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Donating to Charity Without Breaking the Bank

If you live an altruistic lifestyle, chances are you already know the impact that donating to local nonprofit organizations has on your community. These charities make a genuine difference in the lives of others near you, and giving to them supports their efforts. 

However, if you’re low on cash, financial donations might not be possible during this stage in life. You want to make a difference, but aren’t sure where to start without money. Fortunately, we have ideas to help you donate to charity without breaking the bank. 

Volunteer for a job search.
Of course, one way to give without donating money is by volunteering your time. While many people think of volunteering at a food bank or homeless shelter (and these programs definitely matter), have you ever considered volunteering with a job search center? You can work one-on-one with people looking for jobs in your community. Help craft resumes, practice interviews and apply. Through serving, you can set someone up for success for years to come.

Teach valuable skills.
See what valuable skills you have on hand that you can teach others. For instance, if you’re currently reading this article on a computer, chances are you have more computer skills than many people. Use your time to serve others by donating your talents and skills. Teach computer skills, any household abilities you know like cooking, plumbing or repair work, or any artistic talents, such as writing. Individuals can then use these skills in their next job application.

Give gently-used items.
More than likely, you have something in your home right now that you don’t use. You can give these unused or gently-used items to charities you care about, who will make sure they get to the right people. Donate any gently-used clothing, toys or items to clear out space in the house and brighten someone else’s day. Just be sure these items are still in good condition; any dirty, broken or extremely outdated items probably aren’t a great choice.

Fundraise with friends.
Just because you’re low on money doesn’t mean other people are. Get a group of friends or family together to help you raise funds for your favorite nonprofit organization. Put together a local collection, share about a cause on social media or participate in an organized walk or run. With a supportive network of caring people in the community, you can make a huge difference for a charity you love. 

Donate blood and organs.
Fortunately, everyone has something they can donate: their blood and organs. If you’re eligible, check in your area for local blood drives and blood banks where you can donate. According to the Red Cross, one donation can save up to three lives. If you’re not eligible to donate blood, consider becoming an organ donor. If your death occurs under suitable conditions, your body’s organs could be passed on to save up to eight different people.

Host an event.
If needles aren’t your thing, see what events you can host in the community to raise money for a cause you care about. For example, sell your old items at a charity garage sale. Or, offer treats and host a bake sale. Or, get a group of people together for a friendly car wash. With a little bit of effort and organization, you can create an incredible event that really has an impact on the lives of those around you.

If you want to give back but don’t want to go broke, you can still get involved with a nonprofit organization you love. Keep these ideas in mind for ways to donate to charity without breaking the bank, and you can truly benefit your community.

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7 Green Ways to Embrace Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Since 1970, Earth Day has existed as a global event recognized by more than 192 countries who are committed to caring for the future of our planet. Today is dedicated to our beautiful Earth: celebrating it, enjoying it and of course, considering ways to protect it. 

It’s no secret that the environment matters. However, if you’re just one person, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do. How can one individual make a difference in such a big world? Turns out, even the smallest steps can have an impact. This Earth Day, consider your ecological footprint and enact these seven green ways to embrace today.

1. Read more. 
The first step toward celebrating Earth Day is learning more about it. Now is the perfect opportunity to read more about the environment and how you can get involved. Set aside time to research the current issues affecting our environment and discover ways you can join in to make a difference.

2. Join a group. 
Most communities and neighborhoods have a local group focused on environmental protection in your area. If you want to learn more and get involved on Earth Day, then consider joining a regional environmental group. Participate in clean-ups, fight pollution and help plant trees and gardens to support life in your area.

3. Plant a tree. 
Since Earth Day roughly coincides with Arbor Day (April 26), now is the ideal time to plant a tree close to your home. Trees help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean pollution and keep soil in place to prevent erosion. They literally support life on Earth. Plant a tree you love that can grow in your environment, and see how it thrives for more Earth Days to come.
 
4. Welcome animals. 
In an effort to get the perfect lawn, many homeowners drive out insects and wildlife, but animals need homes, too. Instead, consider ways that you can welcome animals into your yard. For instance, leave a section of your lawn unmowed, for bees, butterflies and insects to enjoy. Or, set out a bird, squirrel or hummingbird feeder for wild visitors to stop by.

5. Choose local sources. 
Locally-grown food tends to have smaller environmental impacts than big, national or international brands. For example, local food doesn’t require as much gas to arrive at your hometown grocery store. This Earth Day, you can support local businesses and the environment by buying food from local farmers markets, grocery stores and farms. 

6. Start a garden. 
Of course, one of the best ways to source your food is from your very own garden. If you have the resources, time and space, consider planting your own vegetable or fruit garden. If you can’t plant your own, then get involved with a community garden in your area. Soon enough, you’ll have fruits and vegetables to spare come summertime.

7. Reduce waste. 
Before you even need to recycle, look for ways you can reduce consumption and avoid items with lots of packaging. For example, use a cloth shopping bag, take an aluminum water bottle with you and shop at gently-used clothing stores. Reducing usage from the very beginning diminishes the need for recycling, which uses energy.

This Earth Day, you can start habits that will have a long-lasting impression on the planet for generations to come. Even as one person, simple changes can make a world of difference. Keep these tips in mind as you celebrate Earth Day today and every day.

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In Honor Of Douglas Kline

On April 10, 2019, Douglas Taylor Kline passed away peacefully at home in Great Falls, VA surrounded by his loving family. Born on September 4, 1950, to the late Virginia and Alvin Kline in Grand Rapids, MI, Doug graduated from Michigan State University and Columbia University with degrees in economics and Latin American affairs.

Doug was a treasured colleague at the U.S. Agency for International Development, including service in Bolivia, Liberia and Kenya, and later at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, from which he retired in 2012. He was a dedicated, enthusiastic and cherished volunteer, especially for Brain Injury Services of Northern Virginia.

His true joy was his family: he is survived by his wife of 35 years, Barbara Kline, daughters, Katie Kline (Dave) and Emy Kline (Yoni); three siblings, and many nieces and nephews; all of whom will greatly miss his warmth, selflessness and generosity.

A celebration of life will be held Friday, April 19 at 11 a.m. at the Atrium at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Brain Injury Services, where Doug made a difference those who loved him will and will never forget him.

Published in The Washington Post on Apr. 14, 2019

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How to Celebrate World Art Day

Ah, the finer things. Painting, music, dance, sculpting… all wonderful components of the arts. In today’s technological world, many people place a heavy emphasis on the fields of math, science and engineering. However, the arts still play a vital role in much of our society. In fact, without the arts, much of our history, expression and culture would be virtually nonexistent. 

To commemorate the arts, the International Association of Art (IAA) established the first-ever World Art Day on April 15, 2012, in honor of Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday. Since then, World Art Day has been celebrated on April 15th as an international celebration of fine arts. In 2015, World Art Day was held for the first time in the United States in Los Angeles. Later in 2017, the official U.S.-based chapter of the IAA was formed, officially establishing World Art Day as a continual celebration in the United States. There’s no doubt that art plays a major role in our lives, so how can you celebrate World Art Day today? We have some ideas.

Visit an art gallery.
This might seem simple, and it is! One easy way to celebrate World Art Day is by visiting a local museum or art gallery near you. Many museums or galleries might offer extended hours for the day, special discounts or put on educational programs to commemorate the occasion. Take the time today to check out a local gallery in your community and see what you can learn.

Support local artists.
Local artists are often the backbone of the community. They provide valuable art and beauty in an otherwise monotonous world. If you want to celebrate World Art Day, consider how you can support local artists near you. In fact, you might just find artists at the gallery you visit, late night at a poetry reading or even on the sidewalk as you walk by. Find a piece of art you enjoy and purchase it for your home to add elegance and support others around you.

Do an art project with kids.
You already know kids are the future. Unfortunately, many schools have to reduce their funds for art education, which makes World Art Day even more important for younger generations. Teach the children in your life about World Art Day by doing a project together with them. Pick an artist from a period you love, study him or her and their style, then encourage your kids to try the art for themselves. And remember: expression is unique! Let them find their own style as they explore the infinite world of art.

Attend a theatre production.
There’s more to art than painting; in fact, theatre plays a major role in the art industry. After you visit the museum and art gallery, attend an amateur theatre production in your community to support those around you. Depending on the play or musical, you can even invite your entire family, for a fun night out with the kids to teach them about art.

Support a nonprofit.
Many nonprofit organizations—both local and national—put an enormous amount of effort into contributing to, encouraging and promoting the arts. If you want to join in, consider how you can support a nonprofit. Whether it’s attending shows, purchasing artwork, volunteering or simply giving a monthly donation, you can help make a difference.

World Art Day is about coming together as an international community and recognizing the importance of fine arts. If you want to join in, consider these ideas for how to celebrate today. Help spread the enthusiasm and awareness of the arts in your community, and watch how others around you flourish.

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3 Positive Reasons for Seniors to Volunteer

After a lifetime in the workforce, retirement leaves many senior citizens wondering what’s next in store. With a free schedule, suddenly they have a plethora of time, resources and flexibility that they never had before. For years, work gave them a purpose and a sense of accomplishment. Without it, many seniors can find themselves pondering how to fill their extra time.

Fortunately, no matter who you are, how old or what experiences you have, there’s always one way you can find fulfillment, use your passion and give back to others all at the same time: through volunteering. For seniors, volunteering is the perfect chance to use extra time to make a difference in the community. Check out these positive reasons for seniors to volunteer.

1. Volunteering promotes brain health.
As we age, health can become a serious concern for many. Particularly after someone retires, the number of activities they do that stimulate the brain dwindles. However, volunteering provides the perfect outlet for mental stimulation and interaction. This stimulation improves seniors’ mental health, including reducing symptoms of depression and even dementia. 

The National Institute on Aging found that participating in meaningful social activities like volunteering can improve a person’s longevity, mental health and diminish the risk of dementia. Another study by the Rotman Research Institute found that seniors who volunteered approximately 100 hours a year (three to four hours per week) had improved memory and speech as a result. They also ended up feeling less stressed and overwhelmed. As we age, volunteering keeps us mentally sharp, which improves our overall health.

2. Volunteering equips physical health.
In addition to mental health, volunteering can also significantly boost a senior’s physical health. And of course, maintaining a good level of fitness can prevent injuries and disease as people age. Whether it’s walking dogs for the Humane Society, building homes for Habitat for Humanity or simply restocking books at the local library, volunteering gives seniors a physical outlet to stay in shape. 

One study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University showed that individuals over 50 who volunteered were at a decreased risk for developing high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart attack and other conditions. In 2014, a review of 45 years worth of studies demonstrated that seniors were in better physical and mental health as a direct result of volunteering. To feel better mentally and physically, volunteering is the perfect option.

3. Volunteering provides a sense of purpose.
After years in the workforce, many seniors often feel a lack of purpose for their lives. While they used to spend their time helping others and working hard, time can feel much more vacant in retirement. Volunteering for an important cause fills this need. Consistent volunteering gets seniors out into the community, with people counting on their attendance, services and abilities. 

The feeling of being relied upon gives seniors this sense of purpose and responsibility for their lives. Seniors meet new friends and build a valuable sense of community and relationships. They know they’re making a difference, and their work has an impact. In fact, one study by the Corporation for National and Community Service discovered that adults over the age of 60 who volunteer reported higher levels of wellbeing and lower disability than those who did not. Volunteering not only helps the community, but it can also help the seniors who get involved. 

Volunteering has a valuable impact on everyone, but it can especially make a difference in the lives of senior citizens. If you or someone you know is a senior living in post-retirement, consider how volunteering can play a role in life. You might just find a plethora of reasons to get involved and give back.

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TSN Video

BIS STAFF MEMBER KATY SCHNITGER FEATURED IN TSN VIDEO

Each year an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month, Inova’s Trauma Survivors Network (TSN) sat down to speak with members of Inova’s Trauma Survivors Network about their life after TBI and the support they receive from TSN.

Many people do not know about brain injury unless they or a loved one experienced a brain injury. TSN brings people together who are affected by traumatic injuries including, traumatic brain injury. These connections help survivors and family members rebuild their lives after a serious injury. 

“It is important for me to spread awareness because my TBI was undiagnosed and dismissed for too long,” explained Katy Schnitger, Office Manager and Outreach Specialist at Brain Injury Services.

“My family’s recovery from our trauma was prolonged because we were trying to put our lives back together without all the pieces,” added Schnitger, who is also a former BIS Client. 

Learn more about TSN, go to https://www.inova.org/TSN