Friday, May 29, 2009

On Your Feet Project Volunteers serve Friday Night Supper!

The Friday Night Supper Program is a Boston based "soup kitchen." FNSP has served nutritious home-cooked meals to homeless and hungry people in Boston every Friday night since 1984. Every. Friday. Night.

Tonight! 10-15 OYFP volunteers are donating their time to serve hot meals and distribute clothes to over 150 guests.

If you cant make it tonight you can go next Friday, or the Friday after that get the point.

Volunteering with FNSP provides a meaningful way for individuals and groups to “give back” to the community, and it is a wonderful way to meet and work with people who share your concern for helping others. Volunteering also provides a valuable educational opportunity for individuals and groups who want to learn more about and advocate for the end of hunger and related social issues.


How's the End of Your Sidewalk?

I am going to pull a Christina here and write about something I have noticed on my walk to work.  Recently the end ramps of sidewalks around Teele square in Somerville have been dug up and replaced with these tiles in the picture to the right.  I didn't know why the city would do this, so I asked around.   Is it to help pedestrians navigate the sidewalk when its icy out?  Give us traction when it rains?

It turns out that that this is a detectable warning tactile tile, which helps visually impaired people find the end of the street and wheelchair users have access to get on and off the sidewalk.   I am glad that City of Somerville is making efforts to make their sidewalks more friendly for the individuals that are differently abeled than myself.  Isn't it amazing how much you take for granted, such as crossing the street safely?  

A point to ponder is why haven't I noticed this tile elsewhere before?  Possibly I only noticed this NEW change to the neighborhood, mostly because it effected the path I take to work and there could be longstanding ones in the Boston area that I have never noticed.  It also makes me wonder what else I take for granted/ never noticed around my community?  

What positive changes have you noticed in your neighborhood lately?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ending Childhood Hunger - What you can do

Today, more than 12 million children in the United States do not know when their next meal will come. Unfortunately, this number continues to rise as these difficult economic times are leaving more and more people jobless, without homes, and unable to provide food for their families.

What can you, one person, do?

1. Sign-up to host a bake sale:, and then actually host it. Easy as pie (literally)! Host it at work, on your sidewalk, at your church, etc. Get creative!

2. Buy the virtual Great American Bake Sale eBook:

3. Post a ChipIn widget or banner on your blog:

Together we can work together to end childhood hunger.

Photo courtesy of Whipped Bakeshop in Philadelphia, PA.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - Tribute to the Troops

No matter your political views, most of us can appreciate the sacrifice individuals make when they volunteer to serve in the US armed forces.

This past March, my boyfriend and I spent two weeks in Honduras to rest, relax, and explore. During our time on Roatan (an island off the coast of Honduras), we met a group of Navy people (sea men?) who had volunteered to help build schools on the island. The Navy also donated $9,000 towards the effort.

Most of the sailors on the ship moored just off the coast of the island chose to rest and relax like Terrence and I did, but it was really touching to see this group of sailors who chose to give up a few days to help build the school, play with the kids, and make a difference in a place where 75% of kids do not attend school.

So on this Memorial Day, I'm saying thanks for the things our armed forces do that are above and beyond protecting us - for reaching out and helping people who really, truly need it. Thank you.

The photo is of laundry drying in a village on Roatan island in Honduras.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Puppies Behind Bars

I know, I know. It has been awhile since I blogged. Blame work, blame my class, blame my lack of motivation. However. This morning, in the process of working (yes I realize it's Saturday), I came across the organization Puppies Behind Bars, and was so moved, I cried. Yes, tears fell on my work laptop.

Why all the emotion? Because of this video.

I believe that US prisons have long been broken. The primary goal of prisons is to punish people for their illegal acts, which the system does a fairly good job of. The second goal, however, is to rehabilitate them for their re-entry into society. And that is where the prison system is flawed. Counseling sessions and job training classes only go so far - many prisoners can't be reached. Puppies, however --- puppies can get in.

Puppies Behind Bars accomplishes two things: Training service dogs for disabled people, and rehabilitating prisoners. The dogs stay with the prisoners 24 hours a day, and the prisoners are responsible for training them and taking care of them. In return, they get love and loyalty from their dog, and the knowledge that the dog is going to help someone who really needs it - a disabled veteran or other disabled person.

The experience really seems to transform the prisoners, not to mention the person who receives the trained dog. The prisoners reconnect with the part of them that has empathy - a part lost long ago, and which probably led to them committing crime. I believe that participation in the program will lead to lower rates of recidivism, but Puppies Behind Bars does not have statistics available.

There are a lot of non-profits out there, but this one may now be my favorite (aside from OYFP of course). The win-win situation really inspires me, and moves me.

What do you think of the program?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Living Green Festival

Want to create a more sustainable lifestyle like the town of Vauban, Germany? Okay so maybe talking to your city officials and banning cars might be a bit extreme at this point, but there is always something that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. I keep hearing new ideas from other people and setting obtainable goals for myself, like reusable containers for my water instead of plastic bottles.

If you are unsure of what things you can do to create a more sustainable lifestyle then come on down to the Living Green Festival. There will be hands-on workshops, pictures with the Green Monster, A Green Vehicle Show and more! I also like that if you ride your bicycle there you will receive a free basic adjustment and tune up. Oh and if you bring a year of energy bills you can receive a free cost-saving breakdown and a chance to win an energy audit! Anyway you look at it there is something for everyone here.

Date: Saturday May 16th
Time: 10:00AM to 2:00PM
Location: Somerville High School, 81 Highland Ave.
Cost: Free!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Counting Counts! 2010 Census.

Census: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

Being counted in the Census counts because its provides the government the ability to know where it should spend our money. For example, if a city or town has more children living in it than it had ten years ago, it might be a good place to build another school or playground. The census helps determine the distribution of roughly $300 billion a year in federal funds to state and local governments – or $3 trillion over a ten-year period.

What: It’s a count.
- The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas.

Who: Everyone & everywhere in the U.S.
- All residents of the United States must be counted. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens and non-citizens.

When: Every 10 years.
- Census questionnaires will be mailed or delivered to every household in the United States in March 2010. The first Census was conducted in 1790.

Why: The numbers affect funding in y(our) community.
- The population totals determine each state’s Congressional representation. The numbers also affect funding in your community and help inform decision makers about how your community is changing.

- The Census Bureau will mail or deliver questionnaires to your house in March 2010. The Bureau will mail a second form to households that do not respond to the initial questionnaire. Households that still do not respond will be called or visited by a Census worker. (Census workers can be identified by a census badge and bag.)

March 2010 be counted.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Your Name on Toast

Yep not kidding.  You can have your name or web address written on toast for any amount of donation (min $100.00) to Oxfam-Ireland. If you click on any of the pieces of toast then it links you to the website of the doner.  

The next logical question is why?  Well the obvious answer to that is who doesn't love toast and who wouldn't want to see their name on toast?

The website claims it's a silly idea, but silly ideas get people talking and creates awareness of the cause you are trying to promote.  SO TRUE!  This is why I
 loved watching Chicago station Channel 9 news in the morning growing up because they would make people do silly things, like be a human bowling ball and they would give you a bit of air time to promote your cause.  If hurling myself down a bowling lane to knock down some pins helps end world poverty than I am in!

I would also like to point out that they have raised over $11,000.00 to help Oxfam-Ireland thus far!   Think of what a unique mother's day gift it could be to, her name on toast.  

Click here to buy your own toast.
Click here to see all the pieces of toast that have been written on.

Picture Courtesy of:

P.S. Thanks for the idea Casey

Monday, May 4, 2009


Ah yes, that beautiful springtime Boston weather--when it's 90 degrees and sunny one day, yet 50 degrees and rainy the next. But it is at least spring, when April showers bring May farmers' markets (or I think that's the saying).

That's right, farmers' markets are right around the corner! And as we keep hearing about the salmonella scares in our food supply--sometimes ones that exist for years before the public finally learns about them, it's become increasingly apparent that knowing exactly where our food comes from is imperative to our well being. Worse, recent reports suggest that the H1N1 ("swine") flu may have derived from U.S. factory pig farms in the late 1990s; which if you have read Michael Pollan's, Omnivore's Dilemma, you know those are not fun places to be (see Chapter 11: The Animals).

But thankfully, and increasingly, farmers' markets (as great as they are) are not the only means to finding local, fresh, and clean produce. Behold the concept of CSA (Community-supported Agriculture). Before the season begins (read: now), consumers sign up to receive a "share" of the produce that is grown. Often times this will mean a box of produce that you can pick up each week and bring home. As this season progresses, different items will comprise your share. For example, in my CSA, we're expecting lettuce and tomatoes in June among other things, and onions and potatoes in October.

I don't want to give a full defense for CSA here--it would take too long and become boring, but I do want to point out a couple highlights: 1) You know where your food is coming from; 2) Your food will be fresh and clean (albeit not of dirt); 3) You will support your local economy; 4) Quite possibly meet a few farmers; 5) Stop spending so much time (and money) in supermarkets. Of course, there's one small downside, but it seems minor to all the benefits in comparison.

So if you want to sign up, I suggest you move quickly as the growing season approaches. Stillman's Farm, Allendale Farm, and Silverbrook Farms are all options I've heard of several times--but just do a quick search and you'll be able to find many more.

And if you aren't quite sold on this whole local, sustainable thing, but want to learn more, BU is hosting quite a number of events and talks this Friday and Saturday. If you can't make that, I suggest at least picking up a copy of King Corn--it's well worth the hour and a half.

And lastly if all of this has been old news, let us know your favorite farmers' markets in the Boston area, and/or the CSA you belong to. And maybe more importantly, your strategy for dealing with that last bit of kale :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Voting Rights

It's not something we are exactly shy about at OYFP, we encourage everyone to go out and vote and be a part of the political system we have in the United States.  It is our right to have our opinions heard on any particular issue and the right to choose the candidate which we would like to represent us in our political offices.  It shows you care about the direction of the country and that you want to take an active part in the community around you.  
Why I bring this up is that the Supreme Court is reviewing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which intended to protect minority voters  in States with a history of discrimination. This act was renewed again by Congress in 2006, and now several states which fall under this act 
( the majority are southern states) are claiming this isn't fair.   
One part of the act, Section Five, names seven specific states and other local goverments with historical practices of minority voter discrimination, to require them to, "seek federal permission before making changes in voting procedures" 

I do think some regulation is necessary to protect the rights of all voters, especially if the voter is unaware of the discriminations  or discriminatory practices they are receiving because of their ethnic race.   But is this historical data accurate, meaning during the recent vote of 2008, are there still many policies in place in these selected states and local goverments that are discriminatory towards minority voters? 

Or is this something that should be relooked at with new data, even if it the adminstrative costs of this measure would be quite huge,  and put new local goverments under the system to protect minority voters?

Either way you look at this voting is important.  Your vote matters to who becomes the elected President, who then can appoint a Supreme Court Justice when one retires, who are currently deciding voting procedures.  So in short, VOTE