Archive for September, 2011

A friend referred this story to me. It is part of the Missouri Photo Workshop. Even though there is not a nonprofit connected to this story, I found the content extremely inspiring. It tells a simple story with simple photos. The beauty of this photo essay comes with the amazing courage of this couple to rise prematurely into adulthood for the sake of their daughter. You can sense the intimacy of this new family and the support they have from their families and community.

Link to photo essay: http://bit.ly/oHu2Vp. Photo by Jason Lenhart.


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You may remember a post I wrote in August about the Stay Classy Awards. Stay Classy is an online social fundraising tool that allows individuals to track how much money they are raising for a particular charity and connect with other nonprofits and fundraisers.

Well, the 2011 winners have been announced and I’m also happy to say that RestoreNYC’s Faith Huckel received the award for Young Nonprofit Leader of the Year.

Check out the other winners and see what you learn!

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I stumbled across this video of a keynote address talking about the importance of storytelling and how good storytelling connects people with people and not people with abstract concepts, nonprofit jargon or mission statements. This speech was given five years ago, but his input is (and arguably will always be) relevant to inspiring our communities and getting them on board with causes we deeply care about and why. Just watch the first five minutes and you’ll know what I mean.

You can learn more about Andy Goodman on his website: http://www.agoodmanonline.com.


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Deidre and her son, Ayden in the days after his birth, August, 14, 2010. Photo courtesy of Deidre Johnson.

One of the hardest things for any family to face is the death of a child. It goes against all concepts we have on the natural flow of life. Children burying their parents can be just as heart-wrenching, but when parents bury their children, the concept throws us off. On August 26, 2010, Ayden Christopher Boyd, son of a family friend Deidre Johnson, died after 12 days of complications from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS).

Deidre has since pioneered Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week in her town as part of the international coalition to increase early diagnosis, educate communities and connect parents to support resources. Congenital heart defects are the most frequent birth defect, 1 in 100 births, worldwide.

She has also started a non-profit “The Ayden Christopher Foundation” in honor of her “heart angel” to raise awareness for CHD and help families in their medical, travel and food expenses while their newborns are in the hospital with HLHS or HRHS. She has hosted a memorial blood drive to match the blood donation used to aid Ayden during his short life and networked with many parents in the same situation.

Deidre Johnson with the mayor of Culpeper, VA, Chip Coleman as he signs an announcement for Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week, February 7, 2011. Photo courtesy of Deidre Johnson.

On August, 26, 2011, one year after Ayden’s death, Deidre’s Facebook wall was covered with encouragement from friends and family including:

“Heart hugs Deidre. Happy Angelversary. Fly Ayden fly.”
“Thinking of you today friend. You inspire so many!”
“Thinking of you today. Hugs! ♥ Ayden ♥”
“I love you …. Happy angelversary Ayden ♥”
“You and your family are in my thoughts today. Hold your memories and your babies close. I am very proud of you and your accomplishments this year. Take care.”

Her hope, drive and motivation are truly inspiring in the midst of trying to grapple with the incomprehensible grief associated with losing a child. Deidre is a shining example of turning inspiration into action and I hope this blog has challenged you to do the same.

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I would like to use today’s post to say happy birthday to Charity Water. After five years, Charity Water has helped more than two million people in 19 countries get clean drinking water. To celebrate, Charity Water is using their YouTube channel to say ‘thank you’ 250 times.

In honor of Charity Water’s five years, this post is going to be all about their organization. First, some facts about the worldwide water situation from Charity Water’s website.

  • 30,000 people die every week from unclean water.
  • 90 percent of those deaths are children under the age of five.
  • In Africa alone, 40 billion hours a year are spent carrying water from safe water locations to homes.
  • $28 billion is lost every year in Africa due to lack of safe water and sanitation.
  • According to the UN, one tenth of the global disease burden can be lifted with clean drinking water.

Now some quick facts about what Charity Water is doing with donations to alleviate these problems.

  • $20 can give one person clean drinking water and 100 percent of donations go directly to the field.
  • Charity Water has raised more than $40 million and funded more than 4,000 water projects around the world.
  • Charity Water projects create water options that are convenient for communities.
  • This leads to households and families being able to have water for gardens and become self-sufficient.
  • Community members are appointed as Water Committee members and are in charge of the oversight of the water.
  • Every $1 donated can return $12 in economic gains.

Charity Water is truly an organization that is making changes for people around the world. They provide great opportunities to get involved and make a difference in the world. They truly grasp and get that on the service people may be different but in reality, people are the same, same.

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What do you get when you get six girls with one boat, one ocean, and one unified mission to combat modern day slavery?

Row for Freedom.

Julia Immonen is one young woman set out to make her life count. The 31-year-old anti-trafficking activist has honed her passion and PR skills to found Sport Against Trafficking — an organization devoted to using athletics to raise awareness and much needed funds for anti-trafficking charities and victims. Sport Against Trafficking is the parent organization that gave birth to the Row for Freedom, mentioned above.

Watch the video below to learn a bit about Sport Against Trafficking:

So, what’s Row for Freedom all about?

Basically, it’s the first female crew of six that plans to row across the Atlantic, unaided. The women set off this December from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and LITERALLY row across this not-so-little pond, to Barbados. According to the website, the journey should take approximately 35-40 days — this means no bathroom, minimal ability to cook, one sleeping space that is smaller than a single bed and winds that could whip into storms.

Here’s Julia giving a sneak peak into the excursion and sharing her heart behind the vision:

Some of the people on board with the vision are Bear Grylls from the adventure-reality show, “Man vs. Wild,” five-time Olympic gold medalist rower Sir Steve Redgrave, Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, rugby player Ugo Monye and Beijing Olympic gold medalist rower Susan Francia.

To join these women on their adventure, go ahead and donate to the charities Row for Freedom supports here.

Be a part of the change you wish to see in the world.

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Photo by Lainie Mullen.

Six years after her husband’s death, his simple advice of “if there’s a tornado, get to the utility room,” saved 93-year-old Mildred’s life when 25 percent of Joplin, Mo. was destroyed by an F5 tornado May 22.

Once Mildred got inside the small, window-less utility room, she could hear the two large window panes on either side of her living room burst.

“If I had been out there, I would have been cut to pieces,” Mildred said.

That night, her daughter and son-in-law drove to the edge of the destruction and walked the rest of the way to Mildred’s house. Some of her neighbors’ houses, which were built decades after hers, were completely destroyed; Mildred’s house was not structurally damaged. Of course the windows were shattered and the flying glass cut up most of her furniture and belongings and the yard was unrecognizable, but for the most part, the house was in tact.

For three months, Mildred moved in with her daughter and son-in-law across town as her house was being repaired via insurance money. In late August, she was allowed to move back in, yet her yard was still a mess including her husband’s favorite trees knocked out by the tornado, the torn up garden and lots of debris from the rest of the neighborhood.

“It’s better that my husband passed before all this. He loved his garden,” Mildred said. “I always took care of the inside (of the house) and he took care of the outside.”

Mission Joplin volunteers work to remove Mildred's trees from her yard. Photo by Lainie Mullen.

So when Mission Joplin sent a volunteer team to finish removing the trees, Mildred couldn’t help but cry thinking of the memories connected to the trees. Yet at the same time, she was grateful to have her yard look normal again.

“I’m too old for this much change,” Mildred said. “I was very lucky.”

Mission Joplin was created to mobilize volunteers to serve the city. After May 22, that role became increasingly significant. They have helped more than 250 families, done more than 500 projects and mobilized more than 1,000 volunteers. I have had the privilege to work with them twice since the tornado and I know they are invested in the long-term recovery of Joplin.


Mystery Church (sponsor of Mission Joplin) August video update

Karis Community Church in Columbia video update from Joplin

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