Hundreds Take Action To Make A Difference For Thousands!

Lending a hand! Volunteers help sort thousands of donated school supplies.

Families picking out school supplies.

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Last week Just DO Something…Anything!, along with Century 21, helped sponsor it’s first Take Action! event at Barnett Park in Orlando, Florida. Nearly 400 residents showed up along with dozens of volunteers, who helped distribute over 3,000 back-to-school supplies: pens, backpacks, clothes, pencils, paper, and other items.

But the event wasn’t just about helping families get materials they need to start the school year. Take Action! was about doing just that … taking action against social injustice.

Local mom finds just the right size.

Finding just the right size.

JDSA, along with some of their Central Florida nonprofit partners: Harbor HouseA Gift For Teaching, and Florida Abolitionist, spent the day talking with residents about the importance of what they do and how they do it!

Also on hand was the Orlando Rowing Club, Orlando Dragon Boat Club, and Dueling Dragons boat team. Dragon’s “Cops and Kids” program is a unique partnership teaming Orlando police officers with at-risk teens, who compete in boat races across the country.  Their story was recently featured on The Today Show.

Orlando Rowing Club President, Johnny Hood and Chairperson, Chris Luciano brought a “skull boat” and an “Erg,” or indoor rowing machine for residents to try out.

Making a difference with hand prints & finger paint.

Making a difference with hand prints & finger paint.

Before the kids picked up their items they were asked to “make their mark” with paint!  “Taking Action!” by writing out – next to their imprint – exactly, what they’re going to do to help make the world a better place.

Clean the World, an Orlando nonprofit, cleaned off the paint with donated soap.  Clean the World and the Global Soap project have distributed over 25 million bars of soap to 99 countries!

We gave away about 75% of all the donated items.  What’s left is going to Haiti for those in need … thanks to Divine Way Ministries.” says Take Action! event coordinator, Anastacha Constant.  Not only did Divine Way help with donated items, they also took care of all the food and drinks.

Affordable Document Service lent their support to those in need.  LA Fitness talked with residents about the importance of exercise and nutrition.  And Orange County Fire/Rescue brought a firetruck.  Where kids (and a few adults) climbed inside and learned about fire safety and injury prevention.

Ideas for next year’s Take Action! Event are already underway…

Orange County Firefighters showing students the inside of a fire truck.

Kids get an inside look!

Orlando Fire Department show off their truck.

Fire truck on display.

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Taking action! with pens, markers, and paint!

Taking Action! with pens, markers, and paint!

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

President Obama Delivers Domestic Violence PSA During Grammys

The Grammy Awards hit the “pause” button in the middle of last night’s celebration to deliver a strong message from President Obama about violence against women.

It’s not OK, and it has to stop!” Obama said, calling on artists everywhere to help change public attitudes.  Mr. Obama cited statistics showing that 1 out of every 5 women have been victims of rape or attempted rape, and 1 out of every 4 women have dealt with some form of domestic violence.

Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes, to get us thinking and talking about what matters.” Obama said. “All of us in our own lives have the power to set an example.”

Obama urged the artists in attendance to sign an anti-violence pledge at ItsOnUs.org, “…and ask your fans to do it too.

After the President’s message, domestic violence advocate Brooke Axtell described her domestic violence experience and her failed attempts to change her abuser’s behavior.

My empathy was used against me,” Axtell said. “I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position. Axtell then urged women everywhere to speak up!  “Your voice will save you.  Let it part the darkness. Let it set you free to know who you truly are.”

Katy Perry then took the stage, singing “By the Grace of God.”

The President’s PSA comes on the heels of another domestic violence PSA that aired during last week’s Super Bowl.

First-Ever Super Bowl Commercial Addressing Domestic Violence Ready To Air

NO MORE, a public awareness and engagement campaign focused on ending domestic violence and sexual assault, will air a new public service announcement during the Super Bowl – in front of more than 150 million Americans!

The 30 second version of NO MORE’s Super Bowl ad will air live during the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIX.

Pledge to say NO MORE at http://nomore.org.

“Slap Her!” Children’s Reactions

What happens when you put a boy in front of a girl and ask him to slap her? Here is how children react to the subject of violence against women.
this video has been shot by http://www.fanpage.it

Central Floridian’s Help Bring Courage Door-to-Door

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More than a thousand volunteers joined Harbor House this past weekend for the 5th annual It Takes Courage event.  Fanning out across Central Florida, the volunteers split into small groups, hanging door tags with life saving information and resources on domestic violence.

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Partnering with the City of Orlando, Orlando Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and the Orange County Clerk of Courts, volunteers focused their efforts on those communities with the highest incidents of domestic abuse.  In just under three hours, 24,000 homes had been reached.

This year, for the first time, the event was simulcast live between Valencia College http://valenciacollege.edu and The University of Central Florida http://www.ucf.edu, where a team from the volunteer UCF Domestic Violence Awareness group visited several dorms, sororities, and fraternities on campus.

“This event saves lives!”  Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House, said to the hundreds of volunteers who gathered on the Valencia College campus just before the event kicked off.

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Last year, within two days of distributing over 20,000 door hangers, Harbor House saw a 200% increase in hotline calls and helped file 66 injunctions for protection.  Not only have injunction filings increased by 10 percent in Orange County, but domestic-related murders are down 50% from last year.

To learn more about Harbor House click here: http://www.harborhousefl.com

Interested in volunteering? http://www.harborhousefl.com/volunteer/

If you are in danger or wish to speak with an advocate, please click on the link below: http://www.harborhousefl.com/for-yourself/

Hundreds of volunteers gather on the campus of Valencia College

The Dishonor of Re-victimizing Victims of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence – By the numbers:

  • Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten
  • Number of U.S. Troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq: 6,614
  • Number of women, in the same period, killed as the result of domestic violence in the US: 11,766
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined
  • Number of people per minute who experience intimate partner violence in the U.S. – 24
  • Number of workplace violence incidents in the U.S. annually that are the result of current or past intimate partner assaults: 18,700
  • Number of women who will experience partner violence worldwide: 1 in 3
  • Order of causes of death for European women ages 16-44: domestic violence, cancer, traffic accidents

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By: Dan Beckmann

Judges wield a lot of power. And with that comes responsibility.

Domestic violence is on the rise in Central Florida. As are the stacks of cases inching toward the ceilings in judges’ chambers. Pressure to push through the overload quickly is, unfortunately, becoming a normal occurrence.

This is the 20th case I’ve read today,” Circuit Judge Jeffery Arnold said this past summer, as I sat in the back of his Osceola County courtroom. It’s not uncommon for dozens of injunctions to land on his docket daily.

No doubt, judges constantly hear frivolous arguments between squabbling spouses. “This isn’t a domestic-abuse case,” one might think. Which allows for the occasional flippant remark, as was heard in these exchanges with Arnold earlier this year.

Judge, he threatens to throw me against the wall … Instead of hitting me, he hits the wall and doors with his hands.” To which, Arnold replied to the husband, “Be careful, there are studs behind that drywall … You miss the air space and hit a stud [and] you’re going to break your wrist or hand.

Maybe Arnold was tired … another argument at the end of a long day. Perhaps he was going for a laugh, trying to lighten the mood. But I don’t find anything particularly light or humorous about domestic violence.

Neither do I find anything funny about this exchange a few minutes later: “When he wants to talk to me and I don’t want to pay attention to him, he grabs me by the arms.” Arnold’s response: “Well, you’re inviting that kind of response when you do that.”

Arnold has, in the past, demonstrated insight and delivered justice for victims of domestic violence. So how could someone who dedicates his life to making things right say things so wrong? Blame the destructive and desensitized remarks on his lack of training.

According to the Office of the State Courts Administrator, every three years judges are required to complete their continuing judiciary education. Training conferences are spread across Florida, enhancing legal knowledge by keeping judges informed and updated on changes in legislation. While those conferences offer more than 900 hours of instruction, the only mandated domestic-violence training required is for new judges.

And what little domestic-violence training does exist is primarily relegated to newly written laws. There is no mandated sensitivity training. And the administrator’s office couldn’t tell me how many, from the nearly 1,000 hours of instruction, are spent directly on domestic-violence-related issues at all.

Ongoing training for doctors in specialized areas of study is required. Which is why I wouldn’t ask a podiatrist to perform a colonoscopy.

Yet, judges are allowed a large arena to render verdicts in cases over which they preside. They have complete autonomy and sweeping authority. But without adequate training in specified areas, they risk setting the bar so low one can step on it. If judges, such as Arnold, continue treating robbery and embezzlement cases on the same footing as domestic abuse, survivors everywhere should demand the creation of mandatory mistreatment insurance policies — the judicial equivalent of medical malpractice.

For victims suffering at the hands of their abusers, the courtroom is their refuge. They look up to the bench. And while some cases filed as domestic violence may fall short of the legal definition, for judges to assume that from the start only discourages those who sit before them with legitimate complaints.

It’s not enough to be empowered by a robe. Judges must be equipped with knowledge enriched with fairness and dignity. If there aren’t any state-mandated domestic-violence training classes, then judges should speak up. Advocates everywhere will provide their expertise and help expand the tools judges bring to the bench.

In the meantime, Arnold should revisit the reservoir of grace. He sits where he does because society is disrespectful. He shouldn’t emulate it. He should fix it. Judges deal with messiness, and irreverent remarks and offhanded comments only act as verbal shrapnel.

Domestic abuse is physical and emotional, the latter, oftentimes greater. If judges don’t understand how words can outweigh physical injuries, perhaps they should step away from the bench until they do. There’s no shame in that. There is, in fact, honor.

I Am Jamie

In 2012, Harbor House opened their doors to more than 10,000 domestic abuse survivors. Providing, at no cost to them, 24-hour crisis support, safety planning, emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and child care.

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Their “Purple Door,” a door painted and lined with hundreds of signatures in silver sharpie, serves as a reminder to those of us outside the doors of Harbor House, to help those in need on the inside.

Last year, we created a video for their Purple Door Luncheon and called it, I Am Jamie.

“Jamie,” a victim of domestic violence, benefited from the various services of Harbor House, where staff and volunteers helped save Jamie’s life. But who exactly, is Jamie? Click on the video to find out.

This year you can continue helping Harbor House provide a pathway to safety and Justice. Friday October 11, is the 37th Annual Purple Door Luncheon. By contributing, you’ll be helping break that cycle of domestic abuse, which has impacted families for generations.

Consider partnering with them to save a life today and help them open doors to a better future tomorrow.

For sponsorship information, please contact

Shelley Rodgers, Development Officer | srodgers@harborhousefl.com | 407-886-2244 ext. 231

Same Sex Domestic Abuse. Yes, it Happens…A lot!

By Arati M. Jambotkar / JDSA Intern

           Summers in Los Angeles can be excruciatingly hot.  The undersized, overpriced studio apartment where I was living was part of a shoddy complex in a dangerous section of North Hollywood.  But the key perk was the reliable air conditioning.  So instead of spending my summer days at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, as a lot of young people were prone to do, I chose comfortable “ghetto isolation.”  When a twenty-something becomes a summer hermit, there’s only so much she can do.

           TV: check.

           Video games: check. check.

           Computer: hmmm…

           I met her in a chat-room on an online dating site for single lesbians.  Her profile seemed enticing enough: thirty-two year old Argentinian, long blondish-brown hair, green eyes, very athletic, college graduate, loves to party.  Her picture screamed cuteness.  And since I was feeling particularly bold and invincible, I decided to meet her.

          “Loves to party” apparently meant “LOVES TO PARTY!”  Our first date consisted of getting high and having sex.  I remember not wanting to sleep with her that soon, but I struggled with a deep loneliness of not having dated in quite awhile.  So I was submissive, and I stayed so throughout the entire course of what would be a two-year relationship of the worst kind.

          The initial dating period was textbook romance.  Occasionally, we’d go out to dinner, catch a movie, and engage in other activities those in the early romantic stages do.  She held doors open for me…even bought me kiddie meals at fast food places because I liked the cheap toys inside.  I thought these little moments would serve as fond memories later in our relationship.  They didn’t.  Instead, they faded quickly…hopelessness and pain taking their place.

          I remember the first time she hit me.  It was about a month into our relationship.  I was at my friend Marc’s house when she called my cell, politely asking when I’d be home.  She was leaving her sister’s place in Woodland Hills, she explained.  And wanted to visit me.  I told her I’d be home within the next two hours, and she should come over.  Although, not before me, as I didn’t want her waiting alone.  Half an hour later, she called again.  She was waiting for me.  In her van outside my complex.

          Honestly, my initial feeling was fear – not fear of what I now know were the unreasonable demands of an unstable woman, but fear of disappointing the person I thought was the solution to my inherent loneliness.  I asked Marc to rush me home.  He dropped me off next to her van and I climbed in.  She was angry and disappointed.  Strangely enough, I found myself excusing her anger just so I could appease her disappointment.  I think that’s the moment I was reeled in…hooked.

          I invited her back to my apartment.  Unlocking the door, I walked in first and heard the clicking sound of the deadbolt behind me.  I turned in her direction, and what seemed like one simultaneous motion, my feet fell out from underneath me, my head slammed sideways against the thin, brown carpet with my right ear bending backwards on the ground.  I remember the taste of that carpet – wooly, gritty, coarse.  And I remember feeling stunned – not just emotionally, but physically.  The physical shock, it seemed at the time, trumped the emotional response.  I remember her spitting out paranoid accusations of sleeping with Marc.  I was too scared to object – then and always thereafter.

          The next two years were filled with constant drug use and an endless barrage of physical assaults.  There was slapping, kicking, choking, breaking – destroying me from the outside in.  Once, despite my 103 degree fever, I was dragged by my hair into her van to visit her family for Thanksgiving dinner.  Another time I was punched directly in the nose, forcing it to bleed onto the white linen of our bed.  She told the doctor I tried to burn her with a cigarette, and she had kicked me in self-defense.  I didn’t object.  Unfortunately, neither did the doctor.

          She once chased me around my entire apartment complex in the middle of the afternoon, accusing me of doing the last of the drugs.  I knocked on every door in desperation.  Everyone was somewhere else.  She finally found the drugs in her own pocket.  I really think she would have killed me right then and there if she hadn’t stuck her hand in that pocket.

          My parents were gravely worried, and bought last-minute tickets to Los Angeles with the intention of taking me home to Louisiana.  But I wouldn’t go.  Despite everything – everything – I wanted to stay.  At first, I thought the loneliness was greater than any physical pain she could ever inflict.  But soon enough, through something I can only describe as the love of a Higher Power, I realized that the pain of living the way I was had become greater than my fear of that loneliness.  It was only then that I could seek treatment.

          I got on that plane.  And I never went back.

          A few months ago, she sent me a friend request on Facebook.  I took a deep breath and clicked the ‘Not Now’ button.  I’m worth more than that today.  I don’t need to numb myself at the hands of another…even at the hands of myself.  I can find self-esteem without being controlled or manipulated…without being abused and coerced.  I have an identity apart from that loneliness these days.

          So ‘Not Now’ is so fitting.  Not today.  Not ever again.

Orlando Men Help Stomp Out Domestic Violence

They came. They saw. They walked.

Well, wobbled is more like it.

Men took to the streets of Orlando, Florida last week in high heels, wedges and stilettos. Looking to help end domestic abuse against women, the international event – ‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes‘ – brought out hundreds of walkers and volunteers.IMG_2790

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer donned a pair of red-patent leather pumps. While County Commissioner Scott Boyd took on the daunting task of wearing four-inch black slingbacks.

It was the first Walk A Mile event in Orlando, with an initial fundraising goal of $10,000. But just as the Walk set off, community donations had nearly doubled. Setting a record for the most money raised in an inaugural Walk a Mile In Her Shoes event in any city.

But as Harbor House CEO Carol Wick told the Orlando Sentinel, this is about more than money.

This is about engaging men in an issue that really can’t be solved without them at the table,” Wick said. “I hope every man can stand up and say it’s never OK to use violence against your partner.

While, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is designed to highlight a men’s march in heels, the Orlando event welcomed both men and women. Just DO Something…Anything! was on hand to witness all the Sights and Sounds of the day’s event.

Harbor House staff and volunteers set up the registration tents

Harbor House staff and volunteers set up the registration tents

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