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A race that starts literally blocks from my apartment? Count me in!

This is the first year I ran the Rip City Race for the Roses, benefiting Albertina Kerr. If you are not from Portland, you might not be familiar with Albertina Kerr, which has been a force for good in Portland since 1907. In short, Albertina Kerr empowers people with intel​lectual and developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and other social barriers to lead self-determined lives and reach their full potential. 100% of the profits from Rip City Race for the Roses go to Albertina Kerr–everything is covered by sponsors.

I registered for the race pretty late, at the expo for the Shamrock Run Portland. (Yeah, I know, I haven’t written about that one yet…but the expo was great!) If you register early, like right now, you can get the very best price for 2019. I don’t remember what I paid, but I registered at the last pricing tier and while it was more than I usually pay for a 10k, I knew all of the money was going to Albertina Kerr so I didn’t really care. This year, the race included a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and kids’ race. Since I was supposed to run Revel Mt. Charleston on Saturday, I opted for the 10k race.

Foot Traffic on Fremont hosted the packet pickup, which was a breeze. Volunteers had printed lists of names and bib numbers. After picking up my bib and declining the matched set of four safety pins (yay, Racedots!), I walked inside the store to get my shirt, which came with a lunch-bag-sized reusable bag (courtesy of Charles Schwab). Runners could pick up on Friday or Saturday, and when I went on Saturday there was no lines and it was very chill. Foot Traffic offered 10% off any regular priced merchandise for runners, which was a great deal–they have several Portland-specific running designs in stock, in addition to the full range of shoes and clothes and accessories and fuel you would expect from a technical running store. I noticed Foot Traffic carries designs (and the book!) by Another Mother Runner and while I’m not a mother myself, I know plenty of mothers who love to run.

I have to say, the race shirt is fantastic. While it isn’t a tech shirt, I honestly have scores of those and only wear them when I’m planning to sweat. The super soft grey shirt features a red print that looks like a runner and a rose, without any words, text, or other logos on the front. (All of the race sponsors are on the back.) In other words, it doesn’t scream I AM A RACE SHIRT!!! like so many race shirts do. I’m certain I will be wearing it on a regular basis.

pink roses from the finish lineThis year, the start and finish were in the plaza between the Moda Center (home of the Portland Trailblazers, or the basketball arena formerly known as The Rose Garden, much to the confusion of many a tourist trying to look at fancy flowers) and the home of the Portland Winterhawks. This was a great location to start a running event, convenient to public transit (MAX has a dedicated stop, and multiple buses stop nearby). It’s also just over two blocks away from my apartment, essentially allowing me to bedroll to the race. Seriously, I saw the first race started at 7:50 and I didn’t even get out of bed until 7:00.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures, as my iPhone 6 has a battery that drains faster than a perfectly clear stand pipe and I knew I’d be running Vi (not an affiliate link, but check my discounts page!) and Rock My Run on it during the race. The start/finish area featured a cute Rip City photo op; DJ; stage; booths for packet pickup, kids’ bib decorating, and some of the sponsors; two coffee trucks; a shaved ice truck (or as we called it in Michigan, a sno cone truck); finisher food and drink zone; and more. There wasn’t a line to pick up bibs, and there was a bag check area as well. Shortly after I arrived, I ran into my friend Holly, and we chatted until she had to leave to go walk the half marathon.

All of the courses were an out-and-back, and shared the same start and finish. From the Rose Garden, I mean Moda Center, area…we all ran a bit on the NE streets and then over the Broadway Bridge. Turning onto Hoyt, all of the courses ran through the Pearl District–which has changed SO MUCH during the 2008-2017 time period I wasn’t in Portland–the Northwest, and the Northwest Industrial areas. At the 5k turnaround, the 10k and half continued onward, and at the 10k turnaround the half marathon continued. I suppose some could argue it wasn’t a spectacularly scenic course, but I personally loved running through the ever-evolving urban Portland landscape. Along the course, volunteers manned aid stations that served runners both coming and going, and multiple areas had cheering squads (including one where the young women cheering must have been cheerleaders or Rockettes, since nobody can kick that high).

An announcer greeted everyone crossing the finish line (or at least by the time I finished my run-walk, the finishers were sparse enough that we were all greeted), and the Royal Rosarians and Albertina Kerr clients handed out medals and high-fives. Each finisher also received a rose. I walked over to the finisher zone; greeted by two brand ambassadors for Red Bull I happily accepted a sugar-free Red Bull on my way to the ID check for the mimosas. The finisher food buffet included bananas, oranges, Clif Bar protein bars, bagels, bread, peanut butter, cream cheese, granola, and bottled water. There were a few other things too, but I didn’t eat them so they are slipping my mind.

As I was noshing on my post-race snacks and sipping my mimosas, I had the great fortune to sit next to one of the Albertina Kerr race organizers. (This is my secret super hero talent: accidentally finding the most interesting people at the party.) I learned that my evaluation of Portland as somewhat hostile to to races is correct; from one year to the next, the cost to host this race–again, a fundraiser where all the proceeds go to charity non-profit Albertina Kerr–went up by a factor of ten. I don’t mean it cost $10 more, or even $10,000 more, but it cost 10x what they had been paying to hold the race. For any race, that’s terrifying. They had to raise the entry fee a bit, and scramble for sponsors to cover the cost of the event–one of Albertina Kerr’s major fund raisers.

The post-race eats were pretty fantastic. In addition to the mimosas, orange juice, bagels, and peanut butter, there were a variety of other snackables. It was nice enough to stand or sit around outside (minus the mimosas, thanks OLCC), but the tent also had plenty of room for runners to sit down and take a load off after the race.

Next year’s Rip City Race for the Roses is April 28, 2019. Learn more, and sign up at the website.

SAVE YOUR MONEY, SAVE YOUR MIND!

First there was Black Friday, allegedly named because it is the first day of the Christmas shopping season and when retailers’ books go from red to black. (This was eventually ruined by the appearance of Christmas stuff on store shelves in September.) Then there was Cyber Monday, when Amazon and all the other .coms of the world offer deals to relieve you of whatever money you didn’t spent on Black Friday. As Wal-mart began to displace the beloved “mom and pop” stores that were on mainstreets in towns across America, and people realized where you spend money has a direct impact on what your world looks like, the “Shop Small” and “Shop Local” movements brought us  Small Business Saturday. Sure, I appreciate the season-of-buying as well as the sales, but a ton of this spending is mindless.

Then came #GivingTuesday. I personally have plenty. I’m thankful. I’m spending some of my time going through all the things I moved and parting with the things that could help someone else, but are not really serving me. (I did a lot of this before I moved too–I even gave away a big carton of books!) With the advent of Kondo-izing and Swedish death cleaning, I hope you and your family have all of the stuff you actually need and maybe you are even living with an eye towards not acquiring more stuff you don’t. Sure, things wear out and need to be replaced, and new gadgets come out that are critical (or at least useful). It’s not like clothes now last forever or shopping is over. But let’s be thankful. For me, part of being thankful is giving back to others who are not so fortunate. I’m really lucky to work in an office that supports all kinds of community involvement. I’ve barely been here half a year, and we have fundraised for a Race for the Cure team, donated hundreds of new or gently-used coats and warm clothing to homeless teen services in Seattle, given to Hoop Camp for the developmentally disabled, contributed to Lawyers Against Hunger, supported the Campaign for Equal Justice, and more.

NOTE! IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP! Before you give, make sure the organization is what it says it is, and that it will use your money responsibly. Check out Charity Navigator, or GuideStar for more information.

If you have what you truly need, I invite you to consider giving money to an organization that is helping to make your world a better place. Last year I solicited suggestions from my friends. This year, here are my own top choices.

Encourage your friends to give this #GivingTuesdayClick To Tweet

SAVE THE NATION!

I couldn’t decide on the best way to organize my favorites so these are in no particular order (not alphabetical, not by how much I value the work they do, just randomly there).

Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s not just about the south. Their slogan is “Fighting Hate. Teaching Tolerance. Seeking Justice.” The SPLC documents hate crimes, provides legal services, develops educational materials for children and adults, and monitors news outlets for stories about discrimination based on race, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation, and economic status. SPLC News This Week is a weekly email covering these topics. On Giving Tuesday, a generous donor has pledged to match the first $300,000 of donations, through midnight. For a limited time, donors who give $50 or more can send a special card about SPLC’s work to an honoree. If you select this option, may I suggest sending the card to a government official? http://www.splcenter.org

Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF works to protect the rights of everyone on the electronic frontier through technology, activism, and legal action (also called “impact litigation”). Some of EFF’s projects this year including suing the Department of Homeland Security to challenge the escalation of warrantless device searches at the U.S. Border, fighting NSA surveillance programs and forcing disclosure of signficant documentation about mass spying (ON US, the US CITIZENS!), blocking invasive web trackers through the Privacy Badger browser extension, addressing the growing power social media companies have on speech through the OnlineCensorship.org website, and so much more. (Why yes, I did just crib that from the email asking me to renew my membership!) Like NPR, you can choose a free gift at some levels of membership, and members received discounts on EFF events and merchandise. EFF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.eff.org

College/University/School. Pick one. The cost of higher education–and that includes trade schools–has gone through the roof. There’s no reason why only rich kids should get to have a post-high-school education. The pre-K to grade 12 schools aren’t exactly well-funded either. Create a scholarship, donate to a department, sponsor a club, or find some other way to help keep education accessible to all who desire it.

ACT LOCALLY!

For every group I know about and have listed below, I am certain there is a similar group where you live. National charities are great, and sometimes being national in scope is the best way and most efficient way to accomplish goals. (We don’t need every city to have an EFF, for example.) Other times, smaller organizations can accomplish tasks more efficiently than larger ones, or a local organization can better serve the population where it operates.

The Lawyers’ Campaign for Equal Justice. CEJ funds Legal Aid, which provides civil legal services to low-income and elderly Oregonians. Legal Aid tends to the basics and can be the difference between life and death, or safety and homelessness. CEJ funds help people fight illegal evictions, secure safe housing, get access to medical services, and escape domestic violence. You can read some of the success stories on the CEJ website. (Regardless of what you think of lawyers, those who work for Legal Aid do some of the most difficult work for some of the lowest pay. Without CEJ, Oregon’s Legal Aid program wouldn’t exist.) Poverty in Oregon is on the rise, and the demand for legal services is too.  http://www.cej-oregon.org/

East Bay SPCA. Yes, I now live in Oregon, but East Bay SPCA is the group that united me with my current kitty-love, Professor Nick Sterling. The Professor started his life in another shelter, where he was adopted. At some point things went sour, however, and eight years later he was rescued from a hoarding situation and returned to that same shelter. After languishing there several months, the East Bay SPCA identified him as a cat they might have a better chance of re-homing and took him in to their Oakland shelter. Poor kittyboy was there for months before we found each other. In 2016 (when Nick and I got together), East Bay SPCA adopted out 3,417 animals and fostered another 938. He had been there so long that he was free (his adoption fee was waived) but I donated since the cost of caring for an animal before it is adopted always exceeds the adoption fee. East Bay SPCA has multiple programs to help people keep their pets, including help finding pet-friendly housing, behavior resources, a pet food pantry, free wellness clinics and medical care assistance programs for those who need financial help, and a pet survivor placement program (to help fluffy find a home if you die first). They even have a special Second Chance Fund to help older animals find new homes. East Bay SPCA is a nonprofit funded by fees and charitable donations. http://www.eastbayspca.org 

Oregon Food Bank. Even in relatively prosperous-looking areas, food insecurity runs rampant. It’s not just rural Oregon that needs the food bank pantry shelves stocked–it’s Portland, too. You can read more about how hunger devastates children here. Delta Air Lines will match any gift of $25 or more, up to a maximum of $15,000. https://www.oregonfoodbank.org/

With Love,. Their mission statement: “With Love, exists to support foster families by providing safe, clean and quality clothing and supplies to children ages 0-5, while exuding love and honor.” Foster care for young kids is expensive–they outgrow clothes quickly and need developmentally appropriate toys–and it generally isn’t the rich people who take in foster kids. This year I’m participating in “Stockings With Love,” a stocking stuffer program for kids in foster care. All I have to do is buy 8-10+ items for either the 0-24 months group or the ages 2-6 group, put them in a bag, and label them with the appropriate gender and age. With Love, asked that donors NOT choose candy or food, and provided a list of suggestions. You can lazy-web it by going to http://www.withloveoregon.org/amazon to buy suggested items and have them sent right to the organization. Learn more at http://www.withloveoregon.org

SAVE THE WORLD!

Pencils of Promise. Education is something we take for granted in the United States, where state and federal laws protect every child’s right to an education. For $75, you can fund a kid’s education for the entire year. PoP promises that 100% of your online donation will directly support their education programs. (Read: NONE of your donation will pay for the costs of fundraising, administration, etc.) Donations build schools, train and support teachers, and keep kids in school supplies. PoP also has a handwashing initiative, WASH, which teaches kids about water, sanitation, and hygiene. You would be absolutely shocked at the amount of death and disease that could be prevented by a bar of soap and knowing how to use it (and equally shocked at how few of us have the luxury of soap-on-demand with clean water).  https://pencilsofpromise.org/

Gazelle Foundation. Access to clean, healthy, safe water should be a human right–but it’s not. In Burundi, people can spend four or more hours every day just to get clean water. This is a huge waste of potential for children (who should be in school), and for adults (who should be with their families). The Gazelle Foundation has nine water projects scheduled in Burundi for 2018, each of which will change the lives of people by reducing the 3+ mile trek now required to get water to 250-400 meters. That’s huge. Why Burundi? Burundi has a very high child mortality rate, largely due to lack of water. Waterborne contaminants are the leading cause of death in Burundi. To date, Gazelle Foundation has provided 80,660 people clean water FOR LIFE. That includes 24 schools, churches, and hospitals, 126 miles of clean water pipe, and the creation of 4,200 new jobs in Burundi.  https://www.gazellefoundation.org/

Back on My Feet. Homelessness isn’t an intrinsic part of anyone’s identity–it’s a condition some people experience, many through no fault of their own. BoMF combats homelessness through the power of running, community support, and essential housing and employment resources. It operates in 12 major cities. As runners know, running builds confidence, strength (including mental!), and self-esteem. These are all qualities you need to succeed, and come back from a major blow to your self-worth and identity. Changing the way we think about and address homelessness is revolutionary–which is why I put this in the Save the World category. On Giving Tuesday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching all donations. https://www.backonmyfeet.org/

Finally…SHARE?

There are a million ways you can help others with just a few dollars. If you have other charities you support, please leave a comment and share that information with others?

If you found this useful, would you please share it?

Welcome to #GivingTuesday 2016!

Know Where Your Money Goes

The most important advice I have to give is this: know where your money goes. The best charities minimize their administrative and overhead costs, while maximizing the amount of your dollar that goes to programs and services. (Yes, I understand that making change happen requires paying rent on offices, and I agree that those working for the greater good deserve a decent paycheck.) The best charities are financially transparent, and will show you where the money came from and where it goes—look for financial reports or summaries on the website—so you know you’re not funding the CEO’s Masarti. Basically, don’t get scammed. A few resources for vetting charities are:

http://www.CharityNavigator.org

http://www.CharityWatch.org

http://www.Give.org

How Do I Decide Where My Money Goes?

One way of deciding where to donate is to choose an area of concern or a cause, decide whether you want to give locally or nationally or globally, and then find a charity to match.

Animals: Animal welfare, rehabilitation, prevention of cruelty, low-cost spay and neuter services

The Arts: Music, dance, theatre, painting, writing, sculpting, museums, performances for kids, arts education

Children: Adoption, child welfare, education, medical treatment

Education: Where did you go to elementary school, high school, college? Local schools, special needs schools, scholarships

Environment: Preservation of wild places and species, pollution control, water protection

Food: Hunger, food insecurity, community gardens

Health: Public education, disease prevention, medical research, treatment

Health, specifically Mental Health: Public education, disease prevention, research, treatment, suicide prevention, counseling

Human Rights: Women’s issues, refugees, gender and equality

Veterans: Transition to civilian life, support for any arena in which a vet needs help

Suggestions from Bain & Her Ninja Posse

I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, asking where my friends are donating their money on #GivingTuesday The list below is every suggestion I received (as of midnight Sunday) plus my favorites.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). https://www.aclu.org/ I’m a big fan of the Constitution. HUGE. In fact, I believe that all U.S. citizens should be able to fully enjoy the rights granted by the Constitution without undue limitations. I dislike voter suppression and miss the Voting Rights Act (this is not a political commentary—I encourage ALL to vote, regardless of their politics). As the ACLU puts it, “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” You can help them make it to 200.

Alley Cat Allies. http://www.alleycat.org Nominated by a friend, but you know how I feel about cats (love me, love my cat). ACA works with the animal control system, provides education to combat myths about cats, works to change outdated laws that kill cats, and combats cruelty to cats. They provide disaster support (did you know you can’t take your cat with you to a Red Cross shelter?), pass anti-animal cruelty laws, support a nationwide feral cat care network (including support for trap-neuter-return programs), provide cat-specific education and resources for vets, and do a host of other things. (There wasn’t an executive summary on their page—likely because they do so many different things in their advocacy for cats—but the website has a ton of information). As winter approaches, even if you don’t donate to Alley Cat Allies, please take some precautions to help outdoor cats: clean up antifreeze spills and avoid using salt to melt ice (both can poison cats); if you care for outdoor cats, provide a straw-lined shelter and put water in deeper bowls to prevent freezing.

Austin Pets Alive. http://www.austinpetsalive.org/ Nominated by a friend. (Mr. Potter came from Austin, but didn’t come from APA.) From their website: “[mission statement] To promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals. When Austin Pets Alive! started rescuing animals in 2008, Austin was somewhat rich in resources that prevented births. For almost ten years, more and more resources were put into spay and neuter programs, but the live outcome rate at our city shelter was stuck around 50%. Of course, the population of Austin was quickly growing, so it’s likely that the spay and neuter resources were helping our live outcome rate from getting worse. While several resources were going into prevention and reducing intake, there was no effort to increase live outcomes from the shelter. Austin Pets Alive! saw that gap and created programs to save the key demographics of pets that hadn’t been making it out of our municipal shelter alive. These key groups of animals included puppies with parvovirus, unweaned kittens, cats with ringworm, dogs and cats in need of additional behavioral support and/or additional medical attention. By developing comprehensive, innovative programs that targeted these key groups of animals and pulling directly from euthanasia lists, Austin Pets Alive! has saved more than 25,000 dogs and cats since 2008.”

Back on My Feet. http://www.backonmyfeet.org/ Last year I ran an event for the Los Angeles Chapter, and this year BOMF is expanding into San Francisco. As they describe it, “Back on My Feet, a national organization operating in 12 major cities coast to coast, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.” The BOMF model is unique in that it is based on running, and the strategy is to first restore confidence and self-esteem so that individuals are better equipped to take on employment, housing, and a new life. I particularly like that instead of talking about program members as “homeless people” (which sounds impersonal and like a permanent brand to me), BOMF refers to members as individuals experiencing homelessness—emphasizing that homelessness is a temporary situation, not a defining characteristic. They need volunteers (as do many of the groups on this page) as well as dollars.

Batworld. https://batworld.org/ I have personally been a fan of bats ever since I found out they eat mosquitos. The Batworld website is a great educational resource on why bats are valuable and what to do if you find one in your house. From the website, “Bat World Sanctuary is on the front line to end the mistreatment of bats. Each year we rescue hundreds of bats who might otherwise die. Lifetime sanctuary is given to non-releasable bats, including those that are orphaned, injured, and retired from the exotic pet trade, zoos and research facilities. Bat World was founded in 1994 and is a 501c3 non-profit, accredited organization with both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association. Donations allow us to continue our rescue efforts for bats.”

Breast Cancer Charities. There are multiple, state, local, nationwide, international. I’ve walked the 3 Day for the Cure supporting the Komen Foundation, and donated to the Faith Fancher  charity (California). The nominating friend is fundraising for the 26.2 with Donna; her link is here: http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2017-Marathon/cancersucks

California Pit Bull Rescue. http://www.californiapitbullrescue.org/ Nominated by a friend who fosters their dogs. My favorite pit bull is a tank of a dog named Rosie, who is very gentle, thinks she is a lap dog, and is beta-dog to the tiniest terrier I’ve ever seen be an alpha dog. From the website, “California Pit bull Rescue (CPR) is organized for the purpose of rescuing at risk “pit bull” type dogs and facilitating social change to abolish the abuse, over breeding and mis-education surrounding the breed. CPR will achieve these goals through a SF Bay Area fostering network, fundraising programs, educational initiatives and financial/physical support for needy guardians of pit bull type dogs. Established in August 2012, CPR is a 501(C)3 all-volunteer nonprofit rescue organization with headquarters in Richmond, CA. 100% of our proceeds go toward our mission goals including awareness initiatives and providing food, supplies, housing, training and medical care for the dogs we take into our rescue program. We strive to house our dogs in foster homes where they can decompress and learn how to be loved and secure family members. They remain under CPR’s wing until they find the most appropriate permanent guardian with whom they can happily and peacefully live out their lives.” Definitely check out their “surprising facts about pit bulls” page.

Center for Sex and Culture. http://www.sexandculture.org/about Nominated by a friend. From their website, “The Mission of the Center for Sex & Culture is to provide judgment-free education, cultural events, a library/media archive, and other resources to audiences across the sexual and gender spectrum; and to research and disseminate factual information, framing and informing issues of public policy and public health. The Center for Sex & Culture aims to provide a community center for education, advocacy, research, and support to the widest range of people. We offer classes that run the gamut from informational to experiential. We host classes and cultural events as well as offer our space to other organizations and teachers as scheduling allows. We serve a nationally (in fact, globally) significant function, adding to the few accessible resources for sex education available to the public, not just academics or specialists. We have acquired various collections of books, papers, art, erotic material, personal collections from notable people within the sex-positive community, and other media.”

City Slicker Farms. http://www.cityslickerfarms.org/ Nominated by a friend, this is right up my alley: food policy and boots-on-the-ground that provides food security. She wrote, “My money goes to local food-based organizations: the food bank, Richmond Mission, and my fave: City Slicker Farms. CSF grows veggies and West Oakland and sells them to neighbors on a sliding scale. They also negotiate with landlords, then build back yard gardens in the neighborhood and give new gardeners a mentor to teach them how to grow their own food.” I know there are other organizations that do similar things in other locations, so if you like the idea but want to give locally, search online.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium. http://www.seewinter.com/ Nominated by a friend. Their motto is rescue, rehab, release. From the website: “We believe in preserving our environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life, environmental education, research and conservation. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.” They provide education to humans, and have webcams too!

Crisis Nursery Kids. http://crisisnurserykids.org/ Suggested by a friend; from the website: “The SAINT LOUIS CRISIS NURSERY (SLCN) is an independent, not-for-profit agency funded by donations and committed to preventing child abuse and neglect by providing short-term, emergency shelter for children, birth through age 12, whose families are faced with emergencies or who are in crisis. Founded in 1986, the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery has become a cornerstone in the fight against child abuse and neglect. In addition to the direct care of the children, the Crisis Nursery gives ongoing support and follow-up care to families and serves as a child/family advocate within the social services system. Families may voluntarily bring their children to any of the Nursery sites for a variety of reasons, including: Overwhelming parental stress, Parental or sibling illness or death, Lack of utilities, food or shelter, Domestic violence, Other emergency situations which jeopardize the safety and well-being of the child and necessitate temporary parent-child separation. The average stay of a child is two to three days. During his or her stay at the Crisis Nursery, each child receives 24-hour care by trained staff, medical services, meals and snacks, developmental assessment, therapeutic activities appropriate to the child’s situation, art activities.”

Donors Choose. https://www.donorschoose.org/ Mom was a teacher, so I really love this one. Crowdfunding can build stuff, and that includes better education for children. Donors Choose has a unique model where teachers write proposals for specific projects, and donors choose the project(s) where they want their money to go. My favorite option is to choose the high priority projects in schools that have the highest poverty, but you can also choose by location or by subject. If you’ve ever known a teacher—especially one in public education—you know that teachers often spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to buy classroom supplies, even though they aren’t making a lot of money themselves. This is a way that anyone can help, even if you don’t have a kid. Most of these projects just need a few hundred dollars, and each of them can change a kid’s school experience.

Electronic Frontier Foundation. http://www.eff.org I have a deep love for the EFF that dates back to the days when you found something on the internet by typing in a word or company name and adding “.com” to the end in the hopes that you’d find what you wanted. EFF is defending your rights in the digital world. As the internet of things grows, that digital world is even bigger. As EFF explains, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.” The EFF website is also an excellent resource for anyone concerned about privacy, government access to personal information, electronic record-keeping, and commercialization of your data.

The Elephant Sanctuary. https://www.elephants.com/ Nominated by a friend, this non-profit runs a Tennessee sanctuary that provides long-term care for elephants. From the website, “The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee exists to provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being, and to raise public awareness of the complex needs of elephants in captivity, and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.” Elephants are intelligent creatures with complex needs. The Sanctuary itself is a true sanctuary, and is closed to the public. There are elephant cams though, so you can sneak a peek.

The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County. http://epilepsysandiego.org.s163008.gridserver.com/ Nominated by a friend, who is fundraising and seeking donations in the name of Serena’s Crusaders. https://www.facebook.com/Serenascrusaders From their website, “The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving the San Diego community since 1954, offering personal advocacy and counseling, seizure first aid training, Expressive Arts therapy, camp and a variety of supportive services. All these services are free and are available to anyone whose life is touched by epilepsy, regardless of the severity of the disability and without regard to race, creed, age, sex or nationality.”

Fix our Ferals. http://fixourferals.org/home/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Fix Our Ferals (FOF) is a community-based, non-profit organization that promotes trap-neuter-return (TNR) to humanely reduce the cat population in the San Francisco East Bay. During our first eleven years from our founding in 1998 until 2011, FOF held 101 ‘mash-style’ clinics at borrowed facilities. Then in July 2012, to meet overwhelming demand for low-cost spay-neuter, FOF opened our own clinic facility, the Fix Our Ferals Spay-Neuter Center. Our mission is to help both people and cats in the San Francisco East Bay by: (1) Advocating TNR as the only humane and effective method of population control, to replace the cruel and failed practice of trap-and-kill; (2) Providing affordable sterilizations to community members and rescue organizations; (3) Educating community members, leaders, and decision-makers about TNR, in order to empower neighborhoods to control and monitor their own free-roaming neighborhood cats.

Food Banks. Everywhere. Hunger exists, right here at home, probably right in your backyard. Ordinary looking people you walk past every day can be struggling to put enough food on the table and still look like everything is fine—and that’s in part because food insecurity is embarrassing to many people. Poverty is only one of the factors associated with hunger; food insecurity increases when the economy isn’t doing well, when unemployment goes up, and when housing prices escalate. According to Feeding America, in 2015 there were 42.2 million Americans living in food insecure households. Find your local food bank and donate cash, which they can spend very efficiently. You can even be lazy on this one, as your local grocery story probably has a donation barrel or a pre-packed suggested donation bag this time of year. Hunger knows no season. Think about this every time you buy food. What would happen if we each donated one canned item for every grocery trip?

Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services. http://friendsofbacs.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Friends of Berkeley Animal Care Services raises much-needed funds to support programs and services that help provide a safe and happy environment for animals waiting for their forever homes at Berkeley’s municipal shelter.” The majority of municipal animal shelters are underfunded and tasked with doing much more than is actually possible on their meagre budgets. Many are subject to state and local laws, but not required to report or provide specific services. There’s probably one near you that could use your help!

Friends of the Oakland Animal Services. http://www.oaklandanimalservices.org/how-to-help/donate/friends-of-oakland-animal-services/ Nominated by a friend. From the website, “Friends of Oakland Animal Services (FOAS) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for shelter animals. Founded by Oakland Animal Services volunteers in December 2005, FOAS was created to support the municipal shelter’s efforts to better care for thousands of animals each year in the face of Oakland’s ongoing budgetary challenges. Our mission is to provide homes, health, and happiness for Oakland’s homeless animals. Some of our main funding areas include: Emergency and specialized medical care
Equipment needed to help veterinary staff better care for shelter animals on-site; Adoption outreach and foster program support; The creation of indoor/outdoor play areas and better animal housing, including general supplies and repairs; Transportation of animals to both local and out-of-state partner rescue groups; Tools to help with Oakland field services, including digital cameras for staff to document cruelty cases and laser thermometers to determine the temperature inside parked cars; Materials, training, and other supplies for the volunteer program that is integral to the quality of life for shelter animals.”

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. http://www.girlscouts.org/ As a Life Member and Gold Award recipient, this one is a no-brainer for my list. There are even programs for girls and their imprisoned mothers that From a friend who nominated them: “Girl Scouts of the USA have always been on my giving list. It’s not only the first organization that facilitated leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities for me, as a child. I know how dollars are stretched to serve the greatest number of girls (as a former Council staff member), and how GSUSA’S commitment to pluralism, from the organization’s inception has been at the forefront of ‘leveling the playing field’ for girls (marginalized, or not). Plus, it’s FUN! (And often overlooked).” You can give to the national organization, or find your local Girl Scout Council (which likely maintains camping facilities in addition to providing programs for girls).

Girls on the Run. https://www.girlsontherun.org/ Suggested by a friend who is also a runner, though this is a group I’m familiar with too; their running programs are free to participants, and are about WAY more than just running. Here’s a snippet from their website: “One girl put it this way, ‘I learned that I am the boss of my brain.’ Girls on the Run inspires girls to take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms. It’s a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. Only opportunities to be remarkable.” There are local councils all over the country, you can find yours on the website or donate to the national organization. They also need volunteers to train to present the curriculum, and to help support their runs.

Give Kids the World Village. http://www.gktw.org/ Nominated by a friend who wrote, “one of the highest rated charities in the world. They work with organizations like Make a Wish to provide a place for kids with diseases and their families to stay while visiting Orlando.” According to the website, “Give Kids The World Village is a 79-acre, nonprofit ‘storybook’ resort in Central Florida. Here, children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.”

Global Fund For Widows. http://globalfundforwidows.org Nominated by a friend. This organization focuses on widows because in the developing world, losing a husband can be devastating to a woman and to her children. Widow often lack favorable inheritance rights (in other words, the husband’s family might get all of the goods and money that used to support the family), lack a social and governmental support system, lack childcare options, and lack marketable skills and education. “The Global Fund for Widows assists its widows by creating employment opportunities where no other opportunity exists. The Global Fund for Widows seeks to align a widow’s skills, abilities, interests and financial needs, with employment options created by the program or through partnerships with other organizations and employers. With financial stability, widows are inspired to become self-reliant and self-accountable. And, in this way, they are able to extricate themselves from poverty.”

Heifer International. https://www.heifer.org/ Nominated by two friends, one of whom wrote, “I favor https://www.heifer.org (Heifer International) which donates living animals and plants, teaches husbandry, and requires gift recipients to pass the gift on to others in their community.” Yes, I am personally a vegetarian, but I don’t live in poverty either. Many of Heifer’s gifts allow women to start small businesses and become financially independent. Heifer supports sustainable agriculture, plants trees, and helps end hunger

Ian Clemens Foundation. http://ianclemensfoundation.org/ Nominated by my Dad’s lovely wife. Ian Clemens was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer at age 17 and died just a month after he was diagnosed. His family and friends have chosen to honor his memory by providing scholarships for engineering students who graduated from Livonia (MI) high schools, because that’s where Ian graduated, and he wanted to be an engineer. The foundation also helps families with children battling cancer by helping children’s cancer center emergency funds (available to help families with travel, lodging, loss of income, and medical expenses), and raises awareness of organ and tissue donation (because at age 17, Ian had chosen to become a donor prior to his death).

Immaculate Heart Radio. https://ihradio.com/ I’m super not-Catholic, as you know. A friend wrote that this cause is “near and dear to her heart,” however, and she supports their work. According to their website, “Immaculate Heart Radio is a non-profit lay apostolate that operates a growing network of Catholic radio stations in the West. We are dedicated to sharing the heart of the Christian faith and changing lives through radio airwaves.” IHR is an educational charity. There are a variety of religious and faith-based organizations doing all sorts of things in the world, so if this one isn’t for you, there is likely another one that is.

International Rescue Committee. https://www.rescue.org/ Nominated by a friend working with IRC to help Syrian refugee families start their new lives in Sacramento. From their website, “The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and regain control of their future.” They focus on health, education (especially for girls and women, who may not even know what their rights are), and other essentials. They do three main things: (1) Ensure that people in crisis areas have what they need to survive—including food, water, shelter and basic household items—without falling into debt or resorting to desperate measures. (2) Ensure that people resettled in the United States have what they need to rebuild their lives and grow their assets. (3) Ensure that people can become self-sufficient by engaging in safe and decent work and by managing and saving their resources.

JDRF. http://www.jdrf.org/ Nominated by a friend. Type 1 diabetes used to be called “childhood diabetes” because it is a disease you are born with and have to live with for life, though it can also be diagnosed and develop later in life. In Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, the pancreas stops making insulin. JDRF funds research for treatment and eventually a cure for Type 1 diabetes. (Did you know there are different treatments for Type 1 than there are for Type 2?) JDRF research includes artificial pancreas, beta cell replacement, glucose control, prevention, and restoration. JDRF also provides support, information, education, and community for individuals and families affected by Type 1 diabetes.

Karam Foundation. http://www.karamfoundation.org/ Per my friend, “recommended by my friend who has lots of connections in Syria.” #Dares4Syria campaign this #GivingTuesday. This charity is focused on helping the children of Syria, both those that stay in Syria and those who leave. Inside Syria, Karam provides emergency support for schools inside Syria. Outside Syria, the focus is on refugee children: “Karam Foundation is providing long-term support in the form of smart aid for Syrian refugee families in need. We strive not to just place aid-bandaids but instead develop sustainable, future-building tools that: Stabilize families, educate children, prevent child labor, discourage early teen marriages, and keep refugees in host countries close to Syria.”

Libraries. Everywhere. You want to talk underfunded community resources? In many parts of the country, you just have to look at the library—if your town still has a library. The Dunning-Hough Library was my very favorite place in Plymouth, MI and I remember when it was housed almost entirely in a single room. (I’m thrilled to see where it has grown today!) Libraries need money to buy and repair books, subscribe to magazines, pay for utilities, maintain computer systems, pay librarians, provide programs for children, and expand their offerings into the digital world. My libraries in Portland, Austin, and Alameda have e-book lending in addition to DVDs, CDs, and more traditional media. Libraries often provide meeting space for community groups, basic literacy programs for adults, tutoring for children, and a safe place for students of all ages to study and learn.

Michigan Humane Society. http://www.michiganhumane.org/ Nominated by a friend, but also a favorite of Mom (Elaine Bain, in case you’d like to donate in her memory). MHS is the largest and oldest animal welfare organization in Michigan. MHS services include care for animals and placement in responsible permanent homes. They have affordable microchipping program and a low-cost spay/neuter program, a pet food bank, a pet behavior hotline, and more. The website is filled with all manner of information about pets, how to deal with pet behavior, adoption stories, lost pets, travel with pets, and end of life care for pets. You need pet info, MHS has you covered—and with the internet, that’s even if you don’t live in Michigan. Feel free to support your state’s MHS equivalent.

National Center for Lesbian Rights. http://www.nclrights.org/ I recently learned about NCLR and all the work they do (which benefits many people who are not lesbians too!). Their work fits in perfectly with my desire for every U.S. citizen to fully enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. NCLR is working to achieve LGBT equality through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education. They work on immigration, asylum, healthcare, housing, sports, prisoners’ rights, parenting, marriage, child custody, and so much more. They provide legal assistance to individual clients, and have a website with resources.

National Center for Transgender Equality. http://www.transequality.org In their own words, “The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people. NCTE was founded in 2003 by transgender activists who recognized the urgent need for policy change to advance transgender equality. With a committed board of directors, a volunteer staff of one, and donated office space, we set out to accomplish what no one had yet done: provide a powerful transgender advocacy presence in Washington, D.C.”

Leslie Science & Nature Center. http://www.lesliesnc.org/support-us/donate Nominated by a friend. According to their website, “Leslie Science & Nature Center educates and inspires children and adults to discover, understand, and respect their natural environment.” They have nature camps, education programs, and host groups of school kids and Scouts. Their raptor center, critter house, and Black Pond Wood are open to visitors, too.

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. https://www.themmrf.org/ Nominated by a friend. I’ve learned myeloma is more common than I thought, since many of my friends seem to know someone who is affected. From their website, “The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) helps accelerate the development of next generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend patient’s lives, and lead to a cure. MMRF brings treatment to multiple myeloma patients 60% faster than the average through collaboration with best in class partners in the US and Internationally. In the process, we are changing the way cancer research is conducted. MMRF, a 501(c)(3), is the number one private funder of multiple myeloma research in the United States.”

The Nature Conservancy. http://www.nature.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. We address the most pressing conservation threats at the largest scale. Thanks to the support of our more than 1 million members, we’ve built a tremendous record of success since our founding in 1951: We’ve protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide — and we operate more than 100 marine conservation projects globally. We are impacting conservation in 69 countries — protecting habitats from grasslands to coral reefs, from Australia to Alaska to Zambia. We address threats to conservation involving climate change, fresh water, oceans, and conservation lands.”

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. https://www.ncsfreedom.org/ Nominated by a friend. “The NCSF is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the US that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions.” Did you know that many states still have laws on the books criminalizing sex acts between consenting adults? Personally, I don’t want the government (or you!) deciding what I can and can’t do with my body in the privacy of my own bedroom.

Noah’s Light Foundation. https://www.noahslightfoundation.org/ I fundraised for Noah’s Light as a runner because they are awesome. Their goal is to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. Amber Larkin was Noah’s mother; Noah died of pediatric brain cancer and she founded Noah’s Light in his honor. NLF has funded the NOAH Protocol, which in 2014 went into clinical trials as the first pediatric brand cancer trial in 30 years. Yes, 30 years. The NOAH protocol started with cells from Noah, and is aimed to reduce and eliminate several types of pediatric brain cancer, and with great results: “Throughout the previous year, The NOAH Protocol has been up and running. Children have been through various stages of treatments and to date, no toxicity has been attributed to immune cell infusion. Because of this success, the researchers have been cleared by the FDA to provide the next, higher dose level in the trial. In addition to moving to the next level for the protocol, a co-trial is underway that uses a specialized imaging technique to track the movement of NK cells as they enter the brain to fight cancer cells.” Worthy work, since so few dollars donated to cancer research go to pediatric cancer, and don’t children deserve a chance?

Northwest Children’s Theater. http://nwcts.org/ Nominated by a friend who wrote, “I work for Northwest Children’s Theater […] and I must confess they’re my favorite. They spend every donated dollar on programs for disadvantaged youth, including free sensory friendly performances, Interns NW (a free program for teenagers that want to pursue theater as a career), free outreach programming to Title 1 schools, free preview shows, and scholarships to camps and classes. For 24 years they’ve had a policy to never turn a child or family away for lack of funds, and they have stood by this commitment, even when the founders had to use their own money to make sure every kid could go. Because of this, it’s one of the only places I’ve ever worked for that is truly ethnically and economically diverse, and they work hard to remove damaging stereotypes from their plays (which also have talented, diverse casts). It’s quite a gem.”

Oregon Natural Desert Association. https://onda.org/ Nominated by a friend. From their website, “Oregon’s desert is known for its stunning beauty, biological significance, recreational opportunities and cultural value. Much of Oregon’s high desert is publicly-owned land primarily managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). ONDA works with this agency and others every day to ensure that vast swaths of your lands remain wild, open spaces that will be there for future generations to enjoy. These lands are your lands! Over 8 million acres of these lands qualify as Wilderness but are yet to be protected as such. These lands as a whole provide important habitat for fish and wildlife such as pronghorn antelope, Greater sage-grouse, trout and salmon. Until permanent protections are gained, they are at risk.”

The Pajama Program. http://www.pajamaprogram.org/ Nominated by a friend. Bedtime is something I remember as comforting and homey—I always had nice jammies and plenty of books to read (or have read to me). It’s not the same for children in shelters, many of whom arrived with none of their own things and are facing bedtime in a scary and unfamiliar place. From the website, “By distributing new pajamas and new books to children in need, we are able to help provide children with a comforting, nurturing bedtime and literacy support. Our reading center helps to bridge the 30,000,000 word gap and gives these children the opportunity to read one on one with an adult, something they may not otherwise experience.”

Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/ Nominated by a friend who noted, “Planned Parenthood have had a special place in my heart. As a college student, who had no medical benefits, Planned Parenthood WAS my primary care provider (1988-1993) until I got my first ‘big girl’ job (with benefits). If it hadn’t been for PP, I would not have had a diagnosis or treatment for HPV.” This could have been written by at least 100 women I know personally—most of whom had a period with no health insurance or access to health insurance and would have gone without basic health care. From the website, “Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.” You can give nationally, or to your local/regional Planned Parenthood (which you can find via the link).

The Pongo Fund. http://www.thepongofund.org/ Nominated by a friend who explained, “The Pongo Fund are miracle workers. $1 donated becomes nearly $2 dollars spent towards providing food for not only animals, but their humans as well. They provide medical care that PAW Team (Portland Animal Welfare Team) can’t provide soon enough. They look at the animal and person as a unit/whole and do whatever they can to keep them together. Sometimes it’s getting a new collar and leash others it could be socks and shoes. They always exceed.” I’ve donated to pet food drives held for the Pongo Fund when running in Portland.

Public Radio. Everywhere. I’m a fan of KOPB (Oregon) and KQED (San Francisco), but there are local affiliates everywhere. One year I spent so much time in San Diego that I joined KPBS. You can join your local station at any time during the year, not just during the pledge drive time. You can also donate directly to NPR (National Public Radio) or PRI (Public Radio International), both of which produce news and entertainment.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). https://www.rainn.org/index.php Nominated by a friend, RAINN describes itself as “the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of ‘America’s 100 Best Charities’ by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Save the Children. https://www.savethechildren.net/ Nominated by a friend. An overview, from the website: “Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. In 2015, we reached over 62 million children directly through our and our partners’ work.” Save the Children provides safe play areas in refugee camps, secures education for vulnerable children, improves access to food and healthcare, and provides other services and education.

Seedlings. http://www.seedlings.org/ Seedlings started in a basement, with the goal of increasing the availability and decreasing the cost of braille books for children. In their own words, “Seedlings braille materials have opened up new worlds for thousands of children. Seedlings Braille Books for Children is keeping visually impaired children in the mainstream of popular literature and is reaching braille readers in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Seedlings contributes to literacy by providing visually impaired children equal opportunity to develop the love of reading. At this time, less than 20% of the 50,000 blind children in the United States are proficient in braille. All too often, the written word has been inaccessible to them, and this is what we are hoping to change. Braille books are provided at each level of development, from toddler board books to classic literature for older children. Just as sighted children learn to “read” as they are exposed to the printed word, so do visually impaired children who are exposed to the tactile page at an early age. New titles are added every year as highly skilled volunteer braille transcribers spend countless donated hours translating print books into braille and preparing them for computer disk to await production. Once the original translation is complete, additional books can be printed as needed. Exposure to popular, high quality braille literature throughout childhood increases the likelihood of children developing into able braille readers.”

Sponsor a Sister, via Women for Women International. http://www.womenforwomen.org/sponsor-a-sister Nominated by a friend who wrote, “I’m on my fifth or sixth sponsored sister by now. They write heart-wrenching letters of thanks. ‘Dear friend who loved me before you knew me…’” Donations provide a range of services from job skills education and business training to access to food and clean water. As the website explains, “With more than 20 years of on-the-ground experience working with women in countries affected by conflict, Women for Women International understands that a comprehensive program addressing the social and economic empowerment of marginalized women is the most effective approach.”

Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE). http://www.safeaustin.org/ Nominated by a friend who works there. From their website, “The SAFE Alliance is a structured partnership between SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter, two organizations that serve the survivors of child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Our Mission: To lead in ending sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse and domestic violence through prevention, intervention and advocacy for change.” They have a hotline, child education programs including a charter school for survivors, and more.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. https://www.stjude.org/give.html A charity that works with runners to raise money for a great cause: life-saving medical treatment for children with serious diseases. From their website, “The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.” The majority of St. Jude’s funding comes from individual donations, and families are not billed for medical services.

Toys for Tots. http://www.toysfortots.org/ If you don’t know where to donate a physical toy, you can look up your local toy drive online. You can also donate money. From the website, “The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”

To Write Love on Her Arms. https://twloha.com/ Nominated by a friend. From the website, “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.” So many of my friends have struggled—and do struggle—with these problems, and it’s time we stop stigmatizing them.

Team RWB. https://www.teamrwb.org/ In case you’ve been living under a rock, Team RWB has been out in force at all sorts of races, mud runs, workouts, and other team events. From the website, “Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.” You can donate to the national organization or find a local one. They always need volunteers, too.

Vortex. http://www.vortexrep.org Nominated by a friend. There is no way I can do their work justice by selecting a piece from their description of what they do—which includes presenting new works (plays, opera, ritual theatre), educational programming including a summer children’s program, and providing a “green” performance venue (recycling, composting) that includes a butterfly sanctuary. Their mission: “We conjure and navigate the storm of imagination
with urgent, unashamed art that dares to dream the world in which we want to live.
This magic emanates from our cultural harbor, embraces diverse communities, breaks down barriers, and opens channels for vital exchange.”

Water for People. https://www.waterforpeople.org/ Nominated by a friend who said, “Just having access to the most basic of needs can make a huge difference.” It’s true—have you ever had to live without unfettered access to clean water? Ever visited a place where you might have water for an hour, but it isn’t drinkable? According to Water for People, “1.8 billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water and 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Women and children spend more than 4 hours walking for water each day, and more than 840,000 people die each year from water-related diseases. We’re here to change that. We want to see communities break free from the cycle of poverty and spend time growing, learning, and thriving, instead of walking for water and fighting off illness.”

Tell me?

Where are you sending resourcs this #GivingTuesday? Is your favorite not on my list? Leave a comment with a link and why you choose!

I just love old police cars!
I just love old police cars!

My good friend Tina came to town to run the Golden Gate Half Marathon and when she mentioned it to her friend Jerry, he invited us to the 2016 Heroes Run. Since Tina and I are both fans of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Remix Challenges, we figured we would create our own remix–good friends + good cause + excuse to wear a silly costume = great event, right? Game on.

My very favorite spectator. I even got permission to pet him. Court
My very favorite spectator. I even got permission to pet him. (photo courtesy of the Heroes Run and (c)2016 Photography by Busa)

Good Friends. Tina and I met through Rock ‘n’ Blog, and she met Jerry through some other running-related event. I’ve found the vast majority of runners are good people, in that they are at a minimum encouraging and kind (though of course there are a few duds in every bunch). In general, I’ve found that any friend of a friend is bound to be a friend of mine, and Jerry was no exception. How can you not love a guy who will paint his beard green for a race?

©2016 Photography By Busa
Every Super Hero needs a super villain, right? Jerry, Tina, and I couldn’t resist playing with the photo booth post run! (photo courtesy of the Heroes Run and ©2016 Photography By Busa)

One of Tina’s other friends was also at the race, and we strolled most of it together. I find it pretty funny that I went to a race that’s basically in my backyard and didn’t know anyone, but the girl from Calgary did.

Did you run the 2016 Heroes Run in Santa Clara County? @TrainWithBain did! Add it to your calendar for 2017!Click To Tweet

Good Cause. The Heroes run benefits the Valley Medical Center Pediatrics. You probably think of Silicon Valley as an area filled with over-privileged, wealthy Google employees, but that’s just part of the story. Like San Francisco, Santa Clara County is economically diverse. As the cost of basic living expenses (like rent) rises, it gets harder for those on the margins to pay for basic human needs such as health care, and those that suffer the most are those least in a position to do anything about it: children. As the Heroes Run website explains:

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is the public, safety-net medical center for Santa Clara County, providing care to all regardless of ability to pay. As the largest provider of health services to low-income children in the region, SCVMC plays a leading role in the fight against health disparities in Silicon Valley.

To the side of the starting area there were several booths with information and treats from local health initiatives, the police and fire fighters, and local ballot measures (this was before election day, last weekend to get out the word). To add to the fun, the Santa Clara County police and fire fighters participate in the 5k run and an obstacle course, and compete against each other. Police and fire fighters stick around to cheer on the kids’ race, pose for pictures with current and vintage vehicles, and otherwise interact with the community they serve.

Captain America arrives by helicopter to start the kids' races, of course (photo courtesy of the Heroes Run and ©2016 Photography By Busa)
Captain America arrives by helicopter to start the kids’ races, of course (photo courtesy of the Heroes Run and ©2016 Photography By Busa)

Excuse to Wear a Silly Costume. Costumes? Count me in! While I might not have the time to create elaborate outfits from scratch right now, I’ve got the basics in my costume boxes. Item, one bright red cape (originally created for a Thor costume, has also served as a skirt), plus a Superman tech shirt, plus my bright red shoes, and I’m a superhero!

Princess Leia, one of the walkers, would go for a block and then "leia" on the ground for a nap. (photo courtesy of the Heroes Run)
Princess Leia, one of the walkers, would go for a block and then “leia” on the ground for a nap. (photo courtesy of the Heroes Run)

Great Event! The day actually featured multiple events. The 5k wound through the neighborhoods filled with gorgeous autumn trees (about time, since it was November already), and accommodated both serious runners (there were awards) and walkers.

My superhero twin, taking a "paws" in the proceedings.
My superhero twin, taking a “paws” in the proceedings.

While there were plenty of kids seriously running with their parents, or walking the 5k, there was a separate kids’ dash for the smaller kids. That event ran around the edges of the park block, and took place after the main 5k. It was great to see so many kids out dressed as superheroes, and I really loved some of the mashups.

The start for the kids courtesy of ©2016 Photography By Busa
The start for the kids’ race (courtesy of the Heroes Run and ©2016 Photography By Busa)

There was also an inflatable bounce-house type of thing, but it was extra large and had inflatable obstacles, like a wall to climb over and a bunch of tubes to push through. It reminded me of American Ninja Warrior for kids. As I mentioned previously, there was also an adult obstacle course.  The main race had a competition between the police and the fire fighters. This appears to be a new feature, with a travelling trophy to the winners.

A few of the heroes, sporting their team's medallions (courtesy of the Heroes Run and ©2016 Photography By Busa)
A few of the heroes, sporting their team’s medallions (courtesy of the Heroes Run and ©2016 Photography By Busa)

Overall, it was a really fun event. It was all-inclusive, with plenty of room for spectators, and friendly to people and families of all ages. I wasn’t in it to run the fastest or win a prize, but to have a good time (and pet the cute puppies, of course!). While I know the money went to a good cause, what I appreciated most was seeing so many parents and older siblings encouraging little kids to run, play in the inflatable obstacle course, and otherwise be active. It is the main reason I enjoy these community events so much.

How about you? What’s your favorite local 5k?

Disclosure: I received a pair of Aftershokz for testing purposes because I am a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. It’s a great way to help race directors see what is working and what needs improvement, and to help other runners find out what a race is really like.

During September and October, Aftershokz has a limited edition Trekz Titanium in Pink! Building on their brand’s signature feature–headphones with uncompromising sound quality that allow you to remain aware when running–Aftershokz has partnered with Bright Pink. If you haven’t heard of Bright Pink, they are a nonprofit with a great mission.

Bright Pink is on a mission to save women’s lives from breast and ovarian cancer by empowering them to live proactively at a young age.

We now know enough about cancer to know that even young women in their 20s can develop breast and ovarian cancers, yet doctors and society still see these cancers as diseases relevant to older women only. Bright Pink wants to change that. Not only is early detection the key to surviving cancer, young women can reduce their risk of developing these cancers through an active lifestyle and proactive measures (such as quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke). You need to know your risk to do what you can to reduce it, so Bright Pink has a risk assessment tool on the website. But let’s get back to Aftershokz for a moment.

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The first time the BibRave Pro Team partnered with Aftershokz, I was intrigued about how they work. Instead of earbuds sitting inside your ear and projecting sound into your ear canal, Trekz have “transducers” that sit in front of your ears. (Surprisingly, this does not make your tunes audible to your fellow runners.) These transducers work on something called “bone conduction technology.”

Graphic from the Aftershokz site to explain how they work
Graphic from the Aftershokz site to explain how they work

Initially, this kind of freaked me out. I was in an accident that left me with extensive damage to the right side of my face, including bone and nerve damage. My right cheekbone and eyesocket are largely wrapped and lined with titanium mesh, held in place by titanium plates and tiny titanium screws. (Sadly, this did not confer any bionic powers. Also, it is 2016, so where’s my flying car?) I didn’t ask to try Trekz because of the description of how bone conduction technology works:

THE AFTERSHOKZ WAY

Bone conduction is a natural part of the hearing process—sound travels through our eardrums and bones simultaneously. We’ve taken the concept to the next level through development of a suite of proprietary audio technologies and design patents. The result: headphones that deliver unrivaled situational awareness and comfort.

HOW THEY WORK

Transducers guide mini vibrations through the cheekbones to the inner ears, delivering sound without plugging or covering them.

Changes in atmospheric pressure sometimes make my face hurt, so I was reluctant to taunt my bones with “mini vibrations” from something named titanium!

Trekz_Titanium_Pink_2

But then the #AwareWithPink campaign came along. For every pair of Trekz Titanium Pink sold, AfterShokz will donate 25% of proceeds to Bright Pink; every time #AwareWithPink is used on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, AfterShokz will donate an additional 25 cents to Bright Pink to extend the awareness. Testing these headphones would give me an opportunity to help do a lot of good, particularly by raising the profile of Bright Pink. Most of us only have to look to our own families and friends to find breast cancer or ovarian cancer disrupting lives; I can point to my best friend’s mother, Judi; my grandmother; two of my favorite elementary school teachers; women I know from the running community…I bet you’ve got a list too.

Send this tweet using #AwareWithPink to donate a quarter to Bright Pink right now. Click To Tweet

So here I go, testing the Trekz Titanium Pink limited edition.

Trekz Titanium Pink: Party In a Box!
Trekz Titanium Pink: Party In a Box!

Guess what? It turns out my fears were totally unfounded. I’ve used them on all of  my runs since they arrived, and I’m loving them!

Initially, I was trying to wear them a little too high
Initially, I was trying to wear them a little too high

The transducers sit in front of your ears (but not near the tops like I first tried them!). You can control the volume with the buttons on the headset, or you can use your phone. They also have a built-in mic so you can take phone calls (but frankly if you call me while I am running I’m going to ignore you, so I haven’t tested that part). The sound quality is great and I love that I can still hear my surroundings. When you’re out running, that’s a critical safety factor, whether you’re running on a bike path, the road, or at a race.

Sweaty post-race selfie at Rock n Roll Virginia Beach
Sweaty post-race selfie at Rock n Roll Virginia Beach

The two most important factors for me–beyond safety–are battery life and sweatproofness. Trekz recharge using a mini USB to USB cable (included) and the charging port has a rubber plug to seal it shut. On the most recent charge, I’ve run for over six hours (a few short runs plus a half marathon). Since I usually forget to charge them unless there’s a big race coming up, the long battery life is a bonus. As for sweatproofness, I was initially concerned that my body’s ability to very efficiently cool itself would somehow end up hurting Trekz. Nope! Even at Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach–which was humid and warm–they did just fine.

After the race my friend Ezra tried them out. First he just put them on and took them off. Then he asked to try them on again and jumped up and down and shook his head really hard a few times. Trekz stayed put. (I wasn’t clever enough to snap pictures of this.)

If you’re in the market for a great pair of wireless headphones that will support a great cause, head over to the Trekz Titanium Pink site. From September 1 to October 31, 25% of the proceeds goes to Bright Pink! If you use code PINK when you purchase, you will also score a bonus travel case. (There is enough room inside for the headphones, cord, softcase, and a few more essentials. I put my RoadID in mine.)

BibRave Pro Abbie took this picture, which shows off the case
BibRave Pro Abbie took this picture, which shows off the case

Even if you are not interested in new headphones, I’d like to encourage you to go to the Bright Pink website and learn what you and your friends can do to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Tweet your favorite facts using #AwareWithPink to donate a quarter to Bright Pink!

Don’t forget to join the BibRave Pro Team and other runners for #bibchat on Tueday, September 6th. (I’ll be tweeting from an airplane!) Aftershokz and Bright Pink will be our guests.

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Disclosure: I am a BibRave Pro and received a free entry to the Foothill 5k Challenge in exchange for helping to promote and review the race. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro HERE and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Beautiful.

That’s the single word that sums up the entire Foothill 5k Challenge this year. Before I became a BibRave Pro, I’d never heard of this race and I’d never heard of Back on My Feet, the charity beneficiary. The fact that there is an elevation gain of over 1000′–and what goes up must come down, so that gain isn’t evenly spread out–might have scared me off. If you’re contemplating this race, don’t make the same mistake!

I made it to the start...now what did I sign up for??
I made it to the start…now what did I sign up for??

The website says, “participants are welcome to run or hike” and they mean it. There is plenty of time for everyone to finish. Also, it might interest you to know that the first person to cross the finish line was a 15-year-old who did the whole thing in just over 20 minutes, but the second person to cross the finish line–just about a minute later–is 59! You definitely want to be there in 2016.

Such tidy penmanship in the chalk
Such tidy penmanship in the chalk

Just over 300 people finished this low-key event in Glendale. Now that I’ve done it, I’m surprised there weren’t twice as many people there. Since I don’t live nearby and was occupied with a conference in Los Angeles on Saturday, I didn’t attend the Saturday packet pickup hosted by Run With Us (one of the race sponsors). Early Sunday morning I packed up my stuff, donned a running kit, and headed over to the Glendale sports complex. Timing being everything, my tiny blue rental brought me to the parking lot just in time to take the last space in the lot (everyone behind me was sent back to overflow parking). I popped out, doused my very-pale-self with sunscreen, and headed in.

Chalk arrows led the way to everything at the start/finish area
Chalk arrows led the way to everything at the start/finish area

Registration and packet pickup at the event took place on one of the baseball fields. There were maybe ten people in line ahead of me when I arrived, and the volunteers doled out shirts and bibs with speed and cheer.

Day of race, Packet Pickup
Day of race, Packet Pickup

They had even connected the safety pins in groups of four (to pin the four corners of your bib). While there wasn’t an official, organized bag check, I had plenty of time to walk my shirt and bag back to my car before the race started. Some other runners handed theirs to family or friends. It was a pretty small field, and I think a few people might have stashed their bags under the Bimbo or YogaWorks tables near the start/finish line.

Near the registration tents, race sponsor Mizuno had a table showing off their newest kicks. I visited my new friends, the Mizuno Wave Enigma 5, since I was wearing my trail shoes. Mizuno had a deconstructed shoe with the layers separated so you can see and better understand the engineering of the soles. (I love that kind of stuff.) They also had wristbands with “Every Mile Changes You” and I added one to the morning’s arm party.

Gorgeous shoes showing off the Mizuno Runbird
Gorgeous shoes showing off the Mizuno Runbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break it down: the components of the Mizuno sole
Break it down: the components of the Mizuno sole
Mizuno Wave Enigma 5  you read my review, right?
Mizuno Wave Enigma 5
you read my review, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun wasn’t quite out yet, but it was easy to tell it was going to be a humid day. Due to the nature of the course there were no aid stations–there’s literally no place to put them–though the apex backed into a road where volunteers had bottled water. The announcer directed runners to the water and Gatorade table near the finish and encouraged everyone to hydrate.  Most of the runners that didn’t have hydration belts or packs grabbed a bottle of water to take out on the course.

Hydration station, pre-race
Hydration station, pre-race

Before the race, a large number of runners gathered on the baseball diamond. They put their arms around each other and I got a solidarity vibe from the crowd. While I was not close enough to overhear all of the discussion that took place, I did hear someone announce that one specific runner couldn’t be there and ask those running to remember him on their run. My impression that this is a standard Back on My Feet running group ritual was confirmed later as I walked over to the starting line and heard a recent arrival ask his friend, “oh rats, did I miss the circle?”

In addition to thanking the sponsors, and thanking the runners for coming, the announcer took a few minutes to remind everyone of the purpose of Back on My Feet. (If you’re not familiar with Back on My Feet, take a look at the greater Los Angeles area website. Similar to Girls on the Go, Just Run, and Running For A Better Oakland, Back on My Feet uses running as a medium to teach and cultivate goal-setting, commitment, and other life skills leading to self-reliance and independence.)

Camera-shy but microphone-bold
Camera-shy but microphone-bold

As the announcer explained, “the purpose of Back on My Feet isn’t to turn homeless people into runners, but to use running to help those who find themselves homeless learn to see themselves as hard-working, self-reliant individuals.” When I look at all the positive things running has brought to my life, and to the lives of my friends, it makes perfect sense to me. Looking around the group of runners, you couldn’t tell which runners were formerly homeless, currently homeless, or never homeless. There were many people in shirts with the Back on My Feet logo, including the shirts from last year’s events; there were also groups of people in matching team shirts too.

The starting line had one long corral; runners were asked to self-seed based on their expected speed. As more people hopped into the corral, I continued to move back. Minutes before the start, race director Lesley Brillhart took over the microphone to make a few safety announcements: watch for single track areas, pass on the left and announce yourself first, take the switchbacks carefully, alert course monitors to any injuries, and during the two-way traffic sections keep to your left. (Yes, left. It sounded off to me when I heard it, but once I was up on the hills and understood the course better, it made perfect sense.)

View of the starting line, before the runners lined up
View of the starting line, before the runners lined up

The race team set the runners off in three large groups, separating each by about two minutes. Once I got up onto the dirt, I was very glad they had done this, as most of the trail was fairly narrow. Even before I hit the dirt, I saw the faster runners like little white dots streaming across the browns and greens of the San Gabriel Hills.

Runners first circled around the sports fields and then took a hard right to start climbing. Despite the scary-sounding 1000′ elevation gain, the majority of the climb was a gentle up, with an occasional downhill. It would have been pretty easy to stay 100% focused on the trails, but it was just wide enough to comfortably walk while enjoying the scenery. I stopped to take many pictures on the way up. Race volunteers served as course monitors along the route (and as your traversed the course you realized each of them had to hike up to their designated spot).

The micro-view, looking down on the trail
The micro-view, looking down on the trail
Vegetation around the hills
Vegetation around the hills
That tiny bright green spot in the center? The start/finish line!
That tiny bright green spot in the center? The start/finish line!

Near the end of the climbing section there was one bigger, steeper hill; at that point you’d gotten out of bed and schlepped all the way up, so no matter how steep it seemed you just kinda had to keep going.

The final climb
The final climb

As I was making my way up I caught glimpses of the start/finish line, which seemed impossibly far away. On the trail I saw  men and women of all ages and sizes, running, walking, and hiking. The views from the top were beautiful.

Veni, Vidi, Vici!  Now, where's the way down?
Veni, Vidi, Vici!
Now, where’s the way down?

On the way down I paused to read the plaque about the history of Glendale (it’s not like I was going to hike back up to read it after the race). Just because YES, I AM that kind of nerd.

I will stop to pet cute dogs during a race, and apparently I will also stop to get my history on!
I will stop to pet cute dogs during a race, and apparently I will also stop to get my history on!

 

View of Glendale (adjacent to the plaque)
View of Glendale (adjacent to the plaque)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finishers were welcomed back, and the hydration station was just past the finish line. YogaWorks led a post-race stretch session, and Bimbo bakeries handed out bagels (enough that many of us took home a whole package).

 

 

Deep, static stretching is for AFTER an event, not beforehand.
Deep, static stretching is for AFTER an event, not beforehand.

Then the winners were announced in a low-key awards ceremony.

Five of the six award winners (top three men and top three women) who scored Run With Us gift certificates and other goodies
Five of the six award winners (top three men and top three women) who scored Run With Us gift certificates and other goodies

I headed back to my car to finish chugging down another bottle of water and grab a wipe for my face. While I had set my phone to get me directions to the after party, it basically wasn’t necessary–pretty much every car from the event was in one big caravan to the Golden Road Brewing Company.

The bar and part of the open-barn structure at Golden Road Brewing
The bar and part of the open-barn structure at Golden Road Brewing

As a race sponsor, Golden Road offered $1 off each of their beers. In addition, 15% of all sales went to Back on My Feet. True confession: I don’t like beer. (No, it’s not “you haven’t tried the RIGHT beer,” because I dislike hops.) Fortunately they had a guest cider on tap, which I enjoyed with a breakfast burrito from the brunch menu.

It pretty much does not matter if you can actually read this, since you could have just pointed randomly and had tasty food appear
It pretty much does not matter if you can actually read this, since you could have just pointed randomly and had tasty food appear

With excellent food and drink, attentive service, and a brunch filled with runners, you can’t lose! The raffle drawings were held outside, though the tickets had a name and phone number on them in case you missed it. Since I was already pretty well sunned, I chose to sit inside.

Excellent advice from the author of 1984
Excellent advice from the author of 1984

Don’t fear the elevation.

If you ran this year, what did you think? (Have you left a review on BibRave.com?) If you’re interested in running this race next year, keep an eye on the Foothill 5k Challenge website.

My new trail attitude
My new trail attitude!

Disclosure: I am a member of the BibRave Pro team. The Foothill 5k Challenge provided me with a free race entry in exchange for helping to promote the race, convince you to register to run it with me, and review the race after I run it.

Foothill 5k Challenge!

Sunday, July 19th
7 a.m. packet pick-up, race day registration
Glendale Sports Complex

Foothill 5k Challenge course map
No, not a dragon! Foothill 5k Challenge map. Look at that fast downhill finish!

The Foothill 5k Challenge is in two weeks. In preparation, I have not run up a single hill, “foot” or otherwise. Since I will be heading to the race directly from IDEA World BlogFest–where I expect to get up early, work out three times a day, and probably get no sleep–I’m starting to think I will be hiking the Foothill 5k. Especially because it has a 1000′ elevation gain in a mere 5k. (Hence the call it a challenge!)

You should definitely join me. Don’t just take my word for it.

Do you run because it makes you feel strong? Has running helped you through a difficult part of life? Is running your “me time” when you can forget your stress and focus on the run?

Running is a solo sport, but runners are never really alone
Running is a solo sport, but runners are never really alone

Then you really need to support this race, because it’s for a good cause: The Foothill 5k Challenge is a fundraiser for Back on My Feet of the Greater Los Angeles area. Before I started working on this race, I had never heard of Back on My Feet. I had heard of the power of running, from Girls on the Run chapters to the Oakland man who trained for a marathon by running around the same block, over and over, so he wouldn’t violate the terms of his probation. Running is some powerful stuff. Back on My Feet gives that power to people who need it. Their mission is

Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national, for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change that results in employment and independent living.

I’ve never been homeless. I’ve never been hungry. I’ve never lived without a wide safety net. I realize that I am not just blessed, but spoiled rotten. I can’t imagine how disempowering and depressing it could be to experience homelessness, but I can say I hate it when I feel like I’m not in control of my life (again, I know I’ve lived a spoiled life). Back on My Feet has a specific program that uses running to help people start moving in a better direction. You can read about it here.

Inaugural Foothill 5k Challenge runners enjoying the climb
Inaugural Foothill 5k Challenge runners

When you register for the Foothill 5k Challenge, your registration benefits Back on My Feet. If you just want to run, sign up to run. You can also choose to sponsor a Back on My Feet participant (if you don’t want to run, or can’t run because, say, you live too far away), or do a “Buy One, Give One” (where you run, and you sponsor a Back on My Feet program member).  Head over to the registration page and be sure to use code BIBRAVE to save 15% on the race.

Runners supporting each other
Runners supporting each other

This is the second annual Foothill 5k Challenge. Challenges are GOOD, they help you to stretch your limits, and grow! If you come run with me, you can just do it for the fun of the event, or for the reward of seeing the San Gabriel mountains all around you. Of course, if you really want to run RUN run it, there are prizes (shoes! swag! gift certificates!).

Everyone loves race swag
Everyone loves race swag

You don’t have to finish first to be a winner. You don’t even have to pick up your packet until right before the race (which is perfect for me since I’ll be at IDEA World BlogFest that weekend). If you prefer, you can pick up your packet the day before the race at Run With Us. That’s Saturday, July 18th, from noon to 7 p.m.

Shoe heaven. Or it might be Run with Us. Maybe both?
Shoe heaven. Or it might be Run with Us. Maybe both?

There are Mizuno technical running tees for the first 500 runners, sizes available on a first-come first-served basis. (More pluses: There is free parking. The race is chip timed–and you have until 10:30 to finish, which is just about two and a half hours.) Everyone who finishes gets “finisher swag.” I’m not sure what all that includes, but some of the sponsors are Gatorade, Bimbo, YogaWorks, and Kind, so I’m pretty sure I’ll love it!

Just remember that for safety reasons, no headphones, no strollers, no dogs, no bicycles. Bring your own hydration if you will need it before you cross the finish line.

Inaugural Challengers enjoying some finisher swag!
Inaugural Challengers enjoying some finisher swag!

Something else that is pretty great about this race: you can recycle your old running shoes. Pretty much every runner I know always has one pair of running shoes that have too much wear to keep running in, but aren’t so trashed that they are lawn mowing/mud run shoes. Resale shops don’t want those shoes, so what to do? Take them to the Foothill 5k Challenge! Shoebox Recycling will not only give your shoes a new life, they will donate $1 to Back on My Feet for each pair donated.

Look for Shoebox Recycling boxes at the event
Look for Shoebox Recycling boxes at the event

After enjoying your run (or hike–it even says on the FAQ that hikers are very welcome!), there is an after-party. Golden Road Brewing, another race sponsor, has a location just five miles from the Glendale Sports Complex (the start/finish). Not only are they offering a $1 discount on Golden Road’s core beers for every runner, but 15% of all proceeds will go to benefit Back on My Feet. So if you need a keg for the next weekend’s party, or just want to take home a growler, please head over to Golden Road Brewing on July 19th, 10-2.

So if you are REALLY opposed to running, but will be in the LA area, you could register to not-run (sponsor a Back on My Feet participant) and then just come on over to the finisher party–or better yet, sign up to volunteer at the race!

You can also support Back on My Feet using the Charity Miles app. Like any good 501(c)(3), they will also accept your monetary donations with gratitude. Check out the main race page for more information on the race and links to Back on My Feet of Greater Los Angeles.

Run, Sponsor, Volunteer, Donate, Party!
Run, Sponsor, Volunteer, Donate, Party!

Head over to the registration page and be sure to use code BIBRAVE to save 15% on the race.

LA-Foothill-5K-Logo-FINAL

Event Sponsors for the Second Foothill 5k Challenge:
AT&T Run With Us Mizuno  Bimbo Bakeries PSAVYogaWorksGatorade  Lexus LaceUp Running Series KIND Snacks  Golden Road Brewing Ameriprise Financial

Special thanks to the Foothill 5k Challenge benefiting Back on My Feet for the images used in this post.

Confession: I’m a sock junkie. I have two full dresser drawers of socks. One drawer has thin socks, holiday-themed socks, novelty socks, over-the-knee socks, solid colors. The other has six pairs of cheap and thinning white men’s sweatsocks, wooly socks for winters and wet days, fuzzy wuzzy socks, socks with sticky dots for barre and Pilates, running socks, workout socks, and a few randoms that don’t have a category. The right socks make life that much better.

This is not a sponsored post–though if any of my favorites wanted to throw me some socks or make me a sock-bassador I wouldn’t turn them down!–just a piece in praise of socks. Also, I foresee a part two coming…

Wright’s Double Layer Socks

Find them: @wrightsock on Twitter; www.wrightsocks.com; /wrightsock on Facebook

These are the most amazing running socks ever made. There is no comparably excellent product out there. I love these socks so freakishly much that I contacted them to suggest they should start an ambassador program just so I could apply to be in it. I wear my Wrights until they wear out (which takes years, but I’ve successfully killed a few pair). Since I’ve discovered them, they are the only socks I wear to run. Why mess with perfection?

Just a few of my Wrights
Just a few of my Wrights

As the name says, each sock has two layers made from a mix of polyester, nylon, and lycra. The inner layer hugs your foot, the outer layer hugs the inner layer. Together the two wick away sweat, which keeps your feet cool and dry. The layers also protect your feet from friction, to give you a blissfully blister-free run.  Seams over the toes are completely flat and frictionless, so you do not feel them when you run and they don’t mess with the fit of your shoe. They come in thin, midweight, and thicker varieties so you can find the perfect fit and feel for your feet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWright’s Double Layer socks are made in the United States by Wrightenberry Mills, Inc. which is a family-owned company. They are proud to keep their production jobs in the USA. They stand behind their product with a 100% blister-free guarantee: if you’re unsatisfied, send the socks and the receipt back to them for a refund. (Or just send them to me, in size large–especially if they are the cute, new striped ones!)

Bombas

Find them: @bombas on Twitter; http://refer.bombas.com/x/vwottw (this is an affiliate link) /bombassocks on Facebook

ClassPass introduced me to Bombas by gifting me a pair in their birthday party swag bag. You know those old men’s sweat socks I mentioned? They are destined to become polishing cloths and cleaning rags, as I am SO replacing them with Bombas. I’m almost sad that sandal season is here because I love mine so much.

I thought they were Bombas because they are the bomb...
I thought they were Bombas because they are the bomb…

Bombas are cotton socks with a cute design that initially look a lot like your average sweat sock, but they have a little shape so they fit in a happy hug on your arch and do not fall down (if you choose the crew-length “calf” version). The heels are heel-shaped, not formless like tube socks, and the toes lack those annoying lumpy seams. They are also available as ankle socks, which other sock styles call no-show, and those have a little cushion over the back so your shoe won’t rub on your Achilles and blister it. The cotton is long staple Peruvian cotton and super soft. The footbed–the sock part that covers the sole–is reinforced and feels like walking on an itty-bitty pillow. The company motto, “Bee Better” is stitched inside each pair (the name bombas is taken from the Latin word for bees).

Bombas is also a company with a mission. For each pair of socks sold, they donate a pair. (Bet you didn’t know that clean, new socks are among the most-needed item at emergency shelters, homeless services agencies, and other charities.)  You can read about how and why the donated socks have a slightly different design on their website. Bombas also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  Also, if you want to buy some Bombas and you use this URL http://refer.bombas.com/x/TOQ3II  you will score 25% off and I will get a free pair of socks. (C’mon, you KNOW you want to!)

My Soxy Feet

Find them: @MySoxyFeet on Twitter; www.mysoxyfeet.com; /mysoxyfeet on Facebook

The newest addition to my sock drawers is a bright and shiny pair of My Soxy Feet. I love how the socks are a pair–they clearly go together–but are not identical. They have a nice, thick footbed which given them a luxurious feel. (Makes me want to keep my floors cleaner so I can pad around the house in these instead of wearing slippers.)  The band around the ankles has a different level of stretch than the socks, so it will remain securely in place.

Keep Moving
Keep Moving (pardon the lighting, these are YELLOW, not green)

My Soxy Feet are made in the USA of CoolMax Ecomade, nylon, and lycra. You can read the blog and find out just what inspired Melissa to start a sock company (because that’s what every mother does when her kids no longer need mom at home, right?).

Each of the designs currently available–it looks like they change from time to time–supports a different cause. The “Heart & Sole” are inspired by Rhoda, who lost her life to breast cancer; “Keep Moving” is dedicated to Tim (and a portion of the sales are donated to MS Run the US); “Dream Big” supports the Epilepsy Service Foundation; “United” helps Team RWB. You get the idea. Those are the women’s sized designs–if only I had tiny kid feet, I could get monkeys! They have a 30 day refund or exchange policy, just in case you bought the wrong size–I cannot imagine why you’d want to return them!

What are your favorite socks? Tell me what’s missing from my drawers!

 

Let’s talk about suicide.

More than 39,000 people die each year from suicide. That is more than twice the rate in this country of homicidal deaths. One million people, annually, make a suicide attempt in the U.S. We need to think of these losses as preventable, as we already approach deaths from accidents and illnesses where prevention, early detection, and employing effective interventions are lifesaving.

Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D., “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” on The Huffington Post (see link below).

Knowing what you can do to prevent suicide is like knowing how to perform CPR: you hope you never have to use that knowledge, but if you’re ever in a situation where you do, you’ll be thankful you can. People who commit suicide are just like you. They have jobs and families. They experience stress. They might even seem “perfectly normal” to almost everyone around them. Some have faced joblessness and homelessness. Others are wildly successful at their careers and own multiple houses. You might know someone who has tried to commit suicide (and maybe you don’t even know it). You have absolutely no way of knowing whether you, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend may become suicidal in the future.

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, a collaboration of International Association for Suicide Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the World Federation for Mental Health. Consider this post a Public Service Announcement that YOU have the power to help prevent suicide.

I know several people who have contemplated or attempted suicide. In high school, one of my close friends was suspected of being suicidal, as was a mutual classmate of ours; both were taken to a mental health facility.  My friend was (and is) one of the smartest people I have ever met. She has a quick wit, easily learned anything she put her mind to learning from language to musical instruments, and was a prolific writer. People liked her and thought she was hilariously funny. My classmate–someone I didn’t know as well as I would have liked, mainly because she was so incredibly cool that she intimidated me–was gorgeous. She had beautiful wavy hair and the kind of looks that never needed  makeup to light up a room. Her sense of personal style was chic but not commercial; I admired her ability to create outfits and imagined she just rolled out of bed perfectly dressed. She was also very smart, artistic, and seemed to have a lot of friends. Another one of my high school classmates–funny, popular, involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities–exhibited some suicidal tendencies.  His family tried to help; while you might hesitate to call it suicide, he went rollerblading at night on a narrow dark street, wearing all black, with no ID.  These are just my high school friends; I know others too.

Please take five minutes out of your day to learn about suicide and what you can do to prevent suicide. Only have one minute? My friend Carlee is participating in the AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk in San Diego.  Today also happens to be her birthday, so if you have $5 please donate.  (If you don’t have $5, please consider skipping tomorrow’s trip to Starbucks?) From her campaign page you can also learn more about how you can participate in a walk yourself.

http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=561734

The number one piece of advice I have found to prevent suicide is to REACH OUT. Anxiety and depression are very common among adolescents and young adults (but also exist in all other populations!) and can lead to suicidal thoughts. Many of the articles I’ve read today suggest that a sense of connectedness and community are important in preventing suicide.

If nothing else, keep this number handy: Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

If you have reason to believe someone is in imminent danger of killing themselves, this is a life-threatening emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency number.

Other Resources:

The Crisis Text Line http://www.crisistextline.org/get-help-now/

Help A Friend In Need  https://fbcdn-dragon-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/t39.2178/851574_196126063918794_1130524222_n.pdf

A collaboration among Facebook, The Jed Foundation, and The Clinton Foundation.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention http://www.afsp.org/

International Association for Suicide Prevention http://www.iasp.info/ @IASPinfo on twitter

Follow the links for World Suicide Prevention Day for quick reads on suicide prevention and more resources.

World Federation for Mental Health http://wfmh.com/

Among other resources, there is a downloadable guidebook called “Mental Illness and Suicide–A Family Guide to Facing & Reducing the Risks” available in English and Spanish.

Huffington Post: There are multiple articles posted today on this topic. Here is the link to the one I referenced above.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lloyd-i-sederer-md/world-suicide-prevention_b_5783596.html?ir=Healthy%20Living&utm_campaign=091014&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-healthy-living&utm_content=Photo

Disclosure: Back in 2o12, I was selected to be one of the original Women’s Health Magazine “Action Hero” team members. The main purpose of an Action Hero was to promote the Run 10 Feed 10 event, benefiting FEED. The event has changed over the years and sprouted in new cities. There’s even an app! I retired from the Action Hero program after three years, but still think this is a great event. To see if there is one near you, check out the official Run 10 Feed 10 site.

Are you Hungry?

According to the World Food Program, a division of the United Nations, hunger is the world’s most solvable problem. The problem isn’t a lack of food–we have plenty on the planet. It’s about connecting that food to the hungry people that need it. Media showcase the obvious problems daily: hungry people living in war zones where the roads used to deliver food are no longer safe, or where armed conflict has forced people out of their homes and farmers away from their fields, or in areas struck by disasters from hurricanes to annual floods to earthquakes. Since most of us see that news via wifi or high speed internet from the comfort of secure homes with heat and running water, it is easy to forget that there are hungry people right here in the United States. Hunger may not be as widespread or severe as it is in other places (the World Food Program doesn’t even operations in the United States) but it still exists.

Pizza: a treat for me, a luxury for many.

Hunger isn’t seasonal.

You might think of hunger around the holidays–when there are always plentiful food drives and various churches, synagogues, temples, and other organizations sponsor holiday meals for needy families–but a child is just as likely to be hungry when school lets out for the summer and they don’t have access to the federal school lunch program. According to the FEED Foundation, a big proponent of school meals and the charity beneficiary of Run 10 Feed 10, the number of hungry has increased more than 30% since 2007. Hungry children suffer even more than hungry adults, as an empty belly makes it hard to stay focused and learn in school. Hungry kids don’t get the nutrients they need to grow, and often suffer health problems into adulthood.

Here is your call to action: sign up now to Run 10 Feed 10 (http://www.run10feed10.com).

As you run your 10k, you’ll know you’ve fed at least ten hungry children. If you choose to fundraise, you can feed even more!  The fundraising commitment–if you choose to go that route–is only $100.  That’s really low and easily achievable; just ask ten of your friends to kick in $10, or ask 20 friends to donate one day of latte/smoothie money ($5), and you’re there.  The events are fun, filled with women and men out to share a run and a cause.  Each participant is guaranteed a friendly run and a post-race gathering, complete with your very own FEED Foundation bag.

If you’re like me, you can go grab this from your fridge. Many Americans can’t, and many don’t have a home with a fridge.

The information in this paragraph is outdated. Check out the main site, link above! Until September 1, you can use the code WHBAIN to save on your registration fee (and still feed ten meals!).  The complete listing of events is at http://www.run10feed10.com  While I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ll be running in Los Angeles on September 29.  Other members of The Women’s Health Action Hero team will be at every scheduled event, and are creating events in other cities.  Check out http://www.run10feed10atlanta.com if you are in Georgia!  If you can’t make any of the events, simply run your own: you choose the when and where, and Run 10 Feed 10 will send your FEED bag directly to you.

Who’s in??

If you don’t want to Run 10, you can still help Feed 10! Check out the event’s Crowdrise page, and donate to the fundraiser of your choice.