a realistic goal nor a currently  existing trip, though it can be…just tell me what lights your fire, and how you dream of making a difference in the world, far away or next door.

Mandela, Kiva, joinFITE, and YOU!

Have you been combing the aisles at your mall, racking your brain, wondering what to buy Nelson Mandela for his birthday today?

The 67 years of public service Madiba (Mandela) has dedicated to the world are being lauded in a particularly affirmative way via Kiva, joinFITE, and Dermalogica. Today, Mandela Day, these organizations are joining forces to inspire and empower all of us to take action and become changemakers.

joinFITE is a microfinance platform designed to provide female entrepreneurs and small business owners with Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. To date, joinFITE has helped fund loans for more than 18,500 women entrepreneurs, with a goal of 25,000 by the end of 2012.

Dermalogica has pre-funded 670 loans to honor Madiba’s 67 years of activism, and all you have to do is log on and dedicate one of them to help women start or grow their own businesses through microfinance, which helps them as well as their communities become more financially independent. 

Today, I am sharing this call to action and encourage you to get involved by making a microloan to create a positive change in a woman’s life. It will only take a few minutes of your time, and costs you ZIP–Dermalogica has already paid for your good deed–your gift to Mandela.

Please visit www.Kiva.org/women to direct a loan, and help make a difference in the life of a woman in the country and business practice of your choice.