Bake it Happen for Breast Cancer Research

bananas for boobies logo

I recently had a discussion with my daughters about friendship.  It’s hard to explain to an 11 year-old that friendships ebb and flow, and more importantly, that if you keep your heart open you will continue to make new friends throughout your life.

Some of your friends will stick.  Some won’t.  And that’s okay.  It doesn’t diminish the power of the friendship you had in that time of your life.

If you’re lucky you will have one or two great friends.  If you’re really lucky you will continue to stumble upon those rare people with whom you immediately click – the ones that maybe make you believe in past lives – in all phases of your life.  The ones that feel like family.

I have been that lucky, and I know how special and rare it is.

When my daughters were born I was the only one of my friends to have a baby (babies!).  My cousin, with whom I am extremely close, also had a baby, just a few week before me, but she lived in Michigan.  So aside from talking on the phone all the time, I didn’t have “mom” friends.  And, because I had twins, the thought of schlepping to baby groups between pumping, and feeding, and changing, and wrapping them up to take naps – while also being social in some carpeted basement of the Y, was really more than I could bear.

So, I was nervous when my girls finally started preschool and there were all of these other MOMs.  And, most of the time, it was just me and the nannies.  I seemed to be the only stay at home mom on the Upper West Side – but really it was just the blur of drop off and separation that made it seem so.  Eventually, I met the other moms – at the school auction, at the endless school parties, at playdates.  And I don’t know how it happened, but I met some of the best women I will ever know.  I am still amazed that we were all randomly put into this 2 morning a week class together.

One of these women was Shari Brooks.  And while there are a lot of things I could list about Shari that make her, well, her – there is one that tops the list – Shari is a Do-er, not because she wants recognition, and not because she’s keeping a mental tab in her mind of what someone now owes her, but because she really, really has a heart and mind that just go there.  She is continually thinking about what is the right thing to do, the best way to do it, and then just doing it.  It’s not Type A, it’s Type A to Z.  She’s got it covered.

Knowing Shari like I do, it was not surprising to me that she turned her energy towards creating something positive out of the loss of her mom Judy from metastatic breast cancer five years ago.  I feel incredibly lucky that Shari entered my life at a time when I could get to know her mom, even though her mom was sick from almost the moment I met her.  I have never wondered where Shari gets her energy and love of life from because I saw it firsthand in her mom.  Even at her frailest, after years of ongoing chemo and radiation, Judy would come up on the train from Baltimore – by herself! – to spend time with her grandkids, just be with her family and share more experiences.

A while after Judy passed, Shari started an amazing blog called My Judy the Foodie, where she has kept her mom’s memory alive through her mom’s recipes and special meals.  When I met Shari she literally couldn’t boil water.  I once watched her throw pasta into a pot of cold water and then turn it on.  No joke.  So to watch Shari teach herself to cook through doing, and then through sharing, all the while keeping her mom’s memory alive for her kids, and really everyone, has been a real revelation.

Now Shari has teamed up with her equally awesome sister to create another endeavor that will honor Judy and advance the cause of breast cancer research, Bake it Happen (aka Bananas for Boobies, which if you know Shari makes perfect sense, but Facebook doesn’t know Shari that well so they didn’t like it).

This is no 26 mile marathon where you must exhaust yourself to prove you care.  This is not pinkwashing to make companies look like they care.  This is a very basic way to share purpose and care.

  1. Bake a loaf, or two or three, of Judy’s amazing banana chocolate chip loaf.
  2. Take a pic of your fabulous creation.
  3. Then share it on Facebook or email it to bananasforboobies@gmail.com
  4. Then share a loaf in real life.   Take a pic of that too!
  5. You could win an iPad!

Every time a photo is shared a dollar is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Here’s how we baked it happen last weekend:

See?  Simple, delicious, and meaningful.   Just like good friends.

Head on over now to Bananas For Boobies and Bake it Happen!!!

Supporting Art in Schools with Blick Art Room Aid

Blick Logo

As someone who has invested way too many hours in my daughters’ NYC public school and education issues beyond those four walls, I have come to realize that the worst thing educators and administrators can do is look at various subjects – math, literacy, science, art, music, gym, social studies – as isolated fields of study.  But, unfortunately that does happen, and more often than not the arts are deemed “extras” instead of integral to bringing alive math, science, literacy and the other “core” subjects.

In my daughters’ school the parents pay tens of thousands of dollars to supplement the meager art budget in the school.  We cover supplies for the art teacher, a separate art program through Studio in a School for the 4th and 5th Grades since they don’t get a dedicated art class, art supplies for the classroom teachers so they can do curriculum based art projects, and fund the school art show, chimes music program, dance programs, and more.  We are lucky.  Our parents have the means, time and know-how to fundraise this kind of money.  Most schools are not this lucky.  So, I was thrilled to participate in the Blick Art Materials Art Room Aid program.

Art Room Aid was created in 2009 by Blick Art Materials. As a company focused on educational and professional art supplies, Blick has also consistently supported arts education in diverse ways. Whether sponsoring art scholarships or creating lesson plans that address national standards of learning while easing the burden on busy educators, we at Blick understand just how important collaboration is. And we know that big dreams start small- after all, Blick is a family-owned company that began at Mr. and Mrs. Blick’s kitchen table in Galesburg, Illinois, 100 years ago.

Today, we’re continuing to nurture that deeply rooted investment in the arts and in educational communities with Art Room Aid. As the world becomes increasingly linked, skills like visual communication and creative problem-solving are more important than ever.

I knew I wanted to find a teacher who worked at a school that didn’t have the kind of support that my daughters’ school has and fortunately, my sister connected me with Laura Pawson, a Visual Arts and Special Education teacher at Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Brooklyn.  The school’s population made up of  low-income students, including many homeless children, and almost 25% English Language Learners.

Ms. Pawson immediately jumped at the opportunity to stock up on supplies for a mosaic project she has been developing for her students.  She created a wish list through Blick Art Materials Art Room Aid that you can now help fund and fulfill!  In addition, she will be given $100 by Blick Art Materials to help kickstart this campaign and get these kids creating amazing art!

So, please click on over and help fund this fabulous project.  You can click here: Juan Morel Campos Mosaic Project and give as little as $10 to bring art into a child’s life.

Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief for Kids by K.I.D.S.

For the last few months we have been preparing at KidzVuz for a huge live event for tween girls and their influential moms in NYC.  Early on we were very excited to partner with the non-profit, K.I.D.S – Kids in Distressed Situations – and bring them in to the event, and to our KidzVuz users as we launch a new initiative to get tweens more involved in community service for other kids.

And then, this week, Hurricane Sandy hit us here on the East Coast.  We are fortunate that our NYC offices are fine.  But, for so many thousands of others this is not the case.

Everything K.I.D.S. does is focused on helping kids in “distressed” situations – from domestic abuse, poverty and natural disasters.  They leapt into action in the aftermath of Sandy and have been working non-stop to get kids who have lost so much, all the clothes, supplies and materials they will need to survive the next few weeks, be able to go back to school, and to somehow start to piece back together their lives in devastated areas.

Here’s how you can help:

To make a new product donation to the K.I.D.S. Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund, please visit www.kidsdonations.org.

Agencies in affected communities are in dire need of new apparel, blankets, shoes, toys, baby products and books.

Cash donations can also be made by visiting www.kidsdonations.org . These cash donations are needed to assist with the transportation and distribution efforts needed to move the product to our local partner agencies to serve the victims.

Because of their 10 to 1 system of matching $10 worth of product for every $1 donated, your $10 donation will provide $100 worth of brand new merchandise to victims in need.

You can easily make a donation by texting GIVE 8000 to 80088 to donate $10 to K.I.D.S. on your mobile phone bill.

To make a larger donation, please contact Cristina Morais at 212-279-5493 ext. 204.

Don’t feel hopeless – give a kid some hope instead!

The R Baby Foundation: Saving Babies’ Lives and Making ERs Safe for Children

There is perhaps nothing scarier for a parent than having to rush a child to the emergency room.  The feeling of not having control, not being able to fix something yourself, and many times not even knowing what is wrong, but knowing that your child is very sick is terrifying.  Even more frightening is when that child is an infant who can’t tell you anything.  Now imagine that when you reach the ER they don’t have an attending emergency room pediatrician, they don’t have the proper size equipment for a baby, they don’t even have a gown to fit and cover them.  It’s not hard to imagine, because this is reality in over 90% of Emergency Departments (EDs) across the country.

Here are the facts from the R Baby Foundation:

Emergency Pediatric Care Needs Our Help

FACT: Children make up 27% of all emergency department (ED) visits, but only 6% of EDs in the U.S. have the necessary supplies for pediatric emergencies.

FACT: Many drugs and medical devices have not been adequately tested on, or dosed properly for, children – including babies.

FACT: Although pediatric skills deteriorate quickly without practice, continuing education in pediatric care is not required or is extremely limited for many pre-hospital emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

FACT: Emergency medical services and emergency departments are not well equipped to handle pediatric care. Most children receive emergency care in general (not children’s) hospitals, which are less likely to have pediatric expertise, equipment, and policies in place for the care of children.

Join me now in support of the RBaby Foundation mission to education parents, implement standards so all Emergency Departments (EDs) will have to be able to adequately treat, or stabilize and move a young child to a properly equipped ED, train ED doctors and EMTs to treat infants and small children, equip EDs with the right size tools and make our EDs safe and prepared for even the youngest patients.

What you can do:

  1. Sign this petition to implement standards across the nation. And share it!  It takes 1 minute to sign!
  2. Join me at the R Baby 5 Star Gala in New York City on May 9th for an incredible evening of Food & Wine and saving babies lives!
  3. Share your stories at RBabyFoundation.org
  4. Make a Donation.  90% of funds go directly to programs and initiatives – not administration!

Emergency Room visits are scary enough for parents and children, let’s make sure that there can at least be comfort in knowing that they are prepared for the children who come through their doors.

Educate to Eradicate Poverty – ONE.org 12 Days of Change Campaign

The education reform debate in the US focuses on testing, achievement measurements, teacher evaluations and data driven discussions that often miss the one major point – our education “problem” is a class and equality problem.  If we dig down deeper into the causes and obstacles facing many of our students poverty is more often than not the deciding factor in whether or not a child will succeed in school.  But, imagine if you had to dig down even deeper than that – to the point where not even having a school or access to education was the issue – and then you start to understand the challenges facing developing nations in Africa.  How can you possibly tackle the greater issue of poverty without taking on the issue of education?

According to ONE, The Advocacy Non-Profit founded by Bono and his wife, education not only provides children and families with a pathway out of poverty, but it can also yield even bigger returns for the world’s poorest countries through its impact on areas such as health and the economy. Educated mothers, for example, are more likely to have smaller families, and have their children immunized and send them to school. Education can also provide families and countries with more economic opportunities and help promote the civic participation that is critical to building democracies.

Less than 1 percent of the US budget goes towards foreign aid.  But look at this infographic, which shows the effect that small amount of money has on an area like education according to the US Aid website:

What ONE small thing can you do today to make change happen?  Watch the video below by ONE member Katie Meyler, about a young African girl named Abigail.  It’s a story about how education is the most powerful change agent there is.  Abigail is now in school and at the top of her class because of More Than Me.  The video was produced by the What Took You So Long foundation.

Watch it and share it – on Facebook, twitter and beyond.

It Only Takes One Mom…

You may have heard about the ONE Moms campaign that had a group of mom bloggers traveling to Africa to connect mom to mom with women across the world.  The campaign is all about raising awareness and ultimately driving action to help women and children in poverty get access to healthcare, education and to raise the standard of living.  I was very fortunate to be asked to be part of the campaign back here in NYC.  Many of us gathered on what was probably the hottest day of the summer to film this PSA.  The ONE Moms team was amazing and I’m really proud of the work they are doing.  Check out the PSA and get involved by clicking here.

On October 25th ONE will host an online Day of Advocacy on October 25 to ask for a broader focus on global HIV/AIDS.  I will update this post as soon as I know the page where moms can automatically update their Twitter feed to tweet a message at the White House or update their facebook status.