Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Habitat for Humanity”

The Mission Continues

Since the release of Unwanted Heroes, I have been meeting and talking with a number of war veterans. Some of them, I am ashamed to say, I have known for a long time and vaguely was aware that they donned the uniform.

Heroes Low Res Finished Cover 11.18

It might be because of this that the issues are high on my mind. It seems that every news site, blog, radio show seems to have some mention of it. It’s like if I told you not to count how many Ford Mustangs you see today …

So there I was on a rare foray into live TV and an advert came up for The Mission Continues. I have blogged about a number of non-profits who are helping war veterans absorb back into society, but this organization is different.

“A Mission Continues Fellowship involves 20 hours of service per week for 26 weeks at a local nonprofit organization. Fellows are encouraged to choose a nonprofit organization to serve based on their own personal passions. Current and Alumni Fellows have worked at organizations addressing issues ranging from disaster preparedness to education for low-income youth to training service dogs for wounded veterans. These host organizations include Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”

In a world of entitlement, there is something resonating in men and women who have served in the armed forces, now becoming involved in forces that are building our society. From my experience of internships and fellowships, only the best seem to apply. They may have altruistic goals – building resumes, learning key skills, using the experience to check out a particular profession – but there are more materially rewarding options.

You might think that serving in the army is enough, and maybe it is, but the recognition that this nation’s finest, still have a role to play in defining the quality of this society, is powerful.

Check them out:

—————————————————————————————————–

Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  

A Prayer For Social Action

This is a poem/prayer that I want to share by Jack Riemer. It is as much a call for social action as a prayer. Whether we are believers or not, we each need to find what it takes for us to stand up and do something to make a better world.

A Prayer for Social Action

We cannot merely pray to God to end war;
For the world was made in such a way
That we must find our own path of peace
Within ourselves and with our neighbor.

We cannot merely pray to God to root out prejudice;
For we already have eyes
With which to see the good in all people
If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to God to end starvation;
For we already have the resources
With which to feed the entire world
If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to God to end despair;
For we already have the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to God to end disease:
For we already have great minds
With which to search out cures and healings
If we would only use them constructively.

Therefore we pray instead
For strength, determination, and will power,
To do instead of merely to pray
To become instead of merely to wish;
That our world may be safe,
And that our lives may be blessed.

Habitat For Humanity - people spending their Sundays helping give others a roof over their heads.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Clark Howard Leads The Charge

Clark Howard is the consumer advocate who took on Bank of America when they refused to help a man who incurred legal charges as a result of B of A calling in the police. They suspected the man was in the middle of a criminal act when he was innocently brought a fraudulent check. For more, see here and the post from yesterday.

Clark Howard

Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advocate who “advises consumers how to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off.” He hosts a radio show that is broadcast every day on more than 200 radio stations throughout North America. After a career swinging between jobs in both the public and private sectors, he set up a travel agency business in 1981. Six years later, he retired at the age of 31, having sold what he had developed into a chain that spread across metro Atlanta.

A spontaneous guest appearance on a travel show in Florida led to his own program, The Clark Howard Show, which was soon syndicated by Dial Global. In early 2009, The Clark Howard Show was expanded to HLN (formerly the Headline News channel). He is the author of eight books, some of which sat comfortably in the New York Times Bestseller list. While his books are all available through GetClarkSmart.com, Clark tells his listeners that they are cheaper used and can be had for free at the public library!

I think this tells you a lot about the man. I also want you to know that my books are available new and in e-book form on amazon.com, so it shows what kind of man I am.

Clark also invests in his native Atlanta community. He started several civic programs, including Atlanta Volunteer Action, Volunteer Action, Inc., The Big Buddy Program and Career Action. Together with listeners, he has helped Habitat for Humanity built 30 homes in and around metro Atlanta.

Habitat - a great place to volunteer

I think in today’s economic climate, it is hard to act, hard not to just shut down and weather the storm. If you can do that and live with the clock that’s ticking for you, all power to you. For the rest of us, we could do worse than finding a teacher, someone we trust and can follow. This person shouldn’t make money out of your actions. Pay him/her for their time, books etc., but not the products or services that they advise you to buy.

When learning Tai Chi, I met a man who spent considerable money and time, going to every workshop and studying every form of Tai Chi  with every teacher he could find. When we practiced together, his technique was bad. I wondered how someone who learned from so many of the biggest names had failed to grasp the rudiments of the martial art. The answer comes in depth and not breadth.

Do Little, Achieve Much

Jewish proverbs teach us to find a teacher and learn everything we can from them. Only when we have mastered all they have to teach us, should we move on to another teacher. The trick, of course, is finding the right teacher and recognizing that they bring experience and knowledge, but not the gift of foresight. The best thing we can do for ourselves right now is to find the best financial teacher for each of us and then to listen.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Forgot my Birthday?

Last year, my birthday fell during the once-every-four-years World Cup (soccer). I thought I could slow the aging process down by deciding that, like the World Cup, I would have a birthday once-every-four-years.

A great tribute to the peaceful South African revolution

So what do I want for my birthday? Something between my own house, world peace, and one of my books becoming a New York Times Bestseller. If you can arrange any of those three, please do. If you feel you have to prioritize (really, how long have we been friends?) then I suppose world peace comes first,

Otherwise, I am going to list 10 organizations that I have highlighted over the past year. Instead of buying me a fine bottle of wine or a box of chocolates that will have me working out for hours at the gym (after thoroughly enjoying them), why not consider donating the exorbitant amount of money you were going to splash on me to one of these great organizations. Please click on the link to the organization that catches your fancy.

1. The Lower Ninth Ward Village – a community center that will provide the only way to keep children in a safe environment over the summer.

2. Save A Child’s Heart – a hospital in Israel that gives free medical heart procedures to children from any country or religion in the Middle East and beyond.

3. One Voice – helping Israeli and Palestinian youth demand a non violent and just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

4. Jewish Funds for Justice – sending students to work in disaster-struck areas of the world and teaching the value of social justice.

5. World Reader – providing sustainable e-book solutions to children in Africa and other poor regions, allowing them to grow through reading and education.

6. Habitat for Humanity – a community helping to provide people with homes.

7. Jewish Heart for Africa – leveraging sustainable Israeli environmental technology to help the poorest rural African communities.

8. Darfur & The Berkeley Stove – providing stoves for women in Darfur, thereby avoiding the need to put themselves in violent situations.

9. Project Homeless Connect – offering bi-monthly services to the homeless of San Francisco.

10. Kiva Loans – a micro-loan organization that helps people create businesses to lift themselves out of poverty.

They are all good causes and I know there are many more. But it is amazing how just a small gift can save or change a person’s life. What a way to celebrate your birthday!

Thank you. Wanna slice of birthday cake?

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry, a non-profit that has helped build over 350,000 houses around the world. They have provided safe affordable and respectful housing for over 1.75 million people.

The organization functions on the help of volunteers. People can donate money, time, skills, and materials.  The recipients need to put a small down payment on the project and invest many hours participating in the building or volunteering in the community. I believe this goes a long way to the concept of help with dignity.


While Habitat for Humanity works in over 90 countries, I wish to bring peoples attention to the chapters here in California. There is most likely a Habitat for Humanity near you, needing help. Check out this link.

One of the most impressive aspects of this very impressive agency for change is that they are committed to building environmental houses. Here are a couple of articles from other sources recognizing Habitat for Humanity for their green, innovative approach:

http://smarticle.co.uk/solar-technologies/habitat-for-humanity-goes-green/

http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/news/habitat-for-humanity-builds-solar-housing-for-oakland/

Habitat for Humanity in the East Bay can be found at: http://www.habitateb.org/index.php/

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

Post Navigation

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: