Category Archives: giving

$50 for 50 by 50 #50: Charity Navigator

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 found a lot of the charities I donated do on CharityNavigator.org, a group that tracks charities and rates them based on their effectiveness, financial performance, accountability and transparency, CEO and staff compensation, and more. This allows you to find out if the charity you want to give to is doing good with their donations or if they are squandering them. It also has charities grouped by type so you can find highly rated charities to help.

Charity Navigator is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Code and does not accept any contributions from any charities they evaluate.

Learn more at charitynavigator.org.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #49: Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

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.

Since I am turning 50 I figured that I would give a little bit of assistance to the community that I am becoming a part of.

Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources for LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, and provides training for aging providers and LGBT organizations, largely through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. With offices in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 30 local SAGE affiliates in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

To learn more visit sageusa.org.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #48: The Clinton 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.

There’s a lot to be annoyed about with this year’s Presidential election, but little of it is as patently offensive and absurd as the attacks on The Clinton Foundation. Let’s take a look at some of what they have accomplished:

Because of The Clinton Foundation’s work, more than 31,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; more than 105,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania are benefiting from climate-smart agronomic training, higher yields, and increased market access; more than 33,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced annually across the United States; over 450,000 people have been impacted through market opportunities created by social enterprises in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia; through the independent Clinton Health Access Initiative, over 11.5 million people in more than 70 countries have access to CHAI-negotiated prices for HIV/AIDS medications; an estimated 85 million people in the U.S. will be reached through strategic health partnerships developed across industry sectors at both the local and national level; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative community have made more than 3,500 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.

Yeah… let’s shut that down because Donald Trump says so. Dickhead.

Very happy to make this #48 on the list.

Learn more about their work at clintonfoundation.org.

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Southern Fried Road Trips Days 4 and 5

We’ll get to the weather forecast in a bit, but first let’s talk about days 4 and 5.

I started Tuesday morning the way all good mornings should start, with donuts. The place is called Sublime Donuts, located near the Georgia Tech campus. It has quite a reputation for being among the best in town and this is one of those times when the reality didn’t live up to the hype. I had a double chocolate, which was just not good at all – very doughy – and a raspberry filled chocolate heart that, while perfectly fine, was not fantastic. I was annoyed and disappointed.

Wouldn’t be the last time that day. (insert ominous foreshadowing music here)

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From there I headed north toward toward North Carolina. Now, I know what you’re thinking – why on earth would I want to go there, pretty much ever, but especially when We (the collective, politically aware group of us) are supposed to be having nothing to do with North Carolina because of the whole “There’s a man in the ladies room!” controversy. I mean if Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato aren’t going to NC, I shouldn’t either, right?

Bonus points if you got the “Designing Women” reference.

Here’s the deal: I like to gamble. And the nearest place to Atlanta to do that is in Cherokee, North Carolina. I decided it was helping the tribe and the people who work there more than the state and if that’s a delusion then it’s a happy one that I am choosing to embrace, much like the one that says Prince is still alive and living on an island, where two backup dancers just follow him around striking curious poses.

Bonus points if you got the “When Doves Cry” reference.

The drive up there is quite lovely. It’s about 150 very scenic miles as you drive up into the Smoky Mountains, and there are some breathtaking vistas along the way. I didn’t stop to take pictures of any of them but you’ll just have to trust me. It’s purty.

Two random roadside sightings, also without photographic evidence, sorry. The first was a sign on the side of the road, roughly the size of a city bus, that read simply “GOATS”. Giant letters. Yellow on a red background. No other context. Just GOATS.

The other was the Donald Trump for President billboard. It was almost as much of a curiosity as the GOATS one.

Before I get to lunch, I have to flash back a few nights earlier to give you context. I was playing blackjack with a 70-year-old transgender woman at a gay bar in Georgia… no, really… and when I mentioned that I was heading up to Cherokee in a couple of days she said, “Well, you have to stop at Dillard House – it’s this great restaurant where they just start loading you up with really good southern food and they just keep bringing it.” Challenge accepted!

Dillard House is, appropriately enough, in Dillard, Georgia, high in the Smokey Mountain foothills surrounded by scenery like this:

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The restaurant, lodge, riding stables, and petting zoo facility is lovely and the big dining room has huge windows that look out onto scenes like the above. And sure enough, they just start bringing you food. Now, since I was eating by myself and I have a hard time eating a lot of anything, I refused more than a dozen dishes – everything from coleslaw to pickled beets and a bunch of other things that I have forgotten. What I accepted is what you see on the table:

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That would be fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, chicken pot pie, flank steak, and a basket of fresh baked rolls and biscuits (not pictured). I was very excited about it all but found most of it to be merely okay-ish. The chicken pot pie was probably the best thing on the table, with thick chunks of potatoes and other veggies but the fried chicken was dry, the flank steak was too chewy, and the fried green tomatoes were an affront to the concept as far as I’m concerned. So yeah, disappointment number two.

“That’s okay,” I thought. “As I drive back down to the highway, I’ll put down the windows and enjoy some fresh mountain air.”

It is worth noting that this was not the first time I put down the windows on the Ford Fusion Smugmobile. It was, however, the first time the windows wouldn’t go back up. Actually, they would go up, but they wouldn’t stay up (that’s what she said). As soon as they got to the top of the track, they started going down again. I pull over and start in with a spirited game of “What the fuck?” I shut the car off and turn it back on. I shut the car off, get out of the car, lock it, unlock it, get back in, and start the car. I screamed loudly in frustration. Nothing worked.

I looked it up on the web and got nowhere so I called Enterprise and their suggestion was to bring it back to the location where I rented it… you know, in Atlanta… 150 miles away.

Suddenly I remember a trick we had employed on Plucky Survivors trip when our Plucky Mobile, a Buick, started to lose piece a big chunk of its front end – we went to a Buick dealer and they fixed it, free of charge.

So I looked up Ford dealerships and there was one about 10 miles away. I was prepared to drive there but I called first and spoke to a service adviser who told me that the windows needed to be “reset.” He said, put the window all the way down and hold the button for 5 seconds. Then release it for 5 seconds. Then put the window up and when it gets to the top, hold the button up for a few seconds.

Really?

But after several failed attempts and a great deal of additional swear words, it finally took and I was able to continue on my merry way.

The Harrah’s in Cherokee is quite nice, larger – bigger than most Vegas casinos – with all the usual gambling suspects and so yeah, I played. And I won. And I lost. And I won. And I lost. And I lost. And then I won. And then I lost. Enough said.

Dinner was in the Diamond Lounge at the casino involved beef brisket out of warming tray and a slightly soggy dinner roll. Also, enough said.

I drove back to Atlanta after dark and those mountain roads are not fun. Especially when you stop for a moment and put the window down and then IT REFUSES TO FUCKING STAY UP AGAIN!!! Several more attempts at a reboot and it finally worked again. I’ve decided I have no reason to put down the windows so I just won’t from here on out.

Total mileage was about 325 for the day.

Wednesday was a lot less disappointing. I got up early to do a Civil Rights Road Trip, starting in Selma, Alabama.

How you can tell you’re in Alabama… the high-riding pickup track with the confederate flag in the back window and a bumper sticker that read, “Do you believe in life after death? If the answer is no, you better be bullet proof” alongside pictures of AR-15 style rifles. If I had nothing left to live for, I would go up to that person and say, “No… I don’t believe in life after death. Are you really going to shoot me now, shoot me now?”

Bonus points if you got the Bugs Bunny reference.

The first stop was the Baptist AME Church in Selma where both of the marches started – the ill-fated one that was stopped by the Alabama Highway Patrol in an incident that would be known as Bloody Sunday, and the successful one a few weeks later. It’s still a working church so you can’t go inside but they have some monuments and historic markers outside.

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From there I drove over to the Selma Interpretive Center. Opened about five years ago, this small museum has one room with a handful of exhibits dedicated to the march and what started it. There isn’t much to see here but it is all very powerful and includes a bank of video monitors where you can watch testimonials from people who were there. Interestingly, and affectingly, they had a few from people on the “opposition” sewn into the story. One woman talked about how the march was just an excuse for orgies and drugs and that Viola Liuzzo, the Detroit housewife who was murdered during the march by Klansmen, was nothing but a common prostitute. Mind you, this is not some 50 year old video – this is new material, recorded within the last few years. Terrifying.

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There was a lot of construction going on – they are planning on expanding into the second and third floors of the building and adding more exhibits, which should be open in time for the anniversary of the protests in March, 2017.

Then it was over the Edmund Pettus bridge, which still feels foreboding in some way all these years later.

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On the other side of the bridge, this is where the Alabama State Patrol beat and tear-gassed the first attempt at the march.

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A few steps from there are memorials to important people in the movement and a sculpture honoring the marches.

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Down the road about 20 miles is the Lowndes County Interpretive Center, a sister facility to the one in Selma, that I have actually been to before.

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Ten years ago, Mary and I were on the last couple of days of our inaugural Plucky Survivors trip and we, along with Plucky Passenger Jessica, stopped here just a couple of weeks after it opened. It was a highlight of our trip and I remember it being incredibly powerful. It still is.

You start by watching a video that is, ostensibly, about the march, but is also about the importance of voting. Back in 2006 we wrote “this powerful short movie should be required viewing in all high schools. Heck, it should be required viewing for every citizen of this country.” I believe that now, more than ever, and I bought a DVD that includes the video on it. At some point before the election I am going to figure out a way for everyone to be able to see it.

The rest of the center is very much the way it was 10 years ago, which is to say fantastic. I love the area where they have statues of people marching toward a window. The picture doesn’t do it justice… it’s moving…

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This part of the day was very emotional for me, partly because of the topic and how horrifying it all was and, in many ways, remains today, but also partly because of Mary. Sometimes I really miss that chick.

Onward I marched (drove) taking a quick stop at the memorial for Viola Liuzzo. As mentioned above, she was a Detroit housewife and mother of five who saw the Bloody Sunday march on the news and decided to come down and help during the one led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a few weeks later. After the march, she was driving people back to Selma when her car was driven off the road by Klansmen and she was murdered.

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I made it to Montgomery and of course went to the capitol building just to complete the concept. It took me about an hour’s worth of driving. They took four days of walking.

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The next stop was the Freedom Riders Museum, located in the former Greyhound Bus Terminal where the activists were attacked. The woman running the facility took great pride in the museum and when into very fine detail about the people, the movement, and the building itself. She showed us the original blueprints marking what used to be separate White and Colored entrances, waiting rooms, lunch counters, bathrooms, and ticket windows. She said, “Segregation didn’t just happen, it was designed.”

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There isn’t much to the museum but it’s still a worthwhile visit, especially if you don’t know much about the Freedom Riders. For the record, they started as a group of young people – mostly college students – black and white, male and female – who decided to draw attention to the recent Supreme Court ruling banning segregation in interstate travel by taking a Greyhound Bus from Washington DC to New Orleans. Along the way they were beaten, hospitalized, attacked with Molotov cocktails that destroyed one of the buses, arrested, and imprisoned.

This was 1961.

I needed a little break so I went for lunch a locally recommended BBQ joint called Dreamland, located in Downtown Montgomery. I had Brunswick Stew, smoked BBQ sausage, and mac and cheese and if I hadn’t eaten at Daddy Z’s a couple of nights before I would have called it good, but by comparison it was only fine.

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I also took a swing over to the Alabama Cattleman’s Association offices. Why? Because they have place called the MOOseum. How can you not want to go to a place called the MOOseum? Especially when this is parked outside?

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Unfortunately it’s mostly an advertisement for eating more beef with very little humor beyond the truck and the name, but it was good to get a bit of a brain cleanse from the heavy topics of the day.

Which, I then returned to with a visit to the Civil Rights Memorial Center at the Southern Poverty Law Center offices in Montgomery. Out in front is a water sculpture done by Maya Lin:

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Both wall and disc are covered with flowing water – it’s quite lovely.

After passing through very heavy security (metal detectors, armed guards, etc.) I looked around the center, which is small but very well done, offering testimonials to people who have been sacrificed in the fight for civil rights. It mentions Dr. King and Medgar Evers naturally, but most of the stories are of people – and some incidents – that I had never heard of. I won’t recount them here – they are all too horrifying – but they encompass all points on the civil rights spectrum from race to religion to sexual orientation and beyond.

I loved this quote on the wall:

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At the end is a giant video wall with the names of people who have committed to the cause of furthering civil rights. Put your name in and you get to see yourself included…

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The last stop of the day was at the Tuskegee Airman National Historic Sight. Located at the former airbase where the African-American air corp trained, the National Parks Service has restored one of the hangers as a large interpretive center and rebuilt another hanger, the control tower, and more. The story of these brave men and women and what they faced just for trying to protect their country during WWII is both uplifting and profoundly sad.

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I drove back to Atlanta (total mileage about 440) and stopped to pick up a local favorite – Woody’s Cheese steak.

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It was good, not great, but I think expecting to find a great cheese steak in Atlanta is like expecting to find great BBQ in Philly. Probably not likely.

So now, finally, the weather and the next few days.

Tropical Depression Nine is out there spinning around near Cuba and is expected to become Tropical Storm Hermine sometime tonight or tomorrow. Then it is going to march across Florida and Savannah on Thursday and Friday if the forecasts are to be believed:

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It is expected to have sustained winds of up to 65 mph (just a few shy of hurricane status) and drop as much as 15 inches of rain in some areas.

So, tomorrow – Wednesday, instead of lollygagging around Georgia on a circuitous route to Savannah, I’m just going to drive straight there and hopefully get some some of the things done that I was going to do on Friday that might get rained out. My trip into Florida on Thursday where I was going to go to the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine and the Pulse Nightclub memorial at the site of the shooting has been cancelled, although if the storm moves out faster than expected, I could still do it on Friday and get back in time for Bacon Fest! We’ll see.

More to come…

$50 for 50 by 50 #47: Lowndes County Interpretive Center

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.

Ten years ago on the first Plucky Survivors road trip, Mary and I, along with Plucky Passenger Jessica, stopped at the newly opened Lowndes County Interpretive Center, a museum/teaching facility dedicated to the Selma to Montgomery march. It was a highlight among many highlights of our trip and so this week, as I go on a bunch of road trips through the South, I decided to stop there again. It was just as fantastic as I remember it. You can read all about it in the Southern Fried Road Trip Days 4-5 post.

But I loved this place so much that I felt moved to make it #47 on the 50x50x50 list. You have to give the donation in person in cash – you can’t do it online – but you can learn more about the place on the NPS website

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$50 for 50 by 50 #46: Atlanta History Center

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’m winding down the 50x50x50 project with a trip for my birthday to Atlanta and Savannah. Today, I went to visit the Atlanta History Center, a spectacular facility with a world-class museum and 33 acres of restored historic homes, gardens, and more. I was so impressed that I wanted to make this #46 on my list. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

In 1926, fourteen civic-minded Atlantans chartered the Atlanta Historical Society to help preserve the city’s history. These founding members met at each other’s homes, collected early manuscripts and photographs, and published research bulletins – all “to arouse in the citizens and friends of Atlanta an interest in its history.”

Over the past 88 years, the organization has grown substantially in both scope and size, and in 1990, the Atlanta Historical Society and all of its holdings officially became the Atlanta History Center. Now located on 33 acres in historic Buckhead, the Atlanta History Center strives to connect people, history, and culture through one of the country’s premier History Centers.

The Atlanta History Center is a unique campus that houses the Atlanta History Museum, Centennial Olympic Games Museum, Swan House, Smith Family Farm, six historic gardens, and the Kenan Research Center. The Atlanta History Center also includes the Margaret Mitchell House, located off-site at our Midtown campus.

Throughout the year, we bring history to life through living history programs, lectures with award-winning authors, toddler programs, homeschool days, school tours, summer camps, music series, annual festivals such as Sheep to Shawl, and much more.

The Atlanta History Museum at the Atlanta History Center is one of the largest history museums in the nation, featuring award-winning signature exhibitions that tell the story of the region’s people, from its earliest settlers to the international city of today.

To learn more visit atlantahistorycenter.org.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #45: The Livestrong 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.

The Livestrong Foundation believes that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. Our programs, awareness events and advocacy work are the heart of what we do and our leaders and donors provide both the vision and the support for us to carry out our mission. Since 1997, we’ve been working to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. We started as a small group trying to raise money to fight this disease. As cancer has quietly become the world’s leading cause of death, our work has expanded and now reaches every corner of the globe. We empower the cancer community to address the unmet needs of cancer survivors. To do so, we encourage collaboration, knowledge-sharing and partnership.

To learn more visit livestrong.org.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #44: Cancer Support Community

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 the largest professionally led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide, the Cancer Support Community (CSC) is dedicated to ensuring that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. CSC achieves its mission through three areas: direct service delivery, research and advocacy. The organization includes an international network of Affiliates that offer the highest quality social and emotional support for people impacted by cancer, as well as a community of support available online and over the phone. The Research and Training Institute conducts cutting-edge psychosocial, behavioral and survivorship research. CSC furthers its focus on patient advocacy through its Cancer Policy Institute, informing public policy in Washington, D.C. and across the nation.

Learn more at cancersupportcommunity.org.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #43: Baton Rouge Area 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.

For days, relentless rains fell and rivers swelled. Communities across South Louisiana flooded. Even people living on high ground were forced to flee to makeshift shelters, where they are being cared for by more fortunate neighbors.

History shows, over and over, that you can’t wash away the people of Louisiana. They come together to take care of each other. But they could use your help too. Please give to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Flood Relief Fund.

With no time to waste, the Foundation will send staff members across South Louisiana to find where needs are the greatest. Our research will ensure that your donations go quickly and directly to nonprofits that are doing the most for people who call Louisiana home.

The Louisiana Flood Relief Fund welcomes your donations, and we ask you to share this site with anyone who wishes to help.

Contributions to the Fund are tax deductible.

To learn more, visit classy.org/events/louisiana-flood-relief-fund/e91206.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #42: Cancer Sucks

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.

Cancer Sucks was established out of the pain and frustration that comes from losing a loved one to cancer, combined with the desire to do what we can to prevent anyone from experiencing the same loss. The 1996 death of Donna Holland White was a devastating event and one that will never be forgotten. While undergoing treatments, surgeries, and the emotional roller coaster that comes with cancer, Donna still had time to think of others by making arrangements to have her body donated to cancer research at the time of her death. Cancer Sucks is a living memorial started by her family and dedicated to Donna. The organization is run by volunteers that have all been touched by cancer and focused on raising as much money for cancer research as possible. Corporate partnerships fund our overhead expenses allowing us to donate ALL the proceeds from our events to cancer research. For more information on Corporate Partnerships, volunteer opportunities, merchandise, donations, or to start your own Cancer Sucks fundraising event contact us today.

To learn more visit cancersucks.com.

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