Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Make a free donation.

One of the easiest (though often not the most effective) ways to make a difference is to send a check. But most of us don't have all that much money to share. Thankfully, there are several ways to make a monetary donation, even if you don't have any cash. Here's how it works. All you have to do is click. Advertisers make a donation for each click received.

It couldn't be easier to make a difference! Ready to get started? Just click the button to make your donation. helps you support work in the following areas:

* HIV/AIDS education.
* Arts accessibility.
* Breast cancer education and support.
* Hunger prevention.
* Homelessness eradication.
* Environmental protection.
* Childhood and adult education.
* Care for children.

* And for six more opportunities to make free donations, see the January 26th post. There, you can support work in breast cancer detection, hunger prevention, environmental protection, animal protection, child health, and literacy.

Here are the organizations that are supported. If your organization would like to receive funds, click here to apply. Don't forget: click daily to make your free donations. Donate time or supplies and share your talents to support the causes that matter to you. And when you can, send a check. Your community will appreciate it.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Consider class.

I have long contended that much of the presumed racial discrimination that exists in this post-1960's time is really class discrimination. In fact, the race-based discrimination in this country was originally based in class; color and ethnicity were/are often just markers for (perceived) class. That should come as no surprise for a society that is so focused on money and financial status. But how does class affect our society? How does class affect our relationships? Our perceptions of ourselves and others? Today's challenge: consider class.

* The New York Times is doing a series of articles on class. They focus on interaction of class with health, marriage, religion, education, and immigration. "This series does not purport to be the last word on class. It offers no nifty formulas for pigeonholing people. Instead, it represents an inquiry into class as Americans encounter it." (Note that free registration may be required to read the articles online.)

* Think honestly, carefully, and critically about what you believe in. Think about what is right. And make sure your words and actions reflect your beliefs. We may demonstrate class or other biases without being conscious of it. And when we are conscious of inappropriate unjust behavior, we often do nothing to stop it.

* Consider how tolerant you are of people that are different from (or the same as!) you., a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has a number of essays, tools and tests to help you identify biases, fight hate, promote equity, and teach tolerance.

* Insist on economic justice and take steps to end poverty in your community and in our world.

Unfortunately the gap between the financially rich and the financially poor is growing. Capitalism (and that is what our global economy practices) necessitates a lower class, but the gap doesn't have to be this wide.

The wage gap shows what I mean. A study of 292 large US corporations showed that in 1973 the average CEO made 41 times more than the average worker. That gap widened to 145 to one in 1992; 170 to one in 1993; and 187 to one in 1994. By 1999, the average CEO made 419 times the average wage of the average worker. By 2000, CEO compensation was 531 times higher that of the average worker. Why are CEO salaries rising so much faster than worker salaries? How do these differences impact our society? These unnecessarily exaggerated and increasing differences can't help but contribute to the situations discussed in the New York Times articles.

These are complicated problems, compounded by issues of geography, color, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, physical and mental abilities, and other factors. We're not going to rid ourselves of class bias overnight. But each of us can move in that direction by considering economic class.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Be a geek.

I believe that everyone can serve. Geeks too! Geekcorps is "a US-based, non-profit organization that places international technical volunteers in developing nations to contribute to ICT projects while transferring the technical skills required to achieve long-term stability. Ultimately we strive to cross-pollinate developing nations with the skills needed to maximize the benefits of modern telecommunications." They work in several countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. Here are a few ways you can support their great work:

* Be a Geekcorps volunteer. You'll get to travel and use your IT skills in a community that will value and appreciate them. Click here for current opportunities.

* Donate money or computer equipment to Geekcorps. Your contribution will be put to good use!

* Learn about other organizations working to bridge the digital divide.

You can also read their site en francais. See! It's pretty cool to be a geek! I'm proud to call myself one. I bet there are a few more geeks out there reading this. So check out Geekcorps. Be of service. Be a geek!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Celebrate Africa.

Today is Africa Day! May 25th commemorates the founding of the former Organization of African Unity which was reorganized in 1999 as the African Union. This years theme: “An Efficient and Effective African Union for a New Africa.” Africa is the ancestral home of all of us (for some more recently than for others), so let's all celebrate the Continent!

* Learn more about the African Union. Their website has information on all African countries, regional organizations, and more.

* Get news from Africa from

* Make plans to visit Africa. I can't wait to get back to Ghana!

* Check out these blogs on Africa by folks in and from the Continent. Many are in African languages.

If you don't do so regularly (or even if you do) take time today to acknowledge and celebrate the wealth, culture, and spirit of Africa and Africans everywhere!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Be a foster parent.

May is National Foster Care Month. Foster parents give love, care and support to over 500,000 children in the US. Over 2.5 million more children are being cared for by relatives other than their parents. Consider your needs as a child. Imagine not having a parent to meet them. Foster parents help meet the needs of children. Get involved in this good and much needed work:

* Read these success stories be inspired!

* Become a court appointed special advocate. CASA volunteers "speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children who are involved in the juvenile courts."

* Consult the National Foster Parent Association to get more information on being a foster parent or supporting foster parents in your community.

* Be a virtual mentor to current and former foster youth ages 18-23. "Mentors receive pre-service and ongoing training and support as they work with their mentees on issues such as goal planning, course selection and career guidance, and strategies for success in school and in the workplace."

* Send a care package to a former foster child who is now in college.

These are just a few of the many ways you can help make a difference in a child's life. Share your heart. Open your home. Give hope. Change a lifetime. Be a foster parent.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Consider privacy.

Recently, Steve at Distance answered a question I posed on limitations that prevent us from acting on what we believe is right. He and his commenters agreed on the answer: fear. I exchange, I promised to do a post on privacy. I think fear is relevant here too. Fear of terrorism, identity theft, cybercrime, freedom of information, contracted civil liberties and more. Here are some resources you can use to educate yourself on these issues.

* In this post 9/11 time, privacy laws have been and are being changed, ostensibly to protect the people of the US. Click here to learn more about these changes, their impact, and how you can respond.

* Here are 12 ways to protect your privacy online.

* Learn more about identity theft and how to protect yourself.

* For an international look at privacy concerns and the connection between privacy and human rights, visit

But some things shouldn't be private . . .

* For more on freedom of information laws, see the February 27th post.

* For more information on revealing corporate or government wrongdoing (whistleblowing), see the April 29th post.

Fear doesn't have to paralyze or imprison us. Educate yourself to eliminate it. As FD Roosevelt said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Friday, May 20, 2005

MIND your health.

May is National Mental Health Month, a designated time to pay attention to mental and psychological health concerns that so often go ignored. I'm often amazed at how often we ignore mental health. If our tooth or our stomach made us cry every night or engage in destructive behavior or withdraw from those we love, most of us wouldn't hesitate to go to the doctor and get help. But if our emotions or our mind causes those same painful symptoms, we often ignore them. Now is the time to end the stigma. Now is the time to stop ignoring and undertreating mental health and take proactive steps to protect and improve our mental health. Here are some ways to get started:

* If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call one of these national hotlines: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or for TTY, 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).

* Learn more about mental health and mental illness.

* If you are someone you know is in a crisis situation, consult this state-by-state list of crisis lines that you can call for help.

* Click here to find counseling and mental health services in your area.

* If you suffer addiction, consider a 12 step program (like Alcoholics Anonymous) to get help in recovery.

* If you are in an abusive relationship (either as the abuser, the abused, or as a witness), click here for information on how to get help and end abuse.

* Consult this list of hotlines to get information on a range of topics including substance abuse, suicide prevention, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and Alzheimer Disease.

* Read these resources for information on mental health in children.

* Peruse these resources on coping with war, terrorism and other natural and human-made disasters.

Now is the time. Today. Right now. Take good care your yourself: mind, body and soul.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Try transit.

Amazingly enough, given Atlanta's long commute times, I actually enjoy my commute. Why, you might ask? Because I ride MARTA! MARTA is the public transportation system in the Atlanta area. I grew up riding Central Arkansas Transit with my grandmother (she always let me ring the bell!), and SEPTA was handy when I was at Swarthmore, so I know that transit can be a convenient, affordable, and less polluting way to get around. Are you ready to ride?

* Find your local transit agency and get information on fares, routes, and more. Check with your employer since many will offer discounts on transit to their employees. Emory, for example, gives free MARTA transit passes to employees who are committed to a "clean commute."

I was so excited that I made a list of things I could do on the bus and train (read, write, talk, etc.). Talk about multitasking! But if for some reason, transit won't work for you, consider these options:

* Join a carpool. You'll save money, endure less stress, and may even make some new friends!

* Walk to work. I often walk to the MARTA bus and get to say good morning to the schoolchildren waiting for the bus. Last week I saw a goose family on my walk. It's such a peaceful way to start and end the day. You can even get a pedometer to keep track of your exercise and progress.

* Ride your bike to work. You'll get some exercise while you're at it!

* Telework. This is the easiest commute of all! I teleworked for five years and I know that it can be a very productive way to do business.

Try some of these ideas. You might like them more than you think, and you'll be doing good for yourself and your community. Enjoy your commute!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Feed hungry Americans.

This just in from America's Second Harvest :

"Help get food to hungry Americans! All you have to do is click here and then click the potato to help America's Second Harvest- The Nation's Food Bank Network, package and ship six pounds of potatoes that might otherwise go to waste!

America's Second Harvest is the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization. They partner with food manufacturers and grocers to collect and distribute donated food and other products that would otherwise go to waste and get it into the hands of those who need it most.

Right now, America"s Second Harvest is running a "Click-to-Give" Campaign. All you have to do is click here. When you do, $.50 will be donated to America's Second Harvest in your name, and you will have helped to get six pounds of potatoes and other nutritious foods to hungry Americans.

To learn more about America's Second Harvest, visit their website. To make a donation, click here."

Six pounds of potatoes goes a long way! Here's another fast, free and easy way to make a difference in someone's life. For more information on hunger in the United States, read the January 24th post.

Friday, May 13, 2005

End abuse.

According to some sources, the vast majority of violent criminal offenders have abused animals as well. And a 1997 survey of "50 of the largest shelters for battered women in the United States found that 85% of women and 63% of children entering shelters discussed incidents of pet abuse in the family." There's a connection between pet abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, and domestic violence. The Dekalb County Police Department and many other public service organizations have recognized this link and now see animal abuse as a possible sign of other forms of abuse. Learn to recognize these signs. Report abuse.

--> If something about your relationship with your partner scares you and you need to talk, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Fax: 512-453-8541 Address: PO Box 161810, Austin, Texas 78716.

--> If you need help or suspect child abuse, call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Professional counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in 140 languages.

--> If you are suffering elder abuse or neglect (or know someone who is) call 911, the Eldercare Locater (1-800-677-1116) or your state elder abuse hotline.

Learn more about animal cruelty so that you are prepared if you witness pet or animal abuse. Laws vary by state and are summarized in this CD. Or if you prefer, enter your ZIP code here to get a list of shelters in your area. For more on the links between these forms of abuse, read these papers.

Prevent violence before it starts. Stop the abuse cycle. No person or animal deserves such treatment.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Focus on Uganda.

I've been reading about several different organizations and recently realized that they all operate, at least in part, in Uganda. I've always been partial to East Africa since that's where my first name is from, so shall we visit Uganda?

* Nyaka AIDS Orphans School serves some of the 1.7 million children in Uganda who have lost one or both parents to AIDS. The founders, Twesigye Jackson Kaguri and his wife, Beronda Montgomery-Kaguri (my junior and senior high school friend!) and the students at Nyaka, would really appreciate your financial and other support. Learn more about Nyaka School in the November 18th post.

* Beatrice Biira was a Ugandan girl who didn't go to school and lived in poverty with her family until they received a goat from Heifer International. Milk and meat nourished the family. Excess was sold and the profits paid for school fees and uniforms. Years later, Beatrice is now in college in he US. Read her story in the children's book Beatrice's Goat. Change more lives for the better by supporting sustainable development and Heifer International (an Arkansas organization!) Learn more about Heifer in the November 30th post.

* Finca International is one of several organizations that offer microloans in Uganda, the US and across our world. Their motto is "Small loans -- Big changes." It's true. Loans as small as $25 can finance microentrepreneurship and pull a family out of poverty. And when recipients pay back the loans, the money is sent back out again to improve someone else's life. Your donation will have a repeated and large impact. Learn more about microfinance in the December 10th post.

* Habitat for Humanity builds homes in Uganda, the US and all over our world. You can help out locally or travel with Habitat's Intenational Global Village to build homes. Donate time, money or materials to help meet their mission to "eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action." Learn more about Habitat's Global Village in the February 17th post.

All of these projects contribute to sustainable development, which, according to Jeffrey Sachs, is one of the nine ways we can end poverty in Uganda and all over our world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Help end genocide, forever.

I am a member of the Coalition for Darfur which has two goals: to get bloggers writing about Darfur and to raise money for worthy organizations providing life-saving assistance to the people of Darfur. 400,000 people have already been killed in the Darfur region of Sudan. 500 more a killed each day. Here's what you can do to help:

If you are a blogger (or even if you aren't), use your voice to spread the word about the genocide in Sudan. The Coalition for Darfur will even send you a post you can link to each week. Here's this week's post.

And here are three worthy organizations that are doing their best to improve the lives of people in Darfur:

* CARE is providing medical care, food, hygienic and other services to the displaced Sudanese people in Sudan, Chad and other places. Your financial support is greatly appreciated. If you donate soon, your contribution will be matched (until the $70,000 total is matched). Your money will go twice as far.

* The Genocide Intervention Fund is a national organization started by students at Swarthmore (my alma mater). It is a tax-exempt fund designed to support African Union peacekeepers in Darfur. Support their work and the African Union by providing financial resources or in-kind donations.

* Mercy Corps is providing basic and essential needs for internally displaced people in Sudan. Your donation can be specifically designated for work in Sudan, and every dollar helps "secure $16.51 in donated food and other supplies."

Do your part. Spread the word. Support the work. Save lives. End genocide, forever.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Make good choices.

Yesterday's post focused on ways you can help improve the health of others. Today, I encourage you to visit to learn how you can improve your own health. is a project of the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association. They offer lots of small steps you can take every day to improve your health. On the site, you can learn how to:

* Eat right.

* Get active.

* Quit smoking.

* See your doctor for prevention, screening and treatment.

While you're there, check out the numerous tools you can use to assess your health status and keep track of your progress. Good luck, have fun, and here's to good health!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Improve health care.

I know a man who always wanted to be a physician. For a number of reasons, that never happened, but he helps others achieve that dream and helps improve health care by making regular contributions to Meharry Medical College. There are so many ways we can improve health care (for ourselves and for others). Here are a few more organizations you may want to support:

* Doctors Without Borders won a Nobel Peace Prize for their work delivering "emergency aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and to others who lack health care due to social or geographical isolation." They are looking for medical and non-medical volunteers in the field and in their NY and LA offices, and monetary donations are also accepted.

* MedShare International is "dedicated to recycling surplus medical supplies and equipment for use by health care institutions in developing nations." They can always use financial support to carry out their mission, and if you're in the Atlanta area, consider volunteering with them. It's a fun and productive way to spend a Saturday morning.

* International Medical Corps is "a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. . . . If you have skills in the medical field, logistics, finance, engineering, or public health administration, and you seek personal satisfaction from helping others" then you may want to volunteer or work with IMC. Financial donations are also appreciated.

Locally, you can volunteer in your local hospital. I learned a lot as a candy striper in the microbiology lab of Baptist Hospital in Little Rock. There are all sorts of positions available from baby rockers to patient greeting to marketing. And the staff and patients are sure to be grateful. You can also donate money to a medical school or hospital near you. You may also want to consider donating your body to a med school.

So take care of your own health, and help others do the same.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Get help.

Many people have had very good success using 12-step recovery programs to conquer addiction. If you suffer from addiction(s), get the help you need. Consider these resources:

* Alcoholics Anonymous "is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."

* Gamblers Anonymous "is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause. Our primary purpose is to stop gambling and to help other compulsive gamblers do the same."

* Debtors Anonymous "is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from compulsive debting."

* Cocaine Anonymous "is open to all persons who state a desire to stop using cocaine, including "crack" cocaine, as well as all other mind-altering substances."

* Sex Addicts Anonymous "is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so they may overcome their sexual addiction and help others recover from sexual addiction or dependency."

* Crystal Meth Anonymous "a 12 step fellowship for those in recovery from addiction to crystal meth. There are no dues or fees for membership. Membership in CMA is open to anyone with a  desire to stop using drugs."

* Sexual Compulsives Anonymous "is a 12-Step fellowship, inclusive of all sexual orientations, open to anyone with a desire to recover from sexual compulsion. We are not group therapy, but a spiritual program that provides a safe environment for working on problems of sexual addiction and sexual sobriety. "

* Overeaters Anonymous "is not just about weight loss, obesity or diets; it addresses physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is not a religious organization and does not promote any particular diet."

* Nicotine Anonymous "welcomes all those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction, including those using cessation programs and nicotine withdrawal aids."

* Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous "has proven to be an effective, long-term solution to food addiction for many food addicts, whether they be anorexics, bulimics, overeaters, or otherwise food-obsessed."

* Narcotics Anonymous "is an international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts with more than 31,000 weekly meetings in over 100 countries worldwide."

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

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Write a letter for change.

Frequent readers know that I am always in support of speaking up so that we hold our represenatives accountable. As world citizens, we must let our elected officials, media, thought leaders, and others in positions of power know how we feel so that they can truly represent or serve us. To this end, I am launching a new blog today: Open Letters for Change.

Open Letters serves as a collection center for letters I write to induce positive social change and social justice. Many will be inspired by posts on "So what can I do". The comments that follow each letter will have information and a list of references I used to write the letter. My hope is that you will use this information to write your own letter for change.

Today's letter encourages presidential and congressional support of the Darfur Accountability Act which, if passed, would mandate sanctions on the Khartoum government and support for the international mission to end the genocide. I'd hate for more people to die when there is something I can do to stop the killing. We have to let our officials know what's important to us so that they can act accordingly. For more information on the crisis in Sudan see today's post at the Coalition for Darfur.

And please visit Open Letters for Change, where I hope you'll find the inspiration and information you need to write your own letters for change. Together, we can make a difference.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Each one teach one.

I expect that each of us has at least one teacher who made a positive impact on our lives. I fondly remember learning from Bruce, Mrs. Brooks, Mr. Watson, Mrs. Steadman, and Miss Holmes, to name just a few. And though I didn't know her, I am grateful to my grandmother, Willie Beatrice Jones Neal, who was also teacher (and taught my dad in the classroom and at home.)

Today is National Teacher Day, "a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives." As a former Arkansas teacher myself and as the beneficiary of the work of numerous Arkansas teachers (including my mother and grandmother), I am pleased to note that the first work to initiate National Teacher Day was done by an Arkansas teacher in 1944.

On this day, take the time to thank a teacher who helped you. Maybe she taught a class, maybe he was a mentor, maybe she taught you a life lesson. None of us makes it alone; someone taught us what we know and, in addition to being grateful, we have a responsibility to teach those around us. Consider these ways you can do this:

* Model the behavior you expect from others. As Mahatma Ghandi said "Be the change you want to see in the world." We can all do this.

* Share what you know. We all are blessed with talents. Identify yours and teach someone else.

* Remember that we're all lifelong learners (or we should be). Perhaps you can teach an adult to read or be a mentor.

To all the teachers out there, I salute you! Thank you for the good and valuable work you do!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Improve your community.

Growing up, I spent many afternoons listening to the ACORN radio show on KABF in Little Rock. ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was founded in 1970 and is "the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities." And they do a lot of good work. Right now, they have national campaigns in the following areas:

* predatory lending
* living wages
* better schools
* health care
* affordable housing
* community reinvestment
* utilities

Sound like something you can get on board with? Here are some ways to get involved:

* Join ACORN and be an active participant in the fight for social justice.

* Sign up for ACORN's weekly e-newsletter and stay informed about ACORN's work.

* Locate an ACORN office near you. They are all over the US and in several Western Hemisphere countries. And they are expanding.

Look around your community. Celebrate what's right about it. Improve what's wrong with it. ACORN can help. "Empower yourself! Empower your community!"