Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Run As One for FCAHT

Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking is teaming up with the World Run Day event on November 8, 2009 to raise money for their organization. Donations will help pay for services for victims and for increasing awareness of human trafficking issues through training and education.

This annual event asks runners worldwide to run any distance (1 mile, 5K, 10K, Marathon, etc.) and make a charity donation directly to their favorite charity. This year make your charity donation to FCAHT and support the effort to end sex and labor trafficking. Human trafficking involves the coercion or force of people-mainly women and children-into sex and labor exploitation & slavery. This horrific crime exploits the most vulnerable individuals in our society. FCAHT works tirelessly to increase awareness of this crime and provide community training, outreach and most importantly, critical services to victims. Your donation helps with emergency assistance and basic needs like food, shelter, and medical services for victims and allows FCAHT to continue increasing awareness through public education on the subject of human trafficking.

I am organizing Run As One for FCAHT and actively participating too! If you want to join our group of runners supporting FCAHT for an informal 5K run on Sunday morning at 9:00 am, meet us at Fort Myers Beach, FL. Email at shellie@advancingnonprofits.com if you have any questions. Remember, you can run anywhere in the world and be a part of this event, simply make your donation on behalf of Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking and start training. You can also simply support the FCAHT runners by making a donation on their behalf! Make donations by using the widget on this page or check out the FCAHT Firstgiving page. Learn more about World Run Day at www.runday.com.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Support Born2Fly International

A fundraiser is going on right now to provide the final funding needed for educational materials that will be delivered around the world to schools, parents, children, and others that will assist the prevention of child sex trafficking. A one day fundraiser for Born2Fly International on 09-09-09 asks 9000 people to give $9 towards this effort. These donations will allow the final product to be completed and distributed around the world. The event's coordinator, Diana Scimone has been revealing fantastic prizes each day on her blog leading up to the event that all individuals who donate prior to 09-09-09 or on this day will be eligible to win. Simply click on the widget on this page to donate or check out the 09-09-09 fundraising site for more information.

Born2Fly International is a nonprofit organization that is determined to stop child trafficking. The organization has taken a unique approach to combating this horrific problem by creating educational materials for teachers, parents, and children around the world about the dangers of human trafficking and about how children and families can make wise choices to prevent being lured into dangerous situations by predators. One aspect of the project is a wordless book that doesn't have to be translated into several different languages but can be used with a companion curriculum to be distributed to NGOs, schools, and other community organizations worldwide.

Diana Scimone is the Founder and Director of Born2Fly. Diana is a journalist who has traveled to more than 4o countries around the world and created Born2Fly as a response to some of the most critical needs she saw affecting the world's children in places like Sudan, China, Zimbabwe and others. Support Born2Fly's efforts on 09-09-09 with $9 (or more) and be a part of something big. Be a part of a movement to build a safer world for children by giving them access to safety education in an effort to prevent one more child from victimization by a human trafficking predator.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let it Shine India.

In an effort to promote diverse, peaceful, and creative global community through travel, art, and education, Outside the Box is offering an opportunity to enjoy Indian art, food, and culture-- all for a good cause-- during two events this week. Indian artist Subrata Gangopadhyay is widely known as one of India's leading painters in modern realistic tradition. The artist lives and works in Kolkata, India. Outside the Box will first be hosting an event devoted entirely to India and its arts, with special guest artist Subrata Gangopadhyay.

Outside the Box will be hosting the accomplished artist here in southwest Florida at the end of his US tour. He is a member of India’s Artist Circle which promotes and develops art and culture in India, including paintings, sculptures, and different forms of traditional and modern art.

The first event includes a three hour workshop based on acrylic painting. The workshop is geared for adults and mature youths of all levels of proficiency and will be held Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 from 5:30-8:30pm at Outside the Box Studio, 1610 Trade Center Way, Suite #4 in North Naples off Airport Road.

The week's second event will be the “Let it Shine India” dinner party. This is part of a series of festive happenings designed to help raise funds for our adopted projects around the world such as Deepalaya who supports education for children living in poverty in India. Deepalaya is a non-government development organization working on issues affecting the urban and rural poor, with special focus on children. Deepalaya works in the urban slums of Delhi and has made inroads into the rural areas of Haryana and Uttarakhand. Deepalaya is dedicated to increasing access to education for all children and promoting equality for children of all genders, backgrounds, and abilities.

The Let it Shine event will introduce guests to the fabulous tastes and flavors of Indian cuisine courtesy of two special guest chefs:

- Chef Krishna Bhattacharya will prepare and serve the vegetarian dishes of India

- Raw Food Chef and Wellness Expert Bethany Tait will serve samples of raw Indian food

All proceeds from the event will go to our adopted schools in India, Deepalaya in New Delhi.

The Let it Shine event will be held on Saturday, July 25th, 2009 at 6:30-9:30pm at Outside the Box Studio. The cost is $35 for one person, $60 for two, and $75 for three. Register online at www.outsidethebox-studio.com or call Lulu at 239-272-6152 for details.

As a bonus, register for the workshop on Wednesday and you attend the Let it Shine Dinner Event on July 25th for free!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Increasing Awareness in Florida

Florida Coalition Against Human Slavery (FCAHT) is a non-profit organization based in southwest Florida that provides services to human trafficking victims throughout the entire state. The organization also provides training and outreach to a variety of service providers, law enforcement, faith based organizations, healthcare providers, schools, universities and more. Training and outreach topics include defining human trafficking, how to identify victims, and information about victim services to name just a few.

FCAHT has built coalitions to combat human trafficking and utilized public awareness campaigns to improve community response to modern day slavery issues and traumatized victims. The accompanying video was developed through a partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University students who created the public service announcement.

Take some time to help Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking spread awareness by educating yourself. View their website at www.stophumantrafficking.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Drumming for Africa

I wanted to use this weeks post to promote another unique and creative event at Outside the Box Studio in Naples, Florida.

Outside the Box Studio is hosting a great event on Saturday June 20th from 4-6 pm. This is a great way to view the studio, have some fun, and all proceeds go to one of the studio's sponsored schools in Africa. An invitation from Outside the Box Director, Lulu Carter is posted below. Please take this opportunity to check this amazing place out!! You can RSVP at 272-6152 or info@outsidethebox-studio.com to guarantee your spot.

Invitation to All:

Next Monday my husband and partner Adam Carter is traveling to Ghana (Africa) to organize an educational program for 600 students from Semester at Sea (University of Virginia).

During his trip he will be visiting one of Outside The Box’s adopted villages – Togome, outside of Accra on the Volta River. There he will deliver art supplies to a very special and needy elementary school.

Share our energy from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at our studio to collect donations for this project.

The workshop is for all ages, we will be playing drums, so bring yours! We will be dancing African dance, painting and writing letter to our fellow friends from Togome Village. Adam promised to take lots of picture while he is Africa with the children and sharing stories about our studio to them so we can all feel part of this beautiful global community.

The workshop is $10 per person or $20 per family.

Tell your friends and families and let’s celebrate Mother Africa!


Lulu Carter

Outside The Box- Studio


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Online Campaigns to End Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the largest illegal money makers in the world mostly affecting women & children. The sad reality is that you can make more money off exploiting one person or child than selling one illegal gun or drugs, because  you can sell the human being over and over and over again. According to the F.B.I., in the United States alone, 300,000 children are being trafficked for sex each year. The numbers reported by UNICEF are 1.2 million children worldwide. The numbers and the stories are horrifying.  

Thankfully, there are amazing organizations working to end modern day slavery through spreading awareness, education, case management, rehabilitation, & rescue. In addition, several have instituted clever campaigns to raise funding to support their work. Born 2 Fly used the $10 x 10k Campaign encouraging donors to contribute just $10 to provide educational materials to at-risk children worldwide. While the campaign was running, donations could be made through the website or mailed. You can still make a donation through their website. Recently Transitions Global launched a new campaign to support their goal of building housing for victims of human trafficking. The effort is called the Buck Up Campaign and asks people to make a minimum donation of $1 to change 1 life.

If you have a dollar to spare, you can't give it to a more worthy cause than ending human trafficking and exploitation.  Check out the sites for yourself and if you work for a non-profit, consider an online campaign for your own organization.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Kiva Community

I received my first re-payment back from Azerbaijan today. For Christmas this year my husband, daughters and I decided to make a loan to a member of Kiva. We chose to support a woman from Azerbaijan who operates a small farm with her husband and three children. The entire loan was $1200 to purchase more cattle to increase her earnings and her family's quality of life. Forty-one individual donations were made from strangers all across the world to achieve the total loan amount for this entrepreneur. All the money will be repaid within 15 months.

Kiva is something different. It allows individuals to lend money to other individuals in developing countries for a wide range of projects leading to empowerment and alleviating poverty. It feels like you are really making a difference and I guess part of it is because you can, to use lending terms, track your "return on investment" as you read accounts of the person's activities and progress and watch the loan repayment. You can reinvest your money after repayment of the loan by supporting a new person with a new project, or of course, you can put the money back in your pocket. Microlending is just a new way of looking at giving.

Joining the Kiva community provides a close connection between lender and entrepreneur. Kiva posts profiles of each entrepreneur that describes them and their project. Being part of Kiva feels like a group effort-it is. Kiva does a really great job of creating a community of lenders. You can even join a lending group and journals are posted from entrepreneurs who give personal accounts of how they are using your money.

Non-profits can learn something when considering their next campaign to raise money; take a look at Kiva. Use the idea of creating an online community effort to bring people together to support a cause. I've seen the model work for fundraisers & special events much like the lending program-donors just don't get their money back-but seeing & hearing about results of their support may encourage future participation. Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. has used this strategy with a Facebook campaign NoFood4You by inviting people to participate in their hunger awareness campaign. More people working together gets results faster. The more the merrier!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Outside the Box Studio

This week I wanted to highlight a great organization located in Naples, Florida that is offering opportunities to partner with the community and non-profit organizations on unique programming for children. This organization is Outside the Box Studio. Outside the Box provides unique classes using art, drama, music, language, culture, & movement to educate, entertain, and heal. The holistic style of educating comes from a diverse group of teachers lead by the Founder and Director Maria Luisa Carter. Maria Luisa or Lulu as she is known has twenty years of experience as an artist, business woman, educator, and therapist. She has used these skills during her travels throughout the world in both private and public organizations with children, families and educators from a variety of backgrounds.

Walking into Outside the Box is like walking into a wonderland. This is far from being a cookie cutter operation. The arts & individual well being are integrated with respect for the environment and the health of our global community. The general theme of teaching sustainable living in all classes is present. The curriculum addresses the mental, physical and spiritual needs of children and programs are tailored to the individual needs of each child or particular group. Although the programming is therapeutic, the main focus of Outside the Box is prevention by increasing awareness and education. Classes include music, yoga, Spanish, Portuguese, theater, photography, art, film, science and more. In addition, the studio offers specialized birthday parties, workshops, teacher training, & family education travel.

Lulu has a particular interest in providing services to children with different abilities and special needs. The style and environment at Outside the Box has proven to be a place where children with different abilities thrive. Life with Autism is a partner program and Outside the Box is committed to creatively working together with all children and families to achieve a place of success.

There is so much to learn about this organization that I cannot begin to touch on all the amazing opportunities for children and adults alike. Luckily, you can experience it firsthand this weekend on Saturday April 11! In preparation for Earth Day, the studio is partnering with Whole Foods in Naples at 9101 Strada Place for a FREE Art for the Earth Workshop from 1:00-3:00pm. Bring something clean & reusable & create a unique piece of recyled art.
Can't make it this weekend? Visit the website at http://www.outsidethebox-studio.com/1.html or better yet, call Lulu at 239.272.6152 to make an appointment to visit the studio in person at 1610 Trade Center Way Suite #4. Great opportunities for summer programs, weekly classes, or a one time event! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Yin & Yang of It

Some days I feel like I need a better sense of humor. Who knew issues like homelessness and human trafficking would give me one. I mean these issues are unbelievably serious and if you can't find something to laugh at during the day while dealing with these things, you can get in trouble. I am one of those not very funny people who always forgets the punchline when telling a joke, but now I make sure to always have a couple one-liners that really rock my world. I am a seeker of funny. Since I do watch the news...I also must watch my fave comedy "The Office". Like EVERYTHING, it is all about balance. You cry, you laugh, you don't hit the tipping point this way. 

I have recently discovered a fantastic blog by Diana Scimone about the current state of human trafficking in the United States. The great thing about what she writes is that she offers ideas about how one person can make a difference. She brings you the cold hard horrible facts but balances it with some practical ways people are fighting back and how you can join in. Yes, these issues are despicable but don't ignore them with apathy, do a little something. Buy that birthday gift for your mom at The Emancipation Network's store that sells gorgeous, handcrafted products made by survivors of slavery with the proceeds going to provide help and hope to others rescued from human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking is hosting their first Gala Dinner fundraiser to honor 5 years of serving human trafficking victims on May 22 in Bonita Springs, Florida. Survivors of slavery will be honored for their success in their new lives as will exceptional, caring service providers. I encourage all non-profits to honor the successes in ways like this and remember all the positive work being accomplished every single day. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gardens, Health, & Hunger. The Basics.

Food is big news. In the United States, whether its kids going hungry on weekends (illustrated by Community Cooperative Ministry's support of Backpack Food Programs), the high demand food pantries are observing for their services, or sustainable eating issues like recent campaigns to "Eat Fresh, Eat Local", food is the center of attention. Food has become complex. Sometimes going back to the basics is not such a bad idea. 

When I was a kid, we had a garden. We didn't spray it with chemicals to keep out the weeds, my brother and I got to pull the weeds out with our hands. We grew a variety of vegetables and ate them fresh over the summer and then canned or froze the excess for winter.  Probably due to all the pulling weeds out with my hands, I bought my food from a store when I became an adult. Although easier on the hands, I realized it was expensive and after having children of my own, realized more than ever how scary much of the food out there really is in terms of where it comes from and how it is grown.  Hence, my back to basics idea. Grow your own food. 

Not only families benefit from this idea, but some non-profit food pantries are realizing it is a great way to offer fresh fruit and vegetables to communities in need. It can be a source of food, learning, and volunteer opportunities for all. The Volunteer Way in New Port Richey, Fl uses a hydroponic garden to grow fresh vegetables to supplement their food bank. Organizations like
Sustainable Table offers an introduction into sustainability. There are also fantastic websites likeNoFearEntertaining offering healthy recipes for your new locally grown fruit and vegetable score. 

The number of ways gardening, sustainable living, and alleviating hunger can be partnered together are huge and exciting. Check out Oregon Food Bank's Learning Garden. Become empowered! Oh, and gardening gloves are recommended.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bartering, Trade, & Recovery


An interesting story was reported on CNN about the comeback of one of the oldest means of exchange, bartering. Bartering groups, associations, communities whatever form they take are on the rise. The International Reciprocal Trade Association http://www.irta.com/ provides information regarding ethical standards and practices. Websites like Merchants Barter Exchange http://www.merchantsbarter.com/, OurSwaps http://www.ourswaps.com/, U-Exchange http://www.u-exchange.com/, and Swap Tree http://www.swaptree.com/ all offer a different spin on direct exchange of goods and services.

Not only individuals but businesses and non-profits can find this concept useful. Determine what you have to offer and what you need and go for it. Barter Notary Public services for some needed landscaping, etc. Be innovative and creative and you may find bartering is a really good deal.

In the meantime, Florida, like many states, is currently waiting for the stimulus money to reach the people who need it. Governor Crist has given the go-ahead and has stated the money should be available by the end of the month. Today it was announced that a website will be set up to track this money so taxpayers can see what and where projects are being funded. The website provides a map that will apparently allow you to click on each county to see specific details of the money trail. Go to http://www.flarecovery.com/. Non-profits need to be diligent about following these dollars to see if opportunities arise for assistance with programs. More to come on this topic.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Be Fearless Like The Homeless World Cup (Promote with Video!)

I know it is Friday the 13th but don't be afraid. In fact, take a lesson in fearlessness from the individuals in the above video. My husband and I were channel surfing not too long ago and came across a show on ESPN about the Homeless World Cup that this video highlights. We were blown away by this amazing event. The Homeless World Cup is an international soccer tournament held annually between teams of players who are homeless and excluded from society. The thing is, these people are unreal soccer players. They are destitute and living in extreme poverty and still play soccer with amazing passion and skill. Through this event, players get the opportunity to represent their country and change their lives and the lives of others forever. The project has inspired other soccer projects across the world with over 25,000 homeless individuals participating throughout the year. In 2008 the first Women's World Cup was held in Melbourne! Learn more at www.homelessworldcup.org.

Another great way to learn more about The Homeless World Cup is to view their YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/HomelessWorldCup. Many videos like the one above are available to tell a firsthand, compelling story related to the event. They are inspirational to say the least. Using YouTube as a way to promote non-profit organizations and the cause they are supporting is an effective method of conveying your message to a large and diverse audience. YouTube offers a designated Non-profit Channel that provides a venue for delivering your non-profit's message to the world's largest online video community. This allows you to use your non-profit's branding, run video campaigns and offers several other innovative ways to spread awareness. Read more about this opportunity at http://www.youtube.com/nonprofits. Come on now, try it, be fearless!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pledge To End Hunger

Hunger is affecting increasing numbers of individuals in our communities. We must continue to spread awareness of this issue to try and find solutions. A recent New York Times article highlighted a local town, Lehigh Acres, Fl, as one of the hardest hit areas in the country. In the article, Charlotte Rae Nicely, executive director of Lehigh Community Services discussed how more people were going hungry and demand for food assistance was increasing at her food pantry. Some food pantries report an increase in demand of up to 75% and requests are from people of all races, ages, and backgrounds: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/us/08lehigh.html?8br=&pagewanted=all. You can support a local southwest Florida foodbank like the Harry Chapin Food Bank at: http://www.harrychapinfoodbank.org/ or Southwest Florida Outreach Food Pantry at http://www.swfloutreach.com/Outreach.html.

Tyson Foods has started a website designed to shine a bright light on this issue of hunger in America. Click on Pledge to End Hunger on the left of this blog or go to http://www.pledgetoendhunger.com/ and take the pledge to end hunger. By making the pledge, Tyson will donate 35lbs of food product to those in need. This is an equivalent of 140 servings! This is such an easy way for individuals to make a difference so give it a try. Pledges are made online and you can share the link with others to help Tyson reach their goal of 1000 pledges. After the goal is met, a very LARGE truck will deliver 140,000 meals to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas in Austin, TX! YeeHa!

As of this post, 439 pledges have been made securing 61,460 meals. Help Tyson share the wealth by sharing this blog and encouraging everyone to help end hunger now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Running Wild.

My post today was (and partly still is) going to be about my little fundraiser that I put together for a local food pantry and outreach center using FirstGiving.org. This is a great fundraising tool so click on my fundraising page at: http://www.firstgiving.com/swfloutreach or my FirstGiving.org button on the left and check it out. If you feel like making a donation to a wonderful cause, that's cool too. The Southwest Florida Outreach Center provides emergency help in the form of food, clothing, rent, utility, & medical bill assistance to hundreds of people each week. They also operate an addiction recovery program called the House of Hope. This is a small, faith-based operation that works diligently and deals with individuals and families in crisis on a daily basis in Fort Myers, Fl, an area hit especially hard with the housing and economic downturn. I have partnered this great cause of fighting hunger, homelessness, & substance abuse with my recent challenge to myself of running the Tampa Bay Gasparilla Marathon on March 1st. So far we have raised $315 on the way to a goal of $500 that will be spent on food for the food pantry. Check out their good works at http://southwestfloridaoutreachministry.blogspot.com/.

Well, I came up with this idea and now I'm a little embarrassed. Yesterday I saw the headline for another marathon. This marathon is called The Sahara Marathon. Yeah, A MARATHON ACROSS THE SAHARA DESERT! Suddenly, jogging through the beautiful city of Tampa along gulf coast beaches, savoring the nice ocean breeze doesn't sound quite as challenging as it used too...

This Sahara Marathon is an extraordinary event. Not just because it is a 26.2 mile run across the desert either. Insane people-I mean runners-from around the world participate. The event is organized within the saharwi refugee camps. These people have been touched by tragedy and unfair treatment for 30 years as victims of brutal repression and little acknowledgement from the international community. The event aims to bring solidarity to the people in hopes that freedom and sovereignty will follow. Capturing the world's attention and focusing it not just on a crazy race, but on the oppression of the sahawari people and their desire to decide their future through a free democratic referendum is a central goal of this running event. Several improvement projects within the refugee camps are also supported through this marathon. So this isn't a bad little fundraiser either. Definitely adding it to my to-do list. This way I can feel less embarrassed. Learn more at http://www.saharamarathon.org/.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Evolve or Die.

Evolve or Die. Ah yes, this quote-which of course I can take no credit for-touches many aspects of life and none more than my blog. After a year of working as a freelance grant writer and non-profit consultant during one of the worst years of economic turmoil the United States has ever encountered, I learned a few things. For instance, finding a forgotten, crumpled up $1 bill in an old jean's pocket can really put a smile on a girl's face. I digress. As a result, my work took many twists and turns and ups and downs too. I learned once and for all that many working together is the key to lasting success. Lao Tzu knew this a long time ago, "Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just." He must be astounded that something so full of common sense is still so often overlooked.

Fortunately, the opportunities for partnership and collaboration through social networking are more abundant than ever increasing a collective strength and optimism. So part of my evolution is making technology more useful to my clients. I will continue to provide grant writing and all the other non-profit assistance services as before but with an additional focus on connecting and marketing their organizations through means such as blogs, websites, twitter, and other social networking sites. My blog will still provide non-profit information but also emphasize making connections and establishing collaborations. I believe the coming together of individuals and organizations all over the world to address a common cause can be quite effective-and beautiful.