Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Month of Charities: The Washington Ballet... plus, Inaugural reflections

Whew! Now that the Inauguration buzz is subsiding, I can get back to blogging and sharing some great charities with you for the rest of the month of January. I took part in all sorts of fun events, including an Inaugural concert at the 9:30 Club (featuring Sheryl Crow and the Beastie Boys!), trekking down to the National Mall to witness the main event (had Silver tickets and was DENIED! Secret Service shut down our area. But made up for it by witnessing the event w/ friends and thousands of others on Pennsylvania Avenue, about 3 blocks from the Capitol), checking out the Art of Change Inaugural Ball, etc, etc....

One of the highlights was taking part in a Move For Change yoga workshop the day before the Inauguration with the lovely yogini and activist Seane Corn. Unfortunately, Seane was under the weather and had to step out of her class - a great guy filled in for her. Then I took a wonderful makeup class w/ Seane on Wednesday, which was a fitting "bookend" to the whole Inaugural whirlwind - a great way to get centered after so much excitement and to focus on change, positivity, and unity (rather than the "us versus them" mentality that so much of the election period fostered).

The Move for Change workshops took place at The Washington Ballet. I practiced next to a fantastic yogi who could move and stretch like crazy. His practiced was so focused and so impressive - it's fun and inspiring to do yoga next to someone who can really rock it out like that. I didn't find out until class was over that I was practicing next to none other than Septime Webre, the celebrated Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet! So, to honor him, I am highlighting The Washington Ballet in this post. They have some great community programs, including movement and language arts programs for DC public school students. (plus, I hear that their galas and parties are the place to be!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Month of Charities: Goodwill Fashion Shows

I love this trend - places like Goodwill Industries are starting to launch fashion shows that feature the clothes you can get at their stores. You can find some really good vintage stuff, and LOW priced designer wares, at Goodwill! Goodwill Greater Washington has actually launched a Goodwill Fashion Blog. Brilliant! They are even having an Inauguration Donation and Travelin' Trunk Show in DC on January 17, to capitalize on all the Inauguration frenzy. What a great way to be both charitable and fabulous.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The next time a charity calls you to ask for a donation...

... bear in mind this shocking (and kind of depressing) article from the New York Times ("Telemarketers Take Hefty Share of Charity Dollars, Cuomo Says", December 30, 2008):

On average, just 39 cents of every dollar raised by commercial telemarketing companies for charities in New York State actually go to charity, the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, concluded in a report issued on Tuesday. The balance, he found, is used to pay fees and expenses associated with professional fund-raising.

I've personally had a very bad experience with a charity telemarketer. I got a call from a local charity that I had donated to in the past, and while I thought the call was from one of the charity's volunteers, it was actually from a paid telemarketer. This person was relentless in asking me for a gift, and when I mentioned that I was having a problem and could actually use some assistance from the charity, he just kept pushing for a donation. Ugh!

Next time you get one of these calls, ask if the caller is a volunteer, or ask if they can mail you some info, or ask if you can donate online. Lots of options for you, the generous donor!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Month of Charities: American Film Institute

On Saturday night, I saw Slumdog Millionaire in the magnificent American Film Institute (AFI) Theater in Downtown Silver Spring. What a great space! If you love the art of film, you have to be a part of AFI! From their web site:

AFI is a national institute providing leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television and digital media.

AFI trains the next generation of filmmakers at its world-renowned Conservatory, maintains America's film heritage through the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and explores new digital technologies in entertainment and education through the AFI Digital Content Lab and K-12 Screen Education Center.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Month of Charities: Kiva

One of the coolest ideas out there, Kiva "lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world - empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty"

Through Kiva, you can make a small business loan to:

Isiah, who sells electrical parts in Ghana
Anastasia, who sells clothing in Tanzania
Asunscion, (71 year old!) a cook in Peru
Tuilaguila, a fisherwoman in Samoa

and countless other hardworking business owners around the world. Become your own, mini Donald Trump and invest in these worthy businesses!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Month of Charities: Capital Area Food Bank

Our nation's food banks DESPERATELY need your help - this economy means increased demand and decreased funds. From the web site of the Capital Area Food Bank:

Did you know that calls to the Capital Area Food Bank's Hunger Lifeline, our emergency food referral hotline, have increased 113% over a 6 month period versus last year?

Please consider making a donation of healthy food, or cash, to the Capital Area Food Bank.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Another fun advert from Lululemon Athletica (a yogawear and sportswear company):

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Month of Charities: Tranquil Space Foundation

The Tranquil Space Foundation is dedicated to: "Expanding opportunities for girls and women to develop their “inner voice” through yoga, creativity, and leadership activities." In addition to making grants to nonprofit programs that help women and girls, the Tranquil Space Foundation also runs a yoga and creativity for teenage girls called "Tranquil Teens." It's a really unique group! (full disclosure: I'm on the steering committee!)

Friday, January 02, 2009

A Month of Charities: Environmental Integrity Project

I'm going to kick off 2009 by highlighting some of my favorite charitable organizations and nonprofits on my blog. I'd love to call this "Charity-a-Day," but heck, a girl's gotta take some time off once in a while! But I will update almost every day. If you have a suggestion of a nonprofit organization I should highlight, please let me know.

Today I'm drawing your attention to the Environmental Integrity Project, an amazing nonprofit with a unique and critical mission: enforcing environmental laws that already are on the books.

From their web site:

Environmental laws that guarantee clean air and water, protect human exposure to toxic waste, and preserve natural resources are viewed as a birthright by most Americans. On paper, these laws are impressive in scope; in practice, they are often ignored. The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) works closely with local communities to protect the public's health and resources by promoting better enforcement of federal environmental laws. EIP also seeks to protect these laws from political interference.

Their work means so much to folks in local communities - cleaning up local rivers where fish are dying off due to power plant runoff, reducing air pollution in a town that is in the shadow of a huge factory expansion, helping an elderly woman with asthma breathe a little easier now that a nearby power plant is monitoring its fine particle emissions...

No other organization is fully focused on the important work that EIP is doing - check them out!