Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Extreme Makover? Extreme Debacle

Extreme Makover: Home Edition helps needy, often destitute, families by "making over" their homes and helping them to rebuild their lives. Local contractors and neighbors often donate hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of supplies and labor.

The biggest house that Extreme Makover ever built is now in foreclosure. The family received a new home, money to cover the taxes for 25 years, a home maintenance fund, and college scholarships for each of their kids. 1,800 volunteers came out to help build their house. The family used the home as collateral for a $450,000 loan, and they've defaulted on that loan. They said they took out the loan to start a business.

When non-profit organizations receive a gift, they are obligated to responsibly steward that gift. I think that individuals who receive a gift have the same responsibility. While I don't know all the details, it seems to me that this family acted in an incredibly irresponsible manner.

I've always thought that there's no such thing as having enough money, because whatever amount you have (whether it's a lot or a little), you'll always want more. Case in point.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Words to live by?

This ad is on the back of the September 2008 edition of Yoga Journal. It's an advertisement for Lululemon Athletica. I don't agree with all of it, but some of it is spot on. Some of the more provocative items:

* Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself
* The pursuit of happiness is the source of all unhappiness
* Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to

What do you think?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Economic Silver Lining

In these challenging economic times, with gas prices going through the roof, I'm trying to focus on whatever silver lining I can find. Here's what I've come up with:

  • US manufacturing jobs that used to get sent to places like China are now coming back to the US - even though the labor in China still is cheaper, the costs of shipping the stuff back to the US is so high that it's better for companies to just keep the jobs here.
  • People are carpooling, biking, and using public transportation. Score one for Mama Earth!
  • Businesses like shoe repair shops are experiencing business growth - for example, folks who used to just buy new shoes are now repairing the old ones instead (...coming from the gal who just bought four pairs of shoes on a DSW run. But they were REALLY cheap! And I'm donating two old pairs to charity! It's all good!).
  • It's (finally) been a great summer for the movie industry.
  • I have the ability to buy the stuff I want and need and to continue to donate to causes I care about. That's a blessing.
I know times are REALLY tough for lots of people out there. Can anyone else think of any other silver linings to share?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In your own back yard...

So many of us are moved by tragic events and circumstances overseas, but what about the people "in our own backyard" who need help?

On Sunday, I watched a piece on 60 Minutes about an organization called Remote Area Medical (RAM). RAM was established to bring free emergency health clinics to far-flung regions in the developing world. Now, they also are bringing free healthcare to Americans who can't afford it.

In the story on 60 Minutes, people drove all night and slept in their cars for access to healthcare, including general care, vision, and dental care. The man who has had a toothache for months but no health coverage to fix it (and who also had major heart surgery a few years ago but has not been able to afford follow-up care). The woman who had treatment for cervical cancer a few years ago but also has not had follow-up care. The woman who can barely see, needs new glasses, and arrived too late for a vision screening - she choked back tears as she talked about getting help from her church and insisted that "God will provide."

Here's the shocker: "In the expedition to Knoxville, RAM saw 920 patients, made 500 pairs of glasses, did 94 mammograms, extracted 1,066 teeth and did 567 fillings. But when Stan Brock called the last number, 400 people were turned away. "

In America... what a travesty. Please do what you can to keep healthcare on the agenda in this upcoming election. And please, when you are making your philanthropic plans, don't forget to help folks right here, in this country, who desperately need help.

Read the transcript from the 60 Minutes story here.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I Love GOOD Magazine!

I just picked up an issue of GOOD Magazine - and I'm definitely going to become a subscriber! According to them, "GOOD is for people who give a damn. It's an entertaining magazine about things that matter." I'd describe it as a magazine about social activism and philanthropy. This month's issue included articles on everything from unlikely tourist destinations (Pakistan, Kosovo, and America's five most spectacular natural disasters), to a halfway house for former teen prostitutes, to incredible and underappreciated director Hal Ashby (Harold & Maude, Shampoo, Being There), to some of the world's most infamous secret societies (Skull & Bones, Trilateral Commission, Bohemian Grove). My favorite piece is a hilarious, satirical essay about eco-friendly hotels, "Save the Earth with Dirty Towels," by Dan Heath, the author of one of my favorite non-fiction books, "Made to Stick."

Here's the cool thing about subscribing to GOOD Magazine - 100% of the subscription price goes to charity! They have a bunch of "charity partners" that you can choose from.

Check it out!