Summer sunset

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& …

There is always an and. From the mundane to the exciting, & means so, so much. To me it meant, 30 years ago, another sister. As a young kid, I thought it was more of a burden and less for me. But as I grew, both in age and perspective, I know & means so, so much more. An amazing woman, an incredible sister and a wonderful friend. & means something different to everyone, it is all a matter of how you interpret it. Here are a few ways I am thinking of &…

& this one if for you.
& another family member.
& more to enjoy!
& here’s to all life has to offer.
& would you like fries with that?
& another run?
& what do you think?
& when will I get to see you again?
& how about another?
& one for the road.
& many more!

Here’s to many, many more MFS!

The Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Giving with a Difference

The holiday season is here. Festive lights, family gatherings and lots of cheer. For many it is a time for reflection and sharing with those you love. It is also a time for giving gifts, and a great opportunity to give with a difference. If you are shopping, shop locally. If you are donating, give generously. Donate to a cause which is near and dear to you, and to those you love. It might be a soup kitchen down the street or a children’s home on the other side of the globe. Whatever it is, however you give this holiday season, let it illuminate your soul and make the world a better place. Spread the holiday cheer!

Want to give with a difference, but aren’t sure of an organization worthy of being wrapped up in festive paper, bows and ribbon? I have put together a list of some of my most favorite people doing great work out in the world! I have seen the work of almost all of the organizations first hand and can tell you that a donation is a gift worth giving. So go one! Share the love! Spread the cheer!

  1. Vermont Cares works for and with Vermonters affected by HIV/AIDS to promote wellbeing through a continuum of prevention, support, and advocacy services.

  2. Malayaka House is a home for children in Uganda, with a focus on cultivating active citizens through education, community engagement, health and agriculture.
    Malayaka House en español.
    Malayaka House auf Deutsch.

  3. Spark Microgrants helps poverty-stricken communities find and implement solutions to their most urgent problems and currently works in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

  4. Africa ELI builds gender equity, improved economic conditions, peaceful development, and strengthened leadership capacity in South Sudan by advancing women’s education through academic sponsorships, partnerships, enrollment-retention programs, and life-skills development.

  5. Girls on the Run (Maine) inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

  6. AGE Africa provides life-changing opportunities to young women in Malawi through targeted initiatives in education, mentoring, and leadership development.

  7. Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors without Borders is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare.

  8. Educate! develops young leaders and entrepreneurs in Africa.

  9. Saint Michael’s College is a Catholic college founded by the Society of Saint Edmund in 1904. Their guiding principles of education, justice, and service to the poor are at the heart of the Saint Michael’s experience.

  10. Preble Street Resource Center, in Portland, Maine, provides accessible barrier-free services to empower people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty and to advocate for solutions to those problems.

  11. Compass Project uses boat building and rowing to provide positive direction to youth by encouraging the development of personal responsibility and community and environmental engagement.

  12. OzHarvest Food Rescue is a non-denominational charity that rescues excess food which would otherwise be discarded. This excess food is distributed to charities supporting the vulnerable in Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide and Brisbane.

  13. Sabera Foundation provides meaningful equal opportunities through shelter, education and healthcare for the social and economic development of the poorest of the poor so that they gain dignity and respect in life, focusing on differentially vulnerable people in Calcutta, India.

  14. Fundaction Vistare makes a direct and efficient action against poverty based on education as a tool for more effective social sectors that, by their economic and social status, or geographic location, never reach the opportunity to access formal education, with a focus on girls education in Nepal.
  15. Water for South Sudan‘s mission is simple: drill borehole wells which bring safe drinking water to the people in South Sudan’s remote villages, transforming lives in the process.

  16. MOFGA helps farmers and gardeners in Maine to: grow organic food, fiber and other crops; protect the environment; recycle natural resources; increase local food production; support rural communities; and illuminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices.

  17. Education Outside is transforming public education by bringing learning to life in outdoor classrooms. Education Outside is committed to advancing science in San Francisco public schools, outdoors.

  18. Refuge Point provides lasting solutions to the world’s most vulnerable refugees.

  19. Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, Maine, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, we seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students. We believe that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success.

    826 Valencia is a nonprofit organization in San Francisco dedicated to supporting students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen when trained tutors work one-on-one with students and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

    Sydney Story Factory is a not-for-profit creative writing centre for young people in Redfern, Sydney. Our trained volunteer tutors offer free help to write stories of all kinds. Programs target marginalised young people, and those from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds, but are open to everyone.

  20. Seeds of Peace inspires and equips new generations of leaders from regions of conflict with the relationships, understanding, and skills needed to advance lasting peace.

  21. Africa Yoga Project has empowered people across East Africa by supporting physical, mental and emotional health, facilitating authentic personal expression, building supportive communities, and inspiring positive action to contribute to others. We are dedicated to delivering all that yoga has to offer to the diverse communities of East Africa, while at the same time providing opportunities for members of the global yoga community to participate and contribute.

    Off the Mat and Into the World uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change. We do this by facilitating personal empowerment through leadership trainings, fostering community collaboration, and initiating local and global service projects.

  22. Handel and Haydn Society Education and Outreach Program provides a comprehensive, active vocal music education to 10,000 children annually in Greater Boston and beyond.

  23. Best Buddies is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

  24. Surfaid International is a non-profit humanitarian organization whose aim is to improve the health, wellbeing and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions in Indonesia connected to us through surfing.