Archive for June, 2009
With the economy suffering, non-profits and our communities are feeling the impact in significant ways. We may not have extra dollars to donate outright but there are other ways to give. Here are just a few options if you are finding that, especially during this time, you have an incredible desire to connect.
Participate in the Team in Training program, an Avon Breast Cancer Walk, or an MS bike ride. There are athletic endurance events that are tied to fundraisers that allow you to raise money for a cause while receiving coaching or support to complete the event. In 2005, I did two century rides with Team in Training which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was a conrete way for me to support my dad’s fight against cancer while raising money for a cause that was dear to all of us– cancer research and care.
Join a Board of Directors for a local non-profit. I have served on three boards over the years and have found the experience to be so rewarding. Non-profits need a greate deal of human capital to run smoothly and, as a board member, you contribute meaningfully to an issue and program that is important to you. Interested in serving as a board member? Call up a non-profit that interests you and ask to meet with the Executive Director over the phone or in person. When you meet, learn more and offer your skills.
Donate to Locks of Love. Locks of Love provides hair pieces to children who suffer medical hair loss. If your hair grows fairly quickly, this is a great thing to do. Some salons even offer free haircuts with your Locks of Love donation.
Give an Alternative Gift. So what’s an alternative gift? It’s the perfect thing for you to get for the person who you have a hard time finding the perfect gift. An alternative gift is a donation that you make to a non-profit in someone’s name. The great thing is that you can pick something that perfeclty captures your loved one’s spirit. Heifer International is one of the most popular options but just about any non-profit will work with you to make your alternative gift possible. You can also use your birthday or your child’s birthday as an opportunity to ask for alternative gifts.
Engage in your community. I have been during regular, weekly volunteer work since I was 18. Unless I’ve been on vacation, a week hasn’t gone by in 17 years where I didn’t volunteer in some way. It’s how I understand how to be in community and it is how I keep my lens from just focusing on me, me, me. Over the years, I have done whatever needed to be done for a non-profit that I cared about as well as offered my unique skills– like teaching writing classes in an afterschool program. For example, are you a hair dresser? Contact Dress for Success to offer job interview hair styling classes to their clients. Are you an artist? Donate some of your work to a non-profit’s silent auction. Have a certain day/time to spare, check on the Hands on Network or Volunteer Match to explore some options in your area.
The mother of one my best friend’s passed away last week. She was truly beautiful, a bright light– absolutely radiant– and, truth be told, she is the woman that I most wish to emulate. She had a big heart, was always inclusive, and made you feel like your words were the only ones she wanted to hear when you were talking to her. Her compassion was accompanied by a sharp, inquisitive mind. She was an open learner, curious and bright. An artist– skilled in many, many mediums, her vast creativity existed not just in a studio. Part of her artwork was the hundreds of children she taught and then the thousands of children she impacted with the Arts in the Basic Curriculum program she launched in Mississippi back in the 90s. She believed that learning and creative were not mutually exclusive, that they were inclusive, and that they fostered each other. Many children in Mississippi found themselves on the page or stage because of her.
For a bit now, the piled up toll of sleeplessness has weighed on me. I don’t feel quite myself– I’ve lost a little light, a little spunk, a little creativity, a little spark. I’ve been less inspired, less provoked, less motivated– and I’m a person who is almost always inspired, provoked, motivated. I love being a mother and pour everything into that aspect of myself, then find that there isn’t much oomph! left for the rest of the ways I want to be impactful. This weekend, I attended the funeral, and I was struck with what a purposeful, beautiful life sounds and looks like at the end of it. Every aspect of the day captured my best friend’s mother so completely, so absolutely, her beauty permeated every moment. You could see it in the vibrant flowers arranged for the service, the tears on the faces of her youngest nieces. You could hear it in the words her long time friends used to describe her, in the songs chosen to be sung in the service. You could see it in the way that those who had loved her loved each other all day long. You could hear it in the memories, the stories told, the pictures passed, the lives she helped unfold. She was a person I was so sorry, so sad, to say goodbye to, but her life, and spending a day in full reverance for it, once again inspired me to get my spark back, to barrel through the sleeplessness to the other side where the art of life awaits.
We’ve been recruiting M’ijas for the Class of 2015 for 2 weeks now and things are going really well. We have 11 M’ijas signed up (meaning we have their forms in hand) to provide mentoring, programming, and scholarship support for the Hijas of the Class of 2015. Their commitment combines for 1 and a half scholarships. Our ultimate goal is to be able to provide this program to 10 girls in the Class of 2015 starting this September. So we need to have the rest of those spots secured by the end of August. Our goal is to have 3 of those scholarships accounted for by the end of June. Can you help us out by spreading the word? If you Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, blog, mass email, or anything else that reaches out to people and grabs them, and if the Circle de Luz story touches you, could you please consider sharing the mission of Circle de Luz wherever you can? You are welcome to use any of the information below, and I’m happy to offer any other information that might be helpful. If you are able to share the information wherever you post, blog, share, I’d love to know. Of course, if you are able to personally join this effort, we’d love to have you!
Information about Circle de Luz:
Adolescent girls who had a serious school failure- like dropping out- are significantly more likely to suffer a severe bout of depression. In fact, thirty-three percent of girls who drop out later become depressed. Researchers believe this might be because girls more acutely suffer the worst consequences after dropping out like higher poverty levels, higher dependence on public assistance, and lower rates of job stability.
Circle De Luz radically empowers young Latinas by supporting and inspiring them in the pursuit of their possibilities through extensive mentoring, programming, and scholarship funds for further education.
This fall, we will select the Circle de Luz Class of 2015 from the current seventh graders at Ranson Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina to begin the program. From now until the girls reach high school graduation, we will support them with mentoring and comprehensive programming to help them achieve their goal of graduating from high school and pursuing further education. When they graduate from high school and enroll in the educational opportunity of their choice, we will support them with a minimum of a $5,000 scholarship provided to them by women, we call them M’ijas, from all over the country that pool their resources in a giving circle for the six years the girls are finishing their secondary education. Our goal this year is to have at least 75 women enrolled as M’ijas in the Class of 2015 by August 15, yielding a minimum of 8 scholarships.
We need your help in radically empowering these young women to live the lives they have imagined. M’ijas can have any background and can live anywhere. As a M’ija, you make a commitment to donate a minimum of $90 a year for six years to the scholarship fund that will support the Class of 2015’s Hijas (our scholarship recipients who are selected as seventh graders). You do not need to make your donation for the 2009-2010 school year at this time. In fact, all we need right now is your Letter of Commitment. We then ask that ½ of your year’s commitment be paid by September 15 and the other half by March 15, 2010 (don’t worry, we’ll send you a reminder when the time comes!). All scholarship donations are placed in a CD account designated for our Class of 2015 Hijas so interest can begin to accrue and provide them with an even more robust scholarship by the time they graduate. The Letter of Commitment is attached, and you are welcome to mail, scan and email, or fax it by following the directions on the form. Please take a look at our video at www.circledeluz.org to understand why this effort is so important.
Thank you for helping us radically empower the lives of girls!
I was recently asked what steps an adoptive family could take to help their daughter, who is of Puerto Rican descent, know her culture. Honoring our child’s culture and heritage is so important, and I wanted to come up with good suggestions for this family. My initial thoughts for her are below, but I would love to share suggestions from you, too! Look for another blog post in the coming weeks on gleaning ideas for incorporating Ethiopian culture into daily life– something we want to be really intentional about doing as we raise our boy, and I know many of you have great ideas!
Ideas for incorporating Puerto Rican culture into your life…
1. The food! For a cookbook, I recommend Puerto Rican Cookery by Carmen Aboy Valdejuli. It’s in English and really thorough. Every day Puerto Rican meals are often a rice with meat and beans in it– like arroz con gandules– and tostones are a popular side. The traditional holiday meat is pernil, (ham) and it’s delicious.
Speaking of holidays, some very easy things you can do to incorporate Puerto Rican traditions, if you’re Christian, are:
2. Celebrate Three Kings Day. Christmas decorations stay up until Three Kings Day and usually something is done to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings. It can be three small gifts for the kids– and small is totally fine, a special meal, a family tradition, etc. Then the decorations come down.
3. Have a Parranda. Parrandas are basically like a progressive dinner mixed in with Christmas caroling, and they are so much fun. They are supposed to be totally spontaneous, but I think that would be hard to do stateside so I’d plan a night in December that you have a parranda with a few other friends. You show up at one friend’s house, sing carols, they serve you snacks and then everyone moves on to the next friend’s house, sing carols, and they serve snacks, etc. In Puerto Rico, it usually turns into a block party by the end but doing it with 2 or 3 interested families would be plenty of fun. Here is a link to other Puerto Rican holiday traditions (and it has more about Parrandas and Three Kings Day).
4. Salsa music is big in Puerto Rico so buying some old classics and playing them around the house might be fun. Here is a link to some of the history and it also mentions the big names in Puerto Rican Salsa history if you want to look for their music.
5. There is a very beautiful lace made in Puerto Rico called Mundillo. After it has been hand spun (and to watch it be hand spun is a thing of beauty), it is made into clothing, tableclothes, etc. The clothes are especially beautiful. My mom has bought her grandchildren clothing made with Mundillo, and I just love having this traditional clothing. Boys also wear Guayaberas– and so you might get your boys those shirts instead of mundillo dresses.
6. Language! Here’s a source for teaching Spanish to children (especially when you aren’t fluent yourself).