Help Long Beach #Sandy victims during the holidays!

via Liz Caldas & the “Sandy Help LB” group on Facebook:
Moms & Dads! Help your kids connect with kids on the ground and still in the dark in Long Beach. Send in cards like these and they will be included in stockings….or stuff your own stockings and send to: 120 West Park Ave Suite 103 Long Beach NY 11561….no later than December 10th.

Stockings could have headlamp-flashlights, prepaid VISA or Home Depot cards, deodorant, anything else you think could help and fit in a stocking.

NCR: Amid Sandy, symposium pairs papal teaching and climate change

Photo by Tom Stoekler

The following article in National Catholic Reporter touches on a conversation on climate change held at Catholic University of America. The talk brought together academics, bishops, church leaders and climate activists to explore and engage papal teaching on creation and the environment.

Fordham’s Christiana Peppard, a professor of theology who is writing a book on, Valuing Water in an Era of Globalization, is quoted in the article:

That the church sees issues of climate and the environment through “the language of fundamental rights, including the ‘right to life,’” Peppard told NCR, “is a call to awareness in our American context,” where often right-to-life talk singles out abortion.

Read the whole article here. And read about Peppard’s research here.

Helping Hands Also Expose a New York Divide

… From her Gramercy Park apartment, where she had been without power for several days, Kelly Warren, 48, and a friend lugged 500 pairs of new socks and underwear bought at Walmart to the Rockaways. Her guilt at being largely spared the storm’s wrath was compounded by being up-close to the destruction of an area already struggling with poverty, she said. It made her only more keenly aware of privilege.

“I’m driving in my big Lexus coming down here,” Ms. Warren said, betraying her self-consciousness as she stood in a parking lot amid people riffling through donated clothing. I said, ‘Thank God the car is dirty.’ ”

Read more of Sarah Maslin Nir’s piece in the New York Times. 

Reuters: Red Cross response to Sandy fails to meet expectations

This excellent article by Reuters reveals “a gulf between what many people expected the [American Red Cross] to do in times of crisis and what it actually delivers.”

Key points:

Like Hurricane Katrina victims, Hurricane Sandy victims feel let down by the charity.

From the article:

— The sense of letdown is all the more stark because the Red Cross, the fifth-largest charity in the United States by private donations, is viewed by many as the place to donate money when there is a major disaster at home or abroad. 

— Part of the perception problem may be the massive media and advertising campaigns that the Red Cross runs when there is a disaster.

— These campaigns appear to give the impression that the charity can be all things to all victims. Many of Sandy’s victims said in interviews that this was their view before disappointment set in.

— Frustration with the Red Cross is palpable throughout the Occupy movement.
“The Red Cross is useless,” said Nastaran Mohit, who runs the Occupy medical clinic in the Rockaways with volunteer doctors. “They come to me every day asking, ‘How can we help?’
“I say, ‘Send me people.’ And they tell me they’ll get back to me.”

Read the entire article here.

11-Year-Old Girl Fights To Find A Cure For Her Parents Diseases

Lauren Blum. Image via ABC 3/WinchesterAs many of you know, my father has Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed in his mid-to-late 50s.

I’ll NEVER forget the look on his face when he first told me he thought he had it. By that time, I’m pretty sure he had seen a doctor. We were eating lunch at the kitchen table and he looked at me and said his arm was trembling and he thought he might have something. I was CRUSHED but, as is my style, I showed little emotion and said, “No, you’re not sick. You’re fine. Maybe you just need to rest more.”

I didn’t want to believe it and, most of all, I wanted to aleve his fears.

He looked scared. And embarrassed. And he was right. He was soon thereafter officially diagnosed.

My dad was a very active man. He always worked two jobs. He loved to ride his ten speed bike (cycled competitively in his native Colombia) and lifted weights. Slowly, his ability to do all that would leave him. Today he spends most of his time watching soccer on TV in his bedroom.

Parkinson’s is a like a slow moving physical prison. It sucks. I wish there were a cure.

Research helps. My dad had deep brain stimulation surgery about seven years ago. While it has slowed the disease, and we are grateful for that, I read up on Parkinson’s news daily, hoping there will be a breakthrough.

Eleven year old Lauren Blum of the Winchester-area in Virginia is raising money for research– not only for Parkinson’s, which her dad has, but also for multiple sclerosis, which her mom has. The feeling of having an ill parent is hard to describe. It must be harder for someone so young! This story made me smile because of her positive attitude.

Check it out:

“Half of the money I raise goes to Multiple Sclerosis and the other half goes to Parkinson’s” says Blum. She was only a baby when her parents were diagnosed with their diseases.

“I always used to worry about were they going to die and what is going to happen. You could never really know what’s going to happen with these diseases except they can’t die. When I was younger, I didn’t understand that.”

See the video segment via ABC 3/Winchester here.

For the next generation: Making Movies puts on M.U.S.I.C.A. camp

I was introduced to Kansas City rock band Making Movies during last month’s CMJ Music Marathon in NYC. They fuse Afro-Cuban rhythms with indie sensibilities to come up with bilingual songs that rock.

When they’re not working on their own music, the band is passing their knowledge onto the next generation. But it’s far more than just a guitar lesson here and there. Recently, Making Movies teamed up with the Kansas City-based nonprofit, the Mattie Rhodes Center, to put on “Musicians United by Social Influence and Cultural Awareness (M.U.S.I.C.A.)“, a camp which introduces high risk Hispanic youth from the northeast Kansas City area to the world of music.

As you’ll see in this video, they’re reaching a great group of youngsters who might not otherwise be exposed to the arts. Even better, they’re becoming young artists. The smiles on their faces as they’re playing guitar chords or belting out “La Bamba?” Priceless.

And for more information on the band, check out my Q & A with lead singer Enrique Chi in Sounds and Colours here.

Rockaway Beach Surf Club: Kicking ass & taking names in Sandy relief

If Hurricane Sandy has proven one thing, it’s that grassroots efforts can sure as hell get things done. Even better, they can work side by side with agencies such as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and even the National Guard, to help those affected by a disaster. In some cases, as you’ll see below, it seems like they’re leading!

The following Reuters Investigates video is about the Rockaway Beach Surf Club‘s well-oiled Hurricane Sandy relief machine in the Rockaways. Makes you wonder: what else could they be running?

I linked to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club here. You can also check out Rockaway Relief for ways to help.