Posts Tagged ‘service’

The New Maya Angelou Coin and Her Charities

New Year. New Currency. New Inspiration.

Today begins the wide circulation of the first of the new U.S. Mint American Women Quarters Program with the new Maya Angelou 25-cent piece. With arms outstretched in front of an uncaged, soaring bird and rays of the sun, the coin honors the legacy of Angelou. The image was designed by Emily Damstra and sculpted by Craig Campbell.

The flipside of the quarter is George Washington in a beefier version than we’ve seen before, designed by Laura Gardin Fraser.

On this day, I thought it would be interesting to poke around and find out more about the charitable work of Ms. Angelou.

“What I would really like said about me is that I dared to love. By love I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound it encourages us to develop courage and build bridges, and then to trust those bridges and cross the bridges in attempts to reach other human beings.” ~Maya Angelou

The Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation shares the mission, “…to improve the quality fo life for all human beings” and the vision, “to sup[port educational excellence and healthcare equity initiatives for all.” Much of the foundation’s impact is based on scholarships to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as well as through healthcare education efforts and a Women’s Health and Wellness Center. Your charitable donations (link here) help to support these vital programs.

In addition to the foundation, other organizations and foundations carry Dr. Anegelou’s name, including The Maya Angelou Young Adult Learning Center, a program of the See Forever Foundation Maya Angelou Schools. Here is a link to explore getting involved as a volunteer in Washington D.C. mainly in the areas of mentoring and tutoring—check it out.

Oakland, California’s Maya Angelou Library and Literacy Center has volunteer opportunities to help guarantee the community has access to opportunities to train and learn and open use of resources and technology. Explore volunteer opportunities at this link.

From Baltimore M.D. Hopkins University
© copyright John Mathew Smith 2001

Even if not directly working with one of the projects in her name, perhaps today is a perfect day to honor your own spirit of connection and humanity by honoring Maya Angelou with your search for ways to be of service. Flip a shiny new quarter and call it in the air. Heads, you win, tails, you win.

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”

~Maya Angelou

Your Kids Are (Probably) Not Too Young to Volunteer!

preschool  kidsSure, if still toddling or in diapers, maybe they are more of a ride-along while you get engaged in service, however, if your kids are the age where following directions is a thing, then volunteering can be a thing, too!

While many organizations don’t start making formal use of energetic volunteers until age 8 or older, you can always search for “family-friendly” opportunities to get involved together. Here are a few places to start an online search for just the right project for you and yours.

Children and education, kids and girls reading book in park

  • All for Good ( is a digital hub for volunteerism and community engagement. Find youth-engaging projects in your area by zip code.
  • Do Something ( will get kids involved with other kids making a difference—millions of young people in a global movement for good.
  • Generation On ( provides programs, tools, and resources to engage kids and teens in service and volunteering.
  • One More Generation ( was created by kids for kids to get kids involved in conservation and endangered species projects.
  • ( is the federal program for volunteers to find ways to work on cultural and environmental resource projects. Use the “Family” filter in your search.
  • VolunteerMatch ( is the largest network in the non-profit world. Search for volunteer opportunities by zip code, kind of work, and add the filter “Kids” or “Teens” to get everyone involved.

VH1 Do Something Awards Tonight

Tonight is the broadcast, on VH1, of the 2012 Do Something Awards. This is a national award for community service, honoring those under the age of 25 who are committed to making big changes in our world, and already moving mountains to do so. A whole lot of entertainment powerhouse performers will be on hand for the show to present awards and keep the evening moving along. Some of the big names on tonight’s star roster are Ben Affleck, Kristen Bell, Beyoncé, Will Ferrell, Kelly Osbourne, and Dax Shepard. The young finalists are an amazing and inspiring group of people who have created foundations and programs in their own back yards or across the world, to have a positive impact on the environment and social issues that are most pressing right now. Some of this year’s finalists are taking on issues in the Sudan, hunger, homelessness, arts education, artisans and sustainability, health in Nepal, international micro-grants, brain tumors, at-risk urban youth, classroom environmental education, and more. is a website I hope the young folks in your life already know about–it is a huge information clearinghouse that makes volunteering and being of service cool to teens and tweens, providing inspiration and direction for ways to get involved in your community, or maybe even start your own movement, like the people receiving awards tonight. Find out more, watch with a young person. Giving back really is the best thing going on right now.

Hope at 100

1206564437220005566cibo00_barack_obama_10svgmedIt doesn’t matter on which side of the aisle your candidates/elected officials/wished for winners sit or sat, the first one hundred days of the new presidency (today is day 99) is a milestone and worthy of reflection. Not as polarizing as the previous president, but not the insta-savior many hoped for either, President Obama has been hard at work doing one of the jobs I can’t imagine being less desirable or daunting (perhaps Iceland’s new Prime Minister is faced with a battle just a hair more uphill, since that nation’s economy collapsed entirely). One thing your politics can’t color is the delicious fact that this President and First Lady are all about service. They have brought a renewed vigor to the intention to lead by example and do for others. A vegetable garden at the Whitehouse is just one photo-friendly example of their personal and professional decisions to act on behalf of others. National days of service, national service programs, and fluid communication about the importance of finding a way to contribute to the well-being of larger communities tumble out of the Oval Office in an easy, natural way (Think of ways to make it just as natural around your house). It might be tougher than ever to open your checkbook, but the ability to give of your time, your skills, and your energy are as easy now as ever. Find a way to motivate yourself and your family, then talk about it at brunch or the office or at the gym. Lead by example. Be proud of your contribution and brag. When others see how making service a priority has not forced you to compromise your lifestyle (and in fact has bettered your life) they see possibility for themselves. Change by doing…every day, even if just in thought or outlook.

Big Apple Volunteering mural mural

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg recently announced the launch of a new website and a new focus and intention for the city’s residents and visitors:

The headline: “Everybody’s Got Something to Offer: Use Your Time, Passion, Skills, and Willingness to Help to Address New York City’s Most Pressing Needs”

You’ll find a searchable database to find the kind of work you are most intrigued by, from Red Cross Emergency Preparedness teams to being a bilingual tutor, from cleaning up parks to painting public murals or visiting housebound seniors. Search through the hundreds of opportunities by the dates you’d like to work , the type of work you want to spend your time doing, or search what is needed by the skills needed (most won’t require any particular training or experience). Just search it, and do it.