The Good News

The title of this section is called "The Good News" because this blog is about the amazing things people do to help others, and isn't that good news? I now have a few helpers of my own to keep this blog going. Hopefully you can use this as a resource when you are looking for ways to help or share your talents.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Charity Matters

If you're interested in blogs about charities and service, you must check out the blog "Charity Matters."  I'm not going to write anything more about the site because it's so reader friendly, you have to just check it out for yourself.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Because of my current condition (my due date is on Wednesday), I’ve been lucky to have some good friends help me out with the posts.  This week, my friends Dave and Mary Jo shared their personal experience working with a local mentoring program.

Dave and I have been volunteering at Phoenix Youth at Risk for a little over a year now.  There are several programs at Phoenix Youth at Risk…we are in the PALS program.  This is very similar to a Big Brother/Big Sister program.  We mentor a youth that has either been in a domestic violence situation or in a homeless shelter.  The youth ages range from 5 to 15years.   We went through an interview and training and then were matched with a youth that seemed like a good fit.  I am currently mentoring a 7 year old girl named Jetta.  Dave is mentoring an 11 year old boy named Eric.   We sign a one year agreement to see our mentee once a week for a minimum of an hour.  This is of course not always possible, but we do try to make an effort to see them as much as possible.  And really once you get started it isn’t much of an effort!  They are both great kids and many times I probably have more fun then they do!  We try to do a variety of different activities with Jetta and Eric… we’ve gone to d-backs games, ice-skating, bowling, swimming, water parks and the library.  Many times Phoenix Youth at Risk will have free tickets to different events.  Jetta and I went to the play Annie and we all attended a D-back game and got some players’ autographs!  The most important thing is building a relationship with your mentee and giving them the opportunity to perhaps see a different lifestyle.  After a month, mentees are allowed to come to your house.  Sometimes we will just bring the kids here to have dinner with us and walk the dogs.  It is that simple and they love just spending time with you!  If anyone wants more information, they can visit  You will find other ways to volunteer there.  I don’t know if what we are doing has changed Jetta and Eric’s life, but it has certainly enriched ours.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national mentoring organization Mary Jo mentioned and depending on the location, multiple programs are offered.  Here is a list of the types of programs your local BBBS may offer:
  • Community Based Mentoring: (similar to what Mary Jo described)
  • School Based Mentoring: meet at school
  • Lunch Buddies Mentoring: paired during school lunch break once a week
  • STARS: Bigs are matched with Littles who have an incarcerated parent or close family member (meet a couple of hours a few times a month)
  • Step Up:  teens involved in the court system are paired with positive adult role models
  • Gear Up:  Adult mentors are paired with high school students who are working toward graduating and becoming fist generation college students
(This information was found in the BBBS of Flagstaff newsletter)

My friend Brad, who writes the forum, “I’ve been talking to your kids” started an on-line mentoring program a few years back called, MentorE.  It paired businesswomen/men up with at-risk youth and instead of meeting in person, the pairs would meet on-line.  The program was successful while it lasted but unfortunately its funding was cut.  I still think it was a fantastic idea and hope it will be reinstated one day.

How can we get involved?:
·         If you’re local, check out
·         See if you have a local organization or a Big Brothers Big Sisters in your area.  The website for BBBS is
·         If you are unable to commit the time, both organizations gladly take donations.  Donations could be anything from movie tickets, to sporting events, clothes, restaurant gift cards, cash, etc. 

“Do you need anybody?  I just need someone to love.  Could it be anybody? I want somebody to love...I get by with a little help from my friends.” ~The Beatles

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Foster Care

Have you ever been interested in becoming a foster parent?   I love this post because I have met the family behind the following information.  They already have 4 beautiful kids and continue to open up their home to other children.  The woman who wrote this post is simply amazing (and I love her mom too!).

“When I grow up, I’m going to live next door to you.”  This sweet and simple desire was expressed to me by a young teen living in a group home where my fiancé (now husband) worked. Rich lived in a “home” with 6 other boys and a revolving- door of staff members.  Group home indeed.  It was a group all right, but not a home.  There was no one at that home that really cared for or loved those boys.  It was a dumping ground…just smaller and with a nicer name…group home.  Rich’s wish wasn’t just about the future and living next to me, it was about the present and how devoid of love it was for him.  All he wanted was a family to love him. That was the day when we realized that one day we had to become foster parents.

Today my husband and I are fortunate to have the opportunity to share our real home with children who don’t have a safe home of their own.   We currently have a sweet 3 month-old boy in our home.  Our children love their temporary siblings, and our whole family has experienced God in unexpected and wonderful ways thanks to the presence of these little guests.

Tragically, over 11,000 children are wards of Arizona’s Child Protective Service (CPS), yet fewer than 2,000 families are licensed foster families.  The situation grows worse daily.  In a bad economy, just as child abuse and neglect rise, many foster families have to drop out of the program because. they can no longer bear the additional expense of another child (even though most of the expenses are reimbursed by CPS).

The shortage of foster families is so severe that even infants are being put into group “homes.”

I received a call today asking if we can take another infant.  A four week-old baby needs to be removed from his home, but CPS simply has nowhere to put him.  Even our 8-passenger car has no space for one more child’s seat. How heartbreaking it is for me to tell the case worker that I cannot help a baby in danger. 

Maybe you have been missing the voice of a child in your home.  Maybe you love holding and cuddling babies.  Maybe you are great with teens.  Maybe you already have kids in the home, like us, and adding one or two more is just not that big of a deal.  Please consider being a foster parent.  YOU  ARE  DESPERATELY  NEEDED.  Please pray to discern whether this may be something you are called to do.  It is tremendously rewarding for the parents, and literally life-changing for a child in need.

Let’s not leave these kids with hopes of a better life someday, but give them the love and safety they deserve today.



How can we get involved?:
·         Look into foster care in your area and ask questions!  Just like adoptions, foster care is a huge undertaking and often so intimidating, people stop the process before they really begin.  Take a chance and see if it’s something you really may be able to do! 
·         Elizabeth was so generous with allowing me to post her experience, I’m sure if you had any further questions, she would be open to responding.

Many times it only takes one caring individual to foster resilience in a child!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Food Boxes and St. Vincent de Paul

Part (the better part) of this week’s post was written by my good friend Renee.  Renee is one of the members of a 30-week compassion class I took at my church.  Recently, we (our group) started volunteering for a local parish who is involved with St. Vincent de Paul’s “food box” program. 
 I’ll give a quick rundown of what we do for the food box delivery program.  We contacted SVdP to get recommendations of parishes that needed volunteer help with the program.  Once we chose the parish, we contacted the person in charge of the program, in our case, Max.  On the day we deliver, it takes about 1 ½ hours from start to finish.  We pack a car of 8 to 10 boxes filled with food, drive around to the given addresses, ring/knock on doors, have people sign a sheet stating they have received their box, and bring the box to their door.  I have actually been mouthy enough to ask them to get their box and they comply with a smile when they see that I’m ready to give birth at any minute.
St. Vincent de Paul is an international organization that provides so many wonderful services including the following:
·         Hearts and Hands Day (a volunteer program for families!)
·         All other opportunities to serve are listed in this brochure:
Here is the website for St. Vincent de Paul:
How can we get involved?: 
  • Check to see if there are any programs such as these in your area as many organizations, religious and nonreligious have similar services
  • Especially if you’re local, take the time to read what Renee has to say about the experience and sign up!

Renee’s post is a wonderful tribute to the man who really runs the food box program for his church.  He’s seventy years old but has the spirit of a teenager.
Do you know how many hungry families there are in Phoenix?  No one really knows for sure; but, according to Max, the number has certainly risen in the past 5 years.  However, there is an organization that is doing something about it:  St. Mark’s Catholic Church.
Max, the coordinator, of St. Mark's Food Bank (not to be confused with St. Mary’s) in Phoenix makes sure that many people with few means don't go hungry.  Long before anyone arrives to assist him, Max sorts out the paperwork according to neighborhoods so that no time, effort nor energy is wasted.  Max organizes the food boxes so that everyone gets some of everything available, but that families get a little extra (food) to feed the little ones.  Max then patiently loads all the boxes into his spacious, but outdated truck.  Lastly, Max grabs a few refrigerated items to add to each box before he begins his deliveries. 
Max knows the neighborhoods well; so, with a little help, he's done distributing the boxes in about an hour and a half.  Of course, if he has no help, he takes quite a bit longer. 
Afterwards, just like many of the recipients served, he thanks everyone involved and then gets right back to work, as he knows that the number of hungry people in Phoenix will continue to grow…..

If you would like to help, St. Mark’s accepts donations of food and/or money M-F during regular business hours.  St. Mark’s is located at:  400 N 30th St., Phoenix, AZ 85008.  The phone number is (602) 267-0503.  Also, you may sign up for a timeslot to deliver at:

RESULTS:  You feel great, people in need are fed, hope is restored, families are empowered……
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”                                                                                                                                                                                         Matthew 25
Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance, And feed them, and carry them to the age! Psalm 28:9

Saturday, September 3, 2011

National Public Lands Day

National Public Lands Day

“September 24 is National Public Lands Day, a volunteer-run event dedicated to cleaning up and preserving everything from neighborhood green spaces to national parks.”(Parents, September 2011, p. 34)  Parents magazine really has a lot of great ideas for family philanthropy. 
Last year, I didn’t realize I was participating in National Public Lands Day but I think I was.  My husband, kids and I all went to Lake Pleasant to help pick up trash for a few hours.  Actually, Mike did a lot of the picking up while the kids and I played in the water.  Nevertheless, we had a great time!
Check out the website to find out where you can volunteer in your area.  The website is so easy to navigate and it lists things to do throughout the year, not just on September 24, if you happen to be busy that day.

Examples of what you may be asked to do?
·         Pick up litter
·         Paint over graffiti
·         Fix trails
·         Plant plants and trees

How can we get involved?:
·         Check out the site and volunteer your time if you can:

“This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.” ~Woody Guthrie

Friday, August 19, 2011


Can chickens save the world?  According to this non-profit, they can do a great deal of good by saving lives.  “Chicks4Children is a sustainable campaign from Global Family Philanthropy to end hunger and poverty worldwide.” (
Chicks4Children is very similar to Heifer International in that they both work towards sustainability and sharing.  With chicks4children, we’re talking only about chickens.  Recipients of the chickens are educated in the areas of sustainability, farming, agriculture and business.  The idea is for families to eventually have their own coops and share the offspring with others.
The website is very cute and informative:

The following website is for Global Family Philanthropy.  This organization continues to help those in Haiti.  There is so much to learn from this site:

How can we get involved?:
·         For $10, share a hen
·         For $25, buy a flock
·         For $100, fill a coop
·         For $500, build a coop
·         For $1,000, provide a sustainable program

“Results to be proud of.  Children are nourished.  Gardens flourish.  Families are empowered.  Communities are built.  We all win.  We all give.  We are grateful.” (

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I've Been Talking to Your Kids

This is an awesome forum/blog my friend Brad created to help others.  When I first started the blog and was looking for charities to highlight, I could’ve just had lunch with Brad and he would’ve been able to give me 52 with no problem…I just know it!
Anyway, this is a great site for parents or for anyone who works with kids.  I’ve been meaning to highlight it for a while now.
Check it out:

Look at Brad’s bio and you will feel good about his credibility.  He is as kind as he is brilliant.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Missed Opportunities

Have you ever turned your back, literally, on someone who was looking for a handout?  For the last seven months, I’ve been highlighting different charities, non-profits, organizations and people that make a difference.  Although I’ve learned so much, I had an experience a couple of days ago that made me realize I still have a very long way to go. 
As I was unloading my kids in the parking lot of a grocery store, one of my biggest fears was almost realized.  I had unclipped Mia (from her car-seat) who is very independent and assumed she was right behind me while I loaded Mikey into the stroller.  After I clipped him in, Mia hadn’t climbed in yet.  When I turned around, I couldn’t see her and I absolutely freaked!  But, there she was about 20 feet away from me in a “safety zone” (curbed area with gravel and a tree) looking back at me as if to say “what’s your problem?”  As I was going after her to get her into the stroller, I looked up and there was a young woman holding a baby and a sign, staring at me.  I didn’t even take the time to read the sign before I started shaking my head no.  I pushed Mia and Mikey into the store and instead of thinking about the fact that it was 4:00 in the afternoon in Arizona, and how that woman needed something…anything to help her and her baby…I found myself angry with her.  Couldn’t she see how stressed I was and that she shouldn’t distract me from keeping my kids safe?
Late that night Mia woke me up and I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman, her baby, these posts and what a hypocrite I am.  What good is it to write about these organizations and learn about all the wonderful things out there that I can do to help others, if I can turn my back on someone standing right in front of me who needed help?
Panhandlers are a pretty controversial subject with many and each of us has our own philosophy as to what we should do when someone asks us for a few dollars.  Some people give without judgment, others hand out resources, such as where people can go to get a meal or shelter and many people work hard for systemic change.  I’ve heard of people who keep nonperishable items in their car at all times to give to those who stand out by freeways.
Over the years I have given but I have also walked away too.  I have to admit I don’t remember the faces of the people whom I gave as much as the faces of those whom I turned my back. 
I read that Mother Teresa had a private vow for years, she would deny Jesus nothing.  I really didn’t understand what she meant until a few days ago and how hard that vow must have been to fulfill.  Our priest just gave a homily about how our faith is like that of Horton the Elephant’s, “I meant what I said, I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful 100%” and my husband and I discussed how it’s impossible for anyone to do it with 100% accuracy but I think Horton must have been modeled after Mother Teresa.
I write this blog with the intention to have as a resource for myself in the future but I also need this reflection to be included as a reminder and a smack upside the head of its core purpose.

“I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” ~ Stephen Grellet

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Backpack Drives

Today, we were supposed to bring a backpack for the Backpack Drive at our church and I completely forgot!  So, this week’s post highlights local “Back to School” drives or “Backpack” drives. 
Although school has begun in a few of the districts, drives continue to be held around the Valley.  This post is a quickie because instead of writing, I need to go out and get a backpack!

Here are a few links to some drives maybe happening in your area:

Promises 2 Kids: San Diego

Rowan County, North Carolina

Volunteers of America:  Operation Backpack

Phoenix Area:

Loving Through Literacy

How can we get involved?:
·         Check out the links…Operation Backpack includes drop-off locations in numerous states
·         Search your area for local Back to School or Backpack drives and donate if you can!
·         Host a backpack drive (most likely for next year)

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity cannot survive.” ~ Dalai Lama

Monday, July 25, 2011

Homeless Sleeping Mat Project

This is so cool!  Read about how people around the states are making sleeping mats out plastic bags for the Homeless. 
The following article explains one woman's experience with this project.

St Paul’s Catholic Church Homeless Sleeping Mat Project      

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  Anne Frank
Fortunately at St Joseph’s Hospital, where I have worked for many years, we are sent daily quotes and prayers.  This one struck a chord with me; “God gives blessing to us so that we can give blessings to others.  The beauty of grace is that you receive blessings without reason.  Gracious Living is to give blessings to others for no reason.”   I had just finished the yearlong Just Faith program at St Paul’s which delved into many social justice issues, along with the fact that my daughter and I had volunteered many hours at Chris Becker Dining Hall through National Charity League, seeing firsthand the homelessness issues.  All these experiences working together brought the Homeless Sleeping Mat Project to existence. 

Nearing the end of 2010, a coworker told me about a church group back east that was taking plastic shopping bags and turning them into sleeping mats to give to homeless people. I was immediately excited about the idea and Google searched it as soon as I returned to my desk after lunch.
Then, I printed off the information and emailed the ladies at the church my questions regarding the project. Our family has been recycling and using canvas shopping bags for years. Luckily, my coworkers and my sister’s coworkers helped me round up the needed 700 to 900 bags to make one sleeping mat. I gradually cut up the bags to turn them into “yarn”, (think intertwining rubber bands) and I used my large P crochet hook to crochet the mat. I also added an attached cord to allow the mat to be rolled and then secured while also having a handle to carry the mat. There is a large pocket at the top of the mat that can be used, when stuffed with clothes, as a pillow. After finishing my first, I discovered that one mat could be completed in approximately fifteen hours. When a person receives a mat, they will also receive a Ziploc bag filled with travel sized toiletries, a letter discussing the process of making the mat, and an information card from St Joseph’s the Worker, an organization which provides job training to the homeless, amongst other resources. I deliver the completed mats to Chris Becker’s Dining Hall clients.
If you would like to help with this project, we meet at St Paul’s Catholic Church from 1 to 3pm the second Saturday of every month in room 10 to cut and create the yarn as well as crochet the mats. All are welcome and encouraged to attend; no prior experience necessary! I hope to have anyone interested in learning this process to come out so they may bring it back to their churches or other organizations. Just imagine how many plastic bags we could keep out of the landfills and how many people we could make just a little more comfortable in their unfortunate situations with just a little bit of time and effort!

Thank you,
Yvette Morelli Giesemann
How can we get involved?:

Friday, July 22, 2011


Aevidum, a program run by teens in Pennsylvania, is the organization I’m highlighting in this post.  It is not a non-profit, but as this blog is called “ripple affect:  awareness leads to action”, it’s one of those programs that everyone should know about as its mission is “to make the general public aware of the warning signs of depression and suicide.  By using the word aevidum, we will empower students to shatter the shame surrounding this illness and save lives across the nation.” (
Aevidum means “I’ve got your back.”  It started in a high school in Pennsylvania in 2003/2004.  It’s pretty impressive how much these students have accomplished.  Check this out:
The website is an excellent resource for anyone who is involved with kids.  Warning signs are listed as well as contacts and resources for kids experiencing any of the signs.  What I like about this program is that it is run by kids, making it that much more kid friendly.  Kids, especially pre-teens and teenagers are typically much more open to being involved with something peer-related than adult-imposed. 
To learn more about this fantastic, much needed program, check out the website:
How can we get involved?:
·         Share the information
·         If you are a teacher, you could help the students start up aevidum at your school
·         If you are a parent, you could encourage your child to start up aevidum at your child’s school
·         Make a donation to aevidum’s message (number located on website)
“In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people.” (NIMH)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Have you ever wanted to volunteer but you don’t know where or how to begin?  This week’s post highlights a few websites designed to help people get connected with their community.  I’m so happy there are organizations like these because it makes volunteering easier by clearly listing what’s needed on a day to day basis.

The first website I found, VolunteerMatch, is available to users all across the USA.  Just punch in your city and it should give you current volunteering opportunities within a 20 mile radius.  For example, when I punched in Phoenix, AZ, it gave me over 700 volunteer opportunities.

The following two organizations I listed are local (Phoenix, AZ).   One of my husband’s friends made a New Year’s resolution to volunteer more so he signed up for Phoenix Philanthropists and really enjoys it! This website is neat because it lists the volunteer job, plus, how many spots they still need to fill.

The Phoenix Philanthropists:

My friend, Anna, uses the following website when she wants to volunteer.  She too likes how easy it is to pick and choose from the list of jobs available. I like this website because it gives you age suggestions on the jobs available (i.e. 5 and up).

Phoenix Volunteers:

How can we get involved?
·         Check out one of the websites
·         Volunteer
·         browse other organizations’ websites that provide this type of service in your city

“If you think you’re too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” ~Betty Reese

Thursday, June 30, 2011


·         Fair Trade
·         Hand Made
·         Nonprofit
“SERRV is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.” (

History: SERRV started after World War II to help refugees rebuild.  It is now a 9.5 million dollar fair trade network.  Due to the growth of the mission, SERRV is not an acronym.  However, when it began, it stood for “Sales Exchange for Refugees Rehabilitation and Vocation.”

Fair Trade:  SERRV is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization and a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation. To learn more about the importance of fair trade, check out the tab “Fair Trade” on the website.

Farmers and Artisans:  “SERRV works with thousands of small-scale artisans and farmers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and other developing regions of the world by marketing their handcrafts and agriculture products.” 

SERRV is such a huge organization that helps others in so many ways, I only just briefly wrote a few scattered highlights.  I’ve loved and learned so much from browsing the website.  If you’re interested in learning more, check out the following link:

How can we get involved?
·         Look at the website!
·         Buy gifts online-you can even order a catalog
·         Check out locations of stores that may be in your area (unfortunately there are none in AZ)
·         Help sell products
·         Donate or Lend
“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.” ~William James

Saturday, June 25, 2011


This week’s post highlights the non-profit, generationOn.  Based out of NY, NY, generationOn is an outstanding website with the following mission: “To inspire, equip, and mobilize youth to take action that changes the world and themselves through service.” (  It is super kid, parent and teacher friendly, as it provides ideas, projects and curriculum specifically geared towards helping the community.  If you’d like to create ripples of compassion within your family or with your students, this website is a Godsend.
Just a few tidbits you’ll find on the website:
·         1,500 lesson plans on service-learning
·         Grant opportunities for community
·         Operation:  Kids Help (currently focusing on disaster relief)
·         Kids Care Clubs: program of generationOn
·         Click on the “Kids” tab and you will find 65 Ways to Make a Difference
·         When picking a project, you can search by issue:  animals, environment, homelessness, hunger, literacy, Seniors
·         “Parents” tab:  Project Ideas
How can we get involved?
·         Check out the website!
·         Awareness leads to action…pick a project and try it out with your kids or students!
·         It’s a non-profit that also accepts donations (look at the “support us” tab)
·         Leave a comment about things you’ve done/tried with your kids to help make a difference (the more ideas, the better).  My friend Ivonne took her young boys to a Senior Center and based on the pictures, everyone was happy!
“Children are great imitators.  So give them something great to imitate.” ~Anonymous

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Give a Bike

Give a Bike is working to bring mobility, healthy life choices, and joy to United States Veterans, and underprivileged communities around the globe.” (
Talk about two crazy lovebirds!  I felt like my husband and I really roughed it spending 19 nights in a backpacker’s tent while in Italy.  It pales in comparison to what Christy and Adam are doing for their honeymoon.  These two amazing people are touring 50 states on their bikes to create awareness and raise money for World Bicycle Relief and Achilles International.
You have to check out their website and blog for yourself because I cannot do it enough justice!  Christy and Adam are just about halfway through their journey and have raised $18,000 of their $25,000 goal.

To donate, the Coppolla’s website is:

I love it!  They will be the first people to complete an unsupported bike tour of all 50 statesJ!

How can we get involved?
-check out the website and blog and prepare to be inspired (and maybe even be a little jealous)
-help Christy and Adam reach their goal by donating!  World Bicycle Relief provides bicycles for people in developing countries.  Achilles International (Freedom Team of Wounded Vets) gives veterans who have lost a limb the ability to race by providing hand-cycles.

The purpose of me doing this blog is to learn about the amazing things people like these two are doing in the name of helping others.  Go Christy and Adam!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

African Soul, American Heart

This week’s post highlights the non-profit, African Soul, American Heart (ASAH).
ASAH “shelters orphans in Southern Sudan.”  It began from one man’s desire to help the parentless children left behind as a consequence from the Sudanese war.  This “Sudanese Lost Boy,” now an American, is a survivor and refugee, hence the name “African Soul, American Heart.”  The organization is relatively new, but incredibly successful.  The following is a brief description of the three main projects of the non-profit:
·         In July, the ASAH Home for Girls will open.  The goal is to educate the girls through Secondary school as most girls do not complete even an elementary education.   The philosophy, “educating women lifts communities out of poverty.” 
·         Kids in Kenya:  ASAH provides 100% sponsorship/support to 10 Sudanese (refugees) orphans in Kenyan boarding schools. 
·         Get Your Panties in a Bunch:  This ongoing program provides reusable (cloth) feminine hygiene products and “panties” to young, female Sudanese orphans. Many girls stop attending school because they don’t have the items necessary for certain times of the month which leads to absences from school, embarrassment, and eventually, dropping out.  These items help girls stay in school!

I have the pleasure of knowing the President of African Soul, American Heart.  She is a HUGE part of the “heart” and success of this non-profit. 
If you would like more information about ASAH, please check out their website…it is truly fascinating!:

How can we get involved?
·         Purchase the DVD documentary:  African Soul, American Heart
·         Donate whatever you can
·         Sponsor a student
·         Contact Deb ( to see what kinds of female hygiene products are needed to help keep Sudanese girls in school

“If these kids are raised from the age they are and given what they need, they will be good leaders in our nation or in our world.” ~Joseph Akol Makeer

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)

Got Milk?  An abundance of human milk, that is…
I am now at the 20 week mark of my pregnancy and due to my changing body and soreness in certain areas, I feel like discussing lactation. 
What is HMBANA? 
“HMBANA is a non-profit association of donor human milk banks established in 1985 to set standards for and to facilitate establishment and operation of milk banks in North America.”
Who gets the milk?
“HMBANA milk banks process donated human milk primarily for fragile and vulnerable infants to ensure they have an adequate and safe supply of this life-giving and life-sustaining supplement when mother’s own milk is not available.”  (
When I donated, I was told my milk went to a 4 year old who had severe digestive issues and needed the milk to survive.

Since I have personal experience with this organization, I’ll write about the process so you can see, it’s really not difficult to do…if you are lactating…a lot!
After the birth of my first child, I for some reason was blessed with a TON (maybe literally) of milk.  It could have been because I was pumping non-stop for 9 ½ weeks until my daughter finally latched on or maybe because I had been initially pregnant with twins, but after Mia was born, holy cow, I was the dairy queen.  My husband bought a deep freezer because we no longer had any space in our regular refrigerator freezer (nor did my parents or anyone else who was helping us store milk).  Anyway, because I knew I would never be able to use all of the milk, I looked into donating it.  My friend, Leah, sent me the web address for HMBANA.
The website gives the locations of member milk banks in the United States and Canada.  Once you contact the location where you are going to send your milk, it’s a very easy process.
Step One: I chose the non-profit milk bank closest to my area which turned out to be Presbyterian/St. Luke’s in Denver, Colorado.  I then did an over-the-phone interview with someone from the bank and received paperwork via mail, necessary for becoming a donor.  The paperwork included the need for a blood test, approval from my OB for donating milk as well as my daughter’s pediatrician’s approval. 
Step Two:  The milk bank sends all of the necessary packaging and labels and pays for the shipping.  The only things I had to do were buy the dry ice from the grocery store as well as the storage bags for the milk, pump, and call Fed Ex to pick up the box.   
So, I first sent 2 big boxes of milk that I had already stored up and continued to send milk for a few months after that.  When I was finished donating milk, I received a letter stating I had donated over 2,000 oz.

The website gives great information about HMBANA services, and includes interesting stuff such as how the milk is pasteurized and distributed. Here is the link:

How can we get involved?
-      If you are nursing and have an abundance of milk, check out the website and consider donating your extra milk. 
-      If you are talking with a friend who has no qualms about sharing the fact that she is a dairy queen and has no more space to store her milk, tell her about HMBANA like my friend Leah told me.

HMBANA: the true milk of human kindness