Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama and McCain to speak about public service on September 11th

Obama and McCain have agreed to speak at ServiceNation Summit, an event taking place on September 11th in New York City. The event is being organized "to celebrate the power and potential of citizen service, and lay out a bold policy blueprint for addressing America’s greatest social challenges through expanded opportunities for volunteer and national service."

I can't think of a better way to commemorate September 11th than to transform it into a day of service. Check out My Good Deed to learn about an organization of 9/11 families and friends who is working to do just that. My Good Deed also is asking for suspension of political campaigning on that day.

Start planning now for ways that you can volunteer or make charitable donations on September 11th!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Funds of Love

"Let us insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the kingdom of God." -Mother Teresa

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'd rather be Bronze than Silver

The Washington Post's always-interesting "Department of Human Behavior" column has a great article today called "Happiness on the Medal Stand? It's as Simple as 1-3-2." Basically, the article notes that people who win Bronze medals at the Olympics tend to be much happier than the people who win Silver. The Silver medalists are caught up in "if only..." thinking (e.g. "If only I'd gone a little faster... jumped a little higher... tried a little harder"), while the Bronze medalists are just happy and grateful to be on the medal stand. In one study of Judo competitors, researchers found that Silver medalists were about as happy as those athletes in 5th place, while the Bronze medalists were about as happy as those who had won the gold.

Of course, this spills over into the life of us mere mortals, as well. So many of our moments of unhappiness come when we jump into "if only..." thinking: if only I had that job, that house, that spouse, those kids, that body, that money...

All of those self-help gurus who tell us that gratitude is a key to happiness aren't as cliche as we might think. This is where philanthropy and volunteering can come in. If you are not a person who automatically thinks about how lucky you are to have what you have, volunteering with those in need can really put things in perspective.

When I was volunteering at Georgetown Hospital last week, one of the cancer patients I was talking to said "My wish for you is that you never have to be at this hospital like the rest of us (fighting cancer)."

I'll take a Bronze medal any day.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


I found this "gratitude guide" in the September '08 issue of Body + Soul magazine. Being grateful for what we have can really put us in a philanthropic mindset!

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Olympics and Team Darfur

I LOVE the Olympics, and I am really trying to get into the spirit. In fact, I'm having friends over for dinner tonight to watch the opening ceremonies. But those Chinese government officials are really workin' my last nerve...

As you may have heard, they have revoked the visa of Joey Cheek, former US Olympic speedskater and founder of Team Darfur. While the government did not give a formal reason, it is most likely because he spoke publicly about China's involvement in the Darfur genocide. The Chinese government has revoked the visas of several other athletes who are involved in Team Darfur, an organization that encourages athletes to help raise awareness of the crisis in Darful.

There was a good opinion piece in the Washington Post about this on Wednesday. Sally Jenkins wrote:

Cheek has been exceptionally careful to frame his organization as more of a charitable and humanitarian endeavor rather than a political one, and unlike the most passionate Darfur advocates, he never has advocated a boycott of the 2008 Games. He's not a firebrand, he's just a do-gooder -- and an intelligent, committed one at that.

But when his visa was suddenly revoked Tuesday -- without a reason -- Cheek spoke out boldly. "The denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur," he said.

I wonder how this will play out during the rest of the games - and I wonder if our President, who is attending the Opening Ceremonies, will have anything to say about it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Where's the love for Bono?

Evidently, there's an online petition and fundraising effort aimed at getting U2 frontman Bono "to retire from public life (so he'll stop leading misguided counter-productive philanthropy efforts)." As a huge U2 and Bono fan... I'm not even gonna tell you where this petition can be found! Whether you think he's a genius, a saint, a publicity hog, or just a big blowhard, you can't deny that he's brought enormous public attention to some of the most pressing needs of our time. Come on, where's the love for Bono!

Friday, August 01, 2008

What museums should be doing

On a recent visit to the National Gallery of Art, I had the good fortune of visiting a traveling exhibition called Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. The exhibition was beautiful, informative, and surprising. Because of Afghanistan's key position along the Silk Route, traders from all over the world passed through this country and bought, sold, or left behind incredible objects - I saw jewelry, coins, earthenware, and other items from China, Egypt, India, and more.

It struck me that this is exactly what museums, and other organizations in the not-for-profit world, should be doing - helping us understand each other. Here's an exhibition about a country that I (like a lot of Americans) knew so little about, and yet our soldiers are fighting a brutal war there, with no end in sight.

The exhibition is at the National Gallery through September 7th - if you are in DC, I encourage you to check it out. And while you are there, visit the National Gallery's many other treasures... it's FREE! Unbelievable! You can grab lunch in the museum's cafe - why not spend some money that ultimately will benefit the museum?