December 2008

Wow, you guys.  Just wow.

Let’s summarize last week in index format, shall we?

Dollars raised for Beeline/North Lawndale Employment Network: $36

Dollars raised for the Women’s Treatment Center: $38

Dollars raised for The Night Ministry: $39

Dollars raised for College Summit: $167!!! ($25 original donation + $58.50 worth of comments, doubled thanks to College Summit’s generous matching donor)

Total number of votes case in the Friday Finale as of 8pm cst Sunday: 90

Votes cast for Feel Good World, the winning organization: 49

Dollars donated to Feel Good World: $50.

Last week was really amazing for me, and that’s thanks to you all.  I’d already intended to donate money to these organizations, but I had this off the wall idea that people might enjoy learning and thinking and talking about places they might not have heard about before.  I was a little worried that no one would show up, or would think it was hokey.

I needn’t have worried.  You all responded even more strongly than I could have hoped, and I’m so so grateful.

I’m also grateful to those of you who shared some of your favorite charitable organizations with me, either by nominating them for the Friday Finale or by emailing me separately.  It’s been an educational experience for me, too.  Finally, it’s been a treat to discover so many new voices and blogs of those who commented for the first time last week.  I haven’t gotten to all of you yet, but I’ll be stopping by!  Thank you thank you thank you, and happy holidays!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some checks to write.


You guys, I am amazed and, frankly, a little misty.  Over 115 comments for College Summit!  That means that, with the matching, you all will have helped get them more than $168 in donations in less than 24 hours.  Awesome.  Thank you thank you thank you!

Now, as I explained on Monday, it’s time for our Friday vote feature.  All week, people have been suggesting their favorite charities and causes for feature in today’s post.  I have selected five finalists from the awesome list of choices.  I selected based on a highly scientific system including factors such as “I hadn’t heard of them before and they rock,” “I had heard of them before and they rock and they were nominated by multiple people,” “they operate using a cool or innovative model that I want to support,” “they address an issue that is important to me,” and “tugs at my heartstrings.”  (I told you- highly scientific.)

In no paricular order, our five finalists organizations are:

  • 1. A Women’s Fund (nominated by rayne of terror): A Women’s Fund is an organization in Urbana, IL that provides assistance and support to women who are victims of domestic violence.

From their website:

It takes courage to survive domestic violence or to begin healing from sexual assault. The role of our two programs – A Woman’s Place and Rape Crisis Services – is to help survivors recognize that courage within themselves.

If you or someone you care about has been sexually assaulted or abused in a relationship, A Woman’s Fund can help. Our services are free of charge, and help is available 24 hours a day just by calling one of our crisis lines. We’re here to support victims to make their own decisions – whatever you decide, we’re on your side.  We depend on community support to provide these services free of charge.

  • 2. Young at Heart Pet Rescue (nominated by Samantha and Kristin):  Young at Heart is an organization dedicated to the rescuing and rehoming of dogs and cats three years old or older.

From their website:

Imagine a senior pet, once dumped by their family with no hope of ever making it out of a pound alive, living out their golden years in a place full of love and laughter, with room to roam and stretch, where ear scratches and belly rubs know no bounds.

  • 3. WATCH (nominated by NGS):  WATCH is a local organization in Minnesota that trains court monitors to ensure that the justice system functions in ways that increase safety for women and children.

From their website:

WATCH trains volunteer court monitors to observe hearings. In a typical year, close to 100 volunteers monitor more than 5,000 hearings. Based on what we see in court, WATCH makes recommendations for changing the justice system to increase safety for women and children.  WATCH’s mission is to make the justice system more effective and responsive in handling cases of violence, particularly against women and children, and creating a more informed and involved public.

  • 4. Feel Good World (nominated by Rocco): Feel Good is trying to change the way the developed world views hunger, and has a model for building leadership on U.S. college campuses that will get students involved in ending world hunger.

From their website:

Over 850 million people are currently dying from hunger. People suffer from chronic, persistent hunger not because there is a shortage of food. The world produces more than enough food for everyone, and most countries produce enough food for their people. Chronic hunger and abject poverty are symptoms of underlying social conditions that systematically deny hungry people the opportunity they need to end their own hunger. The most important of these are the severe subjugation of women and poor people’s lack of voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

FeelGood believes that conventional aid hasn’t worked and won’t work. That is why we have identified and are funding and expanding the work of organizations that operate under a completely different paradigm than that of conventional aid. FeelGood only funds development strategies that have ALL of the following three components: empowerment, gender equality, and partnership.

FeelGood’s innovative idea for lasting change is to use the powerful vehicle of a retail franchise to create a culture of generosity and a world free from hunger. Our vision is to empower our future leaders – college students – on every college campus to run non-profit delis where 100% of the proceeds are invested in sustainable development and where a new perspective on humanity is fostered.

  • 5.  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (nominated by a bunch of you):  St Jude is a research hospital that treats children suffering from cancer or other catastrophic illness.

From their website:

St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today’s most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.

St. Jude researchers are published and cited more often in high impact publications than any other private pediatric oncology research institution in America. St. Jude is a place where many doctors send some of their sickest patients and toughest cases. A place where cutting-edge research and revolutionary discoveries happen every day. We’ve built America’s second-largest health-care charity so the science never stops.

All pateints accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family’s ability to pay.

So!  Congratulations to our finalists!  Check out the links, think about it, and cast your vote.  Then, if you’re so inclined, lobby your friends to come vote, too.  I’ll leave voting open until 8pm central standard time on Sunday.  The organization that receives the most votes will receive a $50 donation.

Now- want to do even more charitible giving without paying a penny?  Go check out PT Law Mom, who is running the same feature this week!  Wahoo!

UPDATE: Behold the power of internet friends!  Thanks to Swistle, and Alice, and Samantha, and Nilsa, and Jess, and any and everyone else who has linked to this today!  I’m committed to raising money for College Summit, so I’m keeping the 50 cents per comment period open until 8 am central standard time tomorrow (Friday,) which is 24 hours after I posted it, or until my total donation reaches $150 (which, given the matching, would be a $300 donation!)  After that, I’ll close out the”pay for comments” portion of our program,  and open the voting for the “choose Friday’s charity” portion.  Let’s see how much dough we can bring in!  Thanks again for supporting these great causes!


Hello again!

I’m really enjoying this week of giving and exploring other people’s favorite charities.  Today, we continue as we have for the past three days: I guarantee a $25 donation, and add on an additional 50 cents for every comment I receive.

And today, there’s a BONUS AT STAKE: today’s organization has a private donor who has agreed to match match all donations of $50 or more through December 31, essentially double our donation if we raise $25 on top of my $25 pledge. This would take a LOT more comments we’ve had so far this week, but here’s the thing:  I pretty much never check blog stats, but I did yesterday, and there are a lot of you out there this week who are visiting but not commenting.  Welcome, new friends!  I am asking you, today, to please, please comment.  Comment anonymously if you wish, tell me you disagree with my choice of charity and advocate for one of your own, do whatever you feel you should.  But please, if you’re here today, just comment.  I’m really hoping I can get 50 comments on this post to raise the extra $25 so that my donation gets matched.  Let’s do it!

Today’s featured organization is not Chicago-based, but it is one very close to my heart:  College Summit.

College Summit is a truly amazing organization that has a proven record successfully addressing one of the hardest truths about the American education system: poor students, even really excellent poor students, aren’t going to college at the rates they could and should be, and this fact is hurting kids, families, and communities.

From their website:

National data indicates that low-income students who got A’s on a standardized test went to college at the same rate as top-income students who got D’s on the same standardized test.

A college education can break the cycle of poverty for families and drive economic growth for communities. Yet, community-wide solutions to enrolling more low-income students in college are particularly difficult to achieve. College Summit addresses this challenge by using a proven strategy that engages critical stakeholders across the community and employs an approach that helps embed systemic, scalable, and enduring change.

I’ve worked with College Summit before, and can speak personally to the power of their model.  Simply said: it works. And you don’t have to take my word for it:

Since 1993, we have trained more than 13,000 student influencers. The high school GPA for these students has been mid-tier: 2.9 (on a 4.0 scale). Yet they have enrolled in college at a rate of 79%, significantly above the national college enrollment rate among low-income students of 52%. These Peer Leaders don’t just make it to college, they stay in college. The retention rate for these students has been 80% – above the national rate across all demographics.

If you’re familiar with education reform, and how hard it is to make meaningful, sustainable change, these numbers should blow you away.

If you want to be really inspired, (and work in an office where you’re reasonably protected from embarrassment if you tear up at your desk,) check out some of the essays students have produced at College Summit workshops.

SO!  Let’s give them some money!

(And tune in tomorrow for the five finalists for our “vote for our final charity” feature!)

Welcome to day 3 of Pseudostoops’ charitable giving extravaganza 2008!

By now, most of you know the concept: I feature a different organization every day, to which I guarantee a minimum donation of $25. Then, I add 50 cents to my donation for each and every comment I receive on that post. If this is your first time here, be sure to check out Monday and Tuesday‘s deserving organizations!

I’m still taking suggestions for charities you’d like to recommend for Friday, when I’ll be giving a $50 donation to a charity that’s selected by popular vote- so if you’re so inclined, make a suggestion in the comments! Or you can just say “comment” or “add my 50 cents” or “dude, Pseudo, you’ve got something stuck in your teeth.”

Today’s featured organization is The Night Ministry.

The Night Ministry is a non-denominational organization providing a variety of services to people living in poverty, particularly homeless youth and adults. They have, among other things, a traveling health bus that gives free medical care on a regular schedule to homeless folks in several Chicago neighborhoods. They provide meals and counseling and a consistent, friendly face for youth living on the streets, and help them get off the streets. They recently were instrumental in helping a very good friend figure out how to get help for some kids she knew who had become homeless. They rule.

In their words:

The Night Ministry serves a wide range of individuals who share circumstances of poverty and the inability to afford and access essential services. No matter their age, mainstream society often ignores or casts aside those we serve. The more isolated a person is, the less likely they are to access services.

Among those we serve are:
– homeless and runaway youth
– homeless adults
– working poor adults
– uninsured and underinsured individuals seeking medical assistance
– individuals who lack access to or distrust of traditional systems of healthcare
– children living in public housing who need a place to gather in safety
– individuals struggling with substance abuse and mental illness
– the chronically lonely
– others who have “fallen through the cracks” of our social service system.

So, help ’em out! Start commenting! And, as always, thanks.

Hello again! It’s day two of Pseudostoops’ quest to give money to charities based on the number of comments I receive! (I should perhaps figure out a catchier name.)

For a complete overview of what we’re doing here, check out yesterday’s post, but the gist is this: I guarantee each organization $25 plus 50 cents for every comment I receive on that post. So just by commenting, you’re increasing the donation to a deserving charity. I’m running the feature every day this week, and you can (and should!) comment every day!

Your comment can say something as simple as “keep it up!” or “here’s your comment” or “are you doing something different with your hair, because you’re looking awfully fetching these days.” But if you want to go one step further, remember, you can name one of your favorite charities to be entered for a chance to receive a final $50 donation on Friday.

Today’s totally awesome and deserving organization is The Women’s Treatment Center.

Located in Chicago, the Women’s Treatment Center is a residential drug treatment center for women that has childcare capacity, so they do not have to be separated from their children (who often have no other place to go) as they go through treatment. It’s one of the only drug treatment centers around that has a crisis nursery, which can provide round the clock infant care while a woman is in detox, so a woman does not have to make the impossible choice between entering rehab and making sure her infant is cared for. From their website:

Women with children often are denied residential drug abuse treatment services, because facilities lack childcare services. At TWTC, we provide mothers in treatment comprehensive, compassionate and high quality treatment services, as well as a safe environment in which to detox, without separating them from their children. Mothers at TWTC interact daily with their children, mending the bond broken by addiction. Pregnant women at TWTC have an opportunity to give birth to drug-free babies, providing these infants with a healthier start.

TWTC is an Illinois 501(c)(3) agency that serves all residents in the state. Most of our clients reside throughout the city of Chicago. We offer our services without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation or ability to pay. All of our programs and facilities are accessible to persons with physical disabilities.

The Women’s Treatment Center has been particularly hard hit by recent state budget cuts for substance abuse and mental health programs, and could really use some extra help this holiday season.

So! Yesterday we got 16 comments and thus raised an extra $8 for Beeline. That rocks! But I’m sure we can do even better. Tell your friends, post it on your blog, twitter it, whatever- the more people we can get involved, the more money will go to these great causes.

Thank you!

As we begin the last full work week before Christmas, I’m going to try a little something different.

At this time of year, in addition to spending money on gifts, I try to make a point to give money to organizations that do important work. We do this throughout the year, but I budget some extra to give more at the holidays.

This year, instead of one large-ish donation to a favorite organization, I’m going to give several smaller donations to smaller local organizations.  These are organizations I know either personally or professionally, that are perhaps not as well-known as some of the bigger charitable causes.  All of them are organizations to which I’ve never donated money directly before (though for some, I have donated time).

And I’m going to have an audience participation component.

I work for an organization that depends on individual donations to exist.  So I know from personal experience how hard these times are for organizations that depend on donations.  Economic times are tough- really tough (as we know first hand in my family, where one sibling is out of work and another may be shortly).  Times like these are a double-whammy for organizations that provide much-needed services, since the need increases dramatically at the same time donations taper off to a trickle.

So for the next five days, I’m going to feature one organization each day.  I’m hoping that I can spread the word on some places that are quietly doing very cool work, the kinds of places that might be really hurting as people are unable to give as much in these lean times.  I’ll tell you a little about the organization and its mission, give you a link to more info, and then YOU will determine the amount of the donation I make.

Here’s how it’s going to work:

1. I’ll put up a post featuring the organization.

2. I’ll guarantee a minimum $25 donation to that organization.

3. For every comment I receive on that post, I’ll donate an additional $0.50.  There will probably be a cap, but I’m not quite sure what it is yet- I’m hoping people amaze me with their participation and I have to stretch my budget! (Hats off to RudeCactus, whose brilliant idea I am totally stealing.)

4. Here’s the twist: I have four organizations in mind to feature.  Friday is open.  I’m hoping that in addition to me telling you about some of my favorite causes, you will use the comments section to tell me a little about some organizations near and dear to your heart.

If you have a favorite organization, perhaps one that is smaller and deserves a little support this holiday season, name it in the comments, and provide a link if you have one (if you’re participating every day, you can name several different organizations, or just name the same one four times to show the depth of your love for them!)  I’ll research each organization suggested in the comments, and will chose five finalists.  On Friday, I’ll name the five finalists, and will set up a poll for people to vote on which one should receive a final $50 donation.

I hope this will be fun.  I hope some of you will get inspired by the organizations I feature, and I hope that I will learn about some great organizations I’ve never heard of before.  I hope I will hear from some people who’ve been quietly reading, but have never had a reason to comment before.  Mostly, I hope people blow me away with their goodness, the way Chris was blown away when his effort raised over $500(!).

So now, without further ado (that was quite enough ado, wasn’t it?), our first featured organization:  North Lawndale Employment Network, makers of the super awesome Beeline line of products.

Rather than try to explain it myself, I’m going to quote from their mission:

Sweet Beginnings, LLC is committed to training and employing residents who are often locked out of the traditional labor market due to past criminal records and other barriers to employment. Sweet Beginnings, LLC uses an alternative business model called social enterprise or social purpose business to provide men and women who are re-entering the community from prison, viable opportunities to establish a work history, learn productive work habits, and gain marketable skills as a stepping stone to further employment and career advancement.

NLEN, established in 1999, is a nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the earnings potential of the North Lawndale community through innovative employment initiatives that lead to economic advancement and an improved quality of life for residents.

I’m featuring them first in part because I know many of us are still looking for last-minute gift ideas,  I can personally attest to the quality of the honey and bath products at Beeline, and their packaging is super cute and gift-ready. So if you have a gourmand in your life, check our their website, and consider giving the gift of urban honey!  (Buying their stuff is a way to support a great cause even if your budget doesn’t have room for cash donations at the moment.)

So now it’s up to you.  I’m committed to giving North Lawndale Employment network a donation of at least $25, but it could be a lot more- so start commenting!  (And thanks for reading this far as I try this totally off the wall new thing.)

Dear Body:

Two colds in one month is just not acceptable.  If I wanted to be sick every two weeks, I’d still be teaching 5th grade.  There, one was guaranteed to catch every pestilence that floated through the greater metropolitan area, but at least there were art projects and the wacky humor of 10 year olds.  Now I work in a law firm.  If I’m going to leave behind fun and art projects in favor of cubicles and a persnickity copy machine and hours spent redacting and editing, it seems the least you can do is agree to stay mostly snot-free.

Also, if you could buck up and start responding to the one million crazy-ass crunches and pike crunches and scissors crunches and other ridiculous maneuvers that Jillian keeps making me do, I’d appreciate it.  I resent having sore abs and no visible results, ever.

Finally, would you be interested in negotiating some sort of deal whereby I’ll agree to drink my minimum 8 glasses of water a day and take my multivitamin, and you agree to stop responding to all delicious spicy Asian foods with excruciating stomachaches and lethal heartburn?  It’s making me feel geriatric to have to say “no no, I couldn’t possibly have any of that amazing looking panang curry.  If I do, I’ll be up all night.  I’ll just have some plain white rice and couple of tums.”



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