Reuben Ezekiel Donates Torah to Jewish Community of Plantation

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Reuben Ezekiel, Owner and Founder of Fountains Jewelers, holds theTorah Scroll

On August 1st 2010, the Jewish community of Plantation celebrated a milestone, the addition of a Torah scroll to the Jewish community center. The Torah was donated by Reuben Ezekiel, a local philanthropist, and owner of Fountains Jewelers.

The Torah scroll, made of parchment, contains the Pentateuch (the first five books of the bible), and is used during services in synagogues on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and holidays. Every letter in a Torah scroll is hand written by a Jewish scribe, a sofer, who ensures that no letter touches another, and that each letter is perfectly written.  According to Jewish law, the entire scroll becomes invalid if even one letter is transposed, missed or redundant.

Reuben Ezekiel donated the Torah to the Jewish community center in loving memory of his mother. Hundreds of people, including Ezekiel’s family and friends and members of the local community, expressed their joy by escorting the new Torah scroll to Chabad of Plantation’s synagogue, dancing and singing in the streets.

Youth Action Project of San Bernardino to Hold Third Annual Cesar Chavez Day of Service

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Volunteers for Youth Action Project of San Bernardino help with community park restoration for Cesar Chavez Day of Service in April of 2009.

On April 3, the Youth Action Project will hold its third annual Cesar Chavez Day of Service in San Bernardino, California.  With the help of community volunteers, the Youth Action Project holds a clean-up project for a community park as part of their annual commemorative community service event; this year’s project will benefit the Provisional Accelerated Learning Center in Muscoy.

The Youth Action Project of San Bernardino is seeking 75 skilled volunteers to take part in the clean-up effort.  Volunteers will help with a variety of tasks including landscaping and removal of dead plants and trees, the building of benches and painting and restoration of the recreation area.  As an added incentive, volunteers who register for Disney Day on the Disney Day Volunteer website will receive a free day pass to the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim.

The Youth Action Project of San Bernardino is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping grade school and high school students to develop critical academic and life skills providing mentoring and tutoring; and improving an environment for with positive, intellectually challenging and stimulating activities for a healthy developmental lifestyle conducive to long term success in life.

Those in the local area can learn more about volunteer opportunities by visiting the San Bernardino Youth Action Project organization website.  Those who do not have the opportunity to volunteer can help by making an online donation or a check donation to the Youth Action Project.

Sweet Home New Orleans Works to Preserve Local Culture

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You can help raise awareness for the work of Sweet Home New Orleans by adding the charity logo to your website.

Founded in 2006, Sweet Home New Orleans has worked on a variety of fronts to preserve the cultural and musical traditions of New Orleans through restoration of communities and the lives of individuals within communities whose presence is so vital to the city’s unique culture.

At the time Sweet Home New Orleans began its work, the cultural integrity of the city of New Orleans was severely threatened when hundreds of thousands of those who make up the city’s rich cultural base were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  Many of those displaced lacked the necessary resources to return to their homes and resume their lives.  As a result, a large number of communities were left in a fragmented state and were vulnerable to the threat of gentrification.

Sweet Home New Orleans has addressed the situation by stepping in to revitalize endangered communities—providing social services including financial assistance, case management and advocacy for more than 2,300 members of the local music community struggling against barriers to finding affordable housing and sustainably resuming their lives.  Sweet Home New Orleans provides its services through staff from within the communities it serves to target the needs of local musicians and artists, Mardi Gras Indians and members of Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans.

You can visit the official website of Sweet Home New Orleans to learn about volunteer opportunities or call 1.887.933.8466 to find out how you can help with a donation.  You can also help by getting the word out, which can be done simply by adding the Sweet Home New Orleans logo and adding their official link to your own website.

At the Crossroads Brings Services to the Streets for Homeless Youths in San Francisco

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Youths participate in a "skateathon" benefit event held by the San Francisco Skate Club in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in March of 2009 for At the Crossroads.

In San Francisco, California, At the Crossroads has been working to serve thousands of homeless youth and young adults living on the city streets.  At the Crossroads specifically targets the needs of those without access to a steady source of support or traditional homelessness services.

Many of those served by At the Crossroads are young adults who are beyond the legal age limit to access the services of youth agencies, but have difficulty entering into an environment of programs for homeless adults whether it is because they are not comfortable identifying themselves as “homeless” or they do not have a sufficient level of trust and confidence in the programs which would otherwise allow them access to necessary services.

At the Crossroads works with many of these young adults as well as youth by bringing counseling services to youth on the street and taking an individualized approach in providing services to meet the unique needs of each homeless youth and young adult.  To date, At the Crossroads has stepped up to meet the needs of more than 5,000 youth and young adults living on the streets in San Francisco. 

Those in the San Francisco Bay area can get involved in the cause by becoming one of the hundreds of volunteers upon whom the work of At the Crossroads depends for support in their efforts to meet the needs of homeless youth and young adults on the streets of San Francisco.  At the Crossroads also accepts donations online through their official website.

Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles Assists Veterans Suffering Combat Stress

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During any military conflict, it is essential to be prepared to provide necessary assistance on the home front to help those returning from battle in the mental process of re-adjustment.

As the dawn of the war in Iraq approaches its seventh anniversary and the war in Afghanistan continues well past its eighth, Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles is striving to meet the needs of returning combat veterans as part of its new Veterans Initiative.

The problem which Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles seeks to address through its Veterans Initiative is one which is ongoing and pervasive. In the greater area of Los Angeles alone, there are 10,000 combat veterans currently living on city streets—many of whom are veterans of the war in Vietnam four decades ago. In addition to suffering permanent physical injuries and disabilities, a sizeable percentage of returning veterans have been impacted by mental disorders attributed to combat stress. It is estimated that approximately 70 percent of homeless veterans are affected by mental illness or problems related to substance abuse. Overall, it is estimated that 1 in 5 returning veterans suffers from symptoms of post-traumatic stress or major depression.

Within the past year, Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles has taken major steps in its service of homeless and returning combat veterans. With the help of a generous gift from the Rotary Club of Los Angeles, Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles completed the renovation of Rotary House—a 25,000 square foot facility in downtown Los Angeles—setting up 150 beds for transitional housing as well as classrooms and access to computers. Additionally, Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles completed renovations of a 1920’s era hotel in Hollywood for a project to target the needs of returning veterans suffering from severe trauma-induced psychological illness.

Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles is currently in the process of renovating 76 former United States Navy condo units to provide long-term housing solutions for veterans as well as veterans’ families in San Pedro, California. This project is by far the most costly of the three, as costs are expected to total $23 million—nearly 75 percent of the total cost of all three projects combined. Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles is accepting donations toward this and other projects at the Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles website.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Rebuilds in Louisiana After Katrina

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The impact of any child's most influential years becomes strongly magnified when growing up in the wake of a disaster as historically significant as Hurricane Katrina.

Although Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Louisiana can easily be counted among those victimized by Hurricane Katrina—suffering the loss of their center of operations with the flooding of their offices and the dismantlement of their staff—the organization has never relented in its commitment to serving the youth and families of communities in New Orleans and the surrounding area.

Before Katrina, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Louisiana was part of the national Big Brothers Big Sisters network dedicated to provide mentoring services to youth and teenagers in need of guidance from a positive role model with whom they could identify.  The organization suffered the loss of its offices due to the flooding that resulted from Katrina and remained without a center of operations until November of 2006 when they resumed at their new location on Canal Street in Downtown New Orleans.

While rebuilding their staff after Hurricane Katrina, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Louisiana has been working tirelessly to expand its efforts to specifically target the needs of communities most severely affected by the storm.  Though there remains a long road ahead, the progress that has been made in the recovery of the citizens and communities of the city of New Orleans would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of individuals and charitable organizations.  Likewise, the ability of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Louisiana to rebuild its organization and meet the needs of communities devastated by the storm depends on the support and dedication of willing and passionate individuals. 

Those individuals interested in helping Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Louisiana serve the needs of communities impacted by Katrina can contact M. Dolores Medina-Whitfield at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Louisiana main offices:

2626 Canal St., Suite 203
New Orleans, LA 70119

Or Call: 877-500-7304

Free Arts of Arizona Provides Positive Creative Outlet for Child Abuse Victims

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A sculpture painted at a Free Arts of Arizona seminar for children is shown on display at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Free Arts of Arizona has been working for 15 years to help victims of child abuse develop creative ways to express themselves, develop a sense of self worth, and restore the trust and confidence in themselves and those around them necessary to overcome traumatic past experiences.

For many child abuse victims, the work of Free Arts of Arizona plays a major part in the child’s recovery process.  The impact of child abuse goes far beyond the scars and bruises one receives at home.  Abuse has a profound impact on a child’s social development, their ability to trust others, confidence, self-esteem, academic performance and many other areas essential toward one’s development into a healthy adult.  Child abuse often occurs in a cyclical fashion from one generation to the next; many perpetrators of child abuse were victims of abuse themselves as children.  Because of this, it is crucial for those who suffer the psychological scars of child abuse to develop ways to channel negative and destructive thoughts and emotions into a constructive form of expression.

Free Arts of Arizona is a charitable organization whose goal is to help child abuse victims channel their emotions through forms of creative arts.  Free Arts of Arizona accepts secure online donations in any amount small or large at the Free Arts of Arizona website.  Additionally, individuals 16 and over may attend a program orientation to learn about opportunities to serve as a volunteer, following an interview, fingerprint background check, and completion of program volunteer training.

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Helps Youth Develop Skills Beyond Baseball

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Members of the Los Angeles Urban Youth Academy team based out of Compton, California celebrate their 2009 junior division RBI World Series victory at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Since 1989, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities has worked to provide local programs for at-risk inner city youth for a positive organized team activity while also providing resources for inner city youth to achieve academic success and develop valuable life skills off the field.  Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities was initially founded by former Major League Baseball player and scout John Young in the city of Los Angeles, after he took notice of a troubling trend emerging in his own childhood neighborhood in South Los Angeles of an evident decrease in the number of skilled prospects that were arising from the area towards the end of the 1970s.

From its initial local scale efforts serving at-risk youth in inner city Los Angeles communities, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities has expanded its outreach efforts all across the United States and internationally.  In its 21 years of service to youth in underserved communities, the RBI program has helped to nurture the talent of hundreds of thousands of participants in the sport.  180 RBI program alumni have been drafted by Major League teams, including current Major League Baseball players C.C. Sabathia, Justin Upton, James Loney, Coco Crisp, Yovani Gallardo and Carl Crawford.  While not every participant in the RBI program will go on to have a professional career in baseball, RBI helps to lay the foundations of academic success to open doors for other career opportunities.

To encourage and support academic achievement, the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program provides academic resources for inner city youth including tutoring, classes for time management and goal setting, and college preparatory and SAT prep courses.  In addition KPMG and Major League Baseball Charities, Inc. joined forces to set up the RBI for RBI Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships for selected RBI program participants who demonstrate outstanding leadership and academic success, and plan to pursue higher education.

Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities is a not-for-profit outreach program of Major League Baseball Charities, and is supported by presenting sponsor KPMG, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Pitch In For Baseball, Showcase U, and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.

Cornerstones Community Partnerships Empowers Southwest Communities With Preservation of Native Culture

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Restoration of sites such as the Socorro Mission in El Paso, Texas not only helps to preserve a rich history of cultural heritage, but is beneficial to local tourism economies.

Founded in 1986, Cornerstones Community Partnerships has been working for the preservation of the rich native history of culture and tradition in the Southwest United States.  Cornerstones Community Partnerships is a nonprofit organization centrally based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which seeks to preserve the rich cultural history of the Southwest through a community-based approach to restoration of historic sites, encouragement of building practices for vernacular architecture and reinforcement of cultural and traditional values.

Cornerstones Community Partnerships takes a community-based approach to its efforts for the preservation of the local history of Native American and Hispanic culture in many states of the Southwest which allows both members of each community as well as willing volunteers to have a direct hand in the work of the organization which is mutually beneficial.  Cornerstones Community Partnerships helps to enrich and empower communities by offering apprenticeships to at-risk youth as well as providing on-the-job training for adults.

There are many ways to get involved, including a variety of volunteer opportunities for those who wish to take a hands-on role in the work of Cornerstones Community Partnerships for the preservation of the rich heritage of native culture and tradition in the region.  Willing individuals can volunteer to take part in a restoration project in the field, or can volunteer to assist with office work and mailings.  Cornerstones Community Partnerships accepts tax-deductible monetary donations towards tools, building materials and office equipment.  Cornerstones Community Partnerships additionally accepts donations of items including building materials and tools, books, articles, photos and office supplies.

‘Make It Right’ Rebuilding Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans After Katrina

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Make It Right Foundation works to build affordable and environmentally sustainable housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for residents of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

In the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the nonprofit disaster recovery organization Make It Right is working to bring home residents of the community hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.  Prior to Katrina, the Lower Ninth Ward was a neighborhood within the city of New Orleans rich in culture, civil rights history, and home to jazz musicians such as Fats Domino and Kermit Ruffins.  The Lower Ninth Ward—which included a 98.3 percent black demographic—was also one of the city’s poorest districts, with 36.4 percent of the population living below the poverty line; 8.5 percent greater than the overall average of Orleans Parish.

According to Make It Right, 4,000 homes were destroyed in the Lower Ninth Ward as a result of Katrina.  The death toll within the neighborhood accounted for half of all Katrina related deaths in the state of Louisiana as a consequence.  Because the infrastructure of the neighborhood was all but entirely destroyed and because most residents lacked the resources to return to their homes, the Lower Ninth Ward remained largely abandoned for several years following Katrina.  Until the emergence of large-scale rebuilding campaigns such as Make It Right, proposals of razing the remains of the neighborhood were seriously considered as an option within the civic sphere.

On December 3, 2007, Make It Right and organization founder Brad Pitt started a campaign to build 150 new affordable and environmentally sustainable houses, with the oversight of professional architects, in the Katrina-devastated Lower Ninth Ward for residents who otherwise lacked the means to return.  In the years since, there have been several dozen new homes constructed in the neighborhood as well as hundreds repaired to living standards with the help of additional nonprofit efforts.  In addition to building homes, Make It Right helping to restore the community with new micro-farms, roads and native landscaping.

You can get involved in the efforts of Make It Right to restore the lives of residents and the community of the Lower Ninth Ward in the aftermath of Katrina with a tax-deductible cash donation through the Make It Right website, or simply text “SAINTS” to 25383 to make a donation of $10 applied to your wireless bill.

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