Thursday, February 23, 2017

Volunteer Divers of Nonprofit Ghost Fishing Scours The Ocean Removing Nets That Kill Fish

For this Netherlands-based charity a very special set of unique skills, along with passion, are required.

And according to founder Pascal van Erp, “It is very important to show the world how big the problem is that we are talking about.” “There are lots of nets out in the oceans.”

Each dive costs between $2,000 and $2,700. Thus far the group’s only source of support has come from the Dutch government: $530,400 from a pool created by the sale of lottery tickets.

Pascal leads a team of 30 to 40 volunteer divers in the North Sea. His group coordinates and works with a loosely integrated network of like-minded divers around the world. “In the last three years, we have made 100 dives and removed 10 tons of fishing gear from the sea,” he says. The nets are then recycled into socks and other textiles.

Their efforts are both difficult and dangerous. “It’s the most difficult type of diving I’ve ever done,” says Heather Hamza, one of roughly 50 volunteer divers who make up Los Angeles Underwater Explorers a Ghost Fishing affiliated group.

Volunteers encounter a number of dangerous hazards including low visibility, the possibility of getting tangled themselves and most of all being catapulted to the surface too quickly by the lift bags they used to get the nets to the surface. This can result in illness or even death. As a result the southern California affiliate only solicits help from advanced divers with military-like training.

To learn more visit , where you can also shop at their store to support them or visit

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jessica’s Hope Project –Providing Nutrition-Based Care Packages To Deployed Military

It all started when Jessica Maddin was inspired to send an email to the CEO of 24 Hour Fitness and within 10 days had received an unbelievable amount of donated goods. Since December 2013 Jessica’s Hope Project has shipped nearly 2,000 nutrition-based care packages to deployed troops. They are raising money to cover shipping of more care packages and keep the momentum going.

The nonprofit says that according to data from the U.S. Marine Corps, “The average deployed individual loses 50 pounds per deployment.” The mission of the Jessica’s Hope Project is to keep this from happening by providing protein bars, muscle milk and vitamin supplements to as many military individuals as possible to maintain their physical well-being and mental sharpness.

In many locations where troops are deployed there are very few, if any, food options other than
MRE’S (made ready to eat) which were not designed to be the daily sole nutritional source for 2000 daily calories – and apparently the MRE’s are not appealing in terms of each taste or texture.

In addition to donations to cover shipping costs of the care packages donations will also make possible Bam-Bam Feasts for some lucky recipients returning home. That’s when Jessica’s Hope gets a chance to actually meet someone returning home that has received a care package and take them out to a restaurant of their choice for a “feast.”

To see examples of their care packages, more images of recipients – and of course to make a donation visit

Monday, January 23, 2017

Growing Peace Through A Ugandan Coffee Bean

If you haven’t heard the inspiring story already you must find a way to see the documentary “Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean,” directed by  Curt Fissel. The film tells a story we can all learn from.

 In 2003 J.J. Keki , a Ugandan coffee farmer had a dream. To make his dream a reality he walked door to door and asked his Jewish, Christian and Muslim neighbors to put their differences aside for the benefit of all. They were all third and fourth generation coffee farmers struggling to make a living with  low local coffee prices.

The farmers did put difference aside and formed the Peace Kawomera Cooperative.  With help from Laura Wetzler from the US-based organization Kulanu, and  Paul Katzeff, CEO of Thanksgiving Coffee Company in Fort Bragg, CA,  these Jewish, Christian and Muslim farmers formed a coffee cooperative that is not only sharing delicious coffee around the world but also showing by example that  differences can be put aside, and with dialog and partnerships in their place, a delicious peace can grow as well.

The coop has grown from a few hundred farmers to around 1200 and has expanded to cocoa and vanilla. To support the coop you can learn more about purchasing coffee products at www.thanksgiving or by visiting

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hillsides- Serving Vulnerable At Risk Youth in SoCal

This Southern California nonprofit group home provides special education and counseling to children of abuse, mental illness or in foster care. The main campus is 17 acres and includes 6 group homes serving kids 7 – 18. 

Founded nearly 100 years ago HILLSIDES, based in Altadena, CA,  has made its mission is to create safe places for children, strengthen families, provide special education; and advocate for children’s rights. This Southern California nonprofit creates safe places for children in its residential treatment program where children living in the group homes, are in foster care or that have been referred by the Department of Mental Health or public school districts. On the Hillsides’’ campus  they have the chance to live in a secure, stable environment enabling them to heal and rebuild trusting relationships with adults.

Hillsides works with many social and child services organizations, including Los Angeles County, Pasadena, Glendale, and San Gabriel Valley school districts who refer their students to the nonprofit. Through the efforts, support and encouragement of the Hillsides’ staff children begin to heal through programs and services that offer therapeutic activities, special education and family crisis intervention. To learn how you can volunteer, donate school supplies, school clothes or make a cash donation visit

Monday, January 9, 2017

Urban Harvester - Fresh Food Rescued To Feed The Hungry

Founded by Linda Hess in 2009 South Pasadena-based Urban Harvester is a nonprofit solving multiple problems to the benefit of grocery stores, restaurants, food pantries providing services for the hungry and those in need of a healthy meal.

According to the US Department of Agriculture 1 in 6 Americans go to be hungry every night. Data from The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates that 40% of the food produced in the United States is discarded each year.

Enter Urban Havester. In 2013 the organization recovered 30,000 fresh meals - that's 20 tons of fresh food rescued rather than wasted. To learn more or to donate to support their good work visit

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Appalachian Efforts For Social Change

Since 1987 the Appalachian Community Fund (ACF) has been making a difference – helping create social change in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

ACF funds and encourages grassroots social change in Central Appalachia. ACF works to build a sustainable base of resources to support community-led organizations seeking to overcome and address issues of race, economic status, gender, sexual identity, and disability. As a community-controlled fund, ACF offers leadership to expand and strengthen the movement for social change through its practices and policies.

Their efforts range from mentoring teenagers and guiding them toward college, supporting women in emotional crisis to keeping the only public clinic serving the poor open. And ACF has forced changes in the Federal Black Lung Program for miners and those in mining areas and they have helped protect endangered forests in the Appalachian region.

To find out more so you can help spread the word through your social network, or to donate, go to

Thursday, December 22, 2016

STEAM Coders Teaching Disadvantage Students Tech Fundamentals

Only founded in 2014 STEAM Coders has already served nearly 400 greater Los Angeles area students. The Pasadena, CA-based nonprofit  is teaching disadvantaged and underrepresented middle and high school students of color the fundamentals of Science, Technology, Engineering,  Art and Math (STEAM).

While ethnic and racial groups that have historically comprised a minority of the U.S. population are growing in size and influence, they remain underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics nationally. 4% of minority students are awarded degrees in physical science while 12% of other students receive degrees in this area. In 2011 National Science Foundation Reports Low Minority Representation on STEM Faculties. And according to the New York Times, in 2013, both women and people of color earned fewer higher education STEM degrees than ever.

STEAM Coders is on point to, through hands on activities, field trips and classroom instruction, help students develop the requisite skills to excel in the STEAM fields, spurring their appreciation the fields and fueling a desire to engage in activities that will spur imagination and innovation, in a quest to find solutions.

With burgeoning demand in the STEAM fields STEAM Coders is on a fast track to grow to assure underrepresented populations are not left behind. So far classes have been held in Pasadena, Claremont/Pomona, Inglewood and Los Angeles.Yhey are looking to expand with the help of grants, individual donations and strategic partnerships.  To learn more, get involved, teach courses and make a donation visit