10 Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Sun, Sep 07, 2014 @ 03:37 PM

National Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 7. Despite popular belief in my household, Hallmark™ mother-blk-drs-300did not create this holiday. In fact the idea originated in 1970 when Marian McQuade, a housewife in West Virginia, initiated a grassroots campaign to set aside a special day just for Grandparents. McQuade felt deeply about the lonely elderly in nursing homes and was also a tireless advocate for senior citizens rights. After three years of working with civic, business, church, and political leaders, West Virginia Governor Arch A. Moore proclaimed the first National Grandparents Day. McQuade didn’t stop there. She petitioned governors in 49 states to follow West Virginia’s lead and set aside a Grandparents Day. Forty-three of those states declared it a holiday. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as the official National Grandparents Day.

McQuade passed away in 2008, but many of her descendants carry on her legacy through the National Grandparents Day Council, a non-profit established to protect and promote the original intent of National Grandparents Day as championing the elderly.

So in honor of Marian McQuade and all the wonderful grandparents out there, we’ve come up with a list of 10 ways to celebrate the day and honor your grandparents! Whether they are near or far, you can honor them year round.

  1. Pick up some take-out, bring your laptop and your cell phone, and get grandma and grandpa connected! Show them how to use e-mail and Facebook to connect with friends and family that live out of town. Set them up with Skype or FaceTime so they can see their grandkids! Turn them in to cyber seniors and then, make sure you can keep up with them!
  2. Help them create a YouTube video! Get Grandma to share her secret recipe for those chocolate chipcyber_Grandma cookies! 
  3. Get that video camera out or charge up your cell phone and start asking questions! Grandma and Grandpa have a lot of great stories! Ask them about what life was like when they were your age! Record their history so you have a keepsake and can share with others!
  4. I bet there’s a box of old photos at your grandparents’ house! Go old school and pick up an album or scrapbook. Spend the afternoon going through and labeling the photos. Let Grandpa share some great stories about the one that got away! Or, gather the photos, scan them, and add them to their new Facebook page! You can also put the photos on a disk and create a video with music for a great birthday or Christmas present!
  5. Pick up some poster board or get on Ancestry.com and create your family tree
  6. Take your grandparents to one of their favorite restaurants for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Turn off the phone, ask some questions, and listen!
  7. Get a group together to visit the elderly in nursing homes. Check in on elderly neighbors.  
  8. Take your grandparents to the movies or catch a baseball game together!
  9. Shop and cook one of your grandma’s favorite recipes together!
  10. Find opportunities to volunteer together! Helping others can make you both feel great! 

Enjoy this day and every day with your grandparents. Make sure Grandma and Grandpa post a comment about their special day on our NobleHour Facebook page! 

 

Photo of Marian McQuade courtesy of National Grandparents Day

Photo: Dolly Duplantier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: volunteering, random acts of kindness, technology, connecting communities, social media, Grandparents Day, Family

10 Ways to Make an Impact on #GivingTuesday™

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Dec 03, 2013 @ 11:05 AM

You're celebrating Thanksgiving with all of your relatives from near and far. Maybe you'll brave the crowds and lines for Black Friday sales. Then, you plan to squeeze in a few minutes to capture some Cyber Monday deals. But the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is the real day to make a difference. I’m not talking about a putting a dent in your gift list with more items on sale. I’m talking about making a real impact in the lives of people and organizations that truly need your help. It’s called #Giving Tuesday. Started by the non-profit community and cultural center, 92nd Street Y (92Y),  along with the United Nations Foundation and a core group of founding partners, #GivingTuesday is a national day of giving at the start of the holiday season.

The event builds on the American tradition of giving back by using technology to make a greater impact. The success #Giving Tuesday has prompted thousands of international and local non-profits, as well as civic minded corporations to join the movement. By harnessing the power of social media, the day is dedicated to helping everyone realize that they have the power to make a difference in someone’s life - to bring about real change in communities around the world.

More than 10,000 partners in all 50 states and around the world are taking part in the third annual event to refocus on giving thanks and giving back. Partners are large corporations and small businesses, faith-based organizations and secular nonprofits. If you don’t have a specific charity in mind, you can go to the #Giving Tuesday website and sort by the type of organization or look for charities by state. There’s every imaginable charity involved.

You can sort by your interests in arts, culture, animals, health, the environment, education, human services, or research and science. You can also choose to support local community groups, religious organizations, schools and universities, large or small companies, government agencies, and various projects sponsored by groups around the world.

With so many charities competing for your donation, you may want to research the organizations on Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau. Charity Navigator provides an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess over 6,000 of America's charities. The non-profit organization also provides a list of giving tips to help you when choosing a charity. 

Still not sure where to begin? Think about how you want to make an impact. Believe it or not, you can make a difference in a family’s life with $20 or less. Many of the organizations participating have catalogs with gifts ranging in price from $10 to thousands of dollars. Many work to end hunger, supply clean water, provide shelter, or assist people with starting their own business. Some provide disaster relief. Others help protect wildlife.

Here are just ten of the thousands of organizations participating in #Giving Tuesday.

 

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and theirHero-GiftCatalog-Christmas14 communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Their catalog offers choices that make a difference starting at just $16. Gifts include clothing and jewelry that fund small business loans for entrepreneurs; goats that can nourish a hungry family, as well as provide income from surplus milk; and food kits to feed families in need.

Feeding America helps provide fresh, healthy food for people facing hunger every day. Your gift of nutritious food like apples, peanut butter, rice, cheese, broccoli, oatmeal, bananas, and chicken can help families in communities across the country struggling with hunger.

Millennium Promise works to  eradicate extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable disease by empowering communities to help themselves. Your donation can provide nutritious meals to children at school, skilled attendants to help mothers giving birth, clean water supplies, and it can help farmers grow more food to eat and sell.

The American Red Cross provides disaster relief around the world. Their catalog includes items like hot meals, blankets, emergency shelter, vaccinations, and first aid workers for those affected by disaster.

Mercy Corps helps people survive crises in some of the world’s toughest places. They help those affected confront and turn their situations into opportunities to thrive. Gifts in the Mercy Corps catalog range in price from under $50 to over $200 and help men and women in villages around the world earn an income. For as little as $18, you can buy a mosquito net or buy seeds for a family. You can give a sewing machine, outfit a classroom, fund a mobile health unit, or help start a fish hatchery. You can even buy a Yak, which can carry loads in mountainous areas, and produce valuable milk, as well as wool for blankets and clothing. 

donate to schoolsSave the Children gives children in the U.S. and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. Give joy and lasting change to a child when you choose from over 60 gifts in seven different categories, ranging from health and emergency relief, to animals, sports and education, and water and agriculture.

World Wildlife Fund is an international organization that works in collaboration with existing conservation groups to bring substantial financial support to the conservation movement on a worldwide scale. Their catalog includes t-shirts, calendars, greeting cards, ornaments, etc. For $55, you can symbolically adopt a species. Your gift supports WWF's global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children's lives. You can help by giving blankets, vaccinations, purifying water tablets and gifts that support causes like emergencies, food, school transportation, and winter survival packs. Items as low as $15.00 include The Eat & Run bundle that combines Micronutrient Powder and a Soccer Ball to keep a vulnerable child healthy and happy. Gifts under $25 include vaccine carriers that can keep dozens of vaccine vials at the right temperature for 38 hours, even in scorching hot weather. 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is on the ground in more than 40 countries, including the U.S., providing emergency relief, relocating refugees, and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster. Their rescue gifts include providing a year of education for a young girl for only $58, clean water for $110, a honeybee harvest kit for $72 and for only $45 you can comfort children caught in crisis by sending them teddy bears.

If you want to volunteer in addition to donating funds, but not sure where to start, visit NobleHour, a small company with a big mission to provide an online platform that enables and facilitates community engagement. Companies can create free profiles for their organization and get the word out about themselves, as well as find help by posting volunteer opportunities for free. NobleHour helps school districts, colleges, universities, non-profits, and businesses throughout the US and Canada track and measure service-learning, volunteering, and community service initiatives. 

The company was started in 2007 by a student looking for a way to find service opportunities in his area. It grew from a simple online database of service opportunities to over 180,000 members, over 6,000 organizations, and over 4,000 opportunity listings. Since their relaunch in 2012, users have tracked over 4.5 million service hours, with an economic impact of over $95,000,000.

So whether you just want to donate in your name, you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone who has everything, or you want to volunteer, #Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to be generous with others and embrace the true meaning of the holidays. What are you going to give today? Share your gift list with us!

Topics: Food Banks, Food Pantries, community engagement, outreach, engagement, community, civic engagement, technology, global, opportunities, connecting communities, involvement, nonprofit, fundraising, community partners, social media, active

A Student's Guide to Social Entrepreneurship

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 @ 10:10 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

In beginning this post about social entrepreneurship, I was very excited because it is such an exciting and inspiring focus.  However after tapping mindlessly on my keyboard and coming up short, I was faced the ultimate test of blogging in taking what social entrepreneurship means to me and translating it into what it means to the world.  As a writer I realized I was stuck on words to use, and as a learner I saw that my stuckness meant I had much to learn, so I began researching.  I proceeded to answer the question: What is social entrepreneurship?

Ashoka India

It was not too long until I found Ashoka, the largest global network of social entrepreneurs, had answers to my question.  Ashoka, with years of experiences building social entrepreneurship, explains that, “Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems . . . a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything . . . the citizen sector has discovered what the business sector learned long ago: There is nothing as powerful as a new idea in the hands of a first-class entrepreneur.”  Ashoka helps social entrepreneurs change the world by providing start-up funds, advice, and access to a worldwide network of support systems and volunteers.  They encourage individuals to innovate society by applying entrepreneurial skills to real-world problems.  I knew the topic of social entrepreneurship was exciting and inspiring, but I felt that as an explanation was too abstract, and I went on to find real world examples of social entrepreneurship changing the world. 

Reading about some of the world's greatest social entrepreneurs on PBS' “Meet the New Heroes”, I was touched.  Take Moses Zulu, who started Children's Town, an orphanage created to help children in Zambia whose "basic needs are unaffordable luxuries."  Taking in children who've lost their parents to AIDS, Children's Town cares for and educates these children to better their future with skills they'll use to find better jobs.  Meet Kailash Satyarthi in South Asia, who started his social entrepreneurship by leading raids into factories to liberate workers, particularly children, from a life of servitude.  Then there’s Mimi Silbert who started Delany Street Foundation to help house and rehabilitate people stuck in a life of crime.  In conjunction with education and counselling to help clients find jobs and lead successful lives free of crime, the residents work in the organization’s many businesses to generate revenue for the program, linking their success to the success of the organization.  The list of social enterprises goes on, and I found it extremely difficult to find just one—one that was the most impactful, most interesting, or most striking—to write about. Robert Redford speaks about "The New Heroes", a documentary about social entrepreneurs.

I wanted to know all of them.  To write about their causes and analyze their successes to help you see where your social enterprise might start, but I realized that I also have an English presentation to write today so there was not time to write a novel. The story of social entrepreneurship is innovative, inspiring, and incredibly heart wrenching.  Each opened my eyes to a world of suffering I hadn't known before, but also a world of hope. Social entrepreneurs take the downtrodden and use business concepts to empower the world.  Social entrepreneurship is rooted in the idea that filling tonight's hungry bellies and bandaging the day's wounds only leaves for more hungry bellies and broken bones tomorrow.  Aid and handouts are helpful in the present but also temporary and easily used up. Sustainable and innovative solutions tackle tomorrow's problems today. 

The education sector is realizing the mark social entrepreneurship is making.  A recent article “Social Entrepreneurship Is Bringing Purpose To Higher Education” explains how this process is unfolding.  With today’s academic inflations (see a great explanation of this process here)—and high tuition costs—, “students, parents and employers are all expressing doubt about the value of an undergraduate degree.”  To get the best value out of their education, students are increasingly drawn to social entrepreneur programs.  Programs that reconcile learning with passion and innovation: “ . . . teaching social entrepreneurship is a key part of solving this problem . . . Entrepreneurs are defined by their sense of drive and determination, their willingness to fail and then try again, and their vision for applying their learning in productive ways. Those also happen to be the characteristics of great learners.”  The article details some programs and fellowships that encourage university students to pursue their social enterprise goals.  These include Uncollege’s Gap Year program that encourages students to take a year off college in the name of social enterprise, ThinkImpact’s summer institutes, Brown University’s Swearer Center, and Middlebury’s Center for Social Enterprise.  In addition to knowledge, successful graduates will also need motivation and initiative to take what they have learned and use it to solve world problems.  The purpose of education is not just to make grades and past tests; it’s also for young people to develop the intellect and skills needed for lifelong success.  In the case of social entrepreneurship, success lies in synthesizing these skills with social responsibility, and embedding one’s success and passion in empowering others. 

Social entrepreneurs invest their talents in the world and the output is the happiness for both producer and consumer.  One of my favourite social entrepreneur teams is Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy and David Green. They started eye hospitals in Madurai, India, Nepal and United States to treat cataracts.  Green uses a term I love, “compassionate capitalism,” to explain social entrepreneurship: “Green is convinced that western capitalism has failed to grasp opportunities in the developing world . . . He says "compassionate capitalism" extracts a small amount of profit from each item sold, but generates a very high sales volume. In the process, it is possible to make available critical goods and services — like eye care — to billions of people” (“Meet the New Heroes”). 

In writing this post about social entrepreneurship I discovered that my understanding and mere awareness of the process was not enough.  I’ve found people who recognize the potential in the afflicted and find a way to pull success out of them.  In discovering the stories of the world’s change makers and learning from their determination and success, I’ve come to appreciate people not only for their talents, but how they impose their kindness on the cruel world to make it better.

“Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.” -Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy
 

Images via Steve Jurvetson and Wil Kristin 

Topics: service, education, millenials, highered, community, community engagement, technology, economy, socent, social

Empowering Youth to Face the Challenges of Tomorrow

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 @ 12:06 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Young people aged 10-24 make up 25 percent of the world’s population (The Worlds Youth 2013 Data Sheet) —that’s just fewer than two billion people.  Now, given that middle-aged people are not appearing out of thin air, increased numbers of young people signify a trend of exponential population growth worldwide.  “Youth and the State of the World, a report generated by Advocates for Youth, found that counting everyone 24 and under (including children under ten), youth make up around 40 percent of the world.   Increased population growth and a large proportion of young people is associated with developing economies where birth rates are increasing, making for larger family sizes, and death rates are decreasing.  Of course, “the world” is a little vague, and upon breaking down the geographic distribution of young people, “Youth and the State of the World” finds that “60 percent of youth live in Asia; 15 percent, in Africa; 10 percent, in Latin America and the Caribbean; and the remaining 15 percent, in developed countries and regions.”  These numbers demonstrate that though the overwhelming global trend is that of a growing youth demographic, the uneven distribution of youth over the globe makes for a number of challenges to overcome in ensuring countries’ future prosperity and livelihood held in the hands of young people. 

Indian School Childre (Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yorickr/4511065370)

Young people means potential, but potential is fragile.  For countries with a large proportion of young people the future could hold success.  Take, for example India, one of the fastest largest and fastest growing populations and growing economies with 362.0 million people aged 10-24—more than all of Africa’s 344.4 million.  Danielle Rajendram’s article “The Promise and Peril of India’s Youth Bulge” in The Diplomat describes such a fragile state in India: “Provided India can act quickly on health, education and employment, this demographic dividend has the potential to inject new dynamism into its flagging economy.”  As the history of many post-industrial countries can attest, economically, a growing population means there is a surplus in labor force as well as more people for the economy to support.  To keep this balance, countries need proper investment in their youth in order to industrialize and prosper in a globalized economy.  Investment in education is vital.  Young people who are educated can get better, higher-paying jobs, live healthier lives, have a higher standard of living, and make more informed decisions.  In addition to education, young people need opportunities so countries don’t suffer from brain drain—the process where educated people go abroad for better work, thus depleting the economy of qualified workers.  For India and countries like it, the proper amount of investment in infrastructure and industry is essential to fully benefiting from changes in population demographics. 

As the title of Rajendram’s article suggests, with the potential for success comes the possibility for failure.  Improper investment in education, healthcare programs, and job-creating could mean that countries with high numbers of impoverished youth could remain impoverished.  Rather than empowering youth to advance their financial situation, a country could simply end up with more people in deeper poverty.  It’s a matter of an opportunity being present and creating opportunity for those present.  As Rajendram explains, “The failure of a number of Latin American countries with the same demographic profile as Southeast Asia to achieve similarly impressive economic outcomes is a cautionary tale for India [. . .] The relationship here is mutually reinforcing; India must harness the advantage of its youth to fulfill its economic potential, and in turn must generate growth in order to continue to support its growing population. As noted by India's former Minister of Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal, ‘it will be a dividend if we empower our young. It will be a disaster if we fail to put in place a policy and framework where they can be empowered.’”  The growing youth population is a constant factor in the equation, but the resources put into taking advantage of such an opportunity will determine young people’s future. 

A surplus of young people is like a young sapling.  Watered and cared for it will grow and with it raise a country’s wealth and standard of living.  However, neglect will result in a powerful storm that will knock the frail tree down and bring a country to a situation of poverty lower than that of the roots. 

Young people are not in a surplus everywhere though.  The before mentioned small “remaining 15 percent [aged 10-24], in developed countries and regions” live in the developed world where population is not growing, but declining.  Rather than raising large families like those of the developing world, people of post-industrial economies are having less and less children resulting in a small proportion of young people and a towering number of older people.  On the shoulders of this declining number of young people is ensuring successful enterprise to support the overwhelming retired generation.  Government programs created to curve the collapse of these economies include incentives for having children, and education reform to help students attain university education so they can later contribute more to the economy and the livelihood of older generations.  The situation is reversed from the developing world but its fragility is the same as the young sapling. 

In this brief overview of the situation of young people, it is evident that there is no simple solution to the many challenges presented.  Today there are more young people than ever, and with young people comes and immense amount of potential and responsibility for that potential.  Perhaps there is little one can do to change policy on opposite sides of the globe, but global awareness is still important everywhere, as well as understanding the significance of young people’s contribution.  In just a few paragraphs I can only touch the tip of the iceberg, but a few things seem clear.  Enriching education, infrastructure, global awareness, and investments is key to empowering youth and enabling them to face the challenges of tomorrow.  With more youth today than ever before, these are unchartered waters.  


image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yorickr/4511065370

Topics: education, youth impact, millennials, technology, economy, global

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