Saturday, November 14, 2015

Day 45

After the awful attacks in Paris and elsewhere, I wanted to offer some kind of help or donation, but I couldn't find a lot of good options. I've already contributed to Médecins Sans Frontières and the Red Cross, and honestly, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the French are very capable of taking care of this themselves. 

So instead I made a donation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Friday, November 13, 2015

Day 44

Six years ago today, we got news that our daughter was being paired with a service dog named Bobo. Bobo is a big part of our family now, and his services have been incredibly valuable -- in particular, tracking down Amelia when she wandered off. So today I made a donation to 4 Paws for Ability, the agency that trained Bobo.

My donation went toward getting a service dog for Ellie Stein. Here's an excerpt from her story:
Eleanor Stein is a sweet, funny five year old who loves popsicles, Taylor Swift, and her twin sister, Laurel. Ellie also happens to have an extra 21st chromosome. Like many children with Down Syndrome Ellie has had more than her share of medical interventions.  Her parents have always tried to provide her with the tools she needs to reach her full potential.  Most recently they have begun the process of fundraising for 4 Paws for Ability to gain the volunteer credits needed to qualify for a service dog.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day 43

Today I bought lunch for a homeless veteran I see regularly. He is clearly struggling and I wish I knew what else to do for him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Day 42

Today, in honor of Veterans' Day, I donated to Paws4Vets.

Placing customized Assistance Dogs with veterans and military dependents living with various disabilities.

Through the paws4vets Assistance Dog Placement Program, Veterans, Active-Duty Service Members or their dependents with physical, neurological, psychiatric or emotional disabilities can receive Psychiatric Service Dogs, Mobility Service Dogs and Rehabilitative Assistance Dogs.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Day 41

Today I put coins in all kinds of tip jars, donation boxes, and any other places I could find.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Day 39

Today I donated some clothing and other items to a local thrift shop, benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Day 38

Today I dropped off some food and other items for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

I called them to find out what they needed most, and after listing off a number of items, the woman I spoke to said, "Honestly, we'll take anything you bring us. As fast as it arrives, it gets taken. The need is so great."

Friday, November 6, 2015

Day 37

Today's contribution will take a sec to explain, but stick with me because it's very cool.
- A child picks an organization that they'd like to support
-- then writes / draws an original story
--- which a songwriter uses as inspiration for an original song
---- which people like you and me support by donating to the cause

It's like three for the price of one! And that doesn't even count the people who benefit from the services.

So I'm supporting Keith Alan Mitchell's original song, inspired by a story called The Fashion Show, written by Kiralee (age 11), in support of Gilda's Club - Quad Cities, which is an affiliate of the Cancer Support Community and is "dedicated to providing support, education and hope to all people affected by any type of cancer, including the family members and friends of those diagnosed."

So just to recap, an 11-year-old girl wrote a story, which was turned into a song by a musician (and a friend of mine) in California, which inspired me (in North Carolina) to donate money to an organization supporting families in Iowa and Illinois who are dealing with cancer.

If that's not the coolest chain of awesomeness, then I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 36

Today I donated to Jenny Fletcher Davis's 3rd grade classroom at Michigan Primary School in Ashtabula, Ohio. As Ms. Davis puts it:

I teach 24 eager-to-learn 3rd graders in a high poverty district. Some of my students are on IEPs to help with attention issues and learning disabilities. Many of my students find it hard to sit in chairs for long periods of time. My goal is for each student to get the most out of every school day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Day 35

Today I let people go ahead of me. At doorways, in line, in traffic, in parking lots, or anywhere else I had an opportunity.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Day 34

Today I removed some dangerous debris from the road near my house. A metal ramp like you see on the back of landscaping trailers was in the road, and at least one car got it's tires flattened in the pre-dawn hours by driving over it. I stopped and moved it to the side of the road, then made sure the driver of the disabled vehicle was ok before heading on.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Day 32

I'm cheating just a little bit. Most of today's task occurred yesterday. But as I had already completed one task yesterday, and since I didn't home from this until after midnight, I'm counting it for today. Plus, I'm too tired to accomplish much else today. Four hours at a party followed by seven hours on my feet at a concession stand took it's toll on this 45-year-old body of mine.

I volunteered to work the concession stand at the Duke / Miami football game. We sold hot dogs, pizza, chicken sandwiches, popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy, soft drinks, hot cocoa, tea, cracker jacks, candy, water, and a few other things. Proceeds go to help local schools.

And in case you missed it, check out the controversial game-ending play:

...and the aftermath:

ACC Suspends Officials for Errors in Wild Ending of Duke-Miami

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 31

Princess Jasmine-o-Lantern

Today some friends of mine had a Halloween party. They were nice enough to offer up tools and supplies for a massive pumpkin carving operation. At least a dozen pumpkins were cleaned and carved using their tools, knives, and stencils. Their kitchen kind of paid the price, in the form of pumpkin seeds, chunks, strands and goo all over the place. When no one was looking, I tried to clean off their counters, floors, tools, and kitchen table. It's much easier to clean before it dries. (Hopefully they won't read this or else my cover is blown.)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 30

Today I made a donation to Disability Rights NC. They have helped us in the past, and there's a good chance we may need them again some day. Disability rights are civil rights. If you ever in a position to need their help, give them a call!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 29

Today I put gas in a friend's gas tank. I was borrowing her vehicle with the possible intent of buying it from her (though sadly I can't do it at the moment). But before I returned it, I stopped by the gas station.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 28

Today I made a point of looking for, picking up, and disposing of litter wherever I went. Sadly, it's not hard to find litter if you go looking. But I guess I made it a teeny, tiny bit harder to find today.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 26

Today I gave blood, and was rewarded with a chili dog with slaw, some nuts, some grapes, a brownie and some water. Actually I had a whole array of food options but for whatever reason this seemed like a reasonable combination. The tech told me the blood I gave would save three lives. How cool is that?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 25

Today I donated to the SECU Family House. I drive by this almost every day. From their web site:
SECU Family House provides an affordable, safe, nurturing home away from home for seriously ill patients and their family members and caregivers from throughout North Carolina and beyond. 
We work closely with the medical staff at UNC Hospitals to ensure that seriously ill patients and their families have easy access to peaceful, home-like surroundings in which to rest, heal, recuperate, and gather strength when they need it most.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 24

Today I contributed to the Eno River Association. Eno River State Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the area, and that's saying a lot. Great trails, a cool suspension foot bridge, waterfalls, and a section of river for kids (and dogs) to play in. A summertime favorite.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 23

Today I pitched in on a fundraiser for Extra Life. Specifically for Taiko, son of Yuta Hsu. Yuta is someone I went to college with, and we have a number of very good friends in common.

From his fundraising page:
I'm on a mission to save kids and I need your help. My local Children's Miracle Network Hospital treats thousands of children each year, regardless of their family's ability to pay. These kids are facing scary stuff like cancer, cystic fibrosis, and injuries from accidents to name just a few.

Our son Taiko is one of those kids. He had open heart surgery for a congenital heart defect just after his 1st birthday, and has bi-annual echocardiograms to make sure his heart is ok. For his surgery, the amazing people at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital not only took care of Taiko as if he was their own, but also made us feel welcome, calm, and not alone. Every year when we go for his annual visit, we are treated like family. I want to help them be able to do the same for any family that needs their help.

If you'd like to contribute as well, you can do so HERE.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 22

Today I brought donuts to the office. One box for co-workers and one box for the security desk.

(I might sneak in a bonus act ok kindness or two today, in honor of Colleen Ritzer.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 21

Today I sent bananas and grapes to my son's school for a teacher appreciation breakfast. Those teachers are the best. I know one or two of them might have appreciated the grapes fermented and the bananas in daiquiri form, but as this is during school hours, I think maybe this way is best.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 20

Today while renewing my pets' licenses, I contributed to the Orange County Spay/Neuter fund. Not very exciting, but it does seem like a good thing to chip in for. I'd rather not have my county overrun with stray and unwanted dogs and cats.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 19

Today I gave away a pair of free sunglasses to some lucky co-worker. Because I am not always the brightest or most observant person.

In case you can't read the note, it says:
Free sunglasses!
Oops! In a rush I grabbed these, not realizing they're women's sunglasses.
Like 'em? They're yours. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 18

Today I gave some money to a disabled homeless veteran. No real story to tell. Just helping someone who looked like he really needed it.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 17

Today I sponsored Lulu at the Orange County Animal Shelter:
Lulu is such a sweetie, and if anyone wants to adopt her, you can now do so with a lower adoption fee.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Day 16

Today I contributed to the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation. Their mission is to support adolescent and young adult cancer patients and their families at UNC Hospitals.

“Be Loud
And move with grace
Explode with light
Have no fear”

-Sophie Steiner

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Day 15

Today I donated to the InterFaith Food Shuttle, which is a very cool local organization that does all kinds of things like... well, let me just quote their web site:
From BackPack Buddies to nutrition education, mobile markets to community gardens, culinary job training to urban agriculture training, we go directly to people in need and create what works to empower them.  We feed. We teach. We grow…to create a hunger-free and healthy community. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 14

Today I donated a whole bunch of pull-ups to the Diaper Bank of North Carolina.

From their web site:
Most of us do not spend a lot of time thinking about diapers. But if you are a parent, grandparent, or caregiver without enough of them, they can become a major source of stress, guilt, and desperation. Public safety net programs such as The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, previously known as Food Stamps) do not cover the purchase of diapers, often leaving families with a difficult decision between buying diapers and other necessities with their limited funds. For families in need, something as small as a diaper can have a significant impact.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 13

Today I snuck into a friend's house and did some cleaning and stuff. No, I probably can't do that at your house. Well, maybe I can. I do have a lot of days to fill. Email me your address.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 12

Today I loaned some money to Sophan in Kampong Chhnang Province, Cambodia. The money will help her pay her university fees.

The loan was made through Kiva.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day 11

Today I babysat for a friend. My house was full of little people. It was kinda fun, I'm not gonna lie. Tiring for sure, but that's to be expected. I think the dogs were tired too...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Day 10

Today I did the 17th Annual Triangle Run/Walk for Autism. The race raised somewhere close to a quarter of a million dollars for the Autism Society of North Carolina.

This year I didn't even pretend I was going to run. In fact I pushed Amelia in her giant stroller the whole way, along with my two boys, and my friend and her two kids, one of whom is also in a stroller. My 7-year-old wanted to know why the girls got to ride in strollers but the boys had to walk... But the boys all did great. Well, other than some bickering. But very little complaining about being tired or wanting to be done. And best of all, the rain held off until the last of the participants were off the course.

I thought it was very cool afterwards to hear them reading through the top finishers in various age brackets, and the ages just kept going up. They finally stopped when they got to the competitive runners in the 80-99 year old category.

And tonight, I am tired. It was a good day. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Day 9

Today a pre-loaded all the vending machines at work with some money, because sometimes junk food is just the thing.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 8

A few days ago, a hospital was destroyed in Afghanistan by a US military air strike. At this point, the facts beyond that are unclear, but the results were tragic. At least 22 people were killed and 30 injured, many of them doctors, medical workers, and patients.

Today I donated to Medecins Sans Frontieres (a.k.a. Doctors Without Borders) whose workers and volunteers ran the hospital in question.

This is the same organization that provided extensive medical support to the Ebola-ravaged countries in Africa last year, and genocide-ravaged Rwanda a decade ago (in which almost one hundred of their staff were killed).

I don't know of a more heroic humanitarian organization.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 7

Today I volunteered with the Durham Habitat for Humanity, and honestly, this was one of my favorite volunteer opportunities.

First of all, it was one of those awesome win-win situations. A homeowner who was remodeling her kitchen got it dismantled for a fraction of the usual cost, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore got cabinets, counters, and appliances.

Meanwhile I got to work with some great guys, learn some useful home renovation skills, and have the satisfaction of seeing a room go from full kitchen to bare walls in just a few hours.

I'll definitely be doing this again in the future.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 6

Today I had a good friend who was having a bad day. I'm going to be vague because don't want to get into personal details about it, but I helped out. And it was appreciated.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 5

Today I sent a donation to the Arc of the Triangle. Not only because they provide some "community guide" services to my daughter, but also because they coordinate and sponsor all kinds of cool things, like a special needs Halloween event at the local kid's museum, really inexpensive computers for kids with disabilities (like under $80 for computer and monitor), to awesome music programs for kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

My daughter recently got to participate in a music class, and she loved it. They even composed a song for each of the participants, using sounds they created. Here's a link to Amelia's song.

And here's a video featuring both me and my little girl:

Push Play Sing! Workshop from Julia Wall on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 4

Today, with the help of a very good friend, I delivered meals to the HomeStart shelter. Dinner for 13, including ravioli lasagna, salad, rolls, and some German chocolate cupcakes for dessert. (Sorry, the food photo doesn't look really look delicious.... but it sure smelled good.)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 3

Today I gave a homeless man a bag of trail mix. It's been rainy and wet and anybody who is out there asking for handouts must need it pretty badly. I happened to have some in the car with me for myself, but I figured he could probably use it more.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2

Day 2 of my 45 Good Days is done. Today I donated to TEAM SUPERMAN! (I mean how could you not?) The team is participating in the Greensboro Buddy Walk to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 1

Today I donated to the Matthew Jankovich Memorial Fund. From their Go Fund Me page:

The Jankovich family wants to donate swings and a park bench in Matthew’s memory, at his favorite park, in Omaha, NE. They also want to establish a respite fund for autism parents who may need a little break. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

45 Good Days

Another year, another string of good days on the agenda. Woohoo!

Those of you who know me well know that I'm going through some pretty major, life-altering stuff this year. Because of that, I thought about taking the year off from doing this. But of course, after some thought I realized this is exactly the thing I need to do right now.

This whole project started because of a rough patch, and what I learned was that doing this really does have a positive impact on my life -- even if it does add to my already long and intimidating to-do list. Time to make a difference. Bring it on. I'm ready.

(Okay, so maybe I'm not ready ready, as such. I might be almost entirely not ready. But still. Let's do this!)