Project WeHOPE Expanding Services to House the Homeless


Pastor Paul Bains puts out the Warming Shelter sign at Project WeHOPE in East Palo Alto.

Housing more homeless and at-risk adults in East Palo Alto through its successful Supportive Housing Program is the main goal of Project WeHOPE in 2015, the organization recently announced.

“San Mateo is very fortunate to have a partnership with Project WeHOPE. They do a remarkable job at providing a welcoming place – a warm and safe place to sleep, a nutritious meal, and the company of others who are also going through a rough patch in theirs lives,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum.

“Project WeHOPE lives up to its name. It gives the weary what they need to regroup and in doing so, helps them rekindle the hope they need for a better tomorrow. Thank you, Project WeHOPE,” said Slocum.

Launched in February 2014, the Supportive Housing Program started with a vision to give homeless clients the life tools to help them help themselves. It was well received by clients and the various county agencies involved, and as a result of its success, nearly 100 clients have been helped and over 20 have moved into permanent or supportive housing. [Read more…]

Nonprofit Boot Camp, Social Media Training a Winning Combo


Social Media for Nonprofits Co-founder Ritu Sharma at last year’s Silicon Valley conference.

Silicon Valley nonprofit leaders, staff, and other key volunteers take note: the best training and networking events for nonprofits are taking place right in your backyard next week, June 12 and 13.

The group Social Media for Nonprofits (SM4NP) is bringing back the popular Nonprofit Boot Camp, previously run by the Craigslist Foundation, on Wednesday, June 12, and is conveniently offering its invaluable Social Media for Nonprofits Conference the following day. Both day-long conferences are being held at Microsoft’s Mountain View Conference Center, 1065 La Avenida St.

Registration is happening now on line, and if you want to take advantage of this opportunity sign up as soon as possible, as both events are expected to fill up. There’s an added incentive of a 25 percent discount on registration fees if you sign up for both.

Nonprofit Boot Camp

The Nonprofit Boot Camp returns after a two-year hiatus, during which the Craigslist Foundation wound down and transferred its programs to other nonprofits. SM4NP took over the organizing role of Boot Camp, which was a natural fit since SM4NP co-founder, Darian Rodriguez Heyman, was the original Boot Camp founder, while serving as the Craigslist Foundation’s executive director. [Read more…]

Fundraising Help for Nonprofits


globalgiving-nonprofits-fundraising-pamela-lee-good-neighbor-storiesEditor’s Note: I’m happy to welcome Pamela Lee as a guest blogger. I first met Pamela through Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue, which she leads and works for tirelessly as a volunteer. She’s now a GlobalGiving Ambassador for the San Francisco Bay Area, with a goal of helping even more nonprofits.

Ever wanted to boost your fundraising with more online tools, or expand your donor base?

GlobalGiving has helped 7,858 projects, non-profits and social entrepreneurs grow their community of donors and volunteers to raise a total of $85 million since 2002. GlobalGiving works with non-profit organizations registered anywhere in the world to upgrade their fundraising strategy in many ways:

  • Expand your donor networks and access resources to develop your fundraising strategies.
  • Connect to corporate giving campaigns at companies like Ford, Nike Foundation, Dell, and more.
  • Non-US organizations can get tax-deductible donations for US-based donors.
  • Each week, about 40,000 individuals visit GlobalGiving’s website, offering great exposure for our nonprofit partners’ projects! [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…]

Good Karma Bikes Spins Forward With Grand Opening


Good-Karma-Bikes-grand-opening-san-jose-councilman-sam-liccardo-jim-gardner-ribbon-cutting-photo-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesGood Karma Bikes and its founder and CEO Jim Gardner got a little of that good karma back for all his efforts to help the community, during the grand opening party at the group’s headquarters in downtown San Jose on Thursday, March 28.

With about 100 supporters looking on, San Jose District 3 City Councilmember Sam Liccardo hailed Gardner for being an innovator in his quest to lift people up from homelessness and joblessness through offering bike repairs and job training.

“In this valley we honor  innovation, and we honor innovation in the world of things, things that help us tweet and post and connect in various ways until we’re completely distracted out of our minds, and those innovators certainly deserve their rightful due and undoubtedly they’re well compensated for their innovations,” Liccardo said. “But so much more rare are those innovators who remind us that when we’re done tweeting and posting and connecting, ultimately we’re human beings…I want to thank you for creating something that inspires, lifts up and that empowers, and I think we are all indebted to you and your innovation.” [Read more…]

Dedicated Volunteers Help Rescued Birds Take Flight to New Homes


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…]

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


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!



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


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


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…]

Be Kind by Thinking Globally, Donating Locally


Today’s Random Act of Kindness Week assignment is to donate either time or money to a local charity. I like this one, because it shines a light Yasmine-Davis-Make-a-Birthday-Wish-Good-Neighbor-Stories-Random-Acts-of-Kindness-Weekon those nonprofit organizations that serve our communities day in and day out, many times without the recognition or larger donations that benefit big name national and international groups.

Good Neighbor Stories often features small nonprofits making a big impact while operating on shoestring budgets here in the San Francisco Bay Area. On Wednesday two groups, The Grateful Garment Project, and Good Karma Bikes were part of my “Profiles in Kindness” post.

I’ve also written about other small nonprofits like Make a Birthday Wish in Cupertino, led by teenager Yasmine Davis and her family. Together with Yasmine’s friends as volunteers, they throw birthday parties for Silicon Valley children whose families are homeless or in deep financial need, complete with gifts, cake, decorations, favors, and fun activities.

Another great example of a small group making a big difference is Project WeHope in East Palo Alto. Pastor Paul Bains [Read more…]