Thursday, February 26, 2009

Going Above and Beyond

Like Christina, I also see random things while on my way to work. Yesterday morning I saw a hair cutter from Mario's Salon in Davis Square (I think it was Mario himself) help a blind person cross the street. The employee of Mario's Salon didn't stop there but walked with the blind person all the way to the T and led him to a MBTA staff member to assist the blind person with getting on the public transportation.

Now was this simply an employee helping out a client in order to keep the client returning for his services? Maybe, however I rarely see people go above and beyond their call of duty for others in general, not to mention those who are differently abled. Could the employee have helped the blind person cross the street, and then gone back to business, sure, but I thought it was really a nice thing that he followed the blind person the whole way to the T.

I would also like to point out that there was still some snow/ice on the sidewalk which made it very dangerous to walk, especially if one can't see the snow/ice. Even more reason I think it was commendable for this hair cutter to walk this blind person all the way to the T.

So I just wanted to take the time to give a shout out to those people that go above and beyond the call of duty. Do you know of/seen anyone who has gone above the call of duty?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

ICycle III - A HomeStart, Inc. Event!

My ideas always seem to originate on my walk to work, and today was no exception. I had reached the top of the Government Center stairs (winded, as always... even after more than a year of climbing, my body is still fighting me!) and saw an outdoor spin class. (This made me more aware of my being out of breath.)

I didn't really think too much about it since there are always unique events happening at City Hall, though normally happening when the temperature is warmer than 30 degrees! Still, I would say out of the dozen bikes, 2 or 3 participants were spinning away...

8 hours later, after my entire day at work... the cycling continues! This is when I realized I had to be 'that girl' to stop and take a picture... and noticed that the name of this event was ICycle III - organized by HomeStart, Inc. - a non-profit organization whose mission is to end homelessness in Greater Boston by assisting individuals in obtaining permanent housing and to develop strategies to address systemic barriers to housing placement.

Each rider contributes 1 hour of their time in the cold, to quickly realize it's not long compared to what homeless people experience during long New Engand winters. A minimum of $250 is raised by each rider benefiting HomeStart, Inc.

Kudos riders! Perhaps next time I'll join you.

Related Posts: Boston Bike Sharing; Bikes not Bombs; Biking to Work in Boston

Food is key to culture

I spent this past weekend in Nashville, TN (congrats, Eric & Leah!), and while waiting for my boyfriend to finish tying his tie (first too short, then too long), I caught a little of Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations on the Travel Channel. For those of you unfamiliar with Chef Bourdain and his show, he travels all over the world sampling each regions' foods, whether it be cow intestines, deep fried chicken, or clam chowder. He tries it all.

It struck a chord with me as I prepare for my 12 day vacation in Honduras - really, the way to get to know a country is to eat its food. You can learn so much. After all, food is what we all have in common - we need to eat to survive.

My co-worker went to India for a wedding a few years ago, and only ate rice and naan for fear of getting sick. I went to India shortly after her, and my favorite part of the trip was trying different foods. I'll never forget sitting in the roadstop restaurant (essentially fast food) with all the hub-bub around my mom and me, and not knowing how to properly eat the meal served to us on a banana leaf.

All the waiters and bus boys stared at us, and finally one kind woman who spoke English explained how to eat the thali properly. (You have to mix the rice with each of the five sauces in a different order and pick it up with your right hand to eat - see the photo of my Mom to the left.) We learned that food in India is more than just nourishment - it's tradition going back hundreds of years.

Food can also bridge cultural gaps. On this same trip to India, my mother and I invited our taxi driver Nathan to have lunch with us. He was so touched by this that he invited my mom and I back to his home at the end of the day tour to have tea and meet his family. They lived in a one room cement dwelling with a common bathroom, and all slept on mats on the floor. We shared more than just tea - we talked about our families, how Nathan wanted to expand his taxi business, and Indian culture in general. We learned so much more than we would have without the visit, and it's just because we broke bread (or naan in this case) together.

My favorite time spent in my semesters abroad in Spain and Nicaragua were sitting with my host mothers/sisters while they prepared meals. The casual conversation we shared taught me what it was really like to live in each place, not just visit it. And that's part of the reason we travel, yes? Not just to see new sights or recline on a beach, but to understand what it's like to live somewhere else, or be someone else.

In these tough economic times, it might be hard to take an international trip. However, that shouldn't stop you from trying new cultures. Chinatown is just a few subway stops away. The North End too. I'm sure you have friends whose families still hold onto their "ethnic" heritages, or maybe you can make a new friend - my office frequently has visiting staff members from abroad.

The point is, food is more than just nourishment - it's a way to learn about something outside of yourself. Perhaps if all of our world leaders broke bread together, we'd all get along just a little bit better.

Nathan, his wife, and his youngest son, who is making a goofy face at the flash.

Related Posts: India Vogue: The haves and the have nots; 10,000 reasons to buy; Food Banks and Food Pantries in Massachusetts; Patio gardens & City growing; Find local food locally; Fruit in the city
Photos are from my trip to India.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Too busy to volunteer?

I had the opportunity to speak to a few people at our Strikes For Shelter event on their thoughts about volunteering; what had brought them to the event, why they volunteered, or conversely (and maybe more importantly), what kept them from volunteering.

It's no surprise that volunteering in Boston isn't the strongest--new data shows that fact. So what is it that keeps people away?

Time. That's the most common lament, that we simply don't have enough time. Certainly, work, school, significant others, friends, etc. all take legitimate time from our schedule and we can't and don't want to give those things up. As one person said, "I don't have the time, but I'll make the time [for things I shouldn't be doing]." And I'm guilty as the next person in making some things priorities that probably shouldn't be--do I really need to catch the season of Top Chef? Do I really care about that obscure college basketball game? Even one opportunity I recently learned about would be a great way to start the weekend before meeting up with friends on a Friday night.

Passion. Sometimes not having an issue to rally around keeps people at bay. Truthfully, if you really want to participate in something, the barriers don't seem as big. But not being focused on one issue can also be an asset in volunteering. There are so many organizations that need help and are looking for it, so if you don't have one issue you really care about, take the opportunity to involve yourself in a broad swath of nonprofits--from tutoring students to spending time with senior citizens. Some organizations look for a long term commitment, but not all. And who knows, maybe you will find that cause that really gets you going.

Opportunities. And sometimes you have the time, and you have the desire, but volunteering still doesn't happen. For me, I've struggled finding chances to get involved even though I've made time and knew what I wanted to get involved in. There are resources however (these are just a sampling): Boston Cares is a nonprofit which coordinates willing volunteers with an assortment of projects across Boston. is also another resource with a ton of information and opportunities from across the nation. And of course, OYFP can be a resource to you as well: Coming up on March 5, a number of organizations will get together to network and discuss their volunteer opportunities at the Spirit of Service event. But don't forget about your friends--and don't assume that because they don't talk about volunteering, they aren't doing it. Ask around--see what people are doing and tag along. And if your immediate circle of friends isn't actively involved, ask friends of friends, people at work, and family. Chances are you'll come into contact with someone who volunteers and they will be an excellent resource for opportunities you can become a part of.

So, that's enough from me. But what about you? Are you volunteering? If so, what's gotten you involved, and what's keeping you there? And if not, what's stopping you? Is it one of the three reasons above, or is it something else? Either way, let us know by leaving a comment--we'd like to hear from you.

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Strikes for Shelter - Bowling Event Tomorrow

I'm willing to bet it's been a good long while since you picked up a bowling ball and chucked it down the aisle...

I'm also willing to bet that in this cold Boston slump time we call winter, you've been brainstorming unique ways to get out of your house and keep your heart pumping until we see a little heat in these parts...

So, meet us at the Milky Way - a hip candle pin bowling alley in Jamaica Plain that's paired up with the tasty Bella Luna where I had a amazing Insalata di Amour not too long ago.

We'll be there 6:30-9pm this Thurs (feb.19th). Tickets are $20 and includes pizza, bowling, and shoes. Beverages will, of course, be available for purchase.

A little FYI, parking is free after 5 in the HiLo parking lot next door and taking the T to JP is not as daunting as you might think. I live out off the green line and have ventured to JP a number of times safely and easily and had a blast.

Some last tidbits:
A) This event will benefit Christopher's Haven, a place for children to live during cancer treatment.
2) The legendary Milky Way is actually moving after March. You're running out of time to get in before they move!

Friday, February 13, 2009

OYFP Works.

People volunteer for many reasons, sometimes it is to make connections, or to give back, or to learn new skills, or sometimes its just to meet new people.

I volunteer because I'm selfish.

I give my time, talents and treasures because I want better, a better community and a better neighbor.

I'm concerned with my own welfare and just as a rising tide lifts all boats, lending a hammer or an hand leads to a better community.

Its not always easy to volunteer, all too often its hard work. This is one thing we're trying to change with the Spirit of Service event on March 5.

Tonight, I'm walking the walk, I'm pitching in at Friday Night Suppers. I'll let you know how it goes.

About the picture: Built in 1897 on Boston Common, the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial depicts Colonel Shaw on horseback leading the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-volunteer black regiment in the Union army organized in a Northern state. The story of the 54th Massachusetts was made into the 1989 feature film, Glory, starring Morgan Freedman, Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick. From:

TGIF- How to solve our economic problems

In this tough economic times, it is diffucult to be happy, but you still need to take time to laugh. So to help give your day some laughter, may I present John Hodgman's way of solving the economic crisis.

Related Posts: Volunteer Boston: Get On Your Feet: Who is Happier?, Penny Pinchin' Times

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fresh Air Fund Job Opportunities

Read on for summer job opportunities with the Fresh Air Fund.

The Fresh Air Fund, “an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2008, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.”

The Fresh Air Fund is accepting applications for summer 2009 camp counselors. Fresh Air Fund is looking for college-aged individuals who like working with children. If you want to be a part of their 133rd summer serving children...start here.

For more information contact Sara Wilson, The Fresh Air Fund,

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Gift that Keeps on Giving... Solar Power

Recently for my birthday, my honey gave me this device shown here. It is a Hybrid Charger that uses solar power technology to power up your electronic devices(phone, mp3 player, laptop, etc.).

It's really simple to operate, you put a pen or pencil in the center of the device, face it to a window(south facing is best) and it will charge away. So while I was at work, I was storing energy from the sun to use on my electronic devices which I powered up when I was home at night. Talk about multi-tasking!

This is a really cool gift idea because it helps me reduce my use of energy in the house. This of course will save me money and reduce my carbon footprint on the world.

The other reason it is really cool gift idea is because it is an investment for green technology. Instead of receiving some new clothes (not needed, but I do have material desires after all) that would have been used for a couple of years until it was out of fashion and then donated to Goodwill. I received a gift that is a commitment to the future of our world. Hopefully these hybrid chargers will lead to new different green technology which will help us reduce our carbon footprints.

It is certainly going to help me become more green, which is something we all need to consider.

Have you received any cool new gadgets that support green technology?

Related Posts: Composting in an Apartment, The Greenest Generation, Public Transit in Seattle: Solar power!, Adding to the Grid

Thursday, February 5, 2009

An Interview with a Real Live Winner

Tuesday night's Networking Night with BostonCares and OYFP was quite a success, despite the everlasting gosh danged snow. We raised a significant sum of money (well, at least I think it was significant, I haven't yet seen the totals), thanks in large part to the Brownstone bar's and all our attendees' generosity.

Two of those attendees were rewarded handsomely for their generosity, winning the raffle price of the evening. I sat down with one to get her thoughts on the big win.

Hi Raffle Winner #2, what's your name?
Berkley, like the street except without the extra "e"

And what did you win in the raffle?
I won a free loaf of Panera bread each month for 2009!

Have you ever won a prize like that before?
Not exactly...I won a hefty gift certificate to a cool restaurant at an OYFP event a few years ago, but never a food of the month prize that keeps on giving!

What is the coolest thing you have ever won?
in 1995 I won 'front row' tickets to the River Rave concert at what was then known as 'Great Woods'...turned out they were 26th row, but still pretty awesome.

But not as cool as a loaf a bread a month and knowing that your money all went to Friday Night Suppers, right?
Of course not.

How are you planning on consuming your raffle prize?
Between a snack last night, toast for breakfast, and a hunk with soup for lunch today I am doing my best to eat the loaf I went home with! I am on a new mission to throw away ZERO food in 2009 (one day at a time) so any bread that I don't eat before it gets stale I will turn into breadcrumbs. I already have a mental list of all the Panera bread varieties I want to try.

That is a really great resolution. Not only will you save money by not throwing food away, but you'll also help our dear Mother Earth since resources won't be wasted just to go into a dump.
Yep. That's the idea.

What brought you to the BostonCares/OYFP Networking event tonight?
You, Casey :) also the promise of meeting new people and drinking a few beers to help a good cause.

Had you heard of Friday Night Supper previously?
I had not, but I want our group of friends to plan a night to volunteer (let's talk later).

Have you been to other OYFP or BostonCares events previously?
I have been to other OYFP events both social gatherings and volunteer events, but not BostonCares. Now I'm on their mailing list too, so I will probably attend more.

What are your thoughts on volunteering?
I really enjoy volunteering. In high school I was really active in that realm through my church, but I have found it difficult in adulthood to find opportunities that don't require full time commitment but allow you to feel like you are being helpful. I have recently inquired about volunteering at the Healthworks Foundation gym, hopefully they'll be able to use me once a week or so after work.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I think most of us, especially if you are reading this blog, want to do more to 'help'. But sometimes it's hard to actually get involved. I think you should organize your friends, call up a homeless shelter and all go cook and serve dinner. It's an easy occasional commitment and you can really be helpful. There are obviously MANY other ways, but something like that is a good way to involved without a ton of commitment.

Thanks for your time, Berkley! (And I'll see you Sunday for our potluck.)

Related Posts: Happy Hour Benefit for Friday Night Supper; Find local food locally; CSAs Rock; Volunteering: Sara's Experience; Helping with a mullet; Helping a little old lady
Photo of Berkley courtesy of me, because I have known Berkley for almost 9 years. The photo of Friday Night Supper people came from the Friday Night Supper non-profit website.

Shepard Fairey - New ICA exhibit

The ICA has opened a new exhibition Shepard Fairey: Supply & Demand. I went there yesterday, and the different layers and materials he uses for his work are definitely something worth checking out.

This is a first museum survey of Shepard Fairey, the influential street artist who created the now iconic Obama poster, on the 20th anniversary of the Obey Giant campaign.

You probably have seen his work all around the city (commissioned to accompany his exhibit), it has appeared on street signs and buildings around the world.

Featuring over 80 works, Shepard Fairey: Supply & Demand traces the artist’s career over 20 years, from the Obey Giant stencil to screen prints of political revolutionaries and rock stars to recent mixed-media works.

So - I highly recommend you go see the exhibit while its still in town! And keep an eye out for a future OYFP charity event at the ICA...

Photos courtesy of the ICA.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Spirit of Service

Please join the free Spirit of Service networking event on Thursday, March 5th at MJ O'Connor's, next to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

At this free networking event ORGANIZATIONS will:
- promote their cause and upcoming volunteer opportunities.
- vet young professionals for their advisory board and various committees.
- join, encourage, and promote an era of responsibility.

At this free networking event INDIVIDUALS will:
- discover opportunities for community involvement in Boston.
- meet other individuals of integrity and selflessness who embody the Spirit of Service.
- learn what it's like to join executive boards, advisory boards & young professional committees.
- join, encourage, and promote an era of responsibility.

This Spirit of Service event is an opportunity to make a commitment to our communities, an opportunity to get engaged, and an opportunity to help solve our most critical problems.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Support on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is coming up and it should be about the people we love. But we should also find the time to support those others who can't do that themselves.

This Valentine's Day, add a cause to your circle of loves with the Allumonde charity ring.

The Allumonde charity ring shows your commitment to helping others. 19% of the proceeds goes to the charity of your choice and 2% goes to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Starting at $25, the ring comes in acrylic, stainless steel, titanium-coated stainless steel in gold and black, sterling silver and 18k gold. Order your ring at the Design21 website.

Every ring makes a difference!

Happy Hour Benefit for Friday Night Supper

Tomorrow, OYFP and Boston Cares are joining forces to provide support for Boston's Friday Night Supper Program, which provides nutritious, home-cooked meals to homeless and hungry people of Boston in a safe and dignified environment every Friday night.

Come out to Brownstone (111 Dartmouth Street) from 6-8PM for this benefit. Tickets are $20, that includes two drinks and appetizers. 100 percent of the ticket sales go to Friday Night Supper!

We have over 45 RSVP's on the Facebook page. Want to see who's going to be there?