While many of us have been blessed to experience our Universe as one of abundance, far too many more live a life fraught with deprivation, degradation, and disease. With the core of my own mission lying in women’s health education, I have come to believe that creating and maintaining whole health and stability in the body — and in the personal financial equation — require a sound capacity to both give and to receive. From there it is a simple step, to extrapolate this holistic health give-and-take philosophy to a universal level. I would like to encourage all of you to explore the mission of each of the wonderful organizations listed on this page, whose giving programs embody both hope and practical solutions that really do work. There is simply nothing that nourishes the heart and soul more completely than giving to a cause in which you wholeheartedly believe, and to believe that you can truly make a difference.
Breast Cancer Charities of America
The Breast Cancer Charities of America (BCCA) is a wonderful non-profit organization that brings “integrated cancer care” to breast cancer prevention, treatment, and recovery. This approach brings together traditional oncology care with care for the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—through disciplines such as nutrition, exercise, and spirituality. BCCA is dedicated to ending breast cancer as a life threatening disease and brings together progressive breast cancer authorities who work together in education and research. BCCA also provides counseling, and emergency financial services to breast cancer patients here in the United States, as well as providing medicine and medical equipment to cancer patients internationally. To find out how you can help, please visit The Breast Cancer Charities of America Web site.
Children's Hunger Fund
The Children’s Hunger Fund is doing extraordinary work throughout the world. They organize relief efforts both internationally and close to home. In addition to packages of food, toiletries, and holiday gifts, the Children’s Hunger Fund makes sure that children get multivitamins every day. These are absolutely life-saving in some parts of the world. And they allow children to reach their full potential. The organization is extremely well run and financially sound, so you can be sure that your donation will get to the children, and their families, who really need it. To find out more about this wonderful organization, to donate, or to volunteer, please visit the Children's Hunger Fund Web site.
Girl Scouts USA
In January of 2002 I was thrilled to receive the Distinguished Woman of the Year award from the Kennebec Girl Scout Council here in Maine. It was a delight to be recognized locally for my work in empowering women and girls, and I then set about learning more about the Girls Scouts. What I found not only confirmed some of my philosophies about women’s wisdom, but also filled me with joy about how well the Girl Scout organization, including all the women and men who support it, empower girls at a critical stage in their lives, thus preventing all manner of health problems. I am impressed with the Girl Scouts’ community connection initiatives, such as an after-school drop-in program for girls at risk; the Girl Scout Research Institute, a center for research and public policy information on the healthy development of girls as they mature toward adulthood; and also the new Money Smarts program, a platform for girls to learn about earning, spending, saving, and investing. By developing money management skills early in life, girls gain the confidence they need to take control of their own financial future. Since the health of our planet is directly and inextricably related to the health of women and girls, investment in programs such as these has a big pay-off later. If you’re looking for a way to help improve the health of young women in your community, consider getting involved in the Girl Scouts.
Heifer International is a superb nonprofit organization that works with communities internationally. Their Women in Livestock Development (WiLD) provides women with livestock to help them feed their families, earn income, and care for the environment simultaneously. For example, for $20 you can give a flock of chicks. This flock can live on table scraps, help control insects, and also fertilize the soil. Additionally, one good hen can lay up to 200 eggs per year, enough to both increase a family’s protein intake and bring in income. One of the key principles of WiLD is that the women who receive the livestock learn sustainable farming practices, and also pass along some of their animal offspring to other women in need. So the gift keeps on giving. Talk about empowering women to help themselves!
Heifer International’s Kids 2 Kids campaign brings goats and other farm animals to hungry children and families around the world, with special attention directed toward orphans. They assist orphanages in creating farms that provide both food for the children, and give them opportunities to learn skills that will help sustain them as they become adults. A gift of $120 can provide a goat and all the training necessary to raise and breed it.
With giving options ranging from a humble hive of bees to an ark-full of animals and plants, from hands-on lambing and volunteer experiences to charitable gift annuities and trust programs, Heifer International offers everyone the opportunity to make a real difference in the world.
Mercy Ships is a global charity that has operated a fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. The organization brings hope and healing to the world’s poorest people. In addition to providing supplies and offering medical care, they also perform many types of surgeries including those for cleft lip and palate; cataracts and other eye conditions, maxillo-facial and other tumors; orthopedic conditions, and vesico-vaginal fistula or VVF (a condition that causes a constant leak of urine and/or feces). These surgeries have improved the life of thousands, and made it possible for some to be accepted into their communities for the first time. Click here to find out more about the great work that Mercy Ships is doing or to learn about their volunteer program.
Personal Ponies, Ltd
It’s important to open your heart regularly by feeling emotions of gratitude, affection, love, and forgiveness. Doing so has all sorts of physiologic benefits within the whole body — not just the heart alone! One of my favorite heart tonics is the story behind the founding of Personal Ponies, Ltd, a nonprofit organization that pairs very small Shetland Ponies, known for their gentle, loving nature, with children who have special needs. Marianne Alexander founded this organization in 1986 in memory of her brother, Bernard Garfield, who had epilepsy and died of pneumonia when he was just 13 and Marianne was 15. Bernard had wanted a pony all his life, and this made a lasting impression on Marianne, who founded the organization on the belief that the life of a child with disabilities can be immeasurably enriched by having a tiny pony to love and care for. Personal Ponies, Ltd offers their ponies for life-use without charge through a program of caring. Wishing you an open heart, always.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America was founded by the visionary Margaret Sanger, on humanistic principles such as a woman’s first responsibility toward herself, the right of all people to choose whether and when to have a child, and the right of every child born to be cherished. Access to affordable birth control is the most urgent issue facing human existence today, with overpopulation being the most salient threat facing us in this millenium. Whether you are considering the situation within your own community or that of the global community, reproductive freedom is simply fundamental to not only quality of life, but survival of life on this planet as we know it. Visit the informative and well-organized Planned Parenthood Federation of America Web site to learn more about the important and far-ranging mission of this organization. (Fellow New Englanders click here.)
The Red Web Foundation
The Red Web Foundation is dedicated to changing the way we think and experience the menstrual cycle. It is a growing organization of menstrual health advocates, who are health care practitioners, nutritionists, educators, mothers, and artists coming together to create a positive awareness, changing what is usually hidden and often times considered shameful into respect for the feminine cycle, first bleeding, menarche, through last, menopause. The Red Web Foundation provides an on-line resource for public education, including books, articles, and listing of menstrual health advocates with a calendar of their workshops. In addition, it provides gatherings for menstrual health advocates and has a goal of providing menstrual awareness conferences for women and girls. For more information, visit The Red Web Foundation Web site.
The Seva Foundation works effectively throughout the world’s continents at a community level to change lives and serve those in need. They have restored eyesight to hundreds of thousands of individuals, trained eye doctors and midwives, established clean drinking water sources, and worked to improve child health globally. The Seva Foundation offers a wide range of gift opportunities, from Native American wellness programs, gifts of service, and community self-development programs, to volunteer opportunities in the United States, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their Web site is brimming with opportunity, soul, and gorgeous photography—visit it soon for instant inspiration!
Women for Women International
Women for Women International helps women whose lives have been torn apart by war and conflict to rebuild their lives. They do this by providing financial and emotional support, job skills training, rights awareness, leadership education, and access to business skills, capital, and markets. They begin by working with women who may have lost everything and often have nowhere else to turn. Their one-year program launches women on a journey from victim to survivor to active citizen. As part of the program, Women for Women International matches each woman in the program with a “sister” – a sponsor who provides money for basic necessities such as food, clean water, medicine, school fees, or seed money for projects to earn an income. Sponsors and their sisters also exchange letters. For a woman who may have lost everything or who feels isolated, letters of support often renew her hope for a better future. After twelve months, Women for Women International helps “graduates” obtain loans and other resources they need as they continue to strive for greater social, economic, and political participation in their communities.
Women Unlimited has been recruiting, training and placing women in trade and technical careers since 1988. Founded and based in the State of Maine, this nonprofit organization focuses on promoting the development of women’s skills in numerous nontraditional occupations such as carpentry, computer programming, and flying. They offer support and information, conferences, workshops, and hands-on training in alternative jobs that many women find more interesting and rewarding than the standard options available to them. For anyone interested in thinking outside the box, I encourage you to visit the Women Unlimited Web site, where there are links to many similar organizations around the country. Vive la difference!