Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 365

It was the PERFECT night at SafeHouse!! It started with some conversation with the man who lives under the bridge - he told Cindi and I the story of him getting hit by a pick up truck, and explained what egg custard is since neither of us has ever heard of it.

The crowd was smaller than usual, it being New Year's Eve and all, so I said hello to a few more people before heading inside to help make grilled cheese sandwiches. There was no church serving tonight, but the group visiting there and a few of us volunteers were more than happy to help put something together!

While doing that and having random NYE conversations with one of the ladies outside it seemed like something was going on there tonight, especially since some of my family members SHOed up! I was asked to come inside for something and walked in to see cake and cards set up in the serving kitchen! Once getting through the thank you's, the hugs, and some cake we started making plates with cake, sandwiches and bowls of potato soup.

We served the meal, had some conversations with a few more people inside, hung out with the awesome group staying there (Happy Birthday David!!) and of course the best volunteers anywhere!

It was definitely the perfect end to this project! Looking forward to going back tomorrow :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 364

It was a quieter night at SafeHouse today, everyone's getting ready for the new year!

I spent some time talking to a gentleman about the winter shelter program - the rules, the program, and his thoughts on it. We then talked about how his job search is going, he's hoping that he'll have better luck after the holidays. Keeping my fingers crossed for him.

I also spent some time talking to a gentleman who wasn't feeling too well this evening. He's been feeling sick for a few days and today has been the worst! He told me about his day, he usually gets 3-4hrs of sleep a night, works a labor intensive job during the day, and is helping out at SafeHouse most nights. He doesn't eat much and is usually exhausted by the time he gets home.

I wish I could do more to help someone like him who's doing all the right things to get his life together to the point of exhaustion! For tonight all I could offer was a cup of hot soup, some green tea and some conversation. Hope he feels better soon.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 363

It was a fun night at SafeHouse this evening!

The group there today was amazing! They started by serving hot chocolate, then had a wonderful service, cooked some good food, and ended the night with smores around a bonfire!

I had some great food conversations, helped a gentleman figure out how old he is, did some cloud watching (and saw rainbows!), caught up with a gentleman I had not seen in a few months, and handed out shelter tickets at the end of the night.

Hoping for more conversations tomorrow :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 362

There was no church serving at SafeHouse today, but some of the amazing staff there put together a meal that had everyone wanting seconds, thirds, and more! It was a simple meal: delicious soup, toasted bread, and fruit. The soup was the house favorite - I think it's a secret recipe!

We only had a few volunteers today too, so it was a busy night of getting everything into plates, bowls, and cups, serving, and of course having a lot of fun while we did all of that. I had a few minutes as we were serving to say hello to different people, and only had a few conversations before everyone came inside. So I'm definitely looking forward to an evening of conversations tomorrow :)

Kid and Hema - you guys are the best!! Thank you for coming with me tonight.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 361

It was a really really cold day in the city - thank goodness for the group serving there tonight! The doors were opened early to get people out of the cold, and the volunteers with the group made hot chocolate and served everyone while they were waiting for service to start. And they were making hot soup to serve with dinner!

I went inside and said my hellos to as many people as I could before it got crowded, conversation topics included weather, rainbows, leprechauns, and frogs! One gentleman spoke to me about doing good for others (even if it's just a friendly hello) no matter what kind of day he has had. He has a wonderfully positive attitude about everything and it's so refreshing to talk to him!

Since this has come up a few times :)
...the project will be over in a few days...all that means to me is that I won't have to write a blog at the end of the day. I still plan on volunteering about 3-4 days a week, primarily at SafeHouse but also Open Hand, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Global Soap, and Books for Africa, and then any other opportunities that interest me. This project has made a huge impact on my life, there's no turning back now!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 360

The past few days have been emotionally draining but my night at SafeHouse was a welcome break from it all, filled with some good conversations and helping in the kitchen. I started off catching up with a gentleman I haven't seen for a few weeks. The last time I saw him he told me that he would be moving in to a winter shelter and would not need to come to SafeHouse for meals while he was there. But he stopped by today to socialise and it was great catching up with him.

The gentleman who lives under the bridge shared food stories with me :) We talked about fried chicken, butter milk and corn bread, and his all time favorite seasoning - Mrs. Dash lemon pepper seasoning. I'm definitely going to have to try this one out!

Before I left for the night I had a cathartic discussion (I think discussions can be cathartic, maybe). This gentleman talked with me about relationships in his life and the emotions that arise when some relationships end. We talked about making life altering decisions and how those decisions are clouded by emotions, as well as how sometimes it's better to wait and control the emotions before making a decision. We talked about trust and respecting yourself and the other person, because any relationship without those things will fall apart. He was talking specifically about his relationship but this is the basis of so many relationships.

As this project comes to an end, I'm once again reminded of how much this year has given me...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 359

SafeHouse hosted a Christmas Party this morning/afternoon for some wonderful families! I arrived at about 9am and helped get some of the basic setting up done. Before I knew it, it was time to get to the apartments to pick up families and bring them back to SafeHouse for lunch. After 3 trips we had everyone there enjoying some delicious food and waiting in excitement for their presents.

A LOT of volunteers were able to make it out (they're amazing!) so we had several people making plates, serving food and soda, interacting, cleaning up and just doing whatever was needed at any given moment. Santa also made a special appearance and the kids loved it! With his arrival, the gifts were handed out and all you could hear was laughter and excitement in the room!

The event was perfect! And it was a great way to start my day :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 358

I made up for no conversations yesterday - this evening at SafeHouse was full of conversations!

I started off talking with the gentleman who lives under the bridge. Today's topic centered on animals - cats and kittens, possums, rats. It evolved into what animals eat and the claim that they eat anything, and right before I left that conversation it switched to cannibalism!

I then spent the remainder of my time there talking with the gentleman who always cleans up with me. I hadn't talked to him since I got back from vacation so we had a lot to catch up on. He has been going to the library regularly and is not happy about them being closed for the holidays! He had a lot of questions about my trip so we talked about what life is like over there, animals, the weather, and food. We also talked about the local shelter and all the news about it closing or not closing. I asked him about his thoughts on joining a program and, like many others have told me, he doesn't want to join a program because of the structure - he says it's a loss of freedom. He shared that he enjoys being out here learning about the world and being able to see different things.

That's one of the things I love about SafeHouse - they meet people where they are in life and provide whatever assistance they can for that specific person's needs. For this gentleman, it's a meal and service each night.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 357

It was sorting day at SafeHouse. After yesterday's nightmare of finding clothes I asked if I could take some time this evening to sort (somehow) through the piles of clothes in the back hallway.

I went through and sorted mens, womens, and kids clothes and tried to fold them up, as neatly as I could!

Once service was over we handed out as many clothes as we could, mainly jackets, sweaters, and blankets. It's really cold tonight so hopefully anyone sleeping outside will be a little warmer!

I had a few conversations, mainly about holiday plans, new year resolutions, and presents!

Now its family time in the city :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 356

After battling thunderstorms from Columbus I made it to SafeHouse just in time for a rather busy night. Since it was pouring rain here as well, Lablanc thought it would be great if we could give anyone who needed it, a dry set of clothes. Of course I was on board with this so that's what we made happen tonight.

Thank goodness Dona and Luna were there! As I got people's sizes, the two of them dug through piles of clothes to find the right ones for each person. After service we handed them out to everyone and then helped anyone else who needed clothes/shoes. It was a relief to know that they were not going to have to sleep in clothes that were soaking wet!!

Before leaving for the night I had a chance to talk to the gentleman who used to be in the air force. He came by after service to get a cigarette and ended up telling me about his whole day and how it led up to the moment he came by SafeHouse. It was a fun conversation and he promised he'd come by tomorrow to tell me more stories - I'm looking forward to it :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 355

Freerice competition is getting tense!! So I dedicated the evening to donating grains of rice (again). I dabbled in English vocabulary, French, flags, and the world map.

And ended with the most I've ever donated in one sitting - 10000grains of rice :)
This may be my last virtual opportunity for the year so it had to end on a high note!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 354

I'm taking a break from freerice and instead went to Amnesty International to write letters for human right's issues:

The first one was an urgent action letter for a lawyer who was beaten when he demanded to see his client. On 17 August lawyer Dmytro Karpenko was detained and tortured by police in Cherkasy, Ukraine, after demanding to see a client. When he complained about his treatment, the police accused him of assaulting them. His trial is on 29 December. The letter was to ask that his charges be dropped and that there be an immediate investigation into the allegation that Dmytro Karpenko was tortured while in police custody.

The next one was a letter for Wa’el Khattab, a forty-four year old man who was arrested on 14 August during the ongoing popular protests in Syria. He has had no contact with his family since. He appears to have been subjected to an enforced disappearance by the Syrian authorities. I wrote to ask that his whereabouts be disclosed; that he be protected from torture and other ill-treatment, allowed access to his family and a lawyer of his choice and provided with all necessary medical care; and that he be released immediately and unconditionally if he is a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

The last one was for Sarabi Seyunov, who has been held in pre-trial detention in Nalchik, Russian Federation, since November 2005, and has contracted tuberculosis (TB) allegedly due to his deliberate placement with a TB-positive inmate. His condition has rapidly deteriorated while he was being denied adequate treatment, and he can no longer attend his long-awaited trial. I wrote to ask for adequate medical care as well as a response to his requests for an independent medical examination, in accordance with the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Imprisonment or Detention. I also asked for consideration of replacing detention with a different form of pre-trial restriction in view of his health condition as well as an investigation of all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of Sarabi Seyunov and his co-defendants.

That's all for tonight! Happy giving!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 353

I spent another evening on freerice today (my competitive side is being challenged :) ). I donated 5660grains and as a group our company has donated 54510grains of rice.

Most of the group is able to use work time to spend some time on freerice so those numbers will be going up over the next week!

Giving is just that easy - would you/your company let staff use work hours for a good cause??

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 352

Back on the road so I visited and tested my English vocabulary till I got to 3000grains of rice.

Work has a freerice group set up and as of today we have donated 36530grains of rice! Feeling the competition so I might just dedicate this week to freerice! :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 351

Hema, Lisa, and I went out to Brook Run Skate Park this afternoon in support of the Shred for Josh Benefit Concert. Josh was shot in the stomach while hanging with friends in downtown Atlanta in late November. He is currently in stable condition but was left with some pretty hefty medical bills. All proceeds from the contest are going directly to Josh to help him pay the bills. 

The weather was perfect for the event and there were A LOT of people out to support it. None of us had ever been to a skateboarding event so we were in awe as we watched the skateboarders! And I was constantly gasping when people fell off boards or balanced on edges that I know I don't have the balance for. We left before things got gnarlier!

It was a great event - thank you Clint and Brook Run Skate Park for having us!!

The ONLY girl in her age group!

He's 4years old!!!! And adorable!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 350

Busy night at SafeHouse! I spent some time talking with the gentleman who used to be in the Air Force. He shared all kinds of informational tidbits. He is not always coherent and usually mutters to himself while collecting anything he sees on the floor. But this week he has been a little more focused, conversations are still very tangential and factual. He told me about sharks and dolphins, Nixon, helicopters and jets, and an Access card that he can use to get whatever he wants as long as he knows the PIN.

Once service started everyone went inside, so Cindi and I helped where ever needed: finding clothes for various people, serving soup, collecting garbage, handing out shelter tickets, and of course socialising as much as possible!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 349

SafeHouse didn't have service today but I was there early enough that I got to talk with the gentleman who lives under the bridge.

It was a conversation down memory lane. We started talking about cloudy days and how it can make people feel depressed. He told me how grateful he was for each day and that he hopes to live a long life. He shared that he had seen many family members pass away at an early age, and from there he shared many family stories. He told me about playing with his cousins, going out to underground in his teenage years, mum's home cooking, and skipping school. I loved listening to each of his stories and am so glad I got to talk with him today!

Now its game time @ the dome!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 348

SafeHouse was, once again, the perfect place for me to go to this evening to "get away" for a while. I started off with helping one gentleman fill out an application to get his ID. He wasn't sure about some of his info - I'm hoping he will get the last few details so we can finish that up tomorrow. He shared that he would like to get his ID so he can start looking for a job, and possibly learn more about computers.

Helping him with that then turned into a conversation circle. Each of the guys showed off their cellphones, we talked about ID photos and how horrible they can turn out, my trip home, food and cultures, and then everyone's favorite sports/hobbies. As the evening went on there were a lot of hellos and checking in conversations. One gentleman shared that he has orientation tomorrow for his holiday job; another shared details on his upcoming move to Florida.

Cindi and I also helped find clothes for a gentleman who was in need of clean clothes. While he was eating we hung out with him. He is very talkative but usually keeps to himself so it was great to be able to have a conversation with him, even one that was very tangential!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 347

I made a quick stop at SafeHouse before heading to their last 11 for 11 fundraiser of the year. The lot was quieter than normal. I talked to the gentleman who lives under a certain bridge - he told me that it was warmer in the city today and that he spent the afternoon enjoying the sun and reading a book. We watched a couple of people play Frisbee, and we directed traffic on the lot!

About an hour later I headed over to Mood Lounge for tonight's fundraiser. Dona spent a lot of time putting this one together and making sure every detail was perfect (including her santa hat and mistletoe). The location was chic and I was pleasantly surprised.

The crowd was very different this time and I had a great time meeting all these new faces! There were lots of introductions, conversations, great appetizers and drinks, and of course lots of laughing!Dona kept up with making sure everyone was having a good time while I walked around collecting donations. Overall, it was the perfect ending to my day and we are so grateful to everyone who came out to show their support for all the amazing work SafeHouse does! THANK YOU!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 346

I went on to to donate rice this evening and did about 2900 grains of rice (I've noticed that on Mozilla and IE my grain numbers restart and then jump back up to where they should be but without accumulating, so the numbers are no longer correct).

Work has created a group on there and my coworkers will be doing 5hours worth of freerice each over the next few weeks!! Of course I think this is fabulous and I can't wait to see how much we collectively donate!

Giving is so easy sometimes!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 345

It was a quieter evening at SafeHouse today, not sure what else was going on in the city...I walked on to the lot, saw some familiar faces, walked over to say hello, heard my name get called from elsewhere, and then saw my (now 3year old) buddy running up to me. As soon as I picked him up he started telling me all kinds of stories that I couldn't really have any conversations with anyone else.

He took me over to another volunteer and then had us playing hide-and-seek for the next 20minutes. In between hiding and running I said hello to several people. I also caught up with the gentleman who volunteers with many different organizations. He is planning to move to Florida at the end of the month to start fresh. While I know this is something good for him, and something he has been considering for months, it still made me a little sad that he is going away. He is one of those people who tries really hard to make things better but gets caught up in the wrong crowd, he cares about people and making a difference in our community and is always looking for an opportunity to do so. I'm definitely going to miss him and really hope I get to see him a few more times before he leaves.

Today marks twenty days left on this project. I'm sure I will eventually share my thoughts on that, but for now I'd like to say thank you to all of you who in the past 24hours have reminded me of what this project means to me, the difference it's made in not just my life but yours as well, and the fact that it's not just a project but my passion too! Thank you!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 344

After a late night, followed by an early morning was NOT how I was expecting to roll today!

Chandni had me up at 8am, and Cynthia was running around at the same time trying to get the remainder of the presents to us.

We got over there to a lot full of volunteers and a line of anxious parents and children forming outside of SHO!
Any of the agitation caused by lack of sleep and COFFEE; immediately dissipated as we walked towards SHO's parking lot.

And I think my eyes are a little welled up as I write this, but you could almost taste the excitement and joy in the air... and (ughgh..) I guess I could feel the Christmas Spirit (i know, I know, I'm such a GRINCH).  But seeing this project to fruition with the support of all of our unexpectedly generous friends, family and coworkers was simply AMAZING.

We were ushered in by volunteers, and went straight back to a room full of presents and volunteers to drop off the last of what we had.  We were then placed at the front of the lot to greet, register, and direct the parents and kids on the receiving end of all YOUR kind generosity.

Between the three of us and the Deeter family (also regular volunteers), we were able to knock out much of registration.... well, that is until Chandni saw her little buddy!  She was totally taken away from what she was doing as she saw him approach the table!

At some point I was taken into the main hall to entertain the waiting parents and keep them from getting antsy!  And I think the kids there with just a little direction from me, kept our clients laughing and distracted enough.  We had performances from kids of all ages, and we heard everything from Lil Wayne's "How to Love' to Chris Brown's "This Christmas"!

We ALMOST had a comedian come up, but of course he got real SHY!

All in all it was a BLAST!

AGAIN, we want to THANK everyone for making today POSSIBLE!

We love you all for giving so generously!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 343

I made it back just in time to hang out at SafeHouse for a little while :)

It was a night full of conversations, laughing, and meeting new people (or rather, people I've seen before but hadn't actually met). I talked to one gentleman about cultures, religion, and he told me about diversity in his family and how how that has made him interested in learning about different people.

Another gentleman came up to talk to me and said that he always sees me there and was wondering why I came by. I told him about Project 365 as well as the things I enjoy at the nightly service: meeting people who have been through different things, being able to talk to them and just listen to their stories, and of course the bond and relationships that are formed each night. This conversation was a wonderful reminder of why I'm doing this project and why I've enjoyed it so much!

I also met a lady and her son this evening but we only chatted for a few minutes. She was very paranoid about anyone talking to her and was very skittish. I'm hoping to talk to her a little each time I see her and hoping she'll slowly feel comfortable talking to me too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 342

With National Human Rights Day just around the corner (December 10th) I chose to visit Amnesty International and fight for human rights!

My first letter was to defend Native women from domestic violence. More than 1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be subject to domestic violence or sexual assault in her lifetime. The maze of federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions, along with the damaging precedent set by the Supreme Court ruling in Oliphant v. Suquamish, has created an environment of impunity in Indian Country where perpetrators act without fear or consequence for their crimes. On October 31, 2011, Senator Daniel Akaka continued the fight to end violence against Native women by introducing S. 1763, the "Stand Against Violence and Empower (SAVE) Native Women Act". The legislation will seek to tackle the issue of domestic violence in particular, by restoring the capacity of tribal governments to prosecute crimes of domestic violence and uphold protection orders in Indian Country.

The next one was to stop the repeated, arbitrary arrest, intimidation, harassment and ill-treatment of activists in Zimbabwe. The activists of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are frequently targeted by police and security forces while exercising their freedom of speech and assembly. The members of WOZA gather to march to bring attention to human and civil rights violations in Zimbabwe. Many members have experienced incidents of unnecessary physical violence during the course of arrest and while being held in jail or prison.

The last one was to remind the Olympic Committees of the Bhopal Tragedy in India. The lives of tens of thousands of people in Bhopal, India were devastated in December 1984 by a catastrophic gas leak at Union Carbide’s pesticide factory (now owned by Dow chemical). Since the world’s worst industrial disaster, over 25,000 people have died, and over 100,000 continue to deal with serious health problems. There has been no justice in Indian or US courts for victims, no proper rehabilitation for the many survivors struggling with medical problems, and no adequate compensation for those whose lives were changed forever by the leak. Sadly, this human rights disaster now spans generations.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 341

I woke up to three missed calls and numerous texts this morning!
And it just reaffirms that my friends are PROCRASTINATORS... Well, not all of them... YOU KNOW who your are though!

So to balance all of that out, and to avoid having to STOP everything that I'm doing tonight to update the blog and potentially ruin the vibe for the Christmas party tonight... I am going to START blogging now!

Phillip and Dacia Bray, Santana, Tracie, and the REST of us ELVES have been slaving away in our little workshops to Make Christmas wishes come true for Kids at Safehouse outreach.

We've reached far and wide into our social networks, and have come out with some amazingly wonderful and giving people that committed to making each child on our lists' Christmas PHENOMENAL!

I want to take a few moments to THANK our friends and family members that sponsored a child, offered solutions, helped with donations, asked their friends to get involved, and just supported in any way - shape - or form!

You guys are simply AWESOME!
And I can't wait to see you tonight at Tavern 99!

I'll be sure to update the blog and let you know how the party went!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 340

After a weekend full of wedding festivities and packing, Kenny and I crashed Project Open Hands this afternoon! Of course, one of the coordinator remembered us from the beginning of the year, and made sure he introduced us as the group that volunteered the entire year - 365 days of giving. We ended up helping them decorate a giving tree during the time we were there. Large groups that came in were encouraged to donate to Project Open Hands and purchase an ornament to offset the cost of food that went up by 34% this year. With three women decorating the tree with different ideas, it was refreshing to have Kenny there to "Just DO IT." We had a blast, and we're thankful that Project Open Hands accommodated us! We certainly hope they meet their goals for this season! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 339

I am on the road this week which means there will definitely be some virtual volunteering..starting today :)

I visited and went through the click to donate tabs. I took today's daily action - For every person who completes the Fair Farm quiz, a generous donor will give $1 to Food & Water Watch to help protect our food. And I signed a few petitions: to save the Spirit Bear; aid for Pakistan flood victims; to stop sexual harassment in schools; to protect the coral sea; and to bring democracy to Burma.

While picking up my rental car this afternoon I heard of an amazing act of giving: an elderly gentleman was stuck on I75 after his car broke down, another gentleman stopped for him (total strangers), gave him a ride to the car rental place, helped him get a rental, waited with the elderly gentleman till he got his car! There's always an opportunity to give back, we just have to be willing to give :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 338

I had a nice evening at SafeHouse today, really laid back, weather was a little warmer than most of this week, and the conversations were all fun!

I met someone new today, another gentleman from New York - he just got here Friday night! He has been staying at the shelter and is hoping to apply for a few jobs this week. We compared the weather here to that in New York; he told me some about his family; a little about the friends he came down here with; and about the friends he's made in the past two days.

I also got to catch up with a few people I had not seen in weeks! We caught up on what books to read, volunteering at the food bank, football games, fantasy football, and old friends from my early days at SafeHouse.

I also caught up with the gentleman who used to be interested in the stock market. We talked about jumping out of planes and all the reasons not to, jobs (he has worked in a mental health setting before as well), and how he plans on having a merry Christmas this year!

On the road starting tomorrow, hoping to make it to SafeHouse for a bit before I head out...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 337

I volunteered at Books for Africa first thing this morning and made it through 2 very cold hours in the warehouse!

There were a lot of volunteers there today, most of them high school kids, so we sorted and packed A LOT of books. The box I was going through was mostly elementary school leisure reading books and some middle school books. I remembered some of the titles from way back when - some things are meant to stay the same :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 336

After a somewhat stressful day I made it to SafeHouse and was greeted by the young boy who comes there often. He was playing tic-tac-toe and learning to write his name with one of the volunteers. It was a quieter night today since most people get their cheques around this time but there were still some fun conversations.

I caught up with one gentleman who shared that he was going to the SEC parade tomorrow; joked around with someone else about basketball, spades, and the skills I have in both those activities and how I could probably win against him (he has been teaching me both); talked to another gentleman about women (specifically two of us) taking over the world and how much stress that may cause him; and before leaving for the night hung out with the wonderful volunteers for a bit!

A night at SafeHouse always gets rid of the stress!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 335

I stayed in today and chose to give back through

I stuck to English vocabulary and donated 4000 grains of rice. Hoping to make it to SafeHouse tomorrow evening :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 334

It was another really really cold night out on the SafeHouse lot. When I got there I said my hellos and made my rounds to as many people as I could.

I was talking to one gentleman about music and what he listened to. He also talked some about his music and he let me listen to one of his songs. It sounded good! The gentleman who talks to me about his relationships was there today and we got a chance to catch up. He shared his latest relationship woes and plans for his next relationships. He talked about living life like The Bachelor (that's what I think it is) and is considering dating multiple people and eliminating them as he takes them on each date - he swears that this would not be like The Bachelor!

I met someone new yesterday and had shared some information about SafeHouse with him yesterday. We talked a little more today and he told me about himself. He is from New York and had to come down here for some work. He now wants to go back to school and get a business-related degree. He is a little quiet, has a good sense of humor, and seems very patient. I hope he gets to his goals!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 333

Its getting colder and its dark too early which makes it harder to get out to volunteer in the evenings. But I still made it to SafeHouse today and got to catch up with one gentleman who lives under a bridge not too far away. We chatted about my vacation and the weather there, then the weather here. A lady sitting next to him joined our conversation and we started talking about the snow forecast and the worst weather each of us has seen.

I talked to another gentleman about food from different parts of the city, state, country, and world. He likes learning about different cultures so he had a lot of questions for me.

Once everyone went inside, I helped put chairs away and then caught up with another awesome volunteer. It was a nice, quiet evening and I'm glad I was able to make it down there. Back again tomorrow for more catch up conversations!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 332

It was a busy night at SafeHouse this evening! I got there early and had a chance to catch up with some of the guys out on the lot. I spoke to the gentleman who volunteers at the food bank; he talked to me about the referral process for services for homeless people and how sometimes it gets really tedious because you need a referral for another referral which is then for the service you need. It seems like a lot of paperwork and some of it gets redundant! He also spent some time downtown while Occupy Atlanta was at Woodruff Park so he shared stories of what he saw going on.

The group serving this evening always have a great meal but didn't have a lot of volunteers with them so I spent the rest of the evening helping them put together meatball subs with oreo cookies and a fruit cocktail. They also had lemonade, hot chocolate, and coffee. They had enough food for two servings so everyone was happy about that!

I also got to catch up with some of the other volunteers - it's always a good night when they're there :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 331

Between Chandni's jet lag, my itis from Thanksgiving, and it being Football Sunday... we decided to stay in today. I started to look at, and wasn't inspired, so I ended up logging onto While freericing, I managed to catch up with a few friends, and according to Marcus about 500 grains of rice could possibly feed one person. So at about 1,500 grains of rice - I think we were maybe able to help 3 people... At 2070 grains of rice, the words began to repeat themselves, so that's where I stopped for today. Back I go to watching DA BEARS game! I hope everyone enjoys the last of their thanksgiving weekend! Happy GIVING!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 330

Landed in Atlanta at 630am and made it to SafeHouse at 11am for their Chili Block Party! I met Dona as she led some volunteers to neighborhood parks to invite people to the party. There were a lot of great volunteers there and there was a medical clinic, a foot care station, a table set up for referrals to programs, clothes to pick from, haircuts, game tables, and live music! It was definitely a treat for everyone there.

Once I got to the block party it was all about saying hello to everyone and catching up with them. I hadn't seen one of they guys in several months, it was really good to see him and catch up on what he's been up to. He still volunteers a lot but no longer has his apartment but says he's okay with that for now. There was a lot of checking in with people,conversations about my holiday, and conversations about Thanksgiving.

It was great seeing so many volunteers come out on a Saturday morning to make this event a success, and even better seeing so many younger volunteers!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 329

I spent my last morning in Gabs (for this trip) at the Baylor Clinic and I can't believe how fast time went by, a combination of having tons of fun with the kids and whenever I'm leaving home it feels like the last few hours fly by!

Two other volunteers joined me this morning and we had about 15 kids to hang out with. There were a lot of different activities going on and I was surrounded by a few younger kids - we made cars out of lego and had car races, caused accidents, and drove all over the tables and benches! The kids then drew pictures and wanted to show them off as soon as they got done drawing so I went from one to the next praising their creativity - they loved the extra attention!

Before leaving I sat with one of the younger boys as he read a short story book with me. I asked him questions after each story and he was excited each time he got the question right.

I had a great time meeting the kids and hanging out with them. And I look forward to going back some day! Now back to packing :(

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 328

Last minute errands kept me from going to the clinic this morning so I visited

I clicked to donate for many causes: children in need, the rainforest, big cats, breast cancer, rescue pets, seals, oceans, primates, global warming, violence against women, and wolves.

I also went to their petition site and signed petitions for the following: end attacks on women's access to birth control (surprised to be the first one signing!); asking donor governments to publish what they fund; and asking Germany and France to keep their promise to the world's poor.

Last day at Baylor Clinic tomorrow, then back to Atlanta...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 327

I had my largest group of kids at Baylor Clinic today, and it was a lot of work keeping up with them! The kids come to the clinic about once a month for their check ups. It's coming up to a month since my first visit there and today I had three kids from my first week. It was wonderful seeing them again and even more fun because they know me and were eager to talk and play.

I started the morning playing soccer with some of the younger girls - I'm defs getting better :)

Games of Jenga and the world puzzle are my favorites so of course there was a lot of that.

And while all of this was going on I had one little girl who demanded attention for showing off her hula hoop skills! It was a morning of being everywhere all at the same time, but still a morning filled with the kids laughing and smiling - so worth it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 326

Back from safari! I donated rice through freerice this evening. I donated 2000grains of rice while learning the capitals of countries around the world.

Educational and a great cause! Love it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 325

Like Jiten said, the internet has been down for the past few days so I was unable to blog yesterday. But here is how my Monday morning went:

I spent the morning hanging out with the kids at Baylor Clinic and had a wonderful time. This was the smallest group of kids I've had, as well as some of the oldest. There were several teenagers in the group who were content kicking around the soccer ball, while teaching me some fancy kicks. I soon left them though to hang out with my newest little buddy.  He's an adorable 5year old. We pushed around hula hoops (which were almost as tall as him); he soon became confident in his skills and started rolling out three at a time, and every time they collapsed would burst out in laughter.

We both then moved on to work on a puzzle. He was adamant about doing it so I helped him and one of the little girls put it together. They were so serious while doing it and had the proudest smiles once it was done.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 324

Today was another day of Virtual Volunteering. While sitting at home and watching the Atlanta Falcons game I played some free rice. I donated 5000 grains of rice while brushing up on my chemistry, english, and french skills.

Giving is just that easy. Give it a try and see how much rice you can donate by going to


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 323

Another day on

I started with simply reviewing a website geared towards raising funds for childhood cancer - 

I then gave feedback on an Ad to recruit board members for Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine.

I also helped spread the word about the We Women Foundation's online campaign Educate One, Empower Thousands - check them out on facebook!

Lastly, I took action to support the Water for the World Act. Clean water and sanitation are basic human rights. But 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people who have no facilities at all. The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter -- in fact, 50% of the hospital beds in the developing world are occupied by people suffering water-related diseases and, every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. Among those with the least access to clean water are the more than one billion people around the world who live in slums.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 322

Cold/Flu symptoms stopped me from going to the Baylor Clinic today so while stuck in bed I wrote some letters for human rights through Amnesty International:

I've been reading the Guantanamo Files and am horrified with the treatment of prisoners (or rather, the many innocent people) held there, so today's letters were for the people being held there.

The first letter I wrote was to stop Congress from making Guantanamo permanent. We are facing one of the biggest crises at Guantanamo since “war on terror” detainees were first transferred there nearly 10 years ago: Congress may soon vote to make indefinite detention and unfair trials permanent. The 89 people there who are approved for release could remain forever. The 46 slated for detention without charge could be denied due process forever. The 36 referred for prosecution could only be tried in unfair kangaroo courts. The United States government should be protecting human rights, not violating them.

Along the same lines I wrote a letter urging the Senate to remove Guantanamo provisions from the National Defense Authorization Act that has provisions that would keep Guantanamo open, further entrenching indefinite detention and unfair trials.

The next one was to ask our government to charge or release Shaker Aamer, a former UK resident detained at Guantanamo, who has been held without charge for nearly 10 years – despite the UK government’s repeated requests that he be returned to his wife and four children in London. Indefinite detention is a human rights violation. It must end.

The last one I wrote was for Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim who remains detained in Guantánamo without charge or trial after eight years, despite the fact that on December 16, 2009, US federal judge Ricardo Urbina found his detention unlawful and ordered his release. The government is appealing Judge Urbina's ruling and it is not known when the US Court of Appeals will hand down its decision. I wrote to urge the administration to release Saeed Mohammed Saleh Hatim immediately and allow him to be reunited with his family in Yemen.

Please read through some of these cases (Guantanamo Files is a great place to start) and stay informed with what's going on - the human rights violations you will read about are truly horrific and disgusting! Hoping and praying for those still going through the torture...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 321

Today was quite a crazy day. Hema spoke with Vearn and was informed that there was no service today at SafeHouse. Then roughly around 5pm, I get a call from LeBlanc saying that there was going to be service. A youth pastor that usually comes to SafeHouse about once a month happened to come by today and noticed that there was no service. So on the spot he decided to sponsor the meal and do a service.

I arrived at SHO and there was so much to be done. The pastor had ordered 25 pizzas from Fellini's Pizza and they needed to be picked up. So we went to Fellini's, stopping at Publix on the way to buy lemonade, and picked up the pizza. When we returned to SHO I helped pack the plates up with food. We packed them pizza and brewed some coffee. In a matter of two hours, we were able to prepare a meal for about 100 people. :)

Hema was not able to make it to SafeHouse on the short notice, but she had already done some work on and donated 2000 grains of rice, since she thought we would not be able to go to SHO.

In the end, I was glad I was able to make it to SHO today since it had been quite some time since my last visit. It was great to see people come together at the last minute to help out and get a meal served. Thank you to everyone that was there today and was good seeing everyone again :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 320

Giselle covered today and between her new job, familial obligations, and the tornado warnings last night (j/k)... Giselle still made the time to log onto before the clock struck 12! We're dedicated to Chandni's mission to complete the remainder of these 46 days seamlessly and make whatever impact we can!

Being fluent in Spanish, she dominated that Spanish category and donated 1200 grains of rice!

She also stopped by Kroger to purchase a few canned goods to donate towards Hosea Feed the Hungry. Her work place is hosting a canned food drive.

In the meanwhile, I've been coordinating with all of our friends to participate in Safehouse Outreach's Christmas Party, and sponsor a child for Christmas! Giselle's about to pick her kid and let me know (lol).

If any of you are still interested, please contact me and Chandni via email so we can give you additional details!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 319

All that clicking that they do.... Does it even make a difference?!? Well logging onto today answered that question for us and you! "Since Children International became a part of the Click-to-Donate program in 2004, Care2 has sponsored 16 needy children from nine countries -- contributing over $21,000 to their care. Thank you to those who continue to click each day, providing children with materials and opportunities for a better life." That's just one example! And I'm certain there's several more testimonials as to how we make a difference within the Care 2 community. Hema, Raksha, and I were all able to login to Care2 this evening and make a difference.

Here's what Hema had to say... "Here is what I did on Care2. 1. I signed a petition so that Pennsylavania will develop stronger laws about reporting child abuse. Recently, Penn State's football coach failed to report instances of child abuse that occured for many years. We do not want to have another repeat of this. 2. I signed a petition that would save the lives of street dogs. There are a lot of dogs that are homeless all around the world and they all face being poisoned, electrocuted or shot as a result of misguided efforts to manage overpopulation. HSI (humane society international) will work with local communites to prevent these dogs from being killed and getting them the help they need to find a loving home."

Along with that, I stumbled upon a video on a mutual friends site for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The video was on Youtube, and for every view a $1 is donated! I'd shared the video with friends, and here's what one had to say... "Kim M. Braud - Wow, that is powerful! Very touching - thanks for sharing.." 

It wasn't a physical day for us as planned, but we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to contribute our time and efforts online. It's simple, it's easy, and we can all do it. What can you do to give back during the holiday season? Just look around! Ask. We'd be glad to help!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 318

After a morning safari (on horseback) I was rather motivated to sign some environment and wildlife petitions on

The first was to save pandas by protecting their homes; then to protect the Arctic refuge, home to polar bears, musk oxen, caribou, and millions of birds from around the globe; another was a petition to reforest and rebuild Haiti's environment; the last was to keep endangered spider monkeys in Nicaragua safe.

I also visited the click to donate section on the website as well as those on

Another quick way to make a difference :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 317

It's been a wonderful day in Gabs, so I'm ending it with a visit to

I started with Insight Prison Project. Their mission is to transform the lives of those impacted by incarceration through programs designed to develop behavior inspired by insight, accountability and compassion. They asked for some feedback on their website:

The next one was helping Bend Spay and Neuter Project with simple fundraising ideas. As well as reviewing their website and providing feedback on the appearance of it:

Hoping you all have a good Sunday!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 316

While surviving the 100degree weather on a Saturday afternoon Aarti and I (well mostly Aarti) chose to freerice for today's giving. She stuck to the world map and donated 8000grains of rice (yes she knows her countries!!).
Give it a try!