Free Women from Domestic Violence   Leave a comment

Domestic Violence and emotional abuse sadly still play a daily role in many women’s lives in the U.S. and worldwide. Even with broadly publicized efforts to educate women on domestic violence prevention and intervention programs, the problem still exists and much more needs to be done.

Statistics show that in the US:

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.

A woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds.

There are more than 3 women killed every day from domestic violence.

8 million days of work per year are lost due to domestic violence.

3 to 4 million women are beaten every year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or boyfriends.

Men who witnessed abuse as children are twice as likely to grow up to be abusers themselves.

It can be difficult when women are emotionally involved with someone to have the ability to see the signs of abusive behavior towards them or their loved ones. The “love is blind” syndrome often applies in these cases, and even when someone else points it out it may fall on deaf ears. Womenshealth.gov has a helpful list of possible signs of abuse and takes a look at healthy versus unhealthy relationships.  Visit this web page http://tinyurl.com/762wdez for some valuable insight on this issue.

For a list of national organizations in the U.S. that work to prevent domestic violence against women, please visit http://tinyurl.com/7 cnuwqq for more information. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) provides assistance to women who are in crisis and need help immediately.

Fight to End Senior Hunger in America   2 comments

Recent studies show that approximately 1 million older Americans go to bed hungry and another 6.5 million are under threat of becoming malnourished. Unfortunately, these numbers are growing at an alarming rate. A few reasons for hunger among seniors include; living on a fixed income with little or no cost of living allowance increases, lack of mobility or illness with little support from family or friends, and no knowledge of services available to them.

It is estimated that 30% of all seniors that do not eat nutritious meals live below the federal poverty level. Many older citizens depend on social security benefits to cover rent, utilities, and basic necessities. In most cases, social security does not cover all necessary household expenditures. In December of 2011, there was a 3.6% cost of living adjustment for social security, but that does not even come near the increase in basic living expenses over the past few years. This was the first increase in social security benefits since 2008. With the cost of food, utilities, and medicines rising continually, it is no wonder many elderly people have to make painful choices like whether they should buy groceries, keep their lights on, or pay for their medications.

Many aging people are ill or have problems moving around, so driving to the store, going grocery shopping, or even fixing meals, may be difficult for them. They may not like to eat alone, or may feel isolated or depressed, which could lessen their interest in eating. Other challenges, such as the loss of taste and smell and the ability to chew and swallow can also be a factor in becoming undernourished. Aging people do not always have family or friends nearby who can check in on them on a regular basis, so the problem can go unnoticed until they succumb to a serious illness.

The Meals On Wheels Association is a national organization that delivers meals to needy seniors with mobility problems across the country. For more information or to lend your support, please visit their web site at www.mowaa.org .  Another program that may be of assistance is SNAP at www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ or call 1-800-221-5689.  You can also join AARP in the fight to end hunger for older Americans by donating to their drive to end hunger at www.aarp.org .

Trees – A Disappearing Natural Resource   Leave a comment

 

Trees are one of our greatest natural resources, and the mass destruction of national forests and rainforests around the world, is proving to seriously affect our local and global ecosystems.  Trees provide our environment with oxygen, improve the air quality, conserve water, fight erosion, help control our climate, and support our wildlife.  Without them, humanity and thousands of species of animals would be hard-pressed to survive for very long.

Deforestation is the removal of trees without adequate reforestation or replanting. There are many causes for deforestation, but many developing countries, such as, Brazil, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Haiti, and more, have greatly reduced their forests and rain forests due to cattle ranching, urban development, farming, fuel, and trade in illegal wood.  Some countries in Africa are having serious consequences due to mass tree cutting.   The climates temperatures are rising, desert areas are growing larger, and the soil is degrading.

Not only are trees part of our natural ecosystem and the heart and lungs of our planet, they are majestic, beautiful, and appear to be reaching their branches out to the heavens, seeming to touch our souls with their quiet and stately presence, as this poem written by Michael Glaser suggests.

 

The Presence of Trees

by Michael S. Glaser

I have always felt the living presence
of trees

the forest that calls to me as deeply
as I breathe,

as though the woods were marrow of my bone
as though

I myself were tree, a breathing, reaching
arc of the larger canopy

beside a brook bubbling to foam
like the one

deep in these woods,
that calls

that whispers home

 

A few small things we can all do to help reduce the destruction of trees: using recycled paper (42% of commercial wood harvesting is used to make paper), recycling newspapers and paper products,  buying used furniture, paying bills online, buying reusable bags for shopping, stopping paper bill and bank statements (sign up for online statements), using e-mail instead of sending letters, or using an online phone directory instead of a paper phone book.

If you would like to support organizations whose purpose is to keep our planets trees and forests alive and thriving, you can visit the web sites listed below for more information:

www.americanforests.org

www.forestethics.org

www.forests.­org

www.ran.org

www.rainforest-alliance.org

www.nationaltreetrust.org

www.greenpeace.org

Trees, as well as all our natural resources, deserve our love, respect, and care, for our generation and all generations to come.

Hope for the Wrongly Accused   Leave a comment

Can you imagine sitting in a lonely prison cell for years, knowing that you have been wrongly convicted of a serious crime? Our criminal justice system was originally designed to protect our law abiding citizens from outlaws and miscreants. The justice system was also intended to protect our right to a fair trial if accused of a crime, but the ability to protect the innocent from false conviction is not without some critical flaws.

When DNA testing was introduced, it was seen as a huge boon to forensic science, but it is estimated that only 5 to 10% of criminal cases have DNA evidence available. This means that courts still have to rely on eyewitness accounts and other evidence to get convictions. Controlled studies have shown, that eyewitness accounts can be up to 33% inaccurate. There are many other factors that can taint an eyewitness account, such as the distance from the crime, the use of a weapon, suggestions from authorities, and a variety of other circumstances.

DNA testing was first introduced in 1984, by Sir Alec Jeffreys of the University of Leicester, England and was made commercially available in 1987. Since 1989, 281 people in the U.S. have been exonerated through DNA testing for crimes they didn’t commit.

Since DNA testing has become available, many weaknesses in the justice system have come to light and have prompted the start-up of many organizations aimed at revamping the methods used to prevent wrongful convictions.

The Innocence Project is one organization whose purpose is to help clients prove their innocence through DNA testing. Each year, the Innocence Project receives more than 3,000 letters from prisoners throughout the U.S. claiming their innocence. There are more than 60 organizations in the Innocence Network, so more than likely, there is a much higher number of people seeking exoneration. The project has been known to review between 6,000 to 8,000 cases at any particular time, and it is estimated that up to 20% of these cases are closed because of evidence that has been lost or destroyed.

If you know someone who may have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, or if you would simply like to get involved with supporting the movement to help change our justice systems policies, you can contact one of the organizations from the Innocence Network  at http://tinyurl.com/7dklpd5 for more information.

Surviving Without Health Insurance   Leave a comment

The number of people in the U.S. who have no medical benefits has risen to 52 million in the past couple of years, largely because of the cost increases in medical insurance coverage.  Since 1958,  medical benefits in the U.S. have primarily been covered by an employer, but this is no longer true for many individuals and families.  Currently, thousands of employers are struggling to meet the escalating costs of insurance premiums, and because the costs have risen as much as 50% between 2003 and 2010, many employers have been forced to transfer up to 63% of the financial burden to their employees, or drop their benefits altogether. So what is the answer for people who are underinsured or not insured at all?

There are still programs that can help, but many of the clinics in these programs are on the chopping block because of substantial state budget cuts  and fewer private donations.  Some of these facilities are so financially strapped that they have had to resort to turning people away.  Most clinics are run by volunteers and\or low paid staff and really need extra support right now to stay afloat.  The national Association of Free Clinics is an organization who advocates for over 1,200 free clinics and their concerns throughout the U.S.   To donate please visit http://tinyurl.com/7gosnrj.

If you have lost your job and can’t afford cobra payments, or are on a low income and have no health benefits, you can still find free or low cost clinics throughout the U.S.  For information on where to find a clinic near you, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at http://tinyurl.com/76xdoq4.

You may also find other resources to help pay medical expenses and other financial assistance from the Need Help Paying Bills web site at http://tinyurl.com/6vlmpgn.

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?   2 comments

All over the world,  drinking water supplies have become dangerously contaminated, and roughly 1.8 million people die each year from diarrheal illnesses, and  an estimated 88% is from drinking unsafe water.  Thousands of us have lived without love, but we can’t survive without clean water.

In the U.S., some of the contaminants that have showed up in our water supplies are, perchlorate (rocket and missile fuel), uranium, arsenic, pesticides, detergents, pharmaceuticals, which include antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.  These are just a few of the pollutants in our waterways, and what people don’t realize, is that even with the EPA and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, about 1/3 of our waterways are still unsafe to drink.

If you’re not sure your water is clean enough to drink, the EPA contracts with Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., who provides a hotline for the public with information on local drinking water quality and drinking water standards throughout the US.  You can call 1-800-426-4791 between 10:00 and 4:00 p.m. eastern time, to speak to an information specialist. If you’re still unsure about your waters safety, get it tested.   The cost for testing can range anywhere from $15. to $100. Your state will have certification officers for drinking water laboratories, and you can find your states listing at http://tinyurl.com/7x3akjl.

Another thing you can do to protect you and your families health, is to buy water filters for your kitchen faucet and shower heads.  A great place to purchase quality filters is at http://www.Equinox-products.com.

The Water Keeper Alliance is a grassroots advocacy group whose mission is to protect the major watersheds around the world.  For more information on what they do and how you can get involved, please check out their web site at http://www.waterkeeper.org.

The Food and Water Watch organization has a petition you can sign that is asking congress  to provide funds to help keep our drinking water safe.   Go here  http://tinyurl.com/7uwbckw to sign the petition.

Be Thankful –Donate to Food Banks   Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Day has traditionally been an American holiday where we gather together with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for our bounty.   We are blessed in so many ways in this country, but there are millions of people who struggle to keep food on their table, clothes on their back, and shelter from the cold.

Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, reported that it serves 37 million people every year and 14 million of them are children.   The number of people who have asked for assistance has increased by 45% since 2006.   Many children, especially in the minority groups, are going hungry or are malnourished, and the number of kids needing assistance is growing every day.   These children are our future, shouldn’t we as a nation of goodwill and charity do everything we can to assist them in their time of need?

The food banks around the nation are doing their best to keep up their emergency food shelves stocked, but are seeing the food supplies dwindle with the high demand.     Feeding America has 200 food banks across the U.S., and they need your help to keep these vital services going.  You can contribute at http://www.feedingamerica.org by starting a virtual food drive, volunteering your time, money, or contacting a local food bank to donate groceries.  All of your donations are tax deductible.   Another good source for a list of food pantries throughout the U.S. is http://www.foodpantries.org.

When you’re sitting down eating your delicious meal, take a moment to think about those less fortunate, and consider how grateful you are to be in a position where you can be of assistance.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!