How you can help people on the Texas Gulf Coast now

Please see this below from Mobile Loaves & Fishes – best instructions I’ve seen for how to help victims of Hurrican Ike on the Texas Gulf Coast:

Dear Friend,

Mobile Loaves & Fishes is planning a relief trip into the Hurricane Ike impact area of the Texas Gulf Coast.  We are leaving Monday morning September 15 at 9:00 AM from the St. John Neumann Commissary.  We need your help!  Here’s how:

  1. We need financial resources.  These trips cost thousands of dollars (food, fuel, supplies etc.).  Please click here to donate and please forward this to your friends and family.
  2. Volunteers to travel with us on this trip.  This will NOT be an overnight trip.  We need about a dozen people to man the two food trucks and one logistics vehicle we plan to take.
  3. We need Make Ready volunteers to prepare the food and load the inventory on the trucks.  There are opportunities both on Sunday and on Monday morning.

VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING
Sunday, September 14
St. John Neumann Commissary
903 South Capital of Texas Highway (www.mlfnow.org/directions)
2:00 PM

What you can bring:

  • Cases of bottled water
  • Gently used clean ice chests (you will never see them again)
  • Toiletries

The government and first reponders to Hurricane Ike have done an excellent job in these first few hours.  Now its time for Mobile Loave & Fishes to do what we do best….to serve those in need with dignity and compassion.  We can not do this without you.  You are the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves & fishes.

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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

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.

Caritas’s clean, new Web site

Wow, what a major undertaking that must have been!

See, I’ve run and worked on Web sites for a living, so I know what it takes to perform a complete redesign. You don’t go in to it lightly. Oh, the planning, the meetings, the testing!

Throw in a complicated message like Caritas’s and you’ve got a major project on your hands. That’s why its new Web site is such an accomplishment. Caritas has been helping provide basic needs to the homeless, refugees, low-income families and others in Austin for more than 40 years. Its previous Web site never seemed to tell the whole story of what the organization does – which is everything from providing hot meals to transitioning refugees. The new Web site makes Caritas’s mission so much more clear. Less is more.

The navigation does all the work. The design is clean and open and white-spacey and modern, which is nice and all, but the way they’ve put the information in just seven drop-down menus is the big accomplishment. That must have taken some real discipline and tough choices.

Not only that, each page loads really quickly, which must have also taken some discipline. So many people want their site to have all these bells and whistles (or as one of my colleagues calls them, “spinning weasles”). Each page has an image, some copy, and just a few other links and logos, so it’s not painful to click through the whole site.

Congratualtions to Caritas and the team at Go9 Media, which helped with the design.

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.

 

Want to donate for back-to-school? Check store registries

Austin children benefit from back to school donations to Manos de Cristo

Your wedding, your baby shower, your kid’s birthday… your own birthday. Registering for gifts has always seemed kind of icky to me, which doesn’t make much sense considering that I love when other people register – it lets me give them exactly what they want.

That’s why I love the idea of Manos de Cristo registering for back-to-school donations at Target. If you go to Target’s Web site and click on “Target Lists,” you can choose the “Advanced Find” link and enter “manos de cristo” in the organization search. (Or just click here.) There you’ll see a list of items you can buy in-store or online, then bring to Manos by July 15 for their back-to-school event.

Manos will hand out donated new and gently used clothes August 5-9 and August 12-16. Last year Manos helped more than 1500 Austin children get ready for school, and thanks to your donations, almost everything was covered. Manos especially needs new and gently used kids’ T-shirts… lots and lots of T-shirts. Bring T-shirts, school supplies, and cash donations to Manos by July 15.

Would you rather volunteer? Sorting takes place between July 28 and August 1, and they’ll need lots of extra hands to help. Click here for lots more information.

Gift registries aren’t icky anymore… they’re genius.