Category Archives: making a difference

Reduce, reuse, recycle…

It’s sexy to toss your plastics in one bin, and your glass in another. However, there is an imminently more satisfying way to recycle, support a good cause, and save yourself some money. With the market down enough to get people talking about “victory gardens”, thrift stores and Goodwill become appealing alternatives to pricey mall shopping. (Frankly, with the economy the way it is, second hand clothing is looking better than Wal-Mart and Target too.)

As a child advocate earning next to nothing in school I learned from other advocates that a certain neighborhood Goodwill received the bulk of the donations from the country club, and therefore had brand name suits for $15. I went, and sure enough argued my first case in a $15 Chanel suit that fit me like an expensively tailored glove.

Over the years, as we prospered and the housing market boomed, I replaced my thrift store habits with thrifty sale shopping, exchanging my $15 suit experience for the $100 or $150 suit experience. Still not a Chanel brand new, but a little nicer knowing I was the suit’s first owner.

Times, how they are a changin’.

This morning found me considering business attire and coats, missing from my post baby sized wardrobe, and a relatively empty wallet. How could I get a rain coat, a winter coat, and some tops that will work with my two precious pairs of slacks for the piddly amount I had to spend? It simply couldn’t be done. I have to have clothes that fit though, if I am to actually start a practice. I can’t meet clients in sweats.

Then I remembered… the Goodwill by the country club.
Down my mother and I went, happily off to search for a bargain, and happily, we struck gold.

I got a gorgeous full length wool business coat by Christian Dior for $15. I got a lovely khaki rain trench from Calvin Klein for $12.99. I also got several sweaters to toss on over my shells and tanks, thereby creating an expansive set of outfits from my seemingly paltry store. Each was less than $5, each was in perfect shape.

Reduce, reuse, recycle doesn’t have to pertain solely to soda cans and newspapers. I saved a fortune today, getting a week’s worth of winter tops and two coats for less than half the cost of one raincoat brand new. Best of all, I didn’t add to any environmental production costs, and I supported a charity I believe in.

42.8 Million differences…

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation granted 42.8 million dollars to Heifer International, one of my favorite organizations in the world. Heifer International works toward ending world hunger by providing people with the tools they need to thrive. My favorite aspect of their model is their “passing on the gift” program. This aspect of their program allows the recipients of their gifts to become forces for growth and change in their communities by requiring them to pass on their gift to another person in their community.

Each time a person is provided with a gift from Heifer International, they are required to give a similar gift to another member of their community. For example, a woman who receives a dairy cow, will give one of her calves to another family in her community. It is a great way to improve the effectiveness of the donations Heifer receives, and makes a huge difference in the lives the program touches. Recipients are transformed from those needing help, to those giving it, transforming not only their resources, but their roles in their communities. (Passing the Gift Stories.)

I have often used their gift catalog to provide gifts to those people in my life who I know would prefer to help another person over getting another set of candles or bookstore gift certificate. Further, I love getting gifts from Heifer as well, I certainly don’t need anymore stuff, and I feel so good knowing my birthday bought a single mother in Africa a cow, or a goat, or provided education to several children.

I am so glad they got this grant, it is the largest single donation they have ever been given, and I am thrilled with the Gates foundation for providing this organization with the resources they need to make a difference! Here is the press release about the grant:

Heifer Receives $42.8 Million Grant from Gates Foundation

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Jan. 25, 2008 – Heifer International today announced a four-year $42.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a project to help poor rural farmers in East Africa double their incomes by increasing their production of high quality raw milk to sell to dairies.

The grant was announced by Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation, as part of a package of agricultural development grants at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Heifer’s President and CEO, Jo Luck, also announced the grant at Heifer’s headquarters in Little Rock. It is the largest single grant to Heifer in its 63-year history.

The East Africa Dairy Development Project (EADD) will help one million people – 179,000 families – lift themselves out of poverty by developing 30 milk collection hubs with “chilling plants” where farmers will bring raw milk for pickup by commercial dairies. It will particularly target women for inclusion in both the benefits of the project and in its leadership.

Heifer will manage the project with two partner organizations, TechnoServe, a U.S.-based nonprofit that fights poverty by encouraging business development, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), an animal-research organization based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Heifer will organize farmer business associations to own and manage the chilling plants. Milk production will be increased through artificial insemination to improve local breeds of dairy cows and through improved animal nutrition. The project will provide extensive training in animal agriculture, business practices and other subjects. The project targets specific districts in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Part of the $42.8 million grant from the foundation is a $2.5 million challenge to be matched dollar-for-dollar through a Heifer fundraising campaign. With the resulting $5 million, Heifer will create an investment fund supporting the project. Heifer will mount a campaign to raise the matching funds from U.S. donors.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the grant as part of a package of agricultural development grants designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty. The foundation is focused on a range of interventions across the entire agricultural value chain—from planting the highest quality seeds and improving farm management practices to bringing crops to market.


Steal This Post: Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Please read the following and pass it on. EVERYONE is at risk for this type of cancer. Please help us pass on awareness.

From Toddler Planet.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.