Friday, August 26, 2011

The Easiest Thing You'll Ever Be Asked To Do!

Do you wish you had more time to volunteer? More money to give to charities? That helping others could be just a bit easier?

While we're living far better than most places, Mom was right when she said, "Money doesn't grow on trees"; there isn't always enough left in the wallet to help as much as we'd like. And let's face it life is busy; sometimes helping those less fortunate doesn't make it onto today's To Do List.

Wouldn't it be great if as you went about your day, without even needing to think, you could help the issues you care about? Like every time you used the Internet to search for information... or anytime you shopped on-line. Guess what.... just use goodsearch.com and goodshop.com and that's exactly what happens.

Here’s how it works:
Goodshop.com works with more than 2,500 stores (including Target, Apple, Petsmart etc.) Every time you purchase something, a percentage will be donated to your favorite charity! And, they offer coupons and free shipping offers so you can save money at the same time. It’s win win.

GoodSearch is a Yahoo powered search engine which makes a donation to your favorite charity each time you do a search. Each search may only generate a penny or two.... but how many Internet searches do you do in a year?

It all adds up… so far Goodsearch's community impact is more than $7 million...and it only takes seconds to get started.

My charity of choice is Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County. If you want to help DVRC, raise money for our mission, just click the “Become a Supporter” button on our profile page here!

If you wish to support a different nonprofit go to goodsearch.com, name the charity of your choice and start making an impact for your favorite cause!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

From Diapers to Dorms

Almost  everywhere I go I hear, “the graduation parties finally ended and tomorrow we’re packing up the car and heading to college.” These words are inevitably accompanied by worried or bemused looks. So this blog is for the parents who are sending their children off to college. You’re worried… you’re not alone. To prove it, I conducted an absolutely unscientific poll of the top 10 worries of parents of teens.
#10 Will my child pull away from our family?
#9 Did I do a good job as a parent? Have I been a role model and instilled values?
#8  How will he/she be affected by media influences, social networking, or sharing too much information online?
#7 Will my child be safe and make healthy choices… or do something risky that has long-term consequences?
#6 Will he/she drive responsibly and be safe on the road?
#5 Will my child stay motivated and be successful? [...when I’m not there nagging-- or as we call it in my house ‘encouraging’.]
#4 Will he/she be successful in life? Happy?
#3 Drugs and alcohol… will he/she make healthy choices?
#2 Sex… will he/she make healthy choices?
#1 Negative peer influences … will he/she make healthy choices about friends? (it’s interesting that those ‘other kids’ are the real concern.)

So if you’re worrying about any of these things, rest assured,  so is every other parent!

If you’re about to pack up the car with the entire contents of his/her bedroom and send them off to school, here are my top 5 things to remember:
#1 He/she is headed off to begin the path to adulthoodCongratulations! You’ve done your job!
#2 Yes your child will still need you. I realized this the day my older son called me at work and said, “I’m going to an interview. Is there anything I need to know about ironing my suit so I don’t ruin it?” and then he followed up with another call 4 minutes later asking, “Which tie should I wear… and can I call back if I have more questions?”
#3 You will stay connected. Oatmeal raisin cookies are always appreciated… and he/she will need money or a new cell phone very soon.
#4 Your home will change. You can now take the basketball posters off the bedroom walls. You won’t trip on size 15 shoes when you walk in the door. And your electric bills will decrease dramatically with 20 fewer wash loads a week (OK maybe not quite 20)... but you'll also miss family movie night, those talks about everything and anything in the car on the way to and from soccer practice, Scouts, and violin lessons.
#5 If you need something to worry about, here’s a thought…when you finally adjust to their departure, just when that gaping void transforms into harmonious calm… he/she will move back home bringing exuberance, a new sense of maturity and a pile of dirty laundry the size of a Volvo.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Real Magic of the Closet

The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County has a little known secret:

Right in the middle of their office, there's a magic closet.

It began as an ordinary storage closet, but six years ago the Women in Business (WIB) Committee determined to help women and children and that’s when the magic started. The committee collected items to help women who are fleeing abuse.  Initially they collected personal care items for the Baskets of Hope program to give to women living in DVRC’s domestic violence shelter. As the committee heard about how hard it can be to start a new violence-free life, they decided to do even more. Each January they assemble New Beginnings Baskets filled with basic household items (can openers, dishtowels, alarm clocks, first aid kits, etc.) to help domestic violence survivors who are starting over. And each August they collect school supplies and assemble over 100 fully stocked back-to-school backpacks for the Backpacks of Hope. In six years the WIB committee has given over 2,500 baskets and backpacks to help survivors of family violence.

And back to that magic closet… throughout the year  Chamber members and individuals from the community generously donate all the supplies for these projects, The supplies are stored in that closet awaiting the meeting when the WIB committee assembles them in decorative baskets. Inevitably the month before the assembly someone peeks into the closet and like Mother Hubbard expresses concern to the WIB members that  the closet is nearly empty. But when assembly day comes, unfailingly the closet is bursting at the seams with supplies to help these families begin their new life.

WIB members are always astounded that supplies appear by the magic… but the real magic is the passion and dedication that every member of the Women in Business Committee has in helping other women to be free from abuse and to raise their children in a home without violence.

Liz Roggenbuck, of the Chamber talks about the recent Backpacks of Hope collection.   

Friday, August 5, 2011

So that No Child's Face Will End up on a Milk Carton

OK, the topic this week seems to be worried parents. As one parent I was speaking with recently said, “When they’re in school you know where they are and what they’re doing all day… during the summer there are just more opportunities for bad things to happen.”

Perhaps a parent’s worst fear is that their child will be lured away or kidnapped. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) opened a satellite office in Saratoga Springs to provide education to increase awareness about what we can do to prevent this happening in our community. Officer John Kelly who is familiar to many Saratogians from his work with the Saratoga Springs Police Department and as a DARE officer, is staffing the Center. He took a few minutes from his busy schedule to talk about the work of NCMEC and simple steps parents can do to keep their children safe.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Alcopops… Not Just Sweet and Fruity

       First, what are alcopops? It’s a coined word for bottled beer or other alcoholic beverages with fruity flavorings to make them more palatable (alcohol + pop).  
       Who drinks them? Teens are 3 times as likely to know about alcopop products and 2 times as likely to have tried them as adults are1.
       Why teens? Advertisers target young people with ads for these fruity, refreshing drinks. 81% of teens believe marketing these products to young people leads to underage drinking1.
      What’s the Attraction? They’re fruity, sweet, often brightly colored, premixed and look like a soft drink bottle. The sweet taste masks the alcohol flavor so they’re preferred by youth who may not yet have ‘acquired the taste for beer or spirits’.
      Are alcopops a problem? Yes! They are a gateway drug… creating a bridge for new drinkers to experiment. 90% of teens agree that alcopops make them more likely to try other alcoholic beverages1. 84% of teens say alcopops are always offered at parties*. Adults may not even realize these beverages contain alcohol; they look like soda or lemonade. Their fruity taste disguises the alcohol, but many contain 5-7% alcohol by volume… more than beer2.
What’s the risk? These beverages are particularly appealing to teenaged girls. For the first time in history, drinking by teen girls surpasses that of boys (59% compared to 52%3).Teen drinking can lead to: binge drinking, drunk driving accidents, earlier or increased sexual activity, increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, drug use, and sexual assault.

1 Center for Science in Public Interest
2 American Medical Association
3 Partnership for a Drug Free America

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Graduation… from school spirit to 40 proof spirits?

Graduation for teens means 10 weeks of graduation parties, sun, fun and freedom before college starts … life is good! As a parent, graduation means an end to nagging about homework and getting up on time for the bus… halleluiah! But parents, the job’s not done yet. A 2010 study by the University of Rhode Island warns parents whose teens head to college in the fall that that teens tend to increase their alcohol consumption in the summer months before school starts. 
Reason for concern? … Yes, here's why:
· teens often overestimate how much their peers are    drinking
· the legal drinking age may be 21 but most Americans start drinking at 15
· more than 1,800 college students die each year in car accidents
· more than 750,000 are involved in alcohol related physical or sexual assaults, and
· alcohol affects developing adolescent brains differently (some effects are long-term. Click  http://www.preventioncouncil.org/adolescentbrain for more info about adolescent brain development).
What can you do?
· Talk with your teen about alcohol and its associated risks

· Monitor your teen’s activities--where they are and with whom. (Yes, it’s still OK to do.
· Set a good example. researc shows that your attitudes about drinking have a stong impact on your child's behaviors.

Tomorrow: Alcopops... not just sweet and fruity