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.

 

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

Nonprofit Crowdfunds Homes For People In Need, Gives Donors Updates On Families They’ve Helped

From: Huffington Post

For donors who want to know exactly how their money’s being spent, there’s a new transparent nonprofit that allows its supporters to rest easy.

New Story, an Atlanta-based group, identifies families in need, shares their struggles via moving video stories and then solicits donations from supporters. But what distinguishes this initiative from other similar-sounding ones is that every dollar goes right to the profiled family and donors are kept abreast of the developments every step of the way.

“For donors, it’s cool to say ‘Hey, I went on and gave $50, and in about two months I’m getting an email with a video of the family I funded in their new home,’” Brett Hagler, one of New Story’s founders, told Fast Company.

new story

In a matter of seven months, New Story raised more than $200,000 and funded 34 new homes in Leveque, Haiti, according to a press release. It partners with reputable local organizations to build the homes, offering the added benefit of employing Haiti’s residents.

The group has set an even more ambitious goal of erecting 100 homes in Haiti over the course of the summer. And then, the plan is to go global.

One such recipient includes Maria-Rose, a widow and mother of four who was displaced after the 2010 earthquake, according to New Story. For four years she resided in a tent and still took in children with nowhere to go.

In March, the grateful mom moved into her new home and said she now looks forward to starting a business and growing a garden in her backyard.

New Story is able to give 100 percent of its crowdfunding donations because it uses its more substantial private contributions to cover its administrative costs, according to Fast Company.

The group got support early on from Y Combinator, a group that invests $120,000 twice a year in a number of startups. The groups move to Silicon Valley for three months to get training and help in pitching investors.

New Story hit the scene at a time when the need is still great in Haiti, but donors are wary of nonprofits working in the impoverished country.

As of January, more than 85,000 people were still homeless as a result of the earthquake, according to Amnesty International.

But a groundbreaking investigative report recently revealed that even charities as well known as the American Red Cross can’t necessarily be trusted to deliver on their promises.

According to the ProPublica report, the Red Cross raised nearly half a billion dollars after the earthquake. Since then, it’s only erected a total of six homes.

The three founders, two of whom come from tech backgrounds, plan to sidestep such corruption by running their group the same way they would run a startup.

“This is an alternative to many charities in this space that are slow to innovate and where donors don’t know where their money is going, and what it is (or isn’t) accomplishing,” the founders said in a press release.

New Documentary Takes On Dangers Of Clothing Economy

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FROM CNN: The True Cost, a new documentary, chronicles the evils of the clothing industry and asks us to stop buying so much cheap stuff.

We buy too many clothes, and we pay too little for them.

That’s the message of “The True Cost,” a new documentary on the perils of the fashion industry, which is being released next week.

The film is a sweeping, heartbreaking and damning survey of the clothing economy. It covers malformed children of pesticide sprayers in India’s cotton belt, gruesome shots of the deadly 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, Indian rivers frothing with chemicals, and mountains of discarded clothing in Haiti.  “I believe these clothes are produced by our blood,” Shima Akhter, a Bangladeshi factory worker, says in the film. “I want the [factory owners] to be aware and look out for us, so that no more mothers lose their kids like that.”
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                Textile waste in a Dhaka, Bangladesh landfill.

The film interviews a factory owner in Bangladesh, who says the constant pressure to produce cheaply is partly responsible for the unsafe conditions.

“Is it really ethical to buy a T-shirt for $5, or a pair of jeans for $20?” asks Livia Firth, creative director at the sustainable businesses consultancy Eco-Age.

Related: Out of a tragedy, socially responsible fashion 

The movie is filled with disturbing facts. Here’s a few:

— 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years, partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds.

— There are 80 billion pieces of clothing purchased worldwide each year, up 400% from two decades ago.

— Americans throw out 82 pounds of textiles annually.

— Only 10% of the clothes people donate to thrift stores get sold — the rest end up in landfills or flood markets in developing countries.

“I came into this completely blind,” Director Andrew Morgan said at a press screening Friday. “I never thought twice about a piece of clothing I wore.”

Morgan said a photo of children — who were close in age to his own kids — hunting for loved ones near the Rana Plaza rubble is what spurred him to make the film.

He said systematic changes are needed in this and other industries, chief among them counting the costs of pollution or unsafe working conditions that are not currently factored into the price of goods.

But for now, he urges consumers to opt off the treadmill of purchasing more and more cheap clothing — what’s being referred to as “fast fashion” — and buy fewer, better-made items.

“Let’s back off this endless, constant purchasing and invest in clothes we love,” he said.

A Movie Theater With a Mission: Employing the Disabled

The Prospector Theater in Ridgefield, Connecticut is a state-of-the-art first-run movie theater.  But it doesn’t just show movies.  This 501 (c)3 nonprofit has a far deeper purpose:  providing adults who have disabilities the opportunity for meaningful employment and vocational training.

To learn more about the theatre, click the link below:

http://www.prospectortheater.org/about/

And just imagine…what a difference something like this could make in your neighborhood.

THE PROSPECTOR THEATER 
Ashley Shriver and Grace Kolf making gourmet popcorn at The Prospector Theater.

Making Wealth Worth More for Social Impact

 – Huffington Post 

Silicon Valley is full of successful entrepreneurs who have figured out how to combine vision with capital to solve difficult problems. That proven approach is what built so many companies, from the first personal computers to the latest social networking apps.

Over time, we are seeing many of these same entrepreneurs use the wealth they have acquired in business to make a social impact. Some are creating family foundations aimed at supporting nonprofit organizations; others are choosing to engage in “impact investing” in support of for-profit social entrepreneurs.

Very few of them, however, structure their social impact support to do both, missing a chance to apply the very problem-solving approach that built the wealth they now seek to share.

Today, both nonprofits and startups are changing lives for the better using the very technology many of these entrepreneurs have created. Those two paths to change are neither competitive nor mutually exclusive. Indeed, what really matters is which path is most likely to succeed and for many of the world’s most pressing problems, we need both.

This “problem first, tool second” insight is what led eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to transform his family foundation into Omidyar Network a decade ago. Omidyar Network now supports social entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas through impact investing and grants. In the 10 years since making the change, it’s also become clear that the “flexible capital” approach allows for a more ambitious agenda for change because it allows for the market-based solutions that are needed to address long intractable challenges at scale.

Financial inclusion is a good example. Since 2004, Omidyar Network has invested more than $100 million in microfinance and other efforts across 15 NGOs and 13 for-profits. For-profit funds make equity investments in startups that offer quality affordable financial services products to low-income consumers. Grants support organizations that create infrastructure and address policy changes needed to help the sector scale. This flexible approach has resulted in more goods and services reaching more beneficiaries more quickly.

The same flexible approach is more likely to succeed when it comes to other significant global concerns, ranging from climate change and education to poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine creating lasting, scalable change through nonprofits alone. Market-based solutions shouldn’t be off the table simply because they are for-profit.

Making a lasting positive change in people’s lives often comes down to making small, practical changes in their day-to-day routine. Think about how clean cook stoves reduced deforestation and resulting carbon emissions from burning wood while making women’s lives easier and safer. Or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s pursuit of a low-water toilet that will conserve water and improve sanitation in emerging markets. Both of these are clear proof that commercial products can be effective tools of change. A market-inclusive approach can also bring in more capital.

My advice to the new generation of philanthropists is to cling fast to the lessons of your business success and apply them to your philanthropy. Examine the best way to solve the problem you are passionate about and then create an organizational structure to execute on the vision.

This is how they can do more than share the wealth. It’s how to make wealth worth more to society.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: The Police Aren’t Under Attack. Institutionalized Racism Is

According to Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.” For me, today, that means a time to seek justice and a time to mourn the dead.

And a time to shut the hell up.

The recent brutal murder of two Brooklyn police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, is a national tragedy that should inspire nationwide mourning. Both my grandfather and father were police officers, so I appreciate what a difficult and dangerous profession law enforcement is. We need to value and celebrate the many officers dedicated to protecting the public and nourishing our justice system. It’s a job most of us don’t have the courage to do.

At the same time, however, we need to understand that their deaths are in no way related to the massive protests against systemic abuses of the justice system as symbolized by the recent deaths—also national tragedies—of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Michael Brown. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the suicidal killer, wasn’t an impassioned activist expressing political frustration, he was a troubled man who had shot his girlfriend earlier that same day. He even Instagrammed warnings of his violent intentions. None of this is the behavior of a sane man or rational activist. The protests are no more to blame for his actions than The Catcher in the Rye was for the murder of John Lennon or the movie Taxi Driver for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Crazy has its own twisted logic and it is in no way related to the rational cause-and-effect world the rest of us attempt to create.

Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors. This is the same strategy used when trying to lump in the violence and looting with the legitimate protestors, who have disavowed that behavior. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.

Some police unions are especially heinous perpetrators. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s previous public support of protestors has created friction with these unions. The Patrolman’s Benevolent Association responded with a petition asking that the mayor not attend the funerals of officers killed in the line of duty. Following the murders of Ramos and Liu, an account appearing to represent the Sergeants Benevolent Association tweeted: “The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio.” Former New York governor George Pataki tweeted: “Sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder and #mayordeblasio. #NYPD.”

This phony and logically baffling indignation is similar to that expressed by the St. Louis County Police Association when it demanded an apology from the NFL when several Rams players entered the field with their hands held high in the iconic Michael Brown gesture of surrender. Or when LeBron James and W.R. Allen wore his “I Can’t Breathe” shirts echoing Eric Garner’s final plea before dying. Such outrage by police unions and politicians implies that there is no problem, which is the erroneous perception that the protestors are trying to change.

This shrill cry of “policism” (a form of reverse racism) by Pataki and the police unions is a hollow and false whine born of financial self-interest (unions) or party politics (Republican Pataki besmirching Democrat de Blasio) rather than social justice. These tragic murders now become a bargaining chip in whatever contract negotiations or political aspirations they have.

What prompted a mentally unstable man to shoot two officers? Protestors? The mayor? Or the unjust killings of unarmed black men? Probably none of them. He was a ticking bomb that anything might have set off. What’s most likely to prevent future incidents like this? Stopping the protests which had sparked real and positive changes through a national dialogue? Changes that can only increase faith in and respect for the police? No, because the killer was mentally unfit. Most likely protecting the police from future incidents will come from better mental health care to identify, treat, and monitor violent persons. Where are those impassioned tweets demanding that?

In a Dec. 21, 2014 article about the shooting, the Los Angeles Times referred to the New York City protests as “anti-police marches,” which is grossly inaccurate and illustrates the problem of perception the protestors are battling. The marches are meant to raise awareness of double standards, lack of adequate police candidate screening, and insufficient training that have resulted in unnecessary killings. Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.” This is the season and time when we should be resolved to continue seeking justice together and not let those with blind biases distract, diminish, or divide us. The way to honor those who defend our liberties with their lives—as did my father and grandfather—is not to curtail liberty, but to exercise it fully in pursuit of a just and peaceful society.

Ugliness of human trafficking is coming out of the shadows

Human trafficking was, until recently, the biggest nonconversation we had. Hushed-toned talk, relegated to dark corners and dingy alleyways, helped this human-rights crisis flourish below the radar. But dialogue about the fastest-growing crime on the planet, with more people enslaved now than any time in human history, is finally beginning to resonate.

So why the long silence?

Human trafficking is uncomfortable and uncomprehended. “Stranger danger” is a devil we know. A phrase we understand. We talk to our kids about kidnapping and date rape, thinking of the villain as singular — a lone anomaly that strikes — an incident to be avoided. Not the beginning of a nightmare to a life of bondage.

But if we realized our kids were being exported, while others were being imported, we would have cried foul sooner and much louder. It’s a difficult concept to wrap our heads around. How do you explain to the concerned volunteer who canvasses neighborhoods, lakes and wooded areas for a missing person to consider searching shipping containers instead?

Domestic abuse and homelessness are easier stories for the media to tell. Human trafficking? Not so simple.

It’s modern-day slavery manifested into forced labor, with prostitution, immigration, child abuse, smuggling, drugs, money laundering and organized crime all thrown together. A local reporter recently told me, “It’s a complicated, time-consuming topic. It would take an entire newscast just to explain what it is.”

Think it doesn’t happen here? Think again. All 50 states have reported incidents, and Florida is one of the top three destination points for trafficking worldwide. More than 20 million people are trafficked across the world with almost a quarter of them enslaved for sex.

It’s a $30 billion a year corruption that touches every one of us whether we know it or not. Get your nails done and it may be from a technician who’s not there by choice. The bracelet you just bought may have been made using a 10-year-old boy with little to no hope for tomorrow. Recently, a 14-year-old girl from Cocoa Beach was discovered, drugged and held captive by a man advertising her online as an escort.

We live in a celebrity-obsessed society that dominates what’s relevant. If there’s not a pretty face telling us we should worry, then there must not be anything to worry about.

Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and George Clooney are all well-known advocates for familiar social causes. But human trafficking is so buried most aren’t aware of the celebrities who help give it a voice: Mira Sorvino and Jada Pinkett Smith.

We know more about abused animals, thanks to Sara McLaughlin’s commercials, than we do about Ricky Martin’s testimony on human trafficking in front of Congress. And while it’s helpful for big names to bring insight to big problems we may not otherwise notice, it’s troubling so many wait for their favorite famous face to tell them where to focus.

It’s good news this discussion is becoming broader. Nonetheless, I’m concerned about our notorious short-mindedness. Our intolerance is often too temporary. Outraged one minute, apathetic the next. We jump on bandwagons because it’s cool to be part of a trendy subject.

But this is not merely a hot topic. It’s human beings entangled in daily horror.

Consider this well-known quotation: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” So what can you do? Talk about it. Your voice, added to others, helps bring human trafficking out of the shadows and into the light.

Welcome to the conversation. It will save lives. It will give voice to the voiceless and our collective persistence will bring freedom — one life at a time.

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