Hundreds with No Place to Sleep when House of Charity Closes at the End of April

Hundreds with No Place to Sleep when House of Charity Closes at the End of April

Apr 14

Finding funding for charities is no easy feat. But the consequences of a lack of funding can be life-threatening for the people those charities help. For example, funding woes are causing the House of Charity in Spokane, WA to close at the end of April, putting about 200 homeless people out in the cold. According to Catholic Charities, the organization running the program, there just isn’t enough money to keep things going. Previously, the City of Spokane contributed about $1 million to the 24/7 shelter, which originally focused on homeless men but opened its doors to women and children in November. This year, however, the city isn’t able to contribute at all, which puts the House of Charity at a $500,000 gap in funding. “They’re doing a great job of maintaining and holding it together,” said current homeless resident Bob Auxier. “But it takes money to do these things.” House of Charity has been open since 1958, accepting any resident in need, including those suffering from mental health issues and addiction. In addition to basic shelter and food, House of Charity provides additional emergency services and case management for the underserved homeless population in Spokane. There are other options for the homeless in need: the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission also provide shelter, and the Community Court at the downtown library has other information and resources readily available. But cutting down on available space for desperate homeless men, women, and children is likely to lead to a variety of problems. House of Charity director Rob McCann is making a last ditch effort to keep the program running, including appealing to the better natures of potential donors. “We’re currently giving more to animal shelters than we are to human shelters in the region,” McCann pointed out. He’s also written letters to every county commissioner and Spokane Valley City Council member, with little to show for it. Part of the problem is a shift in the city’s tactics for dealing with its homeless population. Within the past five years, the focus has shifted from shelters to more permanent housing projects like Father Bach Haven, also run by Catholic Charities. While McCann agrees that these housing projects are a good long term solution, in the meantime, diverted funds means fewer shelters to help people who are suffering right now. Furthermore, he argues, taxpayers would pay less to support charities like...

Rush’s Not-So-Secret Philanthropic Mission

Rush’s Not-So-Secret Philanthropic Mission

Apr 14

Canadian prog rock band Rush may have officially retired in 2015, but their philanthropic work is still going strong. On April 20, they will receive the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award for their social activism and humanitarian work in addition to their long musical career. The award will be presented during the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards dinner in Toronto, one of many events during Canadian Music Week. “They’re giving us an award for doing what everyone should do,” said band member Geddy Lee in an interview with Billboard. “It should be a part of everyone’s upbringing and routine of life: you share when you’ve been blessed with good fortune. The world needs a lot of work, and there are not enough workers. We try to help where we can.” The award comes with a $40,000 endowment, which Rush has decided to donate to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook. The Fund studies treatment for currently incurable brain cancer. It’s named for Rush’s fellow Canadian musician Gord Downie, frontman of the band Tragically Hip, who announced in 2016 that he has terminal brain cancer. “We are thrilled to learn Rush has made such a donation,” said Dr. James Perry, head of neurology at Sunnybrook. “The Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research will help give us the tools we need to find ways to treat the untreatable. Right now we are investigating new drugs, surgical techniques, and genetic therapies….The funds so generously donated by Rush will support us as we continue our pioneering work to the benefit of brain cancer patients not only across Canada but around the world.” Rush has made philanthropy an important part of their career since the beginning. With their first album, released in 1974, they’ve garnered a huge legion of fans, whose enthusiasm they’ve leveraged to make a real difference in the world. Rush’s concerts at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens were also food drives for the Toronto Food Bank. They’ve held benefit shows for United Way and amFAR. During the Alberta floods in 2013, they held a benefit show that raised $575,000 to help with repairs and support. And beginning with their 2010 Time Machine Tour, Rush has donated $1 from every concert ticket to a variety of charity organizations, including Doctors Without Borders. The band generally doesn’t broadcast much about their charity work, but according to Canadian Music...

Children Read to Cats in Adorable ‘Book Buddies’ Program

Children Read to Cats in Adorable ‘Book Buddies’ Program

Apr 13

An animal shelter in Pennsylvania came up with a creative way to benefit both children and animals. The Animal Rescue League located in Berks County has a Book Buddies program where school-aged children read to cats. Kristi Rodriguez, volunteer coordinator at Animal Rescue League, originally came up with the idea. She credits her son with providing the inspiration that she needed to implement the program. “I have a 10-year-old son at home who has struggled with reading for quite some time now,” Rodriquez told The Huffington Post. “It affects his self-esteem as well because he’s not comfortable reading in front of his classmates. Working at the shelter, you come to realize that the animals who interact with the children in the program don’t care what their reading level and what their skills are, they’re just happy to have that companionship with the children.” Soon after Book Buddies launched, Animal Rescue League posted photos of the program online. One of the photos went viral after an online user shared the photo on Reddit. The photo shows a school-aged boy reading a book with a cat under his arm. The cat appears to be smiling and reading right along with him. The photo became so popular that droves of people began visiting the Animal Rescue League website, causing it to crash. But workers and volunteers were more than okay with that. The shelter posted the following status to social media: “We are thrilled that a post from a friend of our Book Buddies program is going crazy on Reddit! We know lots of people are trying to access our website and the high traffic is slowing things down, but we hope you’ll be patient!” Rodriguez says that the program has increased her son’s comprehension, fluidity, and even his self-esteem. She also reports that her son enjoys reading now. He is also more compassionate than ever...

Men’s Rights Charity Sparks Outrage at Vancouver Marathon

Men’s Rights Charity Sparks Outrage at Vancouver Marathon

Apr 07

This year’s BMO Vancouver Marathon won’t be without controversy. Several organizations have expressed outrage after a men’s rights charity was granted permission to participate in the run. But critics don’t take issue with the fact that the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) is a men’s rights charity; they take issue with the fact that CAFE is spreading inaccurate and distorted statistics. In 2015, the group posted a billboard that claimed that half of all domestic violence victims are men. Those statistics came from Statistics Canada and were gathered from self-reported incidents of spousal violence. But Todd Minerson says those statistics are misleading. Minerson is part of the White Ribbon Campaign, an organization that encourages men and boys to stand up for female victims of domestic violence. “Women are more likely to experience violence in an intimate relationship [by] many, many times,” Minerson told CBC News. “Women are more likely to experience more severe and, in fact, far more likely to experience fatal violence.” Minerson isn’t the only one who thinks these statistics are deceptive. Greg Oudman, executive director of the Health Initiative for Men, also thinks that these numbers are misleading. “This organization pushed their agenda by perpetuating information that is not accurate in regards to sexual assault and domestic violence that happens across Canada,” Oudman stated. Phil Johnston, director of CAFE Vancouver, disagrees. He maintains that all the stats provided are 100% accurate. “We are not making up numbers here,” Johnston asserted. “There’s an attitude about men’s rights that it’s a misogynistic group of people that are antagonistic towards progress that women have made. People are threatened by the idea that men can suffer, too.” But the public, it appears, just isn’t buying it. As of now, five charities in total have requested that CAFE be removed as an eligible participant in the BMO Vancouver Marathon. There is no word yet on whether that will...

Omidyar Network Dedicates $114 Million to Fighting Fake News

Omidyar Network Dedicates $114 Million to Fighting Fake News

Apr 06

The plague of fake news over the last few years came to a head in 2016, between Brexit and the US Presidential Election. Since Trump’s victory in November, many Americans have been decrying fake news and looking for ways to improve the situation. And they’re not alone. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, “less than 50 percent of the populations in two-thirds of the 28 nations surveyed trust mainstream businesses, government, media, and organizations to do what is right. Media institutions, specifically, are distrusted in 82 percent of the countries.” That’s not a good sign for the state of journalism. That’s why the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm launched by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, has dedicated $114 million over the next three years to “strengthening independent media and investigative journalism, combating misinformation and hate speech, and enabling citizens to better engage with government entities.” The money will support projects around the world, especially nonprofit news organizations and journalistic watchdogs. Joined by a number of supporters and partners, the initiative has already awarded $4.5 million to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, as well as undisclosed sums to Alianza Latinoamaericana para la Technología Cívica and the Anti-Defamation League. The independent News Integrity Initiative, run by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism was recently awarded $14 million. That group is focused on “helping individuals make informed judgements about the news they read and share online.” It appears that nonprofit news initiatives may be the solution to fake news, since the problem is often caused by advertisers. Even more traditional news organizations, strapped for cash, have seen eroding ethical standards as traditional print journalism struggles to remain relevant in the digital age and retain advertising revenue. By removing the need for advertisers, journalists could remain independent of the profit motive, allowing them to report the news, without having to report to...

UK Charities Fined for Violating Donor Privacy

UK Charities Fined for Violating Donor Privacy

Apr 06

Raising money for charitable causes can be difficult, and so charities rely on a number of techniques to do so. But there are ethical and unethical methods. Eleven British charities found out recently that the unethical methods they were using would end up costing them. To the tune of £219,000. The groups in question, which include the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Cancer Research UK, and Oxfam were targeting wealthier donors for more money. While appealing to wealth patrons in and of itself isn’t unethical, they were doing so by violating privacy agreements in order to find out how much donors were worth. They subsequently targeted those donors with additional phone calls, mailings, and other communications. On top of all of this, organizations were also sharing this private information amongst themselves. What’s worse is that there is evidence to suggest that some of that information was even being sold. Cooperation between charities is great, but this is taking things too far. These activities not only violated the privacy and trust of the donors so targeted, but the trust of other donors as well. If donors cannot expect a reasonable amount of privacy from organizations to which they donate, why should they trust them with their money in the first place? There are laws to protect people’s privacy on both sides of the pond, and those laws need to be upheld. If the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States feel that donors should be entitled to their privacy, what right do charitable organizations have to violate that privacy? The answer is none, of course. Missions are important for charities, and these organizations are working towards making the world a better place. But we can’t allow our missions to interfere with our morals. The ends, in this case, do not justify the...

Need a Lyft? Round Up Your Fare for Charity

Need a Lyft? Round Up Your Fare for Charity

Mar 31

Ride-sharing company Lyft is introducing a new feature that allows travelers to round up their fare to the nearest dollar and donate the remaining balance to charity. Pretty cool, eh? It’s a genius idea for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s not asking much. People are much more likely to donate when the total they’re being asked to give amounts to less than $1. And while small amounts of change don’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things, it certainly adds up. Consider this: in October 2016, Lyft completed 17 million rides in the U.S. If each of those riders rounded up their total by just 50 cents, that’s $8.5 million donated to charity. Incredible, isn’t it? It goes to show that it really is the small things in life that make a difference. What’s more is that Lyft is set to expand to 100 U.S. cities this year. But for as noble and unique as the idea is, Lyft is not the first ride-sharing company to implement this feature. A nonprofit called RideAustin (located in Austin, TX) has a similar feature. Lyft’s latest charity program is just one of the ways that it’s striving to compete with its rival Uber. Uber, which is by far the bigger of the two ride-sharing companies, has come under quite a bit of fire lately. Things started to go downhill back in January 2017 when Uber tried to profit off of the immigration ban protests. That incident led to the #DeleteUber Twitter movement, which is still trending today. To make matters worse, Uber has also faced accusations of sexual harassment and a sexist company culture. Susan Fowler, who worked as an engineer at the company, detailed her sexist experiences in a blog post. Gabi Holzwarth, who dated Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, also opened up about sexist behavior that she witnessed. All of this, of course, is highly beneficial to Lyft. The company could very well outgrow Uber within the next few...

Domestic Abuse Charity Rips Judge for Lean Sentence

Domestic Abuse Charity Rips Judge for Lean Sentence

Mar 30

Manchester, UK—Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic abuse charity Refuge, ripped into a judge for issuing an 18-month suspended sentence to a man who brutally tortured and tormented his former wife. Horley claims that Judge Richard Mansell, who oversaw the case, exhibited a “shocking ignorance around the impact of domestic violence on women.” The man sentenced was 34-year-old Mustafa Bashir, who admitted to attacking his then-wife Fakhara Karim with a cricket bat. During this incident, Bashir, who played cricket for Oldham, strangled and hit his wife repeatedly with the blunt object. He then allegedly told her, “If I hit you with this bat with my full power then you would be dead.” During the trial, Prosecutor Roger Brown touched on another incident that occurred in April 2014: “He took her into the bathroom where he grabbed a bottle of bleach and he made her drink the bleach so she would kill herself,” Roger told the court. “She spat that out as she was unable to swallow it. Then, he gave her tablets from the house and told her to take them. She did but again she was unable to swallow them.” But for as horrific as it sounds, Mansell came down light on Bashir’s sentence because the victim was an “intelligent woman with a network of friends.” “She is plainly an intelligent woman with a network of friends and did go on to graduate university with a 2:1 and a masters, although this has had an ongoing effect on her,” Judge Mansell stated. As the chief executive of a women’s domestic violence charity, Sandra Horley finds this attitude absolutely appalling. “[Judge Mansell’s] comments—that he was not convinced of the victim’s ‘vulnerability’— show a shocking ignorance around the impact of domestic violence on women,” Horley rebuked. “What a woman does for a job, her level of education or the number of friends she has makes no difference; for any woman, domestic violence is a devastating crime that has severe and long-lasting...