Feature stories

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fun and Free Family Activities

By Terri Rimmer

If you’re looking for some fun and free family activities in Dallas and/or Fort Worth, TX, try these on for size:

Cedar Hill State Park at 1570 FM 1382, ten miles south of Dallas has the best bike trails. On the weekends you can’t stir the bicycles with a stick. For information, call 972-291-3900.

The best free entertainment for a kid can be found at Founder’s Plaza at DFW International Airport at 2829 30th Street (Carbon Road) in Dallas. Little kids who like airplanes, trucks, and other big stuff will truly be thrilled to spend an hour watching the jets come and go from this busy airport.

The best place to see pets run wild is at the Off-Leash Dog Park at Mockingbird Point near the intersection of Mockingbird and West Lawther. The city set aside some park land at the northeast corner of the lake. For information, call 214-670-4100.

The best playground is at Andrew Brown Community Park East at 260 E. Parkway Boulevard in Coppell. The town doesn’t exactly come to mind when thinking about the Disneyland of outdoor play spaces but nestled within the 148 acres of the Park is a veritable imagination plantation that can soothe the hyperactive souls of children of all ages.

The best rainy-day activity with the kids can be found at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World at 2501 Bass Pro Drive in Carrollton. A giant aquarium, boats to climb on, tents to test, giant stuffed catfish pillows, fishing equipment no one even knew existed, a driving and putting range – what more do you need to keep the kids intrigued for a few hours, short of a Pokemon? If you’re really lucky you might just catch an elk-calling contest or a seminar and there are always those fly-tying demos. For information, call 972-724-2018.

Another great playground is at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children at 2222 Welborn Street (214-559-5000). It’s true you can't just waltz, a passel of pikers in tow, onto this specially designed park at the Dallas hospital for children with severe orthopedic problems. But if you call ahead and make a reservation, this place can provide all ages of childish folk hours of safe and athletic fun.

The Fort Worth Nature Center, located just inside the city limits of Fort Worth at 9601 Fossil Ridge Road, has free admission and accepts donations. At over 3,600 total acres, the Center and Refuge, the largest city-owned nature center in the U.S., offers residents and visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural history of north central Texas. The Center is open daily (except major holidays) from 9-5 and is located on the northwest side of Fort Worth, four miles west of I-820 on Jacksboro Highway (Highway 199). Financial support for the Center comes from the City of Fort Worth Parks and Community Services Department. For information call 817-237-1111.

At NorthPark Center Mall in Dallas you can have storytime with Santa through Dec. 23rd this year, offered once daily, free of charge. Children of all ages can gather in Santa’s Victorian-style sitting room and listen to 30-minute tales about life at the North Pole with elves and reindeer. Located on Level Two next to Neiman Marcus. The mall’s address is 1030 NorthPark Center.

Scrooge at NorthPark is featured through Christmas Eve this year for the 28th year in his unique theatre with free performances daily which includes an interactive puppet show in the Step Court near Dillard’s.

The 2005 Sounds of the Season can be heard through Dec. 24th also at NorthPark where each year choral, orchestral, and dance groups from all over the DFW area perform holiday programs. Locations are at the Fountain Court at Dillard’s and the new Nordstrom Court.

Best Places To Bring A First Date

By Terri Rimmer

Here are some of the best places to take a first date in Dallas, TX:

The best movie theater is AMC Valley View 16 at 13331 Preston Valley Road, #2300 (972-724-8000). There are two kinds of “best movie theaters”: the ones who show great movies and ones that show movies great and this one is the latter.

The best Classical Theater Festival is Shakespeare in the Park at Samuell Grand Amphitheatre located at 1500 Tenison Parkway. Starting in March at the WaterTower Theatre in Addison and extending into late October at the Amphitheatre, the Festival is inching toward becoming what everybody wishes it could be – a year-round celebration of Elizabethan theater. They may be reached at 214-559-2778.

The best place to see a play is the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas at 5601 Sears Street (214-828-0094). Now in its fourth season, this venue for live theater just keeps getting better with age.

The best bird’s-eye view of Dallas can be found at the roof of South Side on Lamar Lofts at 1409 South Lamar Street. After a late-night cup of coffee at Standards and Pours on the bottom level of this artists’ community, venture your way to the main lobby, find the elevator, and ride all the way to the top. The number is 214-428-4848.

The best live theater company has said to be the Uptown Players at 4606 Cedar Springs Road. Now in its fourth season of plays and musicals at the Trinity River Arts Center, the Players upped the ante last year with more ambitious work and higher-quality productions.

The best waitstaff can be found at Il Mulino New York at 2408 Cedar Springs Road (214-855-5511). Il Mulino is cloaked in a jacked of elegance.

The best commute to dinner is at Goodhues Wood-Fired Grill. Goodhues is not, in itself, a reason to move to McKinney, but it’s sure worth the occasional drive. Located at 204 W. Virginia Street, they may be reached at 972-562-7570.

The best place for a walk in August on a summer date is the Dallas Arboretum Fern Dell at 8525 Garland Road (214-515-6500). On the shore of White Rock Lake, the Arboretum is one of those city treasures that many residents still don’t know about. The Arboretum with its 66 acres of variously manicured green spaces and forest-y wilderness, plus 11 display gardens, which bloom and change with the seasons, the place is a little slice of heaven.

If college theatre is your thing, check out the Quad C Theatre at Collin Community College in Plano. Using student actors and non-pros cast from open auditions, Quad C consistently offers professional-level productions that outshine Equity-heavy downtown stages. They may be contacted at 972-881-5809.

At Rough Creek Lodge you can find everything from wildlife, to dining, to the spa treatment. You can spend a quiet evening as luxurious as the finest in any city but happily not in a city. Located at CR 2013 in Glen Rose, they may be reached at 800-864-4705.

The Texas Discovery Gardens conservatory at Fair Park has the best urban waterfall. Sit on the natural stone ledge and peer into the pondering pool at the base of the two-story waterfall and you’ll forget you’re in a building at Far Park in Dallas. They’re at 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the phone number is 214-428-7476.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Improving Working People’s Standard of Living

By Terri Rimmer

Founded in1987, Jobs With Justice’s (JWJ) mission is to improve people’s standard of living, fight for job security, and protect workers’ rights to organize.

JWJ coalitions now exist in over 40 cities in 29 states in all regions of the country, made up of both member organizations and thousands of individual activists who sign the pledge to be there five times a year for someone else’s struggle as well as their own.

According to JWJ, the current crisis within the labor movement creates the necessity to reaffirm some of the core principles of the organization.

“The enemies of working families and our communities have tremendous power in our society, and our shared goal is to shift the terms of struggle more towards workers’ rights, social, and economic justice,” states their website. “We will continue to commit ourselves to building power for workers and communities.”

JWJ’s local coalitions make decisions about which campaigns to support based on criteria which include worker involvement. The literature states that labor and community groups need each other to win and build power.

In 1987 more than 11,000 attended the first JWW rally in Miami, FL.

In 1990 JWJ coordinated a Health Care Day of Action when tens of thousands of workers in 40 states participated in worksite activities and group demos. In June 1991 the organization coordinated a Health Care Week of Action targeting insurance bureaucracy and in June 1993 they organized actions in the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nationwide to demand that the Board uphold the right to organize unions.

In June 1995 JWW organized a nationwide week of action against the corporate arena and in 1996 coordinated a Corporate Greed Day of Action to protest excessive executive compensation, layoffs, downsizing, and the abuse of workers’ rights.

In 1997 they held a second day of action to Fight Corporate Greed specifically on the anti-worker practices of Gannett and General Electric.

On July 14, 1997 JWL coalitions across the country took action to demand justice regarding Sprint who had fired 177 Latina workers eight days prior to a union vote.

On Dec. 10, 1997 JWJ coordinated a day of action for Welfare/Workfare to debate about welfare on good jobs and social justice.

In August 1998 local JWJ coalitions took action to support workers striking against mandatory overtime at US West and on Dec. 8th, building on the Welfare/Workfare Justice Day of Action, JWJ, with the National Priorities Project released a report, “Working Hard, Earning Less: The Story of Job Growth in America,” showing the economy’s failure to create quality wage jobs and to guarantee employee protections.

State Representative Adam Smith participated in a Workers’ Rights Board hearing organized by Washington State Jobs with Justice recently.

“There is no doubt in my mind how vital good living-wage jobs are to the success of our economy and the well-being of our community,” said Smith. “Determining which policies will preserve these jobs now and 100 years from now is a harder task, but it begins with talking to workers on the ground and forming partnerships in all levels of government and in the community.”

Exported Funeral Arrangements

Important Information For Using This Exported File From Will Workshop
WARNING: The purpose of this text file is to allow you to print your documents should there be an incompatibility between Will Workshop and your printer. If you do not have a printing problem, you should print your documents using Will Workshop, not this export file.
Do not change the language in any of your documents. If you change the wording of your documents or print them incorrectly, you risk creating problems with their validity.
A. If You Saved Your Document As A Rich Text Format (RTF) File
1. Comparing Your Exported File With Will Workshop's Version
As you read the instructions below, you may need to compare your exported document with the version that you can display in Will Workshop's Print Preview screen. See Part 6 of the Will Workshop Users' Manual for instructions on how to display and print your completed documents using the Print Preview screen.
If you plan on using WordPad or another word processor that does not support page breaks, footer and headers to print your exported RTF file, please read "If You Saved Your Document As An ASCII Text (TXT) File," below.
2. Insert Page Breaks Before Signature Lines, If Necessary
Pay careful attention to the page breaks when you print out your legal documents. This is particularly true of signature lines at the end of your documents, as discussed in "//// MAY APPEAR AT THE END OF A PAGE" in Part 6, Section A, of the Users' Manual. The page breaks in your exported document should match the ones that Will Workshop automatically inserts when you display the documents (see above). If you export an RTF file and open it in Microsoft Word, page breaks are inserted automatically.
Be sure to compare the page breaks in your exported file with those displayed in Will Workshop's Print Preview screen and, if necessary, edit your export file to match it.

B. If You Saved Your Document As An ASCII Text (TXT) File
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This text file may contain several individual documents, including the legal document you selected to print, related legal documents, important notes about signing your documents, as well as this information about using exported files.
If there are multiple files, we recommend that you separate the individual documents and save each as a different file, so that the page numbering and footers will be correct for each document when you print them out. To see where to separate the individual documents in this file, you'll need to return to Will Workshop to display the completed document. See Part 6 of the Will Workshop Users' Manual for instructions on how to display and print your completed documents. To make separate files, do the following for each document in this text file:
1. Select the contents of the document and copy it.
2. Create a new file.
3. Paste the copied text into the new file.
4. Save it with a new file name.
See the manual that came with your word processing or text editing software if you do not know how to create new files or copy and paste text.
2. Insert Page Breaks
Pay careful attention to the page breaks when you print out your legal documents. The page breaks should match the ones that Will Workshop automatically inserts when you display the documents (see above). If you export to a TXT file, your exported document will have no page breaks--you must insert them yourself.
3. Add Footers for Page Numbers
For some documents, it is important that you insert the document name and page number at the bottom of each page. Will Workshop inserts this footer into all documents that require it. The non-legal documents--such as some simple letters, the signing instructions or these instructions re using exported files--do not require numbered pages. To see whether a particular document should have this footer, you'll need to return to Will Workshop to display the completed document. See Part 6 of the Will Workshop Users' Manual for instructions on how to display and print your completed documents.
If you export to a TXT file, your exported document will have no footer--you must insert them yourself. You can copy and then paste the following text into the document as you format it:
________________________________ Page _____
If you export an RTF file and open a document that requires a footer in Microsoft Word, this footer is created automatically.

INSTRUCTIONS: Final Arrangements
Before You Sign
There are a couple of important steps to take before you finalize your Will Workshop document and put it to use.
Make Sure You're Using the Current Version of Will Workshop
We've done our best to ensure that this program is bug-free and legally up to date. Nonetheless, problems can arise, and laws do change. When our users report problems, we try to quickly fix the program. In addition, we update our software to reflect changes in the law when necessary. If you haven't done so in the past month, run the Web Update feature to make sure that you're using the most recent version of this program before you finalize your document.
To run Web Update, open the Online menu and choose Web Update. Then, follow the instructions that appear on screen. After you've updated the program, you can safely print and sign your documents.
Review Your Document
Read your final arrangements document carefully. Is everything printed as you intended? Do you understand the meaning of every word?
After You Sign
Keep your final arrangements document in a safe place, where it can be readily found. You may want to make photocopies for people whom you want to be aware of your wishes.
A Note About Document Formatting
In some Will Workshop documents, hash marks [////] automatically appear at the bottom of a page. These marks are both a precaution and a legal necessity. In many legal documents, it is a requirement that a few lines setting out something of substance appear on the same page as the signatures. In others, the signatures, or sometimes other material, must simply be kept together on one page. These formatting requirements may result in a page break that leaves less than a full page of text on one or more pages of a document. The hash marks prevent someone from inserting additional language into the blank spaces after you have signed the document.
Will Workshop Doesn't Provide Legal Advice
Nolo, provider of legal content for Will Workshop, publishes legal forms that are useful in many situations. But we can't tell you whether or not a form is right for you, given your circumstances. If you want advice geared to your specific situation, consult an expert. No general legal form is a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer licensed to practice law in your state.
Will Workshop Deluxe 2004 version 3.0
Final Arrangements version
Copyright 2003 by Nolo
Date printed: April 17, 2005 Time: 04:10AM
Final Arrangements for Terri Denise Rimmer
I request that the following instructions and preferences be honored after my death:
Part 1. Body Donation
I have not made arrangements to donate my whole body.
Part 2. Organ Donation
I have indicated I'm a donor on my driver's license.
Part 3. Cremation Instructions
A. Mortuary or Crematorium
Greenwood, University Boulevard S., Fort Worth, TX 76107
B. Embalming
I do not wish to be embalmed.
C. Casket
No casket
D. Pre-cremation Ceremony
Memorial service to be held at Celebration Church, 908 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fort Worth, TX 76102.
Significant other, friends, family, my dog, employer, co-workers, and colleagues to be invited.
Readings to include this quote from Vincent Van Gogh - "The best way to know life is to love many things;" A phrase from the "24 Hours a Day" book - "In that early quiet time gain a calm strong confidence in the goodness and purpose in the universe;" and the 3rd Step Prayer from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous under the "How It Works" Chapter (Chapter 5).
Prayers to be The Lord's Prayer, St. Francis of Assissi Prayer, and the 7th Step Prayer as found in the "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" book in Chapter 7.
Letters to include "What Is Love" written for my daughter, McKenna, which her adoptive mom, Vicki Lookingbill has; this quote from Henry David Thoreau - "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life that you have imagined;" and this quote from a greeting card my sister Cindy once gave me - "Keep going, keep growing, keep a dream in your heart."
Music to include "God Is Watching Us" by Bette Midler," from 1991; "I've Loved These Days" by Billy Joel, and "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan from her CD Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Lung Association or the American Cancer Society.
Eulogies to be delivered by my sister, Cindy Persico, best friend, Stephanie Weatherford, and Gwen Miles.
E. Witness to Cremation
Cindy Persico
F. Where and How To Scatter Cremated Remains
St. Simons Island in the water
G. Memorial Ceremony
No preference.
Part 4. Person to Oversee My Wishes
I want Cindy Persico to oversee the plans I've set out in this document. If Cindy Persico can't serve or be reached when necessary, I want Stephanie Weatherford to oversee my plans.
I, Terri Denise Rimmer, declare that I have read these instructions and that they accurately reflect my wishes for final arrangements after my death.

Terri Denise Rimmer

Numerous Signatures Collected on Dog Bill

By Terri Rimmer

More than 118,000 signatures have been obtained, more than twice the number required to put the Dog Protection Act on the ballot in November 2006 in Massachusetts.

The petitions have been delivered to city and town clerks, where names will be certified according to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA).

The Act will have a hearing in the legislature next year.

There will be opportunities to distribute materials, talk about this issue to others, provide office help, hold signs at the polls, and more, according to the organization.

You can also go online at mspca.org to shop for holiday gifts and cards. All proceeds go to benefit homeless and abused animals.

Dec. 10th and 11th the Second Annual Paws Clause hosted by DoggieDay, 400 Tremont Street in Boston from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Massachusetts will be held. Pet photos will be available with Santa ‘Paws’ Clause. For information, call 617-357-7387 for more information or you can register online on the website, mspca.org.

The Annual Give Thanks for Safe Pets was held recently and 100 dogs and cats were microchipped and rabies vaccinated, according to the website.

The 2006 Adoption Tails Calendars are available now which include 12 stories of adoptions with pictures. Price is $12 when bought at the Adoption Center or $17 including shipping and handling by mail.

The holiday wish list for the Adoption Center includes blankets, toys, fresh vegetables for rabbits, paper towels, big trash bags, white and colored paper, exam gloves, a color laser printer, cardboard rolls for gerbils, leashes, collars, and new adoptive homes.

Spike’s Fund was formed to help with costs of immediate medical needs or homeless animals in the center’s care. The Chaucer and ZuZu Senior Pet Adoption Fund was established to help with mature animals.

The MSPCA’s Metro South Center offers dog obedience classes and also houses rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and birds. The adoption center there is also looking for foster homes for pets. The center cares for 5,000 homeless animals yearly. Recently a “Life Is Precious” fund helped save a puppy’s life. For more information, call 508-586-2053.

At Martha’s Vineyard MSPCA the Ruth Reading Fund has been established to help low-income pet owners spay and neuter their animals. For More information call 508-627-8662.

At The MSPCA at Nevins Farm in MA you can also visit Maggie, the sheep. They also have an Equine Ambulance Program and a farm care program. The farm will hold their Seventh Annual Winter Festival Dec. 3rd-11th.

Also, “Lucky,” a simulated moving horse has arrived at the farm. It is used by the MSPCA’s Equine Ambulance staff to teach emergency transport and rescue. For more information call 978-687-7453 #6124.

Best Italian Restaurants

By Terri Rimmer

If you live in the Dallas, TX area, here are the best Italian restaurants:

Brother’s Pizza at 13317 Montfort Drive (972-458-1375) has the closest approximation to the mozzarella dream cake in Big D.

One of the best Italian restaurants is also Salve! Ristorante at 2120 McKinney Avenue. Its cool, slick Milano-inspired décor may be a bit too much fro some in Dallas to stomach although some think it’s stunning. They may be reached at 214-220-0070.

Raneri’s has the best spaghetti and meatballs. They’re at 8604 N. MacArthur in Irving (214-574-7655). The past is firm and tender.

The best pizza by the slice can be found at Porta di Roma at 1623 Main Street #104. Forgot those stampeding bulls near City Hall: Pizza joints are the best thing downtown has going for it. The number is 214-752-0855.

Ferre Ristorante & Bar at 3699 McKinney Avenue #106 (214-522-3888) is also considered one of the best. Parked in the West Village, where the tanned and tucked preen and leased BMWs breed like lab bunnies, Patrick Colombo’s Ferre is an impeccably dressed Tuscan feedlot – razor-sharp.

Arcodoro Pomaodoro is little more than a simple pair of Sardinian joined-at-the-hip dining experience. Located at 2708 Routh Street they may be reached at 214-871-1924.

So what makes a good pizza? Some say it’s fresh toppings, others the crust. Piggie Pies has both and they are located at 5315 Greenville Suite 120B, corner of Lovers Lane and Greenville Avenue). They may be contacted at 214-821-6465.

The best way to eat a Sicilian is at Café Nostra where their tagline is “We’ll make you a pizza you can’t refuse.” They’re a New York-style Italian restaurant, family-owned and operated and they have seating for 50 people. On or off-site catering is available and delivery too with a $10 minimum and $2 delivery fee. All major credit cards are accepted and they are open seven days a week They also do corporate catering parties, private affairs, kids’ “Make your own pizza” parties, and they have a large catering area servicing the Metroplex .They are located at 2023 Lower Greenville and the phone number is 214-821-2100.

The best cheap Italian is Sal’s Pizza at 2525 Wycliff Avenue (214-522-1828). For all but the heartiest eaters, $7 goes someplace at Sal’s, someplace good. The best reason to think you’re in Brooklyn is at Sal’s Pizza. It’s the kind of neighborhood family spot you find all over the outer boroughs of New York: bright, bustling, and filled with good smells and foreign, friendly waiters.

The best pizza for pickup is at Alfonso’s at 718 N. Buckner Boulevard #222. You may think you need to live near this White Rock eatery to order its pizza, but some would argue that the trip is worth it unless you live in Wylie or Red Oak - - and even then, it may be a good idea to give it a go. The phone number is 214-327-7777.

Another best Italian restaurant is Café Amore at 400 Coit Road #2050 in Richardson (972-699-8322). Somewhere between Mi Piaci and Chef Boyardee lies the concept of the family Italian restaurant which is best exemplified by Café Amore.

A “best other suburban pizza place” is Paparazzi Pizza at 2145 N. Josey Lane #114 in Carrollton. There are a few magic words when it comes to pizza: “Delivery,” wood-burning oven,” “stuffed crust,” “extra pepperoni.” They may be reached at 972-820-8686.

Il Mulino New York at 2408 Cedar Springs Road (214-855-5511) has large portions and bold flavors. The bench in Dallas for mouth-watering, clean, elegant Italian cuisine is thin; thin enough to make into a racy camisole.

Wrapping up the list for best pizza is Fireside Pies at 2820 N. Henderson Avenue. This is a tough category because everyone has a different version of what make a great pizza: thin crust, chunky tomatoes, lots of sauce, extra cheese; etc. The restaurant may be reached at 214-370-3916.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Shelter From The Sprawl

By Terri Rimmer

Once a 1960s trend, co-housing communities offer an eco-friendly alternative to suburbia and are making a comeback.

According to co-housing.org, Vermont has a long tradition of village settlements – close-knit communities shaped by a shared sense of destiny and geography.

The site states that during the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s the state was home to a number of well-known, if not infamous, communes.

“The long-term impact of that influx is still being debated, but the newcomers of 30 years ago brought with them a set of ideals that has helped to shape a growing sentiment among native Vermonters that is farmland, ridgelines, and basic way of life,” the site states.

Today, this communard ideal is echoed by the co-housing movement that has slowly taken root in three Vermont communities with at least two more on the way.

Billed as the eco-friendly alternative to the traditional suburban development, co-housing units are generally constructed with green building materials around a central open area, share a common house for community meals and other activities, and are designed so that people can depend on another for childcare and elder care among other day-to-day necessities.

Ten years ago, a group of families developed Ten Stones, an intentional co-housing community on 88 acres in Charlotte, and five years ago a group of families bought two adjacent farms in Hartland, totaling 260 acres, and formed Cobb Hill Co-housing.

According to tenstones.com, Champlain Valley Co-housing is in the process of building the first of several connected units in Charlotte on 125 acres of land, and expects the first residents to move in sometime in the spring.

Two other co-housing groups, one in Burlington and one in Montpelier, have yet to break ground, but Burlington’s group expects to begin building in March.

In each of these co-housing communities, the homes are built as either connected units, or close together, on only a small portion of the total land.

Nationally, there are 165 active co-housing communities, according to the Co-housing Association of the U.S.

The Association says that the impact of co-housing communities may be less obvious than communes, mainly because their residents see themselves, in many respects, as member of the local society as much as they are of their own planned community.

In the case of Cobb Hill, that means opening up hundreds of acres of land to local hikers, skiers, and snowmobilers and having their kids attend local public schools.

In Charlotte, members of the Champlain Valley Co-housing group meet weekly at the Charlotte Senior Center and families are already sending their kids to the Charlotte public school.

In Burlington, the co-housing project will fill in an open parcel of land that is currently surrounded by homes.

“I believe we were meant to live in tribes,” said Larilee Suitor, one of the first members of the Champlain Valley Co-housing group in a recent article.

Kelly and Rick Devine, who have two children, moved to Burlington from Plymouth, MA, after looking at other co-housing communities in the planning stages in New England.

And, there were the people to consider.

Their son, a first grade, is already attending Charlotte schools and their house is already under construction.

Source: co-housing.org


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Making Subsidies Accountable

By Terri Rimmer

An award winner and author founded Good Jobs First back in 1998.

Greg LeRoy, who wrote No More Candy Store: States and Cities Making Jobs Subsidies Accountable and winner of the 1998 Public Interest Pioneer Award of the Stern Family Fund, has made his organization a national leader.

Good Jobs First frequently testifies before state legislatures, conducts workshops and training, and appears in the press.

Good Jobs first says that the failure of large companies such as Wal-Mart to provide affordable and comprehensive health coverage to many of their employees has been a subject of growing controversy – all the more so because large numbers of those workers not insured on the job are turning instead to government programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

According to their website, goodjobsfirst.org, Wal-Mart has received more than $1 billion in economic development subsidies from state and local governments across the country.

The literature states also that in a 50-state survey of economic development subsidy programs – such as loans, grants, and tax incentives – not one single state effectively coordinates its economic development spending with public transportation planning.

According to Good Jobs First stats report they wrote documents how two geographically targeted economic development programs, tax increment finance (TIF) and enterprise zones have been weakened in many states so that their anti-poverty impact is no longer assured.

“Our findings are deeply troubling,” said LeRoy. “Denying taxpayer subsidies for poverty wages is truly an idea whose time has come.”

The Lower Development Corporation (LMDC) has been accused by Good Jobs First of mishandling funds.

“Even though the LMDC claims that low and moderate-income residents have benefited from its programs, nowhere in our research could we find how the Corporation measures these improvements,” said Stephanie Greenwood, research analyst for Good Jobs New York.

LeRoy has just had released another book he has written called The Great American Jobs Scam.

“LeRoy has his finger on the pulse of what’s ailing American communities and destroying jobs and our environment in the process,” said Carl Pop, executive director of the Sierra Club.

“As this book reveals, the system is rigged,” Jim Hightower, author of Thieves in High Places and Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush is quoted as saying on Good Jobs’ website.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Peace For The Geese

By Terri Rimmer

It was only four years ago that some neighbors were pitted against each other – for and against the geese in one neighborhood.

In the fall of 1998, the community of Lake Barcroft, VA held its annual community meeting.

“This suburban Washington, D.C. community of 1,200 homes on a 130-acre lake with five swimming beaches is unusually tight-knit and active,” said Holly Hazard, vice-president of GeesePeace, a wildlife conflict program. “On the night of the association meeting, however, neighbors were pitted against each other over whether to declare war for – or against- the geese.”

The association board was poised to authorize a roundup and slaughter but agreed to hold off a final decision until all options could be reviewed.

What eventually evolved was a comprehensive strategy that goes by the name GeesePeace.

Their first step was to eliminate the controversy by agreeing to take the lethal option off the table, said Hazard.

The 17-point plan that the committee used all possible options to eliminate the nuisance aspect of geese around the lake.

Because the Lake Barcroft community made a commitment not to push its problem to its neighbors, leaders formed a non-profit organization that has since helped all of Fairfax County reduce the resident geese population, according to Hazard.

GeesePeace used geographic information systems technology to identify likely Canada geese nesting sites and hoped to “geocode” actual sites in 2001, according to records.

In the spring of 2000, the county of Fairfax, VA – with more than 400 square miles, 300 parks, and close to a million residents – became the first in the nation to receive a countywide permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for addling Canada geese eggs.

Next GeesePeace developed pilot nuisance abatement projects for five different property types, from a city park to a hotel and office complex to another homeowners association.

As a result of receiving calls from around the country, GeesePeace developed project plans to assist communities, according to their literature.

In December 2000 after one year of operation, they held an international conference on building better communities through non-controversial, humane wildlife management practices; the conference was supported by several wildlife protection groups and federal agencies.

The communities of King County are presented with the same challenges they faced in 1998, states Hazard.

Through a comprehensive nuisance abatement program, and Seattle-area community could eliminate the nuisance aspect of Canada geese in the summer of 2001 – increasing, not demoralizing, community spirit, she said.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Submitted to Charity Guide

Gladney Guatemala
Great American Bake Sale
Hands On Network
Project Guatemala

Affordable Housing Fund Legislation Passes House

By Terri Rimmer

The Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005 passed the House of Representatives recently.

The final vote of 331 to 90 was approved with an amendment authorizing the Affordable Housing Fund.

The legislation goes to the Senate next.

The National Coalition for the Homeless, founded in 1984, a national network of people made up of advocates, service providers, and others committed to a single mission, spearheaded the piece of legislation.

The provisions of the proposed Act state the following:

Every member of society has a right to basic economic and social entitlements.

It is a societal responsibility to provide stable, good, accessible, frugal, and long-term housing.

All people who are able to obtain safe, decent, accessible and permanent housing through their own resources need economic and social supports to help them do this.

People experiencing homelessness deserve entry to safe, decent, accessible, budget-minded, and permanent housing through the systems for people with housing.

People experiencing homelessness have special needs and life circumstances that may be dealt with through programs constructed custom-made for them.

All people should have the same access to safe, decent, accessible, and affordable housing no matter their unique needs or life situations.

Across-the-board access to this type of permanent housing is a form of truly fair society.

The Bringing America Home: the Campaign, a national, detailed initiative is associated with the goal of ending homelessness. The Act, a complete bill (H.R. 4347) introduced in the 109th Congress, details resolutions putting them on file as supporting housing as a basic human right. A National Housing Trust Fund should be created to serve for revenue to establish new housing and the preservation or rehab of existing housing affordable for poor people, stated the Campaign.

A Health Care Access Resolution instructs Congress to enforce legislation guaranteeing every person, regardless of income, age, employment, or health status, has access to affordable, good, comprehensive health care.

The Universal Living Wage Resolution, also part of the campaign, is written on the approach that if a person works 40 hours a week then he/she should be able to pay for basic housing.

The Civil Rights Protection for People Experience Homelessness legislation to stop the criminalization of homelessness is included in the Act.

The Act was reintroduced into Congress by Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN) on Nov. 16th.

She was joined by nine co-sponsors.

The Act is said to be the most comprehensive initiative to address homelessness.

If passed the Act would provide affordable housing, job training, civil rights protections, vouchers for child care, and public transportation, emergency funds for families facing eviction, increased access to health care for all, and Congressional support for living incomes, states a press release from the National Coalition for Homeless.

“The bill has already garnered wide support,” says the release.

“This legislation is crucial to assisting people who are homeless or are near homelessness,” said the release.

For more information on the Act, call 202-462-4822 or visit bringingamericahome.org.

Source: National Coalition for the Homeless, nationalhomeless.org

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Best Vintage Clothing Stores

By Terri Rimmer

Here’s your guide to the best vintage clothing stores in Texas:

At Treasure Box you can choose from colonial, classical, baroque, kids’, pioneer, romantic, trends, and zoots. The timeline of clothes available goes from 1920s to the 1980s. Professional actors and entertainers often shop here and donate their clothes they’ve used in performances back to the store. Treasure Box is on a campaign to save vintage clothes. Thrift stores need modern clothing and needy people often don’t want to wear vintage clothes, according to Treasure Box staff. The store is located 1706 Avenue K in Plano. The number is 972-422-7256.

At Counter Culture Vintage Store at 2702 Main Street in Dallas they meld art, fashion, and music into grunge wear. This location is the exclusive Dallas retailer for popular vintage collection by Dust Factory. Counter Culture was said to have “come out of its Deep Ellum closet.” Since 2000 retro fashion seekers have been more “Deep Throat-ish” about divulging details about the store. The traditional customer is more Rolling Stone and nostalgic. It’s a place where “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw would go and adore it. Levis there date back to the 1940s and they carry new lines of clothes recreated in vintage themes. The store may be reached at 214-698-0117.

At Gratitude Vintage Clothing you might just get addicted to shopping there. Located at 3714 Fairmount Street in Dallas there is an eclectic mix of men’s and women’s clothing. It’s inexpensive, the owners are popular, and the parking is adequate. It’s also highly recommended by several reviewers on City Search. They may be contacted at 214-522-2921.

Deep Ellum’s neighborhood in Dallas is a popular spot for many vintage resale shops.

At Puttin’ On The Ritz in Dallas customers get to be one of a kind. Located at 6621 Snider Plaza the small Park Cities boutique is a well-known place to find women’s clothing that is vintage. Their clothing line spans from the 1880s to the 1980s and brides can shop the collection of early 20th Century wedding frocks. The phone number is 214-369-4015.

Children’s Orchard allows moms to put their kids’ under age seven’s gently used clothes on consignment. They have five stores in Texas and numerous retailers all over the country. The first store opened in 1980 and three new stores just opened in California and Arizona. The company aims to gain from the $200 billion market. These indeed might be heady times for those in the resale business as consumer confidence wanes for big companies and the economy is still known to be poor. For information, call 1-800-999-KIDS.

At Anonymously Yours, women can stay within their budget and still get the vintage clothes they love. In business for 20 years they have over 400 bridal gowns off the rack. They also offer career wear, formal wear, suits, and separates. They say the amazing thing about resale is the fast pace at which everything moves. One model was featured in D Magazine in one of their vintage formal gowns. The store also has online sales. The store is located at 204 Abrams Street Shopping Center in Dallas (214-341-4618).

Clotheshorse Anonymous calls itself “a breed apart in women’s resale.” Although resale may be a household word today, 31 years ago it was a very well-kept secret, according to staff. In the 70a Clotheshorse made an intentional play on the essential word - anonymous. Jan Kennedy, after the 2002 retirement of Nancy Ungerman continues their 29 years of excellence and partnership. The owner says the store attracts clients worldwide. Located at 1413 Preston Forest Square in Dallas, they may be reached at 972-233-7005.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Best Holiday Decorations Stores

By Terri Rimmer

Here are the best permanent shops to purchase holiday decorations in Texas:

The Muse makes holiday decorating shopping easier. They’re located at 6725 Snider Plaza in Dallas (214-739-6011).

If you’re looking to spice up your Christmas decor with something from south of the border, look no further than Casa Mexicana. Located at 2710 Live Oak Street they may be reached at 214-747-7227.

It’s a winter wonderland of ornaments, garland, wreaths, decorative Santas, and rosemary topiaries at Jackson Home and Garden. They’re located at 6950 Lemmon Avenue in Dallas. The number is 214-350-9200.

Holidaze and Gifts (formerly Always Christmas) offers unique ornaments intricately designed. Themes range from Old World to villages and collectibles. They’re a family-owned and operated that opened in 1991. The business was first housed in an old, vacated Mexican restaurant on the corner of Custer road and Park Boulevard. As each year passed their business steadily grew. According to the owners the business continues to grow and this year they moved to their current location. After a visit to Holidaze, you’ll see the reason for their success. They can be found at 3400 Preston Road, #200 in Plano (972-596-7695).

Earth Bones at 308 Main Street in Fort Worth have decorations a little out of the ordinary. Hours are M-Th, 10-7, Friday and Saturday 10-10, and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. The phone number is 817-332-2662.

If you decorative bent is toward modern or avant-garde pieces you must visit Uncommon Angles at 1616 S. University Drive in Fort Worth (817-335-9933).

Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store in Midland is celebrating 20 years. The store’s name reflects the name of the owner’s grandma, Martha Cayce Bauman. You can experience their creative talents in the magical wonderland at the store. Every year each nook and cranny is transformed into whimsical wonderlands that bring out the kid in everyone. They’re located at 3323 N. Midland Drive Suite 117. For more information, call toll-free at 1-866-801-0456.

At Things Celtic you can have that theme for Christmas. Ornaments such as the Angel of Peace and Trinity Knot are sold among other treasures. The store has been serving the Celtic Community of Texas since 1999 and features some of the finest Celtic products from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Celtic artists here in America. They’re

located at 1806 W. 35th Street in Austin. For information email Kimberly@thingsceltic.com.

Wishing Well Collectibles and Gifts at 8652 Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth has cottages, castles, and Christmas from assorted snowmen and angels to Christmas plates. The phone number is 800-232-7679.

At The General Store, located within the Fort Worth Stockyards at 101 West Exchange, you can find stocking stuffers and Texas-themed decorations. They also have salsa, dishtowels, clothing, and a soda fountain in the back. For information call 800-282-9654.

Raz Imports at 1020 Eden Road in Arlington offers Christmas angels, candlesticks, and other unique holiday items. They may be reached at 817-466-4729.

At Noel Christmas Store at the southwest corner of Preston and LBJ Freeway in Dallas, just three miles east of the Galleria Mall you can enjoy Old World Christmas, ornaments, lights, miniature fake carolers, glass, nativity scenes, and other cool products. The store first opened in 1986 and became a year-round Christmas store in 1991. They offer an extensive collection of collectibles and Christmas trim and started an ecommerce site this year. For information call 1-800-876-0049.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

New Immune Cell Found To Be A Key To Inflammatory Diseases

By Terri Rimmer

The molecular roots of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as asthma, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis (MS) have been discovered by a team of researchers led by the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

In a lead article in the November issue of Nature Immunology (released online Oct.2nd) the scientists report finding a novel type of “T helper” cell they say is the culprit for initiating chronic inflammation and autoimmunity in a variety of body tissues.

“We suspected that IL-17 is a player in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, but we didn’t understand where IL-17 came from before this finding,” says the study’s lead investigator, Chen Dong, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Immunology. “Now we have discovered the source of IL-17 and also have solidly demonstrated that these are the crucial cells that regulate tissue inflammation in autoimmune disease and asthma.”

He adds that while such drugs are years away from development and clinical trials, agents that block IL-17 could represent an effective treatment, based on these results.

Dong and four other M.D. Anderson researchers collaborated with scientists from the University of Washington, the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

While the findings have no immediate relevance to the field of oncology it is known that cancer can arise from inflammatory processes.

T cells are white blood cells that play a variety of roles in the immune system, including the i.d. of foreign molecules in the body, such as bacteria and viruses, and the activation and deactivation of other immune cells.

T helper cells are specific T cells that have receptors that recognize and bind to fragments (known as antigens) of the invaders that already have been displayed on the surface of other immune system cells. (These T helper cells re also called CD4 T cells since they express CD4 molecules).

Before this study two such different types of effector T helper cells had been known – type I (TH1), linked to the body’s response to microbial infection, and type 2 (TH2), which plays a crucial function in production of B cell antibodies and also is associated with development of allergies.

Although TH1 and TH2 and known to produce powerful cytokines – such as interferon-gamma (IFN-g) and allergy-associated interleukin 4 (IL-4), respectively – they are not inflammatory or associated with production of IL-17, which sets off an errant immune response that results in tissue inflammation.

Researchers could not understand the origins of such inflammatory response in body tissues.

Dong says the researchers hypothesize that these newly discovered THi cells travel to selected body tissues and release IL-17.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Inspiration and Motivation

By Terri Rimmer

They are attempting to train and lead creative types to run for office to change the face of the political scene.

At Creative America the thought is that creativity should be a national value.

“It should be priority,” said the organization’s founder Tom Tresser. “We know that there are tens of thousands making a living in the creative field but there are also teachers, scientists, educators, architects, people who develop products, advertising reps, people who work in the technical field of the internet – all these people work in creative fields, too.”

Creative America is making presentations to different organizations in the country with this motto: “The politics of creativity: A Call For Service.”

“We try to make the case that creativity is part of America’s national heritage,” said Tresser. “We start out by having people read a little bit of the Declaration of Independence at our presentations. We make the argument that when the Declaration was read aloud in the summer of 1776 that that was actually public performance, political art.”

Tresser said that reading in the public square in the colonies actually is the first time that people were hearing that there was a U.S. and that by hearing it and agreeing to it it was a collective performance.

“It was actually real and that to me is a mammoth act of audacious creativity,” he said. “And so we start off at that pint and if that resonates with people attending than that’s the foundation, that America was founded on creativity and that creativity is the American way. That sort of sets the stage that tells us creativity is important and how we have the need for innovation. And that there is a mindset that was in order to have a creative society we need to have an open mind. We can’t shut out new ideas and new ways of being. That puts us in opposition to others who have a different point of view. For many people in the arts and cultural field they need to be reminded about some of these adversarial organizations because of the cultural wars from the 1990s.”

Tresser said the group reminds people about 1990 through 1992 happenings like the Christian Coalition and others who were actively opposing the National Endowment for the Arts and generally organizing an anti-gay, anti-intellectual organization. There were letter writing campaigns all over the country directed at arts organizations objecting to some art. The consequences were very negative.

“The far-right extremist groups were identifying bases, training people, and encouraging them to run for local offices which they did all over the country,” said Tresser. “We’re talking about people in these organizations getting themselves trained, fighting local races, running for the school, library boards; etc. And pretty quietly with not a lot of fanfare from 1980 to 2002 we won lots of local races moving up the food chain. While all this was happening the arts and cultural communities were not doing this. They were not organizing in that manner.”

Tresser said Creative America tells people about this history to get them interested, worried, and tells them if they don’t agree they need to do something about that.

“We give a final part and tell them ‘We already think you’re a leader,’” said Tresser. “People in the creative professions have a lot of leadership skills. They just need to think about translating those skills and accomplishments in a different way.”

Tresser said when he does a presentation that maybe a third of the attendees will say they’re a leader which is good. Another third will not be sure. And other third will firmly believe they’re not leaders. Creative America does an exercise called “Leadership Assets Inventory.”

“It’s the stuff you have and networks that you posses that tells me you’re a leader and that if you decided to do something in local politics you might be doing better than you think you know,” said Tresser. “Anyone who puts their hand up when asked if they’re a leader it’s clear in five minutes after I pull them up on stage that they’re a leader. The idea is to raise the flag about leadership, get people alarmed, and inspire them to their own potential.”

Creative America just presented at Arts Midwest and is going to New Jersey soon. They have a full training program that they have conducted three times that goes into tactics and mechanics of running for office including how to put a campaign together and how to run for local office. They also do performances and have a simulation where people speak to candidates, give speeches, pretending they’re running for local city council.

For more information, go to creativeamerica.us on the web.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Foundation Helps Women

By Terri Rimmer

Mothers supporting their children alone but lacking job skills and education – the decades before 1900, as well as our own times, have produced many stories.

During the last 20 years the Dallas Women’s Foundation has provided more than $6 million in grants to more than 500 programs that help women and girls in Dallas, Collin, and Denton counties, yet they must turn down three out of four qualified grant requests because of funds.

“People often ask me ‘Why do we need a special foundation to fund women’s girls’ needs?’” said Becky Sykes, executive director of the Foundation. “My answer is ‘Because women and girls are affected disproportionately by societal issues; because programs for them are chronically under funded; and because, when women and girls are able to reach their full potential, the whole community benefits.’”

Sykes said if a woman can read, for example, her children probably will be able to read.

Texas ranks second among states in the number of teen births, and, in Dallas County, 25 percent of girls who reach ninth grade drop out before graduating.

Both girls and boys require and deserve programs that address their unique needs, said Sykes.

As girls grow into women, they continue to need gender-specific programming, according to Sykes.

In Dallas County, 97 percent of welfare recipients are women.

One program at the Wilkinson Center in Dallas helps women find jobs in their “field of fascination.”

Women typically live longer than men but have less saved for retirement because they have less time in the workplace.

Nationally, less than seven percent of foundation grant dollars last year went to programs designed for women and girls, according to the Council on Foundations.

“The Dallas Women’s Foundation exists because women represent a disproportionate number of those in need, and our community requires resources and information to meet those needs and change those futures,” said Sykes.

Foremost among this community’s responses have been the efforts of Dallas women to alleviate hardship. While the Foundation has in some ways continued the work of those early groups, it differs from them in one way: its financial base.

It raises money through social events, such as an all-woman road rally, performances by professional musicians and actors, and shows presented by department stores.

The Foundation’s main source of funding is from individual contributions.

Nearly 30 women’s funds appeared in the U.S. during the 1980s, and the earliest discussions about a women’s foundation for Dallas occurred during the late summer of 1984.

Women and children not only make up more than 75 percent of the poor, but also comprise to the fastest-growing segment of the homeless, according to the Foundation.

After nearly a year of work and planning led by Sykes the organization received a charter of incorporation in June of 1985 and held the first meeting of its Board of Trustees in September of that year.

The Family Place, one program under the Foundation, set up counseling programs for 69 participants; 80 percent of the enrolled women experienced no further abuse.

Help Is Possible’s residential drug treatment program through the Foundation’s operations, assisted women in applying to training programs and finding jobs.

The Museum of African American Life and Culture provided scholarships for 50 of the 565 women who attended its 1986 Black Women and Economic Development Conference, according to the Foundation’s website.

PR list to promote Ball (done):

Tarrant County pubs only
Art Squad
Art Squad
United Way Tarrant County
Cancer Care Services
Senator Kim Brimer
Anna Mowery
Bryant Dog Photography
TX Pulmonary Consultants
Cook Childrens
Benchmark Research
DBS Alliance
Spiral Diner
Business Press
Fort Worth Weekly
CBS 11
Fort Worth Child
City of Fort Worth
City of Bedford
North Benbrook Neighborhood Association
Ft. Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
City of Grand Prairie
Lone Star Park
NE Tarrant Chamber of Commerce
White Settlement Chamber
HEB Chamber of Commerce
City of NRH
Southlake Chamber of Commerce
FW Cats Baseball
Casa Manana
Bass Hall
Sundance Square Management
Red Cross
Baylor All Saints
Wellness Institute International
Fort Worth Long Term Health Care
Medical Receivables Specialists
Care Mark – Fort Worth office
Radiology Associates of Tarrant County
Dr. Wright Singleton
Fort Worth South
Dr. Susan Rudd Bailey
Dr. John Adams
Dr. Robert Fenton
Dr. John Fling
The Art Station
Fun Vacation
Grapevine Vintage Railroad
Community Hospice of TX
Kindred Hospital

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Organization Impacts Climate

By Terri Rimmer

Working Assets has gone climate neutral by teaming up with a company to reduce climate impact.

With Carbonfund.org now anyone can contribute to the prevention of global warming.

Working Assets, an environment-conscious long distance, wireless, and credit card company, donating revenues to nonprofit groups, announced Nov. 10th that they have formed a partnership with Carbonfund.org, a carbon offset provider.

“We’ve always planted trees to offset the effects of our business’s paper use,” said Working Asset‘s President Michael Kieschnick in a press release. “Carbonfund is a breath of fresh air, providing a simple and affordable solution to climate change any
person can take.”

With Working Assets help Carbonfund is supporting the Rosebud Sioux Wind farm on Native American lands in South Dakota, said Kieschnick.

Working Assets also has announced they will match an additional five tons of offset for every customer who goes Zero Carbon, Carbonfund’s program to reduce climate impact, at the $99 per year level, according to Carbonfund.

“We are thrilled to have Working Assets as a partner in the fight against change,” said Carbonfund President Lesley Marcus Carlson on the Carbonfund website.

Since 1985 Working Assets has generated over $47 million for progress including Greenpeace, Oxfam America, Rainforest Action Network, Human Rights Watch, and numerous others, according to Carbonfund.

For just $4.58 per month you can offset your direct emissions for a year. You can also go Zero Carbon for $8.25 monthly to offset entire climate impact when you buy clothes, food, for roads, and other items and Carbonfund will offset an extra five tons free.

Carbonfund uses donations to support wind energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation projects that reduce climate change, stated their website.

Carbonfund is made up of professionals from all over the environmental community, including the private sector, government, and nonprofit areas.

With the holidays approaching the company has already filled several gas orders as far away as the UK.

Besides their regular or wind offsets this holiday season Carobonfund is also working with UNICEF to spread donations.

The deadline for holiday orders is Dec. 20th.

On Nov. 7th Goodbaker, a vegan gourmet company announced they were going ‘Zero Carbon’ by offsetting their climate impact through Carbonfund.

“Goodbaker is another small and dynamic firm that has taken the local step to offset the carbon they produce,” wrote Carlson.

“As a young business, viability is a constant concern,” said Lee Busch, CEO of Goodbaker in an interview with Carbonfund.

Goodbaker makes artisan baking mixes easy to prepare with whole, unrefined organic ingredients.

Source: Working Assets, workingassets.com

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mayor Proclaims Designated Day

By Terri Rimmer

Nov. 17th has been proclaimed Cheerful Givers Day by Mayor Kelly of St. Paul, Minn. to recognize and promote the efforts of a local charitable organization.

“The mayor plans to assist in filling birthday gift bags for less fortunate children at the Ecolab headquarters on the 17th from noon to 12:30 p.m.,” said Karen Kitchel, of Cheerful Givers, a non-profit 501© 3 organization.

Businesses, stores, and restaurants in the city have also been asked to participate in the celebration by creating displays and donating a portion of their sales on this day.

Cheerful Givers’ mission is to provide birthday gift bags to children less fortunate for children living in Minnesota. They would like to expand nationally when they’re able to afford it.

The organization has been featured in People Magazine and other publications. The work is anonymous so children believe that the parents bought the gifts.

A year ago Cheerful Givers filled their 100,000th bag with toys, treats, and books for kids three to twelve, having a record-breaking year. There were 22,930 children who benefited in all.

The first recipient back in 1994 was thrilled to get her first birthday bag for her child.

Lately, Cheerful Givers has been sending gift bags to children in Louisiana who were victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donations are needed and tax-deductible contributions may be mailed to: Cheerful Givers, 1287 Berry Ridge Road, Eagan, MN 55123 or click on “Donations” on the website cheerfulgivers.org.

Cheerful Givers Mall includes over 300 popular on-line products like ones from Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Target; etc. according to their website.

Gift cards are also available for birthdays, to honor someone, for anniversaries, for special occasions, or to remember the deceased, according to Cheerful Givers.

You can start your own Cheerful Givers team at work, school, or through any organization you’re a member of and you can also be a sponsor but instead of assembling birthday bags you can furnish things needed for the groups.

If you live in the Eagan area Cheerful Givers is looking for birthday bag blitz organizers, innovative members, a toy donations coordinator, and an assistant grant writer.

You can also donate your vehicle to the organization for fundraising purposes and toys, ribbons, and gift bags are always welcome as donations, stated the organization’s literature.

“What you are doing has a profound impact on those that you touch,” wrote Betty Ferguson, Discovery Toys group manager on Cheerful Givers’ website.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Program Named After Abandoned Baby

By Terri Rimmer

In May 1991 a three-day-old drug-addicted newborn came to live with Lisa Matthews, founder of Kid Net Foundation.

He had no name on his birth certificate and his mother was unable to care for him.

He was given the name Jonathan by Matthews and her two sons and adopted within a short time by a Dallas, TX couple.

Today he is a happy, healthy 11-year-old and The Foundation’s first major project, Jonathan’s Place is named in his honor.

Jonathan’s was the first licensed foster group home in Texas for drug-addicted babies and small children, created and operated by the Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1991 by Matthews and Phil Matteis to provide specialized services and housing to at-risk children in Dallas County and throughout the state.

The facility is a 24-hour, licensed emergency shelter for kids.

The 2005 Chi Omega Christmas Market has pledged $40,000 to establish an in-house therapy program at Jonathan’s House.

From June 1991 to June 1992 research was conducted on children’s services in Dallas County. The results were that there weren’t any facilities addressing kids in Jonathan’s situation under the age of 12.

In August 1992 a facility was bought and gutted and on Sept. 10, 1994 Jonathan’s opened its doors as a 12-bed long-term foster group home. In the fall of 1999 the license was changed to become an emergency shelter providing short-term care and expanding to 13 beds. Now they are seeking to more than quadruple the size to 61 beds with a goal of helping 1,000 children annually.

The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) was adopted as the Foundation’s community outreach component in June 1997.

The Foundation depends on public donations to continue their work. You can make donations online. There is also a Circle of Friends Campaign where individuals and corporations give monthly, quarterly, or annually by completing a pledge circle.

There are corporate sponsorships available and many times corporations hold events to benefit Jonathan’s.

“I believe children are our future. They are helpless and need someone to guide them,” said Case Manager Katy Cartwright.

For the eighth year in a row Jonathan’s Place competed with several charities at the annual Crystal Charity Ball and was selected as one of the beneficiaries. The formation of a Women’s Auxiliary for Jonathan’s began in 2002.

For more information, go to kidnet.org on the web.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Preventing Getting Suckered

By Terri Rimmer

How many times have you been taken advantage of by service personnel, be it mechanics, home contractors, handymen, or repairmen?

Well, goodbye to all that.

At Angieslist.com you can find recommended, tried and true tested information on contractors that you won’t find anywhere else with names for your specific area of need and geographic.

Gone are the days when you could ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar or the name of a good washer repairman.

Now with all the manic energy of the 21st Century people are turning more toward their own resources for finding these avenues, sometimes with success, sometimes with not so good results.

Either way, Angie’s List, the word-of-mouth network for consumers as they call themselves, lists more than 200,000 members across 27 cities. More than 5,000 submissions are given to the list every month from people all over the country.

More weight has been given to a report where work has been completed.

For instance, a build year date helps you locate companies that work on homes similar in age to your own.

“Grades” are given on submitted reports from members in categories of overall, price, quality, punctuality, professionalism, and responsiveness.

Lists within the List will tell you each company’s grade, reports received, contact information, distance to your home, discounts, and if they’ve won any Angie’s List awards.

You can get more detail also about certain services they perform, hours, years in business, forms of payment, and if they give free estimates.

Members pay a fee to join and you can sign up for multiple years. Continuous service can be billed to your credit card each month on your anniversary and annual dues are billed each year to the card. A $10 sign-up fee only applies one time provided you keep your membership current.

“Joining Angie’s List has really helped me to get work done on my house because it gives me immediate access to names of companies that my neighbors recommend,” said Julie, a member in Pittsburgh, PA.

Companies don’t pay to be on Angie’s List.

Vicki Georges encountered nightmares after working with her contractor helping her husband renovate an old house. She said there were incorrect orders, no-shows, disappearing acts, and general lack of responsiveness on the part of the contractor.

“Once I caught a bathroom remodeler drilling holes for a towel bar only it was on the wall opposite of where he was supposed to be,” she said in an article.

So when she saw an ad for Angie’s List she signed up.

The list is available over the phone or online and has been active in Chicago for four years where it is extremely popular.

A company cannot buy its way onto the List, according to its founder and a business can also land on the site’s “Page of Happiness” singing its praises.

Georges used to work in customer service and said the List has a good number of South Side companies on it.

”I like to use local people whenever I can,” she said in a San Diego Tribune article. “As soon as I joined I added the companies that I knew were good.”

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Stories of Strength

A book that matters - Stories of Strength

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The World of Bartering

By Terri Rimmer

Bartering has been around since way before technology when people used to trade metals for other materials they needed.

How to barter successfully can be an acquired art.

Nowadays bartering has gotten more sophisticated from business bartering to online mom groups where you can find everything from letter writers to resume software.

I learned the craft of bartering from my best friend Stephanie, my sister Cindy, my mom, and others around me who had jumped on the wagon.

I have pet sat for my sister in exchange for her letting me live with her at different times and regularly pet and house sit for Stephanie and she has done the same for me when I’ve been in the hospital. Last year I pet sat for my friend while she was in Colorado and she did the same for me when I went to Florida. I have done laundry for a friend in exchange for him putting gas in my car.

Cindy has donated her time to volunteer groups sometimes in exchange for them helping out her business.

Stephanie has cleaned people’s houses for pay but also in exchange for them doing a favor for her.

I have typed people’s school papers in exchange for using their washer and dryer when I didn’t have money to go to the Laundromat.

A friend of mine worked on my computer in exchange for me giving him some software.

I got a free weekend in a friend of mine’s hotel she managed in exchange for taking care of her place while she was out of town.

A friend of mine stayed with me for a month this summer in exchange for helping put gas in my car and helping out with some toiletries, plus she gave me a little money every week.

One woman barters candles for jewelry, food, and more.

One masseuse got free advertising when she gave free massages to a man’s employees at a party.

One lady bartered with a bill collector to pay off a bill by doing office work for him.

When my husband and I were traveling for his job and living out of motels we once bartered and got the rent reduced in exchange for me cleaning the room daily so the maid didn’t have to.

I know a guy who eats for free at his friend’s restaurant often in exchange for him solving his computer glitches on a regular basis.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Women Using Book To Help People and Animals

By Terri Rimmer

Donations from the profits of a new book are going to help people with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and their pets.

Following last year’s election, Cathy Conheim and her partner Dr. Donna Brooks were driving to their home, feeling discouraged about current events. There were “dog people” but when they arrived home they discovered a three-month-old kitten living on their property that had been injured badly. Off to the vet they sped with their young charge. An amputation was necessary to save the kitten’s life and they were told that he could no longer be an outdoor cat.

They ended up adopting “Henry” and there ensued an incredible journey.

Conheim started writing about the cat’s adventures as much for her own healing regarding some bad news politically as for anything else. She sent them to 20 people who sent them on, and today, Henry The Cat has 2,300 emails in ”his” letterbox in the sky.

“My cat, Rhett Butler became one of Henry’s teachers and correspondents,” said Conheim and Brooks’ friend Robin Tyler. “Animals have a unique way of getting animals to talk on a heart level. With their loving eyes, their forgiving play, and their constant loyalty they make it possible for people to open up on a deeper level of trust and intimacy.”

Two weeks ago Henry’s adventures of his first two months of life and letters to him became a book: Henry’s World: A Three-Legged Cat’s View of Human Absurdity, an email Odyssey.”

“Conheim and Brooks are donating all of the profits from the book to help animals who do so much healing for us,” said Tyler. “Henry’s World is not a book about a cat as much as it is a treasury of stories about how we survive our wounds, as told through a wounded kitty. It is a book about transforming tragedy into possibility. Henry reminds us that we are defined not by our misfortunes but by our responses to them. Henry’s stories are the visions and innocence of an outdoor kitty put into a totally foreign place after the loss of his front leg. His story touches friends and strangers around the world, many of whom confide in him their own setbacks and tales of survival.”

All proceeds will go to P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Wonderful Support), a volunteer-based group which helps people with AIDS and others with disabilities to keep their pets.

Tyler said Henry’s book was designed as a healing tool as well as a means to fundraise for animals in need. The intent is to get the books in the hands of wounded humans, paralyzed, amputees, and people who have suffered great loss, she said.

“If everyone would order a book and perhaps think about using it as a holiday gift I promise you that it will bring you many smiles,” said Tyler.

For more information, go to henrysworld.org.

When you go to the website and order the book at the shop, put P.A.W.S. in the comments section.

“Cathy has a goal of raising a million dollars for the animals who love and heal us,” said Tyler.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gladney Helps Guatemala Victims

By Terri Rimmer

The Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth, TX is pulling together to help children involved in a natural disaster in Guatemala who have been adopted through the years from the center.

“We would like to encourage our families to respond to a request for monetary donations,” said Gladney President Mike McMahon in a letter to Gladney auxiliary families. “Gladney is very sympathetic to the plight of those that have been affected by this weather-related disaster.”

Recently Guatemala suffered severe rains and flooding after Hurricane Stan hit that area.

“Fortunately, all Gladney families and children have been reported to be okay,” wrote Kelley McCreery Bunkers, local representative of Gladney in Guatemala. “I would like to suggest that we raise funds to be targeted towards the needs of children.”

Bunkers stated in her letter that she realized the need for funds in other parts of the world and the U.S. is needed but due to the agency’s deep connection to Guatemala she believed all donors should show their support.

Gladney has humanitarian projects in Guatemala, Russia, China, and Romania. The Guatemala project is called Home of Homes and was started in 1991 by volunteers so that children there could have a home.

Founded more than a century ago Gladney, a licensed not-for-profit organization, has a reputation for their long-standing success in national and international adoptions.

There are access to support groups, parenting education, post adoption counseling, and legal help for prospective adoptive parents and some birth moms live on campus in the dorm at the center, which got new digs three years ago on the west side after being located near downtown Fort Worth for decades.

Each birth mom has a caseworker, is involved in social activities coordinated by center staff, may receive counseling, support group assistance, legal services, school assistance, career development help, post adoption support, and free medical attention.

Birth fathers have access to adoption assistance, the decision-making in the adoptive process, and access to post-adoption services.

This summer Gladney hosted Chinese government officials at their campus where the parties were educated about adoptions in China. While visiting they got the chance to meet families who had adopted children from that country.

Recently Gladney also received Russian re-accreditation to perform adoption in the Russian Federation.

For more information go to gladney.org.