Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Support sustainable development: Heifer International

Heifer International is one of my favorite organizations. Not only is it based in my hometown (Little Rock, Arkansas), but Heifer makes wonderful contributions to sustainable development. Heifer donates a wide variety of animals (and trees) to families around the world. Recipients use the animals to improve their standard of living. For example, water buffalo can help a family in Nepal plow their land to grow more food. Goats can provide meat and milk for a Romanian family, improving their diet. A family in Ecuador can eat and sell eggs and meat from Heifer ducks, and generate money for school fees. One requirement is that recipients 'pass the gift" by donating the the offspring of gift animals to others in need, making them equal partners with Heifer in the fight to end world hunger.

"So what can I do?"

* Send llamas to your lover, bees to your boss, geese to your grandma, or oxen to your uncle by donating online at You can even use the catalog to find the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend or colleague. Heifer animals are the perfect gift for the person who "has everything." 'Tis the season for giving!

* Visit Honduras, Tibet, South Africa and other places on a Heifer Study Tour. In the US, you can tour the Heifer Learning Centers. Learn how the animals benefit people and get more information on ways to end world hunger.

* Teachers, consider using Heifer's Read to Feed ( service-learning materials in your lesson plans. Your students will discover more about the world and its people, see that they can make a real and positive difference in someone's life, and learn about poverty and environmental damage, all while improving their reading skills.

Visit You're sure to love the work they do.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Make informed giving decisions, then give til it helps.

'Tis the season to be charitable, but how do you determine which organization to support? We all know the causes that touch us and may have found organizations that we like, but some organizations might meet needs of its clients better than others. Here's some information on how to evaluate charitable organizations, so that your donation of time and talent does the most good.

* The American Institute of Philanthropy ( rates over 500 charities on financial criteria like their fundraising efficiency and operating costs.

* Charity Navigator rates over 3,000 charities on various financial matters.

* The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance ( rates organizations using financial and nonfinancial standards.

If you can't find your organization in these databases and still need more information, check out which has the tax returns for more than 250,000 nonprofits. You can also ask the organization to see a copy of their annual report, which should contain a qualitative and quantitative list of its accomplishments. If you are interested, be sure to determine how much of your donation is tax-deductible.

With this information, you'll be able to make wise decisions about which organizations you want to support. Remember, don't give 'til it hurts, give 'til it helps.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Stop domestic abuse: Cut it out!

31% of women report being physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. That's almost one third. Think of three women you know. Consider that statistic. Now get ready to act.

* If you are in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). (For TTY, call 1-800-787-3224.) Call now, or as soon as it is safe. They will help you find support and help in your area. Love is not abuse. Get help. Visit to learn more.

* Cut it out ( is a national program that trains beauticians, hair stylists, and other salon professionals to recognize signs of domestic violence and safely refer their clients to local resources. Forward this information to your hairstylist. Send your tax deductible donation to Salons Against Domestic Abuse Fund. Visit for more information.

* Men Stopping Violence ( is an Atlanta-based organization that works to end men's violence against women. They educate men, women, and the community at large to "dismantle belief systems, social structures, and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men themselves." Volunteer today. Make a tax-deductible donation. Request a presentation for your church, civic or community organization. Visit to find a similar organization in your area.

In the US, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds by her husband or parter. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Picture three women you know, three women you love. Click the envelope below to forward this post. Please, act now.

Be prepared with Red Cross health and safety courses

Do you know how to respond if someone has falls unconcious? Is your babysitter trained in first aid? Do you know how to swim? The Red Crossoffers classes and training in a variety of health and safety areas, including first aid, CPR, swimming and lifeguarding, HIV/AIDS education and babysitter's training.

Enroll in a class today, and be ready for whatever comes your way. Who knows, the life you save might be your own.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Participate in breast cancer research: Sister Study

The Sister Study is a national long-term study of women aged 35 to 74 whose sister had breast cancer. The goal is to identify environmental and genetic risk factors for breast cancer. Women of all ethnic, religious, and economic groups are needed. If you or someone you know is interested, please visit to learn more and join. Consider joining. If you qualify, this is a concrete way to help decrease the impact of breast cancer on women everywhere and honor your sister with breast cancer.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Don't send misleading emails

I get them all the time, emails that seem a little suspicious. To forward, or not to forward? That is the question.

Next time you get forwarded mass-recipient email, check to see if it's real or a hoax before you send it to your friends and family. Here are several sites that keep track of popular emails that may or may not be true. So before your forward that next e-mail, search one of the following sites to make sure it's real:

No sense causing your friends and family unnecessary worry, fear, anger or concern. As we all know, there are enough real situations to be concerned and angry about. We should use our energy to deal with those issues, not the fake ones.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Support primary education: Nyaka AIDS Orphans School

1.7 million children in Uganda (East Africa) have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Imagine how difficult it must be to grow up without one or both of your parents. Twesigye Jackson Kaguri and his wife, Beronda Montgomery-Kaguri (my junior and senior high school friend!) are making a tremendous positive impact on the children affected by AIDS in the Nyakagyezi village in Uganda. In 2001, they started the Nyaka AIDS Orphans School. Its mission is "to provide quality, free education and extracurricular activities, both formal and informal, to children who have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS as a means to counteract pervasive hunger, poverty, and systemic deprivation." What a wonderful goal!

You can support the school and the children by donating money or supplying some of the items on the school's wish list. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online or sent to

Nyaka AIDS Orphans School
P O BOX 339
East Lansing, MI 48826

Visit to learn more, click the envelope below to spread the word, then consider what you can offer to these children who have already lost so much.

"Let us remember that every person who is infected, whatever the reason, is a fellow human being with human rights and human needs. Let no one imagine that we can protect ourselves by building barriers between us and 'them.' For, in the ruthless world of AIDS, there is no us and them." - Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations

Stop smoking: Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 85 percent of smokers want to quit. Well, today's your day! It's the 28th Annual Great American Smokeout. The ACS offers advice on finding the best way to quit, tells how nonsmokers can help their smoking friends, and gives numerous reasons (personal, medical, financial, etc.) reasons why you might want to quit. There's even a toll free Quitline for smoking cessation tips and counseling. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 to get started, or visit the American Cancer Society.

And remember, every day, even today, even right now, is a good time to stop smoking. Your body will thank you. Your wallet will thank you. Your friends will thank you. Best of all, you'll thank and be proud of yourself. You can stop smoking!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Insist on environmental justice

The EPA defines environmental justice as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." That means the environment is everyone's business. Dumps should not be placed primarily in low-income neighborhoods, as they often are now. Chemical plants should not primarily pollute the land, air and water in low-income communities, as they often do now. Financially wealthy countries should not dump their trash on financially less wealthy countries, as we do now.

Here are a few things you can do to insist on environmental justice:

* Visit the EPA to learn about land, water and air pollution in your community.

* Read more about Margie Eugene-Richard who has been working for environmental justice in Norco, Louisiana for many years. Her work is a model and inspiration for us all.

* Learn more about the ways toxins and pollution in the environment can affect your health. Visit the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

* Decrease the negative impact you have on the environment by doing the following: REDUCE the amount you use. REUSE whatever you can. RECYCLE so that the raw materials can be reused, reducing the need to produce more. RESTORE, to replace what you used.

The earth is a gift to all of us. Let's take care of it, so that we and our children can continue to live and thrive on it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Share your Thanksgiving blessings

Are you feeling as richly blessed as I am this year? I've got friends and family who love me and whom I love, my health, a job, a warm home. God is truly good, all the time. Heifer International (more on them later) suggests this four part approach to sharing your blessings with others this holiday season.

1) Go a little lighter on dinner. As you plan your meal, think about this: Do you really need three meats? Sweet potato, peach, karo nut, AND lemon meringue pies? This year, consider skipping one or two items.

2) Share the blessings. Take the money that would have been spent on the extra dish and send it to an organization that fights hunger locally, nationally or internationally. Perhaps Heifer International, Second Harvest, or Hosea Feed the Hungry.

3) Create awareness. At your holiday feast, let folks know what dishes are missing and why. It's great opportunity to consider everything we're blessed with and remember what we have to be thankful for.

4) Spread the word. Click the little envelope below and send this post (or a similar mail) to your friends and family. Together we can make an even bigger difference in combatting hunger in our communities and in our world.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Organize a "clothes swap"

I had such a good time at my first clothes swap. My friends and I enjoyed snacks, wine and good conversation, and I got some great new outfits in the process. It was a ball!

"What's a clothes swap?" you ask. Participants are asked to survey their wardrobe for clothes that are in good condition but were no longer being worn. Perhaps the clothes no longer fit, or maybe the person is just tired of wearing them, or maybe they're just getting rid of excess clutter. The hostess/organizer provides a place to try on and view the clothes, along with snacks and good background tunes. The guests take turns showing and describing the pieces they brought, and when another guest sees something she likes, she grabs it! Any clothes that are not claimed by the end of the swap are donated to a local community service organization.

It's a great way to hang out with your friends (and maybe make some new ones), shop for "new" clothes, and do some good at the same time. Now's a great time to organize a clothes swap! Have fun!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hold your representatives accountable

One of the most important things we can do is hold our elected officials accountable for their words, promises and actions. Let them know what's important to you, what you would like done. Tell them what you need and what concerns you. Ask them for the services and support your community needs.

Many officials are truly concerned about their constituents and want to know what they need and want so that they can make it happen. Most officials want to be elected again so they will respond to you and to your concerns so that you will re-elect them. Do not hesitate to write, call, or e-mail your representatives. Here's some information on how to do that:

* Write the President Bush at or visit for mailing and telephone information.

* Visit to find out who your US senators are and how to contact them.

* Visit to find out who your US representatives are and how to contact them.

* For state legislators and other officials, and for local offices, click here to find names and contact information.

Call them! Write them! Let them know what's on your mind. Their job is to listen to you. And if they don't do so, you have the power to fire them.

Improve school lunches

Monday morning, off to school! Do you know what your child will be eating for lunch today? Will it be a healthy lunch? Is that option even available?

Stonyfield Farms (they make a great yogurt!) has launched a grassroots campaign to improve school lunches. Children who eat well are healthier children and grow into healthier adults. Visit Menu for Change to get ideas for your child's lunchbox, learn how to get healthier items in school vending machines and find model legislation and model letters to send to your state lawmakers.

Do it for the children!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Help "meet the challenges of global interdependence." - Clinton Center Opening

The dedication and opening of the Clinton Presidential Center begins today! The mission of the Center is "to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence." There are programs in four areas: 1) Economic empowerment, 2) Health security with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS, 3) Racial, ethnic and religious reconciliation, and 4) Leadership development and citizen service. Visit online or in person to donate time or money, to look for jobs, fellowships or internships, or to find other ways to contribute and learn more.

The opening celebration, which is being called the Arkansas Globecoming, lasts from November 14-18 and features concert, films, lectures and more, much of it free. The dedication is on Thursday, November 18, so you still have time to get there. Let me know how you like it; I look forward to your comments.

All roads lead to Little Rock!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Support higher education: USA

The UNCF is famous for saying "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." Here are a few organizations that work to ensure that everyone has access to a good college and graduate education.

* The American Indian College Fund finances scholarships for Native Americans and operations at tribally controlled colleges and universities. They also have an online catalog with great gifts, the purchase of which, supports the Fund.

* The Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Hispanic College Fund offer scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, while the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities supports over 200 Hispanic-serving institutions in 12 states.

* The United Negro College Fund supports more than 300,000 students at more than 950 schools including 38 historically black colleges and universities, providing scholarships, fellowships and operations assistance.

When we and our neighbors are better educated, society improves. So consider supporting organizations, scholarship funds and schools that agree. Truly, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Encourage reading among friends and strangers.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts, literary reading is declining dramatically. Reading is down 10 percentage points with much greater decreases in some groups. Click here to order or download the full report.

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." -- Joseph Addison

Visit your local library to borrow books or volunteer. For more free access to literature visit U Penn or to read the free full text of tens of thousands of books online.

Share your favorite books with your friends. Or if you like, share your books with strangers. Bookcrossing is the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who continue the process. If you register and label the book, you may be able to follow your favorite text all over the world.

One more quote to finish up: "Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life." -- Mortimer J. Adler

Value and support our elders

Today would have would have been my grandmother's 94th birthday. In her honor, here are some sites where you can get information on ways to support and care for the older folks in your family and community.

* The AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group committed to ensuring that older people live lives of dignity, independence and purpose.

* The Eldercare Locator ( connects senior citizens, caregivers, and others with resources for services in their community. You can also call them toll-free at 1-800-677-1116.

* The American Geriatrics Society maintains this list of sites on the health of the elderly.

* Meal Call has a search engine that will find Meals on Wheels services in the United States and Canada.

* The Medicare Rights Center is a not-for-profit national organization that works to ensure that older adults have access to affordable health care.

If you know of other useful sites or organizations, please write a comment letting us know.

Take a moment and think of the older folks in your life. Write them. Call them. Let them know you care. Grandmothers are truly special people and Fanilla Suttles Cobb was no exception. She was a wonderful woman, a true inspiration. I love her and miss her dearly. Happy birthday, Mom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Donate equipment to support college scholarships

Educational Assistance, Ltd turns your equipment, securities, or service donations into college scholarships. In this way, donating businesses can get rid of excess or outdated inventory (and likely receive a tax break) while helping students pay college tuition. EAL is a non-profit organization and accepts cash donations as well. Colleges and universities in 32 states are participating, including schools in Arkansas and Georgia, and at least one HBCU.

So if your business or organization has excess equipment, consider donating it EAL and put it to work all over again. You'll support higher education and create a better educated workforce, and that's good for business and good for everyone.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Support science-based development initiatives

Many thanks to my friend and colleague for passing these sites along. He suggests that these are for "the biosci technogeeks in the crowd." I am proud to count myself among that group, but we can all use these sites. If we can't support this work in the lab or in the field, we can support it financially. So take a look at these sites that connect science, scientists and development, and spread the word to all the "biosci technogeeks" and other folks you know.

* The Sustainable Science Institute ( is "a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public health worldwide, by helping scientists in developing countries gain access to the resources needed to address local problems related to infectious diseases." They offer training and consulting services, low-cost diagnostics developments and policy research.

* One World Health ( is a nonprofit pharmaceutical company. (I didn't know that was possible!) Interested people can donate research or intellectual property, or can volunteer their time, and expertise in bench research, bioethics, epidemiology, manufacturing, etc.

* The Science & Development Network ( is an online community dedicated to "news, views and information about science, technology and the developing world."

* The African Crop Improvement Network ( is a project of the Rockefeller Foundation dedicated to implementing a program on genetic improvement and dissemination of new varieties of African food crops..

* The Seattle Biomedical Research Institute ( is a non-profit research organization that focuses on infections diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

My dream is to have the work that I do to pay the bills, be the work that I would do for free. These organizations provide a way for service-minded life scientists to live that dream. Now let's get to work!

(Thanks Myron!)

Recycle your holiday cards

Earlier this week, I promised more information on how to recycle holiday cards. (Un)fortunately, St. Jude's Children's Ranch is no longer accepting holiday cards for recycling.

You can still support St. Jude's by donating money, buying holiday cards (see Nov. 6th post), and collecting Campbell's soup can labels. Your labels will support St. Jude because for every 1,100,000 labels they receive, Campbell's will buy a van for St. Jude's to use in it's work with children.

And, just to make good on my promise, click here for some ideas on how to recycle your holiday cards.

Monday, November 08, 2004

"Pull" together to support breast cancer research

Here's an easy way to support breast cancer research. Avon Canada will give 10 cents to breast cancer research every time someone "pulls the rope" on this site. Visit It's fast and easy. Click now, click daily, help save a life.

While you're at it, click The Breast Cancer Site. It was developed to raise money for mammograms for women who cannot afford them. Early detection saves lives. So visit the site and click the big pink button. (For more information, see the October 12th post.)

You are already on-line, so click now, click daily, spread the word. It's hard to imagine and easier way to make a difference.

Expand your horizons - Visit Ghana

"The Pan-African Student Summit (Summit) is an event organized by the Pan African Student Summit, Inc. of the United States of America, and the Sankofa Educational Foundation of Ghana. The Summit is an important development in recognition of the need for cultural connections between students from Africa and from the African Diaspora; and the need for building relationships among these students. The Summit provides students with a forum to discuss issues, inspire ideas that promote action for the progress and development of Africa.

The Summit affords students a forum to address important issues concerning their educational and career opportunities; and to develop an in depth cultural understanding through personal interaction and shared experiences. The Summit is also a unique opportunity for building personal and professional relationships that will lead to future collaborations, as well as for African students to interact with each other on issues regarding national and continental development. Moreover, the Summit provides a forum that contributes to the acquisition of skills that will make the students independent leaders, internationally and culturally aware, and entrepreneurs, with international linkages to move
Africa forward.

The Summit is organized every year in Accra, Ghana. The 4th Pan African Student Summit will be held 11-15 July 2005. For additional information visit"

Also consider the D'Zert Club which offers free trips to Ghana and Egypt for children. There's nothing like visiting a new place to change your perspective, create understanding, and drive change.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Support local farmers

Local produce is always fresher and tastes better. Plus, buying local goods supports your regional economy. Find a farmer's market near you at Won't it be nice to know exactly where your food comes from?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Send holiday cards that deliver more than warm greetings.

It's already November, time to get holiday cards! This year, choose cards that support good works around the world. Here are some ideas:

* Unicef (The United Nations Children's Fund) sells cards and gifts, the purchase of which supports health and education for children around the world.

* Cards from the Child Health Foundation are sold to support children's health services in the US and abroad.

* St. Jude's Children's Ranch sells recycled cards to provide support and homes for abused, abandoned, and neglected children. St. Jude's also accepts used donated cards for recycling. (I'll post more on card recycling later.)

You cards will not only send your greetings to your loved ones, but will also support good works that will help change the world. Order some today!

Invest responsibly

Many mutual funds will allow you invest your money in socially responsible businesses. Your money can grow (ideally) and do good at the same time. Here are some examples:

* Pax World offers funds in socially- and environmentally-responsible ethical companies and offers a low $250 minimum investment.

* Shore Bank invests your CDs, money markets, and IRAs in business that work in development and help create economic equity.

* RSF Community Investment Fund IRAs support socially-constructive projects in education, health, and sustainable development.

* Green Century Funds offers environmentally-responsible mutual funds.

Please note that this is not an endorsement of any particular investment, nor are specific returns guaranteed on these or any other investment unless insured by the FDIC.

Choose wisely. Choose with you head and your heart, and let your money work for you and for others.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Drink fair trade coffee, eat fair trade chocolate. Yum!

Most coffee is grown by small farmers who need to get a decent price for their coffee to ensure a livable wage. You can support fair trade by buying it for yourself and encouraging retailers to sell it. Learn more about fair trade, the coffee campaign and the chocolate campaign at Global Exchange. Then send an email or fax to Starbucks or M&M/Mars to encourage them to buy fair trade products. Global Exchange will even provide a sample letter.

Everything tastes better with fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate. Buy some at Global Exchange. Mmmm, chocolate!

PS: This might be a way to subvert the IMF and World Bank!

Learn about Life and Debt

Recently, I watched the independent film Life and Debt. It's an excellent piece on how the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are destroying Jamaica's economy, while simultaneously supporting, stabilizing and encouraging the growth of larger economic communities (like the US).

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way out of the mess these organizations create and mandate. If anyone has any ideas about how to resist or subvert these world financial organizations, please let me know. Perhaps we can collect such thoughts here and use them to reduce the existing economic disparities.

In the mean time, watch Life and Debt. It will change the way you think about 'developing' countries, and give you a new view on that trip to Jamaica.

Life and debt on a more personal level

Sometimes it doesn't take the IMF or the World Bank to get us into financial trouble. We can do it to ourselves. Fortunately, there is also a lot we can do ourselves to improve our financial situation. Here are a few things to help you get started:

* Read about how ways to save money, reduce debt, invest, and plan for retirement.

* Check your credit rating with the three major credit reporting agencies:

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
To order report: 1-800-685-1111
To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285

Experian (formerly TRW)
National Consumer Assistance Center
PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
To order report: 1-888-397-3742
To report fraud: 1-888-397-3742

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
To order report: 1-800-888-4213
To report fraud: 1-800-916-8800

* Learn how to choose a credit counselor. Don't get taken by a scam!

There's lots more information out there. But be careful. There are no quick fixes. In the long run, you have to spend less money than you bring in. There's really no way around that.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


'Nuff said.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Consider organ donation

Every day about 70 people receive an organ transplant. However, another 16 people on the waiting list die because not enough organs are available. There are 79,000 U.S. patients waiting for an organ transplant, and almost 3,000 new patients are added to the waiting list each month. 10 percent of those are children.

We can change this. Organ donation from just one person can save or enhance the lives of over 50 people. Think about it. Pray about it. Learn more at Then, if you are so inclined, sign your donor card (your driver's license in most states) and tell you family. Doctors won't retrieve organs unless your family consents, so it's important that your family members know and understand your wishes. Perhaps you can talk to them about donating too. It's something we all should consider.