How to Change the World

This guide is full of creative, practical ideas for how you can get involved in the many important causes we have highlighted in this issue of the Good News. We have grouped our suggestions into three helpful categories to help you get started. Since change often starts at home, our first category is “It’s Personal!” Look here to find ways you can make a difference within your own immediate family, circle of friends, coworkers and neighbors. For ideas on how to impact your community, check out “Look Local!” And, to broaden your scope even more, our “Go Global!” category lists ways you can literally help put boots on the ground in critical areas around the world. Use this guide to help you put feet to your faith today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Rights

It’s Personal!

Start by setting an example. Be a role model for animal rights by caring responsibly for your own pets. Be sure to get them spayed or neutered! Teach your own children to treat animals with kindness and respect. If you are in the market for a new pet, consider adopting one from a local humane society (Broward: www.humanebroward.com, Miami-Dade: www.humanesocietymiami.org, Palm Beach: www.hspb.org).

Look Local!

Report animal cruelty. Learn to recognize signs of animal cruelty and take action. If you see abuse, take down the full address of the location abuse is taking place, and make a report to police or your local animal control center. Consider supporting organizations like Animal Rescue Force of South Florida (www.animalrescueforce.org) that rescue dogs and cats, keeping them in foster homes until adoptive homes can be found, or no-kill shelters, like Animal Aid (www.animal-aid.com).

Go Global!

Donate to protect and save animals around the world. There are many funds and organizations dedicated to protecting endangered species, to preventing cruelty to animals and for cleaning up pollution that threatens wildlife. Consider supporting organizations like The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (www.aspca.org) that work to prevent animal abuse and pass humane legislation. Another option is The International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org) which has operations rescuing animals in over 40 countries.

Bullying

It’s Personal!

Take bullying seriously. If you suspect a child is being bullied, offer a listening ear and extend compassion and comfort, then take action! Teach children how to respond to bullying. Consider talking to the bully’s parents and always notify teachers and school officials. If you expose your children to people who are less fortunate than themselves and they will be less likely to become bullies. Find local volunteer opportunities through your church or repositories like Hands On (www.handsonbroward.org) and I Am Involved (www.iaminvolved.org).

Look Local!

Advocate for bullying victims in your local schools. Vote for school board members who will take a strong anti-bullying stance. Work with your PTA to support anti-bullying initiatives and zero-tolerance policies. Get your kids involved in an anti- bullying club where they can stand together against bullying and promote friendship and kindness. If your school does not have an anti- bullying club, start one! Organize a pizza party where young people can watch the documentary Bully and discuss effective ways to handle bullying and the dangers of keeping silent.

Go Global!

Prevent and stop “cyberbullying.” Online harassment, in the form of messages or posts, is the newest form of bulling. Support education campaigns that teach young people how to safely use social media platforms and how to report harassment. Support organizations like Bullying.org (www.bullying.org) that provide educational tools to help prevent and stop bullying.

Childhood Sex abuse

It’s Personal!

Protect your children. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), it is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. The big take away from those statistics is this: be vigilant in protecting your own children. Talk to them about sex- even the difficult topics- and set clear boundaries. Help them to internalize, even at an early age, a self-worth that comes from God alone. Be sure to teach them about inappropriate touching and make sure they feel safe telling you when they are uncomfortable. Trust your instincts and do not be afraid of being overly cautious.

Look Local!

Protect all children. Given the shocking statistics, you almost certainly know a child who is being sexually abused or an adult who was sexually abused as a child. Educate yourself on the warning signs of sexual abuse using resources like An Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection (www.aardvarc.org). Look for warning signs, use common sense and speak up if you see a child in a vulnerable situation. Volunteer with a holistic program like Kristi House (www.kristihouse.org) that works with sexual abuse victims.

Go Global!

Champion this cause financially. Invest in organizations that raise public awareness, educate parents and children and offer services to victims such as It’s Not My Fault (www.itsnotmyfault.org). Also consider supporting organizations that work to strengthen laws and mandatory sentencing guidelines for sexual crimes against minors such as Stop Child Predators (www.stopchildpredators.org).

Environment

It’s Personal!

Carpool to save gas, reduce emissions and reduce congestion! Unlike throwing a milk carton in the recycle bin, or carrying reusable bags to the grocery store, carpooling has a uniquely personal element—people! Use the drive time to build new friendships and share Christ.

Look Local!

Invest in your local green economy. Buying local produce from farmer’s markets and roadside stands is great for your health, great for the environment and great for local farmers. Also be sure to look for local products being sold in your grocery store.

Go Global!

Participate in Earth Day. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe participate in Earth Day celebrations each year to raise awareness about environmental issues and celebrate stewardship. Attend educational events and festivals, participate in fundraisers, join cleanup or planting efforts and get the word out!

Homeless Youth

It’s Personal!

Reach out to at-risk youth. Take advantage of opportunities to create genuine relationships with young people from a wayward niece to your son’s best friend or the kid next door. Get a portable basketball hoop and shoot hoops in your driveway. Invite neighborhood teenagers to join you. Simple, practical things like a listening ear and a pizza can keep an at-risk youth from becoming a homeless youth.

Look Local!

Mentor. Local mentoring programs are a great way to connect with young people in your community who need support, advice and encouragement. Mentoring is a rewarding way to improve the self-esteem of young people, which often keeps them off the streets, in school and on the path to a successful life.  Get started mentoring through an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters (www.wementor.org). Also, check with your church for other mentoring opportunities.

Go Global!

Donate to programs for at-risk and homeless youth. There are transitional programs, shelters, job training programs and faith-based programs designed to help young people who are at-risk or already homeless. Check out Covenant House (www.covenanthouse.org) which provides shelter, food and emergency care for homeless youth nationwide. For the sports enthusiast, support the Homeless World Cup Foundation (www.homelessworldcup.org) whose motto is “Beating homelessness through football.” Each year this organization sponsors homeless players from across the world to compete in a World Cup that raises awareness for the cause. The players then return to their home countries as ambassadors for the homeless. In addition, the foundation’s partners provide healthcare services, education and employment for homeless.

Human Trafficking

It’s Personal!

Educate girls. Talk to girls about the risks of seemingly “too good to be true” modeling and acting offers that often lure them into human trafficking. Support and promote interventions to prevent girls from becoming runaways. Education is often the key to keeping our young people safe from human traffickers, so be sure to use online resources like HumanTrafficking.org and Broward Human Trafficking Coalition (www.bhtc.us) to educate yourself. Also watch the hard-hitting documentary trilogy Nefarious (www.nefariousdocumentary.com) which reveals the underworld of modern-day slavery.

Look Local!

Report suspicious activity. Over the last few years, the Internet has become a primary way to sell girls for sex. Craigslist, for example, has been accused of allowing human traffickers to sneak into our communities virtually unnoticed. When you see online ads offering adult services with pictures of under-aged girls or other suspicious ads, flag them. Suspicions of human trafficking should be reported to the Department of Homeland Security (1-866-347-2423).

Go Global!

Donate to combat human trafficking. Human trafficking spans the globe in many forms from the sex trade to forced labor slavery. To make a big impact, consider supporting organizations that combat human trafficking and rescue victims such as Free the Slaves (www.freetheslaves.net) that works through grassroots organizations, governments and business to free slaves and implement sustainable solutions. Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (www.gems-girls.org), also known as GEMS, empowers young girls and women who have been sexually exploited to escape the sex industry and build a new life. LOVE146 (www.love146.org) works to prevent sexual exploitation of children and provides treatment programs after they are rescued.

Elderly

It’s Personal!

Volunteer your time. Elderly people are often lonely so sharing a cup of tea, an upbeat visit or even a phone call can really light up their day. If you have more time to spend, play a board game, watch a baseball game or look through their old photographs with them. Remember, consistency is more important than the length of time you spend for each visit.

Look Local!

Offer practical assistance. Elderly people in your community need help with minor home repairs, cleaning and yard maintenance. When you mow your lawn, consider mowing an elderly neighbor’s yard too. In inclement weather, be sure to check on elderly neighbors and offer assistance if you find them without electricity or in distress.

Go Global!

Donate to organizations that assist elderly people around the world. Organizations like World Vision (www.worldvision.org), best known for their work with children, also provide emergency aid, medical care and other assistance to the elderly in impoverished communities. For a fun option, help make a dream come true for a disadvantaged elderly person through Twilight Wish Foundation (www.twilightwish.org). Wishes range from making a restrictively expensive trip to see their grandchildren to fulfilling a lifelong dream to skydive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orphans

It’s Personal!

Become an adoptive parent. Bottom line: orphans need parents. Consider providing a loving, supportive home or short-term respite care for a foster child, our 21st century orphans. Also consider private adoption and international adoption, which both provide homes to orphans.

Look Local!

Volunteer your time. Shelters, group homes and crisis pregnancy centers are great places to invest your time. If you are able to provide a service to foster children such as a haircut or tutoring, volunteer your time and services. Consider volunteer opportunities available through 4KIDS of South Florida (www.4kidsofsfl.org) that offers a wide range of services to foster children.

Go Global!

Sponsor a child—then go visit! For a few dollars a month, through organizations like World Help (www.worldhelp.net), World Vision (www.worldvision.org) and Compassion International (www.compassion.com), you can provide food, medical care and an education for a needy child, often an orphan, in a foreign country. World Vision also offers an exciting program where your family can actually go visit the child you sponsor.

Poor & Needy

It’s Personal!

Meet small needs of friends, cousins and kids around the neighborhood. Chances are you personally know someone who needs a backpack, a pair of sneakers, a ticket to the youth event next weekend or back-to-school supplies. With a little observation and a few dollars, these are needs you can meet. Be sure to grab some extra school supplies during the back-to-school sales to hand out.

Look Local!

Pay off someone’s utility bill. When the electricity or water gets shut off for non-payment, the collateral damage is high: spoiled food, no heat, no air conditioning and no lights. Utility companies and some local organizations and benevolence ministries allow strangers to pay these bills for others. There are also many organizations that support the working poor—consider donating clothing, non-perishable food items or cash. Organizations to consider include C.R.O.S. Ministries (www.crosministries.org) that helps feed the hungry in the community and Faith Farm Ministries (www.faithfarm.org) that offers a free 9-month residential drug recovery program. Also consider donating to local soup kitchens, Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army.

Go Global!

Donate to organizations providing worldwide relief. There are many well-known international organizations such as Direct Relief International (www.directrelief.org) and Feed the Children (www.feedthechildren.org) that work to alleviate and eliminate poverty around the world. Also consider unconventional approaches such as Uncharted Play (www.unchartedplay.com). This ingenious organization distributes soccer balls, called SOCCKETs, which double as eco-friendly generators and include an LED light. Your $60 donation plus 15 minutes of child’s play equals three hours of LED light for a family living with no access to electricity.

Racism

It’s Personal!

Honestly evaluate your conscious and subconscious views. Educate yourself and seriously consider the types of language you use and the media you consume. For example, do you tell or listen to racial jokes? Your words and actions will spread to those around you. Experience a different culture through authentic ethnic restaurants. For Mexican, instead of Taco Bell, try Zona Fresca. For Carribean, instead of Pollo Tropical, try Aunt I’s.  Go on a short term mission trip to experience and appreciate a different culture while serving people in other countries.

Look Local!

Create diversity. Intentionally create a diverse core of friends, service providers and social acquaintances. Actively seek out opportunities to diversify or experience being the minority. Not only will you be a role model, but in a practical way you will bring others together through your social network. Attend one of the many South Florida festivals that showcase different cultures.

Go Global!

Let organizations be your hands and feet on the ground. Racism is on the rise in some areas of the world and continues to be a primary cause of many civil wars and brutal violence. Too often the result is disease ridden refugee camps, countless orphans and widows, unusable land and squandered resources. Support organizations like Samaritan’s Purse (www.samaritanspurse.org) that provides relief in refugee camps and in war-torn countries. Support the orphanages built by Sam Childers (www.machinegunpreacher.org), as seen in the recently released film, Machine Gun Preacher, which house children brutally orphaned by the civil war in Sudan.

Sexual Objectification

It’s Personal!

Install an internet filter. Sexual objectification begins at home and often a young age. Block the sexual images that are rampant online using tools like Net Nanny (www.netnanny.com). Use parental controls to limit television programming and be sure to be mindful of video game ratings. Use online tools like Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org) to evaluate entertainment before your family consumes it. Download this as a smart phone app too!

Look Local!

Work to prevent adult-themed shops and venues from operating in your community. Support tougher ordinances and laws. Do not forget your power as a customer! Be sure to politely voice your disapproval to store managers and owners if they carry objectionable items and especially if they display them in areas children can access or see.

Go Global!

Donate to help rescue the sex workers and heal the addicted. There are several faith-based organizations working to help those engaged in the sex trade as well as those addicted to the sex trade. XXXChurch.com goes where few churches go—shining a light into sexual addictions and offering practical insights and help for recovery. Hookers for Jesus (www.hookersforjesus.net) assists strippers and prostitutes with transitional housing and other services to help them reenter society whole and healed. Pink Cross Foundation (www.thepinkcross.org) has a two-fold purpose—reaching out to pornography consumers as well as to adult film actresses and sex workers. Contact these organizations for instructions on how to write to your elected officials about this issue and to donate.

 

 

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