Don’t Miss the Holiday Peace and Social Justice Fair Dec. 9 (GNS Will Be There!)

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If you’ve been looking for special gifts that make a statement, gifts that actually could change the world, you need to get yourself to the Holiday Holiday-Peace-and-Social-Justice-Craft-and-Info-Fair-Palo-Alto-Good-Neighbor-StoriesPeace and Social Justice Craft and Info Fair in Palo Alto this Sunday, Dec. 9.

I will be at this awesome fair selling the Good Neighbor Stories 2013 Datebook. The fair is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, 1140 Cowper St. It is co-sponsored by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and First Presbyterian.

Last year I went to the fair to do a post for the website, and got to wander around checking out all the great products from all over the world, as well as meet a lot of volunteers—”good neighbors” all—passionate about the nonprofit organizations they were representing.

There were lots of handmade items and artwork benefiting craftspeople in the countries of origin, fair trade coffees and other food items, recycled Christmas ornaments, and other great gifts. There were even rescued kittens in need of good homes, and rescued birds on display. A number of groups were on hand to educate shoppers about their charitable work, and maybe find new volunteers and donors.

If you come, stop by the Reach and Teach booth, check out the datebook, and say “hi”.

 

 

Project Linus Nearing 50,000 Mark in Bringing Happiness to Kids in Need

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“Happiness is a warm blanket,” as Linus famously says, and it’s that premise that is sending one San Jose group on its way to creating and Project-Linus-South-Bay-Chapter-San-Jose-Good-Neighbor-Storiesdonating 50,000 blankets to local children in serious need of a little happiness, or at least the warm, cuddly feeling of their very own blanket.

The South Bay Chapter of Project Linus has donated 48,840 blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or somehow in need, since its inception in 2002. Nationally, Project Linus chapters have collectively donated more than 4.3 million blankets.

Blankets and quilts have gone out to children affected by major disasters like Sandy, Katrina, and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Locally the chapter regularly donates to agencies like the San Jose Family Shelter, the Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) Asian Women’s Home, Valley Medical Center, and dozens more.

“If you’ve ever seen, or had the opportunity to see, someone receive one of these quilts, it brings tears to your eyes,” said Project Linus volunteer Linda Lemos at a group sewing event in late October. [Read more…]

Here Comes “Giving Tuesday,” a Day of Charity to Follow Buying Frenzy

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It was, perhaps, inevitable that someone would follow up Thanksgiving weekend’s “Black Friday,” “Small Business Saturday,” and “Cyber Monday,” with a day devoted to charity. This year someone has, with “Giving Tuesday.” The first one takes place tomorrow, Nov. 27.

Giving Tuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which was joined in the effort by the United Nations Foundation, along with numerous corporations and nonprofits. The idea is a simple one: “find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more.” Part two of the idea is to then share with others how you are giving back to the community.

More than 2,000 nonprofits around the country signed up as Giving Tuesday parters, including hundreds in the state of California. Some are planning special events to mark the day, and many are kicking off fundraising campaigns for projects. A number of businesses are agreeing to increase giving, or match donations, made on the day.

What do you think about Giving Tuesday as a new holiday tradition? Tell us in the poll!

Will you participate in Giving Tuesday?

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La Mesa Verde Gardeners Growing Community

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Debbie Cullati Meza

Like a flourishing vine extending outward, Debbie Cullati Meza’s tender loving care for two raised beds full of delicious and healthy vegetables goes beyond her back yard into her surrounding San Jose neighborhood.

Meza, a.k.a. the “Urban Garden Diva”, is a volunteer for La Mesa Verde, an urban gardening program at Sacred Heart Community Services, located in the Washington-Alma area. When she signed up to plant and tend the beds in her own yard, she jumped in to help grow the program for the entire neighborhood.

She writes a blog at urbangardendiva.blogspot.com, chronicling her experience tending the beds in her yard, has a Facebook page, and helps La Mesa Verde Program Manager Malin Ramirez in numerous other ways.

“It’s been incredible,” Meza said.  “This gardening has been a really important way for me to reconnect with people and for healing…it’s therapeutic and satisfying, plus now I’ve connected with a bunch of people.”

On Spring Planting Day back in April, after Meza received all the materials to create her new garden, she volunteered herself and her husband and son to help with more deliveries. They dropped off supplies and met with 14 other families that same day.

After a successful season with her own beds, she was excited for Fall Planting Day on Saturday, Sept. 29. And just as she had in spring, Meza was busy volunteering again, this time in the kitchen at Sacred Heart’s headquarters making coffee for more than 100 people.

The festive event included planting demonstrations in English and Spanish, testimonials from participants, and a time for families to pick up seedlings of broccoli, lettuce, peas, and other cool season crops to take home to their backyard gardens. [Read more…]

Catching Up With Project WeHOPE; Trip Sponsors Needed

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I got a chance to catch up with Pastor Paul Bains of Project WeHOPE, the East Palo Alto nonprofit I reported on last year. The small organization is making significant inroads toward combating homelessness in a town of 2.2 square miles that has the largest homeless population in San Mateo County.

Recently the city council awarded Project WeHOPE a $30,000 grant for its warming shelter, the only homeless facility in East Palo Alto (EPA). This was down from an original request for $50,000; the council went through some quibbling over details of the request before settling on the final number .

But aside from leading the charge to end homelessness in East Palo Alto, Project WeHOPE is also a service agency for local youth, and currently has a need for sponsors and donations so volunteers can take students on an end-of-summer trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios. [Read more…]

Social Media for Nonprofits Conference: Leveraging LinkedIn for Good

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You’re probably aware of how LinkedIn can help you advance professionally, but did you know the social network platform can advance your philanthropic efforts as well?

And for nonprofit organizations, LinkedIn can become an invaluable tool to find skilled volunteers, board members, and resources.

That was the message of Meg Garlinghouse, head of Employment, Branding & Community for LinkedIn, at last week’s Social Media for Nonprofits Conference in Mountain View. All this week I’ve been highlighting speakers from the conference, including Libby Leffler of Facebook, and Dawn Andreas of Eventbrite.

Garlinghouse leads LinkedIn for Good, which has as its mission to “connect the talent and passion of professionals with opportunities to use their skills to make a positive impact in the world.”

Here are some notes from her talk:

  • LinkedIn wants more nonprofits to get on its platform.
  • There are 160 million professionals on LinkedIn and they are “at your fingertips,  and they want to help you; that’s the extraordinary thing, you just have to reach out and ask,” Garlinghouse said.
  • By popular request, last fall LinkedIn added a “Volunteer Experience and Causes” feature to profiles; when you add organizations you support and volunteer for, that information gets pushed out to the network. [Read more…]

Social Media for Nonprofits Conference: Leveraging Eventbrite’s Free Tools

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For hard-pressed nonprofits in tough economic times, “free” is always a good word. So it was encouraging for nonprofit leaders at the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference in Mountain View to hear about the free tools available to help them expand and strengthen their connections with supporters.

The day-long event on Thursday, July 26, at the Microsoft Conference Center, was organized by the group by the same name, Social Media for Nonprofits; it included speakers from Facebook, LinkedIn, Eventbrite, Change.org, among others.

All this week I’m posting highlights from the conference. Yesterday was all about how nonprofits can effectively use Facebook. Today includes helpful information from Eventbrite, the online service that enables event creation, promotion, and ticket sales. The site offers free tools that will help any nonprofit plan and host any type of event. [Read more…]

Social Media for Nonprofits Conference: How to Use Facebook Effectively

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With social media bringing a giant wave of change to society, nonprofit leaders who felt as if it was all about to crash down on them instead learned ways to ride the wave to success at the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference last Thursday.

I attended the day long event at the Microsoft Conference Center in Mountain View with about 300 others representing dozens of local nonprofits. Some of the people I spoke with before the conference said they felt overwhelmed at times by a dizzying array of social media sites, new apps and technologies.

Ritu Sharma, executive director of Social Media for Nonprofits, and Darian Rodriguez Heyman, co-founder and head of external partnerships, as well as author of Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals, brought an impressive lineup of speakers from Facebook, LinkedIn, Eventbrite, Change.org, and others, including Beth Kanter, an influential blogger and co-author of The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting With Social Media to Drive Change.

“We didn’t realize when we started out that there’s no other conference series in the country focused on social media for social good, so there really is a gap out there that we are doing our best to fill,” Heyman said, to a round of applause.

By the end of the day, some of the same people I spoke to at the start said the conference gave them the confidence to navigate social media more effectively.

Throughout the week I’ll be sharing highlights from the conference. Today I’m featuring notes from the Facebook presentation. [Read more…]

Grateful for New Journey Helping Victims

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A chance conversation with a complete stranger and a college assignment are propelling Lisa Blanchard on an unexpected trajectory as the leader of a fast growing all-volunteer organization that extends comfort and aid to sexual assault victims across the State of California.

Thanks to The Grateful Garment Project, started by Blanchard in March 2011 as an undergraduate student, sexual assault victims who must give up clothing as police evidence can go home fully clothed. In the past some victims left examinations with nothing more than a paper hospital gown.

“I had no idea when I started my simple class project that I was hitting a vein of need that was so immense, that basically it’s consumed my life for the past year,” said Blanchard, a San Jose resident and University of San Francisco graduate student.

The Grateful Garment Project has grown into a full-blown nonprofit with a board of directors, numerous volunteers, and Blanchard as its unpaid executive director.

To help continue its mission of aiding victims, the group’s volunteers are hosting a “Party for Panties” fundraiser at 6 p.m., on Saturday, July 21, at the Willow Den, 803 Lincoln Ave., San Jose. The event features free food, dancing and door prizes. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Scholarships Available for Social Media for Nonprofits Conference

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Is your nonprofit focused on digital inclusion and working with communities of color and low-income populations? Are you looking to learn how to use social media to reach and better serve constituents, as well as advance your fundraising, marketing, advocacy, and recruitment efforts?

If so, we have some exciting news for you: The Knight Foundation is underwriting 50 scholarships for the upcoming Social Media for Nonprofits Silicon Valley conference in Mountain View on July 26, 2012, featuring keynote speaker Beth Kanter. The scholarship includes access to the full-day of program, plus breakfast, lunch, and entry to the evening networking cocktail reception. Apply now!

Social Media for Nonprofits is the world’s only conference series devoted to social media for social good. We provide nonprofits with the tools and resources to create, manage, and maximize their social media presence and we focus on sharing practical, actionable insights, vs. vague concepts or theories. [Read more…]