Live More Happy
Living Loving and Traveling the World
Ronald-McDonald

Giving back is so hot right now. Seems like some of the biggest brands out there are making it big off their claims of giving back and making a difference. 

I love this change in marketing trends, especially since my company, LMH Promotions focuses on social good business and for-purpose marketing and branding campaigns. (Fundraising, cause awareness, community building) I love seeing the consumer demand to see the impact their purchase is making. I love knowing that people really care. 

Of course there’s the brands that take advantage and claim they are making a difference while selling a totally toxic product (*cough cough*, Ronald McDonald, PEPSI Refresh, Coke RED, all the cancer causing products that rep PINK RIBBONS?)

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Now we are seeing a whole bunch of companies that “give back” because, lets face it, they have to now! (Woo hoo!) 

But does that mean that companies should be promoting their product and pushing it with a purpose just because its catchy or it fits their product or message? 

Many of the brands I have helped launch or support have started their product BECAUSE they saw a need. TOMS started because Blake saw the children in Argentina needed shoes. Anna Dodson started Peruvian Hearts scholarships for the orphanage she was adopted from in Cusco. I started hosting fundraising campaigns after seeing firsthand the lack of educational resources while traveling through the gorgeous, developing world. 

Ana Dodson peruvian hearts give back charity

I’m feeling hopeful for the future of consumerism because brands are being forced to give a shit and give back. 

Lets just not forget to hold these companies accountable. I know from first hand experience of a give back company that claims all over their site that their products are made in Costa Rica but sent their photographer to El Salvador where they moved their production years ago to save on costs. I saw the photos of their production facility and it was pretty grim. 

sweatshop labor give back charity

There’s companies that come up with a product to support a popular cause, even though they have no personal connection to it. 

Where is the integrity in these situations? 

Does it even matter? 

If giving back is trendy, then does that mean we are becoming better as a whole society? If the good is being done does it matter why? 

Maybe not.

Just sharing my observations. Lets hear yours.

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

I arrived at Residencia Gorila in Tulum, by following a pin on a map a friend had sent me with the message “You will find people like you there.”

They were right, I instantly felt right at home. 

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

I arrived just in time for acoustic guitar and brunch and was greeted with a piece of vegan chocolate birthday cake. Karen, one of the Gorila’s residents is managing the vegan cafe and is apparently a wiz with coconut oil and bananas. As a cake connoisseur myself, I was impressed.

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

I then met Alfonso Garrido, or “Poncho,” the coordinator and director of all things Gorila. What started as a film studio, has evolved into a community and living space for musicians, artists, film makers, photographers, creatives and activists. The motto of the Residencia Gorila is crecer, crear, compartir, (create grow and share) and they follow this ethos in their art, their activism and their daily lives.

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

“While you are creating, you are healing yourself and growing. Both in a spiritual and personal way. The growth also happens when you share knowledge and ideas. Sharing is key. “ -Alfonso Garrido

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

Alfonso showed me videos of the recent projects they completed in the last year, including a mural series by local street artists of nature, marine life, as well as Mayan culture. Their art also addresses social issues, like endangered species, environmental sustainability and the threat non-native species, like lion fish, are creating for the Caribbean.

 Anna Fishkin / everystring.com tulum art project residencia gorila

Photo by Anna Fishkin / everystring.com

 Anna Fishkin / everystring.com tulum art project residencia gorila

Photo by Anna Fishkin / everystring.com

 Anna Fishkin / everystring.com tulum art project residencia gorila

Anna Fishkin / everystring.com

 Anna Fishkin / everystring.com tulum art project residencia gorila

Photo by Anna Fishkin / everystring.com

I love the way they leveraged the tourism and the local businesses, as well as art and video, to create awareness and solutions to the lion fish issue. By educating the local dive tours and shops, they are promoting the sport of hunting lion fish and collaborating with local chefs and restaurants to create culinary experiences with the delicious white fish. This is helping to reduce the rapidly growing population and restore balance to the delicate eco system of the Caribbean.

Lionfish Project (Episode 01) from Residencia Gorila on Vimeo.

Its a wonderful example of using creativity and community to create positive change.

The coolest campaign to come out of Gorila in my opinion, is the Finding Infinity project.

With the collaboration of Ross Harding, Gorila hosted “Solar Parties” around the world, raising funds to provide renewable energy for under developed communities in Mexico.

Finding Infinity Residencia Gorila Mexico

Ross is now living in Australia, growing the project by consulting and developing important sustainable projects worldwide.
See the clever and informative animation the Gorila Films created for Finding Infinity below:

Like Residencia Gorila, I was powered by sunshine, feeling energized from the sea breeze and integrated with the nature all around me. We rode bikes around Tulum, swam in cenotes and lakes and  the warm, turquoise Caribbean water.

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence fortune 421

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

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After just a few days at Residencia Gorila, I felt more inspired and excited about my own projects with Givebackpackers and all the possibilities for creating an impact through art, culture, travel and experiences. 

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

That is what Residencia Gorila is: an experience. From the food, the music, the conversations, the art and the expression of ideas, in the middle of paradise, Gorila provides the setting to connect with nature, experience culture and collaborate with creatives.

residencia gorila tulum mexico maya riviera mexican volunteer art community culture tourism artists collaborative residence

I personally see a lot of opportunity to grow our projects for Givebackpackers but also see Gorila as a place for all creatives to find new inspiration, expand your heart and mind and receive the support from the global community, while collaborating with other “people like you.”

If you are interested in staying or bringing projects to Residencia Gorila, they are currently accepting inquiries and are happy to discuss options for lodging and offer a variety of creative services and promotion for your project. I know I cant wait to get back soon for my own creative retreat. Who’s coming with me?

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peace bliss happiness

Last Sunday I participated in a sacred Hindu water ceremony at a set of temples on a bluff over looking the ocean in Sanur, Bali, with a healer named Bunda who took myself and my three travel companions on a day long prayer and intention setting ceremony that involved bathing in a river that flows into the ocean, being splashed by high priests with holy water and entering a cave filled with a golden Buddha and praying for whatever it is we were in need of.

buddha temple bali

I prayed for forgiveness and peace of mind. It has been something I have struggled with my whole life and while I am a loving person I am not easily forgiving. I have always struggled with letting go of past wounds and my personal mission on this trip was a search for a relief and some release from my tight grip on painful memories.

After the 5 hours of ceremony, Bunda explained that to show our commitment to what we are asking for, we must pick a day, Monday or Thursday to fast for seven weeks, starting at 5am until 7am, absolutely nothing to eat or drink. At 7pm you must shower, pray for what you want and then only eat white rice. I accepted this challenge as a sign of commitment to myself and Mondays will be my day of deep thought, prayer and emotional self love while fasting. 

As I write I am enjoying my 7:30pm bowl of rice, the first thing I have eaten since I went to bed at 1am (with a bag of my favorite Mexican tostitos) Today I woke up at Las Rocas Resort, my favorite Mexico destination just 30 minutes south of San Diego, on a cliff over looking the ocean, surrounded by friends who accompanied me yesterday to the Door of Faith Orphanage to volunteer and bring some Navidad cheer.

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I skipped the free breakfast Las Rocas gave our group (breakfast is my favorite meal and Las Rocas has great desayuno!) and skipped the fish taco and ceviche lunch as well as ignored the tostilocos and churros in the border line on the way back. I could say that it was torture but in every craving I found strength and in every desire for instant gratification I felt a commitment to getting what I want, inner peace.

I also realized that there are billions of people in the world, including children living all around me, who face this kind of hunger and longing every day, and not by choice. My awareness was so much higher and I felt so much more compassion for them all day today.

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My bowl of plain white rice tastes so amazing to me because I went without. I am so grateful to be eating it because I have been living with hunger all day. I am so much more grateful for the ability to eat when I’m hungry and eat the best food. I am grateful I only know hunger by choice.

rice hunger

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WOW! What an honor! I was on a 48 hour wifi detox relaxing on the tiny island of Gili Meno in Indonesia when I tracked down some internet to Skype my grandma on Thanksgiving and Krissy had sent me this link: www.mappingmegan.com/sexiest-female-travelers-alive

I was listed in the Sexiest Female Travelers Alive list with some pretty amazing  world traveling women.

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The word “sexy” is used in many ways, obviously with its root word being sex, it usually implies exactly that, however when I see this list of women I see it as an empowering term and one that I am proud to be called. So what is sexy to me?

Sexy is not being afraid to head out on a journey into the unknown, with just a backpack and no cell phone service, relying on common sense, street smarts and a love of the adventure to navigate your way.

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Sexy is adapting and appreciating a foreign culture, learning to play the cajon in a drum circle at sunset, climbing a mountain or to the top of a temple to watch the sunrise.

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Sexy is having only a few functional items in your backpack but still pulling off a fashionable look for a night out for drinks in Bangkok and trekking through a jungle in Chiang Mai the next day.  Sexy isn’t just looking good in a bikini and nailing that perfect instagram shot, sexy is living a life full of passion and meaning and following your purpose. 

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That is why Krissy and I created Givebackpackers. We want our travel experiences to be more than exotic parties, photo opps and souvenir collecting. We want to make an impact with our travels, to inspire others to just book the ticket and go. We want to create a difference with the money we spend, the tours we book and the handmade cultural goods we purchase. 

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We want to give back to the NGO’s and community groups working every day to create sustainable change and alleviating poverty in the world’s most beautiful places. We want our journey to be one that makes us better people as well as improves the world we are so in love with seeing.

givebackpackers give back sexy traveler travel wanderlust

This to me is sexy traveling. What is sexy to you?

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In 31 days I have seen nine countries and each time I have left a bit of my heart behind.

travel wanderlust airport airplane travel love lover traveler

Every time the plane lifts off the runway, my heart feels heavy, like a piece of me is still somewhere far off in the distance in the streets, jungles and beaches I have learned to love.

travel wanderlust love adventure explore world lover

With two weeks left on this trip, I am sad to see this adventure end, but excited for what is ahead for our company, Givebackpackers and my future travel plans.

travel adventure wanderlust cambodia asia give back

Traveling like this is a lesson in loving unconditionally and without attachment. Like a romance, you enter a foreign place with an idea of what you want, but are given so much more through excitement, mystery, adventure and also, the challenges. You throw yourself into the culture, wander the streets lost and open to discoveries of yourself and the city.

travel adventure wanderlust

Like a new lover, you clumsily learn your way around, marvel at the beauty of the new sights and allow your breath to be taken, unexpectedly. Your heart expands as you learn the pain in their history, feeling compassion and inspired by their resilience.

buddha cambodia travel adventure

Although you know it will not last, you spend each day with your new place, soaking it all up and wanting to learn as much as you can before parting ways. Your time together is short but you make it as sweet as possible, loving without knowing when you will visit again and leaving without holding on. 

lake como italy italia travel wanderlust adventure  Like with all love, you cannot keep it or own but the memories and the photos.

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Travel is my lover.

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In 2013 Live More Happy &  Fortune 421 has raised enough money, through parties and fashion sales, to provide school supplies to 100 orphans and children rescued from abuse in La Mision, Mexico, just about 30 minutes south of San Diego in Baja.

Click the image to watch the video of our trip to Door Of Faith Orphanage in October, 2013.

In 2014, with Fortune events and clothing sales, we raised 7,000 to help remodel the boys dorms and put in a new bathroom and a kitchen at Door of Faith.

We led numerous groups of volunteers last year and already in 2015 and are excited to announce that with our new venture, Givebackpackers, we are raising money for DOFO through the sales of handmade accessories from Mexico.

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003IMG_0368-La Mission Goddess WeekendBuy a backpack, headband, bracelet, anklet and help supply kids in need at DOFO with school supplies.

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If you would like to apply to attend one of these incredible trips, send us a message here

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Urban Angels is a community organization nourishing those in need by providing food for the homeless community of San Diego. Made up of a group of fun and motivated volunteers this organization is leading the way for San Diego’s young philanthropy movement.

Urban Angels serves dinner 7 nights a week now at 5:45-7pm at Connections Housing on 6th & A st in Downtown San Diego and Wednesdays at Salvation Army on 7th and E st.

For more information on how you can get involved visit: www.Urban-Angels.com

Video filmed, produced & edited by: Marlina Moreno

To check out more people and organizations doing great things in their communities visit our friends at the www.TheGLife.org

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We are so pleased with our full page article in the San Diego Union Tribune’s Night & Day section in February.  The title was “Model Behavior” and we are so tickled to make the news for doing positive things in the community! Click the image below for the full story online.

 

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No matter what kind of stressful day I am having, nothing makes me feel more grateful and happy than helping people! We all share the same, basic human needs and regardless of our social status, race or gender, we all get hungry. What better way to connect with others in your community, both serving and receiving assistance, than to volunteer to help feed hungry San Diegans?

Urban Angels now provides dinner service seven days a week, at  5:45pm-7pm at the brand new Connections Housing center,  on 6th and A st 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!Connections is working alongside  the PATH program, equally dedicated to end homelessness through support, training and sustainable solutions for people looking to get off the streets for good. This is the FIRST homeless shelter like this in San Diego and we are so excited to be apart of it.

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS , so come on down any day, no need to sign up, just show up and we will be glad to have you.

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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Even kids can help out. Pictured below a group of caring kids wrote positive messages on rice crispy treats and passed them out after dinner.

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Cori Gerstein was 12 years old when she visited Rady’s Childrens Hospital for a broken finger. She saw the little girls in the cancer ward who had lost their hair and had the idea to use her love of crafting and started making hair bows on headbands for these girls to brighten their day and bring a smile to their face. With that idea, Bows for A Cause was created! She started the facebook page and began making them herself and collecting them from others around the country who saw the page and wanted to help. For Christmas, she delivered 212 bows to the Children’s Hospital!

Pictured below is Amelia, just after her surprise bow arrived. The smallest act of kindness can make all the difference in the life of a child!

For Valentine’s day, Cori’s goal was 100 bows and we wanted to help her reach that goal. Friday night, February 1st, at my home, we assembled a team of 15 women and a few awesome men to make bows. Our friend’s at Pura Vida bracelets donated 150 of their new “hippie” headbands for the bows to go on.  We had a blast crafting, hanging around the fireplace, making smores and making friends. We reached our goal of 100 bows and had a blast doing it. More photos available in the gallery. 

hair bows cause kids cancer children give back philanthropy craft purpose help
hair bows cause kids cancer children give back philanthropy craft purpose help
hair bows cause kids cancer children give back philanthropy craft purpose help

We encourage you to contribute with supplies (listed below the photos) or even make the bows on yourself, eve have your own “Bow Party” and get them to Cori who lives here in San Diego.  You can find more information on the Bows for a Cause facebook page! Please like it!

Subscribe to Live More Happy for an invitation to future “Craft for a Cause” events.

Anyway you do it, Thank You for helping make this world a happier place.

Here is Cori on the left and on the right is Amelia, a child who received a bow for Christmas and wanted to help Cori make more for other children.

Supplies for making hair bows:
-Glue Gun and Glue sticks
-Scissors
-3/8 Ribbon
-7/8 Ribbon
-Hair Clips like these 
-Elastic headbands like these (can’t be too thin since a lot of the girls do not have much or any hair and the bow must be able to clip on)
-lighter (to quickly melt the edge of the ribbon to prevent unraveling)
– gems, buttons, flowers or anything cute to go on the center of the bow! (pictured above Corie and Ameila used a bottle cap kit purchased from a craft store)
If you want to try some cute and simple bows here are a few cute felt and lace bows I found and might try to make as well!
Of course we need headbands for the bows to attach to and here is a great way to make cute headbands from old tee shirts!

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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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Urban Angels get together Monday through Thursday to assist in feeding the homeless of Downtown San Diego, distributing meals provided by the generous people at Fit Athletic Club from their health food program, “Food @ FIT.” For more info, see our post on Urban Angels or email Lindsay@LMHpromotions.com

Bows For A Cause:
At 12 years old Cori Gerstein decided she wanted to do something to bring a smile to  the children in the cancer ward of Rady’s Children’s Hospital here in San Diego.  During her stay there last year for a broken finger, Cori saw these children covered in tubes and wires, some without hair and looking sad. Cori was inspired to take her love of craft projects and start making hair bows on headbands for these girls to brighten their day and bring a smile to their face. With that idea, Bows for A Cause was created! She began making them herself and collecting them from others who wanted to help. For Christmas, she delivered 212 bows to the Children’s Hospital! Cori and Live More Happy are collecting bows for this Valentines Day  with our friends at Pura Vida sponsoring the headbands for the bows to go on. Cori and will continue to make and collect bows so please like the facebook page for more information on how to help.

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Team World Changers is a Southern California community service and FUNdraising club dedicated to volunteering, having fun and bringing assistance to non-profits and prhanages in the Southern California and Baja California region.

 

St. Vincent de Paul Village is the largest rehabilitation program for the homeless in San Diego meeting the needs of 900 men, women, and children living at the Village each day. SVDP also prepare more than 3,000 meals a day. Without their dedicated corps of volunteers, their staff could not provide the comprehensive range of services and programs to assist the homeless and needy neighbors who turn to them for help. Wherever you choose to volunteer, their staff looks forward to the opportunity to work with you to meet the needs of those in the community who rely on St. Vincent de Paul Village for assistance with food, shelter, clothing, job training, education, counseling, medical care, child care, case management, information and referral and other resources that we provide.

Our Volunteer Opportunities Include:
Activities Aid (Accompany staff
to the Food Banks, etc.)
Administrative Support
Adult Education Teachers/Tutors
(reading, math, language,
GED preparation, etc.)
Barbers/Hairstylists
Building Maintenance Assistants
Dentists, Doctors, and Nurses
Ebay Sales, Research and Packaging
Fitness and Wellness Instructors
Homework Tutors
Information and Referral Specialists
(Front Desk)
Life Skills Instructors
Mail Sorters
Mentoring Children or Teens
Minister of Music
Minister of Worship
Residential Aides
Meal Servers
Special Events
Thriftstore Sales Assistants
Veterinarians

All volunteer visits MUST be scheduled in advance. For general volunteer information, please call (619) 645-6411 or email volunteer@neighbor.org.

 

Want even MORE chances to get involved? Here is a great site where you can find a cause in need of volunteers! 

“Be the Change You Wish To See In The World”

Change volunteer help homeless give back

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How can a simple sweet question have so much pressure behind it? I have always loved Valentines day, or any holiday or any day really that was different and fun. Who doesn’t like wearing green and drinking green beer on St. Patricks, regardless of if you are Irish or even know why we celebrate it so enthusiastically here in America? Just like “Spirit Days”  in high school, these unofficial, cultural holidays should be fun and just another reason to celebrate life. So why is there so much negativity these days around Valentines Day?

I remember when every kid in class got a Valentine, there were heart shaped cookies and candies involved and maybe you spent an whopping 15 minutes on a handmade card for that special someone you hoped noticed your extra effort. Now, if you don’t have a romantic evening of roses, champagne, fancy dinner reservations and some jewelry in the mix somewhere you are supposed to feel bitter or unloved.

Why?

I can understand someone who is legitimately heartbroken over a lost love or recent romantic disappointment but why so much Anti Valentines energy going around?

People should realize that the pressure comes from those evil marketing campaigns meant to make you feel like if you aren’t buying or being bought what they are selling, you aren’t in the club this year.

I would like to take a stand and remind people that LOVE is not just meant for romance or for one person. Love begins with yourself and once you realize that, you will not need flowers or a box of chocolates to feel validated, you can fully enjoy roses or a box of chocolates courtesy of the person who loves you most, YOU.

In addition to being our own Valentine, look around at ALL the potential Valentines you have all around you. The past few years I have enjoyed dressing in ridiculous pink outfits and passing out heart suckers to anyone I came in contact with through out the day, clients, people at the gas station, post office, friends and neighbors. I have found I felt happier and more full of love than if I was spending the day with only one special person.

This past year I wanted to extend the bottomless love I have been experiencing lately with some of my neighbors who really need love. I coordinated with another inspiring community leader, Nadav Wilf,  Founder of Discover SD and CEO of ENLTD, a “for purpose” lifestyle network and a dear true friend to me and our friend Francine to become “Project Cupid.” We went through Downtown San Diego passing out Valentines candy, Starbucks coffee, water bottles, cupcakes and lunch bags with an assortment of supplies like hand sanitizer, chapstick, gloves and tooth brushes.

We heard incredible stories of struggle, illness, families coming together or falling apart but most of all, gratitude. Everyone was polite, gracious, honest and in generally good spirits. If the group split up and I offered someone something they would say “No thank you, your friend already came by.”  I was shocked. In all the hours I have spent passing free stuff out for promotions I have never experienced as much unselfish, grateful and polite behavior as I did this Valentines day. As Nadav’s account described:

“ I was really taken aback by how polite, thankful, but most of all how present they were. Each person had a story and genuine caring for one another and I felt really connected to them. It reinforced the notion that we are all one. We all want the same things out of life and in one way or another, we are all at times lost in our path to attaining love and happiness.”

As I sat on the train, writing this and reflecting on Love, a young man sat next to me and began reading over my shoulder. He asked what I was doing and I told him about my blog. He then pulled it up on his iphone and began asking me all about my travels and questions unrelated to my blog as well. At first I was giving short answers and trying to continue my flow of writing but he continued to interrupt me and I refrained from feeling annoyed but still didn’t want to lose my concentration. He then asked if the words inscribed on the inside of my forearm were a tattoo. I stopped and looked at my arm, the fresh ink I just got yesterday and the raised words “What Would Love Do?”

Here I am writing a blog about giving kindness and love to anyone and everyone and I was missing this opportunity to connect with the person next to me. We spent the next 15 minutes discussing his goals in life and how we both love our Grandmas and want to be there for them as much as possible. He got off at Fullerton to go visit his Grandma and help around the house and I was almost sad to see him go. I am confident in my decision to put those words permanently on the most visible part of my body to me. I always said I would never go above my ankles and joked I would probably end up with “socks” instead of “sleeves” but this has already made a positive impact on my life and will forever remind me to Be Love. Besides being one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard, it is in Jason Mraz’s handwriting from the love note he wrote me at Sundance. Now that’s what I call Love.

 


(Jason and Toca sing a capella at the show I saw at Spreckles in San Diego in November)

Happy Valentines day. Love to you. Every day.

First, Be Love. Its easy.

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