Volunteer Journal #103 - Sponsor A Girls Education

One of the coolest things I've done this year is sponsor a student through Razia's Ray of Hope.

RRH set up a girl's primary through high school in rural Afghanistan and now a college, which trains midwives. This is incredibly important since there were virtually no health professionals in the area before the school opened.

This week I got a little hand written note from the girl I'm sponsoring. Notice the penmanship and excellent drawings!

To sponsor a girl just go here:

https://raziasrayofhope.org/sponsor-a-girl.html

It will possibly be the most fun you will have this year. #educategirls #spreadtheword

Volunteer Journal #100 - The Art of Elysium

The Art of Elysium True story:

There is a boy at a Los Angeles area hospital, we'll call him Robin, who is undergoing treatment for a critical and chronic health condition.  Maybe his parents have to work, or maybe he has other siblings… whatever the reason he spends many days alone in the hospital, having treatments done that would terrify full-sized adults.

Kids like Robin inspired the founding The Art of Elysium, which entertains hospitalized children, keeping their minds off the pain and loneliness.

Last week I performed with them for my 100th project at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

When I showed up at the hospital I was greeted by some of Elysium's volunteer actors: Victoria Secret look alikes, and one guy we shall refer to as the smartest man in LA.

We had a few minutes to look over some simple holiday children's plays, including a very sweet one allegedly written by Harry Connick Jr.  We picked costume pieces out of a suitcase, constructed a curtain out of a sheet, and then show time.

Time to Say Goodbye?

Standing behind the sheet I took a moment to process the surrounding treatment ward: little beds, some of them cribs, little wheelchairs, a nurses' station, tiny legs in casts on the other side of the "curtain."  There are few things more jarring than to see a toddler with several broken limbs or hooked up to multiple IVs.

I refocused on the play.  We were instructed to race around the audience acting like we didn't know where we started.

On cue we raced about, hiding in the audience. "Do I start here?" We asked each child. "What if I start here?" I said crouching into a ball next to the children.

I've had a really good time doing TheGoodMuse!

I sat down next to a little girl, no bigger than a cabbage patch doll.  She looked non-responsive, too tired or weak to lift her head.  I doubted she could enjoy the show, but I put out my hand on her stroller as I asked my question. That's when she firmly grabbed my hand.

She held on tight. I had asked, "Do I start here?" She looked at me, and it was this wonderful, perfect, clear moment that few people will ever get in their lives. Yes, it's time to start.

My eyes watered as I went backstage, but before each entrance I collected myself. The children giggled and smiled throughout the performance.

After the show we stayed to talk with the families, some would be staying at the hospital through the holidays.

The little girl who had grabbed my hand sat still.  I went over and thanked her for letting me perform for her. She didn't reach out and grab my hand again. Perhaps too tired this time.

Why would I end TheGoodMuse with something sad? Well:

1) This is far from the end.

2) How lucky am I that I have gotten to run around Los Angeles, and the world helping people, entertaining kids like these, playing with animals, and cleaning up neighborhoods.  

I'm lucky because I’m healthy enough and have enough resources to do this work.  The greatest blessing is the ability to give back.  I've gotten much more in return.

It’s been a breathtaking experience.

I think I may be, in the end, the luckiest girl in the world.

Looking Down in Tree small

Volunteer Journal #99 - Reading to Kids

Can't take pics of minors so me laughing - sorries. I worked with Reading to Kids last Saturday, a group trying get underserved children to love reading. I love reading so much it's got to be contagious. Sold.

I checked into Magnolia Elementary, one of the more inhospitable buildings I've been in in a while, and was handed a rather ambitious 3rd grade book. It told the story of a girl who starts a lemonade stand to help her friend buy a new wheelchair, and the ripple effect of goodness that follows.

After the reading we were suppose to discuss ripple effect with the kids, and then do a related art project.

I asked the little ones, "Does anyone know what a ripple effect is?"

"I would like to help animals"

Shy 3rd graders stared blankly back. One picked their nose.

Okay. Rephrase. "Who do you want to help?"

More staring.

"Like me," I offered, "I would like to help animals."

Little faces broke into smiles and they chimed in.

"I would like to help my dog."

"I would like to help my mom cook dinner."

We made Lemonade Stands

They all answered. No matter how small or grand the idea, they all wanted to help.

To celebrate their new chattiness we made lemonade stands out of construction paper, and wrote who we were raising money for on the signs.

The story reminded me of the Brownie Story I was told as when I was a tiny Brownie Scout.  It was about a helpful little magical creature named a brownie who did not, unfortunately, bring chocolate everywhere.

It's interesting the seeds of magic a story can plant in a child.

So the question of the day is, "Who would you like to help?"

Now realize that you can always help someone.

Happy Holidays!

Volunteer Journal #98 - LA Regional Food Bank

The trusty work boots at sunset. To my knowledge I have not been stuck in a freezer the size of a tennis court yet, so this was a first.

I was in the gleaning room of the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, going through thousands of pounds of salvaged food from restaurants, grocery stores, and manufacturers.

Celebrating 40 years of service, the LA Foodbank has redistributed over 1 billion pounds of food to the needy. 1 in 6 people in Los Angeles are at risk for hunger.  Many of them have worked their whole lives, but are members of the working poor - those who must decide between rent and  food, or medicine vs. lunch and dinner.

Physically, the building is imposing, looking like a Costco with pallets of food stacked from floor to ceiling. And the gleaning room - is freezing. My infamous knee high work boots (see pic) and nano puff jacket were almost not enough. I needed a hat and gloves.

My group of volunteers was tasked with sorting everything, and throwing away any donated items without a clear expiration date and ingredient deck.

LA Regional Food Bank

Most of the mountain of food was salvageable, however I was not sad when I had to make the call to trash several hundred pounds of an unmarked butter substitute/margarine.  To be fair the margarine company probably didn't want to print the ingredient deck because it's nasty.

What was fun? Climbing on top of a mountain of food to pass packages down.  Hey, heat rises. I'm nothing if not practical, and a monkey-like climber.

It's tragic that we still need such a large facility because so many people live in poverty. However, I am eternally grateful that the LA Regional Food Bank exists, and that over 200 volunteers showed up, today and many days, to get food ready so many people in LA, including 400,000 children, don't have to go to bed hungry.

Featured In Ladies Home Journal Dec. 13/Jan. 14

Stare with purpose - Ha!I'm honored to be one of Ladies Home Journal's 16 Women Who Made the World Happier this year. Who doesn't like to make people happy?

Many thanks to the staff of Ladies Home Journal, who interviewed me several months ago, and sent fantastic photographer Ben Miller to take some pics.

I have attached some outtakes, which both parties generously let me have.  I'll probably be using them on more than a few posts in the near future.

 

 

One of the best smaller

 

 

I need help down, please?

Volunteer Journal #97 - Angel's Flight

Princess is standing in for the kids.  Or more like sleeping in... On Wednesday night, after a long day at work, I found myself staring over a hand of Uno cards at a runaway teen.

I had come to Angel’s Flight near downtown LA to spend the night playing games. I ended up in one of the most intense, war-like games of Uno ever.  To be fair my opponents were tough and sophisticated. True survivors.

Angel’s Flight is a shelter for homeless and runaway kids between thee ages of 10-18.  Many of the children are fleeing abusive families. The kids are given food, clothes, and shelter, appointed case workers and therapists to help them cope with what they’ve been through.

The Uno game went on for 2 hours, a time during which I forgot about my work. Which is priceless.

Trucker hat kid = me

I don’t feel comfortable taking pictures of minors, especially teens forced to escape unimaginable circumstances.  A can briefly tell you about them because they were exceptional and interesting:

A 16-year-old former vegan, wanna be guitarist, who was thrilled that I taught him how to “count cards” in Uno. He was very proud to be starting college level classes soon.

The 11-year-old who had arrived at the shelter the day before.   He was tiny for his age and scrappy. His clothes were 3 sizes too big.

Playing games.

A girl in her final year of high school who couldn’t bother to play games because she had to finish her homework on the center’s tattered couch.

The 13-year-old who hid the fact that he started crying when, in the heat of Uno battle, another kid called him stupid (a crime that was reprimanded).

The only picture I took at this event are the Uno cards. I think you can understand.

Volunteer Journal #94 – WriteGirl

WriteGirl There was a time when female writers were discriminated against and forced to change their names to George Eliot.

Unfortunately, that time is now.  Women are still the underdog in the writing world. For example, between 2010 and 2012 in Hollywood female writers made up only 9% of the scripts (written on spec) sold.

My parents chose the name Raegan so no one would know if I was a boy or a girl on a job application.  Out-of-date anxiety?  Nope, that choice has proven monumentally important time and again in my career. My personal experience is backed up by this Princeton study that found that female playwrights are more frequently rejected especially by... wait for it... female artistic directors!

So I’m going to support any group that encourages more young women to write.

More than just a 1960s Secretary

That's why I was thrilled to stumble across WriteGirl. WriteGirl empowers young women by matching them with female writers who mentor them in creative writing.

A large cafeteria had been commandeered for the WriteGirl workshop at which I volunteered. Among the areas each girl had to visit was a college counseling section, different brainstorming/writing prompt tables, and the greatest catering table I have ever seen at any volunteering event. I signed in, got a brief tour where I met many of the fellow mentors (all impressive credential female writers) and then was sent to one of the writing prompt tables to help.

At my table the girls, all in high school, were required to look at a map of the world with highlighted pictures and pick a location.  Even if they had never visited that country they were then to write everything about that area they could imagine. i.e. What's the temperature? What does it smell like? Who's there? What do you see? What do you hear?  How do you feel being there?

The Girls Plan Their Villas in Tuscany

The girls worked with very little prompting.  When they seemed stuck I just did what my teachers had done for me - I showered them with questions and encouragement reminding them, "There is no right answer.  You are the master of this little universe you are creating, so don't be self conscious.  Just write something down."

Again. Don't be self conscious.  There is no right answer.  You are the master of your universe. Just write something down.

100% of WriteGirl graduates go to college, but more than that it's important for girls to have female mentors who have played the game, written the words, and succeeded. WriteGirl infuses young women with confidence and teaches them that their opinion matters. So, for God's sake, Lean In Ladies!

And remember, as the women of WriteGirl say at the end of every meeting:

"Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen."

 

Volunteer Journal #93 - Shoes For The Homeless

Shoes for the Homeless! This one was super easy!

Mission - Help get 1000 pairs of shoes to LA's homeless population.

Time commitment - 1 hour on Saturday.

Using my new LAWorks membership and their awesome events calendar (which I highly recommend every charity adopt) I found Shoes for the Homeless, Inc. in my area.  They needed volunteers to sort new or gently used shoes for the homeless on a Saturday.

Shoes for the Homeless was founded by Ira Goldbery, a Los Angeles podiatrist who has been in practice for 30 years. Ira works with the homeless regularly, and has seen many injuries caused by the lack of proper footwear.

My Shoes!

Ira is extremely organized. I got two emails confirming my involvement with the shoe sorting. When I showed up to sort shoes he gave me a quick 1 minute briefing.  That was it.  Then the 15 other volunteers, and I matched shoes, rubber banded matching pairs, and then sorted them by type.

In truth a bit of a ruckus did break out over whether certain types of ladies shoes were work appropriate or more suited to evening wear. I tried to stay out of it because I'm known to be inappropriate often.

It was over in a flash, and the shoes ready to be distributed to the estimated 58,000 homeless in LA via shelters like the Midnight Mission.

Side note - The number of homeless Veterans in LA surged by 23% last year.  I need to work with a homeless veterans group.  If anyone knows one please send suggestions through my Facebook page.

Volunteer Journal #92 - Midnight Mission Kids Program

Drawing in Chalk Out of all the charities I've volunteered for the Midnight Mission is by far one of my favorite.  They don't make you jump through too many hoops, they just put you to work.

When I found out that they needed people to play with kids at an after school program in South Central LA I was in.  I signed up for a two hour shift after work on LAWorks and drove over to the small park next to the apartment building where the kids lived.

Showing up at any new volunteering project is like showing up for the first day of a new school.  Are they gonna like me, what are we going to play?  I'm terrible at kick ball I hope we don't do that. I hope I'm not the last one picked.

I had lots of first days at different schools growing up, but I still get nervous wondering if any kids will want to play with me.

After a little awkward standing around a young guy named "Jack" (changed to protect little 'un), who was a bit by himself as well, decided that it would be okay to play horse shoes with me. Phew.  The rest of the evening went like this:

Jack: I think I won that game of horseshoes.

Me: Agreed.

Jack: Lets jump rope.

Some of the kids drawings .

Me: Okay.

Jack: Lets draw with chalk.

Me: Awesome.

Jack: I will draw a river going down the steps.  You will draw fish.

Me: Sure.

Jack: Let's play tennis.

Me: Cool.

Jack: Can you swing higher than me?

Me: Probably not.

Jack: If I put this toy around your ankle can you jump it?

Me: Ummm...

Jack: Nevermind let's go draw some more.

Me: Cool!

More sidewalk art!

Jack and I spent the bulk of the night drawing on the sidewalk in chalk.  We were joined by the other kids and they eventuallyy worked out a drawing contest.  Little introvert Jack, much like little introvert me, was included in the group.  Though much like me he also stepped away a bit to draw by himself.

So as not to get any little ones on film I handed them my iPhone so they could take the pictures.  After a little instruction they proved to be naturals. Those are their sidewalk drawing, and Jack took the picture of me sitting cross legged on the ground on the front page.

Volunteering Journal #89 - Tree Musketeers

Climbing Trees next to LAX. I had the pleasure of volunteering for an organization founded by kids for kids called Tree Muskeeters.

The young Musketeers plant trees, care for them, and hopefully pass on the lessons they learn to adults.

I always tell people that one of the best things about volunteering is how much you learn in the process - you can even get job training by volunteering.  My educational focus on this particular day was tree care (because some day I’m going to have fruit trees).  Since we were doing tree maintenance I didn’t think the arborist would mind being harassed.

The Tree Musketeers Arborist James was very accommodating as I peppered him with tons of annoying questions like “What is the tree that looks like it’s catching fire?”

One should never mention fire around a California Arborist.

When the panic subsided he said, “Oh the bottlebrush tree.  Yes, hummingbirds love that tree.”

She really likes trees

And I love hummingbirds so this is good.

He told me that he was in the park so often to care for the trees that the hummingbirds had gotten to know him.  They would give him an elevator greeting.

“What’s an elevator greeting?”

He said that they will swoop in and hover, considering him for a second, and then shoot straight up.

I then had far too many questions about hummingbirds.

I continued my question barrage at him and our teenage team leader Sammy as we pulled up weeds and grass in a two-foot radius around each tree and then put down a berm of mulch.  The mulch keeps the tree well hydrated, and also prevents weeds growing which zaps trees of needed nutrients.

Sammy and I put down mulch

It was fun.  I got dirty.  I climbed some trees.

Organizations founded with child volunteers in mind are few and far between.  Most groups will allow children so long as they are accompanied by an adult.  Never assume - always call ahead before bringing your children – for their safety as well as yours.

My SuperChangeYourLife Interview

I just did an interview with Stanley Bronstein from Superchangeyourlife.com . We talked about what gets me up in the morning, my favorite groups I've worked with, what happens when it all goes wrong, what poverty looks like in America, and much much more...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMCxqG5X3t0&feature=player_embedded

Raegan Payne SuperChangeYourLife Interview

My Wish List for the 100

Me & My Buds In Alaska! I’ve only got a few projects left on my way to 100. As I’ve suggested before I have no idea right now what I’m going to be able to do or how I’m going to finish this list.  It will get done though.

These non-profits are on my wish list both national and international. I’d love to work with them someday:

Green Bronx Machine - - Stephen Ritz is an inspiration. Teaching kids how to grow their own vegetables in school and helping them become entrepreneurs in the process.

Living Lands and Waters – This Illinois group travels up and down the Mississippi cleaning up the river.  It reminds me of Huck Finn.

Surfrider – I’ve worked with Heal the Bay lots (technical term), but haven’t gotten to this national ocean saving organization yet.

Always Vote TheGoodMuse

Best Friends Animal Society – the Utah Sanctuary – They originated the Puppy Mill Protests I participated in years ago.  They rehabbed the Michael Vick Dogs.

Gleaners Community Food Bank in Southeast Michigan – I’ve worked with Food Forward in LA, but this group feeds the needed of Detroit with really innovative programs.

The Taos Land Trust http://www.taoslandtrust.org/pages/volunteer_info.html - Because much of my family has settled around this haunting beautiful section of New Mexico.

I’d love to work with Veterans in Murray Ky – Serving meals, telling stories, whatever they need.  This is where my grandfather hung out before he passed on.

Be the Match – Marrow/Stem Cell Donation – After 3 years on the donor list I’m a possible match for a 57 year old woman.  Will find out in a few months.

And the international groups:

Goonj – The ULTIMATE REUSE REDUCE RECYCLE ALIEVIATE POVERTY group in India – they are doing brilliant

Hi!

Mercy Ships -  These ships are all over the world.  They bring medical relief to remote villages who might not otherwise see a doctor.

Royal Canal Cleanup – In Dublin, Ireland. I was suppose to work with them while I was there last May, but got one of my notorious May sinus infections.  They still send me emails.  I still want to help.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - Because what little girl doesn't want to be a pirate?

Volunteer Journal #85 - The Polar Bear Jump!

Polar Bear for Polar Plunge! Here are the pictures from the San Francisco Polar Plunge I did benefitting the Special Olympics.

It was a great event and I had a blast! They ended up raising over $200,000 dollars for the Special Olympics in Northern California! I even got to meet some of the athletes.

A few things to look for in the slide show:

When I'm hugging the corporate bear in the white bikini check out the large bruise on my knee.  I dislocated my right knee lifting weights at the gym the week before.  It was so painful that I dropped the 10 lb. weight in my hand on the other knee causing the bruise and keeping me out of the gym for the last week.

When I dove under the water my friends lost sight of me and couldn't get many pictures.  Reason why - when I dove under my bikini top and bottoms slipped off a bit so I stayed under water until I pulled everything back on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNwkQozo19Y&feature=youtu.be

Thanks to all of my wonderful donors who helped me raise money for the Special Olympics and my first polar plunge.  As I've said before on Twitter and Facebook - you guys keep TheGoodMuse running with your well wishes and you've help me cross off a major event on my bucket list.

Here's hoping you all have a lovely week.

Stay tuned for the next 15!

Volunteer Journal #84 - The Crown Jewel Club Tea

If you see a flock of chickens on the sidewalk in Los Angeles you’re in a bad neighborhood. Roosters are illegal within the city limits.  People do bad things with roosters, the most innocuous of which is wake everyone up at sunrise. However, when I pulled up to the small elementary school south of Downtown LA for a tea party that’s just what I saw - derelict houses, and 2 Roosters managing a flock.

I was in South Central to help The Crown Jewel Club throw a graduation tea party for their newest graduates.  Somebody mentioned to me that this seemed kind of frivolous – tea parties weren’t necessary.  But instilling confidence in at risk girls, The Crown Jewel Club’s mission, is necessary, and this tea was to celebrate a group of 5th graders graduation from the program.

The Crown Jewel Club teaches basic etiquette and social skills to girls in small classes.  For example: before the tea party began the volunteers lined up opposite the girls and they practiced shaking hands, formal greetings, and eye contact.   You may think this is easy or natural, but I would beg you to try to get a 5th grade girl to look you in the eye and shake hands firmly.  As Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook mentioned recently the girls are instilled at an early age to lean back and not be assertive – it’s perceived as bossy or worse.  You could tell some of the girls were desperately fighting the need to look at the floor.

My job was beyond easy and fun - help set up the tea party and then sit down and help the girls practice conversation skills.  It went something like this [with body movements like this]:

Me: “Okay Guys... Sorry I shouldn’t call you guys… Ladies.  Okay ladies. [Taking elbows off the table and holding my shoulders back] What is your greatest dream? [Again don’t slouch].

Smart Girl 1: “I would like to be a vet. Errr…. Veterinarian.”

Me: “Cool… I mean that is wonderful.  So did I." [Gently taking the sugar spoon out of her hand before she used it to stir her tea, and then immediately dropping it against my saucer with a clatter as I almost did the same thing.] "What about you?” [Nodding to the second girl as a burn tongue on hot tea.]

Smart Girl 2: “I want to be a teacher!”

Me: “Great.  What subject?” [Stirring milk in my tea.]

Smart Girl 2: “Milk?”

Me: “Try it. You’ll like it.  It will cool down the tea. You won't burning the... it will keep you from burning  your tongue. Ah hmm. Yes. Now... What subjects do you want to teach?"

Smart Girl 2: “Math and Science.”

Me: “Are you serious? I mean that’s awesome!  You’re awesome.” [Smirking. Take that study which says little girls don’t like math and science.]

Well, I did my best.  I probably messed up the etiquette a bit.  I ended up telling them the story of my children's book.  They got excited because it's about a girl only a year older than them. They gave me tons of suggestions for the second book.  Maybe I'll use them...

My Interview with Trailer Talks!

Hey guys! I did an interview with this great little start up called Trailer Talks. Check it out here!

I wave my hands around a bit, but don't worry nobody was hurt while filming.

Doing Polar Plunge 4 Special Olympics! Need Help!

Answers to all your questions about why you should go to this link and donate to the Special Olympics to make me jump into ice water.

Who?

Me! TheGoodMuse. On a mission to complete my 85th volunteer activity - a Polar Plunge benefitting the Special Olympics.

Special Olympics Northern California provides year-round sports training & competition opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities FOR FREE.  We need to raise money to help them do this it's awesome!

What? !!!!!!

I know, free training and competition opportunities for those with disabilities!  Why wouldn’t you help?

As for me it’s been on my bucket list forever, and I’m using this as an excuse to get back into “Body Double Shape” (pictured) after I was struck waiting for a red light in March (which left my neck screwed up).

Yes, I really was a body double when I first got to LA.  It’s how I survived.  No nudity.  I was just in really good shape.  I worked out A LOT.

I figure if the kids and adults of the Special Olympics are going to show an incredible amount of bravery and persistence at the gym so can I.

Where?

San Francisco “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” – Mark Twain

And I’m jumping into the Bay in the winter.

When?

February 23,  2013

Why?

Because over 15,700 Special Olympics athletes participate in The Special Olympics.

Because you are encouraging me to get back the stomach pictured.  Serious motivation if everyone is going to see a picture of you jumping into freezing water in a white bikini.

Because this is on my bucket list.

Because no amount is too small and whatever you can give is appreciated.  I set the goal at $250 total, because that’s double the minimum, but I think we can do better.

Why does your hair look like dry twisted straw in that old picture?

I have no idea.  People make mistakes.  Please forgive.

More?

For more information on Special Olympics Northern California, go to www.sonc.org or join the chatter on Facebook.com/SONorCal and Twitter.com/SONorcal

For more pictures of my adventure and adventures check out Facebook/TheGoodMuse

If this goes well maybe I’ll post up some more pics from body doubling days and tell some stories ‘bout it on TheGoodMuse.com

Volunteer Journal #81 - Pablove: Fight Pediatric Cancer

This took so long to write because I wasn’t feeling well. I haven’t been feeling well. Nothing life threatening, I’ll get over it. And then Newtown happened, and it made my heart hurt. But... no more excuses! It occurred to me that this non-profit that I volunteered with, Pablove, is about preventing the unnecessary death of children. Children who really, really, don’t feel well. Children who have cancer. See Pablove was founded because of a little boy that got terribly ill:

The Pablove Foundation is named after Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz, the son of Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz and the little brother of Grady Gallagher. Pablo was six years old when he lost his valiant yearlong battle with bilateral Wilms Tumor, a rare form of childhood cancer. Imbued with his spirit and inspired by his strength, Pablove is dedicated to the daily, global fight against childhood cancer and the suffering that comes in its wake. We fight on in order to amplify one simple message: kids get cancer too.”

It’s a simple message - kids get cancer too and until recently pediatric cancer was often treated with smaller doses of adult research medication. But a child is not a little adult. Their bodies are growing and changing.

Compared to adult cancers pediatric cancer is extremely underfunded. KidVCancer.org states that National Cancer Institutes Budget for Research on Childhood Cancer gets 4% or roughly 190 million compared to Adult cancer 96% or 4,800 million. In the past 20 years ONLY ONE new cancer drug has been approved for pediatric cancer. More pediatric cancer factoids here!

Also, when you’re sick with cancer you can’t be a kid. The medicine makes your stomach hurt, you lose your hair, get weak, have developmental delays. You definitely can’t play like you use to or even go to school.

The Pablove Foundation funds pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment. They educate and empower cancer families, and improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music and arts programs. They even host photography classes so the kids can tell the story of their lives with and without cancer.

All I did was help bartend one of their parties - a symposium actually, which brought together families who have a child with cancer, doctors, and Pablove Volunteers. The event is a chance for everyone to interact outside of the hospital environment.

It was a lovely, easy evening of volunteering and meeting fantastic people. Including my new volunteer friend Heidi (pictured) – an actress who is a regular volunteer for Pablove. She was inspired to volunteer because of her grandfather as well. Habitual volunteers are the lifeblood of any organization, so hats off to the better woman.

If you want to know more about Pablove I encourage you to visit their website.

My Radio Interview with Holly!

Here is my first radio talk show interview for Holly’s Advice 4b2c. http://hollysadvice4b2c.com/raegan-payne-the-good-muse/

AND here are some behind the scenes stories to make the listen more interesting:

The entire thing was recorded by SKYPE on my MacBook while sitting on my bed. It was incredibly fun after I got over my nerves. Holly is a very warm, professional, and forgiving host.

Listen for the points in the interview where she accidentally calls me Megan and then Rachel.  I was trying not to laugh.  It was an honest mistake, she knew my name, but it’s a good thing I answer to almost anything.

The first few minutes are composed of me pausing and saying, “ummm…” and “like…” a lot because I was so nervous.  True, I did have a radio show in college for 4 years called “Bitchkittens” but no one wanted to hear me talk. I played music.

She calls me a high paid actress at one point and again I almost spit the tea across the room.   I am high paid in comparison to the average Bangladeshi. If we’re talking third world earning potential then yes.  I love to act, but I’ve been mostly a stage actress. For a minute, I thought maybe another actress was also on the phone.  See if I cover my momentary confusion.

I screw up and say I helped “undeserved” children and then quickly say, “Underserved.”

All in all a good first showing.

http://hollysadvice4b2c.com/raegan-payne-the-good-muse/

The groups mentioned are listed below.

TreePeople

Food Forward

Lange Foundation

Operation Gratitude

Burton’s Chill Program

Best Friends Animal Society

The Red Cross

Volunteer Journal #77 – DonorsChoose.org

Recently, I stumbled upon the brilliant organization Vittana – a group that makes loans to students to finish their education much like Kiva makes loans to small businesses in developing countries.

Seeing how excited I was to loan to students a TGM fan suggested I check out Donorschoose.org, which makes donations directly to teachers for school supplies, class projects, field trips, etc.

I had heard about Donorschoose around “the water cooler,” and the fact that America's teachers dip into their own poorly paid pockets to provide at least $40 a month in basic school supplies for their students. I believe, American public, this constitutes an epic fail on our part.

DonorsChoose, developed by teacher Charles Best in 2000, has unique transparency, you are allowed to choose the exact way in which your money is donated.  After a brief search I made a donation to a southern elementary school to help them fund a school garden. (I am particularly fond of school gardening programs). I responded to the brave request of Mr. Carberry who wants his student to have gardening supplies.  Currently, this loan is still not completely funded.  Look people, when a fund will educate, provide food, fight obesity, and teach real world skills it's a no brainer - donate to the garden.

Generally, I try to limit TheGoodMuse activities to physical acts or loans like Kiva or Vittana*.  My rational is - most people in this economy, around the world, don’t have money to spare, like myself, but they can act – thus volunteering or acts of kindness.  Also, making TheGoodMuse a sight about giving money away was too easy and boring – unengaged, unplugged, and not realistic for the majority of readers.  But Donorschoose was a unique case, and I wanted to demo how it worked for all of ya'll.

I believe, in the digital age that most charities will be required to move towards a more transparent donation model like Donorschoose, they just got the jump on the competition.

* Vittana and Kiva are loans not donations because your money is given back eventually and then it’s your chose to reloan or pocket.