Tag Archive for Impact News

You and the Secret Millionaire

Last week I watched ABC’s new show, “The Secret Millionaire,” which places millionaires in low-income communities, strips them of all their worldly possessions and asks them to covertly find worthy organizations with which to volunteer and eventually to make a sizable donation to. I cried.
I cried not for the organizations that received the surprise monetary gifts, but for the millionaire who comes to realize, in the end, that the power of generosity can make you giddy.
I then went online and watched all three episodes available. It was the same storyline every time Read more

Meeting Serenity

Today, in our series of films profiling foster children who are available for adoption, I’m going to introduce you to a 13-year-old girl named Serenity. All I can say is that she is absolutely lovely. Beautiful, with a quiet strength, she is aptly named. Serenity’s goal is to go to Harvard Read more

Peace Corps Application Vegas Wedding Optional

I am not a spontaneous guy. I have always sought the comfort of structure and floundered without it. This may explain why I am borderline obsessed with filling out forms. When I am handed the medical history checklist in a doctor’s office, the pleasure center of my brain lights up like I’ve just been given chocolate Read more

Revisiting Marks Mississippi

During her research for the Children’s Defense Fund’s recent report “Held Captive”: Child Poverty in America, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Cass visited the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban Long Island, New York to profile three different kinds of child poverty. Her trip to Quitman County, Mississippi covered sadly familiar ground: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the Black sharecropping community in Marks, the seat of Quitman County, in the summer of 1966 to preach at the funeral of a friend, and Marks was later chosen as the starting point of the mule train that left Mississippi for Washington, D.C Read more

Nonprofits Get Creative to Keep the Donations Coming

Over the past few years, most charities have been challenged, to say the least, on fundraising efforts. Many previously flush donors have been forced to cut back on their generosity. Asking the remaining contributors to dig deeper is not the answer in most cases. What’s a nonprofit to do?
One answer is, get creative Read more

Dont Know Melanne Verveer Why you Should

Women stand at the center of every type of dramatic change occurring in the world today: whether it’s coordinating and offering relief to earthquake victims in Japan and Haiti, consolidating democracy in Egypt or running Facebook. In 2009, President Obama appointed the first-ever ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer. In this historic role, Ambassador Verveer is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s go-to person, coordinating foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic and social advancement of women around the world.
Ambassador Verveer is a force of nature in her own right. When I met her between sessions at the recent Women in the World Summit in New York City, she was swapping stories with a young American writer and a doctor (and grandmother) from Somalia Read more

The Reluctant Volunteer Revolution Through the Eyes of Others

Watching the revolution and violence in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya, I’m reminded of volunteering in Nepal during the civil war, and the events leading up to the violent revolution in 2006 when the people overthrew the monarchy.
We volunteer because we want to help. We want to lend our skills, or at least our passion, to a place where we think we can make a difference.
But here’s the part I don’t like to admit: there were many times early in my first volunteering stint that I felt superior to the people I was there to help. After all, relatively speaking, I was far wealthier and far better educated than the vast majority of folks in Nepal. I spoke English fluently, a language they naturally struggled with Read more

Fight On Video Competition The Winner

After receiving some beautifully creative submissions for the Fight On video competition I’m happy to announce we have a winner! I returned from a week-long trip to the Middle East to see the final votes that had been submitted by our wonderful panel of judges with experience ranging from independent filmmaking to social entrepreneurship. The judges were:
Sophia Chang has spent over 20 years in the music business, working with Paul Simon, Atlantic Records, Jive Records, and the Wu-Tang Clan and has expertise in many areas including management, marketing, publicity, talent scouting. Most recently, she managed Ol’ Dirty Bastard (RIP), the RZA, and Raphael Saadiq. She has coordinated fashion shows for designer Vivienne Tam, was an account executive at digital advertising agency, Sarkissian Mason, and is writing a screenplay for HBO.
Cheryl Dorsey is President of Echoing Green, a pioneer in the social entrepreneurship movement Read more

Fighting for Scraps Foster Children Denied the Funding They Need

A Bay Area Congressman tackles the controversial confiscation of foster children’s Social Security survivor and disability benefits.
Child welfare administrations across the country systematically confiscate Social Security survivor and disability benefits from foster children, according to a report released by the Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) at the University of San Diego and First Star last week.
To combat this practice, Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark (D-Fremont) pledged to re-introduce the Foster Children Self-Support Act, which he discussed at a press briefing at the nation’s Capitol alongside advocates and foster youth.
“This is their money,” he told a crowded room interspersed with former foster youth from both coasts Read more

Ask Elizabeth Whats Your Daughter Thinking

What do you do if you are ashamed of your body? What should you do if you have a friend who needs help but refuses it? What is love? How do you know if you can trust someone? Why are girls so competitive? Will you always be in a fight with your mom? Why is it when people give you compliments, you can still feel ugly?
This past fall, I found myself sitting in a circle talking with a group of teenage girls on a football field at a school in Michigan. We were there to talk about the private questions that were on their minds and in their hearts. This group was especially tight-lipped at first. “It’s okay,” I told myself Read more

Tragedies Like Japan Spawn Charity Crimes

It’s not too late to give to charities serving the victims in Japan – Just give C-A-R-E-F-U-L-L-Y, please.
Another tragedy born of Mother Nature – this time a 9.0 earthquake and a gigantically devastating tsunami in Japan – and it seemed the whole world held its breath as we stopped to watch what would happen next.
Countless thousands of souls have been lost, potentially deadly nuclear power plant leaks topped the headlines and it left the rest of us to wonder – What can I do to help? Variations on that goodwill question blasted over television, radio, the Internet and became “the” topic of discussion.
Also wondering what could be done in the aftermath were the criminals who slither into action at times of heartbreaking calamity. Almost immediately after riveting pictures of the destruction in Japan appeared unscrupulous scammers began plotting how to divert your charitable donations Read more

Opera Singer Joyce Tannian Leaves Life in US to Create Water Is Life Kenya

In honor of World Water Day on March 22, many groups — including the laudable Charity: water, WaterAid, Blood:water mission and Water.org (co-founded by actor Matt Damon) — are sure to receive much-needed attention and praise.
But I’d like to tell you about a one-woman wonder who’s the heart and soul of a organization that’s making a difference, one well at a time.
There’s no question that Joyce Tannian is a powerhouse.
You hear it in her voice as she sings “All Good Gifts” from the 1970 musical “Godspell” in the promotional video for her nonprofit, Water Is Life – Kenya.
A one time freelance choir and opera singer who worked as an executive assistant at HBO in the last decade, Tannian left the U.S. — and the corporate world — to dedicate her life to bringing clean water to one of the most barren and remote parts of Africa.
Joyce Tannian with Meshenani children and villagers. Photo courtesy of Joyce Tannian.
While on a charity trip to visit schoolchildren in Kenya in 2005, Tannian was struck by how every aspect of life in the Meshenani Village region (inhabited by the hearty and colorful Maasai tribe) is dominated by the need for and ability to find water. Children are pulled from school so they can spend their days walking to and from water sources — which often dry up and must be shared with the villagers’ only life bread — their livestock.
The trip so affected Tannian that she decided to move to Kenya and build a well for the Meshenani Read more

Permanent Homes for 100000 Homeless Americans

In the wake of last week’s terrible disaster in Japan, we are reminded of how fragile our communities can be. The images of tens of thousands of Japanese uprooted from their homes and crowded into emergency shelters convey in ways words and numbers cannot the impact of being suddenly without a home — an event always preceded by some trauma.
The new Huffington Post Media Group at AOL is focusing on social engagement and organizations that help us “give back.” While we may feel helpless to assist those who have lost their homes in Japan, we can recognize a powerful new effort underway in the United States to make dramatic reductions in homelessness. Last July, Common Ground, along with its many national partners, launched the 100,000 Homes Campaign to enlist volunteers in communities across the country to house 100,000 of America’s most vulnerable homeless people by July of 2013 Read more

Would My Child Be Proud of the Man That I Have Become

The death of my mother was the turning point in my life. It made me realize that I did not want to waste my life doing meaningless things. Rather, I wanted to live a purpose-driven life, just like she did. At my mom’s funeral, as I listened to everyone speak so highly of my mom, I asked myself, “If I were to die today, what do I want people to say about me?”
I was six years old when my father left Sierra Leone; a year later, he sent for my mother, and a year after that, my parents sent for me Read more

Top 10 Ways to Make Organic More Sexy

On Friday, I wrote about the controversy over whether organic is sexy or not. Today, I am going to share some ideas on how to ramp up the sexy quotient of the whole industry, so that even farmers in Nebraska will want to climb on our tractor! Which leads me to my first idea:
1. Make it big. For some reason, size does matter, and the bigger, the sexier Read more

How a GED Is a Real Advantage in Reducing Family Homelessness in NYC

New York City’s Department of Homeless Services’ Advantage program aims to assist families in making a permanent transition from shelter to self-sufficiency by providing a rent subsidy for one to two years once they leave shelter. To maintain their eligibility, Advantage program participants are required to work at least part time and contribute 30 percent of their gross monthly income toward rent in the first year, and if they qualify, 40 percent in the second year.
While receiving an Advantage subsidy is premised on a parent’s ability to obtain and retain a job, without at least a high school equivalency diploma (known as the General Education Development Exam or GED), the road to gainful employment and self-sufficiency will be riddled with potholes. Homeless parents — almost 50 percent of whom are high school dropouts — require tools, such as a GED, to solidly begin down the road to self-sufficiency.
While funding Advantage is clearly better than having no significant subsidy in place, the city’s housing policies must be linked to cost-effective investments in education Read more

Poor Children Stranded at Sea

As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Cass prepared the recent Children’s Defense Fund’s report “Held Captive”: Child Poverty in America, she traveled to the Mississippi Delta, the ravaged cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana, and the birthplace of the suburban American dream in Long Island, New York to see several different sides of contemporary American child poverty. Despite the different circumstances children in these diverse communities faced, Cass found that there was something very familiar about the effects of child poverty everywhere she looked. The report’s title came from 13-year-old Audrey, who Cass met in rural Lambert, Mississippi. Cass heard Audrey say something “that captures the feeling of poverty that only those caught in it know and that could have been said by most all the children I met while researching this report Read more

Americas Problem of Child Hunger Video

In Chicago, the snow has melted and winter is finally giving way to spring. One indication of the new season is the number of children playing outside in Chicago’s many parks. I love seeing them and hearing their voices, their excited shouts and laughter. I hope that these children are fortunate enough to never know what it is like to wonder if there will be any dinner on the table that night, or what it is like to go to school on an empty stomach because there isn’t any food at home Read more

Is Organic Sexy Lets Vote

I was sitting in the German headquarters of Unilever a few weeks ago–it’s an incredible eco-building that is very modern and cool-looking–and was talking to their head of supply chain. He was lamenting that the reason consumers don’t buy more organic products is “because organic’s not sexy enough.”
Think about that for a minute. Everyone complains out the wazoo about the price of organic food. But here are a few expensive things you never hear ANYONE complaining about the price of: Manolo Blahniks and other designer shoes, gourmet coffee and chocolates, fancy cars, flat-screen TVs, designer handbags, and finally, (often toxic) beauty products Read more

Why Waiting To Give to the Japanese Recovery Efforts Is a Good Idea

It’s natural to want to immediately give to Japan’s recovery efforts. With all the destruction wrought by a major earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant failing, it would seem they could use all the help they can get. So my suggestion is going to seem counter-intuitive, but I agree with GiveWell’s recommendation:
And Brigid Slipka’s decision:
The reason I suggest you wait is because Japan has thus far only allowed/requested very limited international assistance.
The Government of Japan has received offers for assistance from 91 countries, and has accepted assistance from about 15 countries based on assessed needs, which is mostly specialized international urban search and rescue (USAR) teams and medical teams.
If you read the fine print in most nonprofits appeals for this disaster, you’ll see phrases such as: “prepared to assist,” “readying a team,” “stand at the ready,” “assessing the situation.” But few have actually deployed staff. And there is the very real possibility that many of the organizations currently collecting donations for the recovery efforts might not be allowed to operate in Japan.
There’s a good reason for this Read more

Tribewanted Sierra Leone 6 Months Later

Tribewanted Sierra Leone: Six months and four days have passed since we first camped at John Obey, on the virgin beach. I now find myself heading back to NYC. Talk about a culture shock.
We have built an eco-tourism cross-cultural community from scratch Read more

Desert Flower A MustSee Film About a MustChange Custom

Late last year, members of the Women’s Voices for Change community were invited to an advance screening of the film Desert Flower (Yes, that’s Dr. Pat in the LIFE Magazine photo below.) Based on the autobiographical novel of the same name, the film chronicles the story of Waris Dirie, a young Somali girl who made the amazing journey from the most harsh conditions as a desert nomad to unexpected success as a fashion model and activist. The film does not reveal the nature of the horror at the center of the story until the audience has become comfortable with this Cinderella tale. Otherwise, the film would be relegated to the docu-dramas of other unspeakable tragedies that befall women and children all over the globe.
When we learn about the nature of the secret shame and pain that has affected this young woman, every person in the audience could understand both her passion to eliminate the procedure that has so affected her life Read more

No Wabi This Wednesday

On Wednesday I post excerpts from my upcoming book about wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and impermanence. The book goes to press this week, amid this deep, wide continuing sadness. Today, I’m having a hard time finding an appropriate excerpt. Today, selling books seems crass.
Wabi, a poetic word used since ancient times to describe a diffuse sense of melancholy, has been translated very roughly as “an old memory of my home town.” Wabi is for later, much later, after the raw footage and the terrifying images are archived Read more

Social Media 101 for Corporations Be Human

Last Friday when you first learned about the catastrophic tsunami that washed away entire Japanese communities, I bet the morning conversation around your breakfast table or office water cooler was not “Hey Susie, did you hear that JCPenney is running a 20 percent off sale on shoes?” Or, “Mike, how about Groupon’s movie deal for Battle: Los Angeles?” Yet on Twitter and Facebook — the global switchboards where hundreds of millions of people were engaged in high-velocity conversations about the disaster in Japan — corporate America could not put down the sales sheet.
Like you, I follow dozens of my favorite people and companies on Twitter and Facebook. But reading urgent calls for disaster relief right alongside updates from companies pushing their products precisely during the boiling point of a global calamity left me, well, dumbfounded. On Friday, did corporate America flunk the main lesson of Social Media 101: Be human?
Not one tweet or Facebook status update from any of my favorite companies signaled that they were getting behind (if not financially or strategically, then at least empathetically) our friends in Japan Read more