Philanthropy Friday: Raising Student Awareness About Energy Poverty

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You have to endure some pretty cold weather and a decent amount of snow when you live in Maine. Once it starts to get cold, the days quickly become shorter and shorter. For a period of time, it feels like you are bringing the kids to school and picking them up in the dark.

It’s finally getting to the point where you can be outside at 5:00pm and have a glimmer of daylight left.

While the darkness is a bit on the depressing side, can you imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have electricity?

I remember eating dinner by the light of a headlamp while in Nicaragua. As soon as the sun set, that was the only light we had, with the exception of the fire in the kitchen our host Linda cooked over.

eating by headlamp

photo credit: Alanna Imbach, WaterAid America

In sub-Saharan Africa, about 7 out of 10 people don’t have access to electricity. Lack of electricity means that kids can’t do their homework at night, families get sick from cooking over fires indoors and hospitals can’t power medical equipment or keep medicine cold.

ONE has teamed up with Scholastic to raise awareness about energy poverty. Using the upcoming change to Daylight Saving Time on March 8, the Life Empowered project introduces the topic of energy poverty to students in grades 3 – 8 across the United States, plus their teachers and families, through lesson plans, student handouts and parent information.

On the Life Empowered website page, you’ll find teacher plans and age-appropriate student handouts for grades 3 – 5 and 6 – 8. There’s also a helpful family handout that guides parents through discussions on energy poverty. The goal is to help students become aware of different cultures and the challenges people face globally. This awareness helps them build appreciation for others and to learn to work together to improve living conditions. Energy  is something students can relate to since they use energy in their own lives.

Students, teachers and parents can also learn about a bill being reviewed by Congress that will provide 50 million people with access to electricity for the first time.

You can learn more at the Life Empowered project page on Scholastic.com and at ONE.org/energypoverty.

Are you aware of energy poverty?

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday: Take a Survey on Simple Giving in Jeans

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Each Friday since October of 2011, this space is dedicated to stories that illustrate simple ways to incorporate giving into everyday life. My Philanthropy Fridays series has led me on my own philanthropic journey that has included a giving pledge, a trip to Nicaragua, the launch of Simple Giving Lab and much, much more. It has been an amazing experience that continues every single day.

With that said, I have been working on expanding my writing on giving back through a book I am working on. I am also interested in offering more opportunities for others to learn how to better incorporate giving into their lives. I have met so many people through this journey and have found so many resources, I can’t imagine not sharing them in a bigger way.

Today I have two simple requests for you. Two ways in which you can give back very, very simply.

  1. Wear jeans tomorrow for Rare Disease Day. You can read more about Rare Disease Day in Whitney Reeve’s guest post on rare genes.
  2. Take my 5-question survey found below. I am looking for some feedback on the ideas I have in my head.

See? Super simple.

Thank you so very much!

rarediseaseday

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday: What Compassion Means to Me #1000Speak

Today is the day. The day 1,000 bloggers join together to write about compassion. Why? Because the world needs more compassion. People need compassion. And when one blogger noted that we all need a village at least once in our lives, another blogger had an idea that spread like wildfire. And here we are today.

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I’m not going to lie. This week has been a tough one for me. One year ago around this time, my world changed drastically. I am coming up on the anniversary of telling my children their mother and father would no longer be together. That same week? I received an email containing a book contract to review.

There is so much to be happy about, yet still so much to heal from.

There were many times when I needed a village last year. I still need one every now and then. We all do. We are human. We are fragile, even when we are strong.

Compassion? It’s what keeps the world spinning. It’s what prevents us from giving up. Whether we are on the giving or receiving end of compassion, it gives us hope. Happiness. Gratitude.

We are living, breathing creatures who need love in our lives. Love that can come in many forms.

Since we are writing about what compassion means to each one of us individually today, I thought I’d sit down and write the first things that come to my brain. You can’t overthink compassion, after all. And, really, what better timing for me to reflect on compassion than right now? (Also perfect for Philanthropy Friday, as compassion is one of the simplest ways to give back.)

To me, compassion is:

  • Encouraging words during a struggle
  • Friends who know what you need even when you don’t
  • Loving, supportive communities that exist without judgment or pretense
  • The touching moment when you realize you are with someone who understands what you are going through
  • Knowing sharing just a small part of your story has helped another
  • Comfortable silence
  • Reassuring hugs from my children
  • Giving whatever you can, because there are people far worse off than you
  • Saying I love you and truly meaning it
  • Sharing a passion with the world
  • Smiling at a stranger
  • Listening
  • Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
  • Letting your guard down
  • Late night conversations about everything and nothing

What does compassion mean to you?

1000 Voices Speak

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Wordless Wednesday: #1000Speak is Friday!

My good friend Chris Carter eloquently introduced the #1000Speak for compassion movement that is taking over the blogosphere a few weeks back. This Friday, February 20th, the goal is for 1,000 people to share awareness of compassion in their own unique way. Will you join us?

#1000speak for compassion

Wordless Wednesday (2.18.15): #1000Speak is on Friday!
Photo credit: The Qwiet Muse

What does compassion mean to you?

Philanthropy Friday: Finding Love Through Volunteering

This following article is a guest post from my friend and owner of LinkoutureBev Feldman. This is Bev’s second guest post for Philanthropy Friday. Read her post on jewelry for a cause here.

photo credit: Bev Feldman

photo credit: Bev Feldman

Since college, finding time to volunteer and give back to the community has been very important to me. For many years after graduating, I barely made enough money to cover my living expenses, let alone donate. I knew, though, that what I couldn’t offer in financial support I could with my time.

As soon as I could, I become a Big Sister through Jewish Big Brother Big Sister. Shortly after that, a friend told me about a new organization for young adults. The premise was you could sign up for one-time volunteer opportunities with a group of other young professionals and then afterwards you go out for a meal or a drink.

Volunteer and meet new people? As someone who was still new to Boston and had not much in the way of an established social network, this sounded perfect for me.

I signed up and started volunteering at many different places, from homeless shelters to a local food bank to park cleanups, and began meeting new people along the way. I enjoyed the flexibility of trying out different volunteer opportunities, but quickly found my favorite one helping at a soup kitchen in downtown Boston. I loved being able to cook and serve a hot and (hopefully) delicious meal to the patrons of the soup kitchen, and making friends with my fellow volunteers while doing it was an added bonus. I volunteered at that particular event so much I was soon asked to become an event leader by the founder of the volunteer organization.

Being a volunteer also gave me access to some pretty amazing opportunities, like the time I volunteered at a black tie Oscar party that was raising money for breast cancer research. Others were not quite as entertaining. There was the time I helped at another cancer-related nonprofit stuffing envelopes for a mailing. The work might have been less interesting, but my fellow volunteers and I knew we were helping a great cause. We made jokes and laughed during our time there and the time flew by, and afterwards we treated ourselves to a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant.

There were many things I had hoped to gain from volunteering. I volunteered as a way to give back, having grown up so fortunate myself. I volunteered as a way to make connections, both with my fellow volunteers and the people who I was hopefully helping. I volunteered to learn: about the world, my community and even new skills.

What I had not expected to gain from volunteering was to find love. You see, on that fateful day stuffing envelopes, I met a guy. We didn’t talk much that afternoon; in fact, the only thing we may have said to each other was to pass a stack of papers. But as he was quickly becoming more involved in the organization also and I was already in a leadership role, soon after that event he reached out to me to see about getting together to learn more about my involvement. We already knew that we had volunteering as a common interest, and we quickly learned that we had so much more, from an appreciation to the same quirky music to striped sweaters from H&M (which we were coincidentally wearing the first time we hung out).

The first beer together grew into communicating regularly online and hanging out in person, to dating to eventually moving in together. It has been nine years since that fateful day. We are now married and have a beautiful daughter together.

Bev and her beautiful family. (photo credit: Bev Feldman)

Bev and her beautiful family. (photo credit: Bev Feldman)

I know that we live in a busy world with overscheduled lives, but I encourage you to find the time to volunteer. Maybe even this Valentine’s Day instead of going on a traditional date, you can try a volunteer date with your partner or a group of friends. I can promise that whatever your intentions are for doing it, you will get so much more out of it than you ever expect. And hey, maybe you’ll even find love while volunteering.

bfeldman-headshotBev Feldman is a jewelry artist and blogger in the Boston area. She has a passion for travel, creativity, all things handmade, and giving back to her community, all of which she hope to instill in her daughter. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.