Protect Our Children

ncjw

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. It is a time to acknowledge the importance of individuals, families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families Last month I had the privilege of marching on the hill in DC. with the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) telling the senators to Do Their Job. NCJW is committed to endorsing for laws, programs and services that protect children from abuse, neglect, bullying, exploitation, trafficking and violence. I urged Illinois Congressional leaders to fully fund the Runaway Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act to Illinois.

Every day in this country, youth run away from home, are kicked out, exiting juvenile detention centers or welfare systems with nowhere to go. According to the National Runaway Safeline (Formerly the National Runaway Switchboard,) between 1.6-2.8 million youth runaway each year in the United States.  Children can begin running as young as ages 10-14. The youngest are the most at-risk for the dangers of street life.

According to the National Runaway Safeline, children runaway because:

  • 47% of runaway youth report conflict between them and a parent/guardian in the home.
  • Over 50% of youth in shelters or on the streets reported that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving but did not care
  • 80% of runaway & homeless girls reported having been sexually or physically abuse.
  • 43% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home.

marian wright edelman

For over four decades the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RYHA) provided three types of assistance to help communities deliver lifesaving supportive services for youth. The Basic Center Program provided shelter and basic necessities for younger children up to 21 days. The Transition Living Program is geared for older children 16-21 providing developmentally appropriate and readily accessible trauma informed services. The Street Outreach Programs provides service referral, crisis intervention at street locations and drop in centers.

 

In 2103 the money ran out. Since then state and local agencies have been attempting to fulfill those roles. But like many states, Illinois is cutting back on mental health services and needed care. Today with bipartisan support The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (s262/hr1179) would reauthorize and strengthen these three critical programs in addition to collecting trafficking data, adding a nondiscriminatory clause and increase the length of stay in Basic Center to 30 days, requiring suicide prevention services in transitional living programs

 

Runaway and homeless youth are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.   Traffickers prey on their vulnerability. They say” I will take care of you. I can provide food and a place to stay. Let me help.” The National center for Missing and Exploited Children said 1 in 5 of the 11, 8000 runaways reported in 2015 they were likely to be victims of sex trafficking. Furthermore, 28% of the youth living on the street trade sex for basic needs such as food. A growing number of homeless youth identify as lesbian gay, bisexual or transgender. (LBGT): Data suggests they make up 40 percent of runaways today. This bill gives them protection from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation or gender, much like Violence Against Women Act or Head Start. The non-discrimination language is key not re-victimize youth when seeking care

We know for forty years that RHYA has worked. Each year 25000 youth find shelter through the RHYA street outreach program. In 2104 after receiving trauma informed counseling and care, 85% of youth exited these programs and returned safely. In 2103, 72% of youth RHYA temporary housing reunited with their families.

In addition federal programs like this are cost effective. Homeless and runaway youth are disproportionality involved in public healthcare, juvenile justice systems. In 2009 the public cost of services for a homeless individual in Los Angeles, including shelter, health care was $2897 per month- significantly higher than $605 per month for residents in supportive housing. I know what it is like to be sexually abused. I did not run away but I know plenty of people who did. I know what I have spent on healing. The long term consequences of abuse, physical, mental and social are devastating. The actual dollars spent on additional health care is huge for the individual.  Studies indicate moving 500 youth from the juvenile justice system to transitional programs could save anywhere between 5 and 20 million dollars.

 

The modest investment in Runaway and Homeless Youth act programs has laid a foundation for a national system of services for our displaced youth. This essential program must continue. Please write your legislatures today and tell them to fully fund the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act.

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteering Beats The Holiday Blues

Help Yourself by Helping Others - Words Pinned on Board

Volunteering Beats the Holiday Blues

During the holiday season so many people experience depression and isolation. I remember when I got divorced and the first time I did not have my kids for Thanksgiving, it was devastating. I cried and cried. I went to the movies and sat through a double feature. After 4 hours I could not tell you one thing about the movies.  I was just in this horrible dark place and nothing could get through. I went to a twelve step meeting and they talked about service. When you are depressed do something for someone else. So I took their advice and I went to Michaels and got some art supplies and I took them over to the local hospital.  I did feel better. I talked to some of the nurses at their station and they were so excited to have them. Since then I try and do it every holiday…now I bring cookies to the emergency room.

Over the past two decades there is a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social ones. This research,  “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,”  established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer had lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

            The Benefits of Volunteering:

  1. Model  civic responsibility for your children
  2. You get to give back to your community
  3. Learn to solve real problems
  4. Connect to others in meaningful ways
  5. Save valuable resources
  6. Build self-esteem and confidence
  7. Reduces stress and make yourself healthier and happier
  8. Get to learn something new
  9. Improve your leadership skills

Finally, you get to transform your own life and make a difference in the world.

volunteering

There is still time to find ways and opportunities to serve over the next month. Look into your heart and see where it will lead. Just ask how may I serve? When you help someone else you help yourself.

Here are a few suggestions to get started.

  1. Call the VA hospital in your area and see what they need or if there any activities you could help with.
  2. Call a homeless shelter and ask what they need.
  3. Bring your dog to a senior center.
  4. Call the Salvation Army to see if they will be delivering meals or serving meals during the holidays and if you could volunteer to help with either activity.
  5. Collect hats, gloves and blankets to distribute to the homeless
  6. Send letters and cards to the armed forces.
  7. Speak with the volunteering coordinator at your local hospital. Ask her if it would be okay for you to make get well cards for all the children in the pediatric unit that will be there during the holiday.
  8. Mentor a child
  9. Make baked goods and, on the holiday, drop by places that might have someone working — animal shelter staff, police, firefighters — and distribute them with your best wishes

 

Take action: Volunteer today. Please share how volunteering made a difference in your life.

 

 

 

 

One Person Can Make A Difference

be the change

Do you believe one person can make a difference to the world?

Many people believe that they don’t have what it takes to make a difference to the world. They believe only people like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, or celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Oprah or George Clooney are capable of making a difference.

The truth is, every one of us is put on this earth to contribute and make a difference to the world in our own unique way. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale, it just has to be with the intention of making the world a better place, doing a little bit of good.

Here are some of my favorite quotes to inspire you.
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. – Mother Teresa
If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
A tiny change today brings a dramatically different tomorrow. – Richard Bach
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. – William James
You really can change the world if you care enough. – Marian Wright Edelman.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. – Leo Tolstoy
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better it’s not. Dr. Seuss

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – Richard Buckminster Fuller

 Look into your child’s eyes. Stop what you are doing, sit down, and just look into them. Do that every day and you will change the world. Noel Cocca
It takes a better man to acknowledge goodness in others than it does to merely be good oneself. Anyone can criticize or accept praise, but initiating a positive exchange is a hallmark of a difference maker. Scott Berkun

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. – Anne Frank

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama

change-the-world steve jobs

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. – Mother Theresa

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. Buddha

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own– Benjamin Disraeli
There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world. Terry Pratchett
I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference. Ellen Goodman

What is one small difference you can make?  We all have a sphere of influence. Every day we interact with people, the bus driver, the cashier, our families and co-workers. Smile, say hello, and bless them silently with the good health, happiness and peace.  Become a messenger of peace.  firmly believe one person can make a difference.

 

Do you have other suggestions on how we can make a difference to the world? Please share them in the comment section below.

 

 

 

 

Creative Activists Change The Future

be the inspiration

Creative Activists Change The Future

We need leaders who can change the future. In these tumultuous times we need new  conversations that shift paradigms. We need new strategies and original ideas that  create  awareness and education about the need for social change and social justice.We are stepping into a new age of creative activism where we lead from a deep well of shared feelings, values and a global perspective. We are all connected.  It is no longer ok to ignore poverty, homelessness,mental illness, domestic violence or child sexual abuse and say it is  their problem. It is our problem. There is a cause and effect for everyone of these issues.

Imagine the cashier at the grocery store is scared her partner is going to kill her. Her mind is not on her work and she takes twice as long to do her job which affects your ability to get to work on time. Now your stressed. Her kids who have witnessed the abuse are in school and interacting with your kids. They may be biting or aggressive. They need counseling which they can’t afford so it costs you the tax payer more money to meet their needs. It is OUR problem.

What does the creative  activist look like?

  1. Center their lives around their passion and purpose
  2. They turn their challenges into opportunities
  3. They are committed to something beyond themselves
  4. They are courageous. They feel the fear and do it anyway.
  5. They are a role model, a mentor and a volunteer
  6. They practice compassionate listening
  7. Resilient and tenacious
  8. Live in integrity where their thoughts and actions are in alignment with their values
  9. They help, motivate and inspire others to reach their dreams
  10. Use their gifts and talents to make a difference, pay it forward, be of service
  11. They tap into their intuition
  12. They are appreciative and grateful
  13. Recognize the need for diversity
  14. They are authentic and honest
  15. They encourage originality, inventiveness and out of the box thinking to nurture self esteem and social change
  16. They build capacity and skills in other people
  17. They ask for help
  18. They clearly articulate their heartfelt vision
  19. They are curious, lifelong learners and ask what if questions                                                       earth-hug
  20.  See failure as a  teachable moment, just feedback
  21. They nurture their body, mind and spirit ( renewal and restoration)
  22. They are compassionate and empathetic
  23. They are optimistic: see things in color, variations and possibilities
  24. They encourage collaborations
  25. They live their legacy now

This is a call to action. Creative activists change the future. What is your big bold dream for change? Mine is to see football players wearing blue and purple for child abuse and domestic violence awareness. Twenty years ago who would have believed they would be sporting pink for breast cancer?  I would love to hear from you.

I Am A Woman Who Matters

I Am A Woman Who Matters                                                                            you matter

 

I am a woman who matters I change the world.

Stand in my magnificence and powerful dreams

Connected to Source, dwell in faith, compassion and peace

Love and accept myself and the truth of my being.

I am perfect, whole and complete.

 

I am divine love expressing itself through life

Reaching out and letting family and friends know I care

Write thank you notes and words of appreciation

Hugs, a pat on the back and a compassionate ear

I put a smile on my face and a smile in my heart.

Showing you that you matter.

 

 

I am a woman that matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love to   explore different points of view.

Minimize differences and discord with you.

Reach for consensus and harmony,

I clearly respect boundaries and priorities

What I know for sure

We all want to be seen, understood and heard.

 

I nurture my body with nutritious whole live food.

Balance my time with rest, relaxation and renewal.

I am flexible and strong, healthy and whole

Determined and resilient I walk 10000 steps proud and tall.

Dress with a bit of pizzas, glitter and glitz.

Love my curves .Love my laugh lines.

Love my self.

 

I meditate, pray and journal daily.

Take a walk in nature and tranquility.

Read words of world wisdom traditions

Centered in silence listening deeply to God

Daring greatly listening to the call

Do something brave every day

Give thanks for my bounty and blessings.

 

As a woman who matters I improve every situation and vision the best.

Disengage the voice of I can’t, not good enough

Staying fully present

Patiently look to repattern

Raise my vibration with a new life enhancing vision of health, happiness, wealth and peace.

Believe in the power of faith and love to create miracles now.

 

Clear clutter from home and heart.

Keep my finances in order.

A gratitude journal details the gifts of beauty, love, time, energy and attention

Conscious the universe is conspiring for my success

A celebration of noted wins and action steps.

 

I embrace my inner child, a creative channel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              you matter art project

Make regular time to play, write and explore

Indulge in movies, theater and adventure

Laughter and song and natural beauty

Spend time with children in imaginative wonder

Fully awake to scents, texture, taste and color

Express the dance of life, full spectrum living

 

A woman who matters answers the call of the soul

Deep awareness of the sacredness of it all

Love ourselves as we love our friends

Rest in kindness, acceptance and compassion

Practice forgiveness, you did nothing wrong

Wrap yourself in love, the source of happiness and pleasure

 

Visibly, boldly share my divinely inspired vision

Ideas, imagination and creativity flow

A magnet for right people, resources and opportunities to collaborate

I surrender to unlimited abundance and watch my business grow.

Richly rewarded for work that I do.

 

As a woman who matters I make the world change.

See the beauty and Divine nature of your heart.                                                                                                                                                                             

Illuminate, ignite and turn your dreams into gold.

Bring out the unique songs of your soul.

So you stand in your brilliance, power and purpose.

 

As a woman who matters I know the depths of my soul.

That nurtures, blossoms and ever unfolds.

Intuitive awareness, creative expression, encouraging awakening

Clearly committed to a loving, peaceful and respectful world.

I am a woman who matters and changes the world.

I am a woman who matters.

 

I am Rae Luskin a Creative Activist, a woman who matters. To find out more go to www.thewinningadventure.com