Posts Tagged ‘burn survivor’

#GivingTuesdayNow – We Had to Add Another Holiday!


Together We Give

Social Distance cannot get in the way of our social connections, and our communities are growing connective tissue under this stress like we never knew we could. Athletes know that muscle is built when we break it down, and similarly, this time, my friends, is making us stronger than we could imagine.

In the spirit of that strength, tomorrow, Tuesday May 5, 2020 is a newly-minted global day of giving and unity.

#GivingTuesday has, for years, been a day in December among the hustle and bustle of shopping and spending with Black Friday and sales and storming the malls, to give us an opportunity to support the non-profits and causes we care for most deeply.

This year, we’re adding #GivingTuesdayNow – it is an emergency response to COVID-19 and the decimating effect it has had on people and good works. Take the day as an occasion to show your full-throated support for healthcare workers and first responders. Stand strong with teachers and grocery and delivery and food service industries. Help support small businesses and purchase some gift cards as an investment in their, and your, future.


GIVE to the charitable organizations you love most—their need has not diminished but their financial standing has. Fundraisers have been canceled, giving has dwindled to nearly dry, events have been postponed, but the non-profits you have always known make the world turn are STILL serving the communities and individuals they have always served.

The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation ( that I have volunteered with for quite a few years, now, is still doing everything for burn survivors. People have not stopped getting burned—in fact, with shelter-in-place situations, more fire and burn accidents are happening with people spending so much more time at home, more time cooking and baking, more time in small spaces together, more bored teens and kids creating fire accidents (or weird “challenges”). Burn units in hospitals are not empty—and so our work has not slowed…but the financial support, unfortunately, has.

If you can see a way to it, consider supporting our AARBF online fundraiser here.


And while you are at supporting WHATEVER cause matters to you most, check in on your friends and family. Reach out with a call or ZOOM or facetime or any means of connection you can forge. Even in crowded houses, people are feeling alone.

Your generosity of dollars and of spirit are EVERYTHING this Giving Tuesday, and every single day. The need for you, and all you have to bless with your presence, your voice, your energy, and your healing heart, has never been greater.

I cannot thank you enough for what you give.

I love you.

Medical Tattooing for Burn Scars

This is an amazing story about survivor support. Burn survivors (the word “victim” is never used, despite how some media are covering this story…please know, victim is neither appropriate nor correct language) have a new tool for dealing with scars. Paramedical tattooing of the sort and expertise demonstrated by Basma Hameed in the video below, camouflages scars by matching existing pigment.

Basma has a big schmancy title: Para-Medical Micro Pigment Implantation Specialist, and her deep interest was born of her own childhood injuries resulting in facial scarring. She, in fact, first experimented on herself to perfect her technique. Basma has also developed a cosmetic concealer to help temporarily blend discolored scars with healthy tissue.

Learn more about this huge step toward confidence, ad consider supporting or volunteering with burn foundations like the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation that has multiple survivor services, including makeup and self-esteem counseling for survivors re-entering school or work or social life in general after long stays at burn units.

You Can Always Help: Auto-Giving That Doesn’t Cost a Dime

I know that I am not exactly the same as every other duck in the pond, and I know that the charge I get, personally, from volunteering might occur as a drag for someone else. No harm in that on either end, but I am also always on the lookout for ways to make a difference in a passive, non-energy-draining way. A way to give that doesn’t take extra effort, extra time, or extra dollars.

Well, here’s one of those. When you shop at Amazon, and a gazillion of us do, try logging in a little differently next time. Type in:, and you will go to Amazon’s simple, automatic way to support your favorite charity. With no extra cost or effort to you, the shopper, Amazon will donate a portion of all your eligible purchases (most of them) to your chosen non-profit. The page auto-loads with some big, national, well-known charities (Red Cross, Wounded Warriors, etc), but if there is a smaller organization that inspires you, you can choose your own charity, and if they are in the registry, they will be your delegated recipient of the donations that don’t cost you a dime. You only need choose your charity once, next time you come back to shop via, it will be there unless you change it.

Photo:, Isaiah with camp counselor

Photo:, Isaiah with camp counselor

If you kind of don’t care one way or the other, but still like the idea of since-I’m-shopping-anyway-I-might-as-well-help-somebody…I have a personal recommendation. When you go to and can choose your charity, consider AARBF (The Alisa Ann Ruch California Burn Foundation). This foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of burn-injured children and adults with direct services, care, education, and prevention. One of the largest programs of many that happen throughout the state (but you don’t need to live in California to support!) and throughout the year, is Champ Camp, a week-long summer camp for burn survivors ages 5-16. I am leaving tomorrow morning to be a counselor for these kids that have genuinely changed my life.

From the AARBF “Burn Bulletin”:

For many children, summer is a joyous time of the year in which swimming pool parties, trips to the beach and backyard barbeques are essentials for the season. But for thousands of burn-injured children, summer can be an uncomfortable time of the year due to sensitivity to sunlight exposure, susceptibility to skin sun damage, painful dryness and itchiness of the skin, difficulties regulating body temperature and anxiety and fear of unwanted stares.

The healing process for most burn survivors includes skin grafts, physical therapy, long-term doctors’ care, special diets, daily dressing changes, pressure garments and, in some cases, prosthetics and/or wheelchairs. But in addition to the physical healing, burn survivors must adapt to their physical limitations; work through and heal from their mental and emotional scars; regain their self-esteem; assimilate back into society; and overcome their feelings of isolation with support from others facing the same issues.

Burn camps answer the questions asked after the doctors save the life of someone with a burn injury: How do you get a burn survivor back into society? How do you get their peers and others to accept their new appearance and abilities? How do you get people not to stare, not to make fun of them?

The work really matters, and if your Amazon shopping can help get one more kid to camp or into other important programs, I hope you’ll consider it.

See you after camp!

-MONKEY (that’s my camp name)

Positive Exposure

posexposI’ve been so immersed lately with the concepts of self-image and how people can be ostracized, marginalized, and worse, because of the way they “present” to the world…the way they look. Our ideals of beauty can be tyrannical, and my work last week with young survivors of burn injuries taught me so much (and, of course, showed me incomparable beauty).

An artist and organization I admire (I have a couple of friends who have been involved with them over the years), working in the same ocean of impressions I’ve been diving into, is Rick Guidotti and his Positive Exposure. Rick was a fashion photographer in New York, capturing images of those thought to be the world’s most beautiful models…then one day he saw a stunning girl at a bus stop who had albinism. He was inspired to discover more about this and other genetic differences, and began his non-profit and his life’s new direction–to photograph people with “differences” in ways that truly expose beauty (unlike much of the literature and textbooks that present “symptoms” of “disease”).

There is no room for pity in his work, and now Rick uses photography and video to explore genetic, physical, and behavioral differences. In some societies, specifically in African nations, where Rick has done intensive work, a child born with albinism is thought to be a witch, or of the devil, and might be shut away or killed…there are cultures around the world that have such shame about anything outside their expectation or perception of acceptable looks, that it can result in true tragedy. Positive Exposure does photo shoots, self-esteem workshops, education, advocacy, counseling, media, and their “Pearls Program” for kids in grades K-12, teaching them how to embrace and celebrate everyone’s difference and uniqueness.

Support Positive Exposure’s truly life-altering work, and explore more about albinism at the website for NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation).

Volunteer for Burn Survivors

I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this new adventure–I leave today for Champ Camp, where I will be a counselor for summer camp for kids who are survivors of serious burn injuries. Free to the campers (my “Rancheros” are ages 8-10) and fully staffed by medical teams and a bunch of goofy counselors like me (my camp name is “Monkey”) who will go to the ends of the earth to make this the best week EVER!

Because I’ll be away for the next 10 days, and off the grid, I won’t be able to refresh the blog–I hope you’ll be patient with me and come back after June 17, when I will have amazing stories from camp as well as a lot of other summer volunteer ideas, some fantastic interviews I’m excited about bringing you, and international service travel opportunities to help you find a way to get out there and give.

In the mean time–send me messages via the blog to let me know how you and your family are spending the summer giving of yourselves to someone or something. I’d love to toot your horns and use your stories to inspire others–you know how good giving feels.

Angel Faces: Support Beyond Compare

1376728_89968538I’m hoping to do volunteer work this summer at a camp for children who are survivors of serious burn injuries…because of the perpetual thinking I have been doing about this plan, if I hear even a whisper about other programs dedicated to burn survivors, my attention is grabbed instantly.

Angel Faces is a non-profit that provides healing retreats and ongoing support for adolescent girls with burn/trauma injuries. Angel Faces retreats are spa days held annually in Southern California. Teen girls come from all over America and beyond, for seven days of increasing self-confidence and self-image while embracing their trauma and the resulting disfigurement. Group sessions,art, journaling, role play on how to handle stares and teasing, goal setting, yoga, swimming, and hiking are all part of this powerful experience. Therapeutic massage and facials, as well as private consultations with corrective cosmetologists help to address amazing growth and breakthroughs. The kind of soaring that spirits do during this week is something any of us would want to be a part of, and passionate, dedicated volunteers make the events run smoothly. Go to the website to look around, be inspired, wipe your eyes, and support Angel Faces. It makes such a huge difference.