Doing Good Together June 2008 Newsletter

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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... June 2008
in this issue
  • Habitat for Humanity: Build a Partnership
  • Shed Light on the Significance of Neighborhood and Home
  • Inspiration
  • Family Story
  • News From DGT

  • Decent, secure housing can make a profound difference for families. It is the foundation for a good quality of life and economic well-being, and provides a sense of stability that is critical for success in school and in employment. But a global housing crisis has meant that substandard housing - and even homelessness - is the rule for too many families, both in the United States and around the world. If your family wants to be part of the solution, consider the suggestions below.

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Habitat for Humanity: Build a Partnership
    Habitat for Humanity

    Make a Difference...

    Families with older teens can work together to help build homes, an experience that for many is life- changing. If your children are too young (under 16) to volunteer on a house construction site but want to help in the issue of decent housing, Habitat for Humanity suggests these ways to contribute:

  • Make lunches for Habitat workers. (See family story below.)
  • Create cards for new low-income homeowners. The template can be found on the Habitat site.
  • Participate in the Paper House Campaign. Directions are provided to cut out, color and fold a paper house, which you can send (ideally with a letter) to lawmakers as a reminder to work for affordable housing.
  • Make a welcome basket for a new Habitat homeowner family. Contact your local Habitat office for information.
  • Make keyhooks and other gifts for new homeowner families.
  • Volunteer at a community fundraiser for Habitat. Your local Habitat office will help.
  • Photo: Habitat for Humanity

    Shed Light on the Significance of Neighborhood and Home
    DyAnne DiSalvo's A Castle on Viola Street

    Talk About It...

    Converse with your children about the value of having a home.

  • Why is a decent house so important for families? Have your kids imagine how difficult it would be to concentrate at school, do homework or have friends over without a permanent place to live.
  • There is not enough housing that people can afford, and the problem is growing. Talk about why affordable housing benefits everyone by ensuring stable families and a strong community.
  • Discussions about why housing matters will occur spontaneously when you and your children play certain games designed by Habitat for Humanity. You'll find Habitat Bingo, directions for an edible Gingerbread House and pictures to color of Dewey Do-it building a Habitat house.
  • Learn About It...
    Andy realizes the importance of community caring when his family gets a house of its own through a Habitat-like organization in DyAnne DiSalvo's A Castle on Viola Street. The book is meant for children between 4 and 8 years old, but reading it with older kids is an ideal way to begin a discussion on community responsibility and good citizenship.

    Photo: DyAnne DiSalvo's A Castle on Viola Street.


    "Without action, compassion can lead to despair and deep sorrow, but when we do act upon our empathy, not only do we and our children feel empowered and positive about ourselves, our collective acts become an extraordinary force for good."

    Zoe Weil, Above All Be Kind

    Family Story
    Mark and Susan Sussman and their 9-year-old son, Jeremy

    For Jewish people, giving to charity is one of the most fundamental forms of just and righteous behavior. A "pushke" (a charity can, jar or box) is used to collect money to donate, and the Sussmans have one prominently displayed in their Harrisburg, Pa., home. The family drops in their spare change, and 5 percent of the cost of any purchases their son makes goes into the box as well. Once or twice a year, Mark and Susan Sussman and their 9-year-old son, Jeremy, decide where to donate the money. One year they wanted to help improve access to medical care and gave to Doctors Without Borders. Another time Jeremy asked that the money go toward creating a safe place for children to play; the donation went to a local YMCA daycare for low-income kids.

    When Jeremy was 6, he suggested that their donation be sent to "kids who need a home." A call to Habitat for Humanity resulted in a tour of a Habitat house and a volunteer job -- along with several other families -- to create a neighborhood garden. Jeremy understood, says Mark, that the recipient family and volunteers were working together to create a home, and that it could happen only with help from the community.

    Photo: Mark and Susan Sussman and their 9-year-old son

    Read Full Story

    News From DGT
    Global Citizens Network

    Doing Good Together is collaborating with Global Citizens Network (GCN), a Twin Cities nonprofit that arranges for volunteers to immerse themselves briefly in the daily life of other cultures. DGT is developing materials to help prepare families for their travel adventure with GCN, providing tools to help families reflect on their experience prior, during and after their trip. Research suggests that when participants spend time reflecting on their service experiences, they gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and how they can make positive contributions.

    If you know of other nonprofits or a social service agency that would benefit from materials to help recruit, educate and celebrate family volunteers, we can help. Please contact us for information.

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