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Communities Providing Warmth for Less-Fortunate Families During Holiday Season

Communities Providing Warmth for Less-Fortunate Families During Holiday Season

There are several times of year in which we are keenly reminded of the values that make a community strong, the bonds that are most important and the duties we all share to help those around us. The holiday season serves as a potent and annual reminder that there are many among us who are less fortunate and in dire need of assistance. In recent years, communities throughout the Phoenix area have demonstrated the power of charity and compassion by reaching out to families in need of help but often too proud to seek it on their own.

Recalling how her family took in a homeless family during an unusually cold December in Phoenix during the late 1980s, Diana Reynolds began mobilizing community members in late 2013 to help protect residents from what threatened to be record-low temperatures — so low that there was intense concern that homeless people exposed to the elements in the Valley overnight could lose their lives unless they were provided with proper shelter. Reynolds and a number of others collected charitable donations and made sure those at risk would be able to find adequate shelter so they could remain warm.

Since Christmas of 2013, the efforts of the city and community members have increased exponentially to ensure that all residents are able to enjoy the holidays and do not have to confront legitimate concerns for their survival. Through expanded efforts that include increased shelter options and access to essential services like heating repair, Phoenix and its citizens have made incredible strides to aid those who are less fortunate during the holiday season. After all, every family is deserving of warmth — both in the figurative and literal sense.

While Reynolds is proud of the effort of the people in the Phoenix area, she is the first to point out that there is so much more that needs to be done. Along with a number of other volunteers, Reynolds continues to spend a lot of her free time at homeless shelters to offer her support and has become a strong advocate for the kind of wholesale changes that will help families rise above their current circumstances. Recognizing that these are good people who want nothing more than an opportunity, Reynolds believes that the community must create more expansive programs that include education and job training.

These suggestions may seem like an overreach, and there are certainly a number of people who believe that this kind of help goes well beyond the purview of any community or government. Perhaps that is the case, but there have been a number of recent studies indicating that these types of expansive programs are not only more effective in reducing poverty and homelessness, but they are also less expensive. Even though there is a cost associated with implementing these kinds of programs, the resulting reduction in other local government expenditures is so much greater that it may be financially irresponsible to fail to offer such expansive program offerings.

In fact, many communities have found that the most cost-efficient and effective solution is to actually provide permanent housing for the homeless. Studies have indicated that there is nothing more important than the stability of a living situation when it comes to reducing overall homelessness. Those who have experienced some sort of misfortune are better able to make positive life changes, find gainful employment and become more self-sufficient as a result, and this outcome means a reduced need for the costly support services that these individuals would continue to seek without the benefit of a more stable living situation leading to self-sufficiency.

As for Reynolds, she has indicated that she will continue to be a strong advocate for those less fortunate than herself. The holidays indeed represent a time in which support should be offered to those who are enduring harsh struggles, and Reynolds has found it much easier to round up volunteers willing to offer their help during the weeks beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with Christmas. The key, according to Reynolds, is to remind people that there are many families in need of year-round assistance, and it is quite encouraging that this type of consistent compassion and warmth is beginning to spread throughout the area with increasing speed.

Fundraising for College Scholarships Is a Worthwhile Endeavor

Fundraising for College Scholarships Is a Worthwhile Endeavor

There are many bright and hard-working students who will graduate high school with exceptional grades but will not have the opportunity to attend college due to a lack of financial resources. Though many universities offer grants and financial aid, the high cost of tuition is often only partially covered by these programs. This means that many deserving students may be forced to enter the workforce before ever having the opportunity to earn a degree.

Thankfully there are many scholarships that are made available to these students through community fundraising. These students have a unique set of skills that may enable them to study to become doctors, lawyers, engineers or foreign language translators who work for All Language Alliance, Inc. Regardless of the choices they make with regard to their studies, these fundraising efforts are a wonderful example of community members working together to ensure that higher education is available to these outstanding students.

Madera has held many fundraisers for this purpose, and one recent event allowed patrons to sample various types of wine and beer that had been made locally. These events not only help to raise money for important issues, but they also allow community bonds to be strengthened in a significant way.

Heart Felt Stories That Make You Cry

Heart Felt Stories That Make You Cry

Some stories are just so close to your heart that they bring on the tears.  I remember my mother talking about how poor they were as children.  It is hard to imagine the tough life she endured.  Living in the South in the 1940s was difficult for those living in poverty.  Work was impossible for little pay.  Many including my mother migrated to California in hopes of the promised land of milk and honey.  Just leaving everything behind and going on faith they made their way to California. For much of my youth mom waited tables and we lived on the tips she received.  Thank God for the charity of well meaning customers.  Eric Gonchar has a similar story to tell.

Emphasizing Community Among Co-Workers Can Inspire Feel-Good Stories

Emphasizing Community Among Co-Workers Can Inspire Feel-Good Stories

Spend a few minutes in any business school classroom and you will undoubtedly hear discussions regarding the many ways a company can successfully improve productivity among its employees for the sole benefit of the bottom line. It is not nearly as often that the societal benefits of fostering a sense of community among employees is discussed, but this is precisely what Luke Weil has proposed.

Weil, the CEO & Co-Founder at Andina Acquisition Corp., believes that creating an atmosphere in which employees care about and rely on one another is important not only for the success of a company, but also for the individuals who make up the company’s identity. Weil acknowledges that there are financial incentives for creating this sense of community, but mostly he believes that it creates a sense of working for the common good, a sense that has been shown to improve job satisfaction.

Weil provided an example in which a group of employees at a fast-food restaurant in North Carolina all pitched in to help a homeless co-worker find and furnish an apartment. This kind act not only helped the co-worker who had been down on her luck, but it also provided a benefit to the family, to the co-workers who pitched in, and to the employer for whom they work.

These mutually beneficial outcomes should be pursued by companies in Madera so that similar feel-good stories can become much more commonplace, Weil says. In doing so, the community becomes a better place for all to live and work.

Fitness Celebrities Who Have Never Been to Madera

Fitness Celebrities Who Have Never Been to Madera

Among the many celebrities who have never been to Madera are many fitness gurus (both self proclaimed and genuine).

Jeff Halevy (Facebook)

Harley Pasternak (Harley on Hamstrings)

Mary Helen Bowers

Gunnar Peterson

Anna Kaiser

David Kirsch

Astrid McGuire

Mark Langowski

Justin Gelband

Erin Oprea

Danny Musico

Ashley Borden

Holly Perkins

I was going to link everyone, but after the Harley link talking about hamstrings I got hungry and made myself a sandwich. After reading about health and fitness gurus then making myself a sandwich with more mayo than you’ll imagine, I no longer have the same motivation I had 30 minutes ago.

I do have motivation for a nap!

Where is Madera?

Where is Madera?

Madera is a small town in the Central Valley of California. Once known as the teen pregnancy capital of California while California was the teen pregnancy capital of the US, Madera has shrugged off that old motif and now lives happily in the shadow of Fresno.

Madera is such a popular destination that when you search Madera on Google you’ll find a restaurant listed first. That’s first above the Wikipedia entry and our very own city and county websites.  On the first page you’ll find a Yelp listing for a non-Madera place. Hotels in San Francisco and Washington, DC and eventually the local school district’s website.

This is all fine and dandy for a small town, but Madera has a population of about 70,000 residents!

Madera is also a Spanish word for “wood”. That’s why you see images of wood in the search results picture below.

Madera Search Results