A Cup of Change for your Mundane Mondays: Spotlight on the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund

A Cup of Change for your Mundane Mondays: Spotlight on the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund

By Jessica Juliana Fischer-Smith

How many of our readers are New Yorkers? I don’t just mean the Manhattanites, but those who live on the mainland as well. If you are, you’re probably aware of the tornado sightings in Elmira this past week. Over the past five years, as I have grown up, I have seen a large augmentation in the amount of natural disasters around the world. Some have struck father away, such as the Haitian earthquake a few years back or the tsunamis across the world, but many are in our own backyards. My family relocated to upstate New York this past year and then Hurricane Irene struck. Beautiful horizons were reduced to rubble and tributaries and due to how impoverished the area is the efforts to rebuild have been stagnant at best. There are fewer cell phone towers as the land spreads out and a lack of adequate communication in conjunction with a lack of proper preparation for heavy storms is a recipe for disaster.

These storms are only getting worse. Regardless of your political standing, you can’t deny by now that global climate change exists. We witness it in our weather patterns every day. What happens when trees are uprooted and power lines are torn down as they were last week? Entire towns are destroyed and there are few means of which one can help them. One organization that does help is the Red Cross. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t advise donating to them. While they do benefit local communities, only a small percentage of every donation actually goes to helping their causes. Haiti, for example, has only seen minimal aid from the Red Cross despite the millions of dollars donated after the earthquake. However, when one is attempting to aid locally and they’re dealing with a smaller branch, the Red Cross is an extremely helpful organization. Another helpful one is Habitat for Humanity. If you’re looking to help out those in Elmira whose homes were crushed and flooded last week, donate to the Disaster Relief fund. https://american.redcross.org/site/Donation2?df_id=5425&5425.donation=form1&s_src=RSG00000E001&s_subsrc=gldr11&gclid=CL7CyLfTwbECFYao4AodGx4AWA
You can also search for local religious institutions of an area that was struck to see if they have started their own fundraising campaigns.


Cup of Change for your Mundane Monday: The Wounded Warrior

Spotlight on: The Wounded Warrior Project
By Jessica Juliana Fischer-Smith

This past Thursday, a tragedy occurred in Colorado when shootings occurred during the Batman Rises premiere. This is one of many stories of gun violence to occur in the United States within the past year. It seems every few weeks, I’m reading of another instance in another article and, regardless of your stance on gun laws, something just isn’t clicking in our society or this would not keep on happening.

So all of this got me thinking, what charities are out there to benefit gunshot victims. I went to Google and started searching away, thinking that maybe there would be something specific to last week’s incident, or even something to help victims of random gang shootings. Strangely enough, for a country with so many gun problems, we seem to be lacking in such a charity.
What I did find, thanks to Bill O’Reilly’s list of charities was the Wounded Warrior Project. This particular charity serves to aid men and women who underwent serious trauma in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas the U.S. has sent our troops. They serve to raise awareness of these injured heroes and network them to one another for a stronger form of rehabilitation. I think it’s a fantastic organization that could really make a difference with this generation of troops. When one thinks back to their parents or grandparents who were drafted or enlisted in previous wars, albeit the Korean War or Vietnam, there are most likely a lot of stories that seem to be skimmed over rather than told in detail for there are scars both inside and out. If you’re interested in contributing to the Wounded Warrior Project, check out their site here: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/mission.aspx
Bill O’Reilly has a great list of charities as well: http://www.billoreilly.com/pg/jsp/billsfavorites/billscharities.jsp

Finally, if anyone has heard of any charities that serve to aid gunshot wound victims in the U.S., I’d love to learn more. I know of Rachel’s Challenge, but that’s more of a preventative measure. Feel free to leave comments below!

Cup of Change: Spotlight on the Foster Care Alumni Association

Spotlight on the Foster Care Alumni Association
By Jessica Juliana Fischer-Smith

This week, I decided to focus on a cause that’s near and dear to my own heart: the foster care alumni association. When I was twelve, I was removed from my biological mother’s home after 9 years of extreme neglect and domestic violence. After this, I was placed in the foster care system and was luckily adopted by my first foster mother after my biological mother’s rights were terminated. Shortly after this point, I started receiving mail from the Foster Care Alumni Association.

The FCAA is an organization that networks between foster children and former foster children to provide them with work and internship opportunities across the U.S. One of their biggest projects is Postcards from the Soul in which foster children participating in internships produce postcards portraying their deepest emotions and varying experiences in “the system”.

This particular organization means a lot to me because of my older sister. She chose to remain in foster care rather than being adopted which made her eligible to participate in one of the FCAA’s internship programs. She spent a summer interning on Capitol Hill where she was instrumental in amending the Higher Education Act of 1965- incidentally the act that permits me to go to college despite my financial situation. Since the 2008 amendment, the law has expanded the definition of independent so that former foster children are not required to take their adoptive parents or non-existent parents into account for finances.

The internships created by the FCAA are an entryway into the lifestyle they might have had if they were born into a different socioeconomic strata. These are also only a fraction of their work. To find out more about this fantastic organization or to make a donation, go to http://www.fostercarealumni.org
If you’re looking for a charity to donate to next May, May is National Foster Care Awareness Month!

“A Cup of Change for your Mundane Monday” – Spotlight on “Women in Need”

Spotlight on: Women in Need
By Jessica Juliana Fischer-Smith
The summer heat is cascading upon us and we happily retreat into our houses to avoid discomfort. Some of us aren’t as lucky. This past week, I spent Independence Day in New York City, traveling from Harlem to downtown, then back to midtown acting as if I were a tourist, all to see the fireworks. My friend and I happily escaped into the cool buildings around us each time the heat got to be too much. Like your average New Yorker, my friend and I ignored the clusters of homeless people roasting away on the steamy sidewalks.
Women in Need is an organization that turns their attention to these individuals. Founded 25 years ago, they focus on providing homeless women and children shelter while presenting the opportunity to better their lifestyle albeit through rehabilitation services, housing searches, or help in job searches. They have provided housing to 30,000 people since they were founded and 9,000 of these individuals were women and children.
Organizations such as these exist in most cities throughout the United States today. If you would like to donate your money or time to such a cause, run a quick search to find out the closest one to you. Or if you would like to help out Women in Need, go to their website at http://www.women-in-need.org

“A Cup of Change for your Mundane Monday” – Spotlight on “The White House Project”

Spotlight on “The White House Project”

By Jessica Juliana Fischer-Smith

This summer it seems like everything is heating up, especially politics. Everything from health care to campaign policies is changing and one can only hope this is leading us in the right direction. What exactly is the right direction though? To me, it is a Washington that listens to America and addresses her needs. Oddly enough, we write America as woman and so few are in Washington.
This is where the charity “The White House Project” comes in. Their ultimate goal is to have a woman president, but they also work to increase the amount of women in political positions, fight for equal wages, and increase the amount of women in the general work force. 76% of their profits go towards programs. These funds go towards a variety of networking events, as well as informative leadership development meetings. Each year they hold an awards event to highlight the accomplishments various women have made to society. Today their network is comprised of 14,000 females.

As a young woman who hopes to actively enter the workforce in the next year, seeing an organization such as this one gives me hope. I dream of working in a world where women are truly perceived as equal to men in all aspects of a profession. Fun fact: women only received the right to vote in Switzerland in 1971; however, they already had their first female president in 1998. Women have been able to vote in the US since 1913 and despite Hilary Clinton’s decent run in the past election, this goal still seems far off. If this is something you believe needs changing, check out “The Washington Project” on their website at http://thewhitehouseproject.org/. Even if you aren’t able to make a donation, there are a variety of ways to get involved.

Hope this cup of change made your Monday a little less mundane. Until next week!

Tiny Footsteps into Big Differences

By Jessica Juliana Fischer-Smith
When you walk barefoot on a muddy path, you leave behind an imprint of every crease in your soles; the mud also stays with you, caught in the crevices. Each one of us has the ability to create change in this world, albeit through opening a door for someone you do not know or, in this case, buy a tutu to make your little girl smile and help women in Haiti.

In recent years, philanthropy has become the new pink: everyone is doing it. Celebrities are active in everything from preventing the spread of HIV or AIDS to increasing access to drinking water. In today’s age of technology, the world is more interconnected than ever before and it may seem daunting to enter into charity work. The important thing to do is to find a focus and commit to it. What about this world is worth saving to you?
Community is truly a vague umbrella term nowadays, but this allows for many more options for change. What crevices do you want to leave behind?

Tent Cities and Dignity

By Jessica Juliana Fischer-Smith

As many of you might know, 10% of the proceeds from Kayla’s Tutu Closet go to an organization called Dresses for Haiti. If you’re on here, you’re probably a fashion aficionado; however, you might still be asking, ‘why dresses?’
I won’t call Haiti a third world country. That term implies that it is a lesser nation than those around it. Yet Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world; specifically, the most impoverished in the western hemisphere. Women are already treated as second class citizens in the richer nations on the globe, so just sit back and imagine how women were treated in Haiti before the earthquake.

Though the earthquake has increased international presence within Haitian borders, it also tore down so many homes that families are still residing in the tent cities in Port-au-Prince today. This has led to an increase in domestic violence. A tarp tent can be cut with a knife and it does nothing to protect women and children. People tend to say things sound more chic in French; “viol” still means rape and nothing can make that word beautiful.
In a society where dignity becomes tainted by abuse, a dress can mean the world. Thread and fabric can weave dreams of a better tomorrow, at least for a little while.
For more on women in Haiti, check out the documentary “Poto Mitan”: www.potomitan.net