Friday, May 23, 2008

Green Kids

Here's a list of resources that will help in your quest to turn your kids green. Not like that, silly!

Green Thumbs:

Dunecraft : A really great company that provides funky growing kits for kids. It really draws them in to the whole growing process.

Arbor Day : I know it has come and gone, but the site has a wealth of information about how to get kids involved year-round. It also has kids sections broken down into age friendly activities.

USDA State Forest Kids Page : With sections like Backyard Conservation, Gardening with the Penn State Pointers, Nature Watch, and Woodsy Owl, there's something for kids of all ages.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Toys for Tots : Kids, they like toys, ya know? Why not have them donate one of their unopened gifts to someone who doesn't have ANY? Let them get involved.

Cheerful Givers : Their site is adorable and their mission is great. From their "About Us" section, "Cheerful Givers is a 501c3 nonprofit organization committed to helping children in need. We provide birthday gift bags through shelters and food shelves to disadvantaged, needy children. "

Compassionate Kids : This nonprofit is geared toward teaching kids to be kind to the earth, people, and animals. They're currently looking for volunteers within their organization for the following areas:

~Board Member
~National Director
~Local Chapter Leader for the State of Georgia

Some Fun:

Haagen-Daz Honey Bee Site : So cute. Great little activities for the kiddies.

A Walk in the Woods : Check it out. Pretty cool link.

EEK! Environmental Education for Kids.

I'll be back soon to tell you all about Green Parents.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wings Over Pittsburgh

Here are the pictures I promised. Enjoy!

My Future Pilot

Dirt? On my child?

The Jet Car!

A very shiny DC-3.

Checking out the planes

Oy! I can't catch you from down here!

Some tails

Food Bank Dinner

KW Cares Dinner

So, last week our company was the fundraiser at a local Hoss’s restaurant. Now, I have to caveat that the food isn’t stellar, but what they do for the community is. Here’s the deal: You sign up with Hoss’s to host a fundraiser and then you select the day you’re hosting the event. They provide you with cards that indicate all of the details and you hand these cards out to your friends, family, prospective clients, anyone. You and your people eat dinner at the restaurant on the designated night. Hoss’s will then donate 20% to the charity of your choice. Our charity was the local food bank, for which we raised 75 dollars. I think we had about 25 people show up, that seems to be our standard turn out.

I have a few more notes to pass on. This Thursday, I’m going to begin tutoring with Americorp. I’m also waiting for confirmation from the Midstate Literacy Council, but they’ve asked if I could work with a Chinese couple on their ESL training. Each requires a 2 hour/week commitment. I’m very excited about this volunteer opportunity. I’ll keep you all updated as to our progress!

We attended the Wings Over Pittsburgh Airshow over the weekend. I'll be back in a bit to add a few pictures.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Literacy Initiative

Just a quick post to encourage any and all readers to take a look at this and get on board. Thanks!

The AW Poet Laureate Literacy Initiative

I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the charity dinner tonight and what I'm doing to support the above mentioned initiative.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Habitat For Humanity

Affordable housing. It seems like such a basic right, but in this time of sub-prime crashes and foreclosures, it’s difficult to find an economical place to live. Rentals are available and abundant in a college town like Happy Valley. But if you’re not a student, have a family, or simply can’t afford the high cost of collegiate rentals, what can you do? Most people involved in the housing industry are asking that very question. PHFA just increased their Centre County allowances, and I heard they made statewide adjustments. The State College Borough also offers a great first time home buyers deal, if you qualify. And zoning is doing what it can to increase availability for lower to middle income families.

Take, for instance, the site where I found myself working yesterday. It is under commercial development, but zoning required the investors to set aside a portion of the land to include 10 duplex buildings. As of right now, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Centre County is working on two duplexes. Keller Williams Advantage Realty had about 18 volunteers between morning and afternoon shifts. Several of us stayed for the entire day. For the morning, my team was Ron Avillion, Carol Packard, Lorraine Spock, and myself. Our leader was a great guy named Lee, who you’ll get to meet in some of the following pictures. We were assigned to a wall building crew, working on studding a basement in Unit 2, in order to prep for dry wall. A corresponding crew worked in Unit 1, right next to us, finishing walls as well.

There were two other crews of our people working on siding and electrical. I missed all the electrical work, due to my own projects, but I did get a few pictures of Dawnyelle and Crystal, the siding masters!

When we got into the basement, it was easy to see we had some clean up to do before we could proceed. In unit 1, they were blessed with 8 inches of water from recent rains. Though we were on the second half of the same building, we weren’t nearly as flooded in Unit 2.

We cleaned out the supplies, swept up the water, and started building. We quickly determined that there wasn’t enough for 5 people to do, so Lorraine and Carol set to work on cleaning up outside, while Ron, Lee, and I stayed inside.

We had to attach a large piece of plywood to the wall, where the plumbing and electrical would reside for the washer and dryer in the unit. That thing was heavy! Ron and I held it up while Lee attached it to the frame.

We added some bracing to a few corners, in order to make things a bit easier on the drywallers. And we had to add 2X6’s to the ceiling, at 16 inch intervals, for the drywall ceiling to attach. It was really fun.

I did some drilling, circular sawing, hand sawing, hammering, lifting, and anything else Lee told me to.

Speaking of Lee, what a great guy! He comes out to the HfH site once a week, so that he can “get his fix.” He loves it. We were talking about some recent jobs and he told me about this single dad, living in a trailer with his wheelchair bound daughter. She couldn’t even turn her chair around inside the place. To go catch the bus, she had to be lifted out of the trailer. No independence at all. HfH placed them in one side of a duplex in Millheim.

“When she saw her new home,” Lee said, “the entire site got chills. Her smile was a mile wide. That’s why I do this.”

Did I already say he was a great guy?

Thanks to Ben Norman, for getting the ball rolling and for working so hard all day! Dude, I owe you a beer. Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to the site. We had a great time, didn't we?

A few extra pictures: