Signs, Sounds, & Thoughts From My Experience At The Women’s March in Washington D.C.

One Man’s Story: Why I Marched With Women on Trump’s First Day
By: Dan Beckmann/Orlando Sentinel
25 January 2017 

Last week, rather excitedly, I posted, what I thought was a fairly innocuous tweet; “Heading to D.C. for the March!”  I wrote.  So, I was surprised to read the first response.  Not because it arrived so quickly, I have nearly 10,000 followers.  Rather, because it came from a friend with an ambiguous quip. “Last I checked you were a man…is there something you’re not telling me?”  She wrote.  Surely my well-educated friend could not be so confused to think a Y chromosome would be a disqualification for taking part in a Women’s March?  Nonetheless, there it was.  That comment…hanging like a piñata, just waiting for me to crack it with a great big stick.

So, to my friend who wrote, what I’m sure she thought was a comment in jest, I guess there are some things I haven’t thought to tell you.  Allow me to fill you in on a few of them.

For 15-years, as a cameraman, writer, and producer with NBC News, I sat on the front line of many struggles.  This was the first time I would be at the epicenter of something of this magnitude as a participant.  I knew why I was marching because I had the checked boxes all filled out in my head; women’s rights, minority issues, climate change, education.  All the big ones.  But it wasn’t until I was nestled amongst a sea of pink hats and humanity that I realized why I was really there.  By the way, there were quite a few disqualified Y chromosome people marching with me.

Women, and those with minority voices, have always played crucial roles in my success.  They are too often underrepresented, undermined, and undervalued.  So, from what some might call my “privileged” seat in society, I felt it was even more important for me to walk out my allegiance to them.

I marched because Donald Trump promised to serve all people.  And so far, his immediate circle of influence lacks the diversity to make that possible.  Having him hear our voices from his new home on his first day in office was a great start. Not everyone who needed to be heard could be there, so I was marching for them…and for all the people who’ve made a difference in my life.

I marched for my mom, who as a single parent took odd jobs teaching tennis lessons, tending bar, and fixing lawnmowers.  Always making less than the guy next to her who did the exact same job.  My mom never failed to take a college course and never got a failing grade.  Receiving her doctorate 35 years after taking her first class.

I marched for, and alongside, my friends Kent and Caanan.  Showing up with my support to protect their right to stay married.

I marched for my daughter Lauren, and my friend Tiffany.  Each survivors of sexual assault who now must watch a man who’s bragged about assaulting women lead our country for the next four years.

I marched for those so confused that they now believe in “alternative facts.”

I marched for my friends who lost all hope, and got suckered by a manipulative liar who placed a large bet on their fears and won bigly.

I marched as a reminder to those “who won” that they cannot ignore those who didn’t.  And I marched as a reminder to our representatives in Washington that they are bound by an oath to represent all those in their districts.

I marched to promote a global community of diverse members. The outcry of values and priorities aren’t solely “American issues” with isolated consequences.  Millions of others, on all 7 continents, took part in over 670 solidarity events. Our leader may say, “America First”, but we cannot claim to be “America Only”.

And I marched for that friend of mine, the Twitter commenter.  Apparently, there were some things I didn’t tell you.  I’m glad I told you about them now so we can put down our phones and get to the business of building a brighter future for us all.  And that’s something worth tweeting and re-tweeting about.

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Inspiring Stories To Give You Hope After A Less Than Inspiring Year

 

We thought sharing NPR‘s favorite, most inspiring stories of 2016, would be a nice Christmas present.  Inspiring you to remain hopeful after the (insert catastrophic phrase of your own here) year we just shared together.  These stories certainly helped shape our New Year’s Resolution.  Not gym membership, seeing the doctor more often, or adding more travel commitments (although, we’ll do those things).  But also our determination to raise our voices a little louder…get involved just a little bit more.

So let’s all have ourselves a wonderful holiday season…and get some rest!  We’ve got work to do in 2017.

Merry Christmas and a Happy (Happier) New Year to all of those committed to Just DO Something…Anything! to make a difference.

Sincerely,
JDSA

Clockwise from upper left: Dr. Forster Amponsah; a Malick Sidbe photo taken in Mali; a global garden of radio; Chewa the TB-sniffing rat; another Sidbe photo; Olympic medalist Fu Yuanhui of China; the New Mexico cave where a superhero bacterium lived; poverty fighter Sir Fazle Hasan Abed; calligrapher Sughra Hussainy; activist Loyce Maturu.

Jason Beaubien/NPR, Courtesy of Malick Sidibe and Jack Shainman Gallery, Katherine Streeter for NPR, Maarten Boersema/APOPO, Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images, Courtesy of Max Wisshak, Courtesy of BRAC, Ben de la Cruz and Toya Sarno Jordan/NPR 

There was no shortage of sad news in 2016.

And because we’re a blog that covers global health and development, we covered a lot of those sobering stories: the toll of diseases like Zika, the bombing of hospitals in conflict zones, the suffering caused by poverty and by discrimination against women.

But we published a lot of hopeful stories as well. We asked our team at Goats and Soda to pick some of the stories from this year that inspired them the most. We hope you’re inspired too.

Of Periods And Bugs

My favorite inspiring story from this year was about the Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui who made headlines for telling the world she was on her period. I love that woman — breaking boundaries and taboos effortlessly.

My favorite story that I wrote was the hero bug story. We forget that to fight antibiotic resistance we need the help of the bacteria. —Michaeleen Doucleff

A Rat With A Nose For TB

My favorite piece on Goats and Soda in 2016 was “Chewa The Lab Rat Has A Great Job, Good Retirement Benefits.” African giant-pouched rats like Chewa are trained to detect TB — and they’re faster and cheaper than lab machines. You can tell from the photos that the lab technicians really love their helper rats. —Malaka Gharib

Unstoppable Women

I love watching the video of Sughra Hussainy creating calligraphy. When she was a kid in Afghanistan, girls couldn’t go to school. That didn’t stand in her way. Today she’s a gifted artist with big dreams: “I just want to work hard at this. And of course, become world famous.”

A favorite story I wrote was an interview with Loyce Maturu, a 24-year-old from Zimbabwe who was an orphan, HIV positive and abused by a relative. And she had TB. And tried to kill herself at a low point. As the headline says, “She almost gave up — but didn’t.” —Marc Silver

Dazzling Doctor

Dr. Forster Amponsah has star power. You can see it as he walks the halls of the Koforidua Regional Hospital in Ghana. Interns’ and patients’ eyes track his movement. Amponsah through sheer force of will and against incredible challenges has built up a surgical department in his public hospital. The surgeries he’s performing would be considered routine in a U.S. hospital but some days in Ghana they appear as small miracles. —Jason Beaubien

Irresistible Radio

Our story about Radio Garden, a website that lets you listen to stations around the world, was my favorite story. Just point your cursor at one of the thousands of green dots on a map of the globe. Listen to talk radio in Uganda, jazz in Morocco and punk rock in Hawaii. It’s a fun way to feel a connection to distant cultures. —Ben de la Cruz

A Photographer And A Poverty Fighter

This one is poignant given the extremism and political violence plaguing Mali, but I felt so uplifted reading Ofeibea Quist-Arcton’s tribute to the late Malian portrait photographer Malick Sidibe. His black and white images from the 1960s and ’70s captured dancing couples, pensive matriarchs and youngsters showing off their grooviest outfits — a reminder of a hopeful time when Mali was newly independent and, as Quist-Arcton put it, “relishing its freedom and having fun.”

One of my favorite interviews was with “the most influential poverty fighter you’ve never heard of” — Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and head of BRAC, the anti-poverty group. BRAC helped pioneer a program that gives extremely poor families an asset like a cow or a goat. It’s an approach that has likely improved the lives of millions. —Nurith Aizenman

Meet The Survivors of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Last year, for the 2015 ECCU Conference, we had the privilege of meeting more than 50 cardiac arrest survivors and 2,500 other supporters from over 30 countries.  Working with representatives from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, we marched through the streets of downtown San Diego to help raise awareness and educate communities on the importance of CPR and AED devices.  Here is the story of the survivors we met.  This video debuted at a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine  workshop in Washington D.C.  Where over 100 researchers and other advocates attended; addressing an Institute of Medicine report on improving survival from sudden cardiac arrest.  Thanks to Verocity Communications, StrataVerve Research and Strategic Artifex Market Research, Inc. for all their help in producing this story and gathering the research data for its presentation.

Food & Wine Unite To Support Pulse & Orlando LGBT

A group of popular Orlando chefs and hospitality leaders decided to Just DO Something…Anything! by joining together for a barbecue to benefit The LGBT Center of Central Florida (www.thecenterorlando.org). Over 500 people came out to enjoy great food, live music, and a butterfly release and remembrance ceremony in the courtyard. There was no ticket price to attend the event, which ran from 4-8pm at East End Market (eastendmkt.com).

The benefit, Food and Wine Unite Orlando (foodandwineuniteorlando.myevent.com), was organized by chefs Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant and Jamie McFadden of Cuisiniers Catered Cuisine & Events. After the Pulse Nightclub attack, chefs Kevin and Jamie wanted to give back to the “The Center,” which has helped so many victims’ families and survivors.

100% of the proceeds were donated to The LGBT Center of Central Florida for assistance in rebuilding resources.

Participating Orlando-area restaurants included; Smiling Bison, Hawkers, Swine & Sons, The Rusty Spoon, Chef Tim Keating and Wild Ocean Market, Se7en Bites, The Courtesy Bar, and all of the merchants at East End Market.

Wines were provided by Craft & Estate: a member of The Winebow Group, Tim’s Wine Market, Stacole Fine Wines, Winesellers, LTD., Augustan Wine Imports, and Breakthru Beverage Group.  Sponsors for the event included K Restaurant, Cuisiniers Catering, East End Market, The Boathouse at Disney Springs, Quantum Leap Winery, Breakthru Beverage Group, Overeasy Events, Platinum Parking, Orlando Wedding & Party Rentals, and Linens By the Sea.

 

14 Year-Old Decides to Just DO Something…Anything! About First Aid

From: The Huffington Post

When straight-A student Taylor Rosenthal isn’t in school or playing baseball, he’s busy doing something foreign to most 14-year-olds: He’s running his own successful business.

Rosenthal is a freshman at Opelika High School in Alabama. Last year, while in eighth grade, he was assigned the task of coming up with a business idea for an entrepreneurship class. His pitch went on to win first place.

The teen’s idea? A computerized vending machine that would inexpensively and conveniently dispense first-aid kits.

“Have you ever been to an amusement park and your child falls to the ground and scrapes their knee?” Rosenthal said in the original pitch. “Then, you had to walk all the way to the front of the park to get a Band-Aid?”

Rosenthal told ABC News that the idea for the machine was sparked by his experience playing baseball.

No one could find a Band-Aid when someone got hurt,” he said.

Since the birth of his idea, which he developed with the help of his parents, who both work in the medical profession, Rosenthal has been hurtling toward success. By the end of 2015, he’d developed a working prototype and was granted a patent. His company, RecMed, was also accepted into an incubation program at The Round House Startup Space in Opelika.

According to Kyle Sandler, Rosenthal’s mentor at Round House, the teen was the youngest entrepreneur in the program.

“We had to kick him out of here on Christmas Eve to spend time with his family, and you best believe that every minute of fall break he was here at the Round House,” Sandler told the Opelika-Auburn News. “When he’s not in school or playing baseball, he’s here working on anything from customer discovery to lead generation to where he can put his product.”

In January, Rosenthal won second place in the Techstars competition at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He will be featured this week at TechCrunch Disrupt, a startup conference in New York. He’s reportedly the youngest person ever to present at the event.

To date, Rosenthal has earned a total of $100,000 in investments, CNN Money reported. He’s also turned down a $30 million offer from a “large national healthcare company” for his vending machine idea, though he couldn’t discuss the deal due to a nondisclosure agreement.

“[The company] contacted us and said we feel the idea is worth this, would you like to sit down and talk? It’s his company. He declined because he wants to at least get it started and see how it goes,” Rosenthal’s father, Terry, told the Opelika-Auburn News.

RecMed vending machines stock both prepackaged first-aid kits (which cost between $5.99 and $15.95) for ailments like sunburns, blisters, bee stings and cuts, and individual supplies like Band-Aids, rubber gloves and gauze pads, ranging in price from $6 to $20.

The machines, which are slated to be deployed in the fall, are best suited for “high-traffic areas for kids” like amusement parks, beaches and stadiums, Rosenthal told CNN Money. He’s already received an order for 100 machines from Six Flags.

“It has been amazing watching Taylor grow over the past year into this confident and amazing businessman,” Clarinda Jones, one of Rosenthal’s teachers, told CNN Money. “Even with all of his success, he remains humble and ready to help others. He’s just 14. Bill Gates should be worried.”

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

CPR Saves Lives! 2,500 People Just Told Us So…

 

2,500 people from over 30 countries, along with representatives from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation and more than 50 cardiac arrest survivors, marched through the streets of downtown San Diego last week to help raise awareness and educate communities on the importance of CPR and AED devices.  The march was the highlight of the week long ECCU 2015 Conference.  Which has been, for over three decades, THE place to go for learning, inspiration and networking with resuscitation professionals, instructors, practitioners and researchers.

The goal for the first-ever ‘CPR Saves Lives March‘ was to,  “shed light on the hundreds of thousands of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims who could survive each year if communities provided more CPR training, better care and a greater number of AEDs,” said Mary Newman, president of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

Tom P. Aufderheide, M.D., president of Citizen CPR Foundation and faculty member of the Medical College of Wisconsin, praised the host city as a, “a shining example of how communities can come together to improve survival rates.”

Citizen CPR Foundation, holds its International ECCU conference every two years.  They are comprised of four primary co-sponsors: the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.  Together, these organizations have been strengthening the chain of survival by educating lay rescuers and experienced medical professionals on the current CPR guidelines since 1987.  One of the most talked about changes in resuscitation guidelines at ECCU 2015, was Compression Only CPR.

According to a report from the Institute of Medicine,  every year, approximately 300,000 men, women and children in the United States die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Almost 80 percent of those occur at home and many are witnessed by a family member.  Less than eight percent of victims survive.

By learning to recognize SCA, calling 9-1-1 and starting CPR, citizens can save those who would otherwise die without immediate help,” said Vinay M. Nadkarni, M.D., president-elect of Citizen CPR Foundation and Endowed Chair of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

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Joining the march was one of the most influential PhD’s in medical research history.  In 1958, Dr.Guy Knickerbocker (pictured at left with his wife and a CPR supporter)  mentioned to two of his research team members, an observation he had while conducting defibrillation experiments. Dr. Knickerbocker had detected a brief, temporary rise in blood pressure when the heavy copper electrodes they were using were applied to the chest wall of a dog whose heart had stopped beating. Dr. Jude, one of his team members, immediately recognized the significance.  It was external cardiac massage – the birth of CPR.  To date, more than 2 million lives have been saved by CPR.

Just DO Something…Anything! helps connect people to unique social organizations around the world.  Here are a few we met this past week:

BuddyCPR:

BuddyCPR was inspired by Rick and Jennifer Chap’s story of survival. Their beloved cat “Buddy” alerted Jennifer that something was terribly wrong—she found Rick in sudden cardiac arrest. Buddy’s alert allowed her to activate 911 and perform CPR on Rick until EMS arrived and used their AED to restore life.  BuddyCPR honors Buddy’s memory and heroic actions that will continue to save more lives. Rick and Jennifer are CPR advocates and AHA certified CPR instructors. Their wish is to pay forward Rick’s gift of life by inspiring others to learn about SCA, CPR & AEDs with the goal of empowering the bystander to take action to save a life.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation:

SCAF_logoV4-smallerThe Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and saving lives. Programs include educational campaigns for secondary schools and colleges and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network, an online community that provides peer support and opportunities for survivors and family members to participate in awareness, advocacy, and research initiatives.

Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update:

eccu-2015ECCU showcases the latest science, concepts, ideas and strategies to improve clinical performance, teaching methodology and community response to sudden cardiac arrest. ECCU is the only conference that brings together all members of the Cardiac Chain of Survival – including physicians, nurses, CPR and ECC educators, EMS providers, ECC advocates and survivors.

CPRCardio Pulmonary Resuscitation

AED – Automatic External Defibrillator 

SCASudden Cardiac Arrest – a medical condition that occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.  As a result, blood is no longer pumping through the body.  The victim suddenly loses consciousness, is not breathing, is non responsive and appears lifeless.  Some victims also experience abnormal gasping and seizure-like activity.    Death occurs within minutes without immediate CPR and use of an AED.  SCA is different from a heart attack.  While the heart attack victim is awake and the heart is beating, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest victim is not awake and the heart is not beating.

JDSA (Just DO Something…Anything!) and Strategic Artifex Research, Inc. was proud to have helped StrataVerve conduct a baseline research study on the awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, CPR, and AED’s.  The results, of which, were presented at the ECCU 2015 Conference.

Follow ECCU 2015 on Facebook and Twitter @citizencprf

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.

 

New Cruise Line To Offer ‘Social Impact’ Vacations

 By: Gene Sloan USA Today – 

Would you take a cruise to help people in need? Industry giant Carnival Corp. is betting on it.

The parent company of Carnival, Princess and Holland America today announced plans for a new cruise brand to debut in 2016 that will offer week-long “social impact” vacations to developing countries such as the Dominican Republic.

To be called fathom, the line will launch with a single ship, the 710-passenger Adonia. The vessel currently sails for Carnival’s UK-base P&O Cruises brand.

“fathom will cater to an under-served market of consumers who want to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and aren’t always sure where to begin,” Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald says in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions in the world.”

Based in Miami, the Adonia initially will sail every other week to the Dominican Republic, where passengers will have a choice of volunteer activities such as teaching English in schools, helping to cultivate cacao plants and building water filtration systems.

Departing Miami on Sundays, the ship will arrive in the Dominican Republic on Tuesdays and passengers will have three days on the ground to participate in volunteer activities before the vessel sets sail back to Miami. The time in transit to the Dominican Republic will feature such activities as an orientation to the country, conversational Spanish lessons, impact activity training and creative workshops.

Carnival Corp. notes the average household income in the Dominican Republic is just $6,000 per year, and more than two million Dominicans do not have access to piped water.

Additional itineraries will be announced at a later date.

As described by Carnival Corp., the cruises will have similarities to the “volunteer vacations” operated by such non-profit groups as GlobeAware as well as the social impact-focused trips operated by church and school groups.

But the executive Carnival has hired to develop and run the brand, Tara Russell, tells USA TODAY what fathom will do is on a scale that never has been seen before. While each passenger on sailings to the Dominican Republic only will spend a few days in the country, the cumulative effect of more than 700 passengers arriving each week — week after week — will have an unprecedented, transformative impact, she says.

In the first year alone, assuming bi-weekly arrivals, fathom will deposit more than 18,000 travelers in the Dominican Republic who will collectively spend more than 55,000 days volunteering.

“Part of what’s different is the size and scale of our offering,” says Russell, a veteran social organization leader who founded the non-profit job training and placement organization Create Common Good. “Rather than partnering with one village, we’re looking at a whole region.”

When visiting the Dominican Republic, Adonia will dock at Amber Cove, a new port in the northern Puerto Plata region of the country that Carnival Corp. is developing for use by several of its brands. It’s scheduled to open later this year. Russell says the volunteer projects in which passengers will take part all will be within about a two-hour drive of the port.

Russell says it’s very important to the company that it effect “holistic, transformative impact” on the region — and on the passengers who sign on for the trips.

“It’s saying, ‘how is it that our travelers can engage in a meaningful way that makes a lasting sustainable impact,” she says.

Russell says fathom chose the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic as its first destination because of its innate beauty, genuine needs, infrastructure to support social initiatives and enthusiasm for the fathom concept. Its proximity to Miami and the availability of the new Amber Cove pier also were factors.

Fathom is partnering with two Dominican Republic organizations that have long-established programs to help locals: Entrena and the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral, Inc.

Carnival Corp. says market research shows there is a sizable and growing segment of travelers who would be interested in a product like fathom — as many as one million North Americans. In addition, the company believes the brand will attract a significant number of travelers who have never before cruised.

The company expects passengers of all ages and from all walks of life, with a large portion in the 20- to 60-year-old range.

To fill its one ship, the line will need to draw about 37,000 people a year.

Unlike many volunteer vacation outfits, fathom will operate as a for-profit enterprise — a fact that Russell says is important to its success. If it can be profitable, it will justify the investment that will result in a lasting impact on the communities it serves, she suggests.

“The key is a sustainable business model … our belief is sort of ‘no margin, no mission.’ What that means is if we aren’t able to build a successful, financially-viable model, then we cannot commit to our Dominican partners that we can be there next year.”

A portion of ticket revenue will go directly to fathom’s partner organizations to cover on-the-ground costs and their overall mission, the company says.

Russell says the Adonia’s return on invested capital is expected to be better operating under the fathom brand than as part of P&O Cruises.

Fares for the seven-night trips to the Dominican Republic will start at $1,540 per person, based on double occupancy and including taxes, port fees, all meals on the ship and three on-shore social impact activities. Additional shore excursions will be extra.

Cabins will be available for booking starting this month at fathom.org or by calling 855-932-8466.

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!

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