365 Acts of Kindess
Foster Care Awareness Month

I know that this weekend was Memorial Day, and you’d think with a father who served in the military for 40 years I’d have made a donation relevant to that this weekend.But I just had to be different I guess.

May is also National Foster Care Awareness Month. I’m always very emotional about foster kids. My first nonprofit job in college was as a tutor at St. Peter-St Joseph Children’s Home in San Antonio, TX. The goal was to either give their crappy parents time to finish rehab or court-ordered anger management or something, or find the kids a foster home. 

These poor kids. I have met the faces that go with this cause, so it’s why it gets to me. 

Anyway, at the end of college I interned at an organization called CASA of Travis County. CASA’s exist all over the U.S, not just in Travis County. Their work is to recruit volunteer case-workers (aka special advocates) to spend 20 hours a week over a period of months with a foster kid and all parties involved (the parents or grandparents, the foster family, teachers, siblings) and make a recommendation to the judge about what is in the best interest of the kid. Adoption, reuniting with the family, etc.

This job is critical to a foster child’s success. The CASA is the only non-biased party whose job isn’t to help the family or the foster parent, but to think only of the kids. The judge relies on this person when making a decision.

So to me it was a no-brainer to donate to CASA. 

And you know what was awesome? I donated this weekend. And this morning I got a personal call thanking me for my donation. Wow. It wasn’t even a big donation. I think I gave maybe like $100. Great personal service and attention to donors. I was impressed. 

So.. if you want your money to go to an organization that is mostly run on volunteer work, and one that really shows appreciation, give to CASA!

April Donation

April is an important month for violence prevention- it’s both Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every year during April (and again in October when it’s Domestic Violence Prevention Month), I make a donation to SafePlace. SafePlace is not only Austin’s biggest and best women’s shelter, it’s also nationally recognized as one of the best in the entire country. 

They have not only a shelter and a 24-hour hotline, but also a secure apartment complex for longer-term residents, a school, free counseling, free legal help, even a pet fostering program so families don’t have to leave their pets with the abusive partner when they escape. And so much more! Really, you can’t find a better shelter. 

So don’t let April end without making a contribution. Look how easy they make donating: 

So get to it! Make a difference in a woman’s or child’s life right now! 

Thanksgiving

I read that an estimated 46 million turkeys will be consumed tomorrow. So yes, I have very mixed emotions about Thanksgiving. I want to celebrate and eat good food. But I also can’t help but think of mass animal murder and suffering, all so we can stuff our faces and take a nap in front of the TV for a day. 

So for me, Thanksgiving week means extreme vegan mode. Double checking every ingredient. No stray shred of cheese. Not even faux meats that contain egg whites or whey protein. Not one drop of animal-derived food. It’s my way of celebrating Thanksgiving. 

We’re making our own vegan cream of mushroom soup to put in green bean casserole. We made vegan cornbread from scratch for the stuffing. I’ve looked up a recipe for vegan corn pudding. We bought vegan mashed potatoes with chives from Whole Foods yesterday. There’s a Tofurky thawing in the fridge. We have rice whip at the ready. It’s going to be a delicious and cruelty-free day for all in the McBax household. 

Another late post:

Halloween- a time when “normal” kids stuff themselves with candy full of animal by-products and chemicals and “special diet” kids can’t eat any of the stuff in their buckets. It’s sad. Instead of going for the usual, I bought organic fruit lollipops (which are amazing, and naturally gluten-free), pretzels for kids who can’t eat sugar (poor things), and vegan chocolate squares from Endangered Species (dairy-free for the lactose intolerant). The chocolate is a two for one- it’s vegan AND Endangered Species donates 1% of sales to animal charities.

Back on Nov 2nd, Al and I registered for another 5K- this one benefitting the Latino Leaders of America. It was a small 5K, but a bunch of the kids (future “leaders”) came out and held signs along the route encouraging the runners… they tried to make it festive. 

I’m behind on posting good deeds. I’ve been doing them, just been too busy to post about them. I’ll try and do a little catching up now. 

image

Back in October sometime, I dropped some change in the donation box at the cash register while buying lunch. The charity of the month was the for Austin Bat Conservation. 

The checkout line at my Whole Foods has these delicious individually-wrapped squares of Lake Champlain chocolates for only $.89. I bought one for each team member last week. We’d all been working overtime gearing up for launch week. 

Stand Up To Bullies (Even In The Workplace)

I mentioned a troublesome co-worker once before. Last time, she was saying racist things about no one in particular, just anyone from a certain country.

I’m happy to say she got a talking to from our boss and has completely improved that behavior.

However, last week she decided to bully a fellow team member. Again, loudly and publicly.

During a routine conversation, she determined she wasn’t getting what she expected and decided to start yelling. She also tried to use her older age and experience level as reasons why she demanded things be done her way.

The person she was bullying is truly sweet and good-natured and really had done nothing to bring this upon herself. I listed as things escalated and finally decided to intervene. 

I asked the verbal abuser to stop talking to her like that, and to act like a respectful, professional team member. 

I can’t say it will do any good, but I felt it was the right thing to do.

5K litter

On the Oct 19 we completed one of the Donkey Dash 5K mentioned in a previous post. The route for this one wound through a neighborhood with homes on large lots with lots of trees and plant life.  Somewhere between mile 1 and 2, I saw a man stop, walk over to a thick patch of ivy, and pluck some trash out of it and carry it along with him on the trail. 

I was inspired by his dedication to cleaning up litter- he was going to have to carry that trash for possibly another mile and a half. 

A short time later, I saw trash left behind by one of the racers, a dixie cup of water crumpled and thrown on the road. Why people can’t drink and toss the cup into the trash always bothers me. Yes you’re trying to achieve a certain time, so then carry the thing with you if you can’t stop. Or get water at the end. Or at least throw it NEAR the trash can, so a nearby volunteer can pick it up. This cup was so far from the nearest trash.

So anyway, like my fellow walker, I carried it probably about a mile before throwing it away. Once, some droplets from the cup landed on my hand and my OCD brain thought “EEEW! YOU DON’T KNOW WHOSE MOUTH WAS ON THIS CUP, GET RID OF IT.” But I ignored my brain and did the right thing. I saw this litter to its rightful place in the trash.

To my fellow 5K-ers I ask you: 

I like it when I get to do something that entertains me AND supports a local org. In this case, I got tickets to the Austin Symphony’s “Superheroes” night. Yes, I consider going to a ballet or symphony a good deed, because most of those performance arts organizations are nonprofits. I mean, that wouldn’t apply to a Broadway play or something. But your local operas and whatnots probably are.  

The Superheros night should be fun. They’re playing scores from Superhero movies and encouraging guests to come dressed as superheroes. It should be fun for adults and kids. Yes I am putting together a costume, and yes it will be awesome. And no, it’s not Cat Woman or something else cheesy.