Free caregivers’ conference offers resources and support Sat., Sept 27

I was lucky to have had a third parent in my mother’s mother, who lived with my family my whole life until she died just after I graduated from college. In the beginning, she took care of us four kids and my parents. Toward the end, we mostly took care of her.

She had severe arthritis and used a walker for years. I remember using hyrdogen peroxide to clean the incisions from surgeries on her knees, massaging her back and shoulders sore from the walker, giving her her nightly prescriptions, helping her get dressed, and lots of other things I never thought about. I guess I assumed every teenage girl spent Friday night cutting her grandmother’s toenails.  I’m not going to say it was easy or that I always enjoyed it. It was tough. But it really felt like the least we could do since she practically raised us.

Anyone who’s taken care of an elderly or ill loved-one knows how tough that can be – and lonely. And even though it’s inevitable that some of us will take on this role sometime in our lives, most of us go it alone without the support we need to maintain our sanity.

On Saturday, September 27, AGE of Austin will host the 7th Annual caregivers’ conference, “Striking a Balance,” aimed at anyone who finds themself in that role now. The conference will help you find the resources and support you need to manage caregiving responsiblities and make them work with the rest of your life.

They offer a light breakfast and lunch – and they’ll care for your loved on while you attend the conference. Elderhaven Adult Day Center of Austin and Williamson County has signed on, but you’ll have to call them to make reservations at 512-458-6305.

7th Annual Caregivers’ Conference – FREE
Saturday, September 27, 2008
2525 West Anderson Lane, Northcross Mall
Norris Conference Center – Red Oak Ballroom
9 AM – 2 PM
Doors open 8:30 AM for registration
Light breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Go to Age of Austin for more information.


Work the phones and help hurricane evacuees find help this weekend

Have you heard of 2-1-1? It’s like 4-1-1 except that it offers free, statewide, 24-hour access to health and human services and disaster information through its multilingual helpline.

As you can imagine, it’s a great resource for people all over southeast Texas who are being displaced by the hurricanes. They call to find out where to find shelter or food, how to get help moving special needs people, even how to get help moving pets.

Thanks to Gustav, the 2-1-1 line had a 300% increase in volume of calls over one weekend. And hurricane season is not over yet. You’re heard of Ike, right?

There are a couple of ways you can help:

The first is to make a donation to 2-1-1 so they can get the folks and other resouces they need to serve the people displaced by Hurricane Ike.

The second is to VOLUNTEER YOURSELF in Austin this weekend. There will be training, and all you need to get the job is the ability to care about people and help them find their way. If you’re bilingual, you’re especially needed. Just register with United Way Capital Area to get started.

OR if you are interested in becoming a Disaster Response Volunteer for 2-1-1 Texas, call 2-1-1 or email Kimberly Blackburn.

Thanks for your help!

Sept 14: Take somone you care about to the Health Festival on Sunday


(This one’s for my people.)

Entre los adultos mexicoamericanos, un 31.6 por ciento de los hombres y un 34.4 por ciento de las mujeres tiene enfermedades cardiovasculares.

The good news is, there are lots of ways to avoid heart disease. Want to know more?

Head up to the Travis County Expo Center next Sunday, September 14, for the Hispanic Health Festival, from noon to 6 p.m. It’s free, and they’ll offer health screenings such as these:

  • Glucose (diabetes)
  • Blood pressure
  • BMI testing  

Plus they’ll have the usual children’s activities and live music, and Mexican food!!!!!

(Here’s where I have to chime in: In the flyer they actually called it “heart-healthy Mexican food,” as if regular Mexican food isn’t heart healthy. Well, I think it actually is…. or it was until anglos starting shaking cheese all over it. And sour cream… what Mexican eats sour cream like that? I grew up eating Mexican food three times a day, and about the only non-healthy, heart clogging thing we ate was avocados, when we could afford them. Of course, we ate plenty of non-Mexican food, too, which didn’t help in the health department. We used to call that “American” food. When’s the festival featuring “heart-healthy American food,” for the anglos? What would they do, make healthy versions of hot dogs and apple pie? Or meatloaf and Twinkies?)


They also need volunteers at the festival, which could be fun. See this Craig’s List ad for details.

I can see some of us grabbing our parents – Hispanic or not – and taking them up there for the fun part, then walking them over for that glucose screening they’ve been meaning to get. (Hint, hint, Scott.)

Sponsors for the event include St. David’s HealthCare, Seton Hospitals, Amerigroup Community Care, LCRA and AstraZeneca, in addition to Austin’s Univision media outlets.

Check it out.

Sept 3:Tweet-Up hits Food Bank next!

Those same crazy folks who brought you the Tweet-up Blood Drive are now taking aim at the Capital Area Food Bank.

They’re calling it the HAM-Up Tweet-Up, which actually does mean something. Wait for it… September is Hunger Action Month… HAM… Tweet-up is a meeting of Twitter followers and followees… so HAM-Up Tweet-Up.

Okay, don’t try to explain the name to anyone who isn’t online 20 hours a day, just tell them to mark their calendars for September 3 when something special will happen. The organizers are still working on what, exactly, but you know it’s gonna be good.

Remember getting new sneakers?

Give $20 to Shoes for Austin and a disadvantaged child gets a brand new pair of sneakers? How cool is that?

When I was little, the first thing I wanted to do when I got new sneakers was run, run, run. Remember that feeling? I knew they were dorky and super-white, but they felt great.

That’s why Shoes for Austin is such a great cause. The charity gives brand-new, named brand athletic shoes to disadvantaged kids – about 8,000 in all – to motivate them to move. Every $20 donation means a new pair of sneakers for a deserving child.

Shoes for Austin

Shoes for Austin

Here are some ways to donate:

  • Give online
  • Give at any RunTex location
  • Eat at Guero’s this Wednesday, August 20
  • Stop by the booth at Blues On the Green, Wednesday, August 20
  • Eat at at Maria’s Taco Express, Friday, August 22
  • Go to the 2nd Annual Boots and Books Charity Concert with a live performance by the Band of Heathens. Scholz’s Garten, Thursday, August 21 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. $25 General Admission Ticket

OMG: Goodwill’s cool idea

I’m okay with used clothes. I had to share a wardrobe my whole life with two sisters, the three of us one year apart, so I’ve actually taken a shirt off someone else’s back and put it on mine. Did we ever fight about who was going to wear what? You’d be surprised… by my big sister’s natural left hook. I mean, the raw talent and brute force combo in that punch literally took my breath away.

So I’m cool with Goodwill shopping. I cruise the dusty racks often, especially since my two chitlins keep dipping in to my clothing allowance. I consider it a smart move.

But this Goodwill shopping event is borderline genius. First of all, they’re running this “Brand U” campaign to encourage people to “be creative and express themselves through clothing.” But as part of that campaign, they’re also running a sweepstakes. This from Andrea Ball’s column:

Everyone that registers between August 2-17 has the opportunity to win a $100 Goodwill shopping spree with a personal shopper/designer, hair cut/style/coloring, manicure/pedicure, a before and after photo shoot, and the chance to be a model in Goodwill’s next ‘Brand U’ shopping ad, courtesy of Salon Keriz’ma and Almost Impatient Productions.

I could do some damage with that $100, not to mention the needs of my gray hair and biscuit heels. Sign me up!

Just go to a Goodwill and sign up anytime between August 2 -17. Hey, look. I’ve got one right next door. Hmm. Lunchtime diversion.

HEM Jeans: Your old jeans = Help for SafePlace

Hem's Jeans for SafePlace event


I love when local businesses find a cool way to help local nonprofits.

I don’t know why it’s different from what Macy’s does… wait! Yes, I do!

It’s different because it’s local and because, again, Macy’s “Shop for a Cause” event is yucky.

Macy’s asks nonprofits to sell $5 shopping passes to customers that would give customers an extra 20% off on this one day in September. Usually, Macy’s runs 20%-off coupons in the paper (aka, buys an expensive newspaper ad), which are available to anyone who buys a paper for 50 cents. What “Shop for a Cause” does it put the burden on nonprofits to hawk their coupons (aka “$5 shopping pass”) – except nonprofits get to keep the $5. Gee, thanks.

Now if any local nonprofits do participate in this, I hope it goes really well for you. I know you need a variety of revenue streams to stay afloat these days, and I hope this works out to be one.

But then we get local Austin businesses like Hem Jeans, this super-cool denim store born and raised in Austin. From August 13 – 31, when you bring in a gently worn pair of jeans to Hem Jeans, they give the jeans to SafePlace and give you $40 off a new pair.

No special “shopping pass” needed, other than a pair of jeans that don’t fit you anyway. An Austin business giving to an Austin charity. Nice.