Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Need a Last Minute, Heartfelt Gift? Charities to the Rescue!




Help! You forgot someone on your Christmas gift list and it's the week of Christmas and you hate the mall parking situation and there is no time to mail anything and...ahhhhh!

Or maybe you just like giving thoughtful gifts that don't require using Earth's resources to pack and ship objects.

Is this you?

It's okay. Sit down. Have some tea. Or wine. Anti-Poverty Mom has got you covered. Here are some wonderful charities for international giving that will help you out by sending a holiday email notification that you made a donation in honor of your recipient. They are in no particular order because I love them all. You'll show how much you care about your loved ones and the world. Plus, it will make it look like you planned it all along!

Kiva
This is a neat charity gift because it's super interactive and really not a "charity" at all. Kiva leverages the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions to let you lend as little as $25 directly to an individual in poverty to help them start a business. The recipient uses your money to earn more money, then pays you back, so you can loan it out again. 

Kiva electronic gift cards are a great way to introduce your friends and family to microlending, giving them the opportunity to choose borrowers to support. The best part is that when their loans are repaid, they can use those funds again and again to make even more loans on Kiva. It's really a gift that keeps on giving!

By the way, the digital Kiva card can even be scheduled to be sent in the future, so if you're like me and frequently miss birthdays, this might be a good opportunity to get all set for the next year as well! Woo-hoo!


Heifer International 
If you have heard people refer to giving or getting a "goat" for Christmas before, this is probably what folks were talking about. Heifer lets you sponsor livestock (everything from chickens to water buffalo) to be given to people in rural areas living in poverty. Rather than giving a food handout that lasts only a small amount of time, Heifer gives animals and husbandry training to not only help the recipient family in the long run, but hopefully the community around them. 

The core of the model is "passing on the gift." Families share the training they receive and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. It extends the impact of the original gift, allowing a once impoverished family to become donors and full participants in improving their community.

Now, down to the nitty gritty of gift giving. Giving with Heifer is also nice in that you can decide how to send the gift: email, Facebook message, text message, postal mail, or printing a card at home. Maximum flexibility of delivery. Cool!


Samaritan's Purse
You might know Samaritan's Purse from the famous "Operation Christmas Child" project they run where folks are invited to donate a shoebox full of useful items like toys, hygiene items, and school supplies for a child in need. But I learned during the Ebola crisis that they do so much more than that. They are also a skilled and competent organization of first responders in the face of disaster in developing nations. They have responded admirably to the Ebola crisis, the Nepalese Earthquake, human trafficking, and are currently responding to the refugee crisis in Europe. Samaritan's Purse is a Christian organization, so it seems to me that it is a perfect charity to support in celebration of the birth of Christ.

Samaritan's Purse lets you send an email card or download a card for face to face giving. 


Partners in Health
"We go. We make house calls. We build health systems. We stay."

What I love about Partners in Health is summed up in that one statement that ends with "we stay." Partners in Health is a organization of health care providers that truly treats communities as partners. While they do end up as first responders sometimes, as in the case with the 2010 Haitian earthquake, their model is to work with the people they are helping and not leave when an initial crisis has passed. 

Whether to Liberia, Rwanda, or any of the countries they work and live, they go where they’re needed most. They care for patients in their homes and communities. They work in close partnership with local government officials and the world’s leading medical and academic institutions to build capacity and strengthen health systems. And they stay, committed to accompanying the people and communities they serve for the long term.

Partners in Health will send an email to your gift recipient with a link to a lovely image like the one shown that I received from my dear friend and fellow RESULTS leader Richard Smiley.



Have you got a favorite charity that will do electronic cards? Do tell!!!
Share it with us in the comments!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

My Letter to Santa This Year

My kids and I wrote letters to Santa this month. I know that seems like an odd activity for a household raising Jewish kids, but it was part of Macy's "Believe" campaign for the Make a Wish Foundation. For every letter to Santa that Macy's received, they donated a dollar to Make a Wish. They are still accepting letters online through Christmas Eve, so if you would like to participate, please do!

However, it got my older daughter and I thinking and we thought we could share the love even further. We wrote this letter to the editor together today and she is submitting it. Who can say whether it will actually be published, but I wanted to share it with all of you in case you'd like to use the idea with your own newspaper this week!


Dear Santa,  
I know you have a lot of toys and video games, but do you have any vaccines for polio and measles? Because so many kids need them. Only 1 in 5 children in the world get the immunizations they need for preventable diseases. Over 1.6 million kids will die before they are 5 years old from treatable and preventable illnesses. I work on these issues all year, asking Congresswoman Ann Wagner and Senators Blunt and McCaskill to sign onto legislation like the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (H.R. 3706 and S. 1911) and other bills that help babies and kids around the world, but I think they need a little help. You’re kind of an expert on overnight miracles, right? Could you deliver some of those medicines in your sleigh, too? That way we could skip all the hard work of distribution through the "cold chain," trying to keep the vaccines cold while delivering them on trucks and bicycles. Plus, you could give the day off to all the doctors and volunteers who give the vaccines!

No matter what religion you observe, I hope you consider writing your own letter to Santa, either to your newspaper or to Macy's, to help us spread the love for all children throughout the world.

----------------------------
12/22/15  Happy to report that the St Louis Post-Dispatch printed the letter today. So, letters to Santa are now a legitimate tool for generating media!

P.S. Santa also reads my blog or his mail from Macy's! I did get that Dr. Who box set. I assume that children are also getting vaccines from him as well :)


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tax Day is like #Christmas when #WorkingTaxCredits Help the Poor



Today is a big day in Congress for working families in poverty! Congressional leaders in the House of Representatives voted on a major tax package that could prevent 16 million people from falling into or deeper into poverty. U.S. Representatives voted on making permanent the expiring provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). YOU can help by calling your senators to ask them to support it as well!

I'll be honest. When I first heard about the Earned Income Tax Credit, I wasn't too inspired to take action on it even though it was supported by a couple of my favorite anti-poverty advocacy groups, Bread for the World and RESULTS. I didn't rally behind it right away because I didn't know what it really meant to an individual. Even though I believed in the theory, I didn't really understand what a tax credit could mean for a family on the edge until I met Maxine Thomas at a RESULTS regional conference. 

Maxine lives in Indianapolis where she is a volunteer with RESULTS. She's a mother of five who works full time. She's also a member of the RESULTS “Experts on Poverty” program, a group of volunteers who speak with legislators about their firsthand experiences with poverty. She talked to us about what a little extra money at tax time means to her children. I heard her story verbally, but this is an excerpt from her comments from an article in The Hill

"Just as I excitedly await the holiday season, there is another time of year that I look forward to: tax time. Tax season has become like another celebration for my family because of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).
I work full time, but I still find myself in the rut of not being able to afford the costs of everyday life. As the saying goes, I have to rob Peter to pay Paul. It is my reality. How do I decide which bill to prioritize when they are all important? A roof over our heads, electricity, heat, and water — these are all essential. 
Throughout the year, I’ve learned to make payment arrangements to prevent my utilities from being disconnected. I've learned how to stretch a dollar bill by counting out 100 pennies so that I never forget the importance of every single cent. It’s not easy, but the EITC and CTC provide us with the crucial support we need to get by. Every penny counts.

Every year at tax time, my husband and I can catch up on paying bills and feel free from those worries when we take our kids to the mall and let them choose a new pair of shoes. I’m able to breathe a deep sigh of relief knowing that I can finally replace worn-out clothing and make sure they have what they need. There is nothing quite like watching the joy on my kids’ faces as they run and play in a new pair of shoes they were able to pick out themselves. It’s a wonderful feeling for all of us."
My daughter's birthday boots
I thought about my own daughter who asked for a pair of boots for her birthday. I waffled, thinking that she wanted some pair of fashion boots she might have seen on a friend at school, but she led me to the shoe department at Target and showed me a pair of very practical brown boots. The desires of Maxine's kids are not any different than my girl's. Our kids are not fancy or spoiled. They just want shoes that fit and that they can pick out all by themselves. A simple pair of shoes gives kids a sense of self-worth and pride. For moms like Maxine, the tax credits are the thing that makes it possible to provide this basic thing for children.

The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. The EITC is designed to "make work pay" by supplementing low-wage work with additional income. The intention is to move a family with a full-time low-income working above the poverty line. The goal is to benefit both the worker and any children and dependents that may rely on their limited income. For critics who complain about "poor people" being lazy, this anti-poverty tool is perfect because it rewards people who work! According to 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit lifted 9.8 million Americans out of poverty. 

These tax credits help so many people make ends meet, but important improvements are due to expire in 2017. If Congress does nothing, 50 million people will lose part or all of their tax credits. About 16 million people, including 8 million children, will fall into poverty or deeper into poverty. If Congress does not act to make these provisions permanent, it will have an impact on families like Maxine's.

Don't let your senators give up this chance to make current EITC and CTC benefits permanent. Key negotiations are taking place today and ALL members of Congress, regardless of their party, need to hear this message! Take a moment to reach out to your senators using this link from Bread for the World. Urge Congress to make the expiring EITC and CTC provisions permanent before leaving for Christmas so that kids in poverty might have their "Christmas" at tax time.

--------------------------------
P.S. I am happy to add to this post to report that the EITC and CTC tax credits were indeed made permanent on December 18, 2015. Congrats to all the volunteer advocates and staff at RESULTS and Bread for the World who worked so hard on this in the last years!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Anti-Poverty Mom's 2015 Gift Picks

Another season of giving, another search to cross items off the gift list for loved ones and people we don't know so well...
Is it possible to turn shopping into an opportunity to do good and help others instead of just checking off a chore list?
Of course! For 2015, here are my suggestions of three companies with great gifts that also help people in need. Family and friends can take note that I currently own none of the the items listed here...hint, hint... :)

1) Noonday Accessories
I had the good fortune to meet Julia Jenkins, a Noonday representative, at dinner when she was wearing some absolutely stunning jewelry. I was even more stunned by the stories behind the pieces. All of the Noonday Collection is made from artisans - mostly women - in developing nations who need a chance at empowerment. A partnership with his company offers them work with dignity and create beautiful things! I'm particularly fond of the Emebet Necklace for $42, which is made by a group of HIV+ women in Ethiopia. Julia told me that when these women lost hope struggling with the disease and the stigma of it, they left their families to travel up a particular mountain where the sick have traditionally gone to die. But instead, they found both free, life-saving anti-retroviral drugs and an opportunity to make a living by crafting with dignity. The metal comes from spent artillery shells that they retrieve and mold. I also love the delicate Calypso earrings for $30 which are made from ethically harvested water buffalo horn in Ethiopia. There are many beautiful bags, scarves, and jewelry pieces which support the artisans, plus 10% of every sale helps support adoptive families as well.
Calypso Earrings
Emebet Necklace


2) Cyberoptix
Folks that know me are aware that I've got a strong geeky side to me. I love t-shirts with maps of stars, retro library references, and other tech things. I also love pretty things, too! Cyberoptix understand this and have used geeky inspiration to create lovely fashions that everyone can enjoy! All styles can be ordered as ties or pashminas. Ties are $30 and pashmina scarves are $44.

The folks at Cyberoptix also give back plenty to their community of Detroit where they create their fashions. They work with several local charities that benefit youth employment, schools, and transitional work programs.
Radiation Warning Pashmina

Dinosaur Bones Tie
Constellation Tie

Library Stamp Card Pashmina












3) LifeStraw
This is a great gift for the camper, hiker, germaphobe, or survivalist on your list! LifeStraw is a pocket-sized, personal water filter capable of filtering 1,000 liters of water, which is enough water for a person for an entire year. It uses a hollow fiber technology for filtration that uses no chlorine nor iodine. It traps 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria - including E. coli - and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites. PLUS, for each one sold. a year's wroth of clean drinking water is provided to those in need.

A standard LifeStraw is $19.99, but you can get one with a water bottle attached for $34.95  or one made of steel for $54.95.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Gift of RESULTS

We are on the threshold of a season of giving. Thanksgiving is coming up quickly followed by #GivingTuesday, Chanukah, Christmas, and a general time when folks figure out how to allocate end of year giving to charities. Many of us are making choices about what organizations we'll support and for how much. So at this time, I'd like to share a bit about myself and why RESULTS is at the top of my annual donation list of poverty-fighting organizations in the hopes that you might like to join in and donate to my RESULTS Virtual Thanksgiving Feast online donation page.

My story
I started my poverty-fighting in a soup kitchen. I loved to help people in that way, but there came a time in my early days of motherhood when a hands-on, direct service soup kitchen was not the right way for me to volunteer anymore. I was a new stay-at-home mother having quit my job as an engineer. In brutally cold Chicago winters, I stayed inside a lot and listened to news about all the problems of the world and thought about all the mothers who couldn’t feed or vaccinate their babies the way I could. But I felt very disconnected and utterly powerless to change any of it.

When I started advocating with RESULTS, all of that feeling of futility was turned completely around. 

RESULTS is a movement of passionate, committed everyday people. Together, we use our voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. Volunteers receive training, support, and inspiration to become skilled advocates. In time, we learn to effectively advise policy makers, guiding them towards decisions that improve access to education, health, and economic opportunity. Together we realize the incredible power we possess to use our voices to change the world.

This smart, effective organization taught me about the main causes of poverty (malnutrition, lack of education, etc.) and real strategies to end poverty in our country and around the world. More importantly, they showed me how to raise my voice and ask for those solutions on behalf of those in poverty who can't ask for themselves. I learned to write letters to the editor that actually got published from my local paper to The New York Times. I learned to sit down face-to-face with my Congresswoman. I learned how to speak up at town hall meetings. I learned how to inspire others to write letters to Congress.

Advocating with RESULTS made me feel relevant, professional, powerful, and - above all - hopeful. So, I give to RESULTS not only because of the far-reaching impact I'm able to give to other mothers and children around the world. I give to RESULTS because of the incredible effect it has right in my home when I can be the person I want to be, when I can create the change I want to see in the world, and when I can invite my own daughters to do this work with me and model the kind of strength I hope each of my children will find within themselves.


My vision

I envision that day when no more children are dying from treatable and preventable diseases. I look towards the day when we can move from fighting to keep babies alive and move onto other things like furthering education worldwide. And not just fighting for basic primary education for all, but high-quality education and maybe even universal secondary education. It sounds kind of crazy dream now, but I think RESULTS has always been full of dreamers who know how to make our visions into reality. 
I invite you now to dream with us.
Please make a donation of any amount online by clicking on my Virtual Thanksgiving Feast to benefit RESULTS at http://tinyurl.com/CindyLevin 

You'll give the gift of survival and education to children and moms around the world! 

You'll give the gift of security to Americans struggling to make ends meet! 

You'll give the gift of empowerment to hundreds of everyday people turned advocates like me! 

What more can a single donation do? I'm grateful for all the support you can give toward my goal of raising $800 this November. Thank you.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Does Your Leadership (Parenting) Match Your Followers (Children)?

Last week, my family had an interaction that caused us to reflect a bit on leadership. My sixth grade daughter had to pack for an overnight retreat. This was the first time she had been on a trip of this kind and she was very excited! She had a list of things she needed and was eager to put it all together the night before the trip. Meanwhile, her sister was having a difficulty studying for a test. No problem! We've got two parents. I took on the science test study and I asked my husband to help with the packing.

This is an example of how not to pack a suitcase.
I came back to the packing party a few hours later and was surprised to see that my visiting sister had actually taken a bigger role in the packing task. My husband - not knowing there were potentially confusing choices or tricky words on the list - had delegated the packing to the 11 year old by saying, "You get started and come get me if you have problems." Nothing wrong with that at all! Except that she was such a beginner in packing that she had questions like, "What are toiletries?" This led to my sister stepping in to provide definitions and suggestions about how to choose items that would fit well in a bag and how to efficiently pack them in there.
Actually, Sarah Miller is a good RESULTS leader
and knows exactly what she's doing. She's just
posing a question to a group in this pic.

Later, we mused over the incident and how it reminded us of leadership modeling. The sixth grader was just too much of a packing novice to succeed with only a delegation. Even though she's an extremely mature kid, she doesn't have the experience needed for this particular "task maturity." Pure delegation wasn't working for her yet on that job. Just like it doesn't work with many activists I have led who don't have much experience advocating. So, what theory can help us see what people need so that we don't leave them wondering what in the world to do?

The situational leadership model is a theory developed by Paul Hersey, professor and author of the book "The Situational Leader," and Ken Blanchard, leadership trainer and author of "The One Minute Manager." I'm certainly no expert in it, but some the basics of it ring true to me.

As I understand situational leadership theory, there isn't really a "best" style of leadership. Effective leadership is specific to the task at hand and the person doing the task. Flexible leaders adapt their leadership style to the maturity and skill of the one(s) who are being led. Here are examples of different follower types you might be leading as a parent or a community organizer.

  • Enthusiastic BeginnerFollower is an enthusiastic beginner and with low competence but very high commitment to the task. This was my overnighting 6th grader. Or, think of the volunteer who wants to help advocate, but doesn't know how to write a letter to Congress...this volunteer might be 10 yrs old or 50 yrs old. Needs a Directing leader.
  • Disillusioned LearnerFollower is a disillusioned learner with limited competence and low commitment to the task. I think of the pre-schooler who doesn't know how to clean his room well and really doesn't want you to show them how. In activism terms, this person probably won't show up to meetings much, but when they do, they need a Coaching leader to answer questions about how to do something and why it matters.
  • Capable but Cautious Contributor; Follower is capable of performing task but is bit cautious with varying degree of commitment toward task. Kind of like an elementary school kid who knows how to rake leaves, but isn't sure what the benefit will be. Or the volunteer who knows how to make a phone call to Congress or write a letter, but isn't sure it will make a difference in the world. Needs a Supporting leader to help followers come to decisions on their own.
  • Self-Reliant Achiever; Follower is a self-reliant achiever with high competence and high commitment to the task. This is the kid taking the lead on her own science project. Or the volunteer organizing an event for a group. Needs a Delegating leader to sit back and let the person own the task and feel good about owning it.
So, what are these different kinds of leadership styles? What characteristics make up these different kinds of leaders?

  • Directing leader; "Telling" leader defines the roles/tasks and supervises closely; leader makes the decision; the communication is mostly going to be one-way 
  • Coaching leader; "Selling" leader involves follower in action planning, promotes independent thinking; seeks suggestions; leader still makes final decision; more two way communication
  • Supporting leader;  "Participating" leader listens, encourages to take lead, facilitates, participate in decision making but follower makes the decision
  • Delegating leader; "Delegating" leader allows goal setting, planning, decision making; rewards follower for good performance; leader’s involvement is dependent of follower
Do you have different kinds of people in your advocacy group who need different kinds of leadership for different types of tasks? If so, can you adapt your leadership style to give each follower what they need? Or, so you need a co-leader who can take over for specific tasks or supervise certain people in your group?


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The #GlobalGoals Are Adding to my To-Do List

I'm a big fan of to-do lists. Around my house, my kids often hear me say, "If it's not on the list, it doesn't get done." I'm not often fond of people adding new items to my existing list, but this week saw an exceptional exception to that rule as the UN adopted the Global Goals for Sustainable Development!

You see, for the entire time that I've been an anti-poverty activist, the world has been working on reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) by 2015. The MDG's were 8 goals that were meant to bring us 1/2 way to the end of extreme poverty by the year 2015. We made remarkable progress. 

We cut the number of people living on less than $1 a day in half. Maternal mortality fell by 45%. Today, 17,000 fewer children die every day now than in 1990. Enrollment in primary education in developing regions has reached 90%. Since 1990, 2.3 billion people gained access to drinking water!

That's all great news, but we didn't reach all the MDG's and we have so much more work to do. 
1 in 9 people still go to sleep hungry, 6 million children die before their fifth birthday every year, and 2.5 billion people don't even have access to basic toilets. We can do better than that. 
So, as we say goodbye to that list, I celebrate that we have a new, bolder set of 17 Global Goals. Check them out in the graphic below!
In addition to the goals directly related to poverty, we now have aspirations to help us address the health of our planet and justice for all. The 17 goals will help us achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years:
1. End Extreme Poverty
2. Fight Inequality and Injustice
3. Fix Climate Change

You can probably guess that as the "Anti-Poverty Mom," I'm pretty psyched about that "End Extreme Poverty" part. But, I'm really excited about the whole thing because they are so interrelated. Inequality and injustice are major causes of the cycle of poverty that keeps families impoverished for generations. Also - seeing as how we only have one planet - lifting people out of poverty can't have any lasting effects if we are destroying the Earth.


If EVERY family in the world teaches their children about these goals, we will help our kids become the generation that changed the world! 

What do you, as a parent, need to tell your kids about the Global Goals? First, sit down and educate yourselves by watching this 6 minute video called "The World's Largest Lesson." It will help your kids understand that it's our moral obligation as global citizens taking up space on this Earth to pitch in and help.




If you are a parent, check out this resource for parents. If you are a teacher, here is a resource for teachers complete with ready made lesson plans.

Next, put the Global Goals your personal to-do list as well! Pick one...or two...or three goals and take on what you want to change in the world. It's hard for me to choose favorite children or favorite goals, but the goals I feel the most called to work on are:

#1 End Poverty
#2 End Hunger
#3 Good Health and Well Being
#4 Quality Education 
and 
#14 Life Below Water 

I pledge myself to work on these 5 and I am so thankful that other people are coming on board who will be moved to work on the others, too! There are more than enough of us to save our planet and all the people in it if we all pitch in and work together. 

What is(are) your favorite Global Goal(s)? Come on and #TellEveryone ! You can start by leaving yours in the comments below...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sometimes You Have to Break a Few Eggs


Hey, look what happened to me this morning as I was in a hurry to make the kids some breakfast! Splat. Broken egg. Wasted food. Wasted time cleaning it up. Clumsy mommy. Luckily, I still had a few more eggs in the carton and as I stood there watching them cook, I thought of this old saying...
"If you want to make an omelette, you're going to have to break a few eggs."
In addition to being literally true, it's a good reminder for activist moms like me who are juggling other roles like "mommy" and "wife." 


A work in progress
I've noticed that on days that I'm the best homemaker, I'm not the best advocate. When I'm on a roll being Best Mom, chances are high that I'm not simultaneously winning the award for Most Empathic Wife. Whenever I'm really killing it with my advocacy work (having a number of face to face meetings in a month or taking a trip to DC), that's usually when my husband and I have the most disagreements about household cleanliness. When I'm totally on top of everything and getting compliments from my husband on how organized I am...those are the times when I've not written a single word on my book-in-progress for weeks. It's great, of course, to feel appreciated for being an attentive mother and homemaker, but those aren't the only things I want to be. What a bummer to realize the only time I excel at homemaking is when I'm blatantly hiding and procrastinating on working on the biggest, hardest project in my life (i.e. the book-in-progress).

This used to depress me...until I started paying attention to what was happening to other moms around me and realized I wasn't alone. I started hearing more and more stories like mine, especially from mothers who were still navigating careers along with motherhood. Many of them aren't advocates, but a lot of us are thinking the same thing anyway about our multiple-identity lives.


Meredith Boggess shared some of her thoughts with me about making the transition to motherhood. "The hardest adjustment for me to make was to not try to be the best at everything. It just isn't possible," she observed. Meredith is a successful Director of Marketing at Buckingham Family of Financial Services, a wealth advisory firm based in the St Louis area. She continued,
"Being the best employee, the best wife, the best mom, the best friend...it's all too much to keep up with all the time. To try to do all of that stresses out the kids and the spouse as well as the mom." 
When we talked, it really hit me that I could get much farther by dropping the word "best" out of these inner-voice conversations. Of course, I'm not the first person to figure this out and that's why you can go out and read a book called "Good Enough Parenting" or a blog called "GoodEnoughMother.com


These may not be examples of the calmest 
ducks, but they're cute!
For the record, every time I see Meredith, she's always a calm and very well put together lady. Which makes me think of another quote that comes up on the internet a lot (cited as a quote from many different sources, including actor Michael Caine): 
"Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like the dickens underneath!" 
Voila! A delicious masterpiece!


I don't think there's ever any mom that ever has everything totally under control. But I do think the thing that keeps me moving forward is to keep my eye on the goal. Some balls may be dropped. Some eggs may be broken both literally and figuratively. But for the most part, my family is able to bounce back from my missteps as long as everyone is communicating and trying to be as kind to each other as we can be...and together we are saving lives and ending poverty. A beautiful omelette, indeed!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Power of One Small Action


Do you ever feel so overwhelmed you don't even know where to start? Sometimes I feel like I'm being crushed under a meaningless mountain made of laundry to fold, dishes to wash, forms to sign, deadlines to meet, schedules to keep, and errands to run.


After my last child gets on the bus and I return to the house, if the day’s agenda feels too big or too tedious, it’s as if I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like going back to bed. 

If this sounds familiar, I have a suggestion for you. When I feel this way, I need to start with something very simple and very meaningful to make me get moving on the rest of the day. So, let me offer you a way forward. Together, let's take a very simple action to save the lives of moms and kids everywhere before we plunge into mundane items on our to-do lists. Let's call a senator. Then, if the rest of the day goes ka-blooey, at least you can say you did one thing that was worthwhile. 

I promise that this is going to feel good. There is incredible power in starting your to-do list by doing one small, but highly significant and life-saving thing. It will give you the sense you can make a difference amidst a life of chaos that reinforces that we do not, in fact, matter.

Let’s take just one minute to call our senators and ask them to sign the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (S. 1911). The point of this common sense bill is to keep up the momentum of the great progress we made in the last decade when our country started changing the way we provided life-saving help for vulnerable moms and babies around the world. Improved breastfeeding, nutrition, vaccines, midwife training, and other cost-effective programs supported by the U.S. have saved the lives of millions. 

In fact, with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its global partners, the number of children under the age of 5 dying annually has fallen at an astonishing rate, from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013. Yet still, UNICEF reported this week that 5.9 million children lose their lives each year before their 5th birthday from treatable and preventable diseases. We need to keep up the progress. And we can. 
By passing the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, we can save 15 million children’s lives and 600,000 mother’s lives by 2020. 

All YOU have to do is call the Congress switchboard at 1-800-826-3688 and ask for your senator’s office. (Look them up if you don’t know who your two U.S. senators are and then just pick one of them to start with) When your senator’s staffer picks up the line, say: “I’m a constituent and I’m asking the senator to sign on as a cosponsor for the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. The bill number is S. 1911.” That's all!

They won't ask you any questions about it, but if you want to know more, click on this action link from RESULTS to learn more.

One moment please while I go make the call myself….
Insert your favorite "hold music" here...  

Nummy...but you don't need it
because this phone call is going
to make you feel awesome.
Okay…I’m back. I just did it and I timed it from the moment I started dialing the number to the moment I hung up. It took me 53 seconds. Now, it’s your turn! I know it’s one more thing in your busy day to do, but I’m willing to bet you a Lindor chocolate truffle that it will make you feel better. And if it doesn't, the truffle might. Go ahead...I'll wait....

How did it go? Got another minute? Feeling good? If yes, try calling your OTHER senator to feel twice the satisfaction. Or, if you really have to go, save that little tidbit to start your day off right tomorrow.