Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in June

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Being a good neighbor is rewarding, but it does take some time and effort. Sometimes it’s spontaneous, like when you see someone who donut_grlneeds help carrying something, or someone who just needs a smile and kind word. But often it requires some planning, making space on the calendar, and digging into your pockets. Every month I give you five suggestions for community events, volunteer service events, and more. Put one of these on your June calendar, and then enjoy the rewards of helping others!

1. Share Some Fried Dough Goodness: Friday, June 6, is National Donut Day, originally started to commemorate the Salvation Army “Lassies,” young volunteer women who made and delivered fresh doughnuts to American soldiers in Europe during World War I and II. When the soldiers returned home they craved the sweet treats, and the rest of America was introduced to the doughnut. Krispy Kreme gives away a free doughnut to each customer (no purchase required), and many other doughnut shops are running their own specials. Make your friends and co-workers smile that day with a fresh, hot batch. Or make the day a little more meaningful than just calories by making a donation to the Salvation Army, to support the organization’s extensive community programs and disaster relief efforts. Entenmann’s, which makes 780 million doughnuts annually, is teaming up with the Salvation Army this year, by offering to donate $1 for every new “like” on its Facebook page during June, up to $30,000. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in May

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Silicon Valley GivesApril showers bring…weeds! I was greeted by a whole new crop of weeds at my community garden plot this week. My May will include heavy doses of weed pulling, digging, and finally planting vegetable and flower seedlings for a summer/fall harvest. In between weeding and digging sessions, I’ll also be taking part in some community-building activities.

What about you? What will you be doing to make your world a better place this month? I’ve got five suggestions for you right here.

1. Make Silicon Valley Giving History: Tuesday, May 6, marks the first Silicon Valley Gives, a single-day online fundraising event for several hundred nonprofits in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito counties. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation is organizing the drive, in honor of the 100th anniversary of community foundations. The day is in part modeled after the wildly successful #GivingTuesday, which launched nationally the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2012 and grew exponentially in 2013. By concentrating efforts on raising money on a single day to a single fundraising platform, smaller nonprofits benefit from the wave of publicity generated by the event. Find your favorite valley charity on Razoo.com and give a donation on May 6. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in April

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National Poetry Month 2014 PosterLike a pebble plunk

Making circles in a pond,

Good neighbors reach out.

Like my haiku? It’s in honor of National Poetry Month, one of many, many great things you can get involved in as a “good neighbor” in your community. Pick one of these five suggestions and reach out!

1. Celebrate Poetry: As I said, April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate an important and cherished art form. Libraries and poets laureate all over the Bay Area are marking the month with special events and displays to help people interact with reading and creating poetry. Folks at the Oakland Public Library decorated the staircases from top to bottom with poems created by Oakland Youth Poet Laureates, California poets, and children’s poets. In Cupertino the Poet Laureate has launched a Poetry Exchange, where people can see new poems daily, or contribute their own poems. Contact your local library to find out what special events are happening in your city. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in March

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ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-tree-plantings-good-neighbor-stories-pam-marinoRain, finally! The dust and dirt that was building up on all the shrubs, trees and outdoor surfaces is washed away, giving the feeling of a fresh start. Spring is just a couple of weeks away, so put winter behind you and start something new that will make your neighborhood and community a better place.

Here are five ways you can make a difference this month.

1. Spring Spruce Ups: Parks, open spaces and eco-friendly organizations are organizing outdoor clean-ups and plantings all month. The Golden Gate Audubon Society has several habitat restoration events on both sides of the bay, and Save the Bay has similar types of restoration and planting events open to volunteers. The San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club is hosting a tree planting event in Oakland on March 8. Or check out the numerous events offered by Our City Forest in San  Jose.

2. Educate Yourself About Income Inequality: Silicon Valley De-Bug is hosting the Forum on Inequality in Silicon Valley from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 6, at the Camera 12 Theaters, 201 S. 2nd Street, San Jose. The award-winning website’s staff is bringing together community leaders to speak about the problem of income inequality, along with a local hip hop artist who is premiering a video, “Gold Out West,” for this free community event. [Read more…]

Technology Changing the Way You Read? Win Cash for Your Thoughts

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Silicon Valley Reads 2014 Essay and Poetry ContestHas technology changed the way you read for better? Worse? You, or someone you know from middle school to adult, can win cash by sharing your insights in an essay or poem in the 2014 Silicon Valley Reads essay and poetry contest, co-sponsored by the Cupertino Library and the Cupertino Library Foundation (CLF). The deadline is just four weeks away, on March 17.

The annual essay contest is open to Cupertino adults and teens in grades 9-12, and focuses on responses to a question springing forth from the two featured books from the 2014 Silicon Valley Reads program. This year’s book selections are: The Shallows: What is the Internet Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

This year’s essay contest question is: “Is technology changing the way you read and access information? Is this bad or good?” [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in February

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national-heart-month-american-heart-association-american-heart-monthThere are many problems we can’t individually solve, from a possible mega-drought in California to the entertaining-but-possibly-serious snafus at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. We can’t fix those head-scratching bathrooms in Sochi (!), but we can look around our own communities and find something we can fix, or at least take steps toward a positive resolution. Here are five ways you can help your own community or circle of influence in February.

1. Mend a Broken Heart: This is the 50th Anniversary of American Heart Month. The American Heart Association (AHA) is teaming up with Walgreens to offer free blood pressure screenings all during February. According to the AHA, unchecked blood pressure can seriously damage arteries, the heart and other organs. Get checked, and make sure those you love get checked, too. And consider readying yourself to one day save a life by signing up for a CPR course. The AHA offers many levels of training, including the basic “Friends and Family.” The AHA website allows you to search by zip code for classes, and you can even get CPR training online at your convenience. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in January

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Concert to Fight Poverty2014 is off and running! Whether you made New Year’s resolutions, intentions, goals, to dos, dreams, set a theme, or came up with guide words for the year, I hope that you included helping others in your vision.

After reading Beth Kanter’s blog post about setting a theme and choosing three words for the year (she borrowed these concepts from Peter Bregman and Chris Brogan), I chose “peace” as a theme (for myself and those around me), and for good measure repeated “peace” as one of my three words for the year, adding to it “relationships,” and “community.”

Here are five ways we can make a difference for our communities in the San Francisco Bay Area during this first month of 2014. Will you try one of these? If you do, let me know what happens. Happy New Year!

1. Fight Poverty Through Choral Music: Two South Bay churches, Trinity Cathedral and Stone Church of Willow Glen, are combining efforts to put on a Concert to Fight Poverty, 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12, at Trinity Cathedral, 81 N. 2nd St., San Jose. The choral concert features Saratoga composer Henry Mollicone’s “Beatitude Mass,” sometimes called the “Mass for the Homeless.” Tickets are $20; all proceeds go to Downtown Streets Team, and Trinity Cathedral’s social good programs. Call 408-315-4354 for reservations, or purchase at the door. [Read more…]

Bay Area Events to Remember Sandy Hook Victims This Weekend

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Newtown-ribbon-sandy-hook-12/14/12-speak-up-show-up-for-change-good-neigbor-storiesBay Area leaders, gun violence prevention activists and volunteers are set this weekend to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 26 shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Ceremonies, marches, rallies, and gun buy-back events are planned for locations all over the region starting today, Friday, Dec. 13, and through Saturday, Dec. 14, the actual anniversary.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, there have been 30,000 gun-related deaths since Dec. 14, 2012. The group’s leaders are calling on the public to attend the events and commit to, or recommit to, efforts to prevent gun deaths. All the events listed below are free. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in December

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gift-of-reading-san-jose-mercury-resource-area-for-teachers-RAFT-five-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-in-DecemberThis year December and the season of sharing kicks off big time with #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3. While a lot of emphasis is on making online donations to deserving charities that day, giving includes sharing yourself through volunteering, making responsible shopping choices, donating to collection drives, and other similar ways. Here are five ways you can make an impact on your world this month.

1. Give the Gift of Reading: The annual Gift of Reading book drive is struggling this year and could really use help in collecting new and like-new books for kids in need. As of the day before Thanksgiving, the drive had only collected 3,200 books, far short of the 50,000 goal, according to San Jose Mercury columnist Sal Pizarro. The drive is co-sponsored by the Mercury and the Resource Area For Teachers (RAFT). Consider dropping off a children’s book at one of many South Bay locations, or donate money online so the folks at RAFT can purchase books for kids, some of whom have never owned their own book before. The drive ends Friday, Dec. 13. Or give books, toys, gift cards, and other goods in one of the many donation drives taking place throughout the holidays.

2. Help a Neighbor with Decorations: This idea comes from our original list of “30 Ways to be a Good Neighbor at the Holidays.” Maybe an older or disabled neighbor would like a few strings of [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in November

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San Jose Veterans Day ParadeThe Halloween decorations are on the discount aisle, and the Christmas decorations are already up and blinking away at many retailers, so it must mean it’s November. Before we hurtle ourselves toward December holidays, let’s take a deep breath and focus on Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful for what’s good in our lives, and share that thankfulness with others by making a difference in our communities.

Every month I suggest five ways to help others and build a stronger community. I hope you will consider trying at least one of these suggestions in November. Follow the links in each item to find out more.

1. Support Our Veterans: Veterans Day is Monday, Nov. 11, and there are numerous events taking place around the Bay Area to honor and support our veterans. One unique way is through “Operation Laughter”, a comedy show on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the De Anza Hotel in downtown San Jose. The show features two comedians who call themselves “The Joint Chief of Laffs”, and includes cocktails, appetizers, and a raffle. Proceeds go to help the Walking Point Foundation, which helps Iraq and Afghanistan war vets through the expressive and performing arts. Also in San Jose on Sunday, Nov. 10, is the National Veterans Day Run, on the Guadalupe River Trail. Proceeds go to the Folds of Honor Foundation, which helps the spouses and children of soldiers killed or wounded in war. On the actual day itself is the 95th annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown San Jose, starting at 11 a.m. San Francisco’s 94th annual Veterans Day Parade also starts at 11 a.m., at the intersection of Second and Market streets. [Read more…]