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Tech Savvy? You’ll Love Our Latest Giving Program Donation

TeamsCode-Not-just-for-ProfitTech geeks and coders will be especially excited about the latest recipient of our Giving Program donation – a nonprofit named TeamsCode.

TeamsCode started in 2016 when two passionate Mercer Island high schoolers organized a coding competition at their school. The students, Alan Bi and Chris Elliott, were both participants in other programming contests. They took initiative when they realized their school’s lack of representation in the computer science world. To remedy this, they created a coding competition that evolved into TeamsCode, the student-run nonprofit designed to encourage students to pursue computer science.

They work to create programming contests and events that get students excited about the world of computer science.

Why TeamsCode

For many pupils, computer programming is too intimidating of a college major. Just hearing those words can send a shiver of fear down the spines of the less-than-tech-savvy. But learning the language is empowering and opens doors to various careers in tech.

TeamsCode aims to provide encouragement, support, and resources to students around the Pacific Northwest. They work to keep the world of computer science engaging and exciting through programming contests. They have caught the attention of other computer science-related groups, including a sponsorship from Microsoft TEALS and TopCoder.

TeamsCode shines not just because of their crew of passionate high schoolers working to find the potential in others, but their selection of accessible resources. They offer an AP Computer Science course meant to prepare students for the yearly AP examination. Unlike many preparatory courses, these in-depth lessons are free for anyone to use. They also offer a collection of programming challenges that were used in previous TeamsCode contests for anyone to practice with. They anticipate that their online learning options will expand by the end of 2018. Try out your skills here. 

The folks running TeamsCode have inspired confidence and literacy in the field of computer science to students in Washington, Oregon, and California. They hope to continue expanding as others find excitement and opportunity in computer programming. We are pleased to welcome TeamsCode as our newest Giving Program recipient, which will aid in their upcoming fall event.

Check out all of the upcoming TeamsCode events.

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Giving Program Spotlight: What Makes SoHumane So Special

Brown Paper Tickets has a ginormous heart for animals (just check out our Instagram for a peek inside our fur-friendly offices). That’s why we’re wagging our tails in excitement to announce SoHumane as our latest Giving Program recipient.

Read on for a personal account of what makes SoHumane so special.

This month’s organization really touched my heart. SoHumane is an all-volunteer organization that serves companion animals. SoHumane adopts animals from other shelters and saves them from euthanasia through their Saving Train program.

A few years ago I had the cutest little dog named Sammy, pictured here. He was a Pomeranian—one of those small, poof pups with the pointy ears.

Sammy was the smallest member of our family. Everyone loved him. We had him for ten years when he was suddenly diagnosed with cancer and an enlarged heart. The vet suggested we put him to sleep because those conditions were not treatable. The day we put him to sleep was the hardest. We cried for weeks.

To this day, I haven’t gotten another pet.

Now imagine an animal being put to sleep simply because there is no space. 

SoHumane provides quality care for dogs and cats, including shelter and adoption services for displaced pets. They also strive to reduce the pet overpopulation through spay and neutering programs.

SoHumane’s Programs

The Saving Train Program attempts to rescue animals that have been marked for death at public shelters. According to SoHumane, the animals they attempt to rescue are healthy, adoptable animals that have been overlooked and have run out of time at overcrowded public facilities. Learn more about the Saving Train.

Senior Pets – As you can imagine, senior animals are the first ones to be marked for death at public shelters, especially if the shelter is packed with younger pets. Most people tend to adopt the younger ones. SoHumane believes that every pet—no matter their age—deserves a chance.

Medical Needs – They take care of treatable medical conditions so that the animal’s adoption chances increase. 

Make a monetary contribution, choose a donation item from their wish list or give your time.

I am so thankful for organizations like SoHumane for saving one animal at a time. Suggest a charitable organization for our next donation here.

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How Silver Bullet Productions Empowers New Mexico Tribal Youth

SilverBulletProductions-BPTGivingProgram“We create award-winning documentaries that expose esoteric topics, shatter stereotypes and expand cultural preservation,” – Silver Bullet Productions

Brown Paper Tickets is delighted to highlight Silver Bullet Productions, the most recent recipient of our Giving Program donation. Our $500 donation will go directly to purchasing two film equipment packages for New Mexico rural and tribal student workshops. After the workshops are complete, the tools will stay, so the group of young filmmakers can continue to make media on important community subjects.

In addition to making beautiful, topical films, we were also impressed with Silver Bullet Productions’ model. Truly a labor of love and mentor-ship, the entire operation is 100% volunteer run. Pamela Pierce, the CEO and President shared that the board, advisers, and workshop leaders are all dedicated to the mission of empowering youth to use film as a creative storytelling mechanism.

 Film Trailer

Excerpt from “A Thousand Voices” written by Maura Dhu Studi and directed by David Aubrey. View the full trailer here.

“SBP engages students and community members in an educational workshop or the creation of a film relevant to the geographic, cultural or historic vision of that community. The impact is educational change, historical awareness and preservation of culture,” notes Silver Bullet Productions.

We’re excited to see what they put out next and encourage you to check out some of their documentaries. Donate here to support their beautiful work.

Who should we donate to next? Nominate an amazing organization for a Brown Paper Tickets’ Giving Program donation.

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Get to Know Partners for Rural Health, an Incredible Organization

Monthly DonationThis month, Brown Paper Tickets picked Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic for our donation gift.

Partners for Rural Health is an incredible organization, established in 1995 by the University of Southern Maine, College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Twice a year, they send out healthcare professionals and other volunteers to 15 mountain villages to provide healthcare to over 2,000 people in homes, schoolrooms, and churches. Not only do they administer healthcare, they also offer basic education in nutrition, disease prevention, dental health, and hygiene, including a certificate-training program for community health promoters.

As someone from the Dominican Republic, I really appreciate what this organization does for my country’s people. The work they do is tough – it brings to mind my own volunteer experience for a different organization. We labored tirelessly for three days to bring basic medical care to the people in Bayaguana, DR. I can’t believe Partners for Rural Health does a similar thing twice a year—it deserves immense gratitude and respect.

With our help, they can continue to assist those in need in the Dominican Republic.

While other similar programs rarely return to the same location, Partners for Rural Health has a sustained program in place that provides consistent access and continuity of care to the people in the villages. They are making a considerable difference in the long-term health and quality of life for the thousands that depend on their return.

Their return depends on us.

Get Involved with Partners for Rural Health

Volunteer. Doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, dentists, interpreters, Peace Corps, pharmacists, physical therapists, clinic greeters, and intake staff comprise their volunteer group. That said, neither a medical background nor Spanish-speaking one is necessary. There are many other ways that volunteers can contribute.

Join Partners for Rural Health on one of their trips.

Donate. Your donations are tax deductible and used to purchase medical supplies, equipment, administrative and transportation costs. Partners for Rural Health doesn’t have paid personnel; everyone, including the Board of Directors donates time. All of their donations come from individuals, companies and fundraising events.

Photo from Partners for Rural Health

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Charity Spotlight: Wild About the Wild Bird Fund

When we think of the hustle and bustle of New York City and the animals that live there, what comes to mind? Well-groomed poodles? Pizza Rat? Along with its 8.6-million human residents, there are a whole lot of wild creatures in need of care and protection from the booming city.

Every month, Brown Paper Tickets selects a recipient for a one-time donation from a list of our user’s suggestions. Our latest recipient, the Wild Bird Fund stood out because it is a steward for wildlife in New York City. They see the beauty in pigeons, educate children to live in harmony with wild birds, and care for injured animals. They report that 90% of the animals brought to them are “directly or indirectly injured by human activity.”

The Wild Bird Fund can be found on the Upper West Side, a block from Central Park. They share on their site: “Located in the heart of the concrete jungle, the Wild Bird Fund provides the necessary medical and rehabilitation services for injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife found in New York City.”

If you have a minute (or maybe an hour…) check out their current patients.

The Wild Bird Fund shares a lot of interesting information on each highlighted success story. Here’s our favorite.

The Ruddy Duck, Light Weight Champ:

After surviving a rubber band assault and a dog attack (!!!) he was found in Brooklyn and brought to the Wild Bird Fund Rehabilitation Center.

A fighter at heart, he hissed at and tried to bite his caretakers and even escaped his cage during his stay—a good reminder that these wild animals are not pets. When he was eventually back in the pond at Central Park, he was in the right place.

Since it’s spring and wildlife is emerging, we thought it would be good to share some hot tips from Wild Bird Fund:

  • Fears of disease transmission from pigeons are largely unfounded. Most pigeon diseases only transmit to other birds, not to people. All you have to do is wash your hands.
  • Return fledglings and nestlings to their nests.
    “It is a myth that a bird will reject a baby because it was handled by humans. Don’t bird-nap!”
  • If the baby bird has feathers and is hopping on the ground, this is normal behavior. The parents are still feeding it.

If you love birds and appreciate the Wild Bird Fund, check out ways to get involved.

Photo Credit: Fred Cohen Photography

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Charity Spotlight: Voices Against Violence

Did you know we make a contribution to a praise-worthy cause each month? If you’d like to suggest one, we would love to hear about it.

Our most recent donation goes to Voices Against Violence, an amazing organization that supports survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence and harassment, stalking, human trafficking and bullying.

Voices Against Violence’s mission is “to break the cycle of violence by providing comprehensive services for all victims and survivors and by creating social change through education and action.”

It started as a grassroots organization in 1981 when a group of women joined forces. It was originally called Plymouth Task Force Against Domestic Violence and in the beginning, volunteers used their personal homes to shelter domestic abuse survivors.

Twenty years later in 2001, the group became Voices Against Violence with an executive director, full-time staff, Board of Directors and a trained group of volunteers. This amazing organization has “taken thousands of crisis line calls and have offered information and support, court advocacy, support groups for women and children and community education to 18 towns.” 

Voices Against Violence provides an array of services, including:

• Information and support
• 24-hour hotline at (877) 221- 6176
• Sexual assault support
• Police accompaniment
• Emergency shelter

Here’s a comprehensive list.

How to Help Voices Against Violence

Learn. Read books, watch documentaries and become knowledgeable about domestic violence. According to the Voices Against Violence website, “You might find that once you learn about it, that you suddenly see it all around you.”  If you see it, contact the appropriate authority figures or reach out to an organization like Voices Against Violence.

Listen. If someone close to you is experiencing abuse, the best thing to do is listen and prevent them from becoming isolated. An abuser will do their best to keep the victim isolated; it is how they remain in control.

Speak Up. If someone you know is abusing or controlling a family member, and you feel it is safe for the victim and yourself, speak up. Letting an abuser know that their behavior is unacceptable definitely has an impact.

Here are more ways to help end domestic violence.

Domestic and sexual violence is unfortunately, prevalent and survivors desperately need services from Voices Against Violence. Please consider donating a monetary gift or items from their wish list.

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Charity Spotlight: Ending Hunger with Food For Thought

Food for Thought DenverEvery month Brown Paper Tickets donates to worthy causes. We select our charity from a list of online suggestions that our users submit.

We’re excited to introduce our most recent charity donation pick: Food for Thought Denver. This passion project is run entirely by volunteers and supplies local kids with PowerSacks. Their mission is to eliminate weekend hunger in Denver’s Title 1 elementary schools. Colorado is the third fastest growing state for childhood hunger and one in four families do not have enough to meet basic needs.

For some kids, school offers their only consistent food source.

“During the school week, children from low-income families in Denver Public Schools receive free and reduced lunches at school. Often the lunch they receive at school on Friday is the last meal they eat until they arrive back at school on Monday. Teachers and principals report that many students come to school on Monday mornings hungry, complaining of stomachaches, headaches and unable to focus and learn.”Food For Thought website

Food For Thought extends the resource for weekend sustenance by providing PowerSacks to each child who qualifies for free lunches, in seven schools at the end of every school week.

It’s a big job.

What is a PowerSack?

Each PowerSack has nine to thirteen items, enough to feed a family of four two meals. They have distributed over 239,200 PowerSacks, and last school year they provided 72,000 PowerSacks to 2,000 students in 7 elementary schools. That’s so impressive.

What We Loved Most

It is a 100% volunteer-run program.

“Blown away by all the generous people and organizations, the dedicated volunteers, the sweet and grateful kids, the kind teachers and principals. This is a true grassroots effort that is helping the very best of mankind to shine.” – Volunteer Testimonial

With low overhead and an advisory board that handles administration and fundraising, donations go right into the substance of the program. This means that all donations go directly to purchasing food and making a direct impact for the kids they serve.

3 Ways to Support Food For Thought

1 – Donate
The cost of each PowerSacks is $4 and 100% of the donations are used to buy food for students.

2 – Amazon Smile
If you shop on Amazon, you can use this link to make your purchases and .05% will be donated to the Arvada Sunrise Rotary Foundation, who will in turn earmark the funds for Food For Thought.

3 – Volunteer
If you happen to be in the Denver area, volunteers are needed and appreciated. Food For Thought told us that “volunteers are the heart and soul,” of their organization.

Image from Food For Thought’s Facebook page

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From Shelter to Soldier: Saving Lives, Two at a Time

Every month we get a plethora of online submissions through our suggestion page of good causes to send Brown Paper Tickets’ monthly donation to. Looking over the hundreds of entries each month renews my faith in humanity at a time when the world seems so low. Organizations fighting for human rights, food equality, the environment, animal justice, mental and physical health awareness and treatment, plus grassroots organizations out of homes, and large established fund raising organizations. They all have one truth in common, they were born out of the desire to help.

For us here at Brown Paper Tickets, it is not just the opportunity to donate to some of these fine organizations, but to amplify their voice and share their mission with you. We hope that our readership, event organizers, and attendees see something worthwhile in these causes and connect with them too. We research many organizations each month and lean towards smaller non-profits that have low overhead and administrative costs so that our donation can hopefully have a direct impact.

Shelter to Soldier in California is making an impact by adopting unwanted shelter dogs, often of high kill breeds, and putting them through an intensive training course to serve as a “psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or other injuries associated with traumatic service experiences.”

According to their site, in the United States, on average we lose 21 vets and active Military to suicide a day. We also lose 3,200 dogs a day to euthanization in our shelters. Pairing these two groups together can have a dramatic impact on both parties lives.

Miesha is photographed by Allison Shamrell Per Photography FB: @allisonshamrellphotography

Feel free to have some fun and check out their newest canine class here: http://www.sheltertosoldier.org/dogs/

If you have a box of tissues handy, view some Shelter to Soldier success stories here: http://www.sheltertosoldier.org/stories/

To view past recipients of Brown Paper Tickets’ monthly donations please click here!

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A Celebration of Giving – #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday

It is valuable to ourselves and our communities to learn to be giving, not just with our money, but also with our time. I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow and am fortunate to work for a company that encourages its employees to give back. This year I’ve joined the Brown Paper Tickets Not-Just-For-Profit Team, where I facilitate company donations and group volunteering. Additionally, I use our company sponsored Paid Time-On hours to volunteer in my community. I am excited to share with you one of the newest Thanksgiving traditions that has gained popularity over the past few holiday seasons.

Giving Tuesday is a movement that was started by a team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact (https://www.92y.org/innovation), a cultural center in New York City in 2012. It is celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a socially responsible addition to the popular shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This movement celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy to events throughout the year.

According to GivingTuesday.Org, Giving Tuesday has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back—#GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities, and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.

Here are my 3 steps to getting started this Giving Tuesday and holiday season:

1. Heart Check

Why are you giving/volunteering? What are your motivations to do so? I believe there are motives behind everything we do. I always like to keep my self-grounded and make the most impact there is a need. When looking to do some volunteer work or donate I ask myself, ‘am I doing this because I want something in return?’ or, ‘am I sincerely looking out for the well being of others?’. Wherever you feel called to volunteer or donate this holiday season, check in with yourself, and share what you can. If you find a cause that speaks to your heart, you will likely stay involved and make a direct impact.

2. Research

Look for opportunities to serve your community or places to give. Whether you love helping people, animals or the environment, find a good cause that speaks to you and needs help. Feel free to get creative as well! I remember one Thanksgiving my family made sandwiches, bought a large tub of hot coffee and some donuts, then drove around and shared them with some of the homeless people in our neighborhood. On another occasion, some of my friends and I set some time aside on a Christmas morning and distributed “lunch bags” to the needy in the Far Rockaway community in Queens, NY.
*Disclaimer: A food permit is needed to handle food. Please look up any restrictions in your local area.

3. Have Fun

Whatever you decide to do make sure that you enjoy every second of it. Know that whether you are donating money or volunteering you are making a difference. I think it is important to not get wrapped up in our own lives and fail to see the need around us. We might not be able to change the world but we can make a difference in our communities.

Infusing the practice of giving and being open to receiving can bring joy and affect every aspect of our lives. I have learned from both sides of this practice. Several years ago, my family benefited from the giving. Here is my account:

Ever since I moved to the United States, I have lived with my paternal grandmother. When I was 15 years old, she and my aunt got together and bought their first home. Oh, the excitement! However, years passed and they never paid a water bill. I am not sure why but they never got a water bill, it just never arrived and no one ever realized.

One day, the homes that did not pay their water bill were published in a Mayor NYC Newspaper and there was our address. The embarrassment!

Of course, my grandmother freaked out and made payment arrangements with the company right away. After several months of making payments towards the amount due, we stopped getting the monthly payment slips. Grandma asked me to call the water company on her behalf and inquire about it. I remember this like it was yesterday, it was during my lunch break at my previous job, my jaw dropped when I heard the agent say,

“I am sorry ma’am but you currently do not owe any money, which is why you haven’t received a bill from us.”

“No! That cannot be right. We owe close to $10,000 and I know for a fact that payment for the complete amount has not been made,” I responded.

The agent placed me on hold to investigate, then came back on the line and told me that not only was the balance paid, but we had extra funds to cover the bill for a few more months. To this date and we are still not sure how this bill was paid, but one thing is for certain we reaped what we have sown for so many years. Over the years many similar things have happened to us, this is the story with the most financial impact thus far.

It is worth to mention that since this my family has become a giving family, not only with finances but also with time. Giving has been something that we have done in our house on a weekly basis; because of this example I’ve learned to be a giving person, and hope to pass on these traits to my daughter. My purpose is that through these lines my passion to help those who cannot help themselves be transmitted to those around me, and yes that includes you too!

Happy Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, and Holiday Season!

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Paid Time-On: I Power KEXP

KEXP_Seattle_VolunteerIn the last 6 years, Brown Paper Tickets has donated over 400 employee hours to the local, listener-powered radio station KEXP. Employees can spend up to 40 hours a year volunteering for whatever causes they wish and KEXP is a favorite among staff. One team member gives a first-hand account of volunteering at KEXP.

My first experience with KEXP happened on a whim. It was 2012, I was in film school, and had a writing assignment due in the morning—the finalized opening scene to a script I had just begun. I had already outlined what was soon to be a truly awful, overused plot, the kind that seems genius and groundbreaking when you explain it to your cat after four cups of coffee and minimal sleep. So naturally, instead of writing, I was scrolling through Facebook.

My friend shared a live performance of the artist Grimes. When I pressed play, I heard DJ Cheryl Water’s voice for the first time, introducing the artist before she began. The performance was simple, captivating and executed completely from the ground where Grimes perched, surrounded by her instruments, a cup of coffee, and a brightly patterned rug. After watching a dozen more artists I adore perform at KEXP (thanks to their YouTube channel), it was safe to say I was hooked.

I moved to Seattle in the spring of 2016. One day, on-air, Troy Nelson mentioned that Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires were scheduled to do a free-to-the-public, in-studio session, limited to a small amount of lucky attendees. There was so much interest in the performance that they moved it into the main gathering space. KEXP played the first song I had ever heard by the infectious Charles Bradley, and I knew I had to attend. I was among a sea of people who came out to watch Charles and his Extraordinaires. He emerged in a bedazzled suit, hugging audience members before taking the stage.

The performance was truly humbling, everyone gathered in, many sat on the ground; his presence felt like an old friend. Bradley’s version of Black Sabbath’s “Changes,” that he dedicated to his late mother moved me to tears. That was the only opportunity I had to see Charles Bradley perform before he lost his battle with cancer on September 23, 2017.

Volunteering at KEXP

That same week I had the chance to give back to the station by way of volunteering, and my appreciation for everything KEXP came full circle. My coworkers and I answered phones during the Fall Fundraiser drive as part of the Brown Paper Tickets’ Paid Time-On benefit program. Fundraiser drives are key to the survival of KEXP.

The majority of KEXP’s funding (nearly 60%) comes from listeners; the remaining 40% is divided among local businesses and outside sources. As a listener-powered station, they can maintain zero commercial interruptions, and avoid narrow playlists dictated by corporate media involvement.

Volunteering_KEXP

In the last 6 years, Brown Paper Tickets has donated over 400 employee hours to KEXP. This allows passionate employees (like me) to work the fundraising drives and more unique opportunities, such as DJ assisting* and hosting station tours.

Brown Paper Tickets encourages employees to volunteer time to organizations they feel passionate about, whatever that may be. I am humbled by the opportunities I am given to volunteer at KEXP and as a KEXP amplifier. If you have ever been interested in giving back to this unique and diverse station, but don’t know where to start, keep in mind that there are many ways to power KEXP.

Check out a full list of opportunities at KEXP: Ways to Give.

*Major shout-out to Jon Hamilton, a dedicated KEXP volunteer and past Brown Paper Tickets Paid Time-On-er.

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