Filed under: Children
November 19, 2013
Pine trees. Gilded glass ornaments. Big gold boxes wrapped with shiny red ribbons. The image of the holidays we have is one of people cozying up next to the fireplace stockings in their knitted reindeer sweaters with a plate of gingerbread cookies in one hand and a present in the other.
For most of us, our biggest worry is whether to buy the green scarf or the blue scarf for our mother-in-law, or which Lego kit was the one our son wanted. Yet for many others, presents are the last thing on their minds this holiday season – they’re just thinking about how to last the winter months with enough food and warm clothing.
November 12, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan has left millions of families and children in need in the Philippines. As many as 2.5 million people require assistance. (more…)
September 5, 2013
By Brad Jamison: contributing writer and founder of Good Citizen.
Back-to-school time is an annual reminder of the many service opportunities we have to help ensure kids have a fun and productive school year.
While I find great joy in doing all sorts of service, one of the things that delights me the most and provides enormous satisfaction is working with a nonprofit that benefits kids. In fact, last year, when I conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days – I spent nearly one-third of my time volunteering to help kids.
One of the most exhausting, yet rewarding, days of my thirty came when I volunteered with KaBOOM!. On that 90 degree day, I joined 200 others to build a new playground for the kids of an LA-area community. When we arrived at the site there was nothing to be seen other than a vacant space where an old dilapidated playground once stood and a sea of people eager to help. But, when we left there was a gorgeous, safe place for kids to play. It reminded me of the types of play space I was fortunate enough to grow up with, which is why I love doing these builds.
It is on a day like this, one when strangers come together with a common goal that I am reminded of the truth in one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” On that day, we changed the world for the kids in this community.
Another thing I love about service is seeing the impact I have on the person I am helping. One place that happens for me, over and over, is at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. I have been on the Board of the Club for more than four years, a role that brings me great joy and satisfaction. But, from time to time, I also volunteer with them in other ways.
During my Thirty Days of Service, I spent an afternoon helping kids with their homework in the Club’s learning center, which is where I visibly witnessed the impact I was having. I was sitting working with a young man struggling with his math assignment, something I could relate to, as I was never a superstar when it came to math. As I tried to help him, offering up various ways he could approach the equation, he grew more and more frustrated and was nearly begging me to just give him the answer. Not one to give in too easily to the charms of sweet kids, I kept working with him when suddenly something I said clicked with him and he was able to arrive at the correct answer. That little moment felt like magic for both of us!
Speaking of magic, the folks at Playworks might not be magicians, but they are experts at transforming schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. I have seen firsthand how their hands-on approach helps build self-esteem in kids through play in a positive, supportive and non-threatening environment. As a kid who was frequently teased and picked last in gym, I know how intimidating the playground can be and I wish Playworks had been around for me. The day I served with Playworks, I wrote the following in my blog, “Many of life’s lessons are learned on the playground and I am thrilled that these kids, and kids at other Playworks schools, have an opportunity to learn those lessons in a safe and supportive environment. For the kids, it might seem like it’s just playtime, but we adults know it’s much more than that.”
So, whether it’s helping a teacher or kid, playing or instructing, there are so many ways to give to our next generation of leaders. I hope that during this back-to-school season, you will join me in pledging to find a way to serve this school year and help ensure a bright future for all.
About the author
Brad Jamison is a pro-social marketing expert, speaker, writer, producer, service advocate, philanthropist and founder of Good Citizen. A volunteer since he was 8, last year Brad conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days, for which he was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award, which recognizes the power of the individual to spark change and improve the world.
See Brad live:
Below is a video of Brad on day 28 of his service with Kaboom. For more videos, click here.
August 23, 2013
You can also read this article here on LinkedIn!
Imagine this: your seventeen-year-old daughter is texting her friend on her flip phone. She’s had this phone since eighth grade and she doesn’t mind; she can call, she can text and that’s fine by her.
A pack of cool girls in her class walks by. They’re all on their iPhones, checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. They look over at your daughter’s old phone. “What is that,” one of them snorts, “a dumbphone?”
In this era of “entitlement” when adolescents are given more privileges than ever, empathy with people who are different or who don’t have the same material resources, are at an all time low. According to researchers, entitled children often seek only their own pleasure, and forget about other people’s feelings. They don’t empathize that not everyone grows up with Retina Display. (By the way, that was an actual exchange between kids in a high school in California this year.)
Most parents don’t intend to spoil their kids. Well-meaning parents take their kids to piano classes, take them to museums in Europe and buy them cell phones, not with the intent to spoil, but to give them a solidly well-rounded and well-provided-for childhood. But one unintended consequence is that their child may grow up into a selfish and narcissistic adolescent.
How do you make sure that your child stays humble, responsible, and empathetic?
The secrets to raising a compassionate, responsible child are surprisingly simple, according to researchers.
Top 5 Ways To Raise A Compassionate Kid:
1. Assign your kids chores. When your kids are young, start by assigning chores early on, so they understand the concept of each family member taking on a specific job for the wellbeing of the entire family. Studies show that this is one of the best ways to encourage compassion and prosocial behavior. Older kids can babysit younger siblings or other kids in the neighborhood. Older boys can be particularly good babysitters and develop a caring relationship with younger boys.
2. Praise them not just about their act, but their internal motivation. When you see your child doing a good deed, make sure you recognize her actions – but go a step further and attribute these actions to her “internal disposition” (e.g. “Wow, Julie, thanks for helping your brother with his homework! You’re such a kind and caring person.”) When your kids hear about how their actions reflect their inner good nature, rather than just hearing about how good the deed itself was, this fosters a prosocial self image that results in more empathetic actions.
3. Reward not for rare goodness, but for consistent behaviors. Children are continuously learning, so don’t reward them after just one instance of a good behavior; wait until they’ve shown it multiple times, when it’s starting to become more of a habit. Make sure your child understands that their behavior has consequences; consistent mature, responsible behavior will elicit praise or rewards while continued irresponsible behavior results in loss of rewards. Don’t reward too often – by only calling attention to your child’s exceptional behavior, this sets the social responsibility expectation higher for them. Rewarding them for every small, already-expected action causes them to lower their own expectations of what constitutes good behavior.
4. Encourage open expression of emotions in your family. Many families find it difficult to openly air out negative emotions, but talk it through with your child when she comes home upset or sad. Children who are more tuned in to emotions from an early age often end up more empathetic and are more likely to understand and consider others’ feelings, rather than taking them for granted. Growing up in a tight-knit family provides a conducive atmosphere for children to openly express their feelings; encourage this by spending more time with your kids.
5. Volunteer. In general, researchers have found volunteering is associated with increases in adolescents’ self-esteem and self-acceptance, moral development, and belief in one’s personal responsibility to help. Volunteering often brings a new dimension to the world through children’s eyes; it helps them grasp that not everyone has the same privileges they do and makes them more empathetic.
Empathy and compassion take years to develop. The one caveat is not to force your child against her will. If she doesn’t want to go to the food pantry this weekend to help stock food, don’t yell at her and push her into going; she may associate negative emotion with volunteering, according to studies.
One final tip: go home from work today and tell your kid you love him or her. It doesn’t matter if they’re seven or if they’re seventeen. Just one little phrase can remind them of how much love and compassion they have – and in turn, allow them to spread that love and compassion to others.
Follow Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits founder and CEO, on LinkedIn!
August 1, 2013
The lazy summer days are slipping away and it’s almost time to head back to school! This school year, why not look into volunteerism as a new after school activity? Getting involved with volunteering at a young age encourages an compassionate and kind outlook on life, strengthens your work ethic, and can provide valuable work experience.
Whether you’re a parent and you want to teach your children what it means to give back to the community, or you’re a high school student looking for meaningful ways to fulfill your service hour requirements, follow our tips to find the best volunteer opportunities for youth.
1. Look for organizations that specifically recruit children and teenagers as volunteers.
Great examples of these organizations include:
Pebble Tossers matches kids and teens up with volunteer opportunities and provides information on the number of hours, age requirements, and descriptions of different projects. Browse their list to find a service project that most appeals to you.
Youthlinc empowers youth to volunteer locally and be mentored to lead international service projects in impoverished villages in Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and Thailand.
Youth Making a Difference involves teens in Leadership Service projects that travel on humanitarian expeditions to India.
2. Check out your local soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
Many soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters take on students to volunteer for a weekend or on a regular basis and often give service hours in exchange. Contact your local organizations and ask if you can lend a hand.
3. Help out at senior centers and hospitals.
Local senior centers are often looking for young volunteers to help teach computer literacy classes, work in the kitchens or offices, or just be there to talk to the seniors and get to know them as you keep them company. Some hospitals also recruit high school volunteers to organize children’s play activities in the waiting areas, act as hospital greeters, and staff the gift shop or assist in administrative duties.
4. Join a club!
Many international service organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs offer middle school and high school branches. Join your school’s Interact, Key Club, or Leo Club to find out about locally organized volunteer opportunities and to bond with other service-minded students. Some middle and high schools also partner with local elementary schools to provide volunteer tutoring services. Or look for service clubs outside of school, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Had a great volunteer experience and want to share your story? Want to search for more youth volunteer opportunities? Check out our website for more ways to get involved with the youth volunteer community!
June 17, 2013
With summer here, we know a lot of you want to learn more about traveling for good! There are many different ways to help out abroad with a small amount of free time over the summer and different nonprofits offer different opportunities. The Top-Rated groups below offer various chances to travel while volunteering. Take a look, and see if one of these nonprofits is a good fit for you.
And if you are scheduled to do some traveling with a nonprofit already, share your story when you get back by writing a review! Your review will help others decide if volunteering abroad is a good fit for them.
2013 Top-Rated Nonprofits Offering Travel Opportunities
Countries/Regions Served: Guatemala
Mayan Families provides opportunities and assistance to the indigenous and impoverished people of Guatemala, through education and community development programs.
“My only regret is that I could not have spent longer in Panajachel with Mayan Families. While there, I was a part of their medical and dental clinics for many different villages, and I also came home with a beautiful puppy that they had rescued through their animal welfare program.”
A Broader View
Countries/Regions Served: Belize, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines
A Broader View Volunteer Corp. was created on the belief that one person can make a difference in the lives of others. The US office is operated by a staff with almost 20 years combined travel and hospitality experience.
“Many of the “volunteer” programs we looked at for our daughter were cost prohibitive and had many time constraints. ABV made it possible for her to experience a different culture and, at the same time, volunteer in ways that she never would have otherwise.”
Global Volunteer Network Foundation
Countries/Regions Served: Africa, Asia, Latin America
Global Volunteer Network Foundation works to empower women and children by providing financial resources to grassroots organizations working with vulnerable women and children in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“Climbing to Everest Base Camp is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life and I can’t imagine better people to have done it with. I will be doing more programs with GVN in the future and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.”
2012 Top-Rated Nonprofits Offering Travel Opportunities
Child Family Health International
Countries/Regions Served: Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Mexico, South Africa
Working at 20 different sites in six countries, Child Family Health International partners with universities and medical professionals. The organization aims to help students explore what health care and public health provision is like in developing countries. CFHI also creates social entrepreneur opportunities for local communities that are able to host and teach students from afar about local culture, realities, illness and wellness.
“It was one of the best rotations of my medical school career. Getting the opportunity to perform a number of procedures while also seeing what healthcare challenges another culture faced allowed me to develop tremendously as a doctor and person in the beginning stages of my career.”
Countries/Regions Served: Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Thailand
YouthLINC works to create life-long humanitarians. Rotary clubs, universities and colleges, businesses, professional associations, and individuals who want to encourage service among young people provide sponsorships to students.
“ I felt like the trip had a perfect blend of service and site seeing. I felt like I had a cultural experience along with a wonderful service experience.”
Want to help YouthLINC and Child Family Health International become Top-Rated again for 2013? Write a review of their work!
April 5, 2013
It’s Earth Month, and we have some great ways to get kids involved! Earth Month is the perfect time to get kids into appreciating the natural world and taking care of their planet. Here are some ways to celebrate!
1. Take a hike, and clean up!
Get outside and get moving–hikes are an easy way to show kids the wonders of their own backyard and with spring here, you might get to take in blooming flowers and wildlife. Many local nonprofits hold programs in parks and natural areas. Local nonprofits are also responsible for stepping up and helping out state parks during budget cuts. Find a local environmental nonprofit near you.
If you live near a beach, river or lake, chances are, a local nonprofit needs your help for its next cleanup! Many organizations ramp up their cleanup efforts for April. Don’t live near water? You can still pitch in to clean up in your own backyard at your local park, school or playground!
2. Visit an Animal Rehab Center
Get access to some amazing wildlife while learning about how humans affect wild animals and their habitats near you. Visit a raptor center, like Cascades and witness eagles and owls up close. Live near the water? Find a marine mammal center, like the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, to see how trash can entangle sea creatures, and how to help.
3. Go to a Car Wash
What kid doesn’t love being inside the car as it goes through a car wash? Why is it good for the environment? Car washes recycle their water, so much less water is used than when you run your hose at home to wash. And while your working on the car, check your tires, under-inflated tires can negatively affect your MPG, making your car less fuel efficient.
4. Start a Garden or Visit a Farm
Gardening is a fun, hands-on way to teach kids about the Earth and about healthy food. Grow your own veggies, or create a garden full of flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies! If your kids are into critters, start a compost bin and be sure to add lots of worms! Many nonprofits hold programs to educate urban farmers, like the Seattle Tilth Association. You could visit your local community garden for more inspiration. Many working farms give tours geared toward kids that show the effort and care that goes into growing healthy, local and fresh food while kids can engage with the farmers and animals.
5. Feed the Birds
Make your yard or balcony a haven for hungry wild birds. Set up a bird feeder and keep track of your visitors. There are many local Audubon Societies that give local birding walks as well and can help you identify the birds at your feeder. Take a walk around your neighborhood one morning and try to see how many birds you can identify. Believe it or not, the local dump is actually a favored birding spot as well. Some dumps and recycling centers offer tours. (Also a great place for kids to see how waste adds up.)
6. Recycle Your Clothes and Toys
Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning. If you end up with a mountain of clothes that no longer fit your kids, or toys that they have outgrown, consider donating them to those in need. It’s easy to have kids help out. Gather all of your donations in a recycling bin and head to your local Goodwill together. Many local groups also accept clothing and toy donations for those in need.
7. Ride a Bike
Instead of driving to run errands, try riding bikes together to local shops. You’ll save gas, get exercise and help the environment. Many bicycle nonprofits advocate for bikers’ rights and/or offer safety courses for riders, like The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
8. Read a Book–or Write One!
Take a trip to your local library and check out some books about your local flora and fauna. (After all, the library puts ‘reduce reuse recycle’ into action every day!) Have a writing session with your kids and create some art about the Earth. Nonprofits like River of Words in Berkeley, CA work to foster both literacy and environmental stewardship through poetry.
9. Go to a Farmers’ Market
Get some tasty local fruits and veggies at your farmers’ market. Most markets will let kids sample lots of different foods. Talk with the farmers and ask about how they grow their produce. Bring your reusable bags and ask for recipes too! Then have the kids help out with preparing a meal with the fruits and veggies you buy.
10. Make a Reusable Bag
Don’t have bags for the market? Use an old t-shirt and make a reusable bag! Kids can have fun decorating it.
Know of a great environmental nonprofit doing work near you? Write a review and let other folks know about it!
December 18, 2012
The Newtown School Shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut were a painful reminder that we have a horrible recurring problem of mass shootings in this country. At schools alone, we have a string of recent events, with this CT shooting bringing back memories of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and Columbine High School shooting in 1999. State and Federal gun control laws certainly can have a role in helping prevent such massacres, and President Obama calls for “meaningful action,” but passing new gun control laws will be time-consuming. And many groups, like the NRA are opposed to new gun control laws. Can nonprofits be a meaningful near-term solution to help prevent such shootings in the future?
City gun buyback ©Antonio Villaraigosa on flickr
While we do not yet know the full details of how the killer acquired his guns, studies show that a “large source of guns used in crimes are unlicensed street dealers” and those dealers do not do background checks that would reveal prior records or mental health concerns. Thus, nonprofits raise money and perform gun buybacks to get guns that might otherwise be sold at gun shows or at flea markets off the street. Just one day after the tragedy, …Continue reading Newtown, School Shootings — Can Nonprofits Help Prevent Shootings?
November 19, 2012
Earlier this month The Huffington Post highlighted some of the nonprofits that have already qualified for our 2012 Top-Rated List. The HuffPo slideshow focused on charities dedicated to providing support and education for children and families. The nonprofits featured were:
Congrats to these outstanding small charities! These nonprofits are located all around the country and are providing aid and opportunities for children in need. Some are dedicated to educating low-income children by providing the resources necessary to succeed academically. Others provide support and treatment to children facing severe medical conditions.
Check out The Huffington Post article hereand stay tuned for more featured winners of the Top-Rated Awards.
Are you a nonprofit? There’s still time to win a spot on the 2012 Top-Rated List!
October 3, 2012
The concepts of sharing time and giving to those in need are a part of the learning curve in a child’s life, but why are these ideas so important for kids to learn?
In his book, Giving back: A guide to Volunteering and Donation for Families and Individuals, Stephen P. Ketchpel tells us:
- Giving back empowers a child, making them more independent.
- Volunteering as a family, together as a group, leads to stronger family ties.
- And, the earlier a child participates in this experience, the more he/she enjoys and makes it a part of his/her whole life.