Coming Up: Transgender Day of Remembrance

On November 20th, the Jewish community will join in in commemorating the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Founded in 1998, TDOR is an internationally-recognized day of action that memorializes trans people who died at the hands of transphobia and discrimination during the previous year. It is observed in more than 20 countries across the globe. Within the Jewish world, Keshet is leading the charge in ensuring rights, respect, and full inclusion for transgendered Jews in their communities. And they have put together a treasure trove of resources, stories, and events in honor of TDOR.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a heavy day – filled with the sorrow that comes from hate-fueled violence. In the words of Rabbi Becky Siverstein, the country’s first openly transgender rabbi, “Each time my community gathers for a prayer service, we ask someone in the congregation to say the Mourner’s Kaddish for those who have no one to say Kaddish for them. This is a powerful reminder that in the Jewish tradition mourning is a communal obligation.”

Join Keshet on November 20th and make a stand to advance transgender inclusion within the Jewish community. Find out how to get involved on their website.

Jumpstart These Thanksgiving Hunger Projects

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is a great time to begin taking stock in what we are thankful for. But it’s also a time to help others build their own moments of thankfulness. This month, in our ongoing crowdsource funding series, we scouted some great, Thanksgiving-related projects that are currently campaigning for support. Some are related to the holiday specifically, while others focus on food and hunger. We don’t know the people involved in these projects personally, but we think the work they are doing is awesome. We hope you do too!

Thanksgiving Turkeys for Families Join Emmaus House – a faith based charity and community empowerment organization – in their annual quest to raise funds to purchase turkeys for 350 families in the Atlanta area.

Under the Sour Sun: Hunger Through the Eyes of a Child Help bring this book about a child’s struggle with poverty in El Salvador to a wider audience. And don’t forget to check out the video on the Kickstarter page for a short excerpt of the book, read by the author.

North County Food Bank Help this food bank in San Diego achieve its mission of providing services and feeding wholesome food to people and families in need.

Repair Inspiration: Teen Activists Taking Down Ebola in Liberia

In the fight against Ebola, it has typically been doctors and nurses who get named the heroes. And for good reason – these medical professionals, like those from Doctors Without Borders, put their lives at risk to help others. But in Liberia, there’s another type of activist fighting the deadly virus: teenage girls.

A recent article in The Daily Beast tells the story of A-LIFE: Adolescents Leading an Intense Fight Against Ebola. The organization is making important strides on the ground in educating and raising awareness about the virus. And the whole thing is led by some incredibly awesome teens. Read more about their story below, and get the whole story over at The Daily Beast.

Meet the Liberian Girls Beating Ebola
By: Abby Haglage

Two hundred girls are weaving in and out of dirty alleys in the seaside slum of West Point, Liberia. One man, straddling a large drum, keeps time as their voices rise in song: “Believe it, people, Ebola can kill.” Passers-by emerge from concrete buildings to watch the girls, now nearly dancing down the dirt roads in rows of two. One voice rises above the others: “Let’s come together to stop Ebola.”

The march, held Sept. 17, marked the official launch of Adolescents Leading an Intense Fight Against Ebola, or A-LIFE. Made up of girls aged 16-19 and a handful of boys around the same age, the group was formed to spread awareness and education about Ebola to help curb its spread in their community. The group members came up with the name themselves and launched their mission on their own. They have already reached more than 4,000 homes in West Point.

Their community, their city, their country, desperately needs them.

Of the 10,141 cases and 4,922 deaths from Ebola reported by the World Health Organization this week, more than half are in Liberia. Experts from the WHO say the real toll is likely 2.5 times more than their recorded numbers for cases and deaths in Liberia—which now stand at 4,665 and 2,705, respectively. Guinea, where the epidemic began, has half as many cases as Liberia.

Enter A-LIFE.

The story of this teenage mission to spread awareness about Ebola began two years ago, when UNICEF launched an educational group for girls in West Point. The neighborhood is extremely dangerous—even in a country with one of the highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the world. UNICEF’s group was formed in 2012, with the intention of teaching young girls how to protect themselves from sexual violence.

Read the rest of the story over at The Daily Beast.

Spotlight On: The 4 Liter Challenge

Showers, watering the plants, cooking, cleaning, drinking during a run – we use water in countless ways every day. In fact, each American uses an average of 100 gallons every single day. (Yes, 100!) But if you were challenged, could you make do with less? Like, a lot less?

That is the question posed by DIGDEEP – a water conservation and advocacy organization based in California. Their challenge? Live on just 4 liters (a little over 1 gallon) of water for 24 hours. Why 4 liters? It’s the same amount of water that nearly a billion people in the world survive on each day.

Think you can do it? Sign up to take the challenge. (With the water and rain-focused holiday of Sukkot just behind us, now is the perfect time!) While you’re at it, you can let your friends and family know what you’re up to, learn more about countries’ water needs, track your challenge, and raise funds to help DIGDEEP build sustainable water projects in the communities across the world that need it most.

Find out more by watching the video below, then dive in!

Repair Interview: Julie Bender for the Thanksgiving Project

When Jill Smokler founded Scary Mommy – a blog that chronicled her experiences as a stay-at-home mom in Baltimore, she had no idea that it would grow into a massive online community of parents. She also didn’t realize what a huge impact the site could have. But in 2011, a brave comment from a parent about her struggles to afford Thanksgiving dinner morphed into something big: The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project.

Today, the site enables thousands of people to donate money to provide a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need, and build community along the way. Recently, Julie Bender, Executive Director of the related non-profit, Scary Mommy Nation, took some time to tell Repair the World more about The Thanksgiving Project, its impact, and how you can get involved.

1. What was the inspiration behind The Thanksgiving Project?
The Thanksgiving Project came about in 2011. One of the unique things about Scary Mommy is that we encourage moms to share both the up sides and down sides of parenting. This makes for funny, honest, and inclusive dialogue among moms, regardless of their differences. One part of the Scary Mommy community is a Confessional, where moms can share comments anonymously without worrying about being personally judged by other members.

Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, recognized a trend on the Confessional of moms who were having trouble putting food on the table, let alone a holiday dinner. She did some research and discovered that the average Thanksgiving meal cost approximately $50 for a family of 10. Jill decided to provide $50 grocery gift cards for 2 families and asked any community members who were able to give just $25 and she would match them up and give the gift card to a family in need. The response was overwhelming. In 2011, Scary Mommy community members provided 400 families with a Thanksgiving meal they would have otherwise gone without. And Scary Mommy Nation, a 501c3 non profit, was born. Last year, The Thanksgiving Project helped close to 3,000 families and this year we have helped over 1,100 families and have over 1,000 families on the waiting list currently.

2. Can you share a story that demonstrates the project’s impact?
The stories Scary Mommy gets from the applicants are often heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time. These are families who have experienced so many challenges but still appreciate the generosity of strangers providing them with a Thanksgiving meal. Here is one example:

“I am a single mother to three amazing children, ages 8, 10 and 12. I have asked my oldest not to mention Thanksgiving multiple times in the past few weeks because its another day I know food will be a stretch to provide or promise. She loves to help cook and it pains me to face another unknown. I have been struggling with health issues for several years, and I have gone without food more often than not so my children eat. I was losing hope and literally prayed through tears last night, ” God, could you please give us a Happy Thanksgiving” I can promise you we will deeply appreciate this gift card and be grateful for every bite. I truly believe you and your donors are gently unveiling the shame and tragedy of hunger in our nation. I have felt hopeless and alone as others undoubtedly do, but am lifted up by the kindness of this precious gift.

I just read your email informing me of being chosen to receive a Thanksgiving gift card. I am totally in tears writing to thank you from the deepest part of my heart. Today was an especially hard day, and this good news has truly touched and overtaken me. I am so very thankful to be chosen and receive this help. I can now know in advance we will have food and a Thanksgiving meal. I know you are helping myself and the other recipients beyond just the food. You are helping us all have some hope, some strength, relieve a little of the stress, to feel some peace and for that we are all so deeply grateful.”

3. How has it helped to build community – within the Scary Mommy network and beyond?
One of the things that is so great about The Thanksgiving Project is that it helps families that are part of the Scary Mommy community. These are moms who may be on Facebook or the blog and no one has any idea how much they are struggling to feed their families. The project isn’t necessarily helping people who are homeless or receiving food stamps (although some certainly are) but rather people who could be in your circle of friends and for whatever reason (illness, divorce, recently laid off or spouse serving overseas) have fallen on hard times. This gift enables them to celebrate a holiday that would most likely have been another night of eating cereal or noodles. The luxury of a special meal isn’t easy to come by when bills aren’t being paid.

Another unique aspect of The Thanksgiving Project is that each donor, whether they give $10 or $1000, receives personal information on the family or families whose Thanksgiving meal they have provided. This personal connection between donor and recipient has led to relationships being formed between the families and holiday and birthday gifts being donated as well. Members of the Scary Mommy community live all over the country and come from every religious, racial and socio-economic background. Scary Mommy and The Thanksgiving Project connects every member in such a deep and meaningful way, because at the end of the day, we all want our children to be cared for and safe. And what better way to ensure that happens than by lifting each other up in times of need?

4. What is the best way for people to get involved?
The best way to become involved with The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project is to go to www.scarymommy.com and donate whatever you are able to a family in need. Checks can also be sent to Scary Mommy Nation P.O. Box 20866 Baltimore, MD 21209. You will receive personal information on the family whose Thanksgiving dream you’ve made a reality. As Mother Teresa so eloquently said “If you can’t feed a hundred, then feed just one.”

In addition, you can also spread the word about The Thanksgiving Project in your community and on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. If you own a business and make a tax-deductible contribution, we have opportunities to showcase your company on Scary Mommy to our over 1 million followers.

Spotlight On: The Shmita Project

Imagine a world where every 7 years, everything changed – like really, radically changed. For one whole year, business as usual would cease. No one would plant or harvest anything from the land. It would like fallow and rest. All debts between people, meanwhile, would be forgiven and the slates would be wiped clean.

Jewish tradition contains within it this exact scenario: shmita. Literally meaning “release,” shmita arrives in Israel every seven years to ensure that society remains fair and just. Of course, there’s often a big difference between biblical ideals and what happens in real, practical life, so Hazon and the Jewish Farm School came together to create The Shmita Project – an initiative working to “expand awareness about the biblical Sabbatical tradition, and to bring the values of this practice to life today to support healthier, more sustainable Jewish communities.” They are not suggesting that everyone practice shmita down to the letter of the law, but to simply ask – what might being more mindful about the practice do to change my life, and my community, for the better?

The shmita year began on Rosh Hashanah and extends for one full year until next Rosh Hashanah. How might you incorporate some of it’s teachings of sustainability and justice into your daily life? How might letting go – and hitting the metaphorical “reset button – in certain areas help transform things in positive ways?

To learn more, check out Hazon’s shmita educational resources. They have all the info you need to get inspired,, learn about shmita’s relevance to contemporary life, organize a shmita-inspired event in your community, and join a network of people around the country doing the same.

Now’s the time to dig in – find out more on Hazon’s website.

Social Good Monthly Roundup!

In addition to our monthly Newsletter, we are also bringing you a monthly round-up of our favorite programs from our partners and from across the web. The opportunities below are separated by long term (6+ months), short term (6 months or less) and ongoing service, social good, and travel opportunities.

Be sure to check back monthly for updates and new finds!

 

Commit…To Service!     (Long-Term Programs)

You Want To Go To There.      (Short-Term and Travel Opportunities)

Be Social. Do Good.    (Social Good Events and Campaigns)

Repair Inspiration: Al Gore’s Optimistic Outlook on Climate Change

There’s no question that conversations about climate change can get a little depressing. Ok, a LOT depressing. There is plenty of news out there these days about climate change’s effect on the planet, and very little of it is positive.

That is why we were happy to read about Al Gore’s refreshing outlook in a recent Co.Exist article. As the man behind the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Gore knows a thing or two about climate change. And so while he does not paint an overly rosy picture, his words of confidence about the growing movement to stem it’s impacts are heartening.

Check out an excerpt below, and find the whole article over at Co.Exist’s site:

Al Gore’s Climate Change Optimism Will Make You Feel A Little Better About The Future
By: Ariel Schwartz

These days, Gore is hopeful that the world will avoid the worst consequences of climate change, even as reports warn that the world hasn’t made any meaningful progress in slashing carbon emissions.

“I think the momentum is generally shifting,” says Gore. He has great hope that the recent People’s Climate March in New York City, an event held in the run-up to last week’s Climate Summit, will contribute to what he calls “a growing social movement.” He’s also encouraged by the 800-plus investors, including heirs to the Rockefeller family’s oil fortune, who recently engaged in a $50 billion divestment campaign from fossil fuels. The U.N. summit, he notes, “has been a trigger for the largest surge of attention by the media to this topic in several years.”

Aside from being a catalyst for other events, the summit itself ended with some significant pledges in play. China, for example, pledged to make significant emissions cuts by 2020–the country’s first big commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

When I ask if this is a turning point for China, Gore responds he believes “some turning points are kind of rounded. I think China has been rounding the top of this turning point for a couple years now. Next March, we’ll see the definitive commitments China is prepared to make, but we’ve already seen the introduction of a cap and trade system in five cities and two provinces and a declaration that it will be the beginning of a nationwide cap and trade system.”

For more on Co.Exist, check out Repair the World’s interview with editor Ariel Schwartz.

And check out Repair the World’s photo album from The People’s Climate March!

Jumpstart Shelter Related Projects in Honor of Sukkot

The spirit of Sukkot is in the air. And for those of us who have sat in a sukkah in the last week (a temporary outdoor shelter built during the holiday of Sukkot), the scent of Sukkot – pine boughs or bamboo, gourds and pumpkins, apples and citrusy etrogim – is in the air too.

That’s why in this month’s installment of Repair the World’s ongoing crowdsource funding series, we scouted some shelter-related projects that are currently campaigning for support. They’re all totally different from one another, and all really inspiring. We don’t know the people involved in these projects personally, but we think the work they are doing is worthy of some serious attention. We hope you do too!

Families of Color Seattle This awesome organization is building an intergenerational gathering space for families that perpetuates a culture of inclusivity, community building and play-centered learning. Help them build their Cornerstone Cafe!

Clarity Hamlet Help build an eco-friendly, straw-bale home for Buddhist nuns in California. The project is hoping to fund the creation of three dormitories for the sisters called Clarity Hamlet. Their sustainable cred includes passive solar design, recycled steel roofs, grey water recycling, and straw bale walls made from agricultural waste of from local growers.

Wood and Stone Retreat Help save and refurbish a historic property in Maryland, and reenergize the economy of a town. Two good deeds for the price of one!