Writing to Change the World: The South Bay Blogging for Good Meetup

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South Bay Blogging for GoodA few months ago I started The South Bay Blogging for Good Meetup in Cupertino. We’re an eclectic bunch of bloggers coming from different perspectives, but with one goal in mind, to make the world a better place through blogging.

Making a positive impact has always been the foremost interest of this blog, Good Neighbor Stories. I launched it to share inspirational stories and helpful information for anyone wanting to contribute to the community.

It has been a wonderful experience getting to know so many awesome people and organizations through reporting for this blog, but it’s also a challenging one. Although blogging has been around for about two decades, it’s still an emerging medium, with lots of different ways to go about it. Starting a blog and maintaining it can lead to a lot of quandaries and questions.

I thought it would be helpful to bring together bloggers like me, folks who wanted to make a difference, so we could encourage and support one another in our blogging efforts. So far it’s been a great experience, and I think we’ve been able to share good information about blogging with each other.

The group is open to anyone in the South Bay who is blogging, or thinking about blogging, on topics that seek to make a difference. We meet the first Monday evening of each month at a Cupertino restaurant. Our next meeting is at 7 p.m., April 1. To find out more, join the meetup. It’s completely free.

If you know of anyone who might be helped by this group, please send them a link to this post.

 

The Push is On: 2,000 Habitat Volunteers Needed for Carter Work Project This Fall

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Mike Rico of Americorps and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley readies a volunteer project.

Former President Jimmy Carter could use some help on an important “To Do” list of community work projects in Oakland and San Jose this October, which is why the Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley staff is busy at the moment rounding up approximately 2,000 volunteers.

Carter, who will turn 89 on Oct. 1, and his wife Rosalynn, 85, are coming to Oakland on Sunday, Oct. 6, to kickoff Habitat’s Carter Work Project (CWP),an annual major service and fundraising event now in its 30th year. This is the first time a CWP has come to the San Francisco Bay Area.

After an opening ceremony in Oakland on Sunday, the Carters will work with volunteers on Monday at the nonprofit’s Brookfield Court Development in Oakland, and on Tuesday in the Dorsa-TOCKNA neighborhood of San Jose. They will then fly to projects in Denver, and finally New York City, where the first CWP took place in 1984. Work will continue on projects in the Bay Area through Friday, Oct. 11. [Read more…]

New Resource: The Kindness Calendar

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Kindness-Calendar-annual-events-service-volunteers-community-good-neighbor-storiesAfter nearly three years of covering all sorts of volunteer service events, as well as special days for kindness and general do-goodery, I decided to put all the ones that happen on an annual basis into a single handy resource list, the Kindness Calendar.

Scratching your head as to when Random Acts of Kindness Week or Make a Difference Day is? It’s on the calendar. Planning a service event for your organization and wondering if you can piggyback on a community-wide event, or want to avoid a conflict? Double check on the calendar. Need a link for more information about an organization sponsoring a specific day? Go to the calendar!

There are more than 30 special days/weeks/awareness months listed on the calendar. Most of them have links to organizations or information pages that relate to each one. Share the calendar with your friends and colleagues who may be interested.

You can always find the Kindness Calendar on the drop-down menu below the Community Calendar button at the top of the page. Which reminds me, list your own community event for free on the Community Calendar page at anytime.

Did I miss an annual awareness event? Please tell me in the comments section!

 

Dedicated Volunteers Help Rescued Birds Take Flight to New Homes

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Pamela Lee engages Tango, a Meyer’s Parrot rescued by Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue.

They can be friendly, affectionate, chatty, noisy, curious, clownish, enchanting, playful, shy, and maybe even a little exasperating at times—they are companion birds, and thanks to the dedicated Bay Area volunteers at Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue, thousands of parakeets, parrots, cockatiels, cockatoos, macaws, and others facing neglect or an early demise are finding new homes.

The volunteer-run Mickaboo (a combination of two birds named “Mick” and “Aboo” belonging to the group’s founders) rescues and places a few hundred birds every year, with estimates of helping a total of up to 1,000 birds with its programs. At any given time there are more than 300 birds in the “foster flock”, cared for in volunteers’ homes dotting the region, according to board member Pamela Lee.

The nonprofit is not as well known as dog and cat rescue groups, but for about 17 years it has consistently offered a safe place for San Francisco Bay Area residents to relinquish birds, adopt, and find much-needed advice and guidance. [Read more…]

Empty Shoes Show Toll of Iraq/Afghanistan War at ‘Eyes Wide Open’ Exhibit

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eyes-wide-open-exhibit-american-friends-service-committee-king-plaza-palo-alto-photos-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-stories Rows of empty soldier’s boots filled King Plaza in downtown Palo Alto on Saturday, March 16, to represent lives lost in the 10 years since the start of two U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the “Eyes Wide Open” Exhibit.

The site was sobering enough, but included in the exhibit were rows of civilian shoes—from casual and dress shoes of adults to small pink and white girls’ sneakers—representing the men, women and children civilians killed during those wars.

Members of the community gathered in the plaza to hear various speakers, sing songs of peace, and participate in prayers from different faith traditions, as well as walk amidst the shoes and reflect on the names of the individuals they represented.

The traveling exhibit was created by the American Friends Service Committee. The Palo Alto event was co-sponsored by the committee and numerous local peace groups, including Mutifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, and Veterans for Peace Chapter 101. [Read more…]

Lisa Blanchard of The Grateful Garment Project Featured on NBC Bay Area Proud

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Lisa Blanchard of The Grateful Garment Project was featured on NBC Bay Area Proud on Thursday night, as I reported earlier this week. Congratulations, Lisa!

 

 

Put Your Sweater On and Help Someone, it’s ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ Day

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It’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day, a.k.a Mister Rogers’ birthday. America’s favorite neighbor would have been 85 today. Over the last 10 won't-you-be-my-neighbor-day-fred-rogers-mister-rogers-volunteerismyears since his death, March 20 has grown in popularity as a special day to promote volunteerism and all-around neighborliness. Plus wearing sweaters.

When “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” premiered on PBS in 1968, the gentle children’s show always started with the song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, along with Mister Rogers putting on a signature cardigan sweater (usually zip-up, and always knitted by his mother) and a pair of lace-up tennis shoes. The show encouraged the qualities of creativity, kindness, tolerance, and altruism.

In Fred Rogers’ hometown of Pittsburgh, PA., city groups celebrate this day with volunteer service projects, and everyone is encouraged to don a cardigan sweater. In fact, collection drives for sweaters, shoes, and other clothes, along with diapers, food, books, and more, are popular events. [Read more…]

The Grateful Garment Project Continuing to Expand, Looking for Special Hosts

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Lisa Blanchard. Photo by The Grateful Garment Project.

I caught up with Lisa Blanchard of The Grateful Garment Project last week. She’s the San Jose woman who created an all-volunteer organization from a college project to provide clothing and other items to victims of sexual assault at Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) facilities around the state.

Thanks to Blanchard and her volunteers, victims who previously left SART centers in nothing more than paper hospital gowns may now leave fully clothed, with perhaps a shred of dignity. The group also provides toiletries and other items, as well as funds to create more comforting surroundings.

I first wrote about Blanchard and the project in July 2012. On Thursday she’s being featured on a Bay Area Proud segment by the local NBC News affiliate.

The group is doing well, she tells me, and is currently recruiting people to host parties for friends to educate them about the need for the services, as well as collect donations of clothing and money.

“We’re always on the lookout for people who want to have a party,” she said. “We need some help.” [Read more…]

Crab Feeds Snapping Up Funds for Bay Area Organizations, Growing in Popularity

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Courtesy Fremont Union High School District Foundation

Who knew the crab—that red crustacean with the big, pinching claws and beady eyes—would provide such tasty, and lucrative, fundraising and community-building events for Bay Area organizations?

The delectable white meat provided by California Dungeness crabs packs in thousands of people to a growing number of charity crab feeds this time of year, which are turning into one of the top ways for groups like school support organizations, youth sports leagues, police and fire organizations, churches, among others, to raise much-needed funds.

The events also serve as a way to bring communities together as beloved annual traditions. Despite ticket prices of $50 or more per person, the feeds are flourishing during the economic downturn.

“It’s always been a fundraiser, it’s always been a money maker, but really it’s to get people together,” said Justin Greene, who’s been in the business of crab feeds since the mid 1970s. Justin’s Crab Company provides fresh, ready-to-eat Dungeness crab to hundreds of charity feeds, mostly January through March.

In Cupertino, the Fremont Union High School District Foundation (FUHSDF) is expecting 600 to 700 people to consume about 1,900 pounds of crab provided by Greene’s company, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., on April 5, in the De Anza College Gym. [Read more…]

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Coming to Bay Area for Habitat Project

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valleyPresident Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn are coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for two days in October as part of the 30th anniversary Carter Work Project (CWP) service event for Habitat for Humanity. It is the first time the annual project is happening in the region.

This year’s CWP runs from Sunday, Oct. 6, to Friday, Oct. 11, with building activities, community projects, and special events taking place in San Jose, Oakland, Denver, and New York. The Carters will start in the Bay Area on Sunday, and leave on Tuesday, Oct. 8, traveling east until they reach New York, the site of the first CWP in 1984. [Read more…]