Tag Archives: California

Artists for Trauma

Healing yourself is connected with healing others. 
~ Yoko Ono 

The founder of today’s organization healed herself and has since turned to heal many others.  In May of 2008, a helicopter crash on Catalina Island, just off the coast of Southern California, killed three people and injured the other three people on board.  Laura Sharpe was one of those three survivors.  She had 43 broken bones and burns on more than 40 percent of her body.  She spent four weeks in a coma and endured multiple skin grafts and the partial amputation of her foot.

Just three short years after her traumatic accident, she co-created The Laura Project, a collaboration with five artists in Southern California.  The project portrays the crash and her recovery in a variety of mediums including photographs, film, sculpture, paintings, dance, and music.

In an article on the project in the Ventura County Star, Laura said, “It was such a spiritual engagement and so helpful for my healing process.  It’s about how you can make art from tragedy, something beautiful and artistic from the negative occurrences of life.”

Artists for Trauma

After her experience of using art to assist in her healing and feeling compelled to help other trauma survivors through recovery, Laura founded Artists for Trauma.  The organization is dedicated to enriching the lives of both civilian and military trauma survivors by pairing recovering patients with established artists from various disciplines.  They aim to expedite recovery through artistic expression and human connection.  Artists for Trauma provides a creative portal to help patients process complex emotions, regain confidence and build self-acceptance after suffering a traumatic experience.

Watch Laura tell her own story in the video below.

How can you help?
Volunteers are needed throughout the United States.  

  • If you are a trauma survivor, you can sign up to become a student artist.  Learn more on their website.
  • If you are an artist, you can sign up to be a volunteer artist to assist trauma survivors.  Volunteers are needed all across the United States.  You can learn more and sign up here.
  • You can also make a financial donation on the organization’s website.  Donations fund the equipment, supplies, and community outreach among other things to support the work of the organization.
  • If you live in the Los Angeles area, you can help Artists for Trauma at a an event on Saturday, May 4th, from 11:00

    AM-1:00 PM in Los Angeles. There is always room for more volunteers

    so if you would like to join in and participate in this fun, creative day, you can email them at

To learn more about Artists for Trauma visit their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, YouTube, or their blog.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Edible Schoolyard Project

The Edible Schoolyard Project

I grew up watching my mother and grandmother tend their huge gardens full of vegetables and some fruits.  In the last couple years I have started a small garden at home and have watched my kids enjoy helping and even trying the vegetables we have grown (which is a breakthrough moment for my anti-vegetable daughter).  Today’s organization has been bringing vegetables into schools for over 16 years.

In 1995, Alice Waters was quoted in her local paper stating that the school she passed each day looked as if no one cared about it.  The principal of that school, Neil Smith, contacted her to see if she had an idea to help.  Alice, a chef, wanted to start a garden and teaching kitchen at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.  She saw these as tools for enriching the curriculum and the life of the school community.  The idea slowly began to take to form and through the involvement of faculty and parent volunteers, The Edible Schoolyard was born.

The garden and kitchen are not just used to teach gardening and cooking.  Lessons have included teaching fractions in the kitchen and growing heirloom grains to learn about early civilizations.  In addition, students who are involved in the garden are more likely to try the foods grown there.

The mission of the Edible Schoolyard is to create and sustain an organic garden and landscape that is wholly integrated into the school’s curriculum, culture, and food program.  At Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California the Edible Schoolyard curriculum is fully integrated into the school day and teaches students how their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities.

You can watch the Edible Schoolyard in action in this short video:

The Edible Schoolyard Program now supports school garden programs throughout the world by providing resources and tools for teachers, parents, and advocates.  During the summer, the Berkeley location opens their doors to host the Edible Schoolyard Academy to provide hands-on activities, presentations, guided discussions, and curriculum building sessions to provide participants with the tools for teaching edible education.

How can you become involved?

  • Explore the network of school garden programs on the Edible Schoolyard website to see if a school near you is participating.  You can also register your school program.
  • Utilize the resources for school garden programs on the organization’s website or even contribute your own resource.
  • Sign up for the Edible Schoolyard Academy to learn how to incorporate edible education into your school.
  • You can also make a monetary donation to support the Edible Schoolyard program on their website.
  • If you live in Berkeley, California, you can volunteer at the Edible Schoolyard there.  Learn more on their website.  You can also volunteer at a school program near you.  To find one, search here.

To learn more about the Edible Schoolyard, visit their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, as well as their newsletter and blog.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Threads for Teens

Threads for Teens

Sometimes an organization evolves slowly from idea to fruition.  Today’s organization went from inspiration to making a difference in a very short time and shows that anything is possible when you put your mind to something.

In January of 2010, Allyson Ahlstron read “Generation Change” by Zach Hunter, a book that detailed different service projects that teenagers had done across the country.  She immediately became inspired to do something within her own community.  Within weeks she had chosen the name Threads for Teens and a logo and started working on her idea to outfit ten deserving girls in two brand-new head-to-toe outfits.  It has since evolved into a clothing boutique that provides clothing to underprivileged girls in foster care, group homes, or extreme situations of poverty.

Threads for Teens is a clothing boutique located in Windsor, California and has a goal to help young, less fortunate girls build their self-esteem and confidence.  They work to accomplish this through gifts of clothing, support, and education.  The boutique is in a retail location and decorated to look like a real store, but it open by appointment only and everything is free.  Since their opening in August 2010, Threads for Teens has served over 250 girls by providing them with two brand new head-to-toe outfits.  Over $125,000 in clothing donations and over $55,000 in monetary contributions have been made to the organization to date.

Founder Allyson told me, “If we can just brighten the days and lives of a few girls, we can change it for all the disadvantaged girls by spreading the word thanks to modern day communications. We are the future leaders of the world; if we can give each other confidence, nothing can stop us. No mountain is too high, no forest is too thick, and no ocean is too vast from giving girls everywhere the opportunity to succeed.”

Allyson also shared the story of a girl named Brittany who was helped by Threads for Teens.  She was quiet but happy throughout her shopping experience in August of 2010.  About a year later, a social worker called to share that after shopping at the Threads for Teens boutique Brittany found the self-esteem to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a mechanic.

How can you help?

  • You can volunteer to organize clothing or facilitate shopping appointments in the boutique.
  • You can donate used formal dresses in excellent condition for prom season as well as new clothing for teens.
  • Threads for Teens also accepts monetary donations on their website.
  • You can also take a look at the website to nominate a teen girl that meets the organization’s criteria.
  • During the summer of 2013, Threads for Teens will be going on a national tour to outfit 1,000 girls in a brand-new outfit.  They are seeking some special help for this tour including clothing, publicity, hotel and flight sponsorships.  You can learn more and see their list of cities here.

You can learn more about Threads for Teens on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts: Wyman Center, Bridge for Youth, and Cinderella Project

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Milk + Bookies

Milk + Bookies

I recently read a report on the Social Impact of Volunteering by the Points of Light Institute.  This report states that “individuals who volunteer at a young age are more likely to sustain their participation in later life.”  The report also outlines several positive effects on volunteers as individuals; they see an increase in their self-esteem, enhancement of various skills and capabilities, expanded career path opportunities, and better physical and mental health.  Today’s organization offers one easy way  to incorporate giving and service into

The mission of Milk + Bookies is to promote service learning and literacy promotion.  They are a nationwide charitable organization based in Los Angeles, California that inspires children to give back, using books as its currency.

In 2004, Meredith Alexander had one small child and wanted her family time to involve something meaningful from time to time.  It was difficult to find community service projects or fundraisers geared toward families.  She decided to invite all her friends with small children to a lovely children’s bookstore on a Sunday afternoon.  The children chose books to purchase and donate to a local low-income preschool.  She setup coloring tables to decorate bookplates for the kids to inscribe their selections.  When the line to checkout was 30 minutes long, she knew that she wasn’t the only parent looking for this kind of day with their children.

Milk + Bookies is now a 501c3 nonprofit.  They promote holding events for kids to donate books to their peers who do not have access to books of their own.  The organization combines the two essential and worthwhile efforts of literacy promotion and service learning.  The events plant a seed of giving into the young guests which spark feelings of importance, self-confidence, and the desire to give again.

In just three years since becoming a 501c3 nonprofit in 2009, they have raised almost 35,000 books and inspired nearly 9,000 kids to participate in giving back.

How can you help?

The program is designed so that anyone can host their own event.

  • For $30 you can buy a Bookies Box.  This toolkit provides you with “I donated” stickers, book plates, bookmarks, and balloons for your event.
  • There are also toolkits for birthday parties, class projects, and other types of events on the Milk + Bookies website.  The organization will help you find a local organization to donate to if you don’t already have a recipient in mind.
  • After you hold an event, fill out a short post-event form to share your experience and help the organization track their impact.
  • You can also donate and shop for other Milk + Bookies merchandise on their website.

You can learn more about Milk + Bookies on their website, or by watching the short video below.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Related Posts: Read Indeed, Adopt A Book, and Little Free Library

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Handmade Especially for You

I have written posts about using your passion to give back (Refresh Your Resolutions and Give Back).  Today’s organization was founded by a woman who found herself with extra gifts to give.

Leslye Borden sold her business in 2007 and spent more time on her favorite hobby, knitting.  She made beautiful outfits for her granddaughters, but realized that she had gotten carried away when she found the outfits in her daughter’s giveaway box.  It was then that she decided she needed to find more needy recipients for her gifts. 

She decided to start creating scarves for women impacted by abuse.  She created an organization named Handmade Especially for You with a mission to provide comfort scarves to women who flee domestic violence by escaping to a shelter for abused women.  The organization is based in Palos Verdes, California.  In 2010, they shipped 10,000 scarves to 33 shelters.  In 2011, they donated 15,000 scarves to 57 shelters throughout California.  

Handmade Especially for You has found there is power in the scarves they provide.  Directors at the shelters who receive the scarves often say receiving such a beautiful gift from someone they do not even know is a tremendous surprise to the women that it lifts their self-esteem and makes them open up to the counseling and education provided at the shelter, which is an enabler to change their lives.  Many women who leave their abusive environments bring their children with them.  The shelter staff give the children a scarf to help them sleep and they provide them some comfort in a difficult time.  

You can read stories from shelter staff in a recent newsletter.  One comment really seemed to summarize it well.  Richard Kravetz, Executive Director of DVS for Santa Barbara County, wrote, “Thank you for your support!  Your gift of 25 comfort scarves gives women and children a promise to fulfill a dream of a home and life without violence. . . . Thank you for being part of the solution.”

The organization has volunteers all over the United States as well as scarf contributors from England, Scotland, Singapore, Germany, South Africa, Australia, and Costa Rica.  Volunteers can make knitted or crocheted scarves to donate.  They prefer the scarves to be 4 to 4 ½ inches wide and at least 60 inches long.  The organization often provides kits with premeasured yarn.  Another way you can help is to donate yarn or make a monetary donation.  Learn more about making a donation on their website.  You can also find a listing of companies that have donated yarn on their website.

Local volunteers can assemble yarn kits, tie ribbons and gift tags on the donated scarves, and ship out boxes of scarves.

You can learn more on the organization’s website,  You can also find them on Facebook or contact them via e-mail.

Thank you letters sent to Handmade Especially for You by some of the 60 shelters for abused women to which they donate comfort scarves.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , ,

Storytellers for Good

There is a lot of bad news out there…school shootings, wars, financial woes, unemployment and more.  There is some good out there, but it doesn’t always make the headlines.  For example, a fellow blogger who is working to celebrate the little good things in our everyday lives or the Random Acts of Kindness post that I did last month.  Today’s post is also about someone trying to bring those good stories into the headlines.

Storytellers for Good was founded in 2009 by Cara Jones because she had a passion for inspiring stories that developed after years in the television news business.  On the Storytellers for Good website, Cara chronicles her last days in the traditional news business.  A slow news day sent her to the scene of a fatal car accident and then on to the home of the accident victim.  As she approached the home, she found a teenager who didn’t yet know that her mother was the accident victim but was putting things together in her mind as the news crew approached.  Cara took a year off and set off on what evolved into a yearlong adventure through South America, Europe and India where she hiked, learned yoga, and rediscovered parts of herself that she had shut down to handle her work.

She returned to Boston and did a series of stories about people who changed her life: a blind and autistic musical savant; a 6 year old girl paralyzed by a bullet who forgave her shooter; a disabled Iraq Veteran turned artist and gallery owner; and a couple in their mid-40’s who, after grieving the loss of their teenage daughter in a drunk driving accident, decided to start all over again…with triplets.  These stories gave meaning to her work and inspired her to create more of these stories.

The mission of Storytellers for Good is to tell and promote stories of people and organizations making a positive difference.  The team at Storytellers for Good works to tell compelling, memorable stories that “feel” with an aim is to help attract funders, motivate volunteers and demonstrate the good work done by area non-profits and organizations.

How can you help?

The biggest way to help is to help Storytellers for good spread the good word – share their videos and blog posts, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.  Also, if you are in the San Francisco, California Bay Area, you can attend their annual film festival.

You can learn more about Storytellers for Good on their website,  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Other


Tags: , , ,


More than half of American families across all income brackets do not feel they could meet their basic financial needs if their income was disrupted for three or more months.  Over 40% state they would dip into a retirement savings if they had an interruption in their income.  Today’s organization is helping to give low-income working families the power to create prosperity for generations through financial education. 

EARN is the nation’s leading microsavings provider.  They provide families the tools to build wealth and achieve life-changing goals such as saving for college, buying a first home, or starting a small business.  Since 2001, they have helped tens of thousands of low-wage families in the San Francisco Bay Area through innovative financial products including matched savings accounts, checking accounts for the unbanked, and financial coaching.

EARN program savers receive 8 hours of financial management training, covering budgeting, spending, credit repair, and long-term planning.  Savers also complete at least two asset-specific workshops per year, covering topics such as starting a small business, budgeting and credit, managing debt, intro to finance, financial aid for education, and first-time home purchase. 

Perhaps the best way to explain EARN’s impact is to share a story from a recent Saver, La Tanya.  After years of drug addiction, La Tanya got clean and sober for her children.  She and her husband struggled to build a better future for their family, but when he got laid off, they almost lost everything – even the kids’ dreams of college.  “EARN saved us,” she says. “EARN taught us to make the most of our money… and the kids learned to save, too.”  Today, La Tanya is a business owner and homeowner, and her son is in college.  Learn more about La Tanya and other success stories here.

EARN also offers some financial information on their website that anyone can take advantage of.  Some of the resources available include the Money Mindfulness Expense Tracking Spreadsheet, a variety of short financial seminar videos, and links to many other resources and financial tools. 

EARN’s ultimate vision is that millions of well-informed, low-wage American families will achieve financial success through proven strategies, fair public policy, and their own hard work.

You can help EARN as a volunteer.  They have a wide range of volunteer needs from routine tasks to teaching Saver Workshops.  You can learn more about the current volunteer opportunities here.  Financial donations are also accepted through the EARN website

Learn more about EARN at their website,  You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: