journal


Play Matters to Altruette and KaBOOM!

Friday, July 18, 2014
It's summer. The perfect time for kids to get out and play. But in today's screen-obsessed world, the importance of good old-fashioned play is sometimes forgotten. In fact, only one in four children get 60 minutes of physical activity of active play every day. Having playgrounds and safe opportunities to play close to home makes the choice of heading outdoors a much easier one, especially on a hot summer day. 

Darell Hammond, the founder of KaBOOM!, refers to child-rich areas without playspaces as “Play Deserts,” and calls the overarching problem the “Play Deficit.” When Hammond first moved to Washington, D.C., in 1995, he read a story in the Washington Post about two children who suffocated in an abandoned car because they were using it as a play space. Realizing that this horrifying example was indicative of a larger problem, he founded KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization which has worked with partners to build, improve, and open more than 15,000playgrounds and advocated for play policies in hundreds of cities. Additionally, KaBOOM! has mapped over 100,000 playspaces in an effort to discover locations where the Play Deficit is at its worst and provide a resource to public policy makers and non-profits who seek to address the issue.

The work being done by KaBOOM! is also important with regards to the fight against childhood obesity. Researchers from the Department of Health and Human Services have found a correlation between childhood obesity and the Play Deficit - in fact, the incidence of childhood obesity increases by 26% in areas without some form of play area present for children.

KaBOOM! has a vision of bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all children by creating great places to play and to also inspire communities to promote and support play. To support that dream, Altruette created the adult and girls Slide charm for kids and adults. http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/slide-gold
Each purchase of the Slide charm helps to destroy the Play Deficit and provide kids a great place to play, everyday!

Providing Humanitarian Aid Since 1933: The International Rescue Committee

Friday, July 18, 2014

If, like us, you've watched the news lately, you’ve definitely heard about the growing crisis in Iraq. One of the tragic consequences of the turmoil is the amount of people who have had to flee their homes – 650,000 in the last few weeks alone. These families join many others previously displaced from their homes in Iraq.

Fortunately, non-profit organizations like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) exist to provide assistance, not only to the people of Iraq, but also to other countries that need support. Founded at the request of Albert Einstein in 1933, the IRC currently operates in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities. The organization prides itself on arriving to the scene of a crisis within 72 hours – and staying as long as they are needed!

We recently checked in with our cause partner, and we learned that just a few weeks ago, the IRC announced that they would be working to provide clean drinking water to 5,000 Iraqis, including those uprooted from their homes and residents of the communities where they have sought safety. The IRC is also providing key household items to thousands of families in need and working with a vast network of health workers and authorities to distribute medicines to those suffering from chronic health concerns. And they are helping to keep vulnerable families informed of humanitarian assistance programs, as well as their rights and entitlements.

We love how dedicated and diligent the IRC is at pursuing their humanitarian mission. In fact, one of our favorite things about them is that they send more than 90 cents of each dollar raised directly to their programs and services that benefit communities in need! We are happy to support their work (check out our Suitcase charm – http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/suitcase-gold – which will remind you of how the IRC is helping to rebuild the lives of those affected by war and disaster) and we hope that you will, too!





We're Celebrating Operation Gratitude for Honoring our Troops!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

As America celebrates its day of independence, we think it's a perfect time of year to check in with the team at Operation Gratitude, one of Altruette’s military-focused cause partners. The Operation Gratitude team works year round with volunteers from across the country assembling care packages to make the lives of American troops a bit brighter. The organization ships out some 150,000 care packages a year (1,116,414 care packages have been sent since its 2003 inception!) to deployed U.S. troops, their children, and our wounded warriors. Each care package includes a letter of encouragement, snacks, hand-made items, toiletries, and some form of entertainment like a DVD.

This year Operation Gratitude is expanding its mission to include new recruits. According to Carolyn Blashek, the founder of the organization, the idea came from her Director of Operations, Angel Cuevas. Cuevas, she says, “suggested that the moment when a Marine Recruit finished Boot Camp and had earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, would be an ideal time to say 'Thank You for stepping forward and dedicating the next four years of your life to our nation.'”

We couldn’t agree more. We’re thrilled to be supporters of this terrific nonprofit (check out our Love Letter charm which serves as a reminder of the letters of encouragement and gratitude included in each care package). We hope Operation Gratitude’s work inspires you to take time during this holiday weekend to find a way to thank our troops.


Introducing Altruette's Letters & Literacy Collection

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope,” said Kofi Annan. And Room to Read is helping build that bridge for children across Africa and Asia. That's why Altruette has developed our Letters & Literacy Collection, a new line of letter charms that benefits Room to Read. Each charm represents the power of a single letter. It represents your name or the name of someone near to your heart. But it also represents the gift of reading. For each charm sold, we’ll donate a book through Room to Read.

Room to Read began with the goal to bring books to the children of Nepal. Now it works in nine countries across Africa and Asia. So far, Room to Read has established nearly 9200 libraries and published 433 original local language children’s titles in 21 different languages.

We want to help Room to Read to reach its goal of impacting more than 10 million children by 2015.

Room to Read inspired us to create this new line of charms. And as writers ourselves--we spent a decade working together in the magazine industry--we feel a special connection to this important cause. Working as writers taught us so much about the power of language to inform, inspire and shape the debate. Words have power, and they give power to those who use them well.  In honor of the launch, we’ve asked 26 amazing women to share with us the book that’s most inspired them. Over the next 26 days (A-Z), we’ll share with you quotes from these inspirational women (mainly writers themselves) on our facebook page and through @altruettecharms. Remember: Books Change Lives (#bookschangelives)

 


The Tale of the Traveling Charm Bracelet

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

At Altruette we’re always inspired by amazing causes and the work they do to help others in need. But we’re also moved by stories about friendship. So when we heard this story about a group of women in the NYC area, we couldn’t help but share it with you.

The Girl Group has been together for more than two decades. Over the past 25 years, the nine “girls” (Deirdre Virgie, Danica Nedela, Kathy Hobbs, Alison Cirenza, Andrea Costello, Sharon Kiernan, Diane Greer, Kathleen O'Neill Lynch, Sheila Riordan) have developed close, sister-like friendships. Some met in college, a few grew up together, others met as co-workers and roommates during their post-college NYC days and some were all those things! The group is now spread across the Tri-State area, Boston and Atlanta but they keep in touch through e-mails and phone calls and set off for regularly getaways together wherever and whenever they can.

“During a weekend away at one of the girl’s beach houses in Rhode Island a few years ago, we were talking about the story of the traveling pants and someone mentioned hearing about a group that shared a diamond necklace,” says Kathleen O’Neill Lynch. “And then someone suggested we share a charm bracelet.” It would be the perfect symbol of their tight friendships, they thought, but also a way to highlight who they each were as individuals. Each friend would wear the bracelet for her birthday month and then pass it along to the next birthday girl in the group.

“Would the idea, concocted over wine, ever come to fruition?,” wondered Kathleen. “I was doubtful that this often over-committed, somewhat far-flung group of wives and caregivers, moms and stepmoms, urbanites and suburbanites, Wall Streeters and media types, board members and volunteers, would be able to pull it off.” So convinced it wouldn’t happen, Kathleen bet against her friends. “If the bracelet came together within the year, I would treat everyone to a lobster dinner.” And to her surprise, it did. (She eventually added a lobster charm to commemorate that special dinner.) Andrea, one of the busiest of the bunch, had a gold bracelet her mother had given her and added the first charm to get things going. 

The hand-offs are sometimes in person, sometimes mailed, and frequently late. But that's okay, says the group. As lives have become more complicated, the bracelet has risen to the occasion. It’s transitioned from a birthday bracelet to a support bracelet. It spent time with one friend when her husband had major surgery. Another friend had it during a personal family crisis.  And a few friends have depended on it to help get through the death of a parent. “What started out as a lighthearted way to mark each of our birthdays,” says Kathleen, “has evolved into a symbol of support for challenging times as well. When something in life goes amiss, it's wonderfully comforting to know that the power of the bracelet–which is really the love of these incredibly thoughtful, long-term friends–is close at hand.”

Here at Altruette we are so moved by their story that we are sending them each a charm that represents their favorite charity.

Do you have a “charming story”? Send it to us at info@altruette.com. 


Introducing Altruette GIRLS

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nov 24, 2012

Altruette is thrilled to announce the launch of Altruette Girls’ our new line that is debuting this month at Nordstrom’s across the country. The collection is exclusive to Nordstrom and Altruette.com this holiday season and is made up of a group of 16 amazing cause partners including:  African Wildlife Foundation, CARE.org, Girls Write Now, Girl Up, GlobalGiving.org, JDRF, KaBOOM!, National Park Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Save the Whales, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Special Olympics, Sunshine Foundation, Tailored for Education, KidsAgainstBullying.org (part of Pacer.org), KitchenCommunity.org.

Each charm does something no other piece of jewelry can: they turn the wearer into an ambassador for a cause she cares about. And like our original collection, each charm benefits a different charity that we love.

Shop the charms on our site or at Nordstrom.com and Nordstrom stores.

 

 


Fulfilling My Passion for Africa

Monday, March 05, 2012

How a Young Woman Found Herself and Her Future Career in Africa 

By Amy Rizzotto, Major Gifts Officer, African Wildlife Foundation

Like many of my peers at the George Washington University, I was dedicated to the idea of studying abroad during my junior year. Hungry for a challenge, I decided to stray from the pack and avoid Europe altogether. When it came time to apply there was only one place I wanted to go: Senegal.

I packed my bags and headed off to Africa. I was only 20. But it was in Senegal that I truly came into my own as a person. Being truly out of my element for the first time—tasting new food, experiencing a new culture, hearing unknown languages, and living with a host family—forced me to figure out who I was. So often our surroundings define us, and it’s easy to blend into our environment. There was no blending in for me in Senegal.

Beyond the personal confidence and identity I found during my time in Senegal, I also fell in love with a continent and its quandaries. It was in Africa that I decided I wanted to focus my future on Africa. Many African economies are beginning to experience the kind of growth rates we have previously only associated with East Asia. The International Monetary Fund projects that Africa will continue to grow at a rate of 6% in 2012—on par with many rising economic players in Asia. (Incidentally, much of the recent burgeoning development in Africa has largely been fueled by investment from China.)

As someone who believes that development should be achieved in a socially sustainable and environmentally conscious manner, I do worry that there are some drawbacks to this type of growth. There are also the omnipresent effects of climate change—desertification and deforestation being two of the biggest threats. Africa is rich in natural resources and human capital, but still suffers from exploitation and avarice. Most African countries have been independent since the 1960s, but there are new powers pulling the purse strings that need to be kept under the international microscope.

Five years after my first trip to Africa, I’ve landed an Afrocentric job with a dream organization, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). At AWF, I constantly encounter development and conservation paradigms like those I’ve already mentioned. Our biggest challenge as an organization, however, is to debunk the notion that conservation and development are diametrically opposed. Conservation is by definition the protection, preservation, and reclamation of natural ecosystems and the biodiversity they support. Development, meanwhile, is essentially taking concerted actions that will lead to economic growth and a raised standard of living. AWF has developed a unique conservation model wherein people are the most important agents in the conservation of their wildlife and wild lands.

Too many conservation organizations take people for granted in their programming—but AWF understands that its conservation goals are unattainable without community agency and buy-in. Our efforts focus heavily on capacity building and community empowerment. We seek to make conservation and development go hand in hand by ensuring that people benefit from our endeavors to protect Africa’s biodiversity. For example, we preserve the integrity of natural wildlife corridors, which are essential to the survival of migratory animals like the African elephant, wildebeest, and lion, but we also work with communities to develop conservation enterprises—such as high-end eco-lodges—that allow locals to gain an economic benefit from having this wildlife nearby. From Rwanda to Kenya to Zambia and elsewhere, we’ve created multiple such win–win situations for wildlife and people.

In addition to our efforts to address the complex human–wildlife dynamic, AWF is the only conservation organization that is solely focused on Africa. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and upwards of 80% of our employees are native African. AWF has also been rated a four-star organization by Charity Navigator 10 years running—a feat fewer than 1% of nonprofit organizations can claim. These pride points make my job as a major gifts officer for AWF much easier.

Professional fundraisers are only effective if they genuinely believe in the cause they represent. I'm so fortunate because my values couldn’t be better aligned with those of AWF.


Intrigue, enemies and suspense at Girls Write Now...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This is our first report from one of our favorite guest bloggers, Ximena Castillo. She's a writer and student and intern at Girls Write Now, and was Lee's mentee in the program. She'll be periodically reporting for Altruette from the frontlines!

Girls Write Now - an organization dedicated to mentoring the next generation of female writers - had had its first official workshop for the year this past Saturday. Basked in the October aura of Halloween, it would honestly seem silly for this month’s workshop to be anything but crime fiction.

Adding to the mentees excitement was the fact that most of these girls were meeting their year long mentors for the first time today. As a mentee alum, I can understand the anticipation these girls felt as they descended on midtown that day. Admittedly some did arrive late, and one on a walker, but kudos nonetheless, for no disrupted train service nor torn tendon had kept them away.

One of the exercises at the workshop was to create a character. But not just any character - a detective. A crime fighter with strengths, weaknesses, enemies, and of course an eye for justice.  Also, they were asked to create an interesting scene; one where the guilty suspect confessed to their crime. The girls came up with tales of sorrow, guilt, and vengeance. 

Finally, to add to the mood of the day, there was crime fiction author Katia Lief, who read a chapter from her novel You're Next. It was a tale of sorrow, intrigue, fear and a murderer who was 'just plain psycho.' The main character was a woman, an ex-cop, who wanted nothing more or less than to feel the simple joy of living, after that right had been stolen from her husband and children. It was only the first chapter, but the fear and suspense was chilling. As much as I hate to admit it, you couldn't help but find yourself attracted to the homicidal mind of that murderous maniac.  

And so, Katia encouraged the girls to do the same: to write a first chapter that keeps the reader involved; because "you have to bring the interest to the first page...if you get to what’s interesting half way through the play, your audience will have left by intermission." 

For their first workshop the girls heard great literature, received great advice and have made mentors for life. And it's only just begun! These workshops will continue throughout the entire school year and in all honesty, I don't think any of us can wait! 



Geena Davis teams up with Altruette to create the See Jane charm

Monday, October 10, 2011

Geena Davis has a major problem with what's on TV. Or rather, what's not on TV or the big screen. Since the end of World War II, boys have outnumbered girls in top G-rated films three-to-one. Today, males represent 80.5% of professional characters in family films, women less than 20%. But in reality, women account for 50% of the workforce. These disparities feed into gender stereotyping to a point where women's goals and aspirations diminish. Research has even found that there's a direct correlation between the amount of media a girl is exposed to and the number of career options she thinks she has. The more she watches, the fewer she thinks she has. Davis hopes to change these statistics and the way young girls see themselves portrayed in the media. 

While watching TV with her young daughter, she took notice of the absence of female roles. Upset by what she saw, she took action. Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and See Jane, its programming arm. The Institute collaborates with the entertainment industry to conduct research to bring change in the portrayal of girls and women in media. The primary focus is to break stereotypes and promote gender balance in entertainment for children under eleven.

To help support Davis and See Jane's efforts, Altruette is launching its latest charm, a vintage TV, to raise funds and awareness for the organization's work in educating and influencing change in women’s roles in the media. To celebrate the new addition to the Altruette line, Davis helped us celebrate on Thursday night at Fred Segal's ZeroMinusPlus in Santa Monica. Check out the new charm at http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/tv.


Pack Your Backpack and Sharpen Those Pencils...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


As kids head back to school around the country it's a time to celebrate education but also a time to reflect on the challenges many teachers, students and families face during the school year. It's also the perfect time to highlight the amazing work of our cause partners that are working to improve the lives of kids and teachers around the country.


DonorsChoose.org
For many teachers, buying their own supplies has sadly become the norm. We think that's a sad state of affairs, especially given the fact that many teachers are paid so little. And that's why we love DonorsChoose. Through their website (www.donorschoose.org) donors can search for and fund specific 'wishlists' created by public schoolteachers around the country. And once your classroom makes use of their new (video camera, microscope, you name it) you'll get a photo and signed card from the kids who have directly benefitted from your donation thanking you. We think funding a project and gifting that special teacher in your life with our DonorsChoose charm is the perfect way to kick off the school year!

Girls Write Now 
Lee has been mentoring New York teenage girls through this amazing high school program for the past two years. The program matches NYC women who are professional writers with girls from the NYC public school system who aspire to become writers. Mentors meet once a week with mentees to work on school assignments or personal writing projects. In addition, once a month GWN sponsors day long 'seminars' in which mentors and mentees alike explore different genres of writing (if you really want to embarrass Lee ask her to show her work from the 'slam poetry' workshop!) The notebook charm (http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/notebook-gold) supports Girls Write Now - and as Lee (who wears it everywhere) will tell you, is a great way to spread the word about this fantastic cause.

OrchKIDS
Music and learning go hand in hand. Studies show that if you learn to read music or play an instrument, you'll become a better student. At OrchKIDS, there's no question that's the case. Inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan orchestral training program, OrchKIDS pairs vulnerable children from Baltimore with the resources of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to provide musical training as well as help overcoming the challenges created by poverty. Our saxaphone charm (http://www.altruette.com/shop/charms/saxophone-gold) comes in both silver and gold - and makes a perfect gift for your favorite music lover!

Check out these great causes - as well as our 25+ other non-profit partners at www.altruette.com. Happy Back to School!