Friday, December 25, 2015

#DoMoreGiveMore with Todoist

Christmas marks the final week of a #DoMoreGiveMore campaign from one of my favorite apps - Todoist - featuring ways to support nonprofit causes through tweets and posts on Twitter and Instagram. Todoist is focusing on taking a step back to do a part for the larger, global community outside of the many tasks on our to-do lists. The #DoMoreGiveMore campaign raises awareness and donations for nonprofit organizations that accomplish truly amazing things in the world.

The first week featured Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides impartial medical relief to victims of war, disease, and disaster.

Week two highlighted The Malala Fund, a huge initiative to support education for girls.

Last week showed an outpouring of support for Stop Hunger Now, which has provided over 180 million meals in 65 countries since 1998.

This final week, you can support Heifer International, an organization that works directly with communities from all over the world in order to end world hunger and poverty while helping families achieve self-reliance.

For every tweet, retweet, or Instagram post using the hashtag #DoMoreGiveMore through this week, the Todoist team will donate $10 to one of the above causes. While you're checking out the great ways to give back with Todoist, be sure to read this recent blogpost from them too: The Case for Making Gratitude a Year-Round Habit.  Happy Holidays!

Photo Credit: Todoist

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gifts That Give Back

Whether you're shopping for the holiday season or need a year-round guide to birthday, baby, wedding, or other gifts, here's a quick look at some fantastic gifts that give back from a few favorite places:

Photo Credit: Enrou

Enrou: A brand close to my heart, I did most of my holiday shopping for friends, family, and colleagues during their Giving Tuesday weekend push.  Enrou is all about giving opportunity through dignified work.  Each product has a matching clock of how many hours of dignified work you create through purchase, along with the story of the artisan and area you are supporting.  Some of my favorite products include the Be Inspired Travel Tin Candle (limited edition holiday scents too!), the Resolution Wrap bracelet (perfect for those New Year's resolutions!), and all of the beautiful scarves.  Hot tip: Free shipping with orders over $75 and use my code RACHEL10 for 10% off your whole order!

Photo Credit: Loved by Hannah and Eli

Loved by Hannah and Eli: You don't have to be a Mama Bear to appreciate the adorable and soft clothing options from Loved by Hannah and Eli, owned and created by awesome mom Sarah.  What started as a small dream has grown into a line for moms, dads, children, and babies; my favorites are the Prevent Bullying t-shirt, Grumpy Bear Fleece Hooded Sweatshirt, and the Packers-colored Mama Bear football tee.  LHE also works hard to support local causes close to the owner's heart, featuring a Clothes for a Cause section where profits go right back to the needs that inspired the designs.

Photo Credit: ONEHOPE

ONEHOPE: Located in Napa Valley, ONEHOPE is both a lifestyle brand and a world-class vineyard that gives back and creates measurable impact through wine and related products.  Toast your New Year with one of their Glitter Edition bottles, indulge with Fido through the Pinot for Paws Woof! Gift Box, or buy some coffee if you're not a drinker.  Booze for a cause!

Photo Credit: FEED

FEED: Created by girl-crush Lauren Bush Lauren, FEED was started to break the cycle of poverty through free, nutritious school lunches.  FEED products engage people in the fight against hunger by displaying the number of meals provided right on the item purchased.  I've heard LBL speak several times and have a few products already; I'm currently lusting after the Waxed Canvas Overpacker, the FEED + West Elm Apron, and the Striped Sun Onesie for some of the new babies in my life.

These are just a sample of the many stores dedicated to meaningful purchases.  Search "gifts that give back" on your favorite search engine to find more ideas or use a few great gift guides I've already found from Bon Appetit, Forbes, The Good Trade, and Real Simple.  Happy Holidays!  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Last Week Tonight is Tomorrow's Socially Responsible Future

Have you been watching Last Week Tonight?  It might be the best show on TV (and YouTube) these days, not far behind Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert in numbers.  Did you know the states that watch the most Last Week Tonight are North Dakota (questioned in this episode for their hospitality to oil companies) and Alaska?!

Photo Credit: HBO/Last Week Tonight Facebook

Indeed, "TV host John Oliver has become America's social justice warrior" using wit, satire, and research to shed light on some of America's problems.  Unlike the news media who uses doom and gloom stories to show the worst of the world (repeatedly), Oliver and his team use skilled research, writing, and analysis to explain the problem and suggest the most sensible solutions.  Oliver isn't complaining; he uses humor and intellect to share problems to a mass audience along with tangible ways for the average listener to take action.

Oliver finds ways to connect with so many different audiences -- from the Daily Fantasy Sports player/hater to the penny-picker-upper (guilty!) to those who need the legal system to people who love food.  According to someone who has fought for agricultural farmers for decades, "If you've got a problem and you want it fixed, call John Oliver. That's my theory now. [...] In 18 minutes, he did what we've been trying for 30 years to do and that is just reach a general, broader audience. The story that he told, I cannot tell you how hard that is to tell to someone that is not really familiar with it."  When Oliver features a plight on his show - pulling out all the stops thanks to HBO's willingness to let him be brutally honest - it isn't just the regular viewers who listen and learn.  These new audiences spread the word, and so do media and social media channels.  Unsexy topics such as Sex Education and Mental Health now get major playtime because people respect and listen to Oliver, and he's able to turn the conversation from complaints and sensationalism into real action and change.

Photo Credit: HBO/Last Week Tonight

Read more about Oliver's social good effect on Mashable.  Last Week Tonight is off the air until February 2016, so catch up on what you've missed on their YouTube channel or on HBO.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Service Projects

Happy Halloween!  On this day of orange and black and ghouls and goblins, please be safe when trick-or-treating or monster mashing tonight.  Looking for ways to give back after your candy bag is full?  Check out last year's post, Halloween Candy Gives Back, for information on turning excess candy into treats for the troops with Operation Gratitude.

Photo Credit: Elliotborough Community Garden

If you're looking for additional volunteer opportunities this Halloween weekend, why not try volunteering at your local community garden or farmer's market to see where those pumpkins came from?  November 1 also marks the holiday Dia de los Muertos, so check out local events like the ones in San Francisco or Orange County to volunteer or just attend.

Photo Credit: Dia de los Muertos SF

Do you have other give-back plans this weekend?  Drop a line to tell me what you're up to!  Koufax will be supervising my consumption of pumpkin seeds and candy.  Have a spooky, safe Halloween!

Photo Credit: A Whispered Wish

Saturday, September 19, 2015

In Nashville, #LoveHeals

by Jaclyn Hugg

Thistle Farms Coffee Mug & Body Butter

Nashville - the city, not the TV show. Home to Vanderbilt University, the Tennessee Titans, and aspiring musicians of about every genre you can imagine.  Known for its Southern cuisine and charm, “Music City” had been a place on my domestic travel list for quite some time.  Recently, I had the chance to spend a long weekend there with RC, the creator of A Whispered Wish, and her cousins, Mike and Kristen.

RC & JH at the famous Bluebird Cafe

KZH & RC singing along in downtown Nashville

Naturally, we did a lot of the “touristy” things including: a quick stop at East Nashville’s Tomato Art Fest (yes, it’s as cool as it sounds), a day spent exploring downtown Nashville (think Bicentennial Park, shops on Broadway, and the daily farmer’s market), and a trip to Franklin, TN, which involved sampling pimento cheese sandwiches! But the one experience I haven’t been able to stop talking about since returning from our trip is that of our time spent at Thistle Farms and the Thistle Stop Café.

The Thistle Stop Cafe

From the street, both the Café and the studio/gift shop space look like any ordinary local, small business would. However, after stepping foot inside, and hearing about the mission and stories behind each cup of coffee, handmade greeting card, and stick of lip balm, I began to realize that this place is actually quite extraordinary.

Thistle Farms gift shop

You see, this organization is a social enterprise that assists women who have fallen into difficult circumstances – e.g., addiction, prostitution, and trafficking. These women are survivors that have been given the opportunity to participate in a two-year program, in which they live and work in a community that provides shelter, sustenance, medical coverage, and education/job training free of charge. Whereas the program is guided by 24 spiritual principles, what it (the community, its outreach, and its outcomes) all comes down to is the mantra (and hashtag!), #loveheals.

Thistle Farms gift shop

From humble beginnings (the founding of the residential community, Magdalene, in 1997) to a growing social enterprise – independent of government funding and designed to create real, lasting transformations – founder/author/Episcopal priest, Becca Stevens, has always proclaimed love as the driver behind meaningful social change. And it is love, indeed, that shows through in everything this organization says and does.

KZH & RC in the Studio & Gift Shop

In fact, RC, Kristen, and I were so moved by the #loveheals movement that we felt compelled to support the cause through purchasing a handful of products and writing this blog to create awareness of the real, sustainable change taking place for this group of Nashville women. We truly enjoyed learning about Thistle Farms, and recommend that both Nashvillians and visitors put this organization on their list of places to check out and support.

JH & KZH with their new Thistle Farms purchases

To learn more about Thistle Farms, visit their website at

Guest blogger, Jaclyn Hugg, is a higher education professional based in Chicago, IL. Her passion for service stemmed from her involvement with AmeriCorps and Student M.O.V.E., as an undergraduate student at Buena Vista University, and has followed her personally and professionally ever since. Top causes she supports: education, animal welfare, women's health, and hunger and homelessness.

Photo Credit (All Photos): Jaclyn Hugg & Rachel Corell

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The 1951 Refugee Convention

The 1951 Refugee Convention is an important legal document that defines who is a refugee, their rights, and obligations of the land where they seek shelter.  With the current civil and financial unrest and conflict in Europe, more and more people are seeking asylum in the European Union -- nearly 340,000 in 2015 alone.  The flood of moving people looking for a better, safer place to live has once again brought up words such as "migrant" and "refugee" with many people using them interchangeably.

But, they are different.  A migrant is someone who chooses to move to a new place, but a refugee has no choice.  They are fleeing armed conflict and/or persecution, often targeted due to their race, religion, or politics.  Their homes have wars and human rights abuses.  While a financial meltdown may be a catastrophe to many, people who move due to debt or looking for work are not technically refugees.  The 1951 Refugee Convention was created by the United Nations after World War II to grant asylum to those who need it most - and have no other choice.

Photo Credit: Marketplace

Regardless of your thoughts on immigration -- I personally feel that people should be able to live where they want as long as they contribute to their community (ex: sales and/or income taxes, public service, etc.) -- this is not an immigration issue.  This is about people who have been forced from their homes and merely want a safe haven to get back on their feet.

Interested in what you can do?  Read Mashable's Here's how you can help during the refugee crisis in Europe to learn about how you can assist the nearly 19.5 million people (half of them children) forcibly displaced from their home as refugees in the last year.  Some ideas based off of Mashable's list:

1. Educate yourself about the global crisis.  You're reading this post - great job!  Be sure to read more; suggested articles are below:

2. Donate to impactful organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, or Save The Children.

Photo Credit: Save The Children

3. Support smaller, grassroots efforts such as Refugees Welcome, which matches asylum-seekers with people willing to share their homes.

4. Support private sector partnerships like the IKEA Foundation, which works with nonprofits including UNHCR to develop long-term, strategic ideas to create support for refugee children around the world, or UNIQLO, which has collected and given over 14 million items of second-hand clothing with UNHCR.

Photo Credit: UNIQLO CSR

5. Volunteer your time and skills with the Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, United Nations Volunteers, or another organization of your choosing.

6. Spread awareness by sharing any of the websites or organizations you found via these links or in your own research (loop back to Step 1!)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Five Year Reflection

125 posts and 5 years ago, I started a little project to have an outlet for my nonprofit writing with dreams of reminding myself of the HTML coding I loved so much in high school.  While I'd prefer that my post count was higher, coding better, and time spent here increased, a little bit is better than nothing!

Photo Credit: Linked In

I started with the obligatory "Hello world!" post in August 2010, followed by a profile of one of my favorite celebrity humanitarians, Matt Damon, in "ONEXONE: Hope Belongs to Everyone."  I've tried to write about do-good things that are interesting to me, but maybe also interesting to you.  I don't write with an audience in mind and I don't advertise this site, but I believe that sharing good ideas can inspire better ideas.  I read hundreds of articles a day on Feedly, subscribe to a variety of magazines (so much love for AAA's Westways), read social media (news, but about people I know!), and pay attention to the world and stories around me.  Learning is growing, and growing leads to positive change.

I hope I'm still writing five years from now - hopefully with much more content - and I've recently decided to be more personal in this space.  I hope wonderful guest bloggers like Jaclyn continue to write pieces for A Whispered Wish; I welcome you to write here if you have a common interest in goodwill too.  Stories will continue to be shared about things that make the world a better place -- thank you for reading.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Special Olympics World Games Closing Ceremony

Photo Credit: David Crane via LA2015

Today (August 1) marks the close of competition, followed by the Closing Ceremony tomorrow (August 2) of the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.  If you haven't seen the Games yet this week, visit one of the many LA venues today:

The Special Olympics World Games are about more than competition and athletics.  The Games are about the Healthy Athletes program, which offers more than 1.4 million free health clinics in 100+ countries, including free healthcare during the Games in seven areas: Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision), and Special Smiles (dentistry).  The Games are about the Motor Activity Training Program designed for athletes unable to participate in the larger Games.  The Games are about bringing together people from all over the world to play, to challenge, to unify.

Watch the inspiring video below, Beyond Sports: How Special Olympics Changes Lives, in order to learn more about why these Games and the entire Special Olympics organization are so important.

How do you describe Special Olympics? Life changing. Awesome. Fantastic. Family.  We have world-class athletes competing in the Special Olympics, but we also coach life. Athletes in the Special Olympics are twice as likely to be employed, and to have active social lives. Come join our family, as an athlete, as a volunteer, as a mentor - it'll make you a better YOU.

On Sunday, visit the Special Olympics World Games Closing Ceremony held at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  Per the program: "The final festivities of the Games will pay tribute to the athletes, families, coaches, volunteers and supporters who have come together for a successful and inspirational event. World-class entertainers and celebrities will headline the celebration."  As of today, a limited number of free Closing Ceremony tickets are still available, so stop by either of the Closing Ceremony ticket booths at the USC or UCLA festivals to pick up your general admission tickets.  The World Is Coming.  Are You?