Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sponsor a business.

Last year's post on microloans is one of my most popular. Now Kiva offers a new way to make a microloan. When you fund a microloan through Kiva, you get your money back:

"Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on our website and then lending money online to that enterprise, you can 'sponsor a business' and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive monthly email updates that let you know about the progress being made by the small business you've sponsored. These updates include reports on loan repayment progress, photos of new capital equipment, narratives on business growth and standard of living improvements, and more. As loans are repaid, you will get your original loan money back."

Your money will go far in the countries where Kiva works, so it's easy to make a big difference in a family's life with a relatively small amount of money. You can start with as little as $25. The money is used to start a small business, like a barber shop, vegetable stand, restaurant or cell phone rental. Such business create a sustainable change in the family economy and allow the family be economically independent. Funding a microloan is just one more step toward economic justice.

You could even fund this person:

The International Year of Microcredit is almost over. So check out Kiva or another microcredit agency today!

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Norman MacEwan

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Learn CPR.

Imagine that a friend or family member has a heart attack in your presence. Would you know what to do? Yes, call 911. But what else? Would you be able to keep your loved one alive until the paramedics arrive? 80% of heart attacks occur in the home and are witnessed by a family member. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can be learned and used by almost anyone and it doubles the survival rate from a heart attack.

The American Heart Association just released new guidelines for CPR that make it even faster and easier for you to learn this lifesaving technique. Here are three ways you can learn CPR and be prepared to save the life of a stranger or someone you love:

* Take a class from the American Heart Association. Just enter your ZIP code to find a course near you.

* Take a class from your local chapter of the Red Cross. There are chapter all over the world.

* Order a kit from the American Heart Association and learn CPR in your home on your own schedule.

Why not get a group of friends together and take a class? Or order the kit and learn CPR with your family. Be prepared. You never know whose life you will be able to save.

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." - Confucius

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Keep the party going.

Another holiday season is upon us, and many social organizations, businesses, families and other groups will soon have holiday parties to celebrate. But after the party is over, what will you do with all that leftover food? Keep the party going by donating leftovers to a food rescue agency. I became sold on food rescue when I worked with Potluck Food Rescue to donate food from my wedding. Remember, you can donate leftovers from all kinds of celebrations, throughout the year.

Americans throw away 27% of all food available in the country. That's one pound every day, for every child, women, and man in the US. Do your part to reduce this waste and feed those who are hungry. Food rescue is so much better than throwing good food in the trash. Contact your local food rescue agency or food bank today to arrange a donation. Or click the envelope below to forward this post to the organizers of your celebration. Party on!

"Waste is worse than loss. The time is coming when every person who lays claim to ability will keep the question of waste before him constantly. The scope of thrift is limitless." - Thomas A. Edison

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Share your blessings.

Today, many folks in the US celebrate Thanksgiving, a harvest celebration and feast when we take time to be grateful for all the good that has happened. Of course, we can and should give thanks and be grateful every day. One of the best ways to recognize all we have to grateful for is to share some of what we have with others. This blog is chock full of ways to share your blessings. In this post, I'll focus on those involving food, since, for many of us, this is a food-focused holiday. Here are a few of the many ways you can fight hunger:

* Feed a family, forever. You can do just that by contributing to Heifer International. They distribute livestock, trees, and other resources to "help people obtain a sustainable source of food and income." Heifer animals make great gifts.

* Feed a child today. The World Food Program is working to end child hunger by 2015. You can provide some immediate relief by clicking here. Each click will feed one child one meal. Won't you visit and click now? It's free to you and takes less than a minute.

* Donate food time or money to your local food bank. They're working every day to feed those who are hungry or food insecure.

* Send a card. Each e-card you send from will feed one child for one day. It will also spread the word about the World Food Program.

* Click again to feed more folks. Visit and click daily. It's free to you and takes less than a minute.

No one makes it in this world alone. Just as others have helped you, you too can and should help others. Don't forget to say 'thank you' to those who've made your life easier or better. Let them know you appreciate them and their actions, and take time each day to express gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!

"Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart." - Seneca

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Use your hands.

After finishing grad school five years ago, I decided that I needed to get involved in the Atlanta community and meet some new people. I'd lived here six years but most of that time had been spent in the lab. I wasn't sure how to start or where to volunteer so I contacted Hands On Atlanta, "a non-profit organization that helps individuals, families and corporate and community groups find flexible volunteer opportunities at more than 400 service organizations and schools." I did my first workday at MedShare International, and later joined TeamWorks to meet more people and try more projects (including MedShare again). The new folks eased my transition out of school and the relationship with MedShare has been a lasting and fruitful one.

You too can find volunteer opportunities in your area. Hands On Atlanta is an affiliate of the Hands On Network which works with organizations throughout the US and in several countries around the world, including South Africa, China, The Philippines, and Brazil. Here are just a few of the ways they'll help you use your hands:

* Serve your community by joining and participating in the Hands On affiliate in your area. For example, Hands on Atlanta lists over 200 service projects each month, so you're sure to find one that you enjoy and helps others in your community.

* Study at the Citizen Academy, a site "designed for people to learn more about community issues, to explore frequently asked questions, find ways to take action [and] test your knowledge on an issue." Subjects include literacy, environment, animal support, housing, youth, technology, and more.

* Join the Hands On Network. This is a great way for your nonprofit organization to get dedicated and exited volunteers. The Network "supports a gro wing international membership that offers resources to a va riety of organizations engaging communities in service."

* Build your business presence by participating in corporate volunteerism. "Many companies support and promote employee volunteering because of its perceived benefits to communities, employees, and companies themselves."

By volunteering in your community, you can "be the change" you want to see in the world. Join today!

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." - Booker T. Washington

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Expand your family.

Today is National Adoption Day, "a collective national effort to raise awareness of the 119,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families." If you are considering adoption as a way to expand your family and share your love, here are some ways you can begin the process:

* Read family stories to learn how adoption has been a blessing.

* Get more information on adoption. Resources include a Beginner's Guide to Adoption, a fact sheet, links and more.

* Find National Adoption Day events in your area. Events include adoption awareness classes, celebrations and more.

* Find the information you need if you are considering placing your child for adoption, are a member of a birth family, are an adoptive parent, or are an adopted person.

* Consider being a foster parent. Foster parents give love, care and support to over 500,000 children in the US.

Since this is National Adoption Month (Español), now is a great time to consider expanding your family and sharing your love with a child.

"By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better." - Richard Fischer, adoptive parent

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Get help (part 2).

A few months ago, I wrote about thirteen 12-step programs that people with various addictions can use to get help in recovery. But, as anyone with addiction in the family knows, addiction affects family members, friends and all those who love or interact with the person who is addicted. Thankfully there is help available.

If you love a person with an addiction and are concerned about that person and yourself, use these resources and Family Groups to "share experiences, strength, and hope in order to solve common problems":

* Debt-Anon Family Groups "consist of relatives and friends of money and debt addicts who realize that by banding together they can better solve their common problems." 

* Al-Anon/AlaTeen - "No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship." The site is available in Español and Français .

* Co-Anon Family Groups "are a fellowship of men and women who are husbands, wives, parents, relatives or close friends of someone who is chemically dependent. If you are seeking a solution to the problems that come from living with a practicing or recovering cocaine addict, we at Co-Anon can help you."

* Gam-Anon is a self-help organization and "a life saving instrument for the spouse, family or close friends of compulsive gamblers."

* COSA "An anonymous 12-Step fellowship open to those whose lives have been affected by compulsive sexual behavior."

* Adult Children of Alcholics "is a Twelve Step ,Twelve Tradition program of women and men who grew up in alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional homes. We meet with each other in a mutually respectful, safe environment and acknowledge our common experiences. We discover how childhood affected us in the past and influences us in the present ("The Problem"). We take positive action. By practicing the Twelve Steps, focusing on "The Solution", and accepting a loving Higher Power of our understanding, we find freedom from the past and a way to improve our lives today."

* Nar-Anon "is a twelve-step program designed to help relatives and friends of [narcotics ] addicts recover from the effects of living with an addicted relative or friend."

* S-Anon Family Groups "are a fellowship of the relatives and friends of sexually addicted people who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems."

* OLGAnon Family Groups "are a fellowship for relatives and friends of on-line gaming addicts, who share their experience, strength, and hope, in order to resolve their problems."

* Sober-24 is "a virtual fellowship for recovery. If you are recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, or are a loved one of someone in recovery (or who needs recovery) you are welcome at"

Find a meeting. Get the help you need for yourself. Life is too short and too long not to.

"Change not the mass but change the fabric of your own soul and your own visions, and you change all." - Vachel Lindsay

Monday, November 14, 2005

Invest locally.

One of the best ways to invest responsibly is to invest locally, in communities that are financially underserved. "Community investing is capital from investors that is directed to communities underserved by traditional financial services. It provides access to credit, equity, capital, and basic banking products that these communities would otherwise not have. In the U.S. and around the world, community investing makes it possible for local organizations to provide financial services to low-income individuals, and to supply capital for small businesses and vital community services, such as child care, affordable housing, and healthcare."

The Community Investing Center has numerous resources you can use to be part of this "strategy that remedies the economic disparity in domestic and international communities by providing lower-income people access to capital, credit, and training:"

* Use financial professionals that direct at least 1% of their managed funds to community investing.

* Search the community investment database to find investment tools that allow your money to work for you and for others.

* Select investment products that help restore economic justice.

* Consider international community investment programs.

* Note the impact of community investing. Through the 1% in the community campaign over $5 billion has been put into community investing.

* Also consider using credit unions, eating local foods, financing microloans and other ways you can act locally.

Invest your money so that it grows and works not just for you, but also for your community.

"Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for the tree." -Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Do your duty.

My grandmother always wanted to serve on a jury. Perhaps that was because, as a black American, for most of her life, she was barred from serving. Unfortunately, even after black folks were allowed to serve, she was never called. She would have been a good juror. She understood the value and purpose of juries and would have taken her duty and responsibility seriously. I will strive to do the same when I have jury duty in February. I know Kwadjo took his responsibility seriously when he served a few months ago.

If you are called to serve, think carefully about your activities and limitations, and the jury obligation and its role in our judicial system before trying to defer. Consider these resources:

* Consider the various types of justice and how they may apply in the case at hand.
* Use the tips to prepare for deliberation.
* Make sure you understand your employer's policy on leave for jury duty.
* Remember to respect your fellow jurors.
* Be sure to dress appropriately for jury duty. You'll want to be comfortable.

Participation in a jury is one of the ways you can contribute to a more just society. The duty is not to be ignored or taken lightly. So next time you are summoned for jury duty, do your best as you serve and work toward a just verdict.

Today would have been Fanilla Suttles Cobb's 95th birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!

"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Repay your student loans.

Just last week, I received my last diploma in the mail. Now that I'm finally done with school (though I'm never done with learning!), it's time to pay back my student loans. If you are in a similar position, you may want to consider a loan repayment program. In exchange for service to the community, many federal agencies will repay portions of your student loans. Your community gets a well-educated and dedicated servant, and you get your loans repayed. It's win-win! Ready to learn more? Here are several programs you may want to consider:

* The National Institutes of Health has a intramural and extramural loan repayment programs for people with docotral level degrees in health and biomedical sciences. Eligibility depends, in part, on the type of research you do. I hope to qualify for this at some point.

* The AmeriCorps Education Award can be used "to pay educational expenses at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans." As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Kwadjo received this award. Good work!

* The Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program "offers registered nurses substantial assistance to repay educational loans in exchange for service in critical shortage facilities."

* Peace Corps volunteers "with Perkins loans are eligible for a 15 percent cancellation of their outstanding balance for each year of Peace Corps service."

* The Indian Health Service has a loan repayment program that is aimed at "obtain[ing] health professionals to meet the staffing needs of the IHS in Indian health programs."

* The Federal student loan repayment program "permits agencies to repay Federally insured student loans as a recruitment or retention incentive for candidates or current employees of the agency."

* The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a list of U.S. programs that "offer financial assistance, in the form of loan repayments, for a commitment to service (generally in an area of need). Information regarding each program has been provided by state health departments and other agencies, medical and health professions schools, federal programs, and military agencies."

These are some great ways to get rid of your debt. And they are wonderful ways to make a difference.

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Get the truth.

As a Southern black American woman, I am keenly aware that there are multiple versions of the "truth". Growing up, I'd often hear one version of history from my mother, grandmother, and father (Thanks y'all!) and a completely different version in school. So nowadays, I consult multiple media sources in an effort to get the truth. My favorite (read: most reliable) sources are independent media. You may want to peruse these resources to find independent, non-corporate newspapers, magazines, radio and television reporting:

* The Independent Media Institute "empowers people with independent journalism, information, and media tools to change the world."

* The Independent Media Center "is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth." Read it in deutsch, Ελληνικά, português, español, nederlands, italiano, français, and english.

* AlterNet is a project of the Independent Media Institute and "is a highly acclaimed Internet information source that provides readers with crucial facts and passionate opinions they can't find anywhere else."

* Reporters Without Borders "is an association officially recognised as serving the public interest. More than a third of the world’s people live in countries where there is no press freedom. Reporters Without Borders works constantly to restore their right to be informed." Read it in français, español and english. Also, they have a great Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents.

* The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters is "an international non-governmental organization serving the community radio movement, with almost 3 000 members and associates in 110 countries. Its goal is to support and contribute to the development of community and participatory radio along the principals of solidarity and international cooperation." Read the site in français, español and english.

* Indymedia UK is "a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues."

* Pacifica Radio has been "bringing listeners alternative, community, free speech, listener sponsored radio for over 50 years."

Don't settle for someone else's corporate-driven, politically-motivated version of the truth. Consult independent media and decide for yourself.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Invest with a purpose.

Almost a year ago, I did a post on socially-responsible investing (SRI). There are so many ways that you can invest in ethical businesses that are good corporate citizens. Won't it be nice to see your money grow while it makes a positive difference in our world? Here are some resources to help you get started in ethical and socially-responsible investing:

* is "a national nonprofit membership organization promoting the concept, practice and growth of socially responsible investing."

* is "features over 10,000 pages of information on SRI mutual funds, community investments, corporate research, shareowner actions, and daily social investment news."

* The Christian Science Monitor hosts a monthly video and podcast discussion on ethical investing.

* GreenMoney Journal "encourages and promotes the awareness of socially & environmentally responsible business, investing and consumer resources in publications & online. Our goal is to educate and empower individuals and businesses to make informed financial decisions through aligning their personal, corporate and financial principles."

* is a "resource for investment professionals, academics, and other people interested in the quantitative aspects of socially responsible investing (SRI)." They also have an SRI blog.

Carefully consider the companies you in which you are investing. Include the investments you manage personally and your pension and retirement investments. Make sure your money not only works for you but also works for others.

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." -Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Quit smoking.

Happy first of November! If you are a smoker, now is the time to plan your participation in the Great American Smokeout. Statistics say that 85 percent of smokers want to quit. On November 17th, thousands of people will quit smoking for the day, and perhaps for the rest of their lives. Here's how you can be one of them:

* Plan your quit day by considering the answers to three questions:

  • Why do I want to quit smoking?
  • What method will I use to quit smoking?
  • How will I stay smoke free?

While you think about the questions, consider the three steps to quitting:

* Get help from friends family and professionals. Call the toll free Quitline (1-800-ACS-2345 or 1-866-228-4327 for TTY) for smoking cessation tips and counseling. For online help visit the American Cancer Society.

* Be a friend to someone who is trying to quit. The American cancer society offers numerous ways to help and be supportive.

Most people try five to seven times before they quit forever. So don't give up! 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 family and friends will thank you. Best of all, you'll thank and be proud of yourself. You can stop smoking!

"We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly... spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order." - Susan Taylor