It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: youth

Week 50-The Golden Week, Day 1-Golden Ticket

I’ve got a golden ticket!  I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye!  That’s right ladies and gentlemen this is the 50th week of this labor of love.  Can you believe it?  I know, I hardly can.  When I typed in the title today it was like the words jumped right off the screen and slapped me in the face.  For the past year, minus a few weeks, I have thought about what I was going to blog about every single day.  My dedicated readers will know that while I have slipped a few days here and there, but I always make up for it the next day.  I have a mixed bag of emotions as this journey is coming to an end, but this week is all about celebrating this amazing week!  Did I mention it’s also my birthday week?  So dust off those party hats and get ready to have a ball!

50's heart is made of pure gold

There is on way I can kick off this week of celebrating the big 5-0 without talking about my boy Fifty-Cent.  Which is pronounced Fidddy Cent btw.  Government name, Curtis Jackson, 50 created the G-Unity Foundation with some of his fellow rappers like Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo.  GUF is focused on providing grants to non-profits that focus on improving the lives of those in low-income or underserved communities across the nation.  GUF puts a special emphasis on supporting academic institutions and the ever important after-school activities that keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.  GUF also knows how important it is to approach youth from a holistic approach.  They make sure they are have the help their need for their physical, mental, and emotional needs.  Rappers are role models for lots of young people, and the GUF provides a fresh of breath air for concerned parents.  G-g-g-g-give back!  That was supposed to sound like the G-unit stutter.  You decide how successful I was.  Even though 50 is his name and not his age, the 50+ crowd deserves some love too.  This is where FiftyForward comes in.  FF provides pathways to health, well-being, and life-long learning for the golden crowd.  Founded 55 years ago, FF has grown from a small services-distribution center near Nashville to a multi-faceted organization that reaches more than 20,000 adults and their families every year.  FF provides group and individual activities and services, like traveling the world, to help those over 50 feel as young as they think they are.  Age is only a number right?  That’s what I keep telling myself with the birthday quickly approaching in the next few days.  Don’t’ forget to donate to my charity: water birthday fund!

G-Unity Foundation Donation

FiftyForward Donation

So here’s to you golden ticket!  I have been patiently waiting for you over this past year’s journey, and you’re finally here.  Even though Mr. Wonka is not here to greet me, the excitement is almost overwhelming.  I have loved every single minute of typing posts and researching charities.  I know those gates that you are going to open for me are going to take us all to magical places full of chocolate waterfalls and fizzy lifting drinks.

We're going places with this bad boy!

Week 49-Knowvember, Day 7-Check out the brain on Brad!

So as you all know at this point, I spend the majority of my day on Tuesdays sculpting the minds of pretty great young people.  I have approached teaching as a break from my million other responsibilities and it has really helped me be extremely thankful for this experience.  I knew before this semester that I liked to teach, but seeing the look on a student’s face when they finally get a difficult concept makes me smile every time.  I love being the person who opens up this whole new scientific world for them.  I know I had several teachers whose enthusiasm for a field of study rubbed off on me.  I’m thankful I’m getting the opportunity to be that person for some other students.

Brad and his brain....great movie

What makes teaching these laboratories so special is the fact that these students are able to learn by doing.  The Living Classroom Foundation has been sharing the benefits of students getting their hands dirty for more than 25 years.  LCF also takes these experiences to the next level.  Did you ever think you wanted to be a mechanic and then realize that you knew nothing about cars?  LCF gives students the chance to get some real world experience in a field of their choice.  LCF is a charity that is based out of Baltimore so they have incorporated a unique Maritime heritage aspect into their program.  The visitors to the program are transformed from passive observers to active learners when they learn about the people who chartered the vessels of our nation and stood in our lighthouses.  LCF also works to focus on students who are living in high-risk areas.  Sometimes just showing a student what doors a great education will open for them is all the motivation they need to succeed.  A little more carrot and a little less stick make a big difference.  Obviously science has a big place in my life and my heart, so organizations like the Center for Excellence in Educationreally resonates with me.  CEE has nurtured excellence and leadership of high school and college students who are pursuing a career in science and technology since 1983.  CEE encourages and motivates students to become the next Nobel Prize winners and leaders who change how the world works.  CEE help to keep students from the United States competitive on an international level, as well as promote understanding and collaborations between nations.  Somebody has to figure out the cure for cancer, build the next super computer, and design the roadmap for our technological future.  Hopefully that the kind of influence I’m having on my students.  At the very least, they’re learning how to write complete sentences.

I couldn't agree more Miss Piggy!

Living Classroom Foundation Donation

Center for Excellence in Education Donation

So here’s to the brain on Brad!  Here is also to it getting bigger and more powerful each year, even when school is out.  Learning is a life-long process, which I obviously enjoy because it feels like I’m never going to finish school.  I’m totally cool with that though, because I know the lessons I’m learning are being passed down.  Brains are a beautiful thing.

Week 57-People’s Choice, Day 7-K-Preg

I had a really hard time deciding who was going to win this very last people’s choice award this week.  I’ve written about her before because she’s been there from the beginning, so it’s only right that Kristina wins the award!  She’s better known as K-Preg these days because she’s carrying a bouncing baby boy bun in her oven, but she’s still offering up ideas for me.  I’ve told her several times she should she totally write a blog of her own, but she just keeps making mine better.  Oh well, better for me, and you guys reading.  She never bullies me into her ideas though.  In fact, she wanted me to let you guys know how wrong she thinks bullying is.

Let’s face it, life is tough enough without being bullied.  That’s why movements like It Gets Better are so important these days.  In the past few years the media has exploded with cases of bullying and attacking people for no reason at all.  It all started last year when author Dan Savage and his partner Terry created a You Tube video to let LGBT kids out there know it really does get better.  High school can be a really cruel place, but luckily it doesn’t last forever.  I can’t sit behind my laptop and pretend like I know what it’s like to be bullied, but I do know how rejection feels, and I know I don’t like it.  We have to learn to accept people for who they are and embrace our differences so we can expand our horizons and bridge gaps.  Yea, yea, you’ve heard this all before but what are you doing about it?  When is the last time you talked to a stranger or included that loner at work in your after work drinks?  It’s not enough to just tell our kids it will get better.  We have to be the example that shows them that it really does.  Beatbullying is another great organization with the shared mission of shaping new attitudes and changing old behaviors.  Since BB started back in 1999 they have reached more than 1.6 million children across the United Kingdom.  Bullying prevention programs that are being introduced in schools across the UK will not only reduce bullying and racial and homophobic violence, but increase understanding and the confidence of thousands of kids.  BB also has a CyberMentors program that can reach out through the internet and help a child who’s feeling down anywhere.  It’s so much cooler to build each other than tear everyone down.  Positively affirming others is the new black.  Check out the original “It Gets Better” video.  

It Gets Better Project Donation

BeatBullying Donation

So here’s to you K-Preg!  Even though your baby boy is slowly but surely chipping away at your short-term memory, you never forget to give me suggestions for this little blog.  You’re one of the most thoughtful people I know so it was no surprise that you’re charity suggestion is about edifying others.  Lord knows you’ve built me up plenty over the past ten years of our friendship.  Thank you for making me want to be a better person.

Week 47-People’s Choice, Day 2-Adam

Adam loves to ride!

It’s always hard to move to new place where you have no family or friends.  We were really lucky that we met some great people really quickly after we set up camp here in WV.  The best part of the story is that we met Adam because of the non-profit organization the American Red Cross.  Adam is also a serious mountain biker.  It seemed like he was at a race every weekend this summer kicking butt and taking names.  Adam also has a big heart and was one of the first people to volunteer a charity for people’s choice week.  So this one is for Adam and his bicycle loving ways.

Re-cycle is a charity that is dedicated to proving cheap and sustainable transport in Africa.  Bicycles are so important to those on a limited income because it provides them the opportunity to get to work and school on a consistent basis.  Bikes can also be adapted to carry heavy or bulky items so small-scale farmers and traders can reach a broader customer base.  RC takes used bicycles that are donated, checks them over, and refurbishes them so they are ready for their new owners.  If you think about it, it’s really a win-win for both the UK, where RC is based, and Africa.  People in Africa get a sweet new ride, and it helps reduce waste and landfill products across the pond.  About 400 bikes are sent to seven different African countries each shipment.  RC works with organizations in Africa to make sure those that their donated bikes get to those who need it the most.  I think for most people, myself included, a love for riding a bicycle tends to start from a young age.  Bikes For Goodness Sakes shares the goodness of bicycles with unprivileged children.  BFGS works with local bike shops to host events and distribute bikes to children.  Each bike also comes with a personal biking riding lesson and a custom fit helmet.  Safety is number one people.  Since their first bike giving event back in 2008 they have gifted 512 brand new shiny bicycles to deserving kids.  Good bikes to good kids is the motto of BFGS.  I used to love riding my bike so I can definitely relate to that feeling of accomplishment and pride you feel as you ride off into the sunset with your training wheels for the very first time.

Re-cycle Donation

Bikes For Goodness Sakes Donation

So here’s to you Adam!  You’re dedication to changing people’s life through the Red Cross and your mountain biking are both inspiring.  Sure I may say that I hate you because you can eat whatever you want and never gave a pound, but obviously I’m only slightly jealous.  Maybe if spent as much time on a bike as you do I could eat a couple more brownies a week too.  Thanks for making us feel at home here in WV, sharing your love of riding with us, and being an all-around cool kid.   

Week 47-People’s Choice, Day 1-Debi

Can I just say how I can’t believe there are only 5 weeks left of blogging?  What am I going to do with all this extra free time I’m going to have?  Sleep.  Definitely sleep.  But, before I catch up on my shut-eye let’s do a week of charities picked by you guys!  Every week I blog about charities that I’m thankful for, but not this week.  For the next seven days I’m taking my thankful cue for you guys, because with you there wouldn’t be a blog in the first place.  You’ve been so sweet and amazingly supportive so what better way to show you than to brag about the charities you guys love.  So let’s kick this week off with Debi’s pick!

Debi and her son Walter

Last February Debi sent me a message to let me know that she was enjoying my blog and if I ever ran out of ideas she had one for me.  The charity she suggested, Jacob’s Ladder, works with academically gifted children who come from challenging situations that make it difficult for them to be successful in school.  Well as soon as I read the message I knew I wanted to write about this charity, but it’s just taken me a little while to get around to it.  JL was founded in 1991 and is a five-year program that helps mentor students in grades 4-8 academically throughout the year, as well as a four to six-week summer residential program.  The “climbers” on JL are all unique and have their own personalities and distinct voices that are nourished through the program.  JL helps climbers reach their full potential and scale to the top of the ladder of life.  Corny, but true.  Create Now is another program that is very similar to JL that mentors at-risk and high-risk youth through the arts, education, mentoring, resources, and opportunities.  CN has six main programs that vary in time from as short as one day to an entire twelve week program.  With names likes Take heArt, Write Now, and Sound Off CN also already won half the battle by having cool program names.  Kids are into that you know.  Plus through their program Artistic Journey, they take them to concerts, plays, and other cultural events.  One word, that all kids love, comes to mind.  FIELDTRIP!!!  Found back in 1996, they have served over 27,000 youth between the ages of 2 and 25.  I have a feeling there are a lot more kids CN will reach in their next fifteen years of service.

Jacob’s Ladder Donation

Create Now Donation

So here’s to you Debi!  You have been there for me when I had forty weeks left to go instead of being on week forty.  You were also there for me when it was time to play soccer with the boys.  Thanks for being a great mom, cheerleader for me, the great idea for a blog, and making my day on more than one occasion.

Week 46-I seriously hate, Day 5-Complainers

Scott and I had a wonderful Sunday!  We went out to a delicious breakfast at Bob Evans, did a little shopping at Lowe’s, and finished up getting some fabulous pumpkins and fall decor from Wal-Mart.  So what could I possibly complain about today?  Nothing, but there was in line behind us at Bob Evans that had lots to rant about.  Granted, they did have to wait a little while to get their food but I thought their complaining was a little extreme.  They were also the kind of people who complained all the way until they paid and the manager asked them how their meal was and then they were suddenly very quiet.  We have so many blessings in this life that its way too short to complain about waiting an extra five minutes for brunch.  Thanks random couple for reminding me how much of a waste of energy complaining is.

Our little punkin patch 🙂

Let me be clear, there is a big difference between complaining and protesting for a cause you believe in.  I’m sure that most of you have heard of this little thing called Occupy Wall Street, and the subsequent movements like this that have followed.  OWS has thousands of participants that are protesting against social and economic injustice, corporate greed, and the influence of corporations on government and other aspects of our culture.  OWS started five weeks ago and continues to inspire people across the globe to stand up for their beliefs in a similar way.  OWS really wants to bring back the values and beliefs of democracy that our country was founded on.  OWS has brought together people of all ages, races, and political affiliations who are willing to sleep in the middle of apart in New York City to show their devotion to the cause.  No matter if you believe in the cause they are supporting or not, you gotta admire their dedication.  Mobilize is out there making sure that  young people are out there letting their voices be heard.  Mobilize knows that the key to real, long-term, sustainable change to the problems that are plaguing our generation must start from the Millennials.  In case you don’t know, these are individuals who were born between 1976 and 1996, aka, me.  When you think about the generations that came before us, especially during the 60’s and 70’s were out there trying to change the world.  We need to learn how to engage our peers, identify problems, propose solutions, and most importantly solve the problems by working together.  So break out your poster board and markers and make some signs people!

Occupy Wall Street Donation 

Mobilize Donation

So here’s to you complainers!  Sure we all have our little gripes and concerns from time to time, but you guys take it a little too far.  You’re the Negative Nellies and the Debbie Downers of the world.  You have the bad energy that is palpable when you walk into a room.  Thanks for giving me some perspective and reminding me how little I have to complain about, and a hilarious SNL character.

Whomp whomp

Week 46-I seriously hate, Day 3-Bad drivers!


The traffic here in Morgantown is a nightmare on a daily basis, but today was particularly bad.  There were accidents all over town, and it just reminded me about my despise for bad drivers.  Switching lanes without using a turn signal, cutting me off, not stopping at a stop sign, and going way below the speed limit are all things that I deal with on a daily basis.  I get that everyone is busy and in a rush to get wherever they are gong but this is our lives we’re talking about.  Let’s all just slow down and pay attention.  I guess I should thank you for teaching me some to have the patience of the saint, because I can’t think of anything else to thank you for.  Butt hole.

I think I’ve decided that the reason people around here can’t drive is because they were not A+ students in driver’s ed.  Even though the Youth Automated Training Center teaches at-risk teenagers basic automotive repair skills, I think this is a step in the right direction.  YATC also helps the kids learn academic remediation, job readiness, and life management skills during their nine month tuition-free training program.  Founded in 1984 by the automotive legend Jim Moran, YATC has an 85% job retention rate after students graduated from their school.  This is probably due to the fact that YATC continues to provide their graduates with guidance and support after they have completed the program.  It’s no surprise that they have grown from a one-room training center into a 16,000 square-foot state of the art facility.  Like I said, this wouldn’t fix everyone’s bad driving but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.  One organization after my own heart is the charity, Make Roads Safe.  Apparently the horrible driving here in town is the least of the world’s worries when it comes to road safety.  Every 6 seconds someone is killed or seriously injured on the world’s roads.  This is truly an epidemic that the international community has yet to really respond to.  Roads need to be designed better in order to be safer for not only us, but also for our children, and their children.  Road deaths in developing countries are rising, and MRS is making sure that politicians in these countries are standing up and taking action against this preventable problem.  Sometimes it just takes a little bit of change and a lot of patience to change the world for the better.

Youth Automotive Training Center Donation 

Make Roads Safe Donation 

So here’s to you bad drivers!  You seem to be multiplying like rabbits all across the country, and making it more and more difficult for us good drivers to scoot around town.  Some people might think that you all look the same, but I’ve found this to be false.  You span races, genders, and ages.  I would really like to end this by saying thanks for nothing, but I won’t, because that would defeat the entire purpose of this post.  So, thank you bad drivers for making me look so good.

Week 41-I can’t live without, Day 6-Gum

My personal fav

It’s chewy.  It’s yummy.  It will save you when it smells like a small animal has died in your mouth.  It’s gum!  Personally, I’m a Big Red fan but I like pretty much anything.  I love how I can just pop a piece in when I’m feeling a hungry, bored, or to clean up a dirty mouth.  I was one of those kids who had a pacifier for way too long, and ended up with a life-time oral fixation.  <Insert obvious joke here>  Gum has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember.  In fact, the measure of a good friend in high school was if they would give you their very last piece of gum or not.  I know you remember those days.  Thank goodness for good friends and sticks of gum.

The only draw back to gum for me, has always been the trash.  You always find those pesky gum wrappers in your purse, in your car, and even in your dryer.  And don’t even get me started on gum on the ground.  Who knew there was an organization called the Chewing Gum Action Group who have been working since 2003 to figure out a solution to irresponsible gum and wrapper disposal.  CGAG knows that the best way to stop gum litter is to nip it in the bud at the source.  By funding campaigns to help change the behavior or gum smackers, CGAC is actually helping to clean up our communities.  If you’ve ever stepped in gum while you’re just minding your own business than you can truly appreciate why this is so important.  Gum is meant to be in the wrapper, in your mouth, or in the trash can.  Even I have been guilty of throwing my gum or wrapper out on occasion, but no more!  I am a changed woman.  The gum powerhouse Wrigley, is also passionate about giving back more to their community more than an afternoon snack.  The Youth. Empowerment. Success. (Y.E.S) campaign provides kids with education and skills they need in order to successfully transition into adulthood.  Since the Wm. J. Wrigley Jr. Company Foundation provided the support to found Y.E.S. in 2008, they have helped over 10,000 students in India, China, Philippines, Poland, and Spain.  That makes the little stick or chiclet of gum taste even juicier.  As a small portion of the International Youth Foundation, Y.E.S. are grooming the next generation to solve the problems that keep on piling up for our world.

Chewing Gum Action Group Donation

Youth. Empowerment. Success. Donation

So here’s to you gum!  You have saved my behind from embarrassing breath catastrophes more times than I can count.  You are red, blue, green, and even white.  Cinnamon, peppermint, spearmint, and the list of flavors that you come in goes on and on.  There is something for everyone.  You’re such a little piece of happiness that takes my day to the next level.  Thanks for being inexpensive, satisfying, and just plain awesome.

I think I could pass for that girl...

Week 29-Sweet Summertime, Day 7-Fireworks!

Summer is officially here! Bring on the fireworks

Happy first day of summer everyone!  It has been so much fun to write about all the great things that summertime brings to us every year and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to light up the sky with some fireworks!  Okay so I’m not really gonna light any fireworks tonight but I do love to enjoy them for all the summer holidays.  Last year Scott and I got the chance to watch the incredible fireworks show on the Hudson River with the Manhattan skyline in the background.  It was something I will never forget.  I also have so many great memories of watching the fireworks with my family every year in NC.  I’m thankful for all the fireworks shows during the summer, and all the great celebrations that are worth all that gun powder and lead.

Katy and her mold for KAB

Katy Perry’s hit song “Firework” has been blowing up the charts and inspiring people to let their inner confidence shine for months now.  Katy is also doing a little inspiring work with The Keep A Breast organization.  First of all, I’d just like to say kudos on the name, because the double entendre is amazing and it’s one of my favorite charity names of all time.  KAB is on a mission to totally get rid of breast cancer by exposing young people to ways in which they can protect themselves, detect problems early, and get help.  You would expect a charity with a such a creative name to have some creative ways to raise money to support breast cancer awareness and education, and KAB doesn’t disappoint.  They have convinced some pretty famous um, chests, to get plastered in the name of breast cancer.  The plaster female upper bodies are then customized by artists and then auctioned off.  This is probably one of the few times getting “plastered” is a good thing for a charity.  Katy has even inspired the all-male acappella choir at Ithaca College in NY, better known as Ithacappella, to lend their voices to charity by covering Firework.  All of the proceeds from the iTunes sales of their rendition went to The Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization for providing crisis and suicide prevention for the LGBTQ youth community.  Before TP there wasn’t any type of support line for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) youth to reach out to if they were feeling rejected and by their peers and needed someone to confide in.  Thanks to the magic of the internet TP has also expanded its reach to LGBTQ youth everywhere by creating an online community called Trevor Space.  This social-network was created specifically for LGBTQ individuals aged 13-24 to meet new friends, and find out where resources for them lie within their own communities.  Katy is right when she sings, “If you only knew what the future holds.  After a hurricane comes a rainbow.”

Keep A Breast Donation or buy their cool swag because you know you &hearts; boobies too!

The Trevor Project Donation

So here’s to you fireworks!  You light up the warm summer nights and the hearts of big and little kids everywhere.  You’re the quintessential celebration signal that we all know and love.  We all have a little bit of explosiveness inside of us that you’ve inspired.  We’re ready to let our colors burst and show ’em what we’re worth!  Thank you for showing us the way to make ’em go, “Oh, oh, oh!”, and let them in awe-awe-awe.  

Week 27-Get Bikini Ready, Day 1-Exercise

With Memorial Day in our rear view and Summer just up ahead, it’s time to get ready to put on those bathing suits and have a little fun!  For all you guys other there it’s as simple as slipping your trunks on, but us girls require a little bit more upkeep and grooming before we go to the beach.  Scott and I went for a nice long walk tonight with the dogs and it felt great.  Exercise is one of those things that I love to do, but need to be reminded of that fact every once in while.  All it takes is a good workout partner, a bumping playlist, and some nice weather to get me motivated.

I can totally relate...

When I was growing up we never went down to the Y to get our exercise we just ran around in the yard, or signed up for another sport that kept us busy several days a week.  As I’ve grown up and become a little bit more worldly I realize that there are a lot of kids out there who do actually depend on their local YMCA for their daily fitness routine.  The Village People may have made the YMCA the big wedding hit that is today, but it was a retired sea-captain who founded the first “home away from home” for young men in 1851.  Yes I typed that correctly, 1851, as in 160 years ago.  The Y has been bringing people together through it community driven actions longer than you or I have been alive because they have changed so many lives.  It’s not just a place where you can go to sweat to the oldies either.  The Y helps guide and steer the youth of our nation to becoming more socially responsible and developing into the leaders of tomorrow.  That’s a lot of accomplishments for a non-profit that goes by only one letter.  The Y is the Cher of charitable organizations.  A World Fit For Kids is another non-profit that helps us realize how influential exercise can be for children.  WFFK has a vision of a world where kids are fit, healthy and ready to learn!  The really unique thing about WFFK is that they train teenagers to be heroes to the other youth in their neighborhoods through fitness, sports, and school.  This helps boost confidence and self-esteem of the teaching teens, and gives younger children a positive role-model they can relate to.  Two birds with one ball, I mean stone.  Sorry I had sports and exercise on the brain.

YMCA Donation

A World Fit For Kids Donation

So here’s to you exercise!  You have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I have a renewed spirit to make it stay that way.  You put me in a better mood, help me sweat out some toxins, and help me get bikini ready.  Whether we meet in small or large doses I am always grateful for the positive effects you have on my health and my physique.  Thank you for always kicking my butt just when I need it.