Our May local charity spotlight is Wreaths Across America (American Legion Auxiliary South Lake Memorial Unit 55); a perfect match with Memorial Day coming up! Plus, I come from a Military town (Hampton Roads in Virginia) so this hits close to home for me.
It all began with a little boy...
Wreaths Across America all started because of one boy’s first visit to Arlington National Cemetery in our nation’s capital. This boy, then man, became the owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine. In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year. This went on as an annual tribute for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.
As demand grew, the Worcester family, along with veterans, and other groups and individuals, formed Wreaths Across America in 2007. To read the full history, please go HERE.
“The annual trip to Arlington and the groups of volunteers eager to participate in Worcester’s simple wreath-laying event grew each year until it became clear the desire to remember and honor our country’s fallen heroes was bigger than Arlington, and bigger than this one company.”
Remember. Honor. Teach.
In 2008, over 300 locations held wreath-laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. Over 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves. Over 60,000 volunteers participated. And that year, December 13, 2008 was unanimously voted by the US Congress as “Wreaths Across America Day”.
In 2014, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the United States and beyond, including ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites if the September 11 tragedies. This was accomplished with help from 2,047 fundraising groups, corporate contributions, and donations of trucking, shipping, and thousands of helping hands. The organization's goal of covering Arlington National Cemetery was met in 2014 with the placement of 226,525 wreaths.
The wreath-laying is still held annually, on the second or third Saturday of December. WAA's annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine to Arlington National Cemetery has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade, stopping at schools, monuments, veterans’ homes and communities all along the way to remind people how important it is to remember, honor and teach.
American Legion Auxiliary South Lake Memorial unit 55 (FL0236P)
Our local unit here in Orlando is currently sponsoring 7 cemeteries and 750 Veterans graves!
On Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 11:35 AM, American Legion Auxiliary South Lake Memorial Unit 55 (FL0236P) will be helping Oak Hill Cemetery to Remember and Honor our veterans by laying Remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes.
Please help them honor and remember as many fallen heroes as possible by sponsoring remembrance wreaths, volunteering on Wreaths Day, or inviting your family and friends to attend with you.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
What does it mean to sponsor a veteran’s wreath? It means you’ll honor an American hero at one of more than 1,600 locations nationwide this year on Wreaths Across America Day. It’s a day that’s been set aside to lay wreaths at the places where we remember, honor and teach about our veterans. Learn more about sponsoring 1 or more wreaths, including monthly sponsorship HERE.
We will have representatives from WAA at our GNO at Bartaco on May 20th and they will be offering their current May special: Sponsor one Wreath for $15.00, earn another one for free!
Sign up to be a volunteer! You can help lay wreaths, help raise funds for wreath sponsorships, and more! Learn more on the website or by speaking with our representatives at our event.
Donate at our GNO
Our local unit also collections donated canned goods for veterans in need. We will be collecting these donations at our Girls Night Out Networking Social at Bartaco on May 20th! WAA will have a table where you can donate, sponsor wreaths, and get more information on how to get involved!
Show Your Support
On Wreaths Across America Day or anytime, anywhere, you can show your support for our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. Browse an exclusive selection of Apparel, Gifts, Decor and more. Go HERE to learn more.
Be sure to register for your FREE ticket to our May 20th Girls Night Out Networking Social at Bartaco
by clicking HERE!
Our March local charity spotlight is Ten Thousand Villages in Winter Park. Their name, “Ten Thousand Villages,” was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages… we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with.”. Because in every village are people who want to live a meaningful life with dignity and who bring beautiful culture worth sharing. Multiply the village idea by ten thousand and it represents the world we’re working to build.
TTV’s mission is to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.
One day all artisans in developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live a life of quality”
Since 1946, they have provided over $140 million in sustainable income to artisans in developing countries who would have otherwise been unemployed or underemployed.
Ten Thousand Villages is more than a store. They're a global maker‑to‑market movement. They're a way for you to shop with intention for ethically-sourced wares — and to share in the joy of connecting with makers in ten thousand villages. As a pioneer of fair trade, they do business differently, putting people and planet first. That means you can trust that every handmade purchase you make from them directly impacts the life and community of its maker in a developing country.
Ten Thousand Villages is committed to these ethical practices:
EVERY HANDCRAFTED PRODUCT GENERATES INCOME - AND IMPACT
Their average buying relationship with artisan groups is 25 years. That's enough time to see their children grow into adulthood and enough time to see the impact this movement has created.
About TTV’s Baskets
Gathered from Nature
By shopping fair trade, you are supporting makers in the developing world. The more products they sell, the more orders they can place through their artisan partner groups, and that means more dignified and sustainable employment opportunities become available to the people who need it most. You can shop online HERE or at their store in Winter Park!
Like TTV on Facebook, pin them on your Pinterest board or follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Learn about the lives of their artisan partners, the stories behind their products, and how to bring these products into your everyday life by reading their blog.
As a nonprofit enterprise, they rely on more than 1,000 volunteers to help them accomplish their mission. Volunteers help out with many aspects of their operations, from the warehouse to the sales floor. Find out how you can give back and volunteer.
COMMUNITY SHOPPING BENEFITS
If you are looking for a unique way to raise money for a special nonprofit or cause, consider a Shopping Benefit at Ten Thousand Villages Winter Park. Simply invite your membership to shop at the store during a designated day and time, and a percentage of the sales will be donated back to your organization.
Your friends and colleagues will enjoy shopping for gifts that give in three ways: to the artisans they support; to your own special cause; and to the person receiving the gift. For more information call the Winter Park store at 407-644-8464.
We are not able to collect monetary donations at our March event, however, you can donate online by visiting here.
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (“Coke Florida”), is celebrating Black History Month by giving back to their local communities while ensuring inclusiveness, stimulating economic empowerment, and encouraging education. In its 2019 program, Coke Florida will donate laptops to community partners across the state of Florida throughout February including local chapters of Boys & Girls Clubs. Other statewide community partners include 100 Black Men of Jacksonville, Inc., Hillsborough Education Foundation, Men of Vision, Inc, I’m a Star Foundation. Frontline for Kids and The Greatest Investment Girls' Empowerment Program (TGI).
“As Florida’s local Coca-Cola bottler, we are committed to further developing the communities in which we do business,” said Troy Taylor, Coke Florida’s Chairman and CEO. “This includes helping equip students with the resources needed to be successful in their academic environments.”
Coke Florida is also pleased to partner with Family Dollar who shares a similar commitment to community through their work with local Boys & Girls Clubs.
“It’s great to be able to partner with Family Dollar who shares the same commitment to support organizations across our state that are developing the next generation of great leaders who will ultimately make a difference in the world,” added Taylor.
Throughout the month of February, Family Dollar customers can help make a difference by purchasing any 6pk 500ml or 6pk 7.5oz mini-cans of Coca-Cola® products. Purchases will help local stores qualify to receive new laptops to donate to local Boys & Girls Clubs organizations in their direct communities.
“Family Dollar is proud to support our partnership with Coke Florida through its celebration of Black History Month,” said Donald Smith, Family Dollar’s Vice President of Marketing. “Initiatives like this enable us to positively impact our local communities and help America’s youth reach their full potential in a safe and supportive environment.”
For more information about Coke Florida’s commitment to education and community, the Black History Month partnership with Family Dollar and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, please visit Cocacolaflorida.com or join the conversation @CokeFlorida and @FamilyDollar on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
About Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida) is a family-owned independent Coca-Cola bottler. Coke Florida’s exclusive sales and distribution territory covers over 18 million consumers across 47 Florida counties, and includes the major metropolitan markets of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa. Coke Florida manufactures, sells and distributes over 600 products of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies including Monster Energy and BODYAMROR. Coke Florida is the third-largest privately-held, and the sixth-largest independent, bottler of Coca-Cola products in the United States. The company is also one of America’s largest black-owned businesses. Coke Florida was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. For more information, please visit cocacolaflorida.com.
About Family Dollar
For more than 55 years, Family Dollar has been providing value and convenience to customers in easy-to-shop neighborhood locations. Family Dollar’s mix of name brands, and quality, private brand merchandise appeals to shoppers in more than 8,200 stores in rural and urban settings across 46 states. Helping families save on the items they need with everyday low prices creates a strong bond with customers who refer to their neighborhood store as “my Family Dollar.” Family Dollar, headquartered in Matthews, North Carolina, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dollar Tree, Inc. of Chesapeake, Virginia. For more information, please visit familydollar.com.
Our January local charity spotlight is Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. With January being our 1 year anniversary, I wanted to showcase Planned Parenthood for all the good they do for women (and men) in our community. Our local branch of Planned Parenthood provides essential reproductive health care services to neighboring communities and SO MUCH MORE. Their caring and knowledgeable staff provide a wide range of services; including testings, treatment, counseling, and referrals. Did you know they even provide primary health care services, gynecological exams, counseling on adoption, breast health, vasectomies, and services for those going through menopause changes?
The mission of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida is to provide affordable access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and accurate health information through patient care, education and advocacy.
Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, an affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. began operations in 1966 and presently provides vital sexual health services and comprehensive sexuality education to women, men and teens throughout southwest and central Florida. Their commonsense approach to health and well-being is based on respect for each individual's right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.
They seek a world in which all individuals have equal rights, dignity and privacy; where sexuality is expressed with honesty, equality and responsibility. They believe that every child should be a wanted and cared for child, and that the decision to bear children (or not) is private and voluntary.
CONFIDENTIAL AND FOR ALL
Planned Parenthood's sexual health services are individualized and confidential. They are dedicated to serving, educating, and protecting the confidentiality of women, men and teens seeking medical care. Health centers are welcoming to all, regardless of race, ancestry, national origin, creed, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, income or age. 1 in 5 American women has chosen Planned Parenthood for health care at least once in her life and we are committed to continuing to earn your trust.
Medical services include lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, breast health services, vasectomies and more. Planned Parenthood is also committed to providing comprehensive, age-appropriate and medically accurate sexuality education, and advocating for policies that enable Americans to access comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, education, and information.
Health centers are conveniently located throughout our region and are open during daytime, evening and weekend hours. Planned Parenthood is here for you no matter what.
Call your elected officials - you can make a big difference by letting them know what you think on the issues
Be a Supporter - supporters let their patients know everyday that they are there for them - whether volunteering to stuff envelopes, host a house party, or act as a patient escort - their dedication and willingness to help others is astounding.
Interfaith Coalition - Religious voices are critical in conversations about reproductive health. Faith leaders in Central Florida have come together to develop an Interfaith Coalition Sign On Letter to not only display their support of reproductive health, rights, and justice but to also provide others with the opportunity to do the same.
Share your story - Your story will help them preserve and expand access to reproductive health care and information. Learn more about that here.
Monetary donations can be made via their website here.
We will be collecting donated goods at our January 14th Girls Night Out Networking Social at Bartaco.
For the health center patients:
I chose this amazing organization to shed some light on all the wonderful things they do for those in the community that might not have access to affordable healthcare or information. I hope that this post and by meeting the representatives at our event, you too will understand why this organization is so important to our community.
Our November local charity spotlight is Orlando Dream Center. The Orlando Dream Center Inc.’s mission is about rebuilding stories, one life at a time, by providing assistance to individuals and families, moving them towards self-sufficiency. At the Dream Center, they commit to loving the forsaken, remembering the forgotten, and pursuing the lost in our society. They want to make a difference in our community and our world, even if it means reaching one life at a time. They share faith, hope and love through holistic programs and education.
They believe that together, we can make it better for many. They are in phase one of the program by offering healthy food options to fight hunger and allow families stay in their homes. This program will help low income families, single parents, and working families who might not qualify for government subsidies such as food stamps or WIC. With donations, they can help build leadership and organize food drops in strategic areas in Central Florida.
Each of their groups and partners below are committed to meeting the physical, emotional, as well as spiritual needs of the families and individuals that they help.
Adopt A Block: Community Leadership Events
The Adopt A Block program is about revitalizing communities one block at a time. Their vision is to reach out to the community by offering free meals to families, educational programs for children, and work opportunities to parents.
They are rebuilding stories one life at a time. They are currently in phase one of the program, by offering healthy food options to fight hunger and allow families to stay in their homes. This program will help low income families, single parents, and working families who might not qualify for government subsidies, such as food stamps or WIC. With the help of generous donations, they can directly impact the lives of hundreds of people in the Orlando community and beyond.
Gentle Bottoms: Diaper Assistance
Diaper collection for children and adults for those in need.
Dream Kids: K - 12 After School Programs
Dream Kids is a new initiative for children ages 4 - 17 focusing on the importance of reading and writing by learning how to code. This initiative will develop Reading and Writing skills, problem solving and critical thinking by learning about computer programming, graphics arts, game design and mobile Apps development.
Manna for Life: Food Pantry
1045 Pine St, Orlando, Fl 32824
In 2017, Orlando Dream Center provided meals to hundreds of families in need, and in 2018 with Adopt A Block, they will reach thousands more!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
DONATE - MONETARY
With your generous contributions, you can directly impact the lives of hundreds of people in the Orlando community and beyond.
DONATE - GOODS
At our November 12th GNO, we will be helping collect donating goods that are needed by their food pantry, “Manna for Life.” We are hoping to help families be able to have a Thanksgiving to remember!
Items they need:
Our October local charity spotlight is Diaper Bank of Central Florida. Founded in 2015 by Eryn Vargo, a local mom that wanted to give back. Operated 100% by Eryn and her family, they rely solely on community support to be able to provide diapers to their partners. The very small amount of cash donations that they receive goes towards purchasing diapers and wipes when needed and also towards operating costs. The Diaper Bank of Central Florida is run out of Eryn’s garage and has distributed over 77,000 diapers to those in need – not only in Central Florida, but also 3,000 for Texas (Hurricane Harvey), 3,900 for SW FL (Hurricane Irma), and over 11,000 for Puerto Rico (Hurricane Maria)!
MISSION – THEIR “WHY”
To ensure every newborn, infant and toddler in our community is supplied with the most basic need-diapers.
There are no federal assistance programs that pay for or provide diapers-including WIC, Food Stamps and Medicare. Diapers are an unmet basic need for families. Daycare Centers require parents to provide disposable diapers. If a parent cannot afford diapers, he or she cannot leave their children in daycare, therefore the cycle of poverty continues because the parents cannot work or go to school. The need for diapers hits the most vulnerable in our community the hardest, especially when they cannot afford them. A clean change of diapers on a regular basis can cost up to $100/month (if not more)– for all stages of diaper needs.
Did you know, Nonprofits working with families and individuals consistently list diapers as an ongoing and TOP need? It’s true!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The Diaper Bank also needs community engagement to succeed; groups and individuals willing to run Diaper Drives and fundraisers to support their efforts and help them help babies across Orange County
HOST A DIAPER DRIVE
Looking for a unique way to give back to the community? Host a diaper drive at work, school, faith-based organization...anywhere! Email here to learn more.
Diapers that are donated to the Diaper Bank are split and distributed between their 3 partner agencies. There are some instances where they will direct donations directly to one of their partners.
WHAT THEY NEED
Any brand of diapers ,pull ups, or wipes, any size diapers or pull ups and even open packages of diapers are ok.
HOW TO DONATE
We will be collecting donations at our October 15thGirls Night Out event at Ellipsis Brewing. However, if you can’t make it, or want to continue donating, you can drop your donation off at the Central Christian Church, located at: 250 SW Ivanhoe Blvd., Orlando, FL 32804, on Tues-Thurs from 8am-4pm in the church office.
DO YOU NEED THE ASSISTANCE OF DIAPER BANK OF CENTRAL FLORIDA?
Those in need of diapers are directed to make an appointment with one of their 3 partner agencies that is closest to the person in need. Diapers and wipes (if available) are given to those in need directly from their partner agencies.
Keep up-to-date on the happenings of Diaper Bank of Central Florida, by following them on Facebook!
For more information, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to register for your FREE ticket to our October 15th GNO here.
This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so we have decided to partner again with The Magic Yarn Project of South Florida for our September Girls Night Out Networking Social.
About The Magic Yarn Project
Two moms started a project to make a few dozen princess yarn wigs for young girls battling cancer. Chemotherapy treatments leave young scalps too sensitive for traditional wigs, but yarn-wigs are comfy, soft, and warm. Magic yarn wigs are inspired by beloved Disney characters, and invite children back to the world of play and daydreaming. They are a beacon of fun, laughter, and play during a scary time. The demand for magic wigs grows daily!
The Magic Yarn Project of SF was our charity spotlight in April and you can learn more about all the amazing things they do for children with cancer, here!
Childhood Cancer Facts
Every 3 minutes another family is given the news that their child has cancer.
(from American Childhood Cancer Organization)
I implore you to research further and learn more about the heartbreaking statistics of Childhood Cancer and see how you can get involved! In the meantime, we will be collecting donated items at our Girls Night Out Networking Social at Sugar Factory Orlando on September 20th to assist with The Magic Yarn Project’s mission of providing fun and comfortable wigs for kids going through the horrors of cancer.
Most needed items:
Be sure to register for your FREE ticket to attend our networking social at Sugar Factory, here!
Our August local charity spotlight is A Gift For Teaching. Founded in 1998 by Gary Landwirth, A Gift for Teaching is Central Florida’s primary provider of free school supplies. They serve 287 public schools in Orange and Osceola counties. There are more than 240,000 kids whose families live at or below the poverty line in Central Florida, but the most shocking number is that 17,000 of those students are homeless.
Their mission is to improve public school education by providing resources and surplus materials free to teachers for their students in need.
Picture a child at school trying to write without a pencil, read without books or dream without the tools to put their ideas onto paper. This is the reality for far too many students in our community. For thousands, these basic learning tools are a luxury. In fact, more than 70% of the students in Central Florida come from families that can’t afford lunch, let alone school supplies. On top of this, teachers, on average, spend $500 – $1,000 out of their own pockets each year to provide basic supplies for their students! Because of these facts, A Gift For Teaching was founded.
At A Gift For Teaching, they believe that every child deserves a chance at an equal education, and though school supplies fulfill a basic need, they also know that learning is much more than just notebooks and multiplication tables. Therefore, they offer other programs as well!
A Gift For Music
A Gift For Music (AGFM) was founded in 1999 with the purpose of using music as a vehicle for the underserved urban youth in Orlando to envision a better future for themselves. AGFM has assembled some of the finest string music educators in Central Florida to mentor students on a musical journey from third grade through high school. Using a combination of after-school, in-school, weekend and summer programming, AGFM has one of the most comprehensive string music education programs in the state of Florida, and has been able to reach nearly 8,000 urban youth since inception.
To learn more about AGFM, please click HERE.
Pencil Boy Programs
In addition to having a physical Free Store where teachers shop, they have sent Pencil Boy on the road! Teachers can now shop online through the Pencil Boy Online platform where orders will be shipped directly to their schools, or they can shop via Pencil Boy Express- The Mobile Free Store, when it visits their school. Pencil Boy Express visits high-need schools across Orange County, alleviating the burden on teachers traveling to the Free Store.
Art supplies and curriculum are often the first things slashed in today’s tight school budgets, so in 2006, School SMARTS was created to integrate art into low-income classrooms to enhance learning. The program has two primary components; “Aunt Winnie’s Art Corner” within AGFT’s Free Store that provides teachers with basic quality art supplies, and art lesson kits. In collaboration with Orange County Public Schools’ Arts Administrator, packaged art lessons, and curriculum that cover skills such as drawing, watercolor, collage, and printmaking, are given to the teachers after a three-hour curriculum workshop.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Join the 9,000+ individuals, foundations, and corporations who have contributed financially, donated supplies or volunteered. AGFT would not exist without community partners, and it’s those partners that help them place supplies into the hands of those who really need it. Help them impact those who will be the future leaders of our community. If you would like to visit their facilities and learn more, sign up to take a tour!
It takes a team of dedicated volunteers to operate their programs and they are always looking for new members. Go HEREto learn more.
Your donation helps them provide supplies to students in need all year long.For every $1, A Gift For Teaching will be able to provide up to $10 worth of supplies! As previously mentioned, nearly 240,000 students in Central Florida are living at or below the poverty line. It's hard to focus in the classroom, let alone think about your future, when you don't have the supplies you need to complete your schoolwork. If you would like to help enable these children to dream up and create a future of their own design by making a financial gift, please go HERE.
AGFT believes in complete transparency; should you want to review their annual fiscal reporting, including their Annual Reports, IRS Form 990s, and audited Financial Statements, please go HERE.
Help keep their shelves stocked so no student goes without supplies!
Donate New & Gently-Used Supplies: They gladly accept new and gently used supplies. Teachers can get creative with what they use for their classrooms. For questions regarding drop-off locations or scheduling a pick-up, contact Dan Murwin. They accept donations Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:30pm at their Orange County Free Store.
Recycle Your Outdated Electronics: They can turn discarded, recycled electronics into educational supplies for students in need – helping both the local environment and our local children. Click to learn more!
Host a Supply Drive: Grab your friends, your colleagues, your business partners, and host a supply drive to gather the essential supplies Central Florida students need. You are encouraged to host supply drives all year long, but for more information on their annual Back-to-School Drive click here.
Looking for a team building project for your group at your office? They have remote opportunities too! It’s easy! See kit options here. Contact Angela Garcia for more information.
We will be collecting donated supplies at our GNO on August 22nd at Taverna Opa! For a list of items currently needed, you can view their Amazon Wishlist.
ARE YOU A LOCAL TEACHER?
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything were free? At A Gift For Teaching, is just that – free!
Orange County Teachers from eligible high-need schools can shop once a month either at our Free Store, Pencil Boy Online, or through Pencil Boy Express– The Mobile Free Store if it visits your school. Their goal is to reach as many teachers as they can, therefore they offer several ways for you to get free school supplies to impact your students in need. They know buying school supplies can be a burden on teachers, and they aim to alleviate that. To learn more, including to check your school’s “shopping” calendar, please go HERE.
Our July charity spotlight is Cats in Knead. Cats in Knead is a non-profit group of volunteers who are responsible for maintaining stray, feral and homeless cat colonies in Orange County, FL. Their volunteers are very dedicated and passionate about the care and well-being of over 350 cats in our community.
To assist in reducing the stray, homeless and feral cat population in the community through trap-neuter-return (“TNR”) and in keeping the cats healthy. Their caregivers provide food, water, TNR, medical care to sick or injured cats and shelter whenever possible. They strive to reduce intake at our local shelters by decreasing the number of cats born on the streets through TNR.
They educate the public, promote the TNR strategy and the importance of spaying and neutering owned pets to reduce the population within various communities by attending HOA meetings. As a non-profit organization they look to the generosity of others via cash and food donations. They also hold several fundraising events throughout the year, such as yard sales and participating in community events, like Pioneer Days, Earth Day and events at The City of Edgewood.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Cats in Knead’s resources are often stretched thin as the cost to TNR feral cat colonies and provide follow-up care and colony support continues to rise. 100% of the donations they receive are used to support these colonies. With your support they can continue to maintain healthy colonies and provide some much-needed financial relief to their caretakers. It is up to each of us to ensure that feral and stray cats in Orange County and beyond are given the chance to survive and thrive.
Cats in Knead accepts monetary donations via PayPal. Should you wish to make a donation, please visit their Paypal donation page here.
At Our Upcoming GNO
We will be collecting donated items at our July 19th Girls Night Out Meet up + Networking Social at Wine 4 Oysters (we do not collect monetary donations at our events.) A representative will be present to answer any questions that you may have about Cats in Knead and how you can get involved!
ITEMS CURRENTLY NEEDED:
Our June charity spotlight is International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES). ICES is a nonprofit student exchange organization dedicated to promoting a peaceful world by increasing international awareness and cultural understanding. They are a team of experienced professionals who are passionate about offering fantastic international and American student exchange opportunities. They have been doing this for over 25 years and they are amazed by the remarkable achievements of their students.
ICES was founded in 1991 by John J. Crist, as the President/ CEO he has worked in the U.S. as well as Sweden, Spain, Brazil and England and has been in the student exchange industry for over 35 years.
The ICES staff truly understands the challenges that exchange students may face, many of their team members have lived abroad and learned another language while overcoming cultural differences. This understanding and compassion is transmitted through ICES’s exceptional customer service.
As the global community we live in becomes increasingly interdependent and subject to change, today’s young people will face numerous challenges on the journey to becoming tomorrow’s leaders. They believe the foreign student exchange experience helps young people of all nationalities embrace those challenges and discover new opportunities that will help them dream and achieve more than they ever thought possible.
In May of 2016 ICES developed the IQ USA brand to define its Academic Service, F-1 & Short-Term programs. With the strength of 25 years in business, ICES and IQ USA offer experience in J-1 & F-1, Short-Term and Academic Service programs along with a reciprocal program, their High School Study Abroad for American students!
ICES is a designated as an official J-1 sponsor through the U.S. Department of State. They meet meticulous government regulations that assure their students, partners and host families have safe and positive experiences. ICES has been a member of the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange (ALLIANCE) since 1997. They have maintained a full listing with the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) for 25 years. ICES President John J. Crist, has served four terms on the CSIET Board of Directors. CSIET establishes standards for operating international exchange programs, they monitor compliance, and disseminate information regarding international educational travel organizations.
With 38 office staff members and a team of 425 local coordinators, they are dedicated to providing participants with experiences that will have a positive impact on their lives for years to come. Their team manages over 1,300 students yearly, with a network of school partners in 45 states. Their students come from 39 countries and are supervised by trained coordinators and compassionate student counselors.
Their partners help ICES to recruit and screen students ensuring that each student is emotionally prepared for the challenges inherent in studying abroad. Their Partners administer language exams and conduct interviews with students and parents prior to accepting them into the ICES program. The ICES President believes in building long-term relationships that allow them to learn and understand their Partners’ expectations, so they can provide excellent service to their international program participants.
U.S. schools play an important role in the success of their inbound programs. ICES staff focus on building and strengthening relationships with schools across the nation. Their school partners work closely with ICES to serve the best interest of their students and host families.
HOST A STUDENT
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HOST FAMILY
Your role as a host family is to provide room & board, and a nurturing home environment for your exchange student. The rewards of hosting are many, your family will learn and grow with the experience as you build life-long friendships.
ICES provides host families a network of support starting at the local level. Their trained Local Coordinators are available to help with any questions or concerns you and your family may have during the hosting experience. Local Coordinators will visit your home and provide you with detailed information about the hosting experience, while answering all of your questions. Host families are given an orientation before their students’ arrival to ensure they understand all aspects of hosting.
FROM A STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE
Students around the world contemplate and dream about an exchange experience, they wonder what things will look like once they are actually living with an American family and going to school. The impact an exchange experience has on these student’s is profound and meaningful. Being a host family not only gives students a place to call home, it changes their view on Americans, their perspective on life; it gives them the gift of friendship and of “family”. As you change their lives, you change yours, cultural differences melt away and the rewards of hosting come with the realization that you made a difference, you changed lives!
Learn more about becoming a host family here.
To apply to become a host family, please fill out this request form.
Still have questions or want to speak with someone directly? Call (800) 344-3566; ICES has an energetic and knowledgeable staff that is happy to tell you more about the hosting experience.
ICES works with its partners overseas who do the pre-screening of students. Their partners recruit only those students who they feel will be excellent candidates for the program. They continue the screening process to ensure they have a genuine interest in becoming an exchange student. Here are some of the things they screen for:
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
International high school students from Latin America, South America, Europe, Asia & Africa are excited to become a part of your family. Their overseas partners carefully select and pre-screen students, ICES follows up with additional screening for maturity and adaptability. Students come with medical coverage and their own spending money, they participate in a pre-departure orientation as well as an ICES arrival orientation, so they understand the rules and expectations of their program.
Program length is 5 or 10 months
Students are between the ages of 15 -18
Arrival dates are during the months of August and January
Read what previous Host families have to say here.
Read what previous students have to say here.
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We will not be collecting any donated items at our June 26th The Big Easy Girls Night Out Meet Up + Networking Social, but you will be able to speak with a representative of ICES to ask any questions you might have! The deadline to sign up to be a host family for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year is Mid-July.
Be sure to register for your FREE ticket to our June 26th GNO here
Hi! I'm Michelle. I love traveling, trying new restaurants, meeting new people, going to the parks, and playing with my dogs. I'm also super Disney obsessed - parks, cruise lines, movies - I love it all!
I host monthly networking events in the Orlando area for all women to attend. I look forward to meeting you at our next GNO!