Feathered Fundraising: Artist Creates Cruelty-Free Jewelry to Aid Birds


Tania Tengan and Kaiya.

Tania Tengan spends a lot of time cleaning out birdcages as an owner and foster parent of rescued companion birds. The feathers and poop were getting scooped up together and dumped into the trash, until one day she realized she could rescue the feathers and make something both beautiful and valuable to help even more birds.

“Many of us bird owners were throwing away the majority of our birds’ feathers every morning with cage paper…I made a pair of earrings with some feathers from my own 21-year-old bird,” she remembered. “They were beautiful.”

In addition to being a passionate supporter of different animal rescue groups, including Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue and Mickacoo Pigeon and Dove Rescue, Tengan is an artist. Noticing the popularity of feathered jewelry, she decided to create and sell her own, donating a portion to help more birds.

There was one more facet to Tengan’s new artistic and philanthropic endeavor, raising awareness about the dark side of most feathered accessories. [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 5: Getting Busy Building Community


habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-volunteersIf I had to boil my five days of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity’s 2013 Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, it would come to this: good people can make a difference in their communities, even in the face of overwhelming problems.

All week long I couldn’t help contrasting what was happening at the national level with what was happening right in my own backyard of Silicon Valley with CWP. The government was shut down, seemingly mired in an impossible conflict, yet all of us working on CWP were getting something truly good done in our communities. Groups like Habitat are tackling huge issues like affordable housing, and make a real impact. Of course Habitat couldn’t do what it does without partnering with municipalities and governmental agencies, but it’s not chained to a political process that sometimes leaves the most vulnerable in the dust.

Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, nearly 30 families in Oakland and San Jose were helped in very valuable ways. Work on a dozen new homes in Oakland progressed, renovation work on two homes in San Jose came closer to completion, and about 15 homes got things like new roofs, energy-efficient windows, new insulation, siding, and numerous repairs both small and large.  [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 4: The Kindness Continues

Siding Lesson

Volunteers get a lesson from an experienced staff member in how to side a house.

The work—and the kindness—continued at the Carter Work Project in San Jose on Day 4. Teams of volunteers—about half have been here all week, the other half new that day—moved out a little earlier than usual to worksites, determined to finish what was started a few days before.

I’ve seen it happen on other week-long service events, volunteers taking ownership of the project, determined to finish before they have to leave on Friday. A sense of urgency takes over on Day 4, because typically the last day is not a full day. Tomorrow projects come to an end just before 2 p.m.

On this day everyone left from Lake Cunningham Park to job sites for the entire day, rather than returning midday for lunch, saving travel time to and from the worksites before and after. Which meant the support staff volunteers at home base had to scramble in the late morning to divide and pack up the day’s lunch for pickup by site hosts. There were less sites on this day, since three home repair jobs were completed in the first three days, leaving five repair sites and two home renovations.

In my role as Social Media Volunteer, I spent most of my day writing stories about volunteers and staff at the event for Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, as well as taking photos. The highlight of my day was interviewing an amazing 79-year-old woman who criss-crosses the country in a RV to build Habitat homes. I was honored to hear her story. I’ll post a link to it later.




Carter Work Project Day 3: ‘The Volunteers are Very Cool’


Overfelt High School’s Habitat for Humanity Club.

I lived to see Day 3 of the Habitat for Humanity Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, something I wasn’t too sure about at the end of Day 2, when President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter came to work. After getting up at 4:30 a.m. and working a full day on Tuesday, I had my doubts, especially when I felt a little tickle in my throat that evening.

To make it to a new day of volunteering, I loaded up on Vitamin C and let myself sleep in, knowing that the registration table was in good hands with the other volunteers I worked with on Monday and Tuesday, and that the number of volunteers checking in would drop back down to Monday’s levels. Thankfully the extra sleep worked; I had the energy to continue my social media volunteer duties all day Wednesday.

On Tuesday my focus was on capturing photos of the executives and employees of the numerous companies that donated to the CWP. Wednesday I spent time with an awesome group of Overfelt High School students who founded a Habitat for Humanity Club at their school. I also interviewed a group of experienced Habitat construction employees who came up as a group from Los Angeles. [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 2: ‘Habitat a Gift to All of Us’


president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-san-jose-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesTuesday was Day 2 of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, or rather, The Big Day, since President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn came to work side by side with a partner family and hundreds of volunteers.

The morning started early and in the dark at 6 a.m. for those of us serving as registration volunteers. We fumbled in the dark, using a couple of flashlights and our cell phones to read off names as volunteers showed up. Approximately 275 volunteers checked in over the next couple of hours.

Sometime after 8 a.m. the stars of the event, President and Mrs. Carter, arrived by a small motorcade, and more than 300 people, including volunteers and donors who attended an earlier breakfast, burst into applause as they walked from the parking lot to the outdoor pavilion in Lake Cunningham Park. Moments later the crowd stood up and cheered for President Carter as he took to the stage to speak, prompting him to quip, “Sit down, save your strength, you’re going to need it for later in the day!” [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 1: ‘A Culture of Kindness’


carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valley-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-carter-volunteers-kindnessI spent the day with dozens of volunteers today in San Jose for Day 1 of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project. One of the best lines of the day was from a long-time volunteer who told me she volunteers because of Habitat’s “culture of kindness.”

Best moment of the day: when a member of one of the partner families—someone who thought she’d never be able to purchase a home in her lifetime—was in tears when I asked her what being able to purchase a Habitat home means to her. She could barely speak.

My day as a volunteer started at 6:30 a.m. at Lake Cunningham Park in East San Jose to help at the registration tables, before heading off to work sites to interview people and take photos as a Social Media Volunteer. Of the volunteers I met today, most were from around the Bay Area, but some were from as far away as Los Angeles.

Tomorrow’s day starts at 6 a.m., to greet the hundreds of volunteers showing up to work with President Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn, and country music stars and husband and wife Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood. The couples worked in Oakland today.

Here are some other highlights from the day: [Read more…]

Habitat’s Carter Work Project in Bay Area Begins!


president-jimmy-carter-rosalyn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valleyThis morning marks the beginning of the 30th anniversary Carter Work Project (CWP), Habitat for Humanity’s annual large-scale volunteer event, and I am ready for the roller coaster ride about to launch here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I volunteered to be a “Social Media Volunteer” in San Jose for the week-long service event. Mostly I’ll be doing what I always do as a journalist, interviewing people, taking photos, and writing stories, only on the fly around San Jose. I’ll also be sending bits of content to the people in charge of Habitat’s media for tweets and other social media posts throughout each day.

I’ve wanted to be a volunteer for the CWP for more than 20 years, but family, work, finances, and distance have all been a factor in not signing up. The special service and fundraising event is held in a different location every year, in the U.S. and abroad. When I heard this past spring that the CWP was coming to the Bay Area, I jumped at the chance to help. [Read more…]

‘Unless’ Carnival For Those Who Care a Whole Awful Lot


Hana Reinhardt and Cole, a Humane Society Silicon Valley foster dog.

An 11-year-old girl is inspiring her Sunnyvale church to take a page out of Dr. Seuss “The Lorax”, and host an “Unless” Carnival on Saturday, Oct. 12, to raise money and awareness for rescued pets and homeless people, and make the world a better place along the way.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” says The Lorax in the famous children’s book. That quote became the basis for the “Unless” Carnival, led by Hana Reinhardt of Congregational Community Church, who took hold of the carnival idea and drummed up support from others to make it a reality.

The carnival will feature game booths, a rummage sale, food, prizes, and animals ready for adoption. All the proceeds will go to the Humane Society Silicon Valley, and the Faith In Action Silicon Valley Rotating Shelter. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the church, 1112 S. Bernardo Ave., Sunnyvale.

“We will have something for people of all ages to enjoy,” Hana said in a church press release. When asked how much a carnival can do to make a difference for the homeless people and animals, Hana responded, “When we help even just one, it makes a difference to that one.” [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in October


Bay-Area-Pet-Fair-Adoptathon-pet-adoptions-be-a-good-neighborThe Federal Government may be temporarily shut down, but the business of being a good neighbor is always open, which is why I present to you the monthly “Five Ways” column. This month is probably the best month to act on one of these suggestions, because chances are you alone can’t change what’s happening at the national level at the moment, but you can absolutely make a difference in at least one life in your own neighborhood.

Got more ideas for how to be a good neighbor? Tell us in comments!

1. Adopt a Rescued Pet: There are many opportunities to adopt a rescued pet this month, starting October 5-6 at the Bay Area Pet Fair and Adoptathon. In addition to hundreds of dogs, cats, and small animals available for adoption, the fair features stunt dog shows, splash dogs, police K9 units, 200 pet supply vendors, activities for kids, and much more. Admission and parking is free at the event, which takes place 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days at the Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more dog rescue events this month, check out the Doggie Protective Services website.  Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue is hosting an adoption event from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Brentwood Shadow Lakes Golf Course Event Center, 401 West Country Club Dr., in Brentwood. You can find out more about this event, and other Mickaboo October events at the group’s website.  [Read more…]