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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Sharebite Launches Million Meal Mission to Activate its Community and Help Provide Food to Hungry Children in NYC

Food ordering platform leverages New Yorkers’ take-out habits to help end childhood hunger

Press Release – NEW YORK, NYSharebite, the only food-ordering platform of its kind to incorporate social good into the very core of its business model, announced today the launch of its million meal mission. With a goal of providing one million meals to children facing hunger in New York City in the next year, Sharebite looks to further build on its innovative, community-sharing user experience that differentiates it from the crowded takeout and delivery industry. In its current partnership with City Harvest, Sharebite helps feed at least one meal to a child in need for every order placed, but to officially kickoff this million meal mission and celebrate this holiday season, Sharebite is increasing the giving to five meals per order placed in the month of December.

With the delivery market valued at $30 billion – and the potential to be worth some $210 billion – Sharebite is the only service working in the cause space. While New Yorkers place hundreds of thousands of takeout orders daily, one in four children in the city face hunger each day. If just 1,000 of those orders came through Sharebite each day, New Yorkers could provide one million meals to these children struggling with hunger – all while doing what they already do, doing so at no additional cost and being part of a powerful online community while doing so.

Sharebite offers users an enhanced, easy to use experience that encourages them to break out of their delivery rut and engage in a true search and discovery experience. This enables them to explore the best their neighborhood has to offer, all while helping end childhood hunger.

Through Sharebite.com and its IOS/Android apps, Sharebite users can browse from more than 2,000 restaurants across New York City and, unlike with other food ordering platforms, can share images of dishes they order, rate and recommend individual dishes, and see what’s trending in their neighborhood. Through user-generated images and community ratings, Sharebite makes decision making and discovering new foods easier. In fact, Sharebite found that people are 64% more likely to branch out and try something new if they can see dish images and ratings, especially if those recommendations come from friends, neighbors and other local users. On the restaurant end, Sharebite is designed to allow restaurants to reduce waste by selling excess inventory of specific dishes at discounted prices on a real-time basis. Sharebite plans to eventually have a system where all remaining waste is eliminated by connecting it to local food banks and shelters.

“The average New Yorker enjoys the luxury of ordering out two to three times per week, yet there are over 400,000 children across the city who don’t have enough food to get by,” said Sharebite Founder and CEO Mohsin Memon. “We’re utilizing the power of technology to solve this problem without sacrificing the convenience that New Yorkers crave. Thus, we created Sharebite as a social impact-focused alternative to other popular food ordering platforms by tapping into what New Yorker’s already do: order food. The average New Yorker could help feed over 300 meals per year to these children facing hunger by simply ordering their takeout on Sharebite.”

Sharebite launched a pilot of its app last holiday season, and in that pilot, users helped to provide more than 50,000 meals to children in New York City. Given that success and the overall demand, Sharebite spent the past year expanding its reach of restaurants and developing a user-friendly transactional web platform to accompany its new apps on IOS and Android mobile devices. Sharebite correlates meals donated to amount spent per transaction, meaning the larger the orders, the more meals are donated to children in need. Sharebite calculates that if everyone who orders take-out in NYC used Sharebite to do so, we would be able to Take-Out Hungerfor children in New York.

For more information on Sharebite and its mission, visit www.sharebite.com.

RespectAbility Receives Grant from Ford Foundation to Create Harriet Tubman Fellowships

Press Release – Washington, D.C. – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, is delighted to announce that the Ford Foundation awarded a grant, which has enabled RespectAbility to create and offer Harriett Tubman Fellowships to select participants in the National Leadership Program. Tubman acquired traumatic brain injury when a slave owner hit her with a heavy metal weight leading to epileptic seizures and hypersomnia. Her work, while living as an individual with a disability, to free slaves and then for women’s suffrage is one of the great stories of how people with disabilities can help make a nation stronger and better.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, published a groundbreaking op-ed in The New York Times called “Internships are Not a Privilege,” which discussed how the practice of requiring people to do unpaid internships before they get good policy jobs harms diversity efforts and discriminates against people who cannot afford to do them.

“We are thrilled to have this new transformative support,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “Thanks to the Ford Foundation, we will be able to strengthen and diversify our National Leadership Program for young leaders with and without disabilities who are going into public policy, advocacy, journalism, public relations and other leadership roles. Previously, many people who wanted to participate in the program could not do so because while it offered free lunch and a transportation stipend, it was an unpaid program. Now we will be able to pay $15 an hour to many of the fellows who otherwise could not afford to do such a leadership program.”

The National Leadership Program has three cohorts of Fellows – in the fall, spring and summer – for a total of at least 24 Fellows. Eight will be Harriett Tubman Fellows. Our National Leadership Program enables young leaders to gain critical skills, contacts and experiences necessary to be accepted into graduate school or go directly into careers in public policy, media or advocacy.

The Ford Foundation’s grant will enable RespectAbility to include more participants with multiple minority status and/or low-income candidates who cannot afford the nine weeks of unpaid training. Two to three Fellows each cohort will be awarded with the Harriet Tubman Fellowship, which is a paid Fellowship.

“With the paid fellowships, we will be able to do our part to overcome the unequal opportunities sometimes created by unpaid internships,” RespectAbility Board Chair Donn Weinberg said. “Having the resources to pay our Fellows will allow us to offer this opportunity to people who otherwise might not be able to afford to gain the skills and the connections they need to enter careers in public policy, media or advocacy. This will be a significant factor in fully realizing our goals for diversity, recruitment and attracting quality applicants.”

Today only 65 percent of people with disabilities graduate high school and only seven percent complete college. For those lucky few who do complete college, only 53 percent of graduates with disabilities are currently employed as opposed to 84 percent of graduates with no disability. As a program that is fully accessible for people with disabilities and offers full-time in-house job coaching, skills development, networking opportunities, assistive technology and personal care support, our program has been designed to alleviate this situation.

The grant also will enable RespectAbility to hire a personal care assistant or interpreters as needed by any Fellow participating in the National Leadership Program.

“Many people with disabilities are faced with choosing to have a personal care assistant at home to help with necessary supports such as getting up in the morning and using the facilities or having personal care support at work,” Mizrahi said. “This grant allows us to offer the Fellowship to individuals needing this on-the-job assistance, which often becomes cost prohibitive to individuals, at no cost to them.”

RespectAbility’s Treasurer, Cal Harris, and Board of Advisors members, Janie L. Jeffers and Randall Duchesneau, will help shape the Harriet Tubman Fellowship program. Harris and Jeffers each have major leadership roles in Washington. A C5-C6 quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury during gymnastics, Duchesneau currently is a consultant based in Philadelphia who previously served as RespectAbility’s first Director of the National Leadership Program.

RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program attracts college and graduate students as well as graduates with or without disabilities who wish to enter the disability advocacy field. The program offers hands-on work experiences and coaching over a period of at least nine weeks in a supportive environment. Fellows participating in the National Leadership Program learn public policy, advocacy and strategic communications techniques from top professionals through hands-on work. In addition, they gain leadership skills and develop a portfolio of contacts to help secure permanent employment.

“As Leadership Fellows gain skills and confidence via working on projects that enable RespectAbility to achieve our mission, we will help them evolve into stronger and even more articulate self-advocates and leaders – qualities that they will take with them into the workplace,” Mizrahi said.

Each Fellow receives opportunities to learn new skills, network and gain direct experience. In addition to hands-on work experiences, all Fellows participate in special presentations by guest speakers and intensive strategic communications workshops. Fellows are supervised by a training/fellows director, who works with our president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi; as well as our policy team, led by Philip Pauli; our communications team, led by Lauren Appelbaum; our faith inclusion team, led by Shelley Cohen; and our development team, led by Hillary Steen. Mizrahi has led numerous high level training programs in the past for White House and Congressional staff, media, campaign and nonprofit leaders.

RespectAbility welcomes the first cohort of the Harriet Tubman Fellows:

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Eddie B. Ellis Jr. is a reentry advocate/consultant, trainer, mentor and motivational speaker. As a returning citizen with multiple disabilities and a person of color, Ellis’ experience provides invaluable insight and depth into his work that allows him to connect with and engage the community in which he serves. This week he published a major piece in The Washington Post: “I am one of the success stories from D.C.’s second-chance law for young offenders.” Ellis is the founder and CEO of OneBy1, an organization that works with communities and partners to provide youth development workshops and mentoring services to keep youth out of the corrections system and help those exiting the system stay out. Ellis also has written and published several resource guides offering service referrals, practical tips and inspiration to former offenders and parolees returning to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. He works hard to ensure that individuals reentering society are well informed and sufficiently equipped to make better choices for themselves and that they are truly given a second chance.

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Ming Canaday recently completed coursework for a master’s degree in the History of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This week she published a first-person piece in Foreign Policy: “I Was Rescued from a Chinese Orphanage. My Friend Wasn’t.” During her time in Europe, Canaday traveled extensively on the continent and to the University of Cape Town in South Africa to complete her dissertation research on contemporary attitudes towards rising Chinese migration to that region. From 2009 to 2013, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, where she triple-majored in International Studies, Chinese, and Asian Studies. During her undergraduate career, Canaday spent time in China interning at Justice for All, a disability advocacy organization that serves individuals with disabilities as well as individuals with HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis B. After graduation, Canaday, who is a wheelchair user, pursued a certificate at the City University of New York in Disability Studies to better advocate for individuals with disabilities. She also completed a summer internship at Human Rights Watch, assisting with research on issues related to China’s policies toward people with physical or mental impairments.

National Leadership Program Director Sought

With the new funding, RespectAbility is recruiting for a full-time National Leadership Director for the Harriett Tubman Fellows and the National Leadership Program. To learn more and apply for this job and or our fellowships, visit our website. The National Leadership Program was founded with the support of The Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation, which is still critical to the success of the program. Thanks to their generosity and that of others, more than 60 diverse young leaders have already graduated from the program.

Three Charities To Benefit From Annual Wishes Delivered Campaign

Press Release – Atlanta, GA: UPS (NYSE: UPS) has launched the annual Wishes Delivered campaign, created to spread goodwill and share stories of people making a difference. This year, UPS employees were asked to submit their wishes for the people and communities where UPSers work and live every day.

“With Wishes Delivered, we are able to bring wishes to life that can make a difference in the communities we serve,” said UPS chief marketing and business services officer Teresa Finley. “This year, we are excited to have our employees – who act as problem solvers every day – have an opportunity to see their holiday wishes fulfilled and pay it forward in their local communities.”

Every time a Wishes Delivered story is shared on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, UPS will donate $1 to one of three charities: The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, The Salvation Army, and Toys for Tots Literacy Program*. From a little girl’s wish to make sure kids in need have toys, to high school football rivals in East Baton Rouge, LA coming together to rebuild after devastating floods, to delivery of more than 20 mini UPS® trucks across the globe, follow the stories at wishesdelivered.ups.com. UPS finds magic and hope with each wish delivered during the holiday season.

Since first launching during the 2014 holiday season, Wishes Delivered has surprised and delighted deserving individuals and organizations who put others first. Last year, UPS helped Civil Rights leader Mr. Robert J. Brown’s International BookSmart Foundation get 180 tons of books to children in Africa, and teamed up with The St. Bernard Project to return 91-year-old Aurora Gonzales to her home in San Marcos, TX, after a devastating flood washed it away. And UPS’s littlest driver Carson fulfilled his dream of making some deserving kids UPS drivers for the day to deliver gifts to others in need.

More ways UPS is making the holidays bright

To help alleviate the stress of holiday shopping and delivery, the ups.com® Holiday Help Center provides resources to solve even the most complex holiday shipping problems. Users can take advantage of online chat assistance, information on frequently asked questions and last days to ship calendars to help make sure their deliveries arrive by Dec. 24. The Help Center playlist on the UPS YouTube channel offers animated videos and tips to prepare packages and avoid the holiday rush.

New for the 2016 holiday season, customers can take advantage of a new feature available through the UPS My Choice® service called Follow My Delivery, which allows shippers and recipients to track their most urgent UPS® Air and UPS Worldwide Express® packages in near-real time on a live map. The UPS My Choice service provides control over where and how members can receive their eligible home deliveries. This includes the ability to direct their UPS driver to leave their packages in a preferred location at home, such as their back porch, or at an alternate location such as with a neighbor or at a nearby UPS Access Point™ location.

UPS Access Point™ locations offer convenient alternate delivery locations at more than 25,000 local retailers, lockers, and The UPS Store® locations throughout North America and Europe.

*Total amount to be donated not to exceed $100,000.

About UPS

UPS (NYSE: UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. The company can be found on the web at ups.com® and its corporate blog can be found at longitudes.ups.com. To get UPS news direct, visit pressroom.ups.com/RSS or follow @UPS_News on Twitter.

Tech Coast Angels: Echo Laboratories Closes $2M First Phase Funding Round in Under Two Months

Innovative Microscope Maker Closes Angel Network’s Largest Deal for 2016; Wins TCA San Diego’s Quick Pitch Award; Looks Forward to 2017

Press Release – IRVINE, Calif. and SAN DIEGO – December 21, 2016 – San Diego-based Echo Laboratories recently completed its first phase of funding with a $2 million funding round in fewer than 60 days, headed by Tech Coast Angels’ (TCA) San Diego network. Although originally estimated at $500K, the ceiling was raised with an increased momentum in the life sciences investor community, spearheaded by TCA deal leads, Annie Mak and Dean Rosenberg. The funding amount was the largest in TCA’s 2016 portfolio of deals.

The company’s microscope, Revolve, is revolutionizing microscopy, integrating the functionality of an upright and an inverted microscope with tablet and cloud-based technologies.

“As a scientist who has 20 years of experience and goes through all the learning curves of cutting edge technologies, it was exciting for me to see Echo Labs challenging the status quo of microscopy and bringing in advanced usability of the 21st century,” said Annie Mak, co-deal lead investor for TCA. “Revolve is user-friendly and very intuitive, so scientists can just focus on the biology under the lenses rather than the technicalities of operating a microscope.”

“What was so gratifying for us is that some of the TCA members who are also leaders in the San Diego life science community clearly understood our product and need in the marketplace. They shared their insight and enthusiasm with other biotech investors which led to a huge amount of momentum,” said Eugene Cho, CEO of Echo Labs.

Dean Rosenberg, co-lead investor for TCA added, “Most early stage investors are taught to bet on the jockey (the founder or CEO), not the horse (the product). With Echo Laboratories we got both. Eugene is a very talented and innovative leader who has built a great team. And he has also built a product that has inspired customers and has caused our life sciences members to say, ‘I want that microscope!’”

Echo Labs recently won TCA San Diego’s Quick Pitch contest, beating out 146 other competitors for the $15,000 first-place prize. The company’s microscope was not only the judges’ favorite; it also won over a diverse 500-member audience that included seasoned investors and even elementary school children.

Jeff Friedman, MD, PhD and chair of TCA’s life science committee, stated after the Quick Pitch event, “As a physician/scientist who has worked with and purchased microscopes for laboratory research, I never ever thought that a microscope could be cool. I was astounded by Revolve. Echo Labs has created a capable, cost-effective machine that has the potential to disrupt the microscope market.”

Echo Labs also received a Most Innovative Product award in Life Science Diagnostics and Research Tools from Connect, a San Diego non-profit that supports entrepreneurship, earlier this month.

“From an investment perspective, Echo Labs checks all of the boxes that we typically look for in an early stage financing,” continued Rosenberg. “In addition, they transformed a sleepy product category into something very cool, and it’s been fun to work with Eugene and his team to raise their $2M financing.”

“2016 has been a thrilling year for us–to say the least,” continued Cho. “And we look forward to facing exciting challenges in 2017: we received an international order that doubled our expected revenue which we will be fulfilling, and we will need to scale up to meet demand in sales, production and in R&D while continuing to ensure product excellence. We’re also currently working on a higher end platform for Pharma/Academia, and an entry level system for the STEM marketplace.”

For more information on Echo Laboratories, please visit www.echo-labs.com

About Tech Coast Angels:

Tech Coast Angels (TCA) is one of the largest and most active angel investor networks in the nation, and a leading source of funding for seed-stage and early-stage companies across all industries in Southern California.

TCA members are accredited investors who collectively invest in startup companies in the range of $250k to $2M as a group. The companies TCA invest in go through well-structured, transparent, and time efficient screening and due diligence. TCA members are themselves founders and executive level business leaders who have extensive knowledge in the investment process and world-class business practices. TCA members thus provide companies with more than just capital; they also contribute counsel, mentoring and access to an extensive network of investors, customers, strategic partners and management.

TCA is a catalyst in the growth of the thriving Southern California entrepreneurial ecosystem of innovation, funding mostly emerging technologies and life science companies.

The most recent Halo Report rated TCA as #2 nationally in a number of funded deals. A recent analysis by CB Insights ranked TCA #1 out of 370 angel groups on “Network Centrality” and #5 overall in “Investor Mosaic.”

Since its founding in 1997, TCA has invested over $176 million in more than 300 companies and has helped attract more than $1.5 billion in additional capital/follow-on rounds, mostly from venture capital firms. For more information, please visit www.techcoastangels.com.

The Peace Angels Project Receives The Backing of Blue Lives Matter NYC In Its National Call For Weapons

In Cooperation With The Amtrak Fraternal Order Of Police, The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Contributes First Weapons To Campaign

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Press Release – NEW YORK, NY – December 21, 2016 – Lin Evola, founder and artist of the anti-violence arts initiative, the Peace Angels Project today announces that Blue Lives Matter NYC has joined the Project’s nationwide call for street weapons. Evola will melt down decommissioned weapons provided to law enforcement and government officials to create large scale sculptures and paintings, turning once destructive material into art that inspires hope and peace. Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, in cooperation with the Amtrak Fraternal Order of Police, provided the first initial donation to the Peace Angels Project’s USA Weapons Destruction Campaign.

“Our organization is proud to support the Peace Angels Project in its effort to empower others to rise above violence, and create a better world,” said Joseph Imperatrice, president of Blue Lives Matter NYC. “We honor the NYPD officers who lost their lives protecting our city, and join Lin Evola in solidarity as she inspires others through the power of art.”

The Peace Angels Project will collect over two million decommissioned weapons, to be melted down and transformed into 64-foot Peace Angel monuments to stand tall in New York City and Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is exploring the possibility of siting the Los Angeles Peace Angel monument in her district.

Blue Lives Matter NYC will utilize its law enforcement network across the country to encourage further weapons donations. They are joined by the Amtrak Fraternal Order of Police, as well as the LASD, LAPD and NYPD to gather the necessary metal. Additional donations of weapons are being sought through the United Nations. For the past eight years, Evola has served at the United Nations Biennial Meetings of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and the Arms Trade Treaty.

Since the inception of the Peace Angels Project in 1992, Evola’s extensive collection of drawings, paintings and sculptures have served one purpose: to express our responsibility as humans to create a better world, encouraging compassion and unity through the power of art. In her running series “Leonardo’s Flowers,” Evola uses weapon metal as a painting medium on paper and canvas. In her latest project, “The Reflection Series” Evola collaborated with renowned photographer Udo Spreitzenbarth to develop large scale portraits of influential philanthropists. The series employs a cutting-edge technology known as sputtering, which transforms the titanium of street weapons and nuclear missiles at the molecular level into supermirrors.

“Inspired to take action following years of gun violence throughout America, I created the Project to stimulate thought and awaken us to rise up and build a legacy of peace in our time,” said Peace Angels Project founder, Lin Evola. “I am honored to receive the support of Blue Lives Matter NYC as we move forward with our call for weapons nationwide.”

The Peace Angels Project Fund, the nonprofit, charity component of the Peace Angels Project, led by Executive Director Sharon Ullman, will provide an opportunity for supporters of the Project’s anti-violence movement to provide a tax deductible donation to its cause.

For additional information on Lin Evola and t\he Peace Angels Project, please visit: www.paxangeli.com

About the Peace Angels Project

Founded by American contemporary artist, Lin Evola, the Peace Angels Project is conceptual art with a powerful message: expressing our responsibility as humans to create a better world. By using melted down street weapons and the stainless steel core of decommissioned missiles to create large scale sculptures, paintings and drawings that are powerful images of compassion and unity, the Peace Angels Project permanently transforms these weapons of mass destruction into life-affirming symbols of peace.

Blue Lives Matter NYC

Blue Lives Matter NYC is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created to help Law Enforcement Officers and their families during their time of need. Members of the organization are both police officers and members from other state and federal agencies that are dedicated to making a difference and demonstrating that “BLUE LIVES MATTER.”

Christmas at a Homeless Camp in the Woods

By Rich Garon

There were about fifty people in the woods, behind a strip mall that sits right across from one of the largest outlet malls on the east coast. There were clusters of tents and a shack or two. Looking carefully, I could see the winding paths that led me to another way of life. My first visit was a novelty. My grandson and I had arranged with one of the homeless men at the camp in the woods to bring the group produce from a nearby food pantry. I’ll call him Sam. He was tall and led us to his site, which seemed to be very well organized. We didn’t speak long and he thanked us for the meals our church had brought earlier in the week. The air-conditioning in our car revived us from the stifling heat that hung in the woods that early July day.

A group of us continued bringing produce from the farmer’s market, chickens from Costco, and some gas for the one or two generators that powered some small fans fighting the oppressive heat. We continued this routine for a while and spent time getting to know the men and several women who called these woods home. “I’ll be glad when the fall comes,” a guy named Billy said.

We were all new to helping the homeless, but it soon dawned on us that produce, chickens and gas weren’t really the answer. As we became familiar with the people in the woods, we learned about them and realized their lives were complicated; that divorces, job losses, arrests, addictions, or chronic health issues had led them into the woods. In some cases, events unfolded abruptly. In others, it took a string of setbacks before they claimed the spot on which they set-up their tents. We gave them money at times. It seemed they always needed little things; that is, until we had to shell out $200 to get Randy’s car out of the impoundment lot so he could travel a considerable distance to his job.

As we tried to help, we realized we really didn’t have a plan, so we decided to give money to groups we were told were more expert in helping the homeless. We still visited the homeless; many who by now had become our friends. We took them out to dinner occasionally, tried to interpret undecipherable forms and letters they received from county and state aid agencies and recognized each individual required more help and guidance than we could provide.

Remember how Billy was looking forward to the fall? Well, fall was short-lived that year and winter rolled-in with chilling winds and heavy snows. We brought shoeboxes full of toiletries and other notions. Billy even erected a beat-up Christmas tree. He situated it near a memorial of Christmas decorations dedicated to his twenty-five-year-old friend, Mantu, who froze to death one night outside his tent. Our friend, Sam, who had become increasingly ill, almost died one sub-freezing night when someone stole his propane heater. Such was Christmas that year in the homeless camp.

We were able to get Sam into transitional housing, but his medical condition was beyond what the home could accommodate. He was asked to leave. The snow had been replaced by the brutal heat of July, and his overall health declined rapidly. We tried to get him into a facility, but were told there was a two-year waiting list at most places. We spoke to another agency and they said they’d be pleased to help, but he’d need a fixed address. There was also little help available from non-profits.

We did eventually find a small studio apartment for Sam, and then one for Billy. We schooled ourselves in learning to navigate the bureaucratic tangle of regulations that tried to discourage us from finding out the types of assistance to which they were entitled.

You see, most homeless people don’t have cars to get to assistance offices, and they don’t have computers to complete forms online. They don’t understand the importance of seeking medical help for a problem before it worsens. Many individuals, church groups, and non-profits—while well-meaning—often support competing programs, and local governments provide inadequate funds to address the problem.

Sam and Billy have become family to us, and we’re going to continue taking care of them as family. Who would have thought that could have developed from our initial trip into the woods? There are plenty of other Sam’s and Billy’s who desperately need help, especially this winter. If you would like to help, check out non-profits and houses of worship in your area who work with the homeless. Any amount of time you have, can help those so in need.

Rich Garon is the author of Felling Big Trees (BookBaby, December 2016), a novel about a congressman turning from politics to make a positive change on a disillusioned society. All proceeds from the book will go toward WhyHunger, a non-profit that works tirelessly to end the scourge of hunger. He currently works with the Immanuel Anglican Church in Woodbridge, VA, where he coordinates the homeless ministry and particularly dedicates his focus to helping individuals who live in the woods. Learn more at www.richgaron.com and www.whyhunger.org.

For more information, please visit www.richgaron.com, and connect with Garon through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Felling Big Trees is available for pre-order on Amazon and for immediate purchase on BookBaby.

“WhyHunger is proud of our life-long friend Rich Garon on his newest endeavor as an author. Rich’s passion for fighting hunger and poverty goes beyond his professional life. It is a deeply personal commitment to help people in need.”

— Noreen Springstead, WhyHunger, Executive Director

Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer Hosts Its Inaugural South Florida Dream Fore A Cure Golf Tournament

DDF Takes a Swing to Raise Funds for Stomach Cancer Research

Press Release – FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer (DDF) is excited to announce its Inaugural South Florida Dream Fore A Cure Golf Tournament taking place on Friday, January 13, 2017 at the Fort Lauderdale Country Club. Registration opens at 7:00 a.m. and the tournament starts at 8:00 a.m. Entry fees include green fees, range balls, cart rental, breakfast, and the luncheon. Tournament contests include 1st, 2nd, 3rd Place Team Score, Closest to the Pin, and the Longest Drive.

The day would not be possible without the leadership of Chair Jonathan Perrillo and his dedicated committee members: Michael Brin, Michael Ehren, David Fried, Stephen Greenberger, Evan Greenfield, John Griffin, and John Nash. The golf tournament is part of DDF’s campaign to raise funds for stomach cancer research and support of patients and their families. Per cancer death, gastric cancer receives the least amount of federal funding of any cancer.

“It is exciting to be the Chair of our inaugural Golf Tournament. This tournament will become a very important annual event to support the mission of Debbie’s Dream Foundation,” said Jonathan Perrillo. “As a DDF Board member, it is great to witness the growth of the organization and the addition of a golf tournament. Thanks to the generosity of the many people who make it successful, we will be able to continue making a significant difference in contributing funding for stomach cancer research.”

Cost for an individual player is $200 and $700 for a foursome. Ads and tributes in the event Program Book can also be purchased. Sponsorships are available and come with fun perks.

For more information on the golf tournament, to become a sponsor, place an ad/tribute, purchase entries, or to find out how you can make a difference for stomach cancer patients, please visit www.DebbiesDream.org or call (954) 475-1200.

About Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer

Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer (DDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about stomach cancer, advancing funding for research, and providing education and support internationally to patients, families, and caregivers. Debbie’s Dream Foundation seeks as its ultimate goal to make the cure for stomach cancer a reality.

DDF was founded in 2009 by Debbie Zelman after she was diagnosed with stage IV incurable stomach cancer in 2008 and given only weeks to live. DDF now has a Medical Advisory Board of world renowned doctors and chapters throughout the United States, Canada, and Germany. Considered a “Super Survivor,” Debbie is still receiving chemotherapy eight and a half years later and is thrilled to be able to watch her three children grow up. To learn more about DDF, please visit us at www.DebbiesDream.org.

Cat Lovers Help World’s Best Cat Litter™ Donate 90,000 Pounds Of Litter To Shelters

“Purrrsuit” online game helps brand meet 2016 GiveLitter™ charity goal

Press Release – MUSCATINE, Iowa, Dec. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — World’s Best Cat Litter™ has met its goal of donating 90,000 pounds of free litter to U.S. shelters in need in the final 2016 round of its GiveLitter™ program.

The most recent round of GiveLitter™, a World’s Best Cat Litter™ charity program that launched in 2010, has delivered 30,000 pounds of free litter to three shelters across the nation: Furkids of Atlanta, GA, the Houston Humane Society, and The Humane Society of Utah. World’s Best Cat Litter™ partnered with 11 shelters in 2016 to donate a grand total of 90,000 pounds of litter, bringing its total donation amount to more than 550,000 pounds of litter.

To reach its donation goal, World’s Best Cat Litter™ tapped its fans, encouraging cat lovers to play PURRRSUIT, an online game that rewards shelters with more litter every time players advance through the game. Available for free download as an app for iOS and Android devices, or for computer play at www.GiveLitter.com, PURRRSUIT challenges cat lovers to “pet” animated cats to make them purr. By keeping all of the cats happy, players advance through the levels and donate more litter.

PURRRSUIT players were also able to enter to win a year’s supply of free litter by submitting a photo of their cat playing the game. Four winners were selected, among thousands of participants.

“We’re thrilled to have gotten to our 2016 donation goal of 90,000 pounds, and couldn’t have done it without the support of our customers and fans,” said Jean Broders, Senior Brand Manager at Kent Pet Group, the parent company of World’s Best Cat Litter™. “It’s amazing to see the impact that this makes on the shelters, and we look forward to donating more in 2017.”

Through GiveLitter,™ World’s Best Cat Litter™ has donated more than 550,000 pounds of free litter to 64 shelter partners, and will continue to support thousands of shelter cats through this program in 2017.

About GiveLitter™:

At World’s Best Cat Litter™, we love cats as much as we love our customers. That’s why we developed the GiveLitter™ program to support the shelters that are dedicated to making life better for homeless cats. With GiveLitter™, World’s Best Cat Litter™ partners with our customers to help get the word out about animal welfare issues, promote pet adoption, and donate free cat litter to shelters. The GiveLitter™ program is an active, ongoing effort, and every purchase of World’s Best Cat Litter™ helps support shelter cats. For more information about GiveLitter™, visit www.GiveLitter.com.

About World’s Best Cat Litter™:

World’s Best Cat Litter™ is a family of clumping cat litters that offer concentrated power for a cleaner litter box. Our patented process harnesses the power of naturally absorbent corn to create formulas that guarantee outstanding odor control, quick clumping and easy scooping. It’s the pet, people and planet friendly litter that truly works. Offered in a variety of clumping formulas and sizes, the litter is available in PetSmart® and PETCO®, select Target® and Walmart stores, and other leading pet and grocery stores nationwide. World’s Best Cat Litter™ is produced by Kent Pet Group, headquartered in Muscatine, Iowa.

Visit www.worldsbestcatlitter.com.

Great Hill Dental Presents Donation Check to Somerville Homeless Coalition

Press Release – SOMERVILLE, Mass., Dec. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Great Hill Dental Somerville office today presented a charitable contribution check for $1,975.00 to the Somerville Homeless Coalition. The donation money was generated through Great Hill Dental Partners participation in the 18th annual Smiles for Life Campaign, which ran from March to June 30th this year.

Local Charitable Connection

While Smiles for Life is a national charitable organization, Great Hill Dental Partners also partnered with local charities. The Somerville office partnered with to the Somerville Homeless Coalition, which provides homeless and near homeless families and individuals with supportive services and housing solutions.

“We’re proud of our Somerville office team that donated their time and expertise on behalf of this important charity that does so much for school children in need,” said Michael Scialabba, CEO at Great Hill Dental Partners.

“We feel it’s important to be active and involved with both national charities, and local charities in the communities we serve. It’s been an honor to help them continue to provide for those in need in our community,” he said.

“We are very grateful to Great Hill Dental Somerville for their charitable contribution to us,” said Sue Redding, Administrative Coordinator. “We rely on the community-driven support of our residents and companies like Great Hill Dental Partners.”

About the Somerville Homeless Coalition

The mission of the Somerville Homeless Coalition is to provide homeless and near homeless individuals and families with individualized supportive services and tailored housing solutions with a goal of obtaining and maintaining affordable housing.

We treat all people with dignity and respect, and the understanding that we are all part of our community.

About Great Hill Dental Partners, LLC

Great Hill Dental Partners, LLC provides restorative dentistry, implant therapy, oral surgery, root canal therapy, periodontics, orthodontics, Invisalign®, pediatric dentistry, and prosthodontics, all within a multi-specialty, multi-site practice.

Among the first to offer “Whole Health Dentistry” in the Boston area, Great Hill Dental focuses on the medically proven connection between a patient’s oral health and their overall health.

World Champion Gymnast Simone Biles Teams Up with Mattress Firm

Biles to support Mattress Firm Foster Kids initiative and promote sleep health

Press Release – HOUSTON, Sept. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Mattress Firm and three-time World Champion Simone Biles announced today a multi-year partnership to create awareness of the retailer’s national Mattress Firm Foster Kids program and help promote the importance of sleep, especially for children.

Mattress Firm Foster Kids supports local foster care nonprofit partners in its communities across the country in an effort to help foster kids beat the odds. The retailer hosts six donation drives throughout the year to collect funds and essential items like pajamas, clothing, school supplies, shoes and toys, all of which help make the transition into a new home, a new school or a new community a bit easier for foster youth.

“I am honored to be able to help shine a light on the needs of foster children nationwide and support Mattress Firm’s Foster Kids program,” said Biles. “I know what it is like to spend time in and out of the foster care system, and words cannot begin to express how thankful I am that my parents adopted me. Children are children; they need our love, support and help to understand the benefits of sleep and the role it plays in living an active and healthy life.”

Mattress Firm Foster Kids was created in 2015 in response to requests for support from nonprofit foster care organizations in communities across the country, citing a need for essential items to help foster children and parents adjust to a new home. The initiative makes a positive impact on the lives of the hundreds of thousands of foster youth nationwide. Donations are collected through the Ticket to Dream Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, and after each of the six annual donation drives, proceeds stay in the community where donated and are distributed to carefully chosen nonprofit foster care partners.

Biles, who resides in Houston and is represented by Octagon, will work closely with Mattress Firm to spread awareness of the Foster Kids initiative, including volunteering her time with Mattress Firm and Ticket to Dream’s Houston nonprofit partners, supporting the six annual donation drives, and sharing her personal foster care experience as an advocate of the Mattress Firm Foster Kids program.

“Simone is the perfect fit for Mattress Firm – there is a natural alignment between our Houston roots, a passion for helping foster children and the common belief in the importance of sleep,” said Ken Murphy, president and CEO of Mattress Firm. “Simone represents the American Dream. She is a great inspiration and example to all her fans, and we are excited she has decided to join our team.”

As the country’s largest bedding retailer, Mattress Firm is well-versed in the importance of sleep as a key puzzle piece to a holistically healthy lifestyle. For 30 years, Mattress Firm has been committed to helping improve people’s lives through better sleep, and over the past two years, the company has aimed to elevate the sleep health conversation.

“As a world-class athlete, Simone knows the critical role that sleep plays and how poor sleep can affect her performance,” said Murphy. “Our partnership with Simone will also continue to shine a light on the benefits of a good night’s sleep.”

About Mattress Firm

With more than 3,500 company-operated and franchised stores across 49 states, Mattress Firm has the largest geographic footprint in the United States among multi-brand mattress retailers. With the 2016 acquisition of Sleepy’s, Mattress Firm is the nation’s first border-to-border, coast-to-coast specialty bedding retailer. Founded in 1986, Houston-based Mattress Firm is the nation’s leading bedding retailer. The company offers a broad selection of both traditional and specialty mattresses, bedding accessories and other related products from leading manufacturers, including Sealy, Tempur-Pedic, Serta, Simmons and Hampton & Rhodes. Mattress Firm guarantees price, comfort and service with the ultimate goal of ensuring that customers Save Money. Sleep Happy™.

Mattress Firm was named Furniture Today’s “Top Bedding Retailer” in 2013 and a “Top Workplace” by the Houston Chronicle in 2011, 2012 and 2013. More information is available at mattressfirm.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

SOURCE Mattress Firm

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