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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sojourner Center

This week’s post is about a domestic violence shelter in Phoenix called Sojourner Center.  It’s named after Sojourner Truth, a female activist and abolitionist from the Civil War era who exemplified strength and courage. 
The Sojourner Center was founded in the 70’s but at the time, it was a place for women who were transitioning from prison life back into the community.  Within a short amount of time (4 years) the founders realized the majority of the women being served were victims of domestic violence and the mission was changed accordingly.  The motto of the Sojourner Center is the following:  Overcoming the Impact of Domestic Violence One Life at a Time.

Current facts on domestic violence in Arizona (found on the website):
·         1 out of every 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime
·         Every 44 minutes in Arizona, one or more children witness a domestic violence incident
·         In Arizona, there were 89 domestic violence-related deaths in 2010, approximately one death every three days

Services provided by Sojourner Center:
·         Residential programs
·         Advocacy
·         Lay legal advocacy
·         Family enrichment programs

My daughter, Nastia, is an intern for this organization.  She has various jobs (see “vanguard” on website) and sometimes shares some of her experiences with me.  Although she doesn’t enjoy the circumstances, she is very passionate about what she does and truly loves this organization.  Because many of the women who come to Sojourner Center leave their situations abruptly, they are unable to bring items needed for their children.

For more information about this awesome and much needed organization, check out the website:

How can we get involved?:
·         If you are local, there are “vanguard” opportunities (along with an explanation of what vanguard is) on the website
·         There is a pretty extensive “needs list” located on the website
·         Nastia and I are collecting used strollers.  Let us know if you’d like to donate a stroller!
·         If you aren’t local, look into domestic violence shelters in your area-certainly they will have similar needs with many opportunities to help out

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again.” ~Sojourner Truth

Monday, May 16, 2011

Family to Family, Inc.

Family to Family is an organization I had never heard of (and probably never would have) until my dear friend, Rosemary, wrote me about it and I’m so grateful she did.   The mission statement of Family to Family reads, “We are a non-profit organization operating on Camiguin Island in the southern Philipines.  We are dedicated to provide medical and educational assistance to children in need.” (

In Rosemary’s words: 
This organization started as simply the good deeds of a young couple in the Philippines after the Vietnam War, and has expanded into a small, but highly effective charity that provides healthcare, foster-homes, and education for marginalized kids on one of the islands.   
The wife, Diane, was a college classmate of mine. I've always been delighted to support them not only because of the good they do, but because they do it in a familial, non-institutional way, in a way consistent with the culture of the locals, and they maximize every penny.

A few tidbits about the programs (from the brochure located on the homepage of the website):
·         Elementary Boarding School for drop-outs
·         Language classes for the deaf (20 deaf students are enrolled)
·         Financial assistance to graduates to enroll in high school
·         Assistance for children with physical handicaps
·         School supplies for public school students
·         Foster care for infants and toddlers

If you are having the kind of day when you need to know there are indeed, good people in this world, check out the “About Us” page on their website.  I can only imagine the impact this couple has had over the past forty years, considering all the children with whom they’ve come in contact and have helped.

For more information about Family to Family:

How can we get involved?:
-The funding for this organization is mainly from private contributions.  They receive no assistance from the government, etc.  To make a donation, use the address listed on the homepage, NOT the one on the brochure.
-There’s a volunteer nursing opportunity (one year, free room and board)
-The newest newsletter will be available in June

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.” ~St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stevens Johnson Syndrome

My sister, Karen, helped me out with this week’s post as her best friend from childhood is a survivor of Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS).  Emilie is a beautiful, courageous and inspiring woman.  I’ll put the link to her blog at the end of Karen’s post.
Two and a half years ago I received a phone call that my best friend was in a medically induced coma because she had something called Stevens Johnson Syndrome. I did the first thing anybody would do and looked it up on the internet. There wasn’t a whole lot of information out there but what I did see was shocking. I saw pictures of people who looked like burn victims, people who were now blind, and some had deformities. There were very few cases where patients had made a full recovery and returned to a normal life.  I was scared to death. 
SJS is an allergic reaction. In Emilie’s’ case the allergen is still unknown.  She was severe enough to be labeled Toxic Epidermis Necrolysis (TENS), with more than 60% of her body covered in an extreme rash. She had to be admitted to the UniversityofColorado Burn Center.  The doctors placed her in an induced coma for 10 days while they monitored the sloughing of much of her skin. She had 3 amniotic membrane surgeries to help her eyes heal through the process.  It was the amazing doctors and their knowledge of the research that saved Emilie’s eyesight.
Like I mentioned, there weren’t a lot of happy success stories for the survivors of SJS out there but Emily is creating her own success story and trying to spread the word to give hope to other SJS survivors. She is now a SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recover) Volunteer at the University of Colorado Hosipital’s Burn Center. She is trained to talk to burn patients and their families from the perspective of a survivor.
She also created a blog that is following her journey from SJS to Ironman. Through this blog she is trying to raise funds for the University Of Colorado’s Burn Unit so they can bring out more awareness for Stevens Johnson Syndrome.

How can we get involved?:
-Learn about SJS and share the information!
-Help Emilie with her fundraiser…it goes to a great causeJ

“Try something new outside of your comfort zone.  It doesn’t have to be an Ironman by any means, but I do hope that it involves taking risks and discovering new things about yourself.  Go forward with confidence and commitment.  Uncover all of the amazing things you are capable of!”~Emilie

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This week’s post is short and sweet because we are on a family vacation in Yosemite National Park where our Internet connection is quite slow.  I did, however, want to highlight CulinaryWorks … part of Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) in Phoenix.  CW is a program that teaches adults with autism, job-readiness skills.
Through real-life working, they receive on-the-job training which could then be used for other jobs.
They started locally with soup (local chefs, like Eddie Matney, helped them come up with the multiple recipes) sold in various local markets.
In addition, they added a full line of coffee products produced locally.  The adults roast and grind the beans, package and ship it all themselves.  I’m not just saying this, but I think it is the best coffee I’ve ever had!
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I thought this would be a good post as I already have a gift box with coffee and a mug on the way to my mother-in-law and plan on giving another to my mom (sorry to kill the surprise moms).
For more information on CW, click on this link:        
How can we get involved?
·         Support CW by purchasing and consuming their coffee and soups
·         Tell other people about your great culinary find!
A more in depth post on how to get more involved with SARRC will be coming later in the year.
“One day, all individuals living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) will be acknowledged as independent, contributing members of our community.” (