Unified Caring Association (UCA) is reaching out to its awesome Caring Community of members who are daily overcoming the lifestyle changes of the current pandemic. Many of us have discovered upbeat, inspirational or even humorous ways to deal with the challenges. We would love to hear these stories from you!
We believe we can all learn from each other story.
We’ve created a new section of our website called “Share Your Story.” Each week we will publish some of the member’s stories that demonstrate the encouraging ways people are coping.
If you would like to join this caring community outreach effort, CLICK HERE!
We invite you to share your story by writing 1-2 paragraphs and clicking submit. Our excitement is filling the air as we hear, witness, and write about acts of kindness and caring community efforts during this global event.
The call is out for us all to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether homebound or providing critical services, everyone is stretching to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.
Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!
Cute, fierce, and awe inspiring are some of the feelings that many of us feel when we see animals. Sometimes our furry and crawling friends need a little help. An example that Unified Caring Association (UCA) loves to do is have UCA member benefits that help pets. Other organizations that help animals hold a favorite place in our hearts. One such organization is Conservation Ambassadors and their Zoo to You program.
Who are Conservation Ambassadors and what is the Zoo to You?
Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo are a rescue zoo. This is a place where un-releasable and unwanted wild animals could have a permanent loving home. These animals have a second chance at life by becoming animal “ambassadors” through an outreach education program. At the sanctuary there are about 230 animals, and about 8 employees. Largest of the animals are the camels, black bears and tigers. What the team loves is that all the animals are well cared for and accustomed to people. This helps them become ambassadors for education.
Conservation Ambassadors have rescued hundreds of animals and educated many children for years. Over the years, the sanctuary has been growing and is currently planning further developments to house the growing animal population. Conservation Ambassadors are giving a caring voice to wildlife by providing a stable and loving home. Many of these animals are displaced, exotic, abused, abandoned or permanently injured. Their second life is full of fun and TLC as they are able to participate in outreach programs with school children. These learners, young to old, are educated about conservation, can become connected to the wild world, and inspire them to protect and conserve animals and their habitat.
Zoo to You is a specific program that helps inspire many people all over California. This unique style of education is a blend of relevant storytelling and fun, enlightening messages through meeting live animals. With the efforts of Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo to You, these children grow into informed, caring adults. Often these children call and write to the sanctuary about how much they have learned and enjoyed the programs, and want to bring their kids to learn as well. This is such an inspiring organization brimming with caring, inspiring others to see the natural world as an important and necessary part of life.
Learn more about Conservation Ambassadors by CLICKING HERE to watch a short video!
Meet some of the Animals
Recently, we had a chance to meet some of the caring team members and their animal ambassadors. We are happy to see them all, and want to celebrate them!
Izzabu is a 5 year old camel who used to work in the movies. She is gorgeous with her long eyelashes!
Rhetta is an Augur Buzzard from Central Africa. She enjoys eating small prey like lizards and snakes or small birds. She loves to chill all day when she is not hunting.
We met Emeril, who is 5 years old, and Spike, who is much larger. Both of these alligators are happily hanging out with full bellies.
Next we have Nick the reindeer. He is 7 yrs old, and lives in the Midwest most of the year. He loves his grain snacks, and gobbles them down at every chance! November through December his antlers fall off. But before that, during the middle of the year, he will often rub the fur off his antlers.
At one point we were quickly introduced to Marcel the monkey. He gave a quick squeak before being whisked away for a snack.
Pockets is an opossum who is 3 years old, which is old for her species. Interestingly, we learned that opossums are more closely related to monkeys, and their bodies are too cold for carrying diseases. We were having fun watching Pockets wrap her tail as she descends from shoulders and branches.
A chinchilla named Bluebell was snoozing in her ash bath as she was waiting for night to fall. We learned from her that chinchillas see best in the dark, and if their fur gets wet it will begin tol mold. We were enjoying petting Bluebell because she is SO soft. This soft silky fur is because of how dense and fine their fur is; we can only describe this as petting a cloud.
Lastly, we met Disco the Fox. Disco is a rescue from a lady who was illegally raising him. He is 12 years old, and is looking forward to many more years as an ambassador because foxes can live to be 20 years old in captivity.
We had a blast meeting the animal ambassadors and the caring individuals who help care for them. Nothing makes our hearts sing than seeing others sharing the caring and helping educate others on how the world can become a better place for all to live.
Want to check out more about Unified Caring Association? CLICK HERE to visit our website! If you would like to read more about caring the UCA way, sharing caring, and/or topics on caring action check out all of our blogs. Not able to check in on the blogs each day? Follow us on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to get notifications from us. We look forward to connecting and sharing with you!
Each day, sometimes twice a day, children line up at the school cafeteria. They eagerly chat about which meal they are going to order; the burger, french toast, or fruit salad all sound good! Once they get to the cashier, the mood quickly changes. It becomes embarrassment and horror as they are labeled with debt when the register flashed with a negative balance. To add to this, the meal that excites them is taken away. It is replaced with a simple sandwich made from two pieces of white bread and a slice of American cheese. This bullying happens more often than not, and is a little known issue in the United States. Without a doubt this bullying due to lack of funding is unacceptable, and breaks our hearts at Unified Caring Association (UCA). We would like to raise awareness about this form of bullying.
What is school lunch debt shaming?
“Lunch Shaming” refers to identifying and placing a stigma on a student who does not have money to buy a school meal. This is often referring to children in K-12th grade, who get their breakfast or lunch at school. “While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) narrowly applies this overt identification to students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch, in practice legal lunch shaming occurs against students whose family income exceeds free or reduced lunch eligibility thresholds.” (American Bar Association) Lunch debt shaming’s purpose is to embarrass a student and subsequently their parent(s) so that the debt is paid quickly, making it so that the school has less financial burden. Both students who do not qualify for free school meals through the National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program but qualify for reduced-price school meals $0.30/day (breakfast) and $0.40/day (lunch) or those that do not qualify for subsidised meal programs can accrue lunch debt.
It comes in many forms…
Think about the memes where people take pictures of their pets with signs shaming them for what they did wong, such as chewing up all the toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. Or, like this one below:
Now apply this tactic to an elementary school kid. Their hand now has a stamp stating “Not Enough Money.” Less funny? We would agree.
Other stories that can be found in the news include throwing the child’s meal away after it had been served if they cannot pay. It appears that some schools even offer different meals to the children who have school lunch debt, such as PBJ’s instead of the hot meal. Or, there have been reports of schools barring the kids with lunch debt from participating in afterschool activities. Or threatening the kids with other actions such as placing them in foster care. These unacceptable actions vary because there is no set baselines for unpaid meal fees in the meal programs’ policies for the school districts by The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
How can we solve it?
There are so many ways that we can help solve the issue of school lunch debt. Jeffery Lew gives a great summary on how we can be more proactive in the short and long term in eliminating lunch debt shaming. Lew suggests being active in raising funds through crowdfunding, such as Go Fund Me, to help those in immediate need. Other ways are by the schools notifying the parents of the student meal accounts. This can be done by paper notifications sent home with the kids, or by email. Some schools can even set up automatic notifications to the parents’ mobile devices.
Watch the full TedTalk!
Other things we can do. We can share information about meal programs for kids at school, such as National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. Unified Caring Association has also worked with Great Northern Services (GNS) who has a summer lunch program to help feed students while school is not in session.
Overall, Lew sums it up when he comments how kids and debt should not be in the same sentence. And bullying children to get a message to the parents is unacceptable. With a supportive, inclusive, and caring community we can help remove lunch shaming debt from schools, we can further focus on growing caring children.
Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on Mobile Apps for Caring Children, Caring Communities to Help Stop Cyberbullying, and One Tree Planted T.R.E.E.S. Program for Kids! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!
Thomas S. Monson is often quoted saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We have come across a wonderful interpretation of this by One Tree Planted. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization focusing on global reforestation. This is something to celebrate as others are spreading C.A.R.E. around the world! Trees are important for so much in the world. Trees help filter water to make it drinkable. They clean the air to make it more breathable for us. And trees provide habitats for 80% or more of land-living creatures. If we go beyond the natural caring that trees provide us, we find that they go further. In the book The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein shares that trees provide jobs for billions of people, as well as medicines that help us care for those we care about and ourselves.
Who is One Tree Planted?
One Tree Panted is making it easier for businesses and people around the world to “…give back to the environment, fight climate change, protect biodiversity and help reforestation efforts around the world.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us) This charity began in 2014 and is going strong to this day. Through their efforts the amount of trees planted each year has grown 50% or more! Currently One Tree Planted works with amazing reforestation partners in North and South America, Africa, and Asia who help rebuild forests after natural disasters literally from the ground up! These forests not only restore the natural beauty of the regions they are in, but help create jobs and communities.
“We pool the donations for each project and send the funds to our reforestation partners. We vet our partners to ensure that we maintain a tree survival rate of 80-90%.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us) A big part of why this organization has a huge success rate is due to their careful monitoring of the plants after planting. This works well with their strategy and planning before planting the trees. Below is a chart from the One Tree Planted website explaining a breakdown of their successful strategy.
The process One Tree Planted uses for reforestation is unique and interesting. Those that One Tree Planted partners with choose the most appropriate tree species to plant that works with the local community and environment. Planting begins during the rainy season when the soil is easier to dig up and allows for the newly planted tree to have the best chances of success after it is planted in the ground. Upon completion, they send out a highlights report that reflects the impact of the trees and has pictures of the projects’ success!
Trees are Important for Six Reasons
One Tree Planted has six pillars that outlines why they do what they do. These six pillars are: air, water, biodiversity, social impact, health and climate. Take a look at these short descriptions to expand upon each of the six reasons.
Trees are like nature’s scrubbing bubbles or vacuum cleaners. “Through their leaves and bark, they suck up harmful pollutants and release clean oxygen for us to breathe.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We can see this embraced in urban environments with the implementation of curbside rain gardens and parks. Trees absorb gases like nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide, and other pollutants such as smoke and dust which helps us all breath a little bit better!
Have you ever seen pictures or hiked through a redwood forest in the early morning and seen the fog being captured under the little green cupped needles? This is a great example of how trees play a big and important role in capturing water in the atmosphere. The second role that trees play in nature is below the ground where their roots help by anchoring the soil and rocks, reducing the frequency and risks of natural disasters. Much like above the ground the often intricate root systems filter out pollutants in the ground. “According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, a mature evergreen tree can intercept more than 15,000 litres of water every year.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/)
Each tree young to old can be a home to dozens upon dozens of insects, fungi, animals, and other plants. For example in North American Young, Open Forests we can see animals like a hopefully napping black bears and chirping birds like the American goldfinch, and bluebirds calling these trees home. In Middle-Aged Forests we see taller trees that outgrow less substantial vegetation. This allows for an open canopy and the growth of different plants that are lower to the ground. It is in thee forests that we see animals like the salamander and tree frogs as well as the mighty elk. Lastly we have Older Forests. These have substantial and large trees, complex canopies, and a highly developed levels of vegetation. Old forests provide habitat for a wide and diverse array of animals. We might see bats at night flying around eating bugs, squirrels during the day gathering and storing food for the cold months, and so on. Next time you go on a walk in nature you might just notice something about the biodiversity in your local forest!
Trees are more than just homes to the local flora and fauna. They provide jobs for us people too! “…Sustainable tree farming provides timber to build homes and shelter, and wood to burn for cooking and heating. Food-producing trees provide fruit, nuts, berries, and leaves for consumption by both humans and animals, and guarantee health and nutrition.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We bet that you can come up with more than a few ways that trees impact you life. Just think about apples, pinecones, and paper products; they all come from trees!
We review a lot of caring research and information. During this time we have found that people recovering from illness bounce back faster when they see greenery like trees. Getting grounded in nature gives you a sense of calm, helps reduce stress and anxiety, and improves thinking clarity. Additionally, walking in a shady forest provides skin protection for harsh UV rays and nasty sunburns.
Lastly, but certainly not least, trees help the planet stay cool by eliminating nasty greenhouse gases and pollutants. They do this by storing these toxins in their trunks, branches and leaves. An additional bonus is that this process is coupled with the releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. There’s an increase in architects designing cities to have trees and forests included, much like Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. When cities are designed with forests in mind the overall temperature is often reduced by up to 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit). “With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities—a number expected to increase to 66% by the year 2050—pollution and overheating are becoming a real threat. Fortunately, a mature tree can absorb an average of 48 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, making cities a healthier, safer place to live.“ (https://onetreeplanted.org/) This is something we can give three cheers to! We can relate to the desire to live comfortably with lasting health benefits!
Thank you to One Tree Planted for all of your efforts and contributions to the reforestation of our planet! We at Unified Caring Association love what you are doing, and celebrate your caring actions!
Would you like to read more blogs form Unified Caring Association? We have more blogs like ‘R’ is for Reforestation, A UCA Member’s Personal Well-Being Journey, and Starting Steps to Self-Care. Or how about a dose of caring and cheer in your day? Follow us on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) is happy to announce their sponsorship of the 2018 Miles for Maji Event! This caring event is happening on 4/22/2018 – Earth Day – at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Boston. With their ongoing support of clean water projects, it’s not surprising to see our friends at UCA sponsor caring beyond borders once again!
When the team at Unified Caring Association heard from their non-profit C.A.R.E. partner, Save the Rain, about a wonderful humanitarian initiative that was started by a group of American students, they immediately decided to get involved!
What is Miles for Maji?
In the summer of 2016, a group of 13 high school students traveled to Tanzania on a service trip. While in country the teens learned first-hand about the global water crisis and even had the experience of walking for water with Tanzanian villagers. As they walked, they learned that each school day across Tanzania, children have to leave their classrooms to walk for hours to collect water … and the water is not even clean! The students reflected on the hardship of the Tanzanian students. They realized how lucky they were to not have to forfeit hours of their education each day. They thought about the waterborne illnesses their Tanzanian friends had to deal with. As a result, they decided to do something impactful to create a difference for those living in water starved communities. So, they formed a group called Miles for Maji – “maji” is the Swahili word for water – with the purpose of raising funds to provide clean drinking water to an entire Tanzanian village.
Where does UCA come in?
With the support and corporate sponsorship of Unified Caring Association, the Miles for Maji students created walking and running fundraising events in West Palm Beach, San Diego and Boston that took place on Earth Day, April 22, 2017. One UCA team member created an online “remote participation” option for the event giving others the opportunity to do their own “walk for water.” It created a wave of awareness and fundraising activity across the country! The 2017 event raised over $15,000 toward their goal!
UCA team member, Christine Greenberg stated, “It was a pleasure for all of us at Unified Caring Association to sponsor such a wonderful act of global citizenship. With the support of UCA, all money raised by the Miles for Maji events will go directly to fund the creation of a clean water solution for a village in need. Our CARE partner, the non-profit Save the Rain, will use the funds to provide clean drinking water to the village of Makiba, in Tanzania. Currently the primary school in Makiba has 1,100 students. Their walk for water is 6 hours long with 70% of the students suffering from waterborne illnesses and 53% failing school because of these challenges. Unified Caring Association is completely delighted to support the beautiful demonstration of caring beyond borders that the Miles for Maji project demonstrates. This is truly caring in action!”
How can I get involved?
On Earth Day 4/22/2018, Cate Brown, Miles for Maji founder, will be hosting her second annual Miles for Maji mile walk and 5k race at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Boston. The goal of providing the village of Makiba with clean drinking water is clearly within reach! Unified Caring Association is proud to sponsor this amazing event once again. We wish Cate and the village of Makiba every success, and encourage everyone to participate or donate to this very worthy cause. To join the Miles for Maji effort to provide clean water to Makiba, please visit the Miles for Maji website.
Thanks to Miles for Maji and Save the Rain for their caring example in our world!