Update: Super Volunteer Weekend Includes ‘Giant Sweep’ Event in SF


Giant Sweep EventEarlier this week I told you about what I’m dubbing as the Bay Area’s “Super Volunteer Weekend”, with numerous volunteer and charity walks taking place all over the region. Beautiful Day and Compassion Weekend alone could attract more than 10,000 volunteers. Now add a “Giant Sweep” event on Saturday, April 27, sponsored by the San Francisco Giants, the City of San Francisco, and Starbucks.

I don’t normally visit Starbucks, so I”m not surprised I missed the news that the company declared April as the “Global Month of Service,” and Saturday, April 27, as the “Global Day of Service”. It’s all part of a community service initiative of Starbuck’s to rack up 1 million hours of community service amongst participating staffers and patrons by the year 2015.

On Saturday the company is partnering with the San Francisco Giants and the City of San Francisco for a Giant Sweep anti-litter event. The public is invited to meet at 8:30 a.m. at the U.N. Plaza, 1150 Market St., for a kickoff ceremony, followed by clean up events located all over the city. [Read more…]

‘Pay It Forward’ Today


Pay It Forward DayToday, April 25, is the 7th annual Pay It Forward Day, when people around the world are asked to perform kind deeds for up to three people, and in turn encouraging each recipient of the deed to “pay it forward” to up to three more people, and so on. The hope is to spread a wave of 5 million acts of kindness around the world in one day.

The Pay It Forward website includes downloadable and printable cards to pass out to the receivers of the good deeds. The cards themselves are then passed on to the next recipients. On the back of each card are check boxes, so that as they travel recipients can see how many people have already been a part of the chain of kindness. [Read more…]

Wounded Soldiers Catch Some Waves Thanks to Operation Surf


Mark Brazwell (front) steadies himself while surfing with Operation Surf in Santa Cruz.

When San Jose native Mark Brazwell  suffered debilitating leg injuries in Afghanistan as part of a U.S. Navy explosives ordinance disposal unit, he had no idea that experience would lead to standing tall while riding the waves in Santa Cruz.

“It’s absolutely amazing; it’s beyond words,” Brazwell said, after a morning of surfing off of Cowell’s Beach near the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. After growing up Boogieboarding, bodysurfing, and skateboarding, he always dreamed of actually surfing. Thanks to a nonprofit program called Operation Surf, that dream became a reality last week—despite his injuries.

Brazwell and nine other soldiers—some missing legs, arms, or feet—got a week of surfing April 15-19, thanks to the program coordinated by the nonprofit Amazing Surf Adventures, in conjunction with another nonprofit, Operation Comfort.

“We had no idea it would be this intense, and there would be so much support,” Brazwell said, referring to the dozens of volunteers who made Operation Surf possible.

There were two volunteer surf instructors in the water for every soldier that particular day, with even more on the beach coordinating food, transportation, lodging and anything else the soldiers needed. [Read more…]

Bay Area’s Super Volunteer Weekend Approaches; Sign Up to Make a Difference


From Beautiful Day 2012.

A wave of kindness and compassion is about to wash over the Bay Area this weekend. Are you ready to dive in?

Numerous nonprofit and faith-based groups are sponsoring large-scale volunteer events all over the region April 27 and 28, and they’re counting on you, along with thousands of others, to swing hammers, pull weeds, paint homes, beautify schools, and take long walks all in the name of helping our communities.

The biggest events of the weekend, Beautiful Day and Compassion Weekend, could draw as many as 10,000 people to projects from San Francisco to Hollister.  National Rebuilding Day takes place on Saturday, when even more thousands of volunteers representing four local chapters of Rebuilding Together will refurbish dozens homes. There are a few more Earth Day events taking place, and several charity walks are slated.

UPDATE (4/25/13): Giant Sweep, a collaboration of Starbucks, the San Francisco Giants, and the City of San Francisco, is also taking place on Saturday, April 27, in what the coffee giant is calling a Global Day of Service. Up to 1,000 volunteers are needed to clean up litter and make improvements around the city from 8:30 a.m. to lunchtime.

Below is a rundown of all the major events happening in the region this weekend, with links to online registrations. Consider joining your neighbors in making the Bay Area a better place for all.

Did I miss an event? Please share the information in comments! [Read more…]

Happy Earth Day!


Image Credit: Giving Tuesday.

On this Earth Day, let us remember that by being good neighbors to the Earth, we are good neighbors to all who inhabit the planet.

Silicon Valley Solidarity Run for Boston on Monday Evening


Picture 3Members of Silicon Valley’s running community are gathering in Mountain View on Monday, April 22, to run in solidarity with victims of the Boston Marathon bombings last Monday. A local running store is hosting the event, and will be taking orders for t-shirts as part of a fundraiser for The One Fund Boston.

The “Runners for Boston Solidarity Run” will take place at 6:30 p.m. along the Stevens Creek Trail. Anyone interested in participating in the four-mile fun run/walk is encouraged to meet before 6:30 p.m., by the Burger King in the Mountain View Shopping Center, 177 W. El Camino Real. [Read more…]

The One Fund Boston Launches to Help Bombing Victims


Picture 2Within hours of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, government officials and business people conferred together to create The One Fund Boston, to raise money to help approximately 180 victims of the attack. By Friday the new nonprofit had raised $10 million.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support by the business community and individuals who are united in their desire to help; The One Fund Boston will act as a central fund to receive much needed financial support,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a press release. “At moments like this, we are one state, one city, and one people.”

According to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, support from the business community was immediate.

“Within an hour, I had calls from business leaders and local philanthropists who, like me, were heartbroken by the impact this hideous tragedy has had on individuals, their families, and friends. And they want to do everything they can to help these people physically and psychologically in the future,” the mayor said. [Read more…]

‘Unprovoked Violence is Incompatible with Islam’


truthislam_1With at least one news report of a Muslim woman being physically and verbally attacked in Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings—and as the news media continues to speculate as to the motivations of the two brothers from Chechnya suspected of planting the bombs—it’s important to remember that acts of terror are aligned with the political leanings of a few, and not with the religious beliefs of more than one billion Muslims worldwide. That is one of the main points in a new book about Islam by San Jose pastor and author Ben Daniel.

In Daniel’s new book, The Search for Truth About Islam; A Christian Pastor Separates Fact From Fiction, he devotes an entire chapter to what he says is the, “mythic narrative that equates Islam with all that is violent, oppressive, repressive, and vile.”

He told an audience at a book reading in San Mateo on April 6,  that the chances of a randomly selected Muslim being a terrorist are “less than shuffling a deck of cards and dealing a straight flush.” While it’s possible, he said, the odds are extremely long.

Terrorism is related to political and nationalistic leanings, he said, and not religious beliefs. In the book he writes, “(I)t would be impossible to overstate the extent to which religious violence lies outside the mainstream of Islam.” From his own research, he found that Muslims from all over the world, “insist that unprovoked violence is incompatible with Islam.” [Read more…]

Earth Day Events Flood Weekend Calendar


volunteer-cleans-up-creekGet ready to love the Earth this weekend, there are dozens of Earth Day events happening all over the San Francisco Bay Area, mostly on Saturday, but other events are taking place Sunday, and even into next week.

The biggest, and perhaps most well-known of the events, is Earth Day San Francisco, taking place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Civic Center Plaza in the downtown area. The main stage features “edutainment”, with music and other live performances throughout the day. There are hands-on exhibits, an entire area dedicated to electric transportation, eco fashion shows, eco art, sustainable/solar powered beer and wine gardens, Earth-friendly vendors, an “Eco Youth Zone”, and two children’s playgrounds.

Across the bay in Oakland there are more than 80 volunteer projects scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon. You can download a complete list of project locations from Oakland’s website. Bring your own tools, gloves, hats, and sunscreen. [Read more…]

Rural Chinese Children, Schools Prosper With Help From Bay Area Volunteers


President Steve Ting and one of the students Shin Shin Educational Foundation is helping. Photo courtesy of the foundation.

“A group effort will bring prosperity,” goes the old Chinese saying. In the case of the Shin Shin Educational Foundation, a group effort by volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area is bringing educational prosperity to rural Chinese school children in the form of sturdy buildings, books, access to computers, and better-trained teachers.

It started in 1997 with a trip back to China for some elders who had settled in the U.S. Noting that schools in their home villages were in poor condition, they returned to their new country, determined to raise money to build new schools for the children of those villages.

Over the past 16 years that small group of elders has grown to hundreds of volunteers, and the Bay Area-based Shin Shin Educational Foundation (“Shin Shin” means “prosperity” in Mandarin) now helps more than 120,000 elementary school children and educators in 333 schools throughout rural provinces. [Read more…]