$50 for 50 by 50 #16: Fisher House

I’m turning 50 this year and instead of whining about it, I’m trying to do something positive by donating $50 to 50 different charities before I’m 50 years old.

Several years ago a bunch of us here in Los Angeles decided that, collectively, we all had too much crap. It’s amazing how fast crap accumulates, seemingly in disproportionate measure to how much crap you are adding to your crap pile.

So we all dragged our crap out of our respective closets, storage rooms, cabinets, bookcases, and corners and had a yard sale, the proceeds of which we decided to donate to charity. The one we chose was Fisher House, an organization that builds and manages comfortable, homey facilities near VA hospitals so the family members of injured military personal can be near their loved ones. They currently have more than 70 houses all over the US and in the UK and are planning and actively fundraising to build dozens more. The services the houses provides are free to qualifying family members and since they started in 1990 they have offered more than six million days of lodging to more than 277,000 families.

Our piles of crap raised more than $1,500 that we put toward the construction of a Fisher House near the Brentwood VA hospital here in Los Angeles. It’s pretty cool to think that we helped to build this.

Since May is Military Appreciation Month, I decided to go back and give this 50x50x50 to Fisher House. You can read more about them at fisherhouse.org.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #15: Historic Savannah Foundation

I’m turning 50 this year and instead of whining about it, I’m trying to do something positive by donating $50 to 50 different charities before I’m 50 years old.

As many of you know, Savannah, Georgia is my favorite city in the world. It’s hard to describe it without resorting to cliches but it is something like “magic.” From its beautifully restored buildings in the Landmark Historic District to the Spanish-moss draped trees, to the charming squares, to the beautifully spooky cemeteries, and the river front Factor’s walk it is one picture postcard after another, all imbued with a Southern Gothic air of mystery. The people are unfailingly delightful with their honeyed deep south accents and their gracious nature toward interlopers like myself. And the food… if all I ever got to eat was good, old-fashioned, southern/low country cuisine for the rest of my life I’d die a happy man. I’d probably die earlier than I would from all the butter, fat, calories, and cholesterol but I’d die with a greasy smile on my face.

So this 50x50x50 is going to the Historic Savannah Foundation, an organization that has been working to preserve the beauty and architecture of the city since 1955, when a group of seven women, outraged by the demolition of a historic house, banded together to stop it from happening again. Since that auspicious beginning, HSF started a Revolving Fund to buy and sell endangered historic properties, which has now saved over 350 buildings and counting. HSF has grown into one of the most respected local preservation organizations in the country, emphasizing not only the protection of individual historic buildings but also the revitalization of blighted neighborhoods. Instead of being a reactive crisis-oriented organization, HSF became a credible civic-minded organization that puts its money where its mouth is and works proactively to save the city’s heritage.

To learn more about the Historic Savannah foundation, visit their website at myhsf.org.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #14: Puppies Behind Bars

I’m turning 50 this year and instead of whining about it, I’m trying to do something positive by donating $50 to 50 different charities before I’m 50 years old.

May is National Military Appreciation Month and despite what some people say about crazed, left-wing, progressive/liberals like myself, we do support the military in any way we can (including not wanting them to go to war). For this 50x50x50 I am putting my proverbial money where my proverbial mouth is (proverbially speaking) by making a donation to an organization that serves members of the armed forces: Puppies Behind Bars.

This group sends 8 week old puppies to prison. Seriously. But they do it so they can be trained to be service dogs for wounded veterans and explosive detection canines for law enforcement. The dogs spend two years in the prison. The dogs learn special commands to help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Since 2008, the organization has paired 66 service dogs with wounded veterans in 26 states, and trained more than 350 explosive-detection dogs to work with law enforcement agencies around the country.

Good dog!

To learn more or to donate yourself, visit puppiesbehindbars.com.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #13: Modest Needs

I’m turning 50 this year and instead of whining about it, I’m trying to do something positive by donating $50 to 50 different charities before I’m 50 years old.

I make a good living these days but I definitely remember all those years when I didn’t. Now, luckily I have parents who were willing to help me out in those times when money output outpaced money input, but not everyone is that fortunate.

Enter Modest Needs, an organization that basically crowd-funds people who are having money trouble. Their mission is to responsibly provide short-term financial assistance to individuals and families in temporary crisis who, because they are working and live just above the poverty level, are ineligible for most types of conventional social assistance but who (like many of us) are living one or two lost paychecks away from the kind of financial catastrophe that eventually leads to homelessness.

They rigorously vet the people who are being helped and they don’t give them cash – they pay the outstanding bill directly. Most of the needs are small, sometimes less than $100, so small donations can make a difference.

Take a look at some of the campaigns currently in flight and you’ll see a heartbreaking, and sometimes familiar, set of problems from a family who is facing having their electricity shut off because they had to pay for unexpected medical bills to a disabled vet who needs help with his mortgage while he is waiting for a vocational rehabilitation program to start.

To learn more about the organization or to make a donation yourself visit ModestNeeds.org.

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