Tag Archives: New York

Life Vest Inside

Life Vest Inside

This year I have had a series of posts about kindness to highlight that kindness makes a difference.  Some stories included a volunteer becoming a client, how to be kind to those who are different, and how to make habits of kindness in your family.  Today’s organization is on a mission to spread kindness.

Life Vest Inside is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading kindness, empowering people to see their potential and building self-esteem and self-value.  They use inspirational films, a newly developed educational curriculum, and a social platform that connects people across the globe.  Life Vest Inside has an exciting kindness experience to bring back the human connection.  This connection helps people become more aware of their surroundings, not just by words, but through gratifying and uplifting acts of kindness.  Kindness is a universal language.

Orly Wahba always knew in her heart that she wanted to make a difference in the world; “I wanted to leave my mark and I wanted more than anything to bring people together under the banner of peace, respect, and kindness.”  Orly had a difficult time in middle school and high school until one day she looked in the mirror and asked if this was still the girl that was going to change the world with kindness.  “This would not be my end; it was just the beginning. I promised myself back then that I would rise back up and that I would be there for people the way I had wished someone would have been there for me. Been keeping to that promise ever since.”  That promise led her to work with community service organizations, led her to become a middle school teacher, and ultimately led to Life Vest Inside.

So what’s with the name “Life Vest Inside”?  In January 2007, Orly was on a plane to head off on a family vacation when she received the tragic news that a young girl in her community had passed away.  Her mind immediately went to her 7th grade students who had just begun to open up about a classmate who had passed away just three years earlier.  Her eyes became fixated on a small sign that read “LIFE VEST INSIDE” and felt instant comfort.  “A life vest stays afloat regardless of how much you push down upon it. The message hit me to my core. How do you stay afloat? Your life vest is inside! Through the kindness you bestow upon others and through the kindness others bestow upon you we can keep each other afloat through life’s rough seas. We can’t stop or prevent life’s tragedies or curve balls from coming our way, but we can most certainly extend a lifeline to someone in need. And hence, Life Vest Insidewas born.”

The philosophy of the organization is to Inspire, Engage, Educate and Connect. They strive to use these four steps to guide people from mere inspiration to follow through.

  • Inspire: They inspire and instill faith, hope, and belief in a better, brighter tomorrow through the production of inspirational films as well as the use of social media.  Their first short film, Kindness Boomerang has been viewed by over 20 million people. 
  • Engage: The organization offers an exciting and accessible kindness experience, so that people will become more aware of the opportunities that surround them.  Experiences will include Kindness Mission Days, Flash Mob Events, Acts of Kindness Cards, and an upcoming mobile app.  In addition, in February, they will be raising funding by participating in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.
  • Educate: Life Vest Inside is educating children in kindergarten through high school to see the beauty within them.  They seek to empower the youth to raise their voices in kindness, love and respect through our wonderful and interactive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Kindness Curriculum.
  • Connect: Life Vest Inside is working to connect people and organizations through a worldwide volunteer database making it fun and easy to turn inspiration into action by allowing individuals to be matched with organizations that match their interests. 

The organization is based in Brooklyn, New York, but anyone around the world can become involved. 

  • Most importantly, you can spread the message and raise awareness about the organization by sharing this post.
  • You can also make a monetary donation through the Life Vest Inside website
  • There are also volunteer opportunities.  If you are interested in film, computer programing, graphic design, music, social media, education, blogging, or pretty much anything else, Life Vest Inside can find something you can help with.  You can connect with them about specific opportunities on their website.
  • If you are interested in participating in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, visit
  • You can learn more about the kindness curriculum and sign up your school their website.
  • They are also interested in connecting with volunteer leaders to help plan and organize events and fundraisers to bring awareness to the organization.  You can e-mail the volunteer contact on their website to learn more.

You can learn more about Life Vest Inside on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Pajama Program

Tomorrow is pajama day at my daughter’s school.  She gets to wear comfy pajamas to school all day – she can even bring a blanket or stuffed animal along with her.  It makes me a little jealous that I don’t get a pajama day at work.  Maybe I will work from home tomorrow and have a pajama day on my own.  Well, some kids don’t even know the comforts of nice pajamas.  Today’s organization is trying to change that.

The Pajama Program was started in 2001 by Genevieve Piturro.  She was volunteering at a homeless shelter reading to the children and noticed that they did not have pajamas to wear to bed at night.  Instead they slept in the clothes that they had on all day.  Genevieve came back the next week with 12 pair of pajamas.  She handed them to each child when one girl asked what they were and when she would wear them, Genevieve’s heart sank.  Within weeks the idea for the Pajama Program was starting to form.  She told everyone to bring her new pajamas and she gave them to the children.  In late 2001, Parenting Magazine published an article about the pajamas and new books that were being donated and suddenly boxes started arriving from around the country.

The mission of the Pajama Program is to provide new pajamas and new books to children in need.  These children may be waiting to be adopted, children in homeless shelters or temporary living situations, orphanages, or children removed from their homes for various reasons, such as abuse.  The program headquarters is in New York, but there are over 70 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Since their founding, over 1,000,000 new pajamas and new books have been given to children.  These books are theirs to keep – a book and a pair of pajamas to hopefully bring some comfort to these kids.  It doesn’t take long reading thank you notes from children who have received a Pajama Program donation to know that they really make a difference.  The Pajama Program also has additional programs for teens to help them express their feelings with poetry and to learn about money and budgeting.

You can help!

  • The Pajama Program website has everything you need to run a pajama collection in your community, school or business.
  • You can also donate online using a credit card.
  • You can find a chapter near you and volunteer your time.
  • There are also some wish lists on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about the Pajama Program on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Art for Change

As a kid I always enjoyed art.  As an adult I don’t draw or color as much, but I do still enjoy looking at art.  Art is social – people stand around it, talk about it and are moved by it.  Today’s organization uses art as a catalyst for social change.

Art for Change is a 501c3 non-profit organization located in East Harlem community of New York City, New York.  The organization’s mission is to provide a forum through the arts to address the social justice issues that affect the residents of the East Harlem section of New York City.  They encourage the community to push for social change and do it by using art as a catalyst for disseminating information.

Art for Change was founded in March of 2000 by local resident Eliana Godoy along with a group of local artists, activists and supporters.  The new organization would focus on the use art to raise awareness about social and political issues, offer a platform to address and discuss these issues, and encourage civic engagement.  They are dedicated to building a better community through the arts. 

Art for Change currently has several main programs including Hacia Afuera (an annual, two-day multidisciplinary public arts festival that presents over 60 artists in the streets and public spaces of East Harlem) and “Art Belongs to Everyone”(a multidisciplinary visual and performance program that presents exhibits that incorporate interactive workshops, film screenings, dialogues and lectures). 

Art for Change also recently launched an immigration campaign with the goals of shifting the current mainstream discussion away from criminalization and giving a voice to children and young people who are often marginalized from the debate. “It’s Also a Children’s Story” is a component of this campaign. This project strives to create a platform for artistic interventions to take place in particular to give a voice to children’s struggles and aspirations. According to Harry Jean-Pierre, co-executive director of Art for Change, “Art for Change believes that supporting, equipping and mobilizing artists can help create a local and national solidarity movement that can effectively counter the current escalation of anti-immigrant hate and violence.”

As with most organizations we profile on The Blogunteer, Art for Change is a program that depends on help from volunteers.  Here are just a few opportunities:

  • Art for Change has four main committees that oversee their activities.  Volunteers are welcome to serve on the programs, finance, operations or development committees.
  • Volunteers are also needed to assist with events – including setup, cleanup, craft tables, and more. 

You can find a volunteer interest form here

You can also watch the Art for Change website for calls for artists and requests for teaching artists

Donations are also accepted directly through the Art for Change website

Learn more about Art for Change on their website,  You can also follow them on Twitter and Flickr.


Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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A few months ago I profiled an org called Sparked that connects volunteers willing to give a bit of time with organizations who could use their expertise.  Today’s profile is another organization that also serves this same purpose as a matchmaker between organization needs and volunteer expertise. 

Catchafire is based in New York City and serves organizations with a presence in the greater New York Area.  Their mission is to improve the quality of the volunteer experience by providing pro bono opportunities for skilled professionals.  They have a vision to make it easy for every professional to offer their skills for good and to make it easy for every nonprofit and social enterprise to access and effectively use pro bono assistance as a way to do more.

According to Rachael Chong, Catchafire’s Founder and CEO, “We’ve found that many professionals are looking for an outlet to do good, but don’t know where to go to make the greatest impact. At the same time, small nonprofits often struggle with limited resources, and professional services are simply unaffordable.  We aim to bridge that gap, so every professional who wants to give pro bono has an opportunity for a meaningful connection to a cause they care about, and every nonprofit has access to skilled professionals.”

Catchafire has plans to make a positive impact worldwide starting with an expandion to several other markets in the United States over the next year or so.

Chong founded Catchafire two years ago because she felt there was a lack of opportunities for professionals who wanted to contribute their professional skills to help a good cause.  “I used to work as a banker, and during that time, I had looked everywhere for ways to give pro bono — I wanted an alternative to the traditional model of volunteering, in which people stuff envelopes, plant trees, paint houses, etc.  While those types of activities are still very important, I believed that I could make the biggest impact using my expertise for an organization that wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford my services — and I knew many of my peers felt the same way.  That’s why I started Catchafire — to facilitate that connection so professionals can spend less time searching and more time doing pro bono work that matters.”

Currently they serve more than 1,000 social good organizations and more than 5,000 skilled professionals have offered their services. 

Catchafire projects are structured to be short-term with clear deadlines and deliverables.  This allows volunteers to maximize their impact while ensuring that projects do not drag on and on.  Projects are between one to three months in length and can be completed in five hours or less per week by one individual.  They also work with companies who want to offer pro bono opportunities for their employees.  Chong continues, “we think pro bono is a great way for employees to give back while strengthening their professional skill.”  Projects have included social media campaigns, board member searches, graphic design and more.  To find volunteer opportunities, search their Open Projects page.  You can even filter by area of expertise. 

Learn more about Catchafire at their website, or their blog.  You can also follow them on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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