Indigenous Language Institute Works to Preserve American Indian Cultural Identity

The Indigenous Language Institure provides workshops and access to technological learning tools in its efforts to preserve American Indian language.

Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Indigenous Language Institute is performing an invaluable service for American Indian communities across the United States.  The Indigenous Language Institute is working urgently to help preserve American Indian cultural identity by providing teaching tools to American Indian communities for what is possibly the most important element in the preservation of Native cultures—language.

The benefits for American Indian communities from the work of the Indigenous Language Institute go well beyond language itself.  It has been repeatedly shown in numerous scientific data studies that the preservation of American Indian cultures—particularly language—had a very close and direct effect the quality and long-term benefits of the educational experience of American Indian youth.  Educational programs which have involved teaching tools for culture and language have not only helped to instill a stronger sense of cultural identity among many American Indian youth, but have been shown to have a very strong correlation with improved academic performance, test scores, and on life skills and self-esteem essential to the empowerment necessary for long-term success and the ability to empower others.

The need for the preservation of American Indian language and culture which the Indigenous Language Institute addresses has been well recognized for decades.  However it is still the case that most Native languages and cultures are rapidly disappearing, while poverty and poor quality of education are just a few of the problems that persist on American Indian reservations.  The Indigenous Language Institute seeks to raise a total of $10 million by 2012 for courses and workshops, both for language and for teaching the basics of technological learning tools.

You can help the Indigenous Language Institute in its efforts to preserve a fast-disappearing part of the American Indian identity upon which many areas of American Indian education and future success are dependent by making a money or securities donation on the Indigenous Language Institute website.

NBA Holds ‘Hoops for St. Jude Week’ for St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Denver Nuggets Head Coach George Karl visits child cancer patients of St. Jude Children's Hospital. Karl, a survivor of prostate cancer, was recently diagnosed with throat and neck cancer.

For the NBA and St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the first week of March marked Hoops for St. Jude Week; a week in which NBA players, coaches and fans joined together in efforts to raise funds and awareness for the work of St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN.

Hoops for St. Jude Week was part of an ongoing commitment of the NBA to support the work of St. Jude Children’s Hospital to save the lives of childhood cancer patients who otherwise would not have the financial means to afford treatment.  NBA players Pau Gasol, Danny Granger, Rudy Gay, Steve Blake, Kevin Love and Shane Battier have each pledged to make a donation for every point they score throughout this NBA season, as well as an end-of season donation of $20,000 each.  The Hoops for St. Jude team of NBA players was joined in their effort by Denver Nuggets Head Coach George Karl, a survivor of prostate cancer who has been recently diagnosed with throat and neck cancer, who has also pledged a $20,000 donation toward the cause.  In reflection upon his decision to join the cause, Karl commented, “One of the greatest things I can do as I battle this terrible disease is to help children who are facing the same struggles.”

As part of the NBA commitment to support the work of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Karl additionally outlined the curriculum for a school-based program, designed for schools which have committed their participation in Hoops for St. Jude Week.  The school-based program, which included a fundraising effort, emphasizes the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle while teaching basketball fundamentals to youth.

You can join the NBA in the fight against childhood cancer by making a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.  Fans who make a donation of $20 and upwards will receive a commemorative pin, which coaches across the NBA wore throughout the week in support of Hoops for St. Jude.

Louisiana-Haiti Sustainable Village Project Sends Earthquake Relief Supplies to Haiti

Roads blocked by debris add to the difficulty of earthquake victims in Jacmel and many additional parts of Haiti of obtaining much needed relief supplies.

On February 22, the Louisiana-Haiti Sustainable Village Project sent a barge filled with earthquake relief supplies bound for the Port of Jacmel on the south coast of Haiti.  With the help of local residents and volunteers, 100,000 total cubic tons of supplies donated to the Louisiana-Haiti Sustainable Village Project’s warehouse in Elmwood, Louisiana were sorted and packed, filling the Haiti-bound barge to its full capacity with food, medical supplies, household items and tents for earthquake victims.

The Louisiana-Haiti Sustainable Village Project—a consortium of 41 New Orleans nonprofit organizations—is working to build an emergency village for earthquake victims in Haiti, which will include sufficient housing, reliable infrastructure and accessible public services.  The nonprofit effort has received a particularly high level of support from New Orleans residents, survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and those involved in the rebuilding effort following Katrina who have found a particularly unique identification with the situation in Haiti—though the effects in Haiti resulting from the January 12 earthquake are multitudes greater in severity.  Those who have experienced the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina know as well as anybody that no disaster recovery effort on such a scale can be completed overnight, but will require the long-term continued support and hard work of collaboration of dedicated individuals and committed organizations.

Donations toward the earthquake relief effort in Haiti of The Louisiana-Haiti Sustainable Village Project can be made online through the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation website.

Doctors Without Borders Provides Free Urgent Medical Care

An infant in Haiti recieves medical care following the recent earthquake.

Founded in 1971 by a French group of doctors and journalists, Doctors Without Borders is a leading nonprofit organization in providing urgent medical care internationally at no cost to patients in need.  Doctors Without Borders works to provide relief where shortages of medical care exist due to natural disasters, widespread plague, military conflict or exclusion from access to health care services.

Doctors Without Borders is currently leading efforts to provide medical care following the devastation of the recent earthquake in Haiti, which left upwards of 300,000 injured including many in need of long-term care.  A nation previously lacking in available advanced health care due to its impoverished economic state, Haiti now faces a situation in which damage to infrastructure has even further limited what little medical services are available.  Doctors Without Borders, which has addressed the situation by providing an extensive amount of services for operative and post-operative care, is due shortly to open four new post-operative facilities with a total of 1,000 patient beds.  Doctors Without Borders is additionally providing mental health care as part of its relief effort in Haiti.

Doctors Without Borders is now also focusing its efforts to provide medical care in Chile following the severe damage to infrastructure which resulted from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake, which struck with catastrophic force near the city of Concepción and caused considerable damage in the capital of Santiago.

Doctors Without Borders accepts one-time and monthly donations through, the Doctors Without borders website, towards their efforts to provide medical care for those whom medical services would be otherwise inaccessible.  Doctors Without Borders also provides volunteer opportunities, internships and job positions with their offices, as well as opportunities for field work for medical professionals and non-medical personnel who qualify.

Chile Earthquake the Latest Disaster Relief Effort of Direct Relief International

Overturned autos on a collapsed overpass following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake.

The recent 8.8 earthquake that struck in Chile near the city of Concepción is the latest emergency response effort of the nonprofit organization Direct Relief International.  Direct Relief International works to provide disaster relief in coordination with local organizations best suited to provide for the needs of the community.  Direct Relief International has been involved in disaster relief efforts including Hurricane Katrina and Rita in 2005 and the Bolivia floods in January of 2007 and recently became involved in the earthquake relief effort in Haiti, contributing $1.3 million in medical aid to victims.

Direct Relief International is currently working to provide necessary aid to victims of the earthquake in Chile which resulted in at least 723 deaths and 500,000 damaged homes.  In addition to the earthquake, consequent tsunamis severely damaged the port of Talcahuano in the greater area of Concepción and all but completely destroyed the fishing community of 7,000 people in the village of Dichato.  The death toll in Dichato resulting from the tsunami still has yet to be determined. 

You can get involved the Direct Relief International response effort to the earthquake in Chile, the earthquake in Haiti or other ongoing efforts by making a direct donation online through the Direct Relief International website.  Direct Relief International accepts donations of stocks, as well as donations of medical products.

Oxfam International Responds Swiftly to Earthquake in Chile

As with any earthquake on such a scale, building collapses were not an uncommon result of the recent earthquake in Chile.

Immediately following the magnitude 8.8 earthquake which struck on February 27, 2010 just off the coast of Chile near the city of Concepción, the U.K.-based nonprofit humanitarian organization, Oxfam International was among the first to step up to the obligation for assistance.  Despite being a developed country with more than its share of past experience with earthquakes—including the largest currently on record at 9.5 which struck in May of 1960—the scale of the earthquake that struck Chile was one for which little could be done to prevent the massive amounts of damage and devastation suffered by much of the population.

In addition to contacting partner organizations in Chile following the earthquake, Oxfam International sent a number of staff members from its locations in Mexico and Colombia—including logisticians and water engineers as well as humanitarian staff—to the disaster zone to help assess the situation and to determine what will be necessary assistance for planning and repairs of essential infrastructure, and humanitarian aid to the many thousands affected.

Before the earthquake in Chile, Oxfam International—a non-government nonprofit organization—was been one of the most instrumental in its swift response to the disaster relief effort in Haiti, raising $33,000 toward the cause through Facebook alone.

You can become involved in the earthquake relief effort in Chile by making a secure online donation through the Oxfam International website.  Oxfam additionally accepts fundraiser donations, and provides volunteer opportunities on the local level through its Oxfam Action Corps program and offers student internship opportunities to those who qualify.

HandsOn New Orleans Involves Communities in Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort

HandsOn New Orleans volunteers prepare to enter a home damaged by Katrina for a restoration project.

HandsOn New Orleans Volunteers prepare to enter a home damaged by Katrina for a restoration project.

One of the most active nonprofit organizations in helping to revitalize the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has been HandsOn New Orleans.  Begun in March of 2006, volunteers for HandsOn New Orleans have collectively pitched in more than 542,000 hours to a variety of projects.

HandsOn New Orleans takes an approach to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort which goes far beyond simply providing a particular service such as property restoration.  In addition to offering services such as property restoration and construction of new housing in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, HandsOn New Orleans works in active co-operation with community leaders to design projects specially designed to meet that particular communities’ needs with Community Driven Projects as well as Volunteer Leader Training for those who wish to become active in co-coordinating community projects.  Additionally, HandsOn New Orleans offers Youth-Friendly Projects through its Youth Engagement program to empower the youth within a community to take a positive role in their own community’s development and well-being.

There are a variety of ways by which you can become involved with HandsOn New Orleans in their effort to restore New Orleans communities in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.  In addition to a project calendar, the HandsOn Network website includes links to each of the programs—including a Volunteer Housing Program for those who wish to take part in an extended project and become a stronger part of a community of volunteers dedicated to common goals.  HandsOn New Orleans also accepts tax-deductible PayPal donations through their website or by mail, as well as donations of household and office items.

Project Fleur-de-lis Addresses Post-Katrina Mental Health Needs Among New Orleans Children

Project Fleur-de-lis has been one of the few nonprofit organizations in the New Orleans area that has provided mental health services to those suffering psychological trauma in the wake of Katrina.

Despite the general scarcity of resources in the city of New Orleans to address the mental health crisis following Hurricane Katrina, Project Fleur-de-lis has taken strong initiative in helping children and families affected by traumatic experiences develop ways to cope with the psychological scars that resulted from the disaster.

Project Fleur-de-lis seeks to take a proactive approach to address the severity of the mental health crisis in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina though intervention in the influential stages of childhood development among children suffering psychological trauma.  It has been well-documented that in the wake of Katrina, severe mental illness among survivors of the disaster, as well as those suffering from its after-effects in the city of New Orleans has reached a rate double that of the general population.

Project Fleur-de-lis is a nonprofit organization which utilizes a three-tier intervention system designed to identify individuals in need of mental health services after suffering psychological trauma incurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and to curb the damaging effects of the enduring symptoms on a child’s future academic and social development.  Project Fleur-de-lis works with more than 60 participating elementary schools in the area of New Orleans to provide in-school services to those in need of assistance.

Beginning with school-wide interventions, Project Fleur-de-lis attempts to identify and reach out to those in need of mental health services to address the psychological trauma of Hurricane Katrina and its after-effects through classroom intervention and in-school counseling.  For those requiring further assistance, Project Fleur-de-lis offers assessment and referral services from professional counselors to additional professional mental health services and care.  Project Fleur-de-lis additionally offers educational workshops for parents and teachers to help develop approaches to more effectively cope, as well as assistance to those in financial difficulty to provide a healthy environment for psychological healing. 

You can help support Project Fleur-de-lis in its efforts to provide mental health care for those suffering the psychological scars of Hurricane Katrina with a donation by telephone or contact the Project Fleur-de-lis Director of Development Stephen J. Engro at the Project Fleur-de-lis website.

UNITY of Greater New Orleans Addresses Homelessness After Hurricane Katrina

UNITY of Greater New Orleans is currently the only organization which has conducted regular statistical surveys of homes abandoned following Hurricane Katrina to gauge the levels of homelessness in the city.

UNITY of Greater New Orleans is currently the only organization which has conducted surveys of abandoned property following Hurricane Katrina in the city of New Orleans to gauge levels of homelessness in the city.

Among the most active nonprofit agencies in the disaster relief effort following Hurricane Katrina in the Greater New Orleans area is UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a consortium of 63 non-profit and government organizations founded in 1992 with the goal of providing housing and services to individuals in the city currently suffering homelessness.

UNITY of Greater New Orleans seeks to effectively address the most severe problem of homelessness in the nation; one of many lingering after-effects of Hurricane Katrina.  According to conservative estimates taken by UNITY four full years after Katrina in August of 2009, approximately 11,000 people, constituting nearly four percent of the city’s population, remain homeless; more than four times the national average of most major metropolitan areas and more than double the rate of the city with the next highest homelessness rate—Atlanta, at 1.4 percent.  UNITY also estimated a total of more than 6,000 squatters living in the city’s nearly 66,000 abandoned homes.  UNITY additionally found nine homeowners living in unrepaired, flood damaged homes which contained toxic hazards and were deemed unfit for habitation.

UNITY of Greater New Orleans is currently the only agency which is taking regular surveys of abandoned homes in the city of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.  In addition to taking surveys of abandoned homes, providing the most accurate known estimates of homelessness in the city of New Orleans and working with policymakers to help provide sufficient, affordable housing to struggling and homeless families and citizens in the Greater New Orleans area, UNITY of Greater New Orleans has created UNITY HousingLink—a free online listing resource which provides guidance for potential renters to determine affordable housing budgets in helping to find affordable housing while simultaneously helping landlords and agencies to fill vacancies.

For private individuals who wish to become involved with UNITY of Greater New Orleans in their effort to address the problem of homelessness in the city and surrounding area following Hurricane Katrina, UNITY of Greater New Orleans accepts donations of household goods, toiletries and bedding supplies for their warehouse, where volunteer opportunities are available to help inventory and sort donated goods.  Volunteer opportunities are also available at the UNITY office to assist with data research and computer graphic and website design, or on-call for pick up and delivery of goods or with UNITY’s moving team.  You can also make a tax-deductible donation by telephone to support the nonprofit efforts of UNITY of Greater New Orleans to help provide housing and services to those suffering homelessness in the area.

NBA Leads by Example in Social Responsibility With NBA Cares Community Outreach Initiative

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar signs an autograph for a boy at a free clinic hosted by the Lakers for underprivileged children in Washington, D.C.

Through networking with numerous community outreach organizations NBA Cares has made it possible for players, employees and even fans to become more directly involved in taking positive action in the well-being of a vast number of communities. 

A recent example of the community outreach efforts of NBA Cares took place on January 25, 2010, the morning the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers were set to make their White House visit to be congratulated by President Barack Obama.  In the midst of an eight-game road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers invited a class of 30 children from Stanton Elementary School in Washington, D.C.—of which 92.2 percent of the student population is classified as “Low-Income” as of 2006, according to a Washington Post report—for a clinic in which they were given the opportunity to take part in drills to learn basketball fundamentals from professional NBA players; and for a talk on the benefits and importance of building solid habits for maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle to one’s overall well-being and quality of life.

The community outreach efforts of NBA Cares are not limited to league players or employees.  NBA Cares also helps to provide its network of community outreach organizations with support by providing links to volunteer opportunities on its website through which you can become involved in taking positive action in your community.