Week 38- Eating… or not… for a good cause

Project: Panera Cares Cafe Charity Miles

Actual Time Taken: 30 minutes

This week I wanted to check out the Panera Cares Café up the street from the theater.

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Panera cares, and so do I! (Image Source)

But its hours of operation would have none of it.

Turns out, it’s closed on the weekend.

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Yup. That’s me. (Image Source)

(A café closed on the weekend? Who would have guessed! Well, I guess anyone with the foresight to look it up online… but I digress.)

So my Girl Scout troop (Read: My twelve year old best friend, Hero. Just her. And me. We’re a troop.) had Mediterranean for breakfast and had a quick Girl Scout meeting instead, prepping for her next badge, which will be the cooking badge. (Tune in next week for full coverage of that culinary adventure!)

While I didn’t get to check out this pay-what-you-like community café, I did manage to squeeze in some pseudo-volunteering as I exercised this week though an app on my phone called Charity Miles.

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Running for a cause of your choice! (Image Source)

As a dancer, I’m not really ‘supposed’ to run. When I was younger we were told that running would develop muscles that could interfere with the muscles I was supposed to be developing in ballet class. But I have a crazy energetic pitbull puppy (read: two years old, but will always be a puppy to me.) so I have to find a way to get his energy out every day, and running a few miles a week seemed like the easiest thing to do. (Bonus: It files his claws down as I run! So no traumatic nail clippings for us! Double win.)

So this week I ran around 3 miles, raising enough funds to vaccinate 4 kittens for the ASPCA and donated around $1 to WWF. Apparently as I run, I accumulate money from Charity Miles’ corporate sponsors and they donate it to the cause I pick for each run. Runners earn .25 cents per mile, and bikers earn .10. I chose to donate to a few different charities this week, but next week I think I’ll stick with one charity and see how much good my jogging can do.

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(Image Source)

Bonus: It logs how many miles my dog and I are slogging through every week!

Double win.

Photos (Thank you!):

Panera: http://3blmedia.com/News/CSR/Panera-Bread-Foundation-Brings-Panera-Cares®-Community-Cafe-Boston

Kitteahs: http://rubmint.com/2009/11/23/if-you-close-it/

Charity Miles: https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?walk-bike-and-run-to-raise-funds-for-parkinsons-research

ASPCA: http://foac.us/big-thanks-for-aspca-grants-to-help-foac/

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Week 37: Volunteering dreams …

Project: iFred Proposal

Actual Time Taken: 45 minutes

This weekly volunteering project this year is officially taking over my brain. My proof? It has infiltrated my dreams.

I had a dream last night that I was volunteering at the Orlando Science Center with some new kittens and puppies (some were the size of worms. Dreams are weird, no?) When I came back the next day, I saw that they were all gone, they had slid out of the tupperware tub they were wrapped up in. I was distraught, and then embarked on an fevered investigation with my dad focusing on a local cult…. but that’s for another blog post.

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Master detectives, to be sure.

Point being, I was dreaming about volunteering.

This week, the work I put into this project was practically dreaming… I dreamed up a proposal to send to an organization that supports to people affected by depression.

After researching for this post in the wake of the loss of Robin Williams, I was left with the deep desire to do even more for the huge community of people affected by depression and anxiety, but I didn’t feel like I was mentally or emotionally prepared to help anyone. As someone who has struggled with both anxiety and depression in the past, I wondered what I could possibly offer to someone who was emotionally drowning in mental struggles.

So I thought to turn to one of these organizations that reach out to people affected by depression and suggest an idea.

What follows is this idea, and our correspondence.

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To the wonderful people of iFred:

 After exploring your website and learning about all the wonderful work your organization does for the community of people affected by depression and anxiety, I was struck with an idea. Now, before I present this idea, I want to preface this with the fact that I have little to no experience in the field of medicine, psychology, or psychiatry beyond my own personal experiences in therapy and my own battles with anxiety and depression. So really, it’s just an idea. But I hope it’s a helpful one.

 I recently wrote a blog post about how one could help out people affected with depression, and this idea presented itself to me, quite on it’s own. What if we created a digital information packet that could be distributed to people who would like to be more informed on how to be there for people affected by depression and anxiety in the most effective way possible? In this packet we could educate people about depression and anxiety, as well as teach them about how to talk to (or even just listen) to people who needed help. Also, the packet could include a sticker or icon to put on your Facebook or car window that would indicate that you are a willing, able, and confidential advocate for people in need; that you’re informed, caring, and willing to help out your friends in need in any way possible.

I thought I would pass along my relatively and self-admittedly uninformed thoughts to someone who could maybe bring this idea into reality. I love what your website promotes and provides for this community in need, and I am always looking for ways to help out. Please keep up the good work- I know you will!

All the best,
Selena Moshell

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A week later…. I actually got a response!

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Selena,
Thank you so much for sharing your vision and idea with us.  It sounds like a wonderful resource to provide and we will explore the concept further.
We appreciate your advocacy and support.  Keep up the great work you are doing!
Sincerely,
Penny
Penny Tate
Schools for Hope Project Manager

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I was so excited to hear that my idea may come to life someday, and either way, the people at iFred to awesome things all the time… so it felt so good to be heard by people who have committed their lives to making a difference!

Week 35- SEARCHING for a good cause…

Project: The Progeria Research Foundation via the GoodSearch search engine

Actual Time Taken: About an hour, over the course week

It all stared with a certain viral video.

(Don’t it always)

It was of a little girl dancing to “Ice Ice Baby.” She had curly red hair, tons of contagious energy, and all the cutest moves.

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The Two Million view cutie.

And she also had an obvious difference from all the other little girls bopping around on YouTube- she was clearly affected by some sort of disease.

After a moment of research, I learned that this particular little girl is Adelia Rose, also known asThe Most Reviled Six-Year-Old on the Internet,”  and that she suffers from progeria, a rare disease that prematurely ages her body.

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From her Facebook page. What an awesome computer!!

There is quite a furor around her, as most internet sensations seem to go (Ice Bucket Challenge anyone?), ranging from internet bullying to widespread praise. But what interested me this week for my hour of volunteering was what she directly asked us to do on her Facebook page.

Apparently there is a way to volunteer while you search the web. Much along the lines of the “click here to donate” websites that garner money for charity through clicks on sponsored websites, GoodSearch is a search engine that uses Yahoo Search ad revenue to give one penny per search to a charity of your choice. Apparently it’s a pretty effective system, with over 50% of the revenue actually going to the chosen charities.

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GoodSearch.com

Adelia Rose’s plea was for each of us to choose the Progeria Research Foundation as our charity. So I did just that, and decided that my hour this week would be spent searching as much as I could through GoodSearch.

But a small warning in italics under the search bar gave me some pause.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 7.32.09 PMThe fine print…

It reads “Please use this site honestly. Fraudulent searches will result in a charity being de-listed.”

Now. What exactly is a fraudulent search? One of my friends suggested typing out one letter of the alphabet and hitting search and repeating that for the entire alphabet. While this does seem like ‘cheating‘ in a way, what if I really did want to learn about each letter, one by one? Who is watching these searches and deeming what is a legitimate search and what isn’t?

So instead of trying to scam a system designed for good, I just made sure to use the search engine all week. Every time I wrote a blog that required any kind of research, any time I needed to settle an argument over the who the lead singer of an obscure 80’s band was with my boyfriend, any time I needed to search for myself on the interwebs for fun, I tried to use GoodSearch only.

(What’s funny about that is that I almost typed the phrase “Google myself,” which is quite ubiquitous and accepted, but pays direct homage to the search engine that I was NOT using on purpose… interesting.)

At the end of the of the week, I had garnered a whopping .32….

I had definitely spent at least an hour searching various searches, even if it wasn’t completely pertinent to my life, just to reach my hour of volunteering. (I now know a lot more about 80’s hair bands than I ever did before….) But I feel a little let down. I know I could have made a bigger difference by just going to the Progeria Research Foundation website and making a $50 donation, or something. But I guess that would defeat the purpose of me experiencing an hour of volunteering a week.

Clicking “Donate $50” would take under a minute, whereas an hour of intentionally rambling searches to raise pennies from the Yahoo search engine let me mull over this little girl’s short life, and what it must be like for her mother to have received that diagnosis about her newborn child. Many of my searches were about Adelia and progeria, and I guess that’s what this week’s hour was about for me. It was about learning to utilize a charitable search engine in my daily life, and let it remind me of the effect I may have, be it ever so slight, on someone whose life is considerably more difficult than my own.

In the end, I don’t think my _____ will really be the game changing donation that the Progeria Research Foundation is looking for. But in my own life experience, I can recognize the small change it has had within me.

(And no, that pun not entirely intentional, but I’ll take it.)

Week 36: Does helping my family count?

Project: Babysit for my sister

Actual Time: 3 Days

Chicago Trip 003

This week I flew to Chicago to help out my sister during a very busy work week for her. She’s the mother to two of the most beautiful babies the universe has ever known.

And no, I’m not biased.

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See? Cutest. Babies. Ever. 

My sister had a lot going on this week, and for her to save money on sitters (and for me to hold babies- duh) I volunteered to take a few days off of work to hang with the kiddos.

Our days were spent watching every Disney movie I could think of, playing in their water-table on their balcony, and running up to the park down the street for a swing-session.

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Leo on the water-table drums.

Now. Is this volunteering? Does this count? Let’s see. 

Does it help the world? Yes. My sister was SO appreciative of me being there. I even helped train her new nanny, which put my sister even more at ease, which is less stress and anxiety in the world… so yes, the world is a little better.

Did I get paid for it? Well… if you want to count getting to watch cartoons and eat chicken nuggets for my every meal as a payment. So… sorta. But not really.

Does it help out a good cause? Yes! My family means the world to me, and helping them out is one of the most fulfilling things I can imagine.

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Lovebugs, the both of ’em!

So, by this highly scientific rubric, I guess I did (technically) volunteer for three days. Sure, it was for a cause that’s extremely close to my heart, my family, but if you can’t start affecting change for the good, where can you……  amiright?

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