4 posts categorized "Philanthropy"

September 19, 2013

A Week of Dining on Nuggets


I'm not talking about bite-sized pieces of breaded and fried chicken. I'm referring to the pithy content I'm devouring from attending food-filled events featuring speakers with delicious content.

"The central moral challenge of this century is oppression of women and girls throughout the world." — I heard that last Thursday at the Chrysalis Foundation's "Inspired 2013" event. Sheryl WuDunn, author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, shared details of sex trafficking and slavery, maternal mortality, brutality and mutilation, and lack of educational opportunities for women and girls across the globe. Some 60,000 to 100,000 females are missing in our world, and we aren't just talking Cambodia: it's an issue in the U.S. and yes, even Iowa. There's no formula for solutions, but gender inequities worldwide need to be fought with education for girls and access to capital for women. 

"The quality of your communication with yourself determines the quality of your communication with the world." — The Wednesday luncheon of the Greater Des Moines Chapter of American Women in Communication featured my friend Deb Engle, an author, publisher, president of Golden Tree Communications and co-founder of Tending Your Inner Garden. We have 70,000 thoughts a day, so what are we telling ourselves? Any chance that it's negative? (I'm not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, etc.) Time to focus on self-talk that's positive and productive. Change "I'm overwhelmed..." to "I'm powerful and I ask for support when I need to." Science is proving that we can create new inner pathways in our brains, and with strong self-affirming statements we're carving out trails for successful inner dialogue. Deb's upcoming book, "The Only Little Prayer You Need" — with Foreword by the Dalai Lama — will be published next year. It's based on a six-word prayer: Please heal my fear-based thoughts.

"Do you want to win or do you want to make a point?" — Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, learned that phrase from Walter Cronkite during her 25 years of advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. At today's breakfast meeting of a group called the Consortium, Donna — who came to Iowa for the climate, and she doesn't mean weather — shared that for her "the political is personal and the personal is political." She's worked nationwide for basic rights in the workplace and the ability for LGBT individuals to live with human dignity and be out of danger. She'll marry her partner of 26 years on Saturday. Because of Donna's respectful, persistent and quiet conversations with those of diametrically opposing viewpoints, some of those coming to Des Moines for her celebration are individuals who once had the "you people" stereotype. They've surprised themselves and gotten to know this intelligent, caring and vibrant individual whose marriage will not "hurt their families." 

Right now, I'm too full of gratitude for opportunities to be with amazing women to write any more. 


June 08, 2013

Breakfast with Champions for Families

Talk about starting the day right this week! Early on Tuesday I was taking in every morsel I could about VNS —Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa. "Growing Great Families" is the VNS theme for the year.


For 105 years VNS nurses, social workers, outreach workers and interpreters have collaborated to provide client-focused services. Its programs meet the health and human service needs of 56,000 individuals each year, including 3,550 children across six counties. VNS currently provides access through translations services for 21 different languages and dialects.

VNS of Iowa board member Deb Milligan told the women attending the breakfast how she requests that her guests forget hostess gifts when they come to her home and bring essentials for the Stork's Nest, one of 27 programs operated by VNS. Moms-to-be and young moms in a two-year relationship with VNS earn points when doing the best things for themselves and their child (going to birthing, new mom and childcare classes, medical appointments, etc.). Those points can be redeemed for brand new baby accessories, clothing, furniture, and baby feeding, hygiene, medical and safety items.

While her mother held her easy-going, six-month-old, a 20-year-old rock star young mom being served by VNS shared her story of an abusive relationship, depression, fear and questioning when she learned she was pregnant. Her mother's friend told her about VNS. She's received therapy to deal with depression, emotional and medical preparation for the arrival of her son and instruction on caring for him now. And along the way she received the strength to end her abusive relationship and take responsibility for being the best mom and person she can be. She's now enrolled to study psychology.

"I missed the red flags," she said. "VNS helped open my eyes ... now I'm a better parent for my son and a better person for myself. I'm a lot better, a lot happier."

I know that this non-grandma is going baby shopping. Want to help me stock the Stork's Nest? 

March 30, 2013

"I don't want to go to school today!"

I don't know how many times I said those words from the time I started kindergarten until I graduated from college. But school was just something I did, so it's hard for me to imagine my behavior if I'd been denied access to education. I hope I would have been like one of the extraordinary young women I met this week watching Girl Rising. Viewers of the feature film learned the stories of nine extraordinary young women fighting for education in their countries: India, Cambodia, Nepal, Egypt, Peru, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Haiti and Sierra Leone. 

What changes when women in developing countries are educated ?

  • Educating girls dramatically improves the well-being of their families, communities and countries. 
  • If a mother is educated, her child is 50 percent more likely to survive to age 5. 
  • Educating a girl breaks a family's cycle of generational poverty.  
  • When girls receive 7 years of schooling, they marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children. 
  • When female farmers are educated, crop yields rise. 
  • When women take leadership roles in their communities, corruption diminishes. 
  • When 10 percent more of its girls go to school, a country's GDP increases an average of 3 percent. 
  • When women are educated and empowered, democracy is more likely to flourish and conditions that promote extremism are reduced.  
  • Educated mothers are 50 percent more likely to immunize their children. 
  • When girls are educated, a country's malnutrition and HIV rates decline.  
  • And $1 in the hands of a woman is, on average, worth $10 in the hands of a man.

According to World Vision, there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school. Educate girls; change the world. Find out how to bring a screening of Girl Rising to your community through 10x10.


March 09, 2011

Communities in Bloom

There's snow on the ground, but that isn't stopping one of my very favorite organizations from thinking spring.  The HCI Foundation (formerly Hospice of Central Iowa Foundation) has teamed up with HyVee for a "Communities in Bloom" fundraiser in the 35 counties served by HCI Care Services (formerly Hospice of Central Iowa).

When you use the special "Communities in Bloom" order form to purchase your plants this year, 15% of all sales will benefit quality of life programs for hospice patients and their families. We're talking funds for non-medical needs, such as fixing a faulty shower so a patient can bathe or paying a utility bill to keep the power on for a family without resources. And I have ORDER FORMS, so be in touch!

A fifth generation family-owned greenhouse in Boone is providing the plants. There are herbs, tomatoes, hanging baskets, vines, petunias, impatiens, geraniums, perennials and much more.  Orders are due at your participating HyVee by April 4. You select a May 1 or May 4 delivery date, and pick your order up at your HyVee garden center on that day.

This year, your investment in your garden can grow more than plants. It can do something good for those who are in need.