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12/16/08

Charity

I know I write a lot of negative, angry stuff, so here's something much more positive:

Charity.

The winter holiday season is the time when most people think about giving. Either you get a bonus at your job, or you suddenly start thinking about it due to the "spirit of giving" or hearing people talk about good will so much. Whatever the reason, it's always a good idea. So now that you're feeling so generous, how do you pick a worthy cause? There are so many with multiple charities for each. And its usually the same ones who get all the press, meanwhile the ones who need the most money can't afford TV ads or full page spreads in popular newspapers. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite charities:

- The Fistula Foundation:Obstetric Fistula is a horrible injury that is often sustained during an obstructed birth, specifically when the mother is very young or women there is lack of adequate medical care during labor. Through modern medicine, this condition is no longer very common in most wealthier nations. But sadly, some women can't always get the care they need. Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin founded the first Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There, doctors and medical assistants are trained and no woman is ever charged money or turned away. Women receive labor assistance, post labor care & surgery, new clothing and information to have a healthier birth the next time. Their efforts thrive entirely on contributions and have since built several "mini-hospitals" in the surrounding area for easier access for patients. They strive to help women rebuild dignity and live healthy & happy. (visit the site to learn more about obstetric fistula, what it means and what it does to women's lives)

- The Doe Fund: If you live in NYC, you may have seen men in blue jumpsuits, with the phrase "Ready, Willing & Able" across their backs, cleaning trash and sweeping streets. What you may not have realized is that they are a part of the Doe Fund, whose mission is to "develop and implement cost-effective, holistic programs that meet the needs of a diverse population working to break the cycles of homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism. All of The Doe Fund's programs and innovative business ventures ultimately strive to help homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals achieve permanent self-sufficiency." Help people get back on their feet, return to work and get control of their own lives again.

-Drawbridge: People think of artistic expression as a luxury, when really a connection to aesthetics and emotional articulation are an essential part of being human. "The mission of DrawBridge is to provide art programs for homeless and other vulnerable children in an environment that fosters their sense of joy, creativity and exuberance. Beyond that, we strive to promote the well-being and stability of family by creating a supportive community in which children help other children, establishing a lifetime of giving." The artwork done by children on their site is just too sweet and sometimes so heart-breaking.

-Farm Sanctuary: Love animals, but hate extremist groups like PETA? Might I suggest Farm Sanctuary, which is all about "rescue, education, advocacy". They spread the word about the cruelty of factory farming, help to lobby for laws to improve conditions and rescue farm animals in need and set up adoptions for them to be raised in a safe, loving environment with other rescued animals. You can arrange a tour at their New York or California farm locations, sign up for action alerts or join advocacy campaign teams.

-Puppies Behind Bars: While I think the name could have been worked on a little better, you really can't argue with results. The program "trains inmates to raise puppies to become service dogs for the disabled and explosive detection canines for law enforcement." While it sounds a little out-there for some people, the effect of the program is two-fold: Living in close-quarters with such constant contact with their trainers allow the dogs to establish a loving, loyal, trusting human connection which will remain essential for their "professional" lives. And being given a second chance, being trusted with a life and put to the task to do something good and meaningful with their lives makes this program rehabilitating for the inmates; many of whom were convicted of violent crimes. Now they can see how different live can be putting something good back into the world, rather than just taking from it.

That's all I have for now. Happy giving!
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1Ygp5vxLJ

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