Archive | February 2012

Sole Hope: One Step at a Time

Recently on Twitter I discovered a new organization called Sole Hope (@SoleHope). Their mission: create jobs and shoes for those in need.

It all started with this YouTube video (warning: watch this video with a strong stomach) showing volunteers extracting jiggers from children’s feet in Africa. Jiggers are small sand fleas that enter bare feet and burrow into the skin. If left untreated they can lead to serious infections, paralysis and even amputation. The worst part, all of this could be avoided if people were wearing closed-toed shoes and washed their feet. Asher Collie (founder of Sole Hope) saw the video and it broke her heart. After seeing the pain on the children’s faces, being a mother herself, she couldn’t sit idly by a leave the problem to someone else. She choose to do something about it and in 2010 Asher visited Zambia Africa to see what could be done.

Once realizing how real the problem was she came home and began designing a shoe with friend, and designer, Beth Gaffney. Soon Asher realized that not only could she make shoes for the children, but she could also create jobs by teaching how to make the shoes. Sole Hope’s vision is “to offer hope to widows, orphans and others within impoverished and forgotten communities around the world by teaching the simple trade of shoemaking that provides jobs and shoes for those in need.”Currently Sole Hope provides the much needed shoes and jobs to Uganda and Zambia, Africa, jobs to those in the US, and they just keep growing!

I was lucky enough to be able to interview the founder of the organization, Asher Collie.

Once you realized you wanted to do something about it, how did you get started?

I founded Sole Hope after seeing a video that rocked my world. After learning about jiggers and other parasites entering through the feet of children without shoes I was completely and utterly disturbed by a problem that was impacting the lives of thousands of children in Africa, and was completely preventable. I began to take actions to design a shoe that could be made by men and women in impoverished villages needing work that we could teach them to make and put of the feet of children in their village.

What are some of your future goals and projects you have for Sole Hope?   Read More…

Week 9: Improve your office with kindness.

The next theme of the 52 Weeks of Good Campaign is Improving The Office. We all spend so much time at work, so we should make the best of our every day. These next four posts are things workers and leaders can both be a part of.

Card from my awesome HR co-worker. What a difference she is making!

Week 9 is about how one can improve the moral of the office just by being kind. Everyone has the ability to do their best, but sometimes it just takes a little encouragement from a fellow co-worker or from their boss to keep up the steam. Here are 5 easy ways to let someone know you appreciate them and the work they are putting in:

  1. As emails fly around the office, be sure to comment back to them how awesome they are doing or what out of the work they are doing you see them doing well. It’s always nice to know someone has read your email and appreciates your work.
  2. Have a weekly or a monthly meeting? Call someone out (even if they are not there)! In every managers meeting I like to highlight one of my staff members so everyone else can know what they are up to and the great work they are producing.
  3. Write them a little note and leave it on their desk. Could be on a post-it or even on a nicer card. However you present it, the feeling of coming back to your desk with a little note that says: “You rock” or “You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished” or even a support card really hits a person to their core and makes them feel good to keep going. Best part, they can save it and look at it from time to time to help them stay motivated.
  4. Want to be a little more public? Send out an email to your whole staff and give that person a big shout-out by highlighting their great work. They might turn a little red, but now everyone in the company will know what a great job they are doing, not just your department.
  5. Tell them in person. It is amazing how difficult compliments have become, but they go a long way. Giving a compliment in person really puts a lot of meaning and heart behind what is being said.

Give it a try! Be conscious of the work that is happening around you and make sure to let others know you appreciate it. Start of by noting something once a week and work your way up to handing out the goodness once a day. Soon it will become second nature and you will have helped in creating a positive and productive work environment!

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Sunday, February 26 through Saturday March 3 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

As this month’s theme is awareness, we have a guest post from my co-worker Cal Ledbetter. He has spent a lot of his time volunteering with eating disorder awareness organizations and would like to share some information that may surprise you.

Eating disorders are devastating. Awareness of eating disorders is so important because it is an issue that commonly gets brushed under the rug. Men and women with eating disorders are often times marginalized. Men are marginalized as having a “woman’s problem”, and women are marginalized for being too “looks” obsessed. Both of these ideas are untrue. Over 8 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, one million of them are men. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It is reported that 5-10% of people with anorexia die within ten years of contracting the disease. The mortality rate is 12 times higher than the death rate of all causes of death for females 15-24 years old. This is why it’s important to know the facts about eating disorders and where to get help.

  • People do not have eating disorders because they are “vain.” Eating disorders are usually a by-product of anxiety, depression, or feeling out of control
  • It’s not as easy as convincing someone to eat, or to not purge. These diseases are not easily recovered from. Telling someone they “look better bigger,” or “don’t need to worry about their weight” often does not help.
  • Teenage girls are not the only people who have eating disorders. Middle-aged and elderly women can also suffer from eating disorders, as well as men of all ages and children as young as five.
  • People can fully recover from eating disorders. The early it is treated, the better.

More information about eating disorders can be found here.

Help raise awareness during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. For more information, click here.

If you know someone with an eating disorder, look into getting them help, here

Week 8: Understand each other.

For the last week of Awareness, Week 8 is about finding ways to understand each other.

I believe we could solve a lot of problems if we were all a little more understanding of each other. Looking at a global level many wars, crimes and hate stem from the lack of understanding. Or I guess the lack of willingness to understand other races, cultures, practices, and religions. So much violence comes from different beliefs and being stuck in our own ways and not being open to the idea that someone can think differently than we do. There is a quote that sums up my thoughts on this: “Know that the greatest fear is fear of the unknown,” by Jonathan Lockwood Huie. We are afraid of of what we don’t know, of what we don’t understand, but by learning to understand what we don’t know we can no longer be afraid of it.

Although difficult to change the world over night, there are many ways we can work on a greater understanding by focusing on what is happening in our own communities. Here are some ideas:

  • Pick up a book about a religion different than yours. Then read it.
  • Attend different religious events. Go to a Church, Mosque, Synagogue, Temple, etc., and experience the peace they have to offer. Even if you are not religious, it is still important to learn about what others believe.
  • Make friends, join groups, and get involved with other organizations with a different race or culture than you. This one may sound obvious, but so often we find ourselves with “like people.” People like ourselves. It’s time we really become a melting pot have a network of all types of people.

The more we are able to learn about each other, the more we will be able to understand and accept that it is OK to be and think differently than one another. It will just become the norm.

Peace and love,

Kelly

Optimistic Valentine

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It is a little depressing to see how much negativity is stemmed from Valentines Day. Ok ok, I get that it is a made-up holiday that supports consumerism with the purchasing of cards, flowers and chocolate, but today doesn’t have to be about that. I also understand how it can be viewed as the national “I’m single, so lets rub it in day,” but I think if you get down to the core take-away message of today, it doesn’t have to include any of that negativity.

Whether you have a significant person or not, I believe the day is about sharing your love with those you do love. A day to let those people that are important in your life to know how important they are to you. A favorite quote of mine is: “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” By an unknown author.

It could be your mom, dad, brother, sister, neighbor, class crush, barista down the street, bar tender, bus driver, or significant other if you have been lucky enough to find that person, but be sure to let them know that you care about them today. Valentines Day is a national day to remind you to say “I love you” because people do forget and it always nice to be reminded that you are loved.

So, with that, have a very happy Valentines Day! You are loved.

Week 7: Don’t hide behind ignorance

Part of being aware about those around you is to know what is happening in your communities (the good and the not so great). It is easy to say that you’re not doing anything about the issues in your communities because you don’t know what is going on, but let’s be honest, that is just an excuse. How easy it is to see a problem and not do anything about it because you don’t know where to find the solution or you just hope someone else will fix it. How many times have you driven around that pot hole? You’ve assumed someone has called it in, but chances are, everyone else is thinking the same thing as you. The same goes for how much trash you see on the street, homeless people you walk by begging for your spare change and the amount of graffiti defacing the city walls.

It’s time to step-up and start to learn more about what goes on in your area. Attend village, town, or city meetings. Get on the email lists of the neighborhood news. Learn about what the local non-profits are doing to try to improve your area and figure out ways you can help them. You don’t always have to donate your time or money to a non-profit (although, if you can, it is a HUGE help to them as most non-profits couldn’t run without the help of their volunteers). Sometimes a non-profit just needs some extra supplies to cut down on their admin costs or are looking for other types of donations. Sometimes learning about an organization and spreading the word about it to your friends could be a huge help. Maybe you don’t have the time, but your neighbor does and they would really like to get involved.

As important as it is to help those in need around the world, it is also important to make sure your community has what it needs to be a safe, healthy and sustainable.

Not sure how you can get involved? Here are a few resources that might help you get started:

Directory of charities and non-profits in your zip code: http://www2.guidestar.org/NonprofitDirectory.aspx

Seattle City Council: http://www.seattle.gov/council/ (don’t live in Seattle? Just google “City Council” and your city name)

Get Involved: http://www.getinvolved.gov/

The Phone Stack

It amazes me how attached we are on our phones. I like to pretend I don’t care if I have my phone around me, but as soon as I can’t remember where I put it and fear I have lost it, panic sets in. All of a sudden my world turns upside-down. What if someone has it and has access to my life; what if someone needs to get a hold of me; what if I need to get a hold of someone; what will I do without all my lists; how will I get around town? You don’t realize just how attached to it you are until it’s not there. I use it for everything. My boyfriend has dubbed it “The Great Phone Search” every time I have misplaced it. I use it for everything, it’s like an extension of my brain to the outside world.

All that being said, I feel like there is a time and a place to have your phone out. If I am having a conversation with someone, it is not a time to be on my phone. If I’m out to breakfast or dinner with friends, another time I keep it away. You’re not going to talk on your phone while you are sitting at the table with a group of people, so why would you pull it out to text or read your email? When you are with someone or a group of people, you should actually be the there with them mentally, not just physically. Who ever just sent you a text, they can wait. You can wait. Be with the people you are with for the time you are with them.

A few weeks ago, I read this article about The Phone Stack game. A simple way to combat you and your friends from being on your phones the whole time you are out together is pull them all out (eliminates sneaky texting under the table) and stack them in the middle of the table. Now, for the rest of the meal you are not allowed to touch your phone and the first person that does, picks up the tab. And while I am in no place to pick up everyone’s tab, by just having my phone being stacked with everyone else’s phone, it’s an easy way for me to stay present in the group and enjoy everyone around me.

Read the full article, here: http://www.getkempt.com/the-code/the-phone-stack.php