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Tag Archives: philanthropy

  • Operation Shower

    Every day here at Daily Grommet, we are making new connections and learning the stories of so many people doing impressive things. Our online community is expanding daily, and we enjoy getting to know each new friend. Whenever we get the chance to meet up (in person) with  our virtual community, we jump at the chance.  I recently had a opportunity to meet up with several of our friends from Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere at an event in San Diego. There, I hit it off with Amy Belle Isle, the Chief Event Planner for Operation Shower. After learning about the amazing work they is doing, I knew I had to report back and help spread the word!

    Q&A with Amy Belle Isle

    Tell us a bit about Operation Shower, what is it and how did it begin?

    Operation Shower started in March 2007 as a simple project, when founder LeAnn Morrissey, was looking for a way to give back to her uncle who was deployed overseas. LeAnn asked her uncle what she could do and he replied that many people send items to the soldiers but what she could do was send a card to four women who were expecting babies while their spouses were deployed. That sparked an idea, so LeAnn got family and friends together to send a “shower in a box” to each mom. After the reception those first boxes got, she knew she was onto something that really made a difference to these women and to their husbands. She teamed up with a friend and held the very first unit-wide shower at Ft. Bragg, NC in June 2007. Since then, Operation Shower has showered more than 450 women on military bases and other locations for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard.

    How do you organize (and execute!) these wonderful baby showers?

    Little sleep!

    From a party standpoint, I am fortunate that I have made so many wonderful friends in the event planning, party printables and online party blog world. That helps! Time and time again, these wonderful women volunteer to help design printables, send gorgeous product for our dessert tables, set up if it’s in their neighborhood etc. Once we decide on a theme and I have a general concept in mind, I work with the graphic/printables designer to get a feel for the paperie. Then it’s off to come up with centerpieces, feature areas, locate local vendors…the works!

    From a product standpoint, we are working on securing companies to donate to all showers for a year or for multiple showers. We are gaining more success with that, but still often must secure most product for each and every shower we host. See below for ways to help!

    What has been the most surprising and/or rewarding part of working for Operation Shower?

    Surprising? Maybe that it never, ever gets old being at a shower with the moms. Each one is as special as the other because, for those moms, that is their only Operation Shower experience. That or how much has happened in just this past year alone. While still an extremely small organization we have managed to accomplish some really big things.

    One of the special parts about Operation Shower is that we give every event as much love and attention as if you were hosting a shower for your best friend. A recent mom-to-be said our shower was “the one thing during this whole deployment she has been looking forward to.” That is big to us. It is our duty to make sure she, and every other mom that walks into our showers, has the experience of a lifetime.

    To that, the single most rewarding part is being in that room with the moms when they open their Showers In A Box and win the amazing raffle prizes. Seeing the smiles and, often, the tears are the biggest joy you can imagine. At our last shower, one mom I spoke to said, “I don’t know how I can ever repay you.” After we hugged and both cried a little I told her that she has already paid tenfold with her family’s service every single day. There is no greater reward than knowing that you made a difference to someone.

    How can others get involved?

    There are many ways to help! As a non-profit, our biggest need is financial support. We have on-line donation through Paypal and Google Checkout on our website (www.operationshower.org) and also gladly accept checks to the address on our site.

    We’ve got an Amazon Wish List where anyone can purchase items and have them sent directly to us to be included in our Showers In A Box. This has been a great new way for people to help without having to head to the post office! Lately, we've had some wonderful groups of people around the country get together and host events in their home for Operation Shower. The Wish List is a good way to see what we are most in need of at this time. People can point their guests to our Amazon Wish List or possibly pick a theme from our Shower Kits list. Simply host a party and have every guest brings donations. It’s a great thing to incorporate into all of holiday parties that people might be hosting soon!

    Operation Shower event with special guests: First Lady, Michelle Obama and Second Lady, Dr. Jill and Martha Stewart

    What's next for Operation Shower?

    Lots of fun things! First of all the continuation of our "Fall Tour" of 4 states. We’ve just completed a shower in Groton, CT and are about to head to Norfolk, VA and Atlanta, GA this month and then off to Ft Campbell, KY in November. It’s a busy Fall full of lots of happy moms!

    We are also currently working on planning where we will be able to go in 2012. Our goal for 2012 is eight unit-wide showers. Where we are able to go is dependent upon securing sponsors, so we’re working hard on that to plan our calendar! Sponsors welcome.

    As mentioned, we are also starting to work on a program to better utilize those around the country that want to volunteer. So much of what we do cannot be “farmed out” at this point but we know there is a way we can involve others in our mission. We look forward to coming up with the plan that works for everyone and helps us grow and reach more moms!

    Oh, and 2012 is the year of “Ellen.” A small non-profit can dream, right? We had a goal of having the First Lady attend one of our showers to honor our moms. Well, earlier this year the White House reached out to us and asked us to help kick off the Joining Forces campaign at Camp Lejeune, NC. First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and Martha Stewart were all there! Following that, we were listed in a Parade Magazine article as one of three of Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden’s “favorite groups that are helping America’s military families.” So, next stop on our “dream list” is is to be a part of Ellen’s Mother’s Day special where she honors military moms. That, or we’ll take any other episode, too! We’d love to come up with an effective social media campaign to get on Ellen!

    Thank you Amy for taking the time to share Operation Shower with us. Keep up the amazing work, we know you will continue to grow. Ellen, here they come!

  • Scarves with quite a story

    We liked Open Arms as soon as we heard about it. Leslie Beasley’s Austin-based social enterprise is committed to creating awareness that everyday choices can change the world. And that’s something that really rings true for all of us here at Daily Grommet where we focus on increasing the power of Citizen Commerce

    Open Arms employs refugees from around the world who make beautiful scarves from 100% recycled materials such as old t-shirts. The organization is focused on breaking the cycle of poverty and on providing enrichment opportunities as well as language skills training to its employees. Scarf-makers at Open Arms enjoy the freedom that comes from earning a reasonable wage (typically $3-7 higher per hour than the federal minimum wage).

    The entire Open Arms effort represents triumph and hope to refugee women everywhere. You can support this amazing work in three ways:

     1 – Learn more about refugees  in your own community. Find out about the ways in which you might be able to assist them as they resettle in our country (here).

     2 – Keep your old t-shirts out of landfills and donate them  to Open Arms where they will find their way right into the production line.

     3 – Enjoy one of Open Arms’ scarves! And if scarves aren’t your thing, these talented women also make dog toys and pillows

    In the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

  • Update: Naya Health

    Back in December, we featured the trailblazing work of a young non-profit organization called Nyaya Health that is focused on a remote part of northwestern Nepal where there was not even one physician just a few years ago. Achham is one of the poorest areas in South Asia with some of the world's highest mortality rates, particularly among women and children. Today Nyaya’s all-Nepali staff provides free healthcare to the community through its hospital and mobile health services. The organization’s open source approach  with complete transparency of expenditures, operations protocols, and clinical outcomes is one of the things that we really love about Nyaya.

    In honor of World Health Day  today, we thought we would check in with Nyaya for an update on their work.

    Naya Health

    Patients wait outside of Bayalpata’s outpatient department to be seen. On an average day Bayalpata Hospital sees between 100 and 150 outpatients

    Since we last caught up with them, the team at Nyaya has published its 2010 Annual Report. With a population of 250,000 to serve, the staff of Bayalpata Hospital are always busy. They recently had a challenging case in which a patient had been bitten by a bear. And, because children will be children, they have had to pull a few foreign objects out of ears.

    Thanks to hard work and donations,  like the ones made by members of the Daily Grommet community, Nyaya has made progress on two very important projects over the past three months: x-ray technology  at Bayalpata Hospital and further development of the Safe Motherhood Project  in collaboration with the Nepali Ministry of Health and Population.

    Members of Nyaya have published a report  in which they explain why diagnostic ultrasound and x-ray are ideal tools for effective healthcare delivery in resource-limited areas. Nyaya wants to work together with others to generate sufficient demand for the types of machines that would meet the needs of rural healthcare settings. For now, Bayalpata Hospital is home to one of only three x-ray machines in western Nepal which serve a combined population of over one million people.

    In a place where women used to give birth at home without access to emergency care, more and more women in Achham are giving birth in the hospital which should lead to a marked decrease in maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates. Nyaya is firmly committed to education and outreach that improve health outcomes for women and children, and the organization continues to develop its cadre of community health workers who travel to surrounding villages.

    Nyaya Health will be making significant investments in 2011 by building the first surgical theater in the region and powering Bayalpata Hospital with solar energy.

    Thank you to all of the members of the Daily Grommet community who are supporting the work of Nyaya Health. Your donations are making a difference, and you can continue to follow Nyaya’s updates on the organization’s blog. At the moment, thanks to a matching donor foundation, all donations to Nyaya are being doubled.

    To learn more about Naya Health or to donate, please visit our original feature here.

  • For Japan, With Love | A Day of Silence

    There will be no blog post on Friday. We are joining a large group of  bloggers in  a day of silence for Japan. Bloggers  Ever-Ours and Utterly Engaged have created the site, the bloggers day of silence, and raising awareness, and we are eager to join in.

    We have all been glued to the news and have seen the horrific images of people devastated, suffering and scared. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the recent devastation in Japan.

    day of silence for japan

    Please visit www.ForJapanWithLove.com to learn how you can help those devastated by this unimaginable tragedy.

  • Pack for a Purpose when traveling abroad

    After reading a bit about Pack for a Purpose, it's clear that this organization is making a difference in the lives of children around the world. Their idea of using  extra space in your luggage to bring needed supplies to areas you are already traveling to seems simple, yet very powerful.  I recently had a chance to ask Rebecca Rothney, Chairperson for Pack for a Purpose some questions about their organization and how others can get involved when traveling abroad.

    Can you tell us how you got started doing this and how Pack for a Purpose came to be?

    During our first trip to Africa, my husband Scott and I learned that while we were limited to 40 pounds (18.14 kgs) of luggage on safari, the airline had an allowance of 100 pounds (45 kgs) of checked luggage plus a 40 pound (18.14 kg) carry-on. In making plans for a second trip, we looked into visiting a school near the lodge we would visit in Botswana. We contacted our safari company, Wilderness Safaris, to see if we could determine any specific needs of that school. Armed with that information, we were able to deliver 140 pounds (64 kgs) of school supplies, including soccer balls, to the school. It was enormously rewarding to be able to help the people in the community that had given us such a life-changing experience. Since then, we and a few of our fellow-travelers have made several trips to other countries in Africa and have been able to deliver an estimated 1,000 pounds (453 kgs) in donations of clothing, school and medical supplies. I asked a travel agent why other travelers did not use their luggage allowances this way. "Because nobody thinks about it," he said. That was our "aha" moment.

    Scott and I knew from our experiences that taking large amounts of supplies required a great deal of time and close logistical cooperation with the touring company. We felt we needed to come up with a simpler and more direct way for travelers to take supplies where they were going.

    By asking travelers to pack 5 lbs (2.27 kgs) of supplies, we felt we would be able to involve everyone who wanted to add value to his or her trip by participating. By delivering the supplies directly to the traveler's accommodation, it would be possible for every traveler to contribute and require no logistical support. That amount would take only a small space, require little effort and still make a big impact.

    So, say I am traveling -- tell me, what exactly do I need to do to help support Pack for a Purpose?

    If you are going to a destination on our website, you simply look at the supplies they have requested and select which ones you would like to take. Then you drop them at the “front desk” when you arrive. It is as simple as that. If you are not staying at a destination on our website, you can contact us and we will try to find a way to make an appropriate connection for you. The last way you can help is to let us know of any destination you find that are doing community based projects that should be listed on our website.

    What would you like others to know about your organization or mission?

    We are an all volunteer organization which has been fortunate to have many wonderful people with expertise, creativity and dedication come together to make Pack for a Purpose® a reality. They are listed on our website under About Us and on our Partners Page. I owe them a large debt of gratitude. We are just a year old, and while we have grown from 25 to 97 destinations, we will not be content until we have every appropriate destination on the planet supporting a community based project listed on our website. I absolutely believe most people fortunate enough to travel are more than happy to make a contribution to the communities they visit. I just wanted to provide and easy, one stop informational website to provide travelers with the information they needed to do that.

    Has there been any part of your journey with Pack for a Purpose that has surprised you?

    The thing that has surprised me most is how long it takes to add appropriate destinations to our website. It only taking 5 minutes to upload the information and the website is free of charge. In my naiveté, I thought we would have hundreds of destinations, which I know are out there, the first year. We constantly search for appropriate places to add and I know that we will eventually feature all of them.

    I would say the other thing which has not surprised me but continues to delight me are the wonderful contacts I have made around the world. All over the planet there are people working hard and effectively to benefit the communities they live in, and travelers looking to assist in their worthy endeavors. With all the negative stories that make the headlines every day, my days are filled with joy as I make contact with the goodness and generosity that spans the planet.

     For more information visit http://www.packforapurpose.org/

  • Be Bold, Be Bald!

    Today we would like to share a unique philanthropic organization with you. Small Army for a Cause has founded an event called Be Bold, Be Bald! — a fundraiser to honor cancer patients and raise money to fight the disease itself. Participants are sponsored to wear a bald cap showing support and solidarity with those battling cancer. Here is a photo from this year:


    Be Bold, Be Bald! (founded in Boston, Massachusetts) was launched in honor of Mike Connell, co-founder and former Creative Principal of Small Army for a Cause, who lost his battle with cancer in 2007.

    Witnessing Mike’s heroic, two year fight, the team saw first hand the courage and strength cancer patients have. He inspired them to continue that fight - and to do so in a way that would truly represent the boldness of Mike and his ideas.

    It really is easy to help. No shaving heads. No training. No time off from work. No interfering with weekend plans. Just wear a bald cap, and go about your day. Do it on your own - or, better yet, do it as a team with your work, school, organization or family members.

    Last year, they brought the boldness alive with the 1st Annual Be Bold, Be Bald! event. Participants ranged from sororities, fraternities and offices in the U.S. to individual supporters in Alaska and Puerto Rico. With their help and incredible enthusiasm, they raised nearly $100,000! I am thinking that with our help, they can surpass that number this year, what do you think?

    The registration fee to participate in the Be Bold, Be Bald! event on October 22 is just $15. Check here for the simple steps to help this deserving cause.

  • Breezy beach memories and a desire to help

    I grew up (as my children are now growing up) in sunny California. The most fond memories of my childhood include the smell of sea salt in the air and chasing sand crabs by the shore. The beach isn't just someplace we "go;" for my family, it has always served as a place you can "be." Be at peace, be in clarity, and be a part of something bigger -- the ocean's glory.

    As the images of the recent oil spill began to emerge, I felt sickened, like many who have seen them. Although I am removed from the direct physical encounters of the oil soaked shores here on the West coast, I am emotionally touched by the horrific photos being captured. These images brought back a memory of an experience I had as a teen during marine biology camp where we were challenged to remove oil from a ducks wing. That experience shook me. The only thing that worked was Dawn dish soap. I remember feeling sick then but this picture amplified that memory x 100.

    AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    So although I may only be experiencing this catastrophic event through these oil soaked images, I cannot help but wonder if one day I could see these same oil-filled waves breaking on our CA shore.

    image via MSN.com

    image via MSN.com

    And if this is the footprint we are leaving behind

    oil filled beaches

    AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    Sometimes it's easy to feel helpless ... I found myself wondering, what can I really do?  Then I found out that the Grommet team had also been asking this question and trying to find a way to contribute. In doing so, they've found a way to give back and to support the mission of preserving our oceans -- we can't wait to share it with you. You can find out more about this compelling Grommet on the Daily Grommet website on Friday, July 2, at 12pm EST. Trust me:  you won't want to miss it.

  • Haiti Projects: UPDATE

    Remember Grommet Haiti Projects (an organization that supports the economic livelihood of the people of Fonds des Blancs, Haiti)? Well, several people have reached out to the team at Daily Grommet wondering how they were affected by the earthquake and what they are doing in response. We were curious as well so we reached out to Stephanie Lawrence of Haiti Projects to check in. Here is her response:

     We were, blessedly, unaffected by the January 12 earthquake in that we did not suffer any direct casualties or destruction of buildings. Because we operate in rural Haiti, about 70 miles west of the earthquake's epicenter, we were spared from much of the immediate devastation. We have been impacted immensely, however, in that most of those who were directly affected by the earthquake were displaced from their homes in Port au Prince to surrounding rural areas. This means that the rural community in which we operate has almost doubled in population since the quake, with many of those new community members planning to stay permanently in the area.

    In response to the earthquake, Haiti Projects is growing our Women's Cooperative to offer employment to those who were displaced by the quake. We hope to hire 24 new Cooperative members in the next two months and provide them with the income they need to create a successful life in the wake of the earthquake. We are currently fundraising for this project and hope to begin training our new Cooperative members in June and July.
    Our current organizational needs are in funding for this new employment project and in continuing to grow our Cooperative sales. We are also always looking for volunteers. If you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved we encourage you to do so!
    Thanks for the update Stephanie, and we are happy to hear Haiti Projects is moving forward and fully operational. If you would like more information or want to help support Haiti Projects, please Stephanie Lawrence at [email protected] for more information.
  • One Grommet's playful partnership

    The companies we feature always have such rich stories. From humble beginnings, a spark of an idea-- it never gets old peeling back the layers of these great companies and the creative minds behind them. Understanding  just how these great business came to be and what great things they are doing, is a great perk of what we do. That's why we wanted to share a bit more about Fairytale Brownies today—and highlight something really cool they've been working on.

    Partnering with KaBOOM! (the national nonprofit that helps communities build playgrounds), Fairytale Brownies Co-Founders Eileen Spitalny and David Kravetz believe that they can do more for children and promote the importance of play. Eileen and David met while playing on their kindergarten playground at Madison Heights Elementary School in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1971, so a KaBOOM! partnership is a natural fit for Fairytale Brownies.

    Since 2001, the company has been donating brownies and funds to KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit that helps communities build playgrounds, but this year, Fairtyale’s focus will be to raise funds to construct a KaBOOM! playspace in the Phoenix area.

    "We’ve helped fund and build playspaces in several Arizona cities, Chicago, Mississippi and New York, but other companies were the main funding partners,” Eileen said. “Now our goal is to fund a  special playspace in Phoenix that will truly be a fairytale for the children to experience."

    Fairytale customers are playing a significant role in funding the playspace. Through their purchase of special occasion bands (Thank You, Congratulations, Happy Birthday and Thinking of You), a portion of the cost is donated to KaBOOM! Customers also are able to give the “Gift of Play” by opting to donate $1 to any purchase made when ordering online at www.brownies.com. In 2009, Fairytale customers contributed more than $3,000 by adding $1 Gift of Play to their online orders.

    Although the Fairytale playspace physically will be in Arizona, Fairytale Brownies’ customers all over the world can be proud knowing they are helping to promote play. Now that's a sweet Grommet!

  • Containers to Clinics (C2C) in Haiti UPDATE

    We have been closely following the progress of a Grommet we featured over the holidays, Containers to Clinics (C2C) -- they've created a clever solution to providing healthcare services to underserved communities in the developing world. C2C recycles and retrofits outmoded shipping containers into healthcare clinics and plans to send them all over the world as a healthcare delivery system.  Here's a letter from founder Elizabeth Sheehan, with an update about their work in Haiti:


    Hello Daily Grommet!

    As you know, on January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti - nearly 220,000 lives were lost and the country suffered an estimated USD $7.9 billion in damages. But even before the earthquake, Haiti had the worst maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates in the Western Hemisphere. The health crisis in Haiti presents a unique opportunity for modular, transportable clinics to provide immediate and urgent health services. According to the Haitian government’s Reconstruction and Development Report, 53 public hospitals and clinics have been damaged or destroyed and the population is relying on the efforts of international relief agencies to provide care out of medical tents and on an itinerant basic. The recovery of the health sector will depend heavily on the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure and the establishment of replacement and auxiliary health centers throughout the country. C2C is well positioned to respond to the imperative for immediate and quality primary care facilities.


    The C2C clinic will be shipped to Haiti on June 1st, travel to Brooklyn then arrive in PaP on June 15, hopefully doors open on July 1, all thanks to the generous contribution of A.P. Moller/Masersk and DAMCO. The clinic will operate in partnership with Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Americares as an extension of Grace Children’s Hospital in central Port-au-Prince. The clinic will be used as an outpatient care center for woman and children. Placed on the property of Grace Children’s Hospital, the C2C clinic will be a family-centered facility complete with playground, benches, and safe drinking water.  Americares will supply all pharmaceuticals and health supplies to the C2C clinic. The clinic will hire only Haitian staff members, with management and operational support from Management Sciences for Health. The C2C clinical model has the endorsement and support of the Haitian Ministry of Health, which has prioritized the reconstruction of health facilities across Haiti. C2C is committed to supporting the Haitian government’s long road to self sufficiency by providing modular health facilities that are positioned for long-term integration into the national system.

    Thanks for for updating us about your progress in Haiti, Elizabeth. We hope to help spread the word and shine some light on such a devastated part of the world.

     For more information on how you can help C2C, go to www.containers2clinics.org

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