Unified Caring Association

It is Time to Water the Growing Edge

How we focus our energy on what we want to grow

As our world continues to change quickly and sometimes dramatically, it may be easy to pine over what we have lost, and what we may not get back. It is natural to miss what was once normal. However, it is time that we look to the growing edge. We can focus our energy on what we want to grow: it is time to water the growing edge.

As people continue to seek new ways to live fulfilling lives, they are coming up against challenges.

Challenges like meeting basic needs. These are challenges that UCA has the capacity to help with. Like providing food and needed supplies for children and families. In a pilot project to meet critical needs for children in foster care, UCA provided warm winter clothes, under garments, feminine care supplies, shoes, toiletries and warm accessories.  UCA also provided bicycles to middle school and high school students who would otherwise miss school due to lacking transportation options.

At UCA, we continue to seek the growing edge

We are delighted when we see organizations like One Tree Planted doing their part to restore salmon habitat. This is to grow an increase in the local salmon population to feed a suffering pod of Orca whales! UCA had to step in and do our part to support these endeavors. You can read more about that here.

We also have to water our own growing edge

That is why at UCA, we prioritize self-care for our members and provide articles like this or these. Some members want step-by-step how-to’s of self-care, while others thrive with our updates on inspiration for small acts of self-care that give a big impact. You can’t water from an empty cup, so make sure yours gets refilled regularly!

We hope to help you do your best to water your own growing edge, by staying healthy and active

We also want to know if you have any growing edges that need watering in your community. Reach out to us through access on your Membership Dashboard. We want to hear your ideas as well, and if your Share Your Caring Story about how you watered a growing edge in someone’s life or in your community, we will share it with our members on our website!

Orca whale breaching
Animals, C.A.R.E., Caring Action, Nature, Unified Caring Association

A Story About Whales, Fish and Trees

The Southern Resident Orcas, often referred to as killer whales, are an icon of the Pacific Northwest. Swimming the waters off the coast of North America from California to British Columbia, the black and white whales are one of the most recognizable and beloved marine animals in the world. Saving these Orcas turns out to be a story about whales, fish and trees.

Unified Caring Association recently co-sponsored a new project with One Tree Planted to save animals and environment through reforestation.

Sadly, there are only 75 Southern Resident Orcas remaining – which makes them an endangered species, and they are starving.

Thankfully, new conservation efforts involving One Tree Planted and Promise the Pod are drawing the connection between restoring the forests of the Pacific Northwest and saving the Orcas. By repairing critical watersheds and planting lots of trees, conservationists hope to bring back the Orcas from the brink of extinction.

But what connects trees and whales? It all comes down to what they eat!

Orca whale breaching

Bring Back the Chinook Salmon!

One of the biggest threats to the Orca is an ever-decreasing supply of fatty, healthy, plentiful salmon.

For thousands of years, the Southern Resident Orca population has relied primarily on Chinook salmon as a staple of their diet, amounting to some 80% of their caloric intake.

As the Orca migrate North and South along the Pacific coast they feed on the nutrient dense salmon coming downstream from the numerous rivers and streams that flow into the Pacific – and they need a lot of it!

Scientists estimate that it takes over 700 Chinook salmon to feed the entire current Southern Resident Orca population every single day.

However, once an abundant source of food, the Chinook salmon stocks have collapsed over the last 150 years. Today, just a little more than half of the Northwest Chinook salmon populations remain.

Human interference such as through fish hatcheries, dams, dykes and levees, logging, over-fishing, pollution, and highway construction are all impeding the salmon’s ability to spawn and survive – not to mention the impact climate change is having on rising water temperatures.

With all of these changes to their habitat, the number of Chinook salmon traveling from the Pacific Ocean upstream to their spawning grounds – and eventually returning to the ocean where the Orca feed upon them – has been steadily diminishing for decades.

But there is a way to improve this… by planting trees!

The Benefit of Trees Is Undeniable

Tree planting and restoring riparian zones (the areas where land meets a river or stream) across the Pacific Northwest is a simple and effective solution for protecting salmon stocks and ensuring the Orca can rely on Chinook salmon for years to come.

Planting trees has a number of knock-on effects that benefit the salmon and, ultimately, the Orca. The first of which is improved water quality.

The rivers and streams the salmon populate are filled with pollution. As the salmon feed and grow in these waters they store pollutants in their tissue until they return to the ocean where they are fed upon by Orca. Those contaminants are then passed on to the whales making them more vulnerable to disease and can even cause difficulties reproducing. Sadly, Orcas are one of the most polluted marine mammals in the world.

Trees planted along the banks of the river can help filter out toxins as water passes through the soil and into the rivers where the salmon spawn. This not only improves salmon survivability, but also improves the quality and quantity of food available to the Orca.

In the longer-term, the benefits of tree planting for salmon and Orca is much more apparent. As the trees grow and their roots spread, the banks of the rivers solidify, protecting against erosion and keeping the river water clear of excessive sediment, which is necessary for the salmon to spawn.

Trees also help provide important nutrients for the young salmon as they grow. Leaves, needles, and woody debris falling into the river create habitat for insects the salmon eat, helping them fatten up for the long journey downstream to the Pacific Ocean.

As the trees mature and the forest canopy thickens it provides critical shade over salmon spawning grounds. Salmon eggs need to be kept cool, and without adequate shade from vegetation on the banks of the river water temperatures will rise, reducing the chances the eggs have to develop and hatch.

Even dying and fallen trees on the banks of the river benefit salmon. Branches and trees that fall into the water help to slow down the flow, making it easier for the salmon to lay their eggs without them getting immediately washed away. Planting trees today means the debris created in the future ensures the salmon have plenty of spots to lay their eggs.

The trophic cascade brought on by planting trees is undeniable. Balancing an ecosystem is a major part of ensuring that critical species survive – and planting trees is a great place to start!

Trees Can’t Do It All On Their Own

We know that saving a species from extinction is much more complex than just planting trees. The Orca are affected by many other factors like ship traffic and ocean pollution, so there is no doubt that other steps must be taken to ensure their survival.

That being said, planting trees to restore critical salmon habitat will go a long way to making sure the Orca have enough healthy, toxin free food to eat – and it’s an action that can be taken today.

We encourage our readers to join UCA and One Tree Planted to take caring action by donating to the Orca Project today.

This article and photos reprinted from OneTreePlanted.org with permission.

helping hand for community
Caring, Caring Action, Unified Caring Association

Putting a Community into Caring Action

A simple social media post from a UCA member put a community into caring action that changed the lives of an entire family in need.

putting a community into caring action

Last December the member posted in one of her local Facebook mom groups to see if anyone knew of a local family in need of baby boy clothing. She had just cleaned out the closet of her nine-month-old and had a TON of baby boy clothes to donate. “Rather than just dropping it off at the local Salvation Army, I hoped to find a family I could help out and continue to help as my little boy grows up and we clear out his closet,” she said. Almost immediately she received a direct message from someone.

The Need that Propelled Action

Hi… i commented on your post i dont really feel comfortable putting our family business on fb so i thought I’d message you my daughter just had a little boy December 4th my 16 yr old was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma a form of bone cancer last month we are going through alot and really strapped tight on money we are actually being evicted due to not being able to pay our rent this month due to my husband taking off of work to be with our 4 other children while me and my daughter in the hospital doing chemo my oldest daughter and my grandson live with us we could really use and appreciate the things you are giving away it would mean the world to us

Initially, the UCA member didn’t know what to think. It all sounded like too many bad things happening to one family. She started communicating with the person who replied right-away and immediately felt a connection.  This family needed SO much help. She started gathering every baby item she had and posted on Facebook to try to get more help from the local mom community.

Rallying the Local Community

Note to Facebook Moms Group:
I need your help! I’m pulling together baby boy items for a local family in need. They have recently fallen into a VERY bad situation financially and have a newborn baby boy. He was born in December and is only 7lbs right now. I already donated ALL of my newborn clothing. Does anyone have any 0-6mo clothes they would be willing to donate? I could come pick them up from you! Also, he’s on Similac Pro Advance if anyone has any formula they’d like to donate. Any other baby items would be appreciated. They literally need everything. I have bottles, lots of clothes (all 6mo +) and an infant car seat covered.

There was an incredible outpouring of support. We were literally able to gather everything anyone could ever want or need for a baby (pack-n-plays, clothing, bottles, formula, diapers, toys, high-chair, car seats, etc.). Over the course of a week people dropped things off at the UCA member’s house (and her parent’s house too) so they all could make deliveries to the family.

In the meantime, she wanted to help this family even more and decided to start raising money to make sure they weren’t evicted. Unfortunately, everything the family in need had been telling her turned out to be an understatement. Their power was scheduled to be turned off the day before Christmas, most of them were sleeping on the floor. They didn’t have a kitchen table or chairs, or couch because they had been renting virtually all their furniture and could no longer make the payments.

An Outpouring from the Caring Community

She was able to secure beds, a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, a desk, a desk top computer, a laptop along with a ton of other necessities. It was truly amazing to see how much people were willing to help an unknown family.  She even convinced Lowe’s to donate and deliver a brand-new washer and dryer to this family.

Ultimately, the community ended up raising over $6,000 in less than a week.  They worked with the landlord and paid the family’s rent for both December and January.  They then called all utilities and got them current on all past due bills.  With the remaining money, gift cards were purchased as well as giving the mother cash to buy Christmas presents for their kids.

It was a remarkable example of a community that truly CARES.  In the end, the UCA member summed up her caring community best: “One social media post kick-started an expression of genuine love.  Now, more than ever, we need to continue to care for one another.  Even those we don’t know.”

We all can easily take a moment to be kind to others, to help when a need shows itself to us, and give to others with urgent needs. Beyond that moment of caring action, our communities desperately need Caring Ambassadors to catalyze a caring movement needed more than ever.

Share Your Caring Story

As the majority of us have had our daily lives altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you to share your personal story. Have you discovered silver-linings in your life or around you? Has something funny inspired you to carry on? Have you learned something great about yourself, family or community that you would not otherwise have discovered? We’d love to hear from you – we encourage the idea of a Caring Community through the tradition of story-telling. As we go through this epic event, it is the perfect time to share experiences that reinforce resilience, demonstrate creative coping and lighten our hearts with humor. After all, sharing IS caring.

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!

Caring, Self-Care, Unified Caring Association

Decorating During Quarantine Times: Pandecorating!

What better way to increase your well-being then to spend time improving your space? Decorating during quarantine times is a great way to practice self-care and to care for your family.

Decorating during quarantine times: Pandecorating!

Decorating during quarantine, making the most of these times.

We have all been impacted by the coronavirus, and have been subject to stay at home orders for weeks on end. This can really impact our well-being . One thing we can do to increase our sense of well-being is enjoy a little pandecorating! Decorating during quarantine times can have a lot of benefits on our minds and emotions, as well as be a really practical project.

Stimulating our visual senses with objects that entertain the eye or bring interest to a room is part of the reason for decorating. In addition to pleasing the eye, practical aspects should be considered, like the function of the room, and of course, comfort. Many people saw the opportunity early on, and redid porches and yards as springtime blossomed. But if you missed this trend, fear not, you too, can enjoy some pandecorating! Maybe you have time and are feeling ambitious, or maybe you want to stick with bite sized projects. Whatever the case, there is a DIY decorating during quarantine project waiting for you.

Some of us have had to redesign our space to conform to new needs, like homeschooling and working from home.

Once upon a time, pre-COVID-19, you had a dining room. Now you have a dining room/office/classroom. There is nothing like the central space of a long table where projects can be done, schoolwork tackled as a family team, and of course, prepare and enjoy food together. While adding functions to a room like this can be just what you need, proper design can help make sure that the dining room table can still be…well…dined on.

Tips to turn your dining room into a multi-purpose room but not lose your dining room!

  1. Purchase a small to medium sized fold-out table to set up any laptop needed for working from home. It helps to have a set up that you don’t have to take down in order to get dinner on the table
  2. Set up a shelf to place homeschooling materials. Kids can grab easily and put back when it is time to clear the table for dinner.
  3. Don’t forget your family’s hobbies! Designate some space on the shelves for crafts and art supplies. Having these available makes being home feel like a creative and productive place to be.
  4. Consider flow and adequate space when adding any kind of furniture to the room. Think about using a chair from the dining room set for your computer table instead of adding an extra chair. Maybe take a chair out of the set and use in a different room to make more space.

Decorating during quarantine time has taught us about appreciating our homes.

We are all a bit tired of quarantine restrictions, yet have also come to know the joys of being home. Many of us are simply grateful to have a roof over ourselves and a space in which to “shelter in place.” The world has been on pause and we have had a chance to go inward and reflect. Part of reflection is self-care, and part of self-care is caring for our space. Our space is an expression of our life, what we like to do. We have been busy at home, and had a chance to see what kind of space we need for our important activities. Decorating during quarantine times can start with adapting to the new functions of your stay at home life.

There are lots of ways to decorate, just use your senses.

Start with your imagination and pick a new theme for a room. Maybe you are dreaming of travelling again. Frame maps and put them on the wall. Does your kid have a globe in their room? Snag it! Paint the walls sky blue and put out objects that remind you of places you want to go. Pick lush houseplants to hang from your ceiling to set your imagination to greener pastures. Try and think of what combination of items will set your imagination free and bring peace to your heart.

Remember, decorating is about creating a safe place to return to your senses, so make sure you pay attention to the details. Place flowers or lemons on a table for their color and also for their scent. Airy curtains over a window can let in light and play on the breeze. Placement of speakers and lighting are also important. Think about the set decorators, lighting experts, and sound technicians in Hollywood. They intentionally set the atmosphere required for a scene. You too, can set the stage for your life at home.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched 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 and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

sunlight for self-care
Health, Nature, Self-Care

Sunlight for Self-Care

It’s an understatement to say that the human body appreciates receiving a healthy dose of sunlight within the first few hours of the day. Sunlight for self-care is possible now that we’ve entered warmer months. Consider taking advantage of the abundance of sunlight by harnessing it as a form of personal care.

By simply offering your body a few minutes of sunlight in the morning, you are inviting a sequence of biological occurrences to unfold. This will ultimately result in more stabilized energy levels, steadier moods, deeper sleep, and stronger bones.

Lack of sunlight has been linked to a number of disorders including infertility, insomnia, anxiety, depression, among countless other conditions that yield poor health. Though it’s wise to be prudent about the amount of sun one is exposing themselves to, healthy doses of sunlight supports the production of Vitamin D, Serotonin, and Melatonin – thus becoming the foundation of our waking and sleeping lives.

How Sunlight Interacts with the Body

When sunlight penetrates into our vision, the information of the light travels through the optic nerve all the way into the brain, and throughout its numerous glands. It is here where the pituitary gland takes the information from the sunlight and begins to produce Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with states of wakefulness and joy.

When sunlight touches our skin, the body begins to generate a supply of Vitamin D – this is essential for calcium absorption, bone growth, and maintaining Serotonin supplies. Without proper Vitamin D levels, the body becomes ill-equipped to collect the sunlight’s information to convert into Serotonin. This can mean bad news for emotional health. As the lack of sunlight is directly linked to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and a general lackluster for life. There is also a wealth of clinical research linking the proportion of sunlight to cases of suicide.

From a biological standpoint, healthy Serotonin production is important because it’s the precursor to the production of Melatonin – the hormone responsible for nourishing sleep. While natural sunlight stimulates Serotonin, the darkness of night stimulates Melatonin. As the sun begins to rise again, the brain gives orders to halt Melatonin production, and so continues this very synergistic process that is completely commanded by the body’s perception of light.

It’s for this reason that keeping artificial light to a minimum after sunset is important to ensure the body has a chance to generate sufficient sleep hormone. It’s also relevant to note that sunlight filtered through windows does not count as a natural sunlight. This is because the technology in windows blocks UV light from coming in, meaning it’s no longer full spectrum light and behaves differently in the body than direct sunlight would. True unadulterated sunlight is what stimulates these supportive biological responses.

Trust Sunlight for Self-Care

Though there’s a lot of reluctance to trust the sun these days, the evidence in its favor is staggering. From treating physical ailments to addressing emotional well-being, studies are pointing towards sunlight as a supplementary solution. Ample research has indicated that anywhere between 5-15 minutes of sunlight a few days a week is all that’s needed for noticeable improvement.

Ultimately, our goal here is to create an environment that supports wakefulness during the day, and effective downtime at night. With the influx of sleeping problems, mid-day exhaustion, and disruptions to physical health, we have little to lose by turning to the sunlight for self-care and support. Especially when considering that sunlight is a completely free resource, available to all.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched 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!

Article by Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

Caring Action, Caring Beyond Borders, Caring Connections, Feel Good News, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Share Your Story

Share Your Story

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.

Thank you caring community

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!

Children, Resources, Sharing Caring

HeartMath Keen on Teens

Keen on Teens

There are so many challenges in the world, especially for children and teenagers facing new challenges today. Unified Caring Association (UCA) has many caring tools and resources to help parents and teens during these tough times. We recently got a note from our friends at HeartMath that there is an upcoming online event to help teenagers. We are brimming with excitement to share an awesome free telesummit gear towards helping teenagers. 

The best opportunities and guidance for teens to succeed.

One core question that this summit is trying to answer is, “Why do some parents feel challenged in guiding their teens to success?” Today many teens face challenges such as pressures from school, bullying, body image, and social media. Unfortunately, these challenges can lead to issues such as anxiety or depression. Teenagers need caring tools to help build resiliency. With a good foundation in caring tools and techniques, teens can reach their highest potential, and have an easier time bouncing back from adversity. The goal for the Keen for Teens telesummit is to learn how to best guide your teen to lead happy and healthy lives. A key speaker is HeartMaths’s Director of Education, Jeff Goelitz. He will be speaking on March 18, 2020. His goal is to share strategies to help teens deal with self‑management, stress, and how to prepare and cope with challenging events successfully. 

Join in the caring!

Keen on Teens Telesummit

March 14‑27, 2020.

Free 

Keen on Teens Topics
Keen on Teens Video

Click Here to visit the site and watch the introductory video!

Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association and keep up to date on UCA’s caring acts? Check out our blogs on UCA, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Other ways to keep up with UCA activities are on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!

Animals, Caring Action, Caring Beyond Borders, Caring Connections

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

Conservation Ambassadors Zoo to You

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. 

Video Conservation Ambassadors

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

Izzabu is a 5 year old camel who used to work in the movies. She is gorgeous with her long eyelashes!

Rhetta

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.

Emeril
Spike

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. 

Nick

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.

Marcel

At one point we were quickly introduced to Marcel the monkey. He gave a quick squeak before being whisked away for a snack.

Pockets

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.

Bluebell

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.

Disco

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.

Zoo Animals

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!

Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrates caring and acts of kindness. One way is by celebrating the UCA Scholarship winners! Throughout the years we have held many scholarship contests, and are constantly in awe about how caring students are, and what new and innovative ways they bring caring into our communities. We have been blogging about various themes that have arisen in the recent submissions for the Fall 2019 scholarship contest. Many of the submissions had awareness and empathy in common. Below are some caring quotes from the essays and a scholarship essay that displays the unique skills that these caring ambassadors have!

Grace E Shay

Grace Shay

Ritika Managuli

Ritika Managuli

Jenna Dubbelde 

Jenna Dubbelde

Bella Brannon

Bella Brannon

“Since I can remember, my mom would recite this mantra to me. She would reference these “secret battles,” when young me was quick to judge another. No matter how many times she recited these words, I didn’t fully understand.

How could someone endure hardship and not wear it on their sleeve? Surely, not everyone can be fighting a battle. I knew a girl at school who was so stereotypically perfect. I had never seen her work for anything. I was sure that she was not fighting any battles. And if this example existed within my range, surely there were more.

So my mind continued on with this thought.  I lived in a picture perfect world, I was naive and free of hardship. I selfishly assumed that everyone was the same. I never stopped to consider that there may be more than meets the eye.

One day, the meaning of my mother’s words set in. They didn’t seep in like water. It wasn’t slow and gradual. It was a flood. One day, my mom’s words were engraved into my skin, like a burn left from an open flame. To this day, I have the scar from that burn.

The day it all clicked for me was the day I began fighting a secret battle of my own: one no one knew about.

I was diagnosed with an invisible illness, Type One Diabetes. The disease is relentless. From multiple injections a day, to waking up nightly for low blood sugars, to cutting my favorite foods out of my diet, to seizures and the stigma that surrounds the illness. It was hell and the hell was invisible.

As much as I hate my diagnosis, I know I’m not alone. Sure, I am the only diabetic on my team or at school, but I am not alone. Because everyone is fighting a secret battle.  No one is truly alone, our battles may be vastly different. The girl I thought was perfect may not have the most stable home life. Another student may have parents that only see them as a GPA.  Another student may not have parents at all.

However vastly different they are, our battles unite us. They create our collective humanity. If we take this “perceived empathy” and apply it to every situation, the world will become a much more caring place.

What if instead of getting annoyed at the lady taking forever in the grocery store checkout line, we considered her perspective? Maybe she has severe social anxiety, and this is a stretch for her? What if she just got a phone call about her dad and is struggling to not break down? You don’t know. Don’t judge. Instead, understand that she may be fighting a secret battle you know nothing about.

I know that when you first read the phrase, “secret battle,” the first that came to your mind was your own. Everyone has had that unique experience. Empathy is learned like wisdom. It can be obtained through conscious effort. That effort, that will leave the world caring and united.”

 Annie Suenram   

 Annie Suenram

“In a world of instant gratification and social media it is easy to find yourself isolated from others. Many people believe that young people in this world are not going to be successful because we have so much at our fingertips, yet we do not know how to carry on a face to face conversation. Today’s society is full of people who genuinely care for others, however they go unseen because of all the violence in today’s world. To make the world a more caring place people must start small and then branch out. If I were to change one thing in the world I would be more open to people and to be more caring myself. 

Lets face it. However nice it may seem to say, “Oh we can fix the world and make it more caring by [insert colossal change of the world here]”, it is naive and almost impossible. To really change our society to become a more inviting, caring place we need to start small. Even just going through your day and smiling at someone makes a difference because even such a small gesture is sometimes rare in society today. It’s not to say that trying to make the world a more caring place by making a big splash is necessarily a bad thing, but it is more feasible to do small things every day. When people open up even a little, it means they feel safe around that person they shared with. If said person is unresponsive or rude to them, that person will probably never open up to another person. When this happens, the world becomes a more boxed in and closed off than ever. As humans, we are social creatures, but if there is no trust between people, the society will not care about others. A way to remedy this problem is to be someone that people trust and to be attentive to their needs whether it be just listening or giving advice. 

Although being a more caring person can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary step in peruste of a more caring world. Often people think “It is so hard to be caring to this person because they have done x, y, or z.” This is exactly the reason to be nice to them because maybe they had a rough day or they just got the bad news that someone close to them died, in essence you have no idea what they are going through and if you are rude just because they were mean to you just perpetuates the cycle of anger and pain. If just one person were to be nice to the person who is mean it may make the difference between life and death. Being the bigger person is always hard because it is human nature to get mad when someone messes with you but it is a necessary step in making the world a better place. 

In order to make the world a more caring place, I want to be a light in darkness, to be a smiling face in the crowd and be someone that people feel comfortable to talk with. By striving every day to do a little better than the day before, people can easily make a difference in society and the world.”

Kei Magloughlin

Kei Magloughlin

“In today’s world, it’s easy to become cynical. Every day on the news and online, we learn about the horrible things people are doing. As we see this more and more, it becomes ingrained, even subconsciously. Many of us start to distrust people as a whole. The very concept of “stranger danger” reflects this. Children are taught from a very young age that strangers aren’t to be trusted. 

Public transportation is an excellent example of how deeply ingrained the wariness of strangers is. On subways and buses, striking up a conversation with a stranger is something that rarely happens. People sit as far away as they can from everyone else. In crowds, whether on a subway or at a concert, people are taught to keep an eye on their pockets and valuables. 

But the reality is that the chance of being robbed in that way is extremely low. That chance is what scares people though, and it’s what leads us to distrust strangers. But the vast majority of people are perfectly kind. If they’re not willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, most of them will politely decline. It’s commonplace to hold the door open for strangers, so why aren’t greater things accepted? Something as simple as offering to buy a stranger their morning coffee is looked at askance. People start to expect you want something in return. If someone’s card gets declined at a grocery store and you offer to pay for their $15 of groceries, other people think it’s some sort of scam. Can we not trust other people to be kind because they want to brighten someone’s day? 

These sorts of issues are just the expression of the much deeper problem in society: the problem of distrust. There are many factors, everything from the modern connected world to the way children are raised. News sources gain money through watch time and clicks. The best way to get those things? Headlines that scare you into paying attention. Headlines about good or ordinary things don’t captivate our attention the same way. 

We can’t change it overnight, but we can do small things now. Pay-it-forward lines in drive-throughs can last for hundreds of cars. Although each person is going to be paying a similar amount, just the thought that a stranger was willing to make their day better is huge. One small act of kindness can, at the very least, make someone’s day less bad, and can even go as far as saving a life. 

Every action we take to support one another, however small, reminds us that individuals aren’t the same as the society they seem to make up. They’re better than what we’re led to believe. If we trust in other people, and believe that the vast majority of people will act kindly, we can help each other realize that people are worth believing in. By believing in and supporting one another, we can spread kindness and compassion, and small actions can spread further than we know.”

These amazing students help bring more empathy and awareness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education by awarding them with a scholarship. We have more themes to celebrate in upcoming blogs, such as self-love, that we are looking forward to sharing. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!

Want to read more about UCA 2019 scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on your news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude. Or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!

Caring Action, Children, Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Scholarship Themes: Social Media and Bullying

Scholarship Themes: Social Media Anti Bullying

Unified Caring Association (UCA) has scholarship opportunities for U.S. students each year. Each submission that arrives brings excitement and smiles. We are so happy to read about these caring students who share their ideas for a better world. Some of these essays share life stories that reflect how these caring ambassadors help bring more caring into the world. Recently, we began celebrating the various themes that surfaced in essays submitted by students across the U.S. Our first theme was equality. Next we want to thank and cheer those who wrote about social media and anti bullying. We are happy to share some of the essays. These essays have caring quotes that reflect the theme of social media and preventing bullying.

Madeline Chalecki 

Madeline Chalecki

“My grandfather is an 80-year-old, Jewish, politically conservative man living in rural Maine who spends his time watching and reading the news. And because he is constantly consuming alarming news about murder and crime, he has become scared and closed-minded. It has made him into a person that makes judgments about people of color, is fearful of immigrants, and comments on the “inner cities crumbling into poverty and crime.”

I live over 2,000 miles away in an urban neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. In my daily life, I am surrounded by people of different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, immigration status and perspectives—but with the same frightening news. The contrast between my grandfather’s views and mine has made me recognize the impact that sensationalized media has on its viewers. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would change the way the media represents people and current events.

Sensationalized media makes the world seem dangerous by disproportionately portraying negative and violent events more often than positive news. When we are bombarded with that kind of information, it closes our minds and makes us fearful of each other. It is easy to get wrapped up in sensationalized information from the news. When we see more violence than kind acts, we begin to think the world is more aggressive than caring. We become isolated and fearful of people different than us, causing us to become less empathetic, less compassionate, and less caring.

I believe that if the news, as well as other media like Facebook and Twitter, showed a less sensationalized, more accurate view of people and world events, we would become more caring and compassionate towards one another. External forces pull us apart, but they can also bring us together. I would change media reporting to report crime with simple facts, not opinion or hyped up information. I would make it so media talked about crime in a proportional rate to the actual rate of crime. We see more bad than good on the media, but there is more good than bad in real life. I would also want to add a segment to all news channels of positive news about people each day. I know that many news channels have something like this, but it is often irrelevant or uninteresting. Finally, I would want to make social media a less divisive platform by creating pages for open conversation and positive news.              

People work tirelessly all over the world to make powerful, progressive, and positive change. I want to create media that includes information about people from Korea to Sudan to Mexico working hard to positively impact communities. I believe that if the news had these new elements, people would be more curious about each other, open towards one another and more hopeful about humanity in general. People could connect over similarities, not just differences. Sensationalized news creates division and fear, but approaching media differently could have the opposite effect. To make the world a more caring place, I would create media that brings us together, portrays the good side of humanity as well as the areas that need improvement. News can become a powerful tool to make the world a more caring place.”

Emily Lindberg

Emily Lindberg

“To make the world a more caring place, the first thing that I would change is disabling the “anonymous” feature on news sites, web forums, and social media. Anonymity is a dangerous game to play because it makes people immediately more ruthless, which then leads to a toxic online environment. Forcing people to put their names on their posts would immediately change the quality of material that was getting posted.

With the continuation of advancements in technology, paper news sources are almost totally obsolete. As a result of this advancement, websites are getting saturated with comments, many of which are tactless and inconsiderate. This effect is amplified by the rise of “anonymous” commenters – it’s as if by taking someone’s identity out of the public eye, they are given permission to tear down others since nobody can tear them down in return. Reading the comments on a news site is like watching vultures circle and subsequently attack an innocent animal. As soon as somebody sees a comment they disagree with, their claws are out and they have no shame in tearing somebody else down.

Social media does nothing but exacerbate this effect. In allowing the public to share their opinions without having to put a name to what they say, platforms are allowing some true colors to shine, which, in a lot of cases, is not a good thing. Racist, homophobic, and bigoted opinions are running rampant over the media. Cyberbullying is on the rise and, as a result of that, suicide. When people are given the opportunity to be anonymous, sometimes good things can happen. But when so many opinions are swirling around, it’s hard to not get sucked in or take things personally.

By removing the publics’ ability to be anonymous, we would force everybody to own up to their opinions and have them face consequences for the things they say that impact other peoples’ lives. Free speech is important, but not so much that it can destroy somebody to the point that they take their own life. Anonymity is toxic. The public can have opinions, but if they choose to share it, their name should forever be stamped on it. The world needs to see people for who they are, not what they post. In-person interactions are never going to be the same as an interaction in the comments section of a YouTube video, so why wouldn’t we change the parameters of the comments section to reflect how people would interact in real life? Human contact is fundamental to our health, but if we are constantly ripped apart on social media because somebody decided to go anonymous, where is that contact that we needed?

Making the world a more caring place requires a lot more changes than this one. But I think that disabling online anonymity would be a start, because it would change the interactions that happen on the Internet, which is where a lot of us spend a good chunk of our time. Society can be good, but we have to make the change that allows them to do good and be seen.”

Kaitlyn Wong

Kaitlyn Wong

“My legs took small strides as I walked towards the lunch table. As I scanned the large cafeteria, I couldn’t help but notice the people already sitting down. Every one of them were on their phones. It wasn’t like there was no one for them to talk to. Their friends were sitting right in front of them, but there was no communication. What has the world come to? There are people that could provide the same entertainment, company, and joy, as their phone but instead, everyone chooses to divert all of their attention to a small rectangular device. If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would have people put their phones down and experience the world by interacting with others.

The average teenager spends about 9 hours a day online. Phones and social media have taken over societal bodies as if everyone is now under its trance. The first thing some do is wake up and check their phones. Everyone is guilty of this, even myself. Instead of going straight to our phones, we should make an effort to go straight to our parents and say the simple phrase “good morning.” Talking and spending time with family and friends would ensure family connections to become greater and friendships to become stronger. In one of my personal experiences, dedicating time to see my grandpa has been more important than ever. He has been restricted to his bed for about 10 months now, and with school, there is little time during the weekdays and sometimes weekends for me to see him. My mom has resorted to FaceTime, but the physical connection becomes absent. When I do get to see him, I try remaining off of my cell phone to treasure the time around him. Spending time with him made me realize that family bonding is important, and with the use of cell phones, this restricts the development of a strong bond. Talking to them, or just the holding of hands, is a symbol of care that we just can’t achieve over technology.

Looking at the world through phones is extremely different from a set of eyes. Instead of being fixated on a screen for hours on end, we can make meaningful impacts on others’ lives. Take for example, volunteering at a food bank. We can meet new people and experience the feeling of giving and making a difference in someone’s life. Personally, when I first entered the food bank, I didn’t expect to be impacted or make much of a difference. I was only there to complete the volunteer hours needed, but after going through the motions of what the workers do for a living, I loved the feeling of being able to help distribute essential needs to families in need. Seeing the dozens of families outside waiting for their weekly grocery earnings, I realized how blind I’ve been to the situations in our world that I didn’t experience or see personally. With the constant use of technology, people no longer see what surrounds them.

Putting our phones down allows us to experience the world. Our phones are like our barriers to interacting with others in a meaningful way. Breaking down this barrier is tough but essential for a more caring world.”

These amazing students bring joy and kindness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education. We have more themes than social media and anti bullying. Other themes that we will be blogging about are awareness and empathy. We look forward to sharing more themes and essays with our caring community. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!

Want to read more about UCA 2019 scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on your news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude. Or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!