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It's always great to get a chance to network with peers in the nonprofit industry, and we've been given a great opportunity to participate at one of the leading nonprofit fundraising conferences - the 2011 Vivanista Fundraising Summit in San Francisco, Nov 11-12.

The Vivanista Fundraising Summit gives volunteer leaders and emerging nonprofits in-depth training and expert advice they can implement immediately to sustain their fundraising through economic uncertainty and build passionate communities for the long term. Visionary speakers will address the most pressing issues including how to bootstrap fundraising events as well as creating integrated multi-channel fundraising campaigns using online and traditional tools.


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October is National Breast Cancer Month, and the National Football League is doing its part to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer. For the past few seasons, every October the National Football League has partnered up with the American Cancer Society in an effort to spread awareness and knowledge for women in their battle against breast cancer.


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The sport industry has often been used as a vehicle for social change. Sport has been considered a great vehicle for promoting healthy habits and teamwork in youth, to support research for causes such as breast cancer and HIV/AIDS, raise money to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and united our country after September 11th. It has always been an affective way to reach the hearts of fans and citizens alike. Recently, many people have turned to sport to increase movement for another important cause: World peace.


This past month, Wilfried Lemke, the UN Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace visited Israel and Palestinian territories. Lemke spent three days in the country at a time when the world has once again turned its attention to this region and the issue of Palestinian statehood. He attended and gave the opening speech at the “Sport as a Mediator between Cultures” conference held in Netanya, Israel.


In his opening remarks Lemke said, “Let us all be ambassadors and mediators of the positive potential and best values of sport and build bridges of exchange, respect, and tolerance to overcome difficult situations of conflict and misunderstanding. Creating positive change is not always easy, and circumstances can sometimes go against you. But we must all persevere and continue our much-needed work despite sometimes some unfavorable conditions.”


The conference is an opportunity for the many countries represented to strengthen their relationships and promote friendly interaction among the representatives. In addition, it is a way for the participants to form partnership programs to encourage healthy relationships among countries. Lemke emphasized his support of peaceful discussions between Israeli and Palestinian groups including these countries’ Olympic Committees.

Special Adviser on Sport, Wilfried Lemke, with children participating in activities organized by Budo for Peace © UNOSDP/Antoine Tardy


Other prominent sports figures are also speaking out for world peace. The recent name change by NBA star Ron Artest to "Metta World Peace" certainly elicited more than a few grimaces and eye rolls from critics and fans alike. But despite the cynicism of many, this could certainly be a step in the right direction for the U.S. sports industry.


In recent years, the world of sport has become an industry of extreme competitiveness and rivalry. People have forgotten the joy and fellowship sport can bring. Players are greedy and driven by money. They play dirty and disregard the traditions of the games. At times it seems that rivals are real enemies, on and off the field. Violence at sporting events has increased, and players and fans are angrier than ever.


We only have to look back at how the baseball season began this year with the brutal beating of Bryan Stow, a Giants fan attacked in the parking lot of the Dodgers’ stadium by angry fans. Stow was so viciously beaten that he was put into a medically induced coma and is still recovering over 6 months later. What did Stow do to provoke this horrible attack? He deigned to support his team by wearing a Giants jersey.


Artest is the perhaps last person many would expect to be the next face of world peace. He has been known throughout the NBA for his “tough-guy” defense and is famous for being at the center of the 2004 Pacers-Pistons brawl, a fight in which Artest punched a fan. Some people may be skeptical about the kind of peace a man like this can promote.


Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest)












But maybe Metta is just an example for all of us of how people can change. Maybe he’s exactly what the sport industry is in need of: athletes who speak up and act out against the increasing anger and violence in their industry. Athletes who aren’t afraid to go against the norm and who recognize that sport is a way of reaching out to the world and promoting peace. After all, how can we ever expect to strive for peace on the battlefields of our world if we can’t even achieve it on the fields and courts of our sports?


So maybe it was a little hokey, but Artest showed that he isn’t afraid to speak up for what he feels is important. Hopefully, Metta World Peace will only be the first of many athletes stepping forward and speaking out for much needed change.

Additional sources:,

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Thursday, 29 September 2011 18:57

More Love for Lokomotiv...

I received a nice note today from another of the many hockey wives who are part of the Love for Lokomotiv movement...

This is a link to a wife's blog, and she explains our "hockey family" so eloquently in this post:

I just thought I'd share this because like you said in the article, the families in professional sports are so behind the scenes, and this just helps explain how truly connected we are as a family, and why this support for the Locomotiv team is so important to us. Thank you for your article and helping us get the word out.
Sara Haydar (wife of AHL Chicago Wolves' Darren Haydar)


"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life."
~ Richard Bach (author)


Thank you Sara!

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While hockey doesn't get as nearly much media attention as other sports do, the fans, players, coaches, management and especially the family members of those who play at the elite level, form a very loyal and tight-knit family. And when tragedy strikes any close family, you can be sure there will be many who rise up to offer support, in all shapes and forms.


Such has been the case with the recent plane crash in Russia that took the lives of entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team and coaching staff. This was a tragic event that touched everyone who follows hockey, and it became quickly and painfully clear that beyond the young men who were lost, there are wives and children left behind with very little support. Until now...






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To kick-off the NFL season, we're highlighting two rookies who are as amazing off the field as they are on it...

J.J.  Watt - Dream Big, Work Hard

From pizza delivery boy to NFL first round draft pick. Sounds like a movie script, right? For J.J.  Watt, it’s a reality. The Houston Texan’s prized 11th overall draft pick had a less than conventional path to the NFL. After walking away from a scholarship to play tight end at Central Michigan, Watt called the University of Wisconsin and begged for a try-out as a walk-on. His wish was granted. He took some classes at a local community college before the fall semester at Wisconsin, and during that time - as walking away from a scholarship isn’t cheap - he delivered pizza for the local Pizza Hut.

“It was a real humbling experience,’’ Watt said. “Some of the little kids who once looked up to me would answer the door and say, ‘Mom, why is J.J. Watt here?’ And the only thing I could say back was, ‘I have your pizza.’ It was real humbling. And it brings you back to earth real quickly.”


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Wednesday, 03 August 2011 17:00

Featured Organization: Gainline Africa

Gainline Africa


CAUSES SERVED: Athletics, Children and Youth, Community, Disaster Relief, Education, Health, Literacy, Peace, Poverty, Women's Issues
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Far away in Gulu, a beautiful city in northern Uganda, a movement has begun. As a nation slowly embarks upon its healing process, some turn to sport. In this particular case, we turn to rugby. This movement is spearheaded by Canadian based nonprofit organization called Gainline Africa. Working with Gulu’s senior rugby club, the Gulu Elephants, Gainline has been able to establish and sustain after-school rugby programs at nine local high schools.

“At the height of the conflict in northern Uganda, the war was considered the most neglected humanitarian emergency in the world”


The people of Uganda have witnessed unspeakable atrocities. For a period of 20 years, war and all the horrors that come with it, ravaged the nation and left its people broken. With more than 1.8 million Ugandans labeled as IDP (Internally Displaced Persons), coupled with 60,000 children abducted and used as child soldiers and sex slaves, the pain in Uganda is real. The conflict ended in 2007, but it’s difficult to even fathom how one can go back to leading a “normal” life afterwards. The rebels strategically targeted civilians creating “massive Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps throughout the region depriving children and youth of the basic opportunities such as education, activities, and sport.”


Rugby is the medium for change in the local communities. As Gainline notes, development in the northern region of Gulu remains idle. However, the therapeutic nature of rugby cannot be ignored. Rugby helps to foster emotional healing as well as provide players with a great environment. What else does rugby have to offer? Gainline notes that rugby:

- Allows for “inactive” youth to stay off the streets
- Develops the talent suppressed during the long period of turmoil
- Communities cultivate unity and friendships
- Encourages communities to participate, compete, interact, and reconnect with the rest of the country through tournaments, clinics, and other initiatives
- Expanding the reach of rugby gives more youth the opportunity to be selected for national opportunities


Rugby can do a lot more for a nation trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a 20-year period of destruction. “Research shows that sport is a therapeutic activity for those communities, physically and psychologically, affected by war. A rugby pitch restores a communities’ lost sense of normalcy through an organizational environment. With rules, regulations, and referees, individuals can find solace in an otherwise disturbed environment while organizers can help identify those that require further assistance or counseling.”


Click the images below to see pictures from Gainline Africa's program in Uganda...

{slimbox images/stories/g_img.00292.jpg,images/stories/g_img.00292.jpg,Gainline Africa;images/stories/g_img_5207.jpg,images/stories/g_img_5207.jpg,Gainline Africa;images/stories/g_img_5289.jpg,images/stories/g_img_5289.jpg,Gainline Africa;images/stories/g_img_5477.jpg,images/stories/g_img_5477.jpg,Gainline Africa;images/stories/g_img_5482.jpg,images/stories/g_img_5482.jpg,Gainline Africa;images/stories/g_elephantsontop.jpg,images/stories/g_elephantsontop.jpg,Gulu Elephants in action}


A socially aware rugby player from Canada named David Marchesseault started Gainline Africa so these cities and communities can reap the physical and cognitive benefits of rugby.


Gainline’s strategic partnership with the Gulu Elephants has helped aid nine high schools all over Gulu. “Gainline has provided the Elephants with guidance, training, equipment, transportation cost, facilities and capacity tools while the Elephants execute these programs.” Gainline describes their approach as “grassroots” and aim to focus on sustainability within these different programs.


Katrina King, Communications Director for Gainline Africa, is currently in Gulu with the Gainline team. She believes “rugby is a valued African sport, posing as an uplifting developmental tool.” Somehow, while helping out in Uganda, she was able to write to us and answer a few questions...

Q: Can you give us a brief overview of the organization and your mission at Gainline Africa?


A: The organization is a partnership between various organizations both in Canada and abroad that see the physical and psychological values of playing and participating in sport, particularly rugby. As stated on our site, the core of our mission is to improve lives and empower youth.

Q: Your efforts are centralized in Uganda, is this something that you can potentially see growing across the rest of the continent?


A: Although our vision is to grow to various African rugby communities, we are cognizant of the fact that development is a long-term and sustained endeavour. As such, we will not look to expand our programming until our current program in Gulu is sustainable and has achieved its various outcomes.

Q: Who are the main beneficiaries of this organization? What are the primary age ranges and genders that you strive to help?


As we are working with both a rugby club and high schools, we have young men and women between the ages of 18-30 at the club level and 12-19 in our high school program.

Q: Many around the world are unaware of the horrors these kids have seen in their homeland, and what they struggle with on a daily basis. To educate our readers more, is there some information on the conflict in Uganda and what the results have been?


A: You can find a brief history on our site at

Q: How have you seen rugby function as a healing process?


A: The executive members of Gainline have all experienced the therapeutic and psychological benefits that the structure, discipline and camaraderie exemplified through rugby. As we are relatively new organization (in Gulu) we do not have the data available to demonstrate this in a statistical sense yet our Team here has spoken to many of the athletes who have expressed how the sport, and particularly our program has helped them.

Q: Can you describe your own proudest moment or accomplishment as a member of Gainline Africa?


A: I think the proudest moment for our Gainline Team is seeing the participation of our coaches and teammates at the after-school practices here in Gulu. The marked improvement from beginning to end of practice was incredible.

Q: Your website states that coupled with rugby, you promote education to these kids about health concerns such as AIDS, Malaria, and other issues. How do you go about incorporating these lessons with rugby and do you find it difficult to do so?


A: There are two ways in which we are incorporating these "non-rugby" elements into our programming:
1) Themed tournaments at the end of each session. I.E, Furthering Education was a theme this year. Professors, business peoples
2) Partnerships with other organizations that will incorporate their programming at the end/or beginning of each semester.

Q: Have you seen the general well being of the kids increase with the help of your organization? Are the results measureable?


A: Although we have seen (and recorded) qualitative proof that the after-school program is working, we are still in the process of formalizing our M&E (Monitoring & Evaluation) system. Once established and formalized we will be able to measure our outcomes over numerous indicators both qualitative and quantitative in nature.

Q: What can your supporters and those interested in your cause do to help Gainline Africa?


A: Individuals can lend their support by providing us with the financial tools needed in order to keep our program alive. Funds currently go to transportation cost here in Gulu - ie. getting from school to school and equipment costs. They can also help us build strong partnerships with between the Canadian rugby community and those here in Uganda by spreading the word about our organization and our initiatives.


As observed by Katrina and her crew at Gainline, some of the tangible benefits of sports are:
- Fosters social integration and teaches coping mechanisms
- Educated people about the body raising awareness and respect for their bodies and those of others, critical for the prevention of diseases, like HIV/AIDS
- Empower minority groups, such as women
- Instills confidence by generating a sense of accomplishment and hope
- Enables social dialogue and bridging divides, highlighting the similarities between people and breaking down prejudice
- Teaches respect, communication, cooperation and empathy
- Reduces stress and improves concentration sends many thanks to Katrina for being so helpful and willing, despite how busy (and far!) she must be!


We are truly inspired by the work Gainline Africa is doing in the Gulu region in Uganda. For a nation with a 20-year past of hate and war, it’s a breath of fresh air to learn about Gainline’s mission and to hear how much healing can be found in the sport of rugby for people who have already been through so much.


For more information on Gainline Africa, please visit

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Nearly a decade after the September 11th terrorist attacks, America continues to slowly heal. That healing process is especially difficult for those who lost loved ones on that tragic day. A simple mention of the date conjures up intense images and emotions. We remember and honor those who lost their lives that day, and those who answered the call at Ground Zero to offer help. Sadly, men and women in the police force and fire departments who bravely rushed to the scene that day are still losing their lives today to diseases and illnesses they contracted from working in the unhealthy environment of Ground Zero.

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, America seemed to stop functioning. The relief efforts brought thousands of people together in mourning and healing, but the last thing on anyone’s mind was sports. Much like everything around the country, baseball games were on-hold. America’s pastime came to a halt. Ten days after the attacks, play resumed with the New York Mets hosting the Atlanta Braves in the first professional sporting event in New York since that Tuesday. The team ditched their traditional NY Mets hats in favor of caps featuring emblems of the NYPD, FDNY and other relief groups. It was truly a surreal atmosphere at the game.













However, that game may be the greatest example of how sport can heal and bring a city, and a nation, together. Future first-ballot hall of famer and Mets legend Mike Piazza may have never had a bigger at-bat. Trailing by one run in the bottom of the 8th inning, Piazza stepped up to the plate and delivered what may have been the most important of his 427 career home runs. That hit gave the Mets the lead and the win. But it did much more for the city—it made people forget.

“The 41,325 fans in attendance and the millions of other New Yorkers who saw it on TV could forget. Forget the fear, the pain, the suffering, the death, the destruction. A moment, maybe a fraction of a second, maybe a full minute, of pure, mindless joy.” – John Anderson, ESPN.

The video says it all:

Mike Piazza and Mets Manager Bobby Valentine, along with many other Mets players, donated their paychecks for the night to help victims of the September 11th tragedy. And now, ten years later, the Mets are still helping those affected...

The Mets are supporting Tuesday’s Children, which helps the families of victims through aid and assistance to those who lost loved ones on that day. Tuesday’s Children has partnered with the Mets to start up a new First Responder Alliance Mentoring Program that "will provide mentors to children who lost their parents as a result of sicknesses while they were serving in the relief efforts at Ground Zero.”

Amy Wright, developmental director of Tuesday’s Children had this to say: "I can't say enough about the Mets organization. They have supported us since the very beginning," Wright said. "They have donated thousands of tickets to our organization, players have been nothing less than stunning with their contributions as well."

And FDNY Chief of Department Ed Kilduff said “Going back to 2001, Bobby Valentine and players were out in firehouses, sitting down and talking to the guys. They couldn't have been more generous. It has been a commitment every year."

With help from the Mets, over 5,000 children who’ve lost parents on that tragic Tuesday in September will be given mentors. These mentors will work with the children establish “positive healthy relationships with adult-role models,” something these kids need—and deserve.

It’s refreshing to hear some good news coming from Flushing, New York. The Mets have been involved in some financial scandals with the ownership having some ties to the Ponzi scheme scandal fronted by crook Bernard Madoff. The ownership is currently being sued by a trustee seeking over $1 billion in damages. The Wilpons have been forced to sell a minority share of the team in order to try to help keep the business, and the Mets afloat. The owner was recently quoted as saying the team was “bleeding cash.” However, despite the drama and the scandal, it’s wonderful news to hear the Mets organization, management and players still hold true to what they started almost 10 years ago.

R.A. Dickey, knucleball pitcher for the Mets, along with some other players, met with some families of Tuesday’s Children:
"[The children] have had so much taken away, it's nice to be able to see those guys smile," Dickey said. "They have grown up without parents or family members that they lost and any positive reaction you can get out of them is a real blessing for guys who are going in there to sign."

Almost ten years later America is still not the same. It may never be. Mike Piazza has long retired from baseball. Halfway on his way to Cooperstown, he is happily married with two young daughters. He spends a lot of time as the Italian National Baseball Team’s hitting coach. A humble guy, he reflects on his home run: “People obviously found it a way to find some sort of joy or happiness or inspiration, you know, but for me, again, I try to keep it in perspective.”

Mike, that home run did bring all of that and more to the 41,325 fans and thousands other watching on TV that night. Ten years later the Mets hit another homerun by helping start up Tuesday’s Children’s newest initiative.


Somewhere in Italy, Mike Piazza is smiling.


For more information, visit

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Through most of the summer, fans across the country got a taste of what life might be like without football. The National Football League locked out its players, a work stoppage caused by a dispute over the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the players. Players were not only feeling the crunch of unemployment, but local businesses that thrive off of the football industry were starting to feel the effects of the labor dispute.


In recent weeks, three NFL players were involved in less than ideal behavior.


- Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson used hateful, homophobic slurs against a caller on a radio show
- Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was arrested in Georgia for driving under the influence
- Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was arrested after disorderly conduct at a bar.


With the greed for the green keeping the players on the sidelines, and behavior starting to reach an unacceptable level, is there ANY good news in the sport of football? Yes, in fact, there is...


Another wide receiver made headlines recently, but for different reasons. Braylon Edwards, a wide receiver for the New York Jets San Francisco 49ers -  with a less than perfect past (see Hines Ward, above) - put his professional football contract dollars to good use.


In 2007, Edwards, a Cleveland Brown at the time, made a pretty significant promise to 100 high school students in the Cleveland area: Maintain a 2.5 GPA and complete 15 hours of community service and he would pay for their college tuition. Any family knows how expensive it is to send one or two children through college, but 100?


“On May 16, 2007, Edwards promised $1 million in academic scholarship money toward college tuitions at the start of the ADVANCE 100 Program, an educational initiative established by the Braylon Edwards Foundation, in the Cleveland Municipal School District. Students and their parents signed a pledge at the time to fulfill their end of the bargain: Graduate from high school.”


As the NFL owners and players fought over who got the bigger piece of the 10 billion dollar pie, it’s refreshing to hear some good news coming from the league. Edwards has certainly fought his demons in the past, but things like this just simply do not happen.


What does Edwards want in return? Just that these students help others in the future. Edwards - whose tenure in Cleveland ended on a less than perfect note, and considers only LeBron James to be less loved than him by the city - tweeted:


“As the 2nd most hated man in Clev. & a man of my word, today I will honor a promise made to 100 students in Cleveland years ago. The last of my Advance 100 students will graduate from my program and head off to college on scholarships that I will provide them with. Guys enjoy & embrace your new beginnings and remember your promise to me, to reach back & help someone else along the way.”


Kind of makes arguing over 10 billion dollars seem silly, huh?

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011 09:11

Win a trip with Travel2Change projects!

The good folks at Travel2Change have sent along an update on their projects and some new announcements; check it out...


Projects in Kenya, Peru, Sri Lanka and Brazil have been announced as the winners of the first travel2change idea challenge. Travel2change is now offering the chance for you to participate in two of the projects.


Since its launch late April 2011, over 500 members joined the travel2change online community and submitted around 60 innovative project proposals for the first idea generation challenge. The submitted ideas were evaluated based on creativity, effectiveness, impact, feasibility and sustainability. The four winning projects were awarded on July 17, 2011 by a jury of experts and will be realized in the coming months (August to October 2011), thanks to the support of the
travel partner Kuoni. The winning projects are:


•    SEP – Soccer, Education and Prevention in Oyugis, Kenya
•    WAVES of Volontourism in Lobitos, Peru
•    Getting Kids Pumped for School in Horana, Sri Lanka
•    AmazonArt at the Combu Education Centre in Combu Island, Brazil



Each winning project receives financial support as well as the help of volunteer travelers, who will collaborate with the local communities to bring the projects to life. Travelers’ activities will range from training children proper hand washing techniques in Kenya to assisting with installing pumps and water tanks connecting a school in Sri Lanka to its well. In Peru, travelers will be teaching life skills and a healthy lifestyle through education programs and surfing classes, while in Brazil travelers will be employing music and arts to inspire the local children and to create awareness and understanding for the importance of protecting the Amazon.


Follow our projects online


All travelers will provide frequent updates to give all community members the opportunity to monitor the realization of the projects. Our current project is happening in Oyugis, Kenya. Travel2change together with the Society Empowerment Project (SEP), hosted a 4-day football event for around 300 children. Along with teaching life skills, teamwork and football skills the travelers will train the children in proper hand washing techniques and the importance of basic hygiene. The production of soap from locally sourced materials will also be part of the program. Watch our first travel2change video from Kenya!





Join a trip to Peru or Sri Lanka?
Travel2change is holding a contest to find interested travelers to join our trips this September & October. Travelers will be an active part in carrying out the activities to help successfully implement the goals of the project. The two projects are:


Getting Kids Pumped for School in Horana, Sri Lanka:  The aim of the projects is to connect a school to its well so the children have running water for drinking and sanitation. This will be done by installing pumps, water tanks and pipes as well as expanding the depth of the well. Our combined efforts will greatly improve the children’s health thus reducing the risk of dengue and other communicable diseases.




WAVES of Development in Lobitos, Peru: This project aims to create life enriching experiences through education programs to develop healthy and empowered adults. The traveler will join local staff to teach local children water safety, beach management and environmental conservation among other events and of course how to surf. The cultural exchange, activities to increase a healthy living and teaching skills for life, is another great benefit of the program. Are you ready to travel2change? Participate in our travel2change Join this Trip - Contest!

About travel2change
Travel2change is a non-profit organization connecting travelers, local communities and organizations to create change through purposeful travelling. An interactive website is the starting point for this collaborative effort and the hub for ideas as well as the exchange of experiences. Travel2change shall illustrate that tourism can make a difference in the
lives of travelers and local communities alike. Leveraging this potential and creating projects that will have an impact and foster sustainable change in destinations is the goal of the organization. While travel2change is rooted in Austria, the organization acts worldwide and seeks to make an impact globally.


For more information:

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