BEAR Some Gifts This Holiday Season

Mission Statement
BEAR…BE A Resource for CPS Kids is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that provides hope and help for abused and neglected children and the caseworkers who protect them within Harris County.


Hey everyone, I’m back! Yay! And I’ve missed this. I have to say that I’m disappointed in myself for the lack of volunteering and posting I’ve done in the last 3 months, but I’m ready to pick up where I’ve left off. There were some things I had to resolve and I’m feeling like myself again now. This post won’t necessarily be a volunteer spotlight (ok maybe a little), but rather an idea to maybe inspire you this holiday season!


Last year, I hosted my first Annual BEAR a Gift Party. It was a lot of fun and so worth all of the prepping and time spent on getting everything ready. Everyone loves a good themed party, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to do some good while we’re at it!

The point of the party was to provide toys for kids that may not otherwise get anything. My dad’s work with at-risk juveniles has always been inspiring to me, which is largely why I chose BEAR as the organization I wanted to contribute to. The toys were donated to youth in the CPS system; which includes approximately 17,000 children in Harris County alone. These are kids that have seen it all — and being provided with a new toy that is 100% their own gives them a sense of hope and comfort. Anybody could come to my party, but in order to get in, you’d have to bring one unwrapped toy valued at $10 or more. The turnout was pretty good and some people went above and beyond and brought more than one toy! One of my favorite parts of the night was listening to people explain why they picked the toy that they did.

These aren’t the best pictures (who knew 11 months ago that I would be posting this on my future blog lol), but hopefully it gives you some ideas if you’d like to host a “toy drive party” of your own. I made special holiday themed drinks, snacks, and had a backdrop for photo ops!

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Overall, we ended up with around 40 toys to donate. How awesome is that! I can’t wait to host my second Annual BEAR a Gift Party this year and I hope to surpass the number of toys we collected last year! If you’d like to come, purchase a toy to bring and mark your calendars for December 10th!

Side note, I’ll also be volunteering on Thanksgiving Day with Operation Turkey as a driver, so if you’d like to help out an awesome cause and get some Thanksgiving meals out to the homeless in Houston, sign up here! If I don’t see you there, then I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! We truly have a lot to be thankful for. 🙂

*To report a suspected case of child abuse, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at (800) 252-5400. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reports can also be made here.

Volunteer with BE A Resource

More info on the BEARing Gifts Program

Celebrate Everything,

It’s Never Too Late to Turn Your Day Around

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Hi! Is anyone else having a bad day out there? I hope you aren’t, but if you are, hey! I am too! Let’s talk about it.


So, the “bad day.” The most important thing to remember is that no matter what, it’s going to get better. Whatever issue you or I are having, it will be resolved. Every bad day comes to an end. Sometimes it feels like the only thing you want to do is go to sleep, forget about all of your problems, and wake up to a brand new day. That’s okay! But it’s also never too late to turn your day around. And this option is the one we should always aim for.


Let’s reflect on our negative emotions, figure out what is causing them, figure out how we can make things better, and start that positive mindset over. We all have our moments. Even the people who seem to lead the most positive lives have their moments. And that’s okay too. What am I going to do? I’m going to eat some Oreos, pause for some deep breaths, say a prayer, and then clean my room…which I’ll say a prayer for too. If you know me personally, you know I’m not the neatest person. But I really do believe that a clean space equals a clean mind and sometimes, that’s all we need.

So, do what makes you feel good. Go for a run. Try a new recipe. Buy that pair of shoes you’ve been wanting. There’s still 3 hours and 9 minutes left in the day.

bonus*Raw, bonus picture of Salem climbing on me as I write this…messy room, Oreos, and all…because just like our days, not every picture will be the the best. And that’s okay. 🙂

Celebrate Everything,

 

 

Hunger Doesn’t Have a Face

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Mission Statement
Leading the fight against hunger.


Hello! Welcome to July’s spotlight and thank you so much for reading! If you are new to my blog, in short, I have decided to volunteer at a new organization on the 13th of every month. I am all about supporting charities that are smaller and deemed to have fewer volunteers, but that doesn’t mean that the bigger organizations need us any less. Even with the amount of publicity that they fortunately receive, there is still always a lot of work to be done and volunteers are paramount.

This month, I chose to volunteer at the Houston Food Bank. Specifically, I volunteered at Portwall, one of their warehouses. Last year, the Houston Food Bank provided almost 80,000,000 meals. There is a stigma about the kind of person that needs assistance with providing food for themselves or their family, but it’s important to remember that hunger doesn’t have a face. Anybody can be down on their luck at any time, and it’s amazing that there’s organizations like this to help pick us up and get us back on our feet.


So, let’s break down my time here…For the first half of the shift, we were to pack breakfasts and snacks for the following day for the Kids Cafe program. This program provides nourishment to children that may not otherwise receive it at home. Our quota was 2,900 breakfasts and 4,204 snacks – and we collectively finished in record timing! Ok, maybe they tell everyone that…But either way, it’s great to feel appreciated! And that’s something that the Houston Food Bank is really great at doing.

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Volunteering at the Houston Food Bank is a really fun experience too. They have music playing as you’re working, and they tell you upfront that singing and dancing is encouraged. Everyone there is super friendly and even though it was my first time volunteering there, I felt as if they were my friends. Aside from their awesome, positive attitudes, little details around the warehouse really make you feel valued.

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For the second half of the shift, we put together food for the Senior Box Program. Per the Houston Food Bank’s website, this program is funded by the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which is a federal program who’s mission is to improve the health and nutrition of seniors that are living on no more than 130% of the Federal Poverty Level. Once a month, these seniors receive food items that equate roughly 26 meals. Our coordinator made the point that this program is great because these seniors often have to choose between buying medicine and buying food. Isn’t that so heartbreaking and eye-opening to think about? Yesterday, we diligently filled boxes for 569 seniors – that’s 14,794 meals. Each box contained two juices, two milks, four canned vegetables, two canned fruits, rice, chili, and a bag of oats.

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I love being able to give back to others, but it’s even better when you can have fun doing so. I highly recommend volunteering at the Houston Food Bank and it’s easy to register if you’re interested. If you don’t want to do exactly what I did, there are many other programs implemented that you can sign up for. If you don’t have the time to volunteer but would like to help out by donating, the link for that is below as well. Each dollar you donate will provide 3 nutritious meals.

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Thank you for reading and for your continuous support. If you want to join me next month, send me a message and I’d love to give you the information!

Houston Food Bank Homepage

Volunteer at the Houston Food Bank

Donate to the Houston Food Bank

Services the Houston Food Bank Offers

Celebrate Everything,

Smile at a Stranger Today

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Hey, everyone!

Looking back, I have had a lot going on this year and man, 2016 has really tested me. But through it all, I am often reminded of my many blessings. Things are not perfect, and they never will be, but we must continue to make the best of any situation. The wall art that I found out about, posted above and written below, really speaks to me. It’s so easy to say these clichés (for a lack of a better word), but how many of us really put the words into action? And why is it so hard for most of us to do so?

“See, you and me have a better time than most can dream. Have it better than the best. So we can pull on through whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down. And if nothing can be done, we’ll make the best of what’s around. Turns out, not where, but who you are with that really matters.”


Last night, I was fortunate enough to be at an Astros game with tickets that I had won. I was sitting in the row behind a little girl that was crying; at one point, she turned around and saw me – so I smiled at her. She returned the biggest smile on her face! We kept exchanging little pleasantries like that and little waves throughout the game and it was the sweetest thing.

Every day when my mom would drop me off at school back in Elementary, Middle, and even some High school, before I got out of the car, my mom would tell me: Make sure you smile at a stranger today! and things like “You never know what kind of day they’re having…Maybe they don’t get to see smiles all the time like you do…It could turn their day around.” And let me tell you, I’ve heard her say these things so many times that I swear they are permanently etched into my brain! And I’m grateful for that. Thanks, Mom!


I had a great time volunteering last month and I’m ready to volunteer again with a different organization next week. I’ve had some really cool feedback from friends and strangers alike; I get so excited when I see that Nicessities has gained another follower! It seriously warms my heart. Please feel free to comment or send me a message if you’d like to join me next week! I’d love to have you.

I hope you all have had a great week and have an even better upcoming weekend! Lastly, don’t forget – smile at a stranger today!

Celebrate Everything,

 

Turnip for June’s Charity Spotlight: Recipe for Success

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Mission Statement
Recipe for Success Foundation is dedicated to combating childhood obesity by changing the way our children understand, appreciate and eat their food, and by educating and mobilizing the community to provide healthier diets for children.


This is an organization that I was really excited to come across while doing my research for new-to-me local charities. I was overweight as a child and have battled EDNOS from the age of 12. I fully believe that healthy habits should be taught from a young age and I love the ideals behind Recipe for Success.

In order to volunteer, I first had to attend an orientation. I feel so lucky that two people wanted to join me this month – my aunt and a friend! We went to the orientation, which lasts about an hour, and learned all about the foundation and different ways that we could help.


One thing that really stuck out to me is that Recipe for Success is in the process of breaking ground on a new project, Hope Farms. According to their website, they have 7.58 acres dedicated to farming fresh, affordable produce in Sunnyside – one of Houston’s largest food deserts. What is a food desert? It can be defined as a geographic area where fresh, nutritious food options are scarce, and there can sometimes be an absence of large grocery stores as well. It gets better. Hope Farms will also provide jobs and internships for youth in Sunnyside, as well as provide jobs to United States Veterans. It really is an amazing concept and I cannot wait to volunteer there once it “opens.”

Going onto another program, I have also always considered myself to be entrepreneurial, so another one of Recipe for Success’ curriculum’s interested me: Farmers MarKIDS. This program teaches kids all about business. They first have to harvest their own produce (kids love seeing the fruits of their labor…literally!). Next, they have to promote their produce stand by marketing and advertising. Lastly, they have to operate their stand. Setting the prices and dealing with money is the tip of the iceberg {lettuce}. It really gives kids full control and results in new skills that can be applied throughout their life.

It doesn’t stop there. Recipe for Success also implements food programs into schools around Houston, gives healthy culinary lessons, and holds a summer camp for kids. This is how I spent my June 13th.


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My aunt and I volunteered at the summer camp and got to assist in teaching the kids about gardens, healthy eating, and cooking. The theme this week is Marco Polo and a different country will be explored each day. Yesterday’s country was Italy. What was on the menu? Linguine with oven roasted tomatoes and kale. For dessert we whipped up a banana, strawberry, and mango sorbet. Yum!

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It was so much fun and the kids were engaged the entire 6 hours. Besides getting to cook our meal from scratch (yes, even the pasta – see below!), they participated in a scavenger hunt in a community garden and taste tested celery and carrots with soy sauce, clover honey, salt, cocoa powder, and lemon, ultimately figuring out what combinations they liked best.

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I had a great time volunteering for Recipe for Success and will be working the summer camp on Friday, June 17th as well. If you would like to volunteer with me in July and help me showcase a different charity, please head over to my Contact page and send me a message!

Recipe for Success Homepage

Donate to Hope Farms

Volunteer for Recipe for Success

Celebrate Everything,

So…

hope

A big thank you to everyone that has joined me on my new blogging journey! I spent the last few days in Boston, MA celebrating my 24th birthday and to say I’m lucky is an understatement. I met a former mayor, I went to a bar made out of ice, a Red Sox game, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, Wahlburgers, Sam Adams, Harvard, the Mapparium, and even to Salem for a day trip…it was quite an adventure!


No matter where I go, though, I’m reminded that it’s important to recognize our blessings and to try to see the perspectives of others that might not be so lucky at the moment. I say “at the moment” because we all have a lot to be thankful for and we all have ups and downs. Our good days might not coincide, but a few bad days doesn’t make for a bad life. As a society, we’re only as up as our lowest is down. So let’s all get along, make the most, and hope.


With this blog, I plan to post a lot more than about my time volunteering on the 13th of every month. I want to spotlight different local charities. I want to pass along volunteer opportunities that I think y’all might be interested in. I want to feature the good that others do. I’m very excited for this new opportunity and I can’t wait to see the next twists and turns this roller coaster of a life has ahead for me.

Celebrate Everything,

Because Being Nice is a Necessity

May 13th, 2016. My birthday. With every year, I find myself reflecting on the preceding year; I tend to get emotional in the days leading up to my birthday. But why? The positives always outweigh the negatives by a landslide. I have an amazing family that supports any and everything I do (except maybe the tattoos – sorry, Mom and Dad!). I have my cat, Salem, whom rescued me just as much as I rescued him. I have a nice apartment in the best location with my cousin, who’s more like a sister, Rachel. I am fortunate enough to say that I am a graduate from The University of Houston. I have 13 wonderful, loving best friends – Kaylor, Lauren, Mindy, Sammi, Loary, Monique, Johnathon, Jon, Adrian, Kayla, Michelle, Nafferz, and Jessika.


And the bad? The bad doesn’t even matter when you really take a step back and count your blessings. There will always be people that have it better than you, and there will always be people that have it worse than you. With this blog, I hope to share my journey over the next year of trying to bring some light to others.


I will be volunteering on the 13th of every month. I hope to find a different local organization each month and spotlight them. If I can introduce a charity, even just to one person, then I’ll be happy. If this inspires anybody, even one person, I’ll be happy. I can promise you that this is not going to be the best blog you’ve read, but I hope you follow along with my journey. And I would love to have you join me. 🙂

Celebrate Everything,