Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ignite your life!

"Ignite Your Life!" is an art project & community campaign by Sarah Gish which inspires people around the world to light a match to their own passions. Launched in 2013, it is the culmination of Sarah's desire to discover what ignites people’s lives and what makes their hearts sing. 

The goal of this project is to inspire people around the world to light a match to their own passions. It was inspired by her brother, Geoffrey Gish, who died from alcoholism in 2004 and had a hard time igniting his life once the addiction set in. Sarah's own journey of recovery from alcoholism and bulimia and bi-polar disease also informs her work for this project and all of her art and life.

Sarah features art, photography, and film on her website and the project Facebook page, and urges others to join in by visiting them online and also by looking yourself in the mirror and asking: "How will I ignite lives today?!"

Visit the project online at:

"For Women Executives, By Women Executives."

UC-Berkeley offers an exciting program for high-potential women seeking new levels of success as team leaders and organizational visionaries. The program is based on a very pressing and timely message: The world needs more women leaders. 

The Women's Executive Leadership Program seeks to develop women leaders by strengthening their sense of empowerment. It offers an intensive and highly interactive program for women to learn strategies for using power effectively and gain balance to effect change in their personal and professional lives.

Led by top UC Berkeley-Haas faculty, the four day course is an optimal learning environment to share and analyze the unique strengths, challenges and opportunities facing women in business.

Visit their website at:

"Improving--and preventing the need for--foster care."

Founded in 1966, Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation whose work is focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building communities of hope for all of America’s children and families. 

Believing that every child deserves a family of their own and a community of hope, Casey works in partnership with child welfare systems, families and communities across the nation to prevent child abuse and neglect and to find safe, permanent and loving families for all children.

For decades, Casey Family Programs has provided high-quality foster care, kinship care and transition services, improving the lives of children and families across the country to ensure that all children can be raised in a safe and permanent family.

Casey also provides strategic consulting services to help public child welfare agencies improve their services, including Indian child welfare agencies; educates state and federal lawmakers on the need for public policy changes that will help child welfare systems provide effective services, and engages in nonpartisan research so that child welfare professionals and lawmakers can make informed decisions based on data and evidence.

Visit them online at:

Criminal justice and the I/DD community

The Arc has recently launched its National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (NCCJD). NCCJD is the first national effort of its kind to bring together both victim and suspect/offender issues involving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (or I/DD) under one roof.

NCCJD will serve as a national clearinghouse for information and training on the topic of people with I/DD as victims, witnesses and suspects or offenders of crime. The Arc will partner with a broad spectrum of criminal justice professionals, including those in the law enforcement, legal and disability fields at the national, state and local levels to create safer lives for people with I/DD who become involved in the criminal justice system.

NCCJD’s goal is to build the capacity of the criminal justice system to respond to gaps in existing services for people with disabilities, focusing on people with I/DD who remain a hidden population within the criminal justice system with little or no access to advocacy supports or services.

NCCJD aspires to become the national focal point for the collection and dissemination of resources and serve as a bridge between justice and I/DD professionals. The NCCJD will pursue and promote safety, fairness and justice for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as suspects, offenders, victims or witnesses.

Please visit them online at:


Happy "Friendsday WEdnesday!" We've missed you all!

Advocacy Without Borders' Friendsday WEdnesday is an online feature celebrating all of the great things that WE (advocates around the world) are doing to improve our various communities. 

We are not employed by nor formally affiliated with any of these groups nor are we receiving any compensation for promoting their work. We consider them to be "friends" because we share a common goal of using our resources for positive change. And we hope that you will be inspired by their passion!

Please read the next few posts to learn more about these great individuals and organizations!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

RIP Stephen of Stephen's Story

It is with both sadness and joy that we inform you that the young man that we featured not long ago, Stephen of Stephen's story, has died. Sadness because he passed early this morning at such a young age after battling cancer for years. Joy because though his life was short, he touched millions of people around the world. Please remember his family in your thoughts, and let his legacy inspire YOU to make a difference your way. 

If you wish to leave a message of encouragement for his family on his page, please visit:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Contact Congress to #SaveRyanWhitePartD

In less than a week (beginning May 15th), appropriations bills (including the HRSA budget containing the alarming changes to Ryan White Part D) will start being heard in the US Congressional Budget Committee until June 10, 2014. After that, the rest of June will be spent negotiating the appropriations bills, which will be finalized by June 30, 2014.

We have only this month and next to reach out to the President and Congress! After that, it will be TOO LATE to save this important program!

PLEASE consider helping us if you can. The Congressional Budget Committee members have a group email account in addition to their individual contact information. If you would take just a moment to visit the link below, you will find a sample letter that you can use as a guide (if you choose), and also a list of email addresses and other contact info that you can use if desired. Thank you for helping to #SaveRyanWhitePartD!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tribute to Hope Stone

There are few organizations that truly live their mission in totality. However, I can say with confidence that Hope Stone does. Their vision of "Art for ALL" drives every decision that they make. And as they close their doors at the end of this month after 10 years of serving the community, I wish for them to know the profound impact that they have had on not just my family, but so many communities throughout Texas and Louisiana. To do this, I will start with a little bit of our story.

On March 9, 2007, we were blessed to become the parents of a beautiful 5 year old little girl with special needs from Sierra Leone. Our medical social worker referred us to Hope Stone when we contacted her to inquire about extracurricular activities that might be beneficial for her. And that marked the beginning of our family's seven amazing years with Hope Stone.

Through movement and music, Hope Stone gave my daughter a means of communication when her inability to speak English made verbal communication with others nearly impossible.

Through theater and improv, Hope Stone gave my daughter a healthy outlet for her emotions when she was teased for being a dark skinned girl in a world that prefers the opposite, or when she faced social stigma as a result of her diagnosis, or when she had to cope with various difficulties.

Through drumming, Hope Stone gave my daughter a way to celebrate her heritage and a way to connect positively with others.

Through dance, Hope Stone gave my daughter a way to remain active even when juvenile arthritis and asthma robbed her of the ability to physically participate in other activities she'd previously enjoyed.

Through service projects and community service, Hope Stone gave my daughter a way to "give back" to others and to develop leadership skills.

Through outreach activities such as Hope Stone's Commemorative World AIDS Day Labyrinth, breast cancer awareness, satellite campuses providing services to the homeless, to special needs populations, to impoverished youth and adults throughout Houston, Katy, the Rio Grande Valley, to Katrina evacuees in New Orleans, and much, much more, Hope Stone gave my daughter a sense of the diverse ways one can advocate--that in its various forms, art, for example, can be a force for social change.

And aside from my daughter, as my family has grown, we have all benefitted from being a part of Hope Stone. We have been blessed to participate in activities such a multigenerational music classes that allowed my entire family, from mom, grandma, and toddlers, to participate to performances as a country club to a concert and "meet and greet" with internationally acclaimed musician Josh Groban...all because of Hope Stone.

In addition to my daughter, Hope Stone has welcomed my other sons and daughter. And as a large, autistic, HIV affected, neurodiverse family, we can honestly say that Hope Stone has always been accommodating and accepting of us. If someone needed a few stim breaks to make it through the class, Hope Stone basically said, "stim on." If an individual had difficulty with instructions due to an intellectual disability or auditory processing issues, they offered support and extra time to go over the material.

Hope Stone's founder and executive director, Jane Weiner, and her amazing staff literally know every child and adult in all of the programs by name. They have cultivated a true community that mirrors the world in terms of its ethnic, racial, age, religious, socioeconomic, ability, gender, sexual orientation, and lifestyle diversity. Everyone is welcome when they walk through the doors of Hope Center. It is a family. And the depth and quality of the programming and instruction that is given is outstanding. It's more than just the art itself that one is taught, but the philosophy and significance of it as well.

On a shoestring budget, Hope Stone has made the impossible happen for over a decade. They have done so much more than what I've shared. They have provided mentoring and artistic work space for emerging artists, they have maintained a professional and pre-professional dance company, they have nurtured artists and supported local, statewide, and national programs. They are truly a unique entity. They will be profoundly missed.

I urge you to visit their website and learn more about this phenomenal organization whose sunset is upon us. Do you want to know what inclusion and acceptance looks like? You can take some notes from Hope Stone. Art for All now and always!

Yes, we know today is Thursday...

Friendsday WEdnesday on a Thursday!

What happens when Wednesday has come and gone, but you still need to pay tribute to great advocacy work?

You do it anyway, that's what!

Friendsday WEdnesday is a weekly feature of Advocacy Without Borders where we highlight the great work that WE (we being advocates throughout the world) are doing to improve our communities and make a difference!

This week we are deviating from the norm. The sole organization that is being featured is one that some of our leadership has been personally involved in, though that has no bearing on the selection of this organization. This organization has been chosen because it will be ceasing its operations at the end of this month, and it is important to commemorate their legacy during the short time that will shall remain open.

They did not seek any attention or kudos from us or anyone else. No need; their qualifications speak for themselves!

Please read the next "late" Friendsday WEdnesday post and be inspired by the soon to be former Hope Stone Inc, founded and led by the amazing Jane Weiner.