Tag Archives: Health

Meals on Wheels of Durham: Over 1.75 million meals served

26 Jun

The Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is regarded as the oldest and largest organization in the United States offering meal services to people in need. What began with canteens to British service men during World War II grew into America’s first Meals on Wheels program launched in Philadelphia in the 1950s. Today MOWAA is the largest volunteer army in the nation with between 800,000 and 1,7 million volunteers working in 5,000 local Senior Nutrition Programs and providing more than one million meals a day.

How did Meals on Wheels come to Durham? In 1969, Durham’s City Center Church Council (the Durham Congregations in Action) commissioned a number of studies to determine how best they could provide for their local communities. The studies revealed that those who were unable to prepare their own meals were not adequately meeting their personal nutritional requirements, and in need of a program that provided them with ready-made meals. In 1975 Meals on Wheels of Durham was created. It started with just a handful of volunteers serving about a dozen elderly, disabled and homebound and alone clients but grew fast to serve 325 Durham residents and over 85,000 meals a year!

Don Lebkes, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, delivers meals across Durham. As a retired delivery man, Lebkes said Meals on Wheels was a similar job but he gets to help out the community! (The Herald-Sun | Lauren A. Vied)

Meals on Wheels of Durham recently relocated to a new facility in east Durham. Their operations are more efficient and they’re impact greater, which is good because more people are in need of help. Meals on Wheels of Durham is ready to grow and has a list of approximately 200 people waiting for assistance… but more funds and more volunteers are needed.

If you know of someone who homebound as the result of age, disability, or illness, lives alone and are handicapped, malnourished, elderly, or unable to take of their daily nutritional requirements, connect them to Meals on Wheels of Durham or one the MOWAA many affiliates nationwide. Here’s their social links, connect with them:


SEEDS: Strong Roots for Durham’s Communities

15 Jun

In a little plot of land northeast of downtown Durham lies the SEEDS Garden. SEEDS, short for South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces, Inc., came to life in 1994 when community leader and founder Brenda Brodie envisioned neighborhoods and lives transformed through gardening. Soon after the first SEEDS garden was created, Brodie launched the SEEDS Community Harvest service to support neighborhoods turning vacant lots into productive, community-controlled spaces. One garden lot soon turned into seven community gardens that helped to activate community engagement among adults and students alike. In 2000, these community gardens spurred the permanent creation of the Durham Farmers Market which continues to provide the community with fresh and healthy produce.

Over the years, SEEDS has continued to meet the changing needs of its community by adding youth focused programs. SEEDS created DIG (Durham Inner-city Gardeners) in 2000, empowering teenagers to mobilize their entrepreneurial business spirit and grow produce, herbs, and flowers to sell at the Durham Farmers’ Market. Shortly after, SEEDS also launched its first after school program for children in 1st through 5th grade to explore, play, and learn.

There are many ways to activate and unite a community, and SEEDS’ creative and innovative approach is definitely worth noting. Next time you’re in Durham be sure to check out the Durham Farmers Market and remember both community effort made to bring you that juicy fresh tomato… and all goodness that tomato has brought the community!

Here are their social links, engage with them!


Denise Chan is the Marketing Associate at Catchafire. Prior to Catchafire, she was a freelance blogger at Millennial Matchmaking. Denise graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Ethnic Studies.

The Chordoma Foundation: The Right Way to Find a Cure

11 Jun

Chordoma is a bone cancer that occurs in the head and spine in people of all ages. It’s relentless and difficult to treat. It’s also extremely rare, and each patient and their family play a critical role in the efforts to improve treatment, find a cure and provide support for each other. The need for effective treatments – and a cure – is urgent. Since 2007 The Chordoma Foundation has taken up this cause, and has been working to improve the lives of chordoma patients on two fronts:

1. Accelerating research to develop effective treatment

It’s only through extensive research that a cure will one day be discovered. To accelerate this process, The Chormoda Foundation provides researchers with necessary scientific resources, including the biological materials and models, to study chordoma. The organization also funds a diverse portfolio of high-impact research projects, and facilitates collaboration and the sharing of information among researchers working independently across the world.

2. Helping patients get the best care possible

The Chordoma Foundation is there from the very beginning. They provide education, treatment options and referrals to experienced doctors. They also connect patients to a community for emotional support, guidance and care, and provide peer-support mentors. Because Chordoma is so rare, patients are also encouraged to join the fight and take part in clinical trials and research studies, and to donate tissue samples to the Chordoma Foundation Biobank.

The Results:

The Chordoma Foundation has had great success so far. Here are some of their results:

  • Tested all 2816 FDA approved drugs to determine if any existing drugs could treat chordoma
  • Provided the initial funding for new research projects in 10 labs
  • Funded the Chordoma Genome Project to decode the chordoma genome
  • Created the Chordoma Cell Line Repository, a one-stop source for valid cell lines to be used in research
  • Launched the Chordoma Foundation Biobank enabling patients to donate sample tissue for research
  • Connected more than 150 researchers worldwide with the Researcher Directory

Participants in the Great Ragner River Relay, organized by chordoma survivor and cause champion Tiffany Cragin

The Chordoma Foundation also makes it easy for the public to get involved. There are a number of projects on the backburner, ready to begin once the funds are raised. Visit their site to learn about a number of ways to donate or raise funds for this important cause. This includes joining a community of brave and passionate champions of the chordoma cause.

Here are their social links, engage with them!

The Achilles Heel of the HIV Virus

29 Feb

For medical research, the biggest hurdle is bringing a vaccine to human trial. In 2010 HIV/Aids was responsible for approximately 1.8 million deaths worldwide. Today there are 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS. End HIV (The Abzyme Research Foundation) believes they have a vaccine. Now they need help bringing the research to a human trial.

Supporting research is at the heart of what End HIV does, and so confident are they in the research, they’ve boldly embarked on a remarkable mission: To eradicate HIV/AIDS in our lifetime. How did it all get started? In 2008, End HIV founder Zachary Barnett came across a CBS video featuring Dr. Sudhir Paul, a researcher at the University of Texas. In this video, entitled “Possible HIV Cure,” Dr. Paul hails “abzymes” as the “Achilles heel of the HIV virus.” It inspired Mr. Barnett, so much so, that a fortnight later he had already connected with Dr. Paul and began strategizing first steps.

Zachary and End HIV have spent the past three years hosting events and using public relations to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and abzyme research, and to raise funds to continue the research. Right now, they’re fundraising toward a $1.2 million goal for the first human trail for the vaccine. The goal of this trial is to validate the results of their preclinical studies that show abzymes as capable of destroying HIV’s ability to replicate in HIV+ human tissue samples.

What’s the potential? The world’s first effective HIV vaccine and improved treatment for the over 33 million HIV+ people worldwide.

End HIV signed up with Catchafire to recruit skilled professionals to join their mission and help them achieve their goals of raising awareness and research funds. They have already completed one Catchafire project and have two projects available:

  • The first is a Public Relations Plan that will support the foundation’s first PSA series, Voices For A Vaccine featuring Rachel Zoe. End HIV are seeking an exciting and talented PR professional to help them make this project as big and impactful as possible.

To apply to these projects, join End HIV and be a part of their important cause, follow the links above. If you’re not registered as a pro bono professional, first register here.

Tackling Women’s Issues in Boston and Abroad

14 Nov

Last Friday we proudly announced our Boston Founding Members, the first 30 Boston-based organizations to join Catchafire. Today we’re in the Massachusetts capital to welcome them in person and celebrate their membership. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing their stories in a series of blog posts. Today we’re featuring three of the Founding 30. Covering education, healthcare and gender equality in the US and Africa, these three terrific organizations are tackling women’s issues in their own unique way:

The Science Club for Girls (SCFG) provides educational programs for girls in underrepresented communities. More specifically, these programs focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for K-12th grade girls. All the programs are free and the girls work closely with mentors who foster leadership, and promote tertiary education and careers in science and technology. SCFG was founded in 1994 by two parents concerned about gender equality in STEM-based industries. Today it serves over 1,000 girls in five cities across Eastern Massachusetts and in Pokuase, Ghana.

SCFG was recognized with one of six national MetLife AfterSchool Innovator Awards in 2010 and was a recipient of the Nonprofit of the Year award from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

Interested in volunteering as a mentor with SCFG? Read more here.

In 2001 Megan White Mukuria, a New England native and Harvard graduate, traveled to Kenya on a one-way ticket. Her mission: to start businesses for street children. She quickly became a global leader in the issue of menstruation management, having witnessed first-hand the impact of this issue on women in Kenyan society. Fast-forward six years to 2006, Megan founded ZanaAfrica, a public charity that promotes African-led innovation in the areas of healthcare, education and the environment to achieve sustainable and replicable solutions to poverty.

ZanaAfrica now has two major programs underway:

    • Sanitary pads: Each month 868,000 Kenyan girls miss 3.5 million school days. The free distribution of environmentally friendly, locally made sanitary pads is helping to keep Kenyan girls in school.
    • Empowerment and EmpowerNet Clubs: With the help of mentors, these clubs help primary and secondary students to make informed decisions about their sexuality and other important life choices. These clubs include a Microfinance-for-University program crafted to help schoolchildren get into and stay in university.

The organization is always looking for future donors and volunteers. Follow the links to see how you can support their cause.

The Komera Project is alleviating poverty in Rwanda by providing girls with secondary education. These girls, who otherwise would not have received an education, are improving their earning potential, their health and their sense of self-worth. With each additional year of school boosting a girl’s potential earnings by as much as 15 – 25%, The Komera Project is also effectively elevating the position of women in a post-genocide Rwanda where they represent 65% of the population.

How did it start? In 2006, Margaret Butler, a primary school teacher, spent the year in a remote Rwandan village. During this time, she hosted a girls-only “fun run.” At the start of the first race, the crowd cheered “Komera” – “be strong and courageous.” Ten of the runners went on to receive scholarships for secondary school and the The Komera Project was founded. Today the organization supports 35 scholars, providing each with tuition and boarding costs, uniforms, health insurance, travel expenses, and the resources they will need to live comfortably and concentrate on their work.

Visit their website to learn about The Komera Project and how you can get involved.

Tomorrow we will feature ArtVenue and Design Museum Boston, two of our Founding 30 promoting arts and culture in Boston.

Find Your Cause: Alpine Learning Group

6 Sep

Meet Alpine Learning Group  

Alpine Learning Group provides learners with autism and their families comprehensive, scientifically-validated educational and behavioral services designed to foster individual growth and personal achievement. In 1988, New Jersey was home to only a few behaviorally-based school programs serving children with autism. Confronted with the challenge of securing an appropriate and effective educational program for their children with autism, a small group of local families joined with autism specialists to found the Alpine Learning Group. Originally housed in the basement of a local community house, Alpine Learning Group opened the doors to its first four students in 1989. In 1991, there was 1 child in every 3,000 diagnosed with autism. Today, it is 1 child in every 100 nationally, and growing. Over time Alpine Learning Group’s Education Program has grown steadily, and now serves twenty-nine learners with autism, aged 3 to 21 years, and 8 adult learners at their temporary Adult Learning Center in Ridgewood. Alpine also serves many families as part of their Outreach, Social Skills and Early Detection Programs.

How Alpine Learning Group Does Good

Alpine Learning Group’s primary program focus is their educational program, which is based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Scientific research has demonstrated that ABA is the safest and most effective treatment for autism. ABA is widely recognized by educators and professionals as the only intervention leading to comprehensive, lasting improvements in the lives of individuals with autism. In fact, ABA has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U. S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. Some of the key tenets of ABA include:

  • Individual assessment of each learner’s strengths, challenges and learning style
  • One-to-one and highly structured small group instruction
  • Monthly educational clinics bringing together families, learners, and staff
  • Systematic data analyses to track learner performance
  • Intervention in both structured and natural settings

Alpine Learning Group has many other programs which support and align with their educational program and ensure they are addressing their vision from a number of different perspectives. Their Peer Modeling Program provides some preschoolers with autism the opportunity to learn from typically developing peers. The Early Detection Program provides parents comprehensive in-home training services to address problem behavior and to promote language and social skills. Unique mentorship and training opportunities to professionals seeking training in applied behavior analysis, special education, and autism treatment are also available through the Mentorship and Training program stream.

Alpine Learning Group’s Impact

The words of families and individuals whom the Alpine Learning Group has helped are powerful indicators of the impact they have had on the autism community. Clinicians also speak highly of their success in developing support programs for those living with autism.

“At Alpine Learning Group, our son is treated with respect and his life has dignity and purpose. His future is full of possibilities and they never cease to amaze us! “ – The Omaechevarria Family

“Your use of positive social reinforcement and noncontingent attention provides your program with a very positive, nurturing base. Staff were very warm and spontaneous with the students who often appeared pleased to interact with staff and visitors. The use of multiple staff to train the students throughout the day emphasizes flexibility and facilitates generalization.” Dr. David Wacker, External Evaluation 

“The supported volunteer program is a great opportunity for our son to practice different job skills while interacting in the community. This is terrific preparation for adulthood.” – Merri Duchak, parent

Catchafire’s Pro Bono Impact with Alpine Learning Group

Alpine Learning Group is new to Catchafire and has just posted their first project. They are looking for a pro bono professional to help them with a Brand Messaging project.  Alpine Learning Group has chosen this as their first project because they have expanded their services and need to redefine their brand messaging to reflect this diversifaction and position within the field of autism education. This project will help Alpine Learning Group to convey their mission, values, and personality to the outside world.

Get Involved

If Brand Messaging is not in your skillset but you would like to get involved, please favorite the the Alpine Learning Group page on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.)  We’ll alert you as other opportunities to get involved with the Alpine Learning Group. become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Find Your Cause: The Partnership at Drugfree.org

2 Sep

Meet The Partnership at Drugfree.org  

The Partnership at Drugfree.org

The Partnership at Drugfree.org helps parents and families prevent, intervene and find treatment and support for drug and alcohol use in their teens.  By bringing together renowned scientists, parent experts and communications professionals, the Partnership at Drugfree.org translates current research on teen behavior, addiction and treatment into easy to understand, actionable resources at drugfree.org.  They also offer hope and help to the parents of the 11 million teens and young adults who need help with drugs and alcohol. The Partnership began with an idea to harness the power of the media, coupled with compelling research-based consumer advertising, to turn the tide on drug abuse trends, specifically among teens and youth. At the time, the nation was in the throes of the crack cocaine epidemic and they focused their efforts on reducing demand for those drugs through proven-effective public service advertising (PSA) campaigns. Today, crack and cocaine use is down 70 percent. Over the past several years, The Partnership has expanded their work, now including underage drinking, and focused on parents as their key leverage point, not only in preventing teen substance abuse, but in getting help for a child who is struggling with drugs or drinking.

How The Partnership at Drugfree.org Does Good

Across the nation through community education programs, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has trained more than 1,500 professionals who are working daily with local leaders, concerned citizens, parents and teens — in neighborhoods, schools, civic organizations, community centers and churches — to deliver research-based programs designed to help communities prevent teen drug and alcohol abuse. They have both a Parent and a Scientific Advisory Board, which ensure that the information and guidance offered to parents is grounded in the latest research, is focused, relevant and scientifically accurate. The Partnership partners with prominent organizations to reach wide audiences and leverage the power of brands that teens support.  In Spring 2010, they collaborated with the Major League Baseball Players Association and introduced a new online campaign, “Healthy Competition: A Resource for Parents”.

The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) is an example of how The Partnership at Drugfree.org contributes to the field of substance abuse prevention. This  research is the longest-running national research study of parent/teen behaviors and attitudes about drug and alcohol use in the United States. The teen sample is administered in private, public and parochial schools, and the parent sample is conducted through in-home interviews. PATS keeps parents and caregivers informed about what substances pose a threat to kids and families, while serving as a beacon for parents and alerting them to new trends in teen substance abuse.

The Partnership also puts on an annual gala and a series of special events in cities across the country where they recognize the support and significant contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations.

25th Anniversary Gala - Promise of Partnership

Promise of Partnership Healthy Families, Healthy Futures Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s Impact

Over the past several years, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has expanded their work and their online resources. They have developed new resources for multicultural communities including the new bilingual Parents Toll-Free Helpline, 1-855-DRUGFREE. 2010 was a notable year for The Partnership – amplified by the voice of their first-ever celebrity spokesperson, Melissa Gilbert, best known for her role in “Little House on the Prairie,” they reintroduced themselves in October 2010 as The Partnership at Drugfree.org. They also unveiled their new website, a completely redesigned, user-friendly gateway to all of our programs and resources. In terms of resources, The Partnership at DrugFree.org created a set of e-books focused on teen and young adult intervention and treatment that guide parents to get help for a child in trouble with drugs or alcohol. The e-books lead to practical tools and consolidate the most current information at drugfree.org, saving parents from often fruitless searches for support and advice. One of the best indicators of the impact that The Partnership at Drugfree.org has had, however, are personal testimonials:

“The Partnership at Drugfree.org offers state-of-the-art and highly engaging resources for parents and youth. In kid language, ‘It rocks.’ In parent-speak, ‘It’s just what I needed!’ — Ken Winters, PhD, Adolescent Expert

“This website has really helped me to not feel so alone and has given me a lot of good ideas about how to approach things.” — Joy (comment on Intervene blog, The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s blog)

“I am a mother just recently entering this difficult path. My husband and I are lost when it comes to dealing effectively and rapidly. Thank you for all the information you provide for people like us.” — Hannah Brown (comment on Intervene)

Catchafire’s Pro Bono Impact with The Partnership at Drugfree.org

The Partnership at DrugFree.org will soon be seeking their first pro bono professionals! Stay tuned for how you can get involved!

Get Involved

Please favorite The Partnership at Drugfree.org on Catchafire. (You need to be logged in to do this.)  We’ll alert you as other opportunities to get involved with The Partnership at Drugfree.org become available.  If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, email community@catchafire.org.

Give & Get Involved

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