Posts Tagged ‘community’

Giving Back: Research Organizations

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

In my opinion, working with kids is fun and not usually nerve wracking, so the most stressful step of deciding where to volunteer is the research process. Back in high school, volunteering was easy because teachers seemed to always have good suggestions about organizations, but now that you are out on your own, figuring out where to start can be stressful and confusing.

As I stated before, recognizing your strengths is a critical step towards volunteering, but put that on hold for a minute. Researching: this is THE most important step to volunteering, at least in my humble opinion that you should take, if you want to succeed, ever. Okay maybe not, but a step that most people forget is to research organizations before simply jumping in. We are constantly fed information all day long, what to wear, what to eat, and as much as we think we are rebels (which we clearly are not) we accept the norm. Don’t let this pattern apply to where you choose to volunteer. Research each organization. If you are clueless about where to start, just simply follow these steps to ensure that you will find a trustworthy company.

 

  1. Question Why
    Ever have someone come up to you on the streets of Manhattan asking if you are 21 in order to sign a petition? Of course you have! If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to lie every time, awkwardly responding with, “nahhhh sorry I’m twenty”, giving your best childlike smile and breaking away. So when a disaster strikes and a number pops up on the screen demanding your donation, put down your phone. Don’t you dare text a dollar amount to that number without researching first. Ask yourself, why? Why should I donate to you? Many people each year become victims to unreliable companies. Last summer CNN teamed up with the Tampa Bay Times in order to investigate “America’s Worst Charities”, charities that waste a huge percentage of their donations on wages and solicitors. During this investigation they discovered that many people were donating to the Kids Wish Network. At first glance you might think, “oh yes I heard of this, they send children to Disney blah blah”- No! That is Make-A-Wish Foundation. Many companies similar to the Kid Wish Network camouflage their name and purpose in order to sound identical to a more popular organization. After CNN posted this article many people who had donated to the Kids Wish Network started retaliating against the group. In the study, CNN realized that the Kids Wish Network only donated 3 cents of every dollar to the cause. This means that when you donate, only 3 percent of your donation goes toward helping children. Which leads me to the next tip.
  2. Question How Much
    When working with an organization you should know where your money is going. Don’t settle for a roundabout answer. Investigate the details of your contribution. Charity Navigator is a company created to assist with this issue. You are able to search for an organization, leaf through the charts and facts to find out where every cent of your donation goes. It even displays feedback from people who have donated to the specific cause and their experience with the company.
  3. Question How Often
    As important as it is to investigate the percentages, sometimes it is just as essential to watch how consistent a company is.  For example, the Red Cross gives about 90% of the donation towards their purpose, but they are not always consistent. After 9/11, the Red Cross was getting backlash from many contributors because the people realized that only one third of their donations were used for the victims in New York. Because of this backlash, the Red Cross made the decision in November 2011 to donate the whole amount to the cause. The issue with donating is, as a contributor you don’t always know what your money is specifically going to, but the positive note, in the Red Cross’ instance, is that the company is so large that it is always under close watch. In order to help eliminate this problem you can donate to specific companies that are based on a fixed amount or product.  For example, the popular One for One program with Toms or the $7 fixed donation at Sevenly. Most people have heard of Toms, but honestly, how many shoes do you need? Sevenly is an organization that sponsors different causes each week. They design t-shirts and posters for customers to grab, and with every purchase you make $7 is donated to the cause. Whether you spend $10 or $35, seven dollars is always donated.

 

If you can't decide on a style just pick a Grab Bag, 3 uniquely designed shirts from earlier causes. Select your size and the price is less than buying 2 shirts!

Obviously, it is vital to stay up-to-date with organizations and find one that fits your passion. Although we are all poor college students, we need clothes. So why not buy clothing with a purpose? Check out Sevenly today or sign up for weekly updates and support an organization that matches your passion! Remember, before you reach for your cash, debit card, or sign in to your PayPal account, ask “Why? How much? And How Often?”

Click here to learn about Sevenly and change up your wardrobe

 

Oh and I forgot to ask, where do YOU like to donate?

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Samantha Bringas

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2 Broke Girls: Solidifying Racial Stereotypes

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, the nationally-syndicated show on CBS, 2 Broke Girls, manages to transcend the thin line that constitutes political correctness. It wholeheartedly—for cheap laughs, nonetheless—embraces ethnic stereotypes and sexism and, by doing so, further solidifies it in the audience’s consciousness.

King was in a heated debate with the show’s creators in a panel discussion about the racial and sexual overtones used throughout the show:

“The big story about race on our show is that so many are represented,” King said. “The cast is not only multi‑ethnic, including the regulars and the guest stars, but it’s also incredibly not ageist. We represent what New York used to be and what is currently very much still alive in Williamsburg, which is a melting pot.”

On the show’s Asian character, Han Lee, King said:

“I like Han. I like his character. I like the fact he’s an immigrant. I like that he’s trying to fit into America. I like the fact in the last three episodes we haven’t made an Asian joke, we’ve only made short jokes … Would you say the ‘blonde rich bitch’ is a stereotype? Would you say that the tough‑ass, dark, sarcastic‑mouthed waitress is a stereotype? I like all of them.”

King uses his sexuality to try to defend his use of stereotypes, saying, “I’m gay! I’m putting in gay stereotypes every week. I don’t find any of it offensive, any of it. I find it comic to take everybody down.”

King conveniently forgets, however, that Asian stereotypes were extremely hateful up until the 1960s, when both black Americans and Asian Americans were finally given the right to vote and participate in civic duties.

There were a string of riots against the Chinese in the early and late 19th century by Americans. In Los Angeles in 1871, seventeen Chinese were massacred in broad view of public eyes. In fact, the public enthusiastically took up violence along with the perpetrators. “Hang them!” was a common phrase exclaimed by the bystanders and “as the Chinese were hauled up, a man on a porch roof danced a jig and gave voice to the resentment many Americans felt over the Chinese willingness to work for low wages. ‘Come on, boys, patronize home trade,’ the man sang out.” Seventeen Chinese men were lynched in front of men, women, and children. (Scharf, J. Thomas, “The Farce of the Chinese Exclusion Acts,” The North American Review. Jan. 1898. Volume 166, Issue 494, pp. 85-98.)

I’m surprised that the show doesn’t have Lee wear some “traditional” Asian attire and have him speak in a farcical “Chinese” language to further drive him from the realm of the American. When King says, “I like the fact in the last three episodes we haven’t made an Asian joke, we’ve only made short jokes,” he means, Asians are short, so we’re going to run with that. The New Yorker called the show  “so racist it is less offensive than baffling.”

Look at successful comedies out on television now: How I Met Your Mother pokes fun at contemporary social life with complex characters (Barney Stinson is an enigma), New Girl shows character-layering while still allowing Zooey Deschanel be her bubbly self, Modern Family portrays all likable characters who, although they may follow some stereotypes, are able to present complexity, and the cast of the long-cancelled Arrested Development consists of diverse characters all with their own specific personalities, not just a quick scheme to establish what’s already known in our collective consciousness.

Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter probably put it best:

“Every time Han gets to say something on 2 Broke Girls, the undercurrent is that it’s funny because it’s broken English. Plus he’s really short and geeky and non-sexual (there may have been other stereotypes to plop on top of him, but maybe creators Whitney Cummings and Michael Patrick King thought too much was enough, which would certainly stick with the general theme of the show). In any case, what CBS is doing every Monday night is trotting out one of the most regressive and stunning racist devices a network has produced in five or more seasons.”

King does admit that he wants to flesh out the supporting characters, but that’s what stereotypes create—one-dimensional figures for the sake of cheap, unwitty and predictable laughs. Count the number of times you hear the laugh track played throughout the show—you’ll understand what I mean.

I’m surprised the show hasn’t ended up yet as two broke writers. Michael Imato and Michael Anderson call the show “creatively bankrupt” and “just bloody awful.” I also found a comment on Grantland to be very poignant:

 

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Think About The Big Picture | Victoria Rossi: A Photographer in Motion

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Growing up, I thought the only combo better than peanut butter and jelly was a pen and paper. I have always had an affinity for writing and using it as a tool and an art form. However, I didn’t see my writing as a talent until I started writing poetry, performing in open mics, and participating in talent shows. Once I discovered my immense passion for poetry, I knew I had to reach out and get others involved in their own talents. When I first started writing, I saw poetry as my salvation. It introduced me to new people, new experiences, and taught me that life exists beyond the L train. This post is about how you can use your talent to help others see that their life can change, as well as how to use your talent to help your community.

Looking for people with the same affinity for using their talents to help others, I found Victoria (also known as Vee) Rossi, a 20 year-old photographer/college student.

“I started doing photography after my aunt passed away my senior year of high school. She used to own a photo lab in Barrington, Rhode Island and was the relative who always had her hand attached the camera at any family function. She loved looking through pictures, collecting pictures, taking pictures, and I guess I picked that up from her after she passed away, sort of paying homage to her. I do photography because I love creating things and I especially love creating images and having the capability of manipulating emotions and making people feel one way or another or see something or realize what they haven’t seen. Some of my favorite things or people to photograph are the dancers in my mom’s dance studio in Cranston, Rhode Island. Not only are they brilliantly talented but they’re willing to push limits photographically and also in the areas of dance. It’s always nice to photograph them also because they’re so eager to create something beautiful. I help them and they help me. I also will go to the dance competitions and photograph them while they’re in their prime competing because that’s when you really see the intensity. I not only see photography as an emotional outlet, but also as a possibility to make a career. They always say that you should do something that you love and something that makes you happy, and I think that I may have found that for me.”

Here are some recent photos Victoria has taken of her mother’s students:

      

Victoria has also done shoots for her school, Simmons College, and some of their drama productions including The Vagina Monologues. From first position to on pointe, the dancers and their art are captured via Victoria’s own art.

 

Check out Victoria and her Facebook Page and Photography Blog

Now that you’ve seen how Victoria gives back to her community, here are some ways that you can help your community with your talents:

 

Host an Art Show:

If you are an artist, painter, sculptor, metalworker, etc., go to your local YMCA, community center, or even a friend’s back yard and host an art show. You can sell your art by donation or fixed prices, or you can even just have your art on show for viewing and charge a small admission fee. Then, the proceeds can go to your local YMCA, city program, etc.

Have an Open Mic:

Taking the same idea as the art show, you can find a space to have poets, singers, musicians, and even actors come and perform. You can sell drinks or charge a small admission fee and raise money that way.

Get some friends, and direct a small play in the neighborhood:

Gather your actor, musician, dancer friends, and host a play or opera, or even a concert!

Is a local business or store you frequent looking a little dusty?:

If you have a way with the paintbrushes or even organizing, offer your services in exchange for promotion of your talent!

All of these are inexpensive and help in many ways. They help you meet more talented people, polish skills as well as gain new ones, and most importantly, they help the community.

Now that you’ve read about how to get involved, go out and do it! Here’s a great coupon for art supplies! Click HERE for a printable version!

Joanne, Simmons College ’15. Read my personal blog!

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