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.

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

R3 APP Goes Global on Twitter

The award winning R3 app, designed to help survivors of domestic violence, is starting to make noise on Twitter. Social Discussion created the @R3app account on Twitter with the goal of spreading the news of a freely available screening tool that can save lives.

The R3 App was created by Carol Wick, the CEO of Harbor House, a domestic violence organization located in Orlando, Florida. Along with Echo Interaction Group, Wick was able to develop an app that can be downloaded, at no charge, from iTunes and the Android marketplace.

R3, which stands for ‘Recognize, Respond, and Refer’, was conceived primarily as a screening tool that could be used by medical professionals and first responders who come in contact with survivors. The app prompts users with a screening process created 13 years ago by Doctor Kevin Sherin, director of the Orange County Florida Health Department. The process named HITS, which has statistically proven to be 91% effective in identifying domestic abuse, is for medical providers to ask four screening questions:

Over the past 12 months, how often did your partner;

Physically Hurt You?
Insult or talk down to you?
Threaten you with physical harm?
Scream or curse at you?

The questions are meant to address all domestic partnering,  regardless of gender, marital status or same sex relationships. Depending on the answers, providers can then refer survivors to the appropriate support and resources specific to their geographic location. Believe it or not, such a seemingly simple tool is invaluable when considering that it has been found that up to 71% of doctors did not routinely screen for domestic abuse. A tragedy in and of itself, when a victim could be introduced to resources that could end the abuse and ultimately save a life.

Within a week of the release of @R3app on Twitter, the app has picked up the following of such notables as the Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Family Homeless Network, MN Senator Al Franken, multiple universities, nation-wide women’s shelters, crisis networks and also abuse centers internationally in countries such as England, Ireland and Argentina.

The R3 app has also received the attention and support of the Institute of Medicine and Avon Foundation for Women. In the Ending Violence @ Home App Challenge sponsored by the aforementioned. Additionally, the R3App received $5000 in a third place finish among entries from over 9 countries.

Following @R3app will be a great way to keep updated and to spread the word of its existence.;

The more people know

The more they download

The more people  use it

The  more lives saved

By following, you join the movement to end the violence and make a difference in the lives of family, friends, and neighbors everywhere around the world.

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