Community

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived a life raised by powerful, headstrong, determined, beautiful women; or maybe it’s because I’ve sadly experienced how women should not be treated to know that being bold was never my choice. Being BOLD meant getting up each day and fighting to be my best, always being heard, and never letting anyone tell me that I couldn’t do something, wasn’t good enough, or wasn’t important – no matter the gender, race, or belief.

According to a statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization in 2015 (September 2014-September 2015).  This rate, while astounding, is declining from previous years. While this may not seem like something of great concern, Volunteering is an incredibly valuable resource to community organizations; specifically non-profits, that have limited funding or monetary resources to keep their organizations operating. The reason for decline? While this remains a mystery, many may say it could be attributed to laziness, lack of interest in community, or just plain ignorance to the importance of this valuable resource. So why give back? The obvious answer- that it helps the organization with resources it may not have, and that it gives back to better your community…but I bet that you didn’t think about how it can help you.

Learn Something, Teach Someone

The thought of volunteering might leave you feeling hesitant; the perception that you’ll be doing something that you find less than enjoyable in your everyday life….never mind doing it as a means of giving back. Volunteering in your community doesn’t have to be something you don’t enjoy. Choose something that interests you, and make volunteering that much more exciting. Choose an organization you’re passionate about, and find a way that you can use your own skills and talents to apply them to an organization of your choice.

From my own personal experience working for a non-profit; Volunteering didn’t mean that being passionate about a particular topic (like animals) meant that you were committed to working with them, or cleaning up after them. If you liked talking to people…you were given a spot answering the phone; if you liked taking photos…we found a spot for you to use your talents in photography. Maybe the organization of your choice doesn’t list how you can help them doing something you love…but it can’t hurt to ask, right?

Take the opportunity to volunteer as a chance to teach someone something new…and bring a personal talent to the table! Learn something new from someone, and gain a new experience that you might never before have had the chance to do!

Make a Friend; Open New Doors!

Take advantage of the experience as an opportunity to meet new people, make a friend, or network with others within the organization. Volunteers are people from all walks of life, all types of organizations, and are composed of all sorts of community members. Maybe you’re new to the neighborhood; or maybe you’re looking for a job. Volunteering will open all sorts of doors and allow you to make an impression (good or bad) on the people surrounding you. Most importantly, keep an open mind…you never know who you’ll make a connection with.

Feel Better, Gain Perspective

In a 2013 study, 94% of people who volunteered over a 12-month period said that volunteering improved their mood, and 78% said that it lowered their stress levels.  Volunteering is good for your health, gives you the ability to feel empathy, and helps boost your self-esteem. By making an impact, you will feel a sense of reliability, and feel a sense of belonging. When we give back to our community, we learn more about the challenges our community faces, and in turn have the ability to advocate for change. With a changed perspective, we’ll be more open minded, and learn that the little things in life aren’t ones worth stressing over.

Even though the heart of volunteering is about giving back, volunteering has lots of gifts to give us in return. Choosing to volunteer doesn’t have to mean that you give up a whole weekend or make a commitment you aren’t able to realistically keep-make small commitments that fit into your life but will make a large impact on the lives of others. Living a Beauty Full life means finding the beauty deep within us and living with the kindness of our hearts.

 

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“October marks the beginning of what I like to call Donation Season; 92 days when charities around the world receive over a third of their yearly donations,” says Gregg Murset, certified financial planner and Chief Executive Officer of BusyKid. According to some recent reports on philanthropy, 34 percent of all donations are made in the last three months of the year, including roughly 25 percent of those between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Talk about last minute gift giving.

By all accounts, donations are back on the rise after the bad economic times of a few years ago. However, how much of the counted money comes from kids? There are an estimated 73.6 million kids under the age of 18 living in the US. Just imagine how charities would be impacted if just 10% of our kids gave $1 a week for an entire year? That’s a $382.7 million game-changer.

“I really believe that our children are the answer to the prayers of organizations that depend on precious donations year after year,” says Murset. “But if our kids don’t know why they should give or how to give, can we expect them to do so or be good at it?”

So, as parents, how do we do it? How do we make our kids understand and develop into a good givers? Here are a few suggestions Murset provides for us to consider:

Make It Real. You’ve seen the TV commercials from the animal shelter or about the kids in other countries. Those are effective because it makes a cause real to us. If we want our kids to be passionate or supportive of a charity, make it real to them and show them how their money can help.

It’s Their Idea.We all know what happens when we try to make kids do anything. So when it comes to giving, make it seem like it was their idea by exposing them to a particular charity and asking them for ideas how to help. At a minimum your goal should be to get them to share their allowance, birthday savings or money saved for a special toy a few times a year.

Be Family Strong. Donate to someplace as a family, especially if you have young children. Once you’ve passed along your words of wisdom and created a plan for your children to give, you need to drive home the message by doing it together. Let them see you and older siblings dropping coins into the bucket of a person ringing a bell or donating online. Either way, being family strong will pay off!

Work for It. Instead of parents always reaching into their wallets to make a donation, let the kids pitch in with hard earned allowance. BusyKid is a perfect example of how a child can use modern technology to build a routine of earning and sharing. By starting a routine of giving as a kid, he/she will likely discover that giving a small portion of a paycheck as an adult comes with other benefits too.

Money’s good, but don’t forget about time. My kids have no problem giving a part of their allowance each week at church, however, nothing bonded our family more than when we used part of our Summer and Fall vacations traveling the US to do work for families in need. Overall, we traveled nearly 10,000 miles in a packed RV to do chores for some struggling families. You don’t need to go to this extreme, but getting your family to help others when it’s not the holiday season, can be impactful in more ways than one.

He adds, with Americans giving about 4 percent of their yearly income to charities, it’s clear that kids can make a huge impact on the success of many organizations. As parents, we should get our kids vested in the game much earlier and more often.

Photo by London Scout

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Before you grab that morning cup of coffee on an empty stomach, that lunchtime slice of pizza or indulge in a steak dinner or ice cream while watching TV, understand that what you eat and when you eat it can lead to stomach upset. It can also trigger more severe issues in your gut. On the flip side, there are some foods that when eaten at certain times of day may soothe already existing stomach issues or may even prevent stomach ailments from occurring down the line. We spoke with Dr. Gina Sam Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York who offers insights on what and when to eat certain foods for a healthy gut.

Best Bets for Morning

Yogurt
It’s important to start the day with a healthy breakfast that factors in stomach health. Probiotics found in Greek yogurt is ideal as it regulates the growth of harmful bacteria that is grown in the digestive tract. Probiotics also keep colon lining healthy as it breaks through gastric acid and gets to the colon. In 2015 a study published in the The Korean Journal of Gastroenterology showed that yogurt might improve intestinal function for those with inflammatory bowel disease. Those who are lactose intolerant can enjoy lactose free yogurt.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a great bet for breakfast and can be topped with blueberries another gut-friendly food. Oatmeal doesn’t cause acid reflux, it actually soothes any morning stomach upset and regulates bowel movements.

Fresh Fruit
Honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon are great options for those sensitive to reflux. Bananas help restore potassium, electrolytes and normal bowel function, especially if you have diarrhea. Bananas are also high in fiber, which is great for digestion.

The Lunchtime Lowdown

Salads
Eating leafy greens daily is a great for digestion. Lunchtime salads that include grilled salmon; chicken or turkey won’t cause reflux and will be easily digestible throughout the afternoon. If you are sensitive to acid then you will want to avoid onions or tomatoes and for some even the seeds in cucumbers can trigger a bout of stomach cramping. Be careful with lemon juice and vinegar in salad dressings, which can promote reflux. Try adding fennel with arugula and baby spinach along with parsley. Parsley is known to help digestion and settles the stomach.

Kimchi
This delicious Korean coleslaw is made primarily with cabbage, which promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. Also cabbage helps to eliminate waste regulating bowl movements. Home-made sauerkraut is also a delicious option but be mindful if you are sensitive to spicy foods. This is why it is best to make your own so you can regulate the amount of spice.

Mediterranean Plates
Lunchtime is optimal for grilled veggies, legumes such as lentils with olive oil along with grilled fish or chicken. Preparing a plate of various whole grains, cauliflower, carrots, figs and pears are all great sources of fiber for the mid day.

A Digestible Dinner

You really want to focus on ease of digestion at dinnertime. Foods that are high fat can overwhelm the stomach, resulting in acid reflux and heartburn. Steatorrhea or pale colored stool is excess fat in the feces. People with IBS fare better when they avoid high fat foods. That said here are some options for a healthy gut.

Grilled Fish
Cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut or tuna when grilled in grape seed oil are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can address any inflammation in the digestive tract. According to a 2014 study featured in the World Journal of Clinical Cases, omega-3s were sited as being beneficial to those with ulcerative colitis.

Grilled Chicken with Couscous or Brown Rice
Chicken another lean meat that offers protein and is easy to digest goes great with couscous or brown rice especially if you tend to get acid reflux after late meals. Another option for a side dish is guacamole or avocado slices with lime. Artichokes also feed the good bacteria in your gut as does asparagus and lentils.

Stomach Friendly Snacking

When it comes to snacking there are several options you can reach for. Granny smith apples with almond butter, baby carrots and hummus, hallowed out cucumber and cottage cheese, kale and zucchini chips and assorted nuts (not peanuts) are all healthy and good for the gut.

You know your body best, so pay close attention to what agrees with you at varying times of the day and if you notice changes in how you take to certain foods see your doctor.

Photo by  Shanice Garcia