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!

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

NOTE: NEW DATE SUNDAY SEPT 28. POSTPONED DUE TO IKE.

(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?)

Anyway…

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.

Hundreds in Austin Shelter need your help now

Central Texas Red Cross just sent out an email asking for volunteer help in their shelters. This is a great opportunity to go over there and spend some helping out. 

We need shelter workers. 

Are you available????? 

Volunteers are needed for the 6AM – 6PM shift and for the 6PM -6AM. Volunteers are needed Wednesday, September 3 – Sunday, September 7 (Must be at least 18 years old).

To volunteer, please call 512-929-1200 or 512-928- 4271. Or email rturner@centex.redcross.org

Thank you in advance for serving your community! 

Kim Landry, Director of Volunteer Services, American Red Cross of Central Texas

I called and found out more:
1. Mostly they need support for their managers on-site. You would help serve food, answer questions, register evacuees, etc. 
2. Training would be “on the job” style. 
3. They need volunteers at the Delco location. See more about the shelters here. 
4. To volunteer, you should probably register online first. The site gives you the instructions. Once you’ve registered, they’ll call you. 
CenTex Red Cross will take calls until 7 p.m. tonight, but if you register online now, expect a call tomorrow. Thanks in advance for your help!

What Austin kids should know by kindergarten – and almost half don’t

My 5-month-old daughter "reading"

My 5-month-old daughter

On the I Live Here, I Give Here site this month, the highlight is education. Here’s a disturbing number:

The sad truth is that a whopping 40 percent of children entering kindergarten in our community – the majority of whom live in poverty – are 12 to 18 months behind developmentally.

I have a preschooler (and an infant, Olivia, picture above, “reading”), and since he entered daycare a year ago, my husband and I have done little things here and there to prepare him for kindergarten. As he is my first child – and I didn’t go to kindergarten nor would I remember much about it, if I had – I really don’t know what he needs to know by kindergarten. But we’re working on the basics: his alphabet, some reading, counting to 100, shapes, colors, science, calculus… (no, not calculus. maybe a little trig.)

So what does it mean to be “12 to 18 months” behind? What does being prepared for kindergarten mean?

One collaborative effort lead by United Way Captial Area is called “Success by 6,” as in six years old. One of their guidelines for success is a document called “Austin Vision for School Readiness.” It lists a number of emotional, intellectual and health goals for children entering kindergarten. Here are some of the skills children should demonstrate by kindergarten:  

· Children are able to communicate ideas, interests, needs, and understandings in their native language.
· Children can tell or retell a story that is read or told to them.
· Children know some songs and rhymes
· Children show an interest in books and are familiar with basic book conventions such as how to turn the pages of a book.
· Children recognize some environmental print, for example “McDonalds”
· Children recognize and name some letters
· Children scribble or pretend to write
· Children can distinguish between and label basic shapes: square, rectangle, circle, and triangle.
· Children can distinguish between objects that are the same or different.
· Children have basic understandings of size and quantity relationships – big/small, bigger/smaller, more/ less.
· Children can sort objects into basic categories by color or other common
shared characteristic.
· Children can count at least three objects.
· Children use their senses to describe and learn about the world.

So are you telling me that 40 percent of Austin children entering kindergarten next week do not have all of these skills? I don’t mean to sound so shocked nor do I mean to offend, but for those of you who don’t have children, I’m telling you: The pre-K kids I know have these skills. My son is four years old and he has these skills, and it’s not because he’s a prodigy. These are basic.

SO what to do?

1. Give money, obviously. One place to start is the United Way, which funds a number of specific programs – not nonprofits, but programs – with measurable results. Other things you can do…

2. Donate preschool level booksto Eastside churches, preschools, and libraries
3. Volunteer to read to kids at the library and People’s Community Clinic
4. If you know any struggling families or single moms with preschoolers and toddlers, offer to help the mom once in a while to give her more energy to read to her kids
5. Read to your kids.We make it a special trip when we go to the bookstore or library. Sam thinks books are a treat. He insists on reading at least three every night. We act like he’s a hotshot when he reads a word by himself (Most recent scary reading moment: him reading “Google” in the top-left corner of my browser window, over my shoulder.) We read the comics to him.

You get the idea. We’re not the best parents in the world, these are just the tricks that we use.

One more suggestion: Turn off the TV (after the Olympics are over). There’s stuff we can do, people!

AUG 29: Your fun, new after school project

Theatre Action Project is looking for volunteers!

The nonprofit runs an after-school program, a dynamic program which explores social themes through theatre, art, music, movement and more. I’ve seen this group in action – getting more than 100 strangers to make little teepees and walk in circles – so think what they can do with a classroom of kids.

Here’s who they’re looking for:

  • enthusiasm for kids
  • no previous creative arts or teaching experience necessary, but nice to have
  • commitment of once-a-week volunteering for an entire semester

Still interested? The come to volunteer orientation:

Friday, August 29th at 3pm  OR   Friday, September 12th at 3pm
Both orientations will be held at the TAP offices located at 701 Tillery Street
Please RSVP to Sarah McCafferty at sarah_mccafferty@theatreactionproject.org or 512-442-8773.

Take school clothes to Manos TODAY!

This from the Las Comadres listserv: Folks, these kids need your help.

WHAT THEY NEED: Shorts, pants, shirts, shoes, T-shirts, (new or gently used) and school supplies

FOR WHOM: Kids 4 to 13 years old

WHERE: Manos de Cristo, 4911  Harmon Avenue, 78751 (near IH-35 and 51st street)

BY WHEN: NOW. LIKE, THIS WEEK. Handing out clothes this week and next week, through August 16

BEST TIMES TO TAKE DONATIONS: Between 1 pm and 5 pm during the week through August 15.

Subject: Gently Used Kids Clothes DESPERATELY Needed for Back to  School Drive 
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 09:51:14 -0500  
From: rrosales@swkey.org      

Hello Everyone,     

I stopped by the Manos de Cristo offices this morning, and it was a very sad situation. Hundreds of parents, along with their very small children, had been lined up at the Manos de Cristo sight since 4:00 am – that’s right, 4:00 in the MORNING. And all in the hopes of getting used clothing for  their children for back to school.

I was told that 250 families had to be turned away this morning because the line had already exceeded  capacity – and this was only the FIRST DAY of the clothing drive.  (NOTE: Manos can only take 100 families a day. Those other families were told to return the next day.)

So if you have any gently used clothing that you would like to donate to this very worthwhile cause, please let me know. And please feel free to forward this email and my contact information on to family or  friends that you think might have clothing donations. I will gladly accept  any donations here at the SWK (Southwest Key) corporate office. I can also pick up any donations after work hours (during the work week) or this weekend.  

Donations can also be dropped off at the Manos de Cristo offices at  4911  Harmon Avenue, 78751 (near IH-35 and 51st street).  

Unfortunately – we are pressed for time. The clothing drive is THIS WEEK 08/05 – 08/09 and NEXT WEEK 08/12 – 08/16. So the sooner I can get any clothing donations to Manos de Cristo, the better.     

http://www.manosdecristo.org/backtoschool.html  

5 Questions for Kim Jowers, Executive Chair of Young Leaders Society

The Young Leaders Society engages Austinites between 21 and 45 years old who give $1000 or more to United Way Capital Area. Unlike a typical professional society, membership in this group emphasizes education opportunities in philanthropy and civic engagement. YLS members are committed to a better Austin and often have second careers in philanthropy.

Which makes for some busy people. I met Kim Jowers at the Head Honcho pitch ‘n putt event earlier this year. She just had a baby, too – a boy named Rhys. We were talking about typical new mom things – sleeping, nannies, not sleeping, and adjusting to this new life – when I realized she not only had a full-time job but was also leader of YLS. Wow. Good on you, Kim.

1. Along with opportunities for professional development, YLS offers its members a chance to learn more about growing their philanthropic “careers.” That’s a little more than what other professional associations offer, which might be the reason people join. Tell me about the kinds of people who join YLS in general.

The group is well represented as the focus is first on giving and so our membership have “day” jobs that run the gamut of professions. I believe the people that join are those that want to network with other like-minded individuals who are concerned with ensuring our Central Texas area is addressing the parts of society where there is a critical need.

2. So do YLS members have previous experience in philanthropy?

It depends, although I think for the majority of the group they are very civic-minded and especially concerned with making sure Central Texas is a better place to live. But, even if they have not volunteered much, YLS provides those opportunities for their membership both through actual volunteer events, the inspiring monthly lunch with leaders series or the workshops where we partner with groups such as Greenlights and Leadership Austin.

3. What about particular concerns? Do they come in wanting to serve a particular need?

You’ll find a wide breadth of concerns among our membership and they want to be a catalyst for making positive changes in our community. One great thing about the YLS group is being a part of United Way, which serves so many needs in our community.

4. Right, that’s how you become a member, but donating $1000 or more a year to United Way. Did the recent funding changes at United Way sit well with YLS members in general?

It seems to be sitting well with our membership. We have a close relationship with the leadership at United Way and they have made themselves very accessible to our membership to get any questions answered. The United Way researched this new approach very thoroughly and looking at the three areas they are focused on (education financial stability and health), it is hard to argue that the need is not there and further, not want to be a part of helping make a difference. I think it is pretty exciting!

5. Change does make things interesting, that’s for sure. You’d think lots of young professionals would want to be a part of it.

We need to increase awareness of groups like ours, show them what we are doing, how our efforts make a difference and how exciting and good it feels to be a part of it. Additionally, we are all very busy and I think we need to continue to provide relevant events and workshops, like YLS does, to our membership…making it easy and fun to be a part of.

I think young professionals bring a lot to the table: energy, enthusiasm, fresh ideas, a different perspective from the other traditional areas of philanthropic giving. I think energy and a different perspective are the big ones.

Kim Jowers is a finance manager for Applied Materials, currently working in the Sarbanes-Oxley program management office. She also serves on Applied’s Education committee, which reviews and makes decisions on where Applied will spend their philanthropy dollars earmarked for education in the Austin community.

Kim’s been a YLS member for four years. “I enjoy participating in volunteer activities that YLS puts together, including volunteering at ARCH, Marathon water stop, helping kids get financial aid, etc.” She’s married and is a new mother to six-month-old Rhys.