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We love good causes!!! There are so many, however, here are a few of my favorite. Always Happy to hear of great causes anywhere! Please SHARE! :)

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Virgin Unite: Founded and 100% funded by Virgin mogul, Richard Branson, with the purpose of uniting people and entrepreneurial ideas to reinvent how we live and work in the world to help make people’s lives better. The Virgin Unite goal is to help revolutionize the way businesses, government and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good!  By also incubating new, independent approaches to leadership including the Elders (a conflict resolution organization co founded by Nelson Mandela), the Carbon War Room, and the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship, they are branching out to even more specific target areas in need of serious reform.

Want to hang with Sir Richard like I did on Necker Island, or South Africa?  A small group of Virgin Unite 24902 members will join Richard Branson on a life-enhancing journey, beyond the imagination one of of their Connection Trips.

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Global Wildlife Conservation: The best research scientists and conservation specialists in the world are working together with GWC to do more than just learn about species and wildlife unknown to us still, but to protect it through action. They are working with local organizations in countries around the world to protect land from development and animals from extinction. These scientists are the real Indiana Joneses, going into the most remote parts of the world on expeditions to study and help protect precious nature from disappearing forever.

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 Urban Angels:  Every Wednesday “Urban Angels” get together to assist at the Salvation Army in Downtown San Diego, distributing meals provided by the generous people at FIT Athletic Club from their “Food @ FIT” program. (Now you can get your healthy meals on the go while at the gym? Perfect!) These meals are healthy and 100% natural. The atmosphere is fun and full of  %100 love and gratitude! Join us this Wednesday at 6pm on 7th and E with parking on 8th.  Just one hour of your week makes a difference to those in our community in need of a smile and to know you care! I promise you will make great friends while you are at it.

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Model Citizen Fund:  MCF wanted to create a way to provide a “fresh start” for those people that need it most, homeless, displaced and victims of disaster, by including a few weeks worth of food & beverages as well as a blanket, poncho, sleeping bag, toiletries, cleaning supplies and many other key items for basic human comforts in a single backpack. They even sponsored our 30 students at the Peruvian Hearts Oprhanage in Cusco with backpacks in case of an emergency in December where we volunteered over the holidays.

 The Karma Foundation, an exclusive social membership organization that combines the benefits of executive networking and philanthropy with money-raising luxury events, has announced the sponsorship of Model Citizen Fund, at their upcoming Kandy Vegas event, with 100 percent of proceeds to benefit Hurricane Isaac victims. Party in Vegas for a Purpose? That is what living Happy is ALL ABOUT!

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mAss Kickers:
 
1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This means you or someone you know has been affected by some form of cancer. This local San Diego organization is run by 100% volunteers, founded by a friend of mine who kicked out a mAss that was not paying rent in his head. He and the rest of our mAss Kicking team are now coordinating events, support, resources and knowledge for newly diagnosed, their families and all warriors against cancer.  mAss Kickers is also partners with Stand Up 2 Cancer and the local organization, International Alliance of Pilots and Patients. (IAP4P) a program creating the incredible experience of flight for people living with chronic illness of cancer and/or brain tumors, literally giving them the wings to soar above their limitations and illness!

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WildCoast: Growing up with the beach as my playground, it is my passion to help protect it. This organization of  strategic, smart, passionate  conservationists are changing legislation, monitoring and protecting water ways and tirelessly working to conserve land by purchasing it before it becomes developed as well as educating people about our need to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. In 2011, WiLDCOAST protected 4,371 acres and 2.3 miles of coastline along the Valle de los Cirios Pacific Coast, conserved 77.7 miles of shoreline around Laguna San Ignacio through an innovative partnership with Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Natural Areas, direct land purchases and conservation easement agreements. To date, WiLDCOAST has conserved more than two million acres of coastal wildlands and wildlife habitat. Their creative campaigns inclue famous models and luchador wrestlers from Mexico, their adopt an acre program as well as throwing really killer parties like the annual Baja Bash!  Pictured here is a Mexican model explaining her man doesnt need turtle eggs… hes man enough. Sex sells and SAVES! ;)

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Three Avocados Coffee: We don’t like to admit it, but coffee makes us SO happy! Now there is a way for us to drink our morning (evening or afternoon) cup for a cause! With almost 1 Billion people worldwide lacking access to clean, safe, drinking water, the primary goal at Three Avocados is to provide funding for clean water projects. 100% of the net proceeds from Three Avocados coffee provide clean water in Uganda, Africa. In addition to saving thousands of lives, clean water has the power to provide hope and a future to people who need it most. The coffee is fantastic, as well. The beans are 100% Arabica and come from Mt. Elgon in Uganda, bordered to the north by Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. Now that is one delicious, guilt free, cup o joe!

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Thirst Relief International : Amazing video by a group of philanthropic photographers addressing a global need of clean water! Their video is so worth watching! 

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Travel is one of the most rewarding experiences a person has in their life. Whether it is a family vacation, a semester abroad or a backpacking trip with friends, these experiences not only stay with us our whole lives, but shape who we are and how we see the world.

In today’s age we are lucky enough to have easy and affordable means of travel to just about anywhere in the world and with technology and the internet we can book these arrangements from anywhere with a press of a button. It is no doubt remarkable and in a lot of ways makes our planet a much smaller place. Where we could once only read about or see on a screen we can now visit ourselves, embarking on great journeys and having exciting adventures of our own.

It is a wonderful thing to see so many people of our time going out in to the world to see, touch, taste and experience first hand the wonders of different cultures and while it is breaking down barriers that once made us feel so different from one another, it is also an  opportunity for us to become better global citizens.

Our neighbors are not just the people on our street or in our city, they are in the bordering country or opposite continent where most of our products are produced and services provided. We depend on each other so much more than we realize, not just for business, but for assistance. There are so many organizations out there doing great things to assist our global neighbors in need and yet there is still a great need for more help.

Instead of just visiting these amazing places, taking cool photos in front of a monument or pristine nature scene, I have sought out to be an active assistant to the communities I visit. Even if it means collecting garbage from a popular hiking trail or beach, I want to be a positive impact, not just another tourist stopping by for a photo op. In each trip I take I look for a different cause I am passionate about and an organization I would be a good fit to volunteer with.

Dr. Interns is one of those organizations. With a mission of bringing sustainable healthcare solutions to very capable, developing parts of the world they are connecting college students interested in the medical field as well as travel to experiences in the world outside their own neighborhood. Dr. Interns is creating a new kind of world traveler; a traveler who is making a difference. I spent 3 weeks in India with Dr. Interns this Summer as their marketing director and was inspired to get even more involved with global issues.

I am excited to share my experiences around the world, assisting with the marketing and awareness campaigns for great causes, telling their story with the goal of inspiring many more to travel and to be active global citizens. Changing the world is easier than it looks. Don’t believe me? Try it.

-Lindsay M Hawley

 

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I knew my trip to India would not be a vacation by any means, but nothing could have truly prepared me for the sights, smells, intense heat and humidity and most of all the extreme differences in culture from what I have grown up with.
I have traveled all over the world and experienced the poverty in which much of our world lives in and it is never easy to stomach, especially when you realize the cycle in which it continues. However, for me, the most unsettling part of this whole trip has been the serious social issues and lack of equality amongst the people, both because of the caste system and the serious sexism.


Being raised by a liberal, single father I grew up being told I could do anything and that not only was I equal to every man, but every human is equal and deserves the same rights. It has been drilled in to me from the minute I was born and so it is still so appalling to me to see the way other cultures view and treat other humans. In a few occasions I have lost my cool and have been fed up with the constant sneers, awkward and intimidating stares and most recent invasion of privacy by one of the male staff at our “safe & secure” ashram where we are staying. I realize these things are harmless and comparatively speaking, laughable, considering not too far from this part of the world women are still being stoned to death for “disobeying” their husbands. I have to remind myself that Ghandi, this nations peaceful leader in freedom and human rights did not achieve his dreams through rage and outburst but by compassion, tolerance, resiliance and perseverance. My passion must not be misguided but focused on the solutions that will bring a balance to this world.


As I sat in the tiny one room medical clinic/elementary school in the slums of Barota, India, I watched as Dr. Mistry wrapped a little girls arm in an ace bandage while he questioned her father as to why the 9 year old had never been to school. He was mostly blind and the mother worked full time to support the four children so the little girl had to work cutting vegetables in a local restaurant. I thought about what this little girl’s life would be like. It was almost too easy to predict and the doctor later confirmed it was all too common that these girls worked from the youngest age until the time they were married off around 14 or 15 to then continue the cycle.


Later in the day more little girls showed up to the doctor’s office, peeking their faces through the door way, shyly spying on me, curious to this strange looking visitor but too shy to enter or speak. The doctor told me that the girls attended the classes that he and his wife ran at the clinic every morning and they were avid learners. The girls are the most passionate about learning, he told me. The young females seeking education are the moving force to building up the country to be strong and healthy he said.

This is why he has left his private practice of 21 years in New Jersey, to return to the slums of his home town of Barota in Gujarat, with his wife, educating the children and providing affordable and available healthcare.


It was such an inspiration to meet someone who walked away from their comfortable lives in the US to return to where the help was needed, where it will make the biggest impact and where it is much appreciated.
The next time I returned to the clinic/school I brought a group of college students, members of Dr. Interns summer medical internship program who I have come to India to help support through marketing and program expansion.

The students were as excited as I were to hear Dr. Mistry’s story and I was most excited to see the little girls who had gathered the courage to come sit by me and even posed for pictures for me and with me. They mimicked my English and were obviously hungry to learn anything I had to teach them. I was excited to meet these girls who’s situation seemed grim but who’s futures looked bright.


The next time I returned with an even larger number of excited students and arms full of school supplies including all my favorite things: crayons, colored pencils, markers, coloring books, chalk, UNO cards, notebooks, pencils and erasers. We were happy to contribute to the Mistry’s school/clinic and I was excited to speak more about expanding our program to assist with their work. This is what I came to India to do. This is what I am on this planet to do.
The little girls ran from their houses to greet me in the street with cheerful “Hi’s” and hugs with huge smiles on their faces.

As we sat around Dr. Mistry’s office/clinic/school the room quickly filled with small children who were all excited to see strange new faces in their neighborhood. The energy in the room was amazing and even though the little children had trouble keeping quiet while the doctor explained his story ( now for the third time for me, yet still as genuine and full of passion) it was sweet to see how much it meant to them that we had come and with supplies for their school.

I wanted to hug each one of them and tell them I was so proud of them for getting an education and to stay with it. I wanted to let each one know that they were special and worthy of having a better life, one of opportunity and freedom but with the little Gujarati I knew I was stuck with formalities but the love and compassion was felt between both the children and us.

We poured our love on to them with smiles and photos and laughter and found a renewed purpose in our work here in India, something that is easy to lose sight of when faced with the giant hurdles of social issues. However, like when we spent the day delivering reusable waterbottles to the children enrolled in school in the rural village of Ratunpura we realized with every act of love and support, regardless of how small, making a difference in the life of a child is the greatest action a person can take in life.

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