The Faine House; A Project of Hope for Central Florida Youth

 

This year in Central Florida, an estimated 400 teenagers in foster care will turn 18, while the state ends its assistance. Without help and guidance many of these kids will face a lifetime of dependency; welfare, jail, and homelessness.

The Faine House, in conjunction with Children’s Home Society of Florida, exists to combat these problems.

Our story above explains why they do what they do, how they do it, and how everyone benefits.

To get involved or learn more about The Faine House click here: https://www.thefainehouse.org

Central Florida Public Schools Tackle Human Trafficking

JDSA recently partnered with the Florida Department of Children and Families, coordinating a project designed to create awareness and educate Central Florida teens about the dangers of Human Trafficking.

Just DO Something…Anything! funded and assisted Appleton Creative in the design of the campaign: a series of 4 colorfully designed posters, each depicting the dangers of modern day slavery, and distributed to every middle and high school in Central Florida.

Created with the youth audience in mind, the posters feature strong graphics, bold text and eye-catching call-to-actions. The campaign will effectively help make human trafficking top-of-mind and remind students of their value and where to go for help.

Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) is the 11th largest school district in the United States, where the posters are now being distributed to over 100 schools, reaching nearly 200,000 students in Orange, Osceola and Seminole County.

Last week, Crimeline displayed the posters at a joint forum at Valencia College Criminal Justice Institute.

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While Lake and Brevard County schools were expressing interest in displaying the posters, news of our project reached the Governor’s office in Tallahassee, where the Florida Department of Education has asked to initiate an extension of our campaign: organizing distribution of the posters to all public schools statewide – reaching more than 2 million students in over 4,200 schools.

JDSA was honored to have worked alongside the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, their School Awareness Committee and Appleton Creative; an award-winning, full-service advertising agency with long-term ties to supporting community giving and bringing awareness to local causes. Throughout the years, Appleton has worked with many nonprofits such as Kids Beating Cancer, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, shining light on their issues through public service campaigns and advertising.

In a similar fashion, Appleton works closely with the Zebra Coalition, a network of organizations that provides services to LGBT+ ages 13 – 24, creating an annual anti-bullying poster series that gets placed in over 100 Orange County public schools. Appleton is also responsible for Zebra’s branding, website, advertising and video work.

 

3 years – $1 million – & 110 Countries Later

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Three years ago this month Just DO Something…Anything! was created.  At the time JDSA was just a few letters … and Social Discussion was just a blog with a catchy phrase: We have the right to remain silent.  We just choose not to …”

For two months our computer screen sat blank … a blinking black cursor in the middle of an empty white page.  The first piece we posted was an Op/Ed political story I wrote after covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa for NBC News. We thought we were starting a revolution.  But really, we were just beginning an evolution.

We weren’t political writers.  We were social storytellers.  And that’s what we set out to do – tell stories through producing video content: writing commercials and shooting PSAs, developing creative strategies and concept planning for social organizations around the world.

But with nearly 12 million nonprofits, it seemed a daunting – if not impossible task.  So we decided to connect – both ourselves and others – to some of the more unique social organizations in existence.  Everyone knows about The Gates Foundation and Amnesty International.  But how many know about Rebecca Pontius and http://dogoodbus.com? A school bus she “decked out” so as to offer once-a-month community rides to volunteers to and from great causes in her Los Angeles community.

Or Shawn Seipler’s nonprofit, https://cleantheworld.org, who, while on a business trip had an idea for soap recycling after learning the barely used bars of hotel soap he left behind ended up in a landfill.  Today, Clean the World has more than 50 full-time employees in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong.  And they’ve distributed more than 25 million bars of soap to over 99 countries.

And we met Shannon O’Donnell, who created http://grassrootsvolunteering.org and built a dual database of organizations all over the world … helping empower travelers to connect to the causes and communities in the places they travel.

JDSA’s evolution is ongoing.  Today, we’re a 501C3 nonprofit who’s helped raise over $1 million for several unique and innovative nonprofits.  And we couldn’t have done it without you – the 30,000+ followers in over 110 countries. Thank you for turning JDSA into a verb – for JDSA’ing in the social causes you’re passionate about, and for telling us about the one’s that are making a difference in your life.

Please keep us posted on those unique organizations you come across!  In the meantime, check out a few we’ve found – from a variety of social causes.

The Pollination Project – https://thepollinationproject.org

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A Gift For Teaching – http://agiftforteaching.org

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Curbside Chronicle – http://thecurbsidechronicle.org/about-us/

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Zebra Coalition – http://zebrayouth.org

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The Prospector Theatre – http://www.prospectortheater.org

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Soaring Paws – http://www.soaringpaws.com

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Wildlife SOS / India – http://wildlifesos.org

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To learn more about those organizations, and some of the others we’ve come across, check out our “Your Connections” tab on our web site: http://www.jdsanything.org/#!your-connections/czy8

Getting Nothing for Something: The Gambling Addiction

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By JDSA Intern/Arati M. Jambotkar

Intro-

It is one thing to anonymously unveil personal, deep and painful memories with strangers. But to sign your name in the hope your intimate stories can help change the course of the lives of others, is both brave and noble.

Over the past several months you’ve followed A.J. as she’s laid her soul before you.  She does this solely for the purpose of contributing to the cause of positive change.

Writing and sharing this article about her struggles of overcoming a gambling addiction, along with several other emotionally moving and powerful experiences is A.J.’s  way of,

 Just Doing Something…. Anything!

            A confession: When I was fourteen, I had a penchant for country music.  There was something about Clint Black’s Good Run of Bad Luck, a new song back in 1994, that was undeniably appealing to me.  And it still is.  Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve been to the table, and I’ve lost it all before.
I’m willing and able, always coming back for more.
Squeezing out a thin dime ’til there’s no one hanging on my arm.
I’ve gambled on a third time.
A fool will tell you it’s a charm.
If I’m betting on a loser, I’m going to have a devil to pay,
But it’s the only game I know to play.
It doesn’t matter anyway.

This past August, almost twenty years after the release of that song, I spent a pair of Friday and Saturday nights in a luxury room at the New Orleans Marriott – a room normally averaging $238.00 a night – making the grand total for the weekend a whopping $476.00…as far as hotel expenses are concerned.  Wow!  Almost five hundred bucks.  That’s the max payout on an old video poker machine at a truck stop casino, you know.  But the beautiful – and tragic – thing is that the room didn’t cost me a dime.

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I have to admit, my twenty-first birthday was fairly uneventful.  I was already indulging in alcohol and drugs at full-speed by then, so the legality of drinking brought me no level of excitement, whatsoever.  As far as being of “casino age” is concerned, that too, was shockingly unenticing – at the time.

Occasionally, I’d visit the small casino approximately fifteen miles from my hometown.  With four or five dollars in my pocket, I’d play for twenty minutes.  I wasn’t unhappy if I lost those handful of dollars…and I was only mildly happy if I’d won a few back.  I remember cashing out tickets for a couple dollars here and there, and having them add up to about twenty – ecstatic that dinner for the evening would be covered in full.  At twenty-one, I’d not yet experienced the feel of that “rush” that would soon become the greatest I have ever known.  Waiting, unbeknownst to me just around the corner, was a sense of hopelessness, defeat, and melancholy.

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Late in 2008, I spent the weekend at the largest casino in New Orleans with my now, ex-girlfriend.  The experience was nothing short of sheer Roman extravagance: a free luxury room, complimentary buffets, scintillating lights, and the type of sounds that make your breath stop short with a severe jolt.  But even then gambling still didn’t appeal to me.  After throwing ten or twenty dollars away, I’d sit next to my ex…bored. Yet again.

Regardless, she and I continued visiting the same casino, taking advantage of the luxury rooms and the complimentary meals.  Those scintillating lights and the jolting sounds were a bonus.  It was our weekend getaway…our escape from the mundane goings-on of our small town.  Slowly, the $10’s and $20’s became $40 and 50.  Then $60 and $80 in a single sitting.

I remember my first big win – the “win” I’d end up chasing over and over again for the rest of my gambling days.  I’d brought sixty dollars to a big casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, and hit enough money to buy a brand new, high-end, state-of-the-art laptop for grad school.  That’s when I discovered I could actually win at gambling.  I felt I’d just uncovered a secret about the world and life no one had ever known.  Trips to the casino started getting exciting!

I was introduced to bingo, a seemingly geriatric game, but actually not so much.  After winning $2,000 at a Super Extravaganza, I was hooked – frequenting the bingo hall every night and eventually spending more than three times the money I’d originally won.

I squandered my student loans just to break even.  When those dried up, I started borrowing from my ex.  Small increments at first – forty dollars here…fifty there.  It didn’t take long for hundreds, even  thousands of dollars, to change hands.  Each student loan check that arrived in the mail would be gone in a matter of weeks.  Once all of it vanished, I’d be left with an empty feeling and a running debt.  A debt I could only pay off when I won something big.  It was an endless pattern.

So how does gambling make me feel?  High.  Sky high.  It’s a rush.  A rush during…and rush beforehand.  Just knowing I’m about to play is greater than the rush of the win itself.  I remember those drives to the casino. The anticipation.  The nonstop talking.  The laughing.  All the while the money was still in my pocket.  I practically leapt out of my seat just thinking about walking under those bright lights.  What started off with a pull of a penny or video poker machine soon became an anticipation of better, more exciting things to come.  But after four or five hours of sitting at a machine, staring at numbers and cherries and diamonds spinning around, I became transfixed. I no longer knew what I was doing, or how much money I’d spent.  Often times I’d completely forgotten where I was, or even who I was.  I felt absolutely nothing.

Then, all at once, there it was! A feeling. A feeling of loss.  Losing filled me with a concoction of emotions; incomparable anger, shame, self-pity, and self-hatred.  But I felt something…finally.  And I kept going.  A few times, I thought about driving off the spillway bridge on the ride home from the casino, submerging myself and getting lost in the muddy water – not realizing I was already lost in a very different kind of muddy water.

Today, I know I’m powerless over gambling.  I can’t control the cycle once it begins to spin.  And it’s made my existence unmanageable.  I’ve allowed my addiction to turn me away from my God, my family, and my friends.  Everything I had ever known to be true, honorable, sacred and pure – all in favor of indulging those scintillating lights and those jolting sounds.  I knew what I was doing and what it was doing to me.  But the high…it was so undeniable.

I’ll never be able to catch back all the money I’ve lost, but it doesn’t matter.  The scariest thing about addiction is that the high feels stronger and seems better than anything money could ever bring.  That’s the high of gambling.  That’s its lie.  It’s ugly and baffling, and I never want to experience it again.  It’s the greatest price you’ll pay for something that, according to that country song back in 1994, doesn’t matter anyway.  Because today it doesn’t have to matter.

It’s not enough for me to realize that…knowing it is what makes it so priceless.

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