How to Help Superstorm Sandy Victims; Money and Blood Donations Needed Now

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As the Northeast continues to feel the severe impacts of Superstorm Sandy, the rest of the country is already jumping in to help. Not only is money needed to help fund relief efforts already underway, the American Red Cross is also putting out a national call for blood donations to make up for nearly 300 cancelled drives in 11 affected states. Use the links below to donate, or find out more information.

To donate to relief efforts:

  • American Red Cross – Visit www.redcross.org to make a direct donation, or text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to donate $10. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is offering a matching opportunity. He will match any donations to the Red Cross through his Crowdrise fundraising page, up to $25,000. Crowdrise takes 4.95 percent of donations to help fund its operating costs; 100 percent of the donation is tax deductible.
  • Salvation Army – The organization is accepting donations to fund its disaster relief efforts. Volunteers are feeding thousands and operating shelters throughout the region. Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to donate.
  • Feeding America – The group is distributing thousands of pounds of food and fresh water through a network of food banks throughout the Northeast. Find out more at feedingamerica.org.
  • UPDATE – Presbyterian Disaster Assistance – Since this story was first posted, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance set up a way to donate $10 via texting: text “PDA” to 20222. Or donate online at the PDA website.

American Red Cross blood drives in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next week: [Read more…]

Top 10 Reasons To Buy Our 2013 Datebook

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The Good Neighbor Stories 2013 Datebook is officially off to the printers! Here are the “Top 10” reasons why you need to buy this datebook from our friends at Reach and Teach.

  1. Lots of feel good stories to brighten your day. You’ll enjoy seeing the uplifting stories throughout the datebook when you check or note appointments.
  2. Colorful photos that will make you smile all year long.
  3. Inspirational quotes to encourage and motivate.
  4. Plenty of room to write down your appointments or special days.
  5. Don’t use a paper calendar? Our datebook is perfect for use as a place to write goals and intentions, or as a gratitude journal to keep track of what you’re grateful for each day.
  6. It’s good for the Earth. Be satisfied knowing the datebook is printed on paper made from recycled materials, with soy ink.
  7. Great reminders of holidays and other important days from a wide variety of perspectives. If you’re not celebrating a particular holiday, chances are some of your neighbors are. Extend good wishes to them, or get a conversation going and promote cross-cultural understanding.
  8. Helps spread the word about wonderful and worthy nonprofit organizations featured within in the book.
  9. Supports small business. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’re supporting all local businesses.
  10. The perfect gift! Great for family, friends, teachers, caregivers, neighbors—practically anyone. It’s non-fat and zero calories, fits all sizes, is extremely useful, and will lift the spirits of those who use it. They’ll think of you and your thoughtfulness all year!

 

 

 

How to be a Good Neighbor at Election Time, Online and Off

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In my last post I looked at why being a good neighbor/citizen means exercising the right to vote. Today I list ways to be kind to others during the election season, when emotions may run high.

There’s that old admonishment to “never talk about religion or politics,” but during a highly contested election it can be difficult to sidestep the topic of politics altogether. Especially with how interconnected many of us are on social media, we now find our news feeds filled with well-meaning (or not) family and friends expressing themselves with frequent clicks.

Here’s my list of  ways to be a good and kind neighbor in the public space (in person and online) during the election. It’s not always easy; I admit it’s challenging for me to follow my own advice, and I’ve stumbled a number of times. Here’s to all of us elevating civility and focusing on the greater good at election time.

During an election a good neighbor:

How to be a Good Neighbor at Election Time; Why it’s Important to Vote

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Note: Today I give reasons why good neighbors vote. Join me next time for a list of ways to be a good and kind neighbor to our family, friends, and fellow citizens throughout the election season.

I spend a lot of time at Good Neighbor Stories working to inspire people to be better neighbors, not just in the literal sense of proximity on our own blocks, but in the global sense of how our actions ripple out through our communities and the rest of the world. What we do—or don’t do—has very real impact, even if we don’t perceive it. And while I haven’t said it explicitly, I do imply in my writings that being a good neighbor equals being a good citizen.

In this age of  up to half or more of the eligible voters not exercising the right to vote, this may seem like a bold, or even naive, claim: good neighbors/citizens vote. It is a right, but it’s also a responsibility. And with that responsibility comes some preparation so that the vote you make is an informed one.

If you have not registered to vote, or moved since you last voted, you have until Monday, Oct. 22, in California (postmarked or turned in at an official site) to register. You can register right now onlineOnce registered, take some time to do a little research before voting. In my next post, I’ll go into more detail on that aspect.

In the meantime, here are several basic reminders of why it’s important to vote: [Read more…]

Avoid Kicking Yourself Later Like I’ve Done Many Times at Costco

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If I learned anything from being a Costco customer for more than two decades (it was Price Club when we joined) it’s that if you see something you’re really interested in, buy it now, because it probably won’t be there the next time you come. I kicked myself many times for not grabbing some widget, tchotchke, or tasty specialty item on an earlier visit.

To help you avoid facing a similar fate, I’m here to give you fair warning: only a limited number of  the Good Neighbor Stories 2013 Datebook are slated for printing. The best way to insure you get a copy is to pre-order one by Friday, Oct. 19.

“Start everyday feeling good about the world,” is the motto my datebook co-creators at Reach and Teach like to say when describing it, and it’s extremely apt. You’ll start every day with loads of inspiration from the uplifting photos and stories, as well as the encouraging quotes.

The datebook is the perfect holiday gift under $20 for anyone you know who could use some good news throughout the year. It’s also great for anyone adamant about sticking to a paper calendar to keep track of dates and appointments.

Speaking of paper vs. digital calendars, if you’ve made the switch to digital, I make the case in an earlier post that the datebook is great for other uses, such as a place to keep track of goals and intentions, or used as a gratitude journal, listing those things you feel grateful for at the end of each day.

For lots more details about the datebook, see the post introducing it, and/or read all about it and see a low resolution PDF at the Reach and Teach website.

So skip kicking yourself ! Order a copy (or more, for gifts) as soon as possible. And if you miss the pre-order deadline there’s still a chance you’ll be able to snatch up copies, since an additional number beyond the pre-orders will be produced.

 

You Can Make a Difference—And Your Friends Want to Help

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You have the power to make a difference in the world. And your friends are just waiting for you to ask for their help.

That lesson was driven home for me a few years ago when I accepted a challenge thrown down at a conference. The challenge was to multiply some money to help others within three weeks. I was intimidated at first, but in the end I discovered meeting the challenge was a lot easier than I thought, and I was amazed by how eager my friends wanted to partner with me.

A Daunting Challenge?

The challenge came at a Donald Miller Storyline Conference in Portland, OR., as part of a point about “living a better story”. Audience members were given the opportunity to take envelopes that contained either $5, $10, or $20 bills. The catch was that we had to commit to doing something that would help another person or organization, ideally in a way that multiplied the money.

My envelope had $20 in it. The challenge felt daunting. How would I multiply the money? In such a short period of time, up against an already busy schedule? What if I failed?

As I left the auditorium clutching my envelope, it crossed my mind I could turn around and give it back. Yet beneath the doubt was a sense of excitement. What if I succeeded? What good things could come from a $20 bill? [Read more…]

Search for Jackson Miller Continues With TV Show, Website

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The family of 22-year-old Jackson Miller of Cupertino hopes that his story on a national missing persons show, and a newly-launched website called findjacksonmiller.com, will lead to a break in his 2010 disappearance, despite no new leads in more than a year.

Jackson Miller

Miller’s story will appear on the show “Missing”, on KTVU Channel 2, at 12:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 15.

Miller left his home on May 15, 2010, at age 19, alarming parents Gina Funaro and Paul Miller. Funaro told Good Neighbor Stories in July 2010 that Miller was anxious and depressed in the days leading up to his disappearance. A current missing persons flyer also mentions he was suffering withdrawals from prescription medication.

Within two days his car—with his wallet and identification inside—was found parked in a lot near the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridge officials reported no jumps, but the family was worried because Coast Guard video from a camera on the Marin County side of the bay showed a splash around the time the car was abandoned.

With the help of friends and family, his parents launched a search in San Francisco, leaving flyers asking for information. A few days later someone reported meeting a man closely fitting Miller’s description. Subsequent sightings throughout the city convinced the family that Miller was alive somewhere on the streets of San Francisco. [Read more…]

La Mesa Verde Gardeners Growing Community

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Debbie Cullati Meza

Like a flourishing vine extending outward, Debbie Cullati Meza’s tender loving care for two raised beds full of delicious and healthy vegetables goes beyond her back yard into her surrounding San Jose neighborhood.

Meza, a.k.a. the “Urban Garden Diva”, is a volunteer for La Mesa Verde, an urban gardening program at Sacred Heart Community Services, located in the Washington-Alma area. When she signed up to plant and tend the beds in her own yard, she jumped in to help grow the program for the entire neighborhood.

She writes a blog at urbangardendiva.blogspot.com, chronicling her experience tending the beds in her yard, has a Facebook page, and helps La Mesa Verde Program Manager Malin Ramirez in numerous other ways.

“It’s been incredible,” Meza said.  “This gardening has been a really important way for me to reconnect with people and for healing…it’s therapeutic and satisfying, plus now I’ve connected with a bunch of people.”

On Spring Planting Day back in April, after Meza received all the materials to create her new garden, she volunteered herself and her husband and son to help with more deliveries. They dropped off supplies and met with 14 other families that same day.

After a successful season with her own beds, she was excited for Fall Planting Day on Saturday, Sept. 29. And just as she had in spring, Meza was busy volunteering again, this time in the kitchen at Sacred Heart’s headquarters making coffee for more than 100 people.

The festive event included planting demonstrations in English and Spanish, testimonials from participants, and a time for families to pick up seedlings of broccoli, lettuce, peas, and other cool season crops to take home to their backyard gardens. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in October

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Like those fun Russian nesting dolls, tucked inside each one of our five ways to be a good neighbor tips are even more ideas on how to Pink for Octobermake your community a much better place. Take a peek, see what ideas pique your interest, and do good!

Know some more ways? Leave ideas in the comment section, or drop us a line and let us know about ideas in October, November, and beyond.

1. Go Pink: If you’re noticing pink ribbons cropping up everywhere, it’s because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nonprofits, health groups, government agencies, and businesses are banding together to promote awareness of the disease, raise funds for research, and provide greater access to diagnosis and treatment. Events are taking place all month, like El Camino Hospital’s Girls’ Night Out on Oct. 23, in Los Gatos, or the TREK Breast Cancer Awareness Ride on Oct. 13, in Los Altos. You can even bowl for breast cancer awareness in a special league in Milpitas; proceeds throughout the month go to fund Susan G. Komen For the Cure. On Oct. 27 the American Cancer Society is presenting the 5th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, in San Jose. For even more ideas, check out this local Patch.com story. For early detection cancer screening for low income women, see the Every Woman Counts page on the California Department of Health Services website.

2. Walk On: Speaking of walking, besides the aforementioned breast cancer walk, there are a number of charity walks happening in the Bay Area this month. Consider raising money for a good cause, while at the same time meeting friendly people and getting some exercise along the way. Upcoming charity walks include the Bay Area Leadership Foundation Fourth Annual Walk for Leadership in Oakland on Oct. 6, to benefit deserving youth going to college, the Walk for Farm Animals in San Francisco on Oct. 13, promoting compassionate treatment of farm animals, and the Bay Area Walk/Run for Food Allergies in Memory of BJ Hom, also on Oct. 13, in San Jose, to support the Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). On Oct. 14 walkers can support the American Diabetes Association at the  Step Out: Walk to End Diabetes  in San Jose. And on Oct. 20 it’s the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, in San Jose.

3. Be Festive: Fall seems to bring out the festivals, so take advantage of the chance to make new friends in your community. [Read more…]