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Causes

Giving Military Moms-to-Be a Fun Surprise

Causes

Yesterday, Americans took a collective moment to celebrate our veterans for their sacrifice and service. While reading different articles in my newsfeed, I stumbled across one that discussed the work being done to support mothers-to-be who have husbands currently deployed or husbands who were injured during their deployment.

Moms with Heidi Klum at an Operation Shower event (Photo: Operation Shower)

Moms with Heidi Klum at a March event (Photo: Operation Shower)

Operation Shower is one of those organizations that gives me fuzzy feelings and makes me smile deep down in my heart. Their mission states that they “provide baby showers for military families to ease the stresses of deployment.”

So, how does this work? A person (or group) gets nominated to participate in a group shower in their area. The organization uses donations to create a “Shower in a Box” for the moms-to-be and then the goodies are presented in a group setting. If you want to contribute, you can donate money to the cause or purchase new gifts to be included in the kits. All of the details, including an item list, can be found on the website.

Military families need all of the love and support that they can get, and there is something really special about strangers linking up to support them. To learn more about Operation Shower, visit www.operationshower.org.

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Domestic Violence Resources in Chicago

Domestic Violence, Living & Giving

DomesticViolence

This week, the topic of domestic violence has been ALL over the media thanks to TMZ’s release of the video capturing Ray Rice attacking his wife, Janay. Much has been said about the NFL’s reaction, Janay’s statement on Instagram, and why Ray did what he did. I haven’t really joined these discussions and I probably won’t. However, a few things come through the conversations loud and clear. Domestic violence is incredibly personal, painfully real, and swept under the rug way too often. I didn’t need a video to tell me that though.

 Thankfully, there are many organizations that work very hard to help those dealing with domestic violence escape and recapture control of their lives. Below I’ve rounded up a list of resources here in Chicago. I pray that this list helps someone. Please share and consider giving back with your time and money to help these groups continue this work. For them and the women that they help, this isn’t just this week’s “water-cooler topic.” This is their life. Please show your support.

 

Organizations

Between Friends
P.O. Box 608548
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-5232
http://www.betweenfriendschicago.org/

Between Friends is dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and abuse by providing education, support, counseling and advocacy services to individuals and families affected by abuse.

 

Mujeras Latinas En Accion
2124 W. 21st Place
Chicago IL 60608
(773) 890-7676
http://www.mujereslatinasenaccion.org/

Mujeras Latinas en Accion provides domestic violence and abusive relationship counseling for women.

Family Rescue
9204 S. Commercial Avenue, Suite 401
Chicago, IL 60617
(773) 375-1918
http://www.familyrescueinc.org/

Family Rescue is dedicated to eliminating domestic violence by providing comprehensive support services and shelter to victims of domestic violence, particularly to abused women and their children.

House of the Good Shepherd
P.O. Box 13453
Chicago, IL 60613-0453
(773) 935-3434
http://hgschicago.org/

House of the Good Shepherd offers an intensive residential recovery program for women with children who are struggling to overcome the trauma of domestic violence.

Rainbow House
4149 W. 26th Street
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 521-1815
http://rainbow-house.org/

Rainbow House has two locations and offers intervention, counseling, and advocacy services for women and children affected by abuse.

Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC)
1116 N. Kedzie, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60651
(773) 489-9081
http://cawc.org/

CAWC provides a shelter for women and children, and counseling, advocacy, and a 24-hour hotline for those affected by domestic violence.

Hotlines

Chicago Domestic Violence Help (24 hours/day)
877-863-6338

The Domestic Violence Help Hotline provides referrals (counseling, shelters and legal services) to victims of domestic violence throughout Illinois. The Hotline is operated by The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.

Family Rescue (24 hours/day)
800-360-6619

Cook County Domestic Violence Hotline(24 hours/day)
800-603-4357

Legal Resources

Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse
555 W. Harrison, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 325-9155
http://www.dvlcchicago.org/

LifeSpan Center for Legal Services & Advocacy
70 E. Lake Street, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel: (312) 408-1210
http://life-span.org/

Life Span provides comprehensive services for women and children ranging from counseling and criminal court advocacy to legal representation in all types of family law cases.

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Photo: Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs

“Ain’t Nobody” Like Chaka Khan

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

Last week, I had the best week EVER. I hopped over to the West Coast for a work meeting with the Greater Than AIDS team, then went straight to Miami for the ColorComm Conference (recap here), returned to Chicago to participate in the 85th Annual Bud Billiken Parade with the Black McDonald’s Operators Association, AND *insert breath* watched the legendary Chaka Khan take the stage in support of my nonprofit organization, The Red Pump Project.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine certainly was by Saturday night. However, it was totally worth it. I mean, Chaka Khan?! She is every bit as fierce and fabulous as you would imagine her to be. Before the show, Luvvie and I had a chance to meet her backstage and thank her for agreeing to support our organization in this significant way. A few snaps are below.

Welcome to the Chicago Theatre!

Welcome to the Chicago Theatre!

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Red Pump posing with Chaka Khan and the Music is My 1st Love team

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Luvvie and I with the woman of the hour.

It was a night that I will definitely remember for many reasons. My favorite memory of the night? Singing “Sweet Thing” with my husband standing next to me. It doesn’t get any mushier than that, right? Don’t laugh.

We are so grateful to the Music is My 1st Love team for selecting us as recipients of their first benefit concert. They are doing incredible things and I’m looking forward to supporting their future shows.

To Ms. Chaka Khan, there are no words! From one Chicago gal to another, you are a powerhouse. Thank you for rocking the red pump with us.

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On One Accord with the Soweto Gospel Choir

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

On Wednesday night, I went to go see the Soweto Gospel Choir with one of my favorite gals, DeeDee (The Sassy Peach). I was first introduced to the choir a year ago and since then, I’ve been in awe of their voices, their spirits, and (of course) their awesome performances. As they weaved their way through African spirituals, Black spirituals, and contemporary songs in Symphony Hall, I just felt happy. I felt blessed to be connected to such a beautiful culture.

The performance was beautiful. Even though I didn’t know the words to 90% of the songs, it didn’t matter at all. Everyone in the hall was captivated by each note and each word. It reminded me that music is a true common denominator. It has the power to connect people from different walks of life in an authentic way. A certain commercial previously ruined Sarah McLaughlin’s “Arms of an Angel,” but the choir restored my love of this song. The video is below is them singing the song at a different performance. SO GOOD.

The Soweto Gospel Choir is an amazing group both on and off the stage. While browsing the program booklet, I learned that they launched Nkosi’s Haven Vukani, a foundation to support HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa. As they travel the world with their performances, it is clear that they not only carry a connection to their home country, but also a responsibility to it. There were several tributes to Nelson Mandela, summed up with a touching rendition of South Africa’s national anthem.

As we ended the night clapping and singing “Amen,” it was the perfect end to a great show. I definitely filed it away in my memory bank. I wish them much success on the rest of their North American tour and hope to catch another show in the future!

Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler at USCA 2013

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

Good morning from beautiful (and humid) New Orleans! I’m down here for this year’s United States Conference on AIDS and am super geeked for two reasons. First, it is my first work trip. That’s right. I’ve managed to complete the “elusive” task of landing in a job that I’m passionate about. Second, the conference is in New Orleans and I LOVE NEW ORLEANS. The music, the food, the people, the culture… Sigh. I could go on and on. Not only do I plan to get married here but I also wouldn’t mind setting up a part-time residence here later in life.

Enough about my future plans for NOLA. Back to the now. During my time here, I’m looking forward to learning some very useful information that I can apply on the job and with my work with The Red Pump Project. In case you have been living in a bubble, HIV continues to affect people of color at devastating pace so any and all solutions are always needed.

When I’m not at the conference, please know that I will be doing my best to completely pig out on NOLA goodies. I am obsessed with New Orleans cuisine and can always find a Creole/Cajun restaurant no matter what city I’m in.

My first stop when I got in yesterday was Café du Monde for their world-famous beignets. Oh. My. Gawd. They were so so so so good and didn’t last more than seven minutes. All I want to do is stuff my face with them.

As far as my other plans, here’s my NOLA checklist.

  1. Have a cocktail in the courtyard of the W French Quarter. I mean, look at this place.
       2. Try a piece of alligator.
       3. Complete an early morning jog around the Garden District.
Anything else that I should do while I’m down here? Let me know! I’m taking any and all suggestions. Just leave me a note in the comments or shoot me a quick tweet!

A Labor of Love, Service, and Sacrifice

Cancer

I think about caregivers on a regular basis. I think about their strength, their sacrifice, their service, and their spirits. So, when my friends at the American Cancer Society asked if I would join in their 100 Caregivers Stories series, it was a no-brainer! I’ve never been shy about talking about my caregiving experiences with my mother and am currently working on a webinar series to address the unique needs of youth caregivers.

Although I have since transitioned out of that role, I’m still honored to be surrounded by so many amazing people who have stepped up to provide care to a loved one battling cancer or another disease.

I think of my bonus mom, Angie, who somehow is able to juggle her career with caring for her mother who is living with Alzheimer’s. I think about friends who recently lost parents to cancer after lovingly (and sometimes painfully) watching their superwoman succumb to the illness. And, I think about a young woman that I know who not only cared for her sister with cancer, but also stepped up to support her sister’s daughter.

Caregivers are so incredibly valuable for so many reasons. There are economic, societal, and health benefits to caregiving but, above all of that, caregivers remind each of us we are all connected. To every person who has ever been a caregiver or is one right now, here’s a short quote that will breath a little life into you on your worst days…

Patience and fortitude conquer all things. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Would you like to honor a caregiver? You can sign up here to share a blog post.

 

 

As a part of the American Cancer Society’s 100 Days/100 Stories series, the 100 Caregiver Stories series wants to shine a light on 100 amazing caregivers by the end of 2013. I am a member of the ACS’ Blogger Advisory Council. No financial compensation was received to publish this post.

Photo: Pinterest

VIDEO: Rachel Roy Unveils New FEED India Tote

Anti-hunger, Shop for A Cause, World Issues

Two of my fav fab givers recently teamed up to bring us a handbag that I’m sure will be a summer staple in my wardrobe. On the inaugural edition of her new online magazine, The Life, designer Rachel Roy announced that she and FEED co-founder Lauren Bush Lauren collaborated on a limited edition FEED tote created to help fight hunger in India. For every tote sold, 100 school meals will be provided to children throughout the country.

Rachel Roy and Lauren Bush Lauren with the new FEED India totes ($78).

Cute, right? You can pre-order your bag on Rachel Roy’s website now. Don’t take the chance of catching this bag at a later date because it will sell out. I’m still kicking myself for missing out on the RR “Kindness is Always Fashionable” Ghana clutch. Lesson learned and I am doing better this go around.

If you want to learn more about this partnership and/or just gawk at these two amazing women, check out the video of their conversation below.

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Target Teams Up with FEED to Fight Hunger in America

Anti-hunger, Beauty & Style, Charitable Companies


Target has announced that it is teaming up with FEED for a capsule collection that will hit stores on June 30. The collection will include more than 50 stylish products to benefit Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. The ultimate goal? Provide 10 million 10 million meals to Americans in need.

Co-designed by FEED Founder Lauren Bush Lauren, each piece ranges in price from $3 to $400, and will display the number of meals donated to Feeding America as a result of the purchase.

Want to learn more about the collection and even get a sneak peek? Check out the video below.

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Beyoncé x Salma Link Up with Gucci for Major Girl Power

Charitable Companies, Women's Causes, World Issues

None of us can move forward if half of us are held back.

Today, it was announced that Beyoncé, Salma Hayek, and Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini have joined forces to launch a major women’s empowerment campaign, Chime for Change. Chime for Change will “provoke, collect, and share powerful stories of girls and women globally,” while using social media to funnel donations to a range of women’s education and equality charities.

The campaign will focus on three areas: education, health, and justice for women and girls worldwide. If you’re wondering why Gucci is involved, you should know that the company actually has a long history of engagement with girls’ and women’s issues, including a seven-year relationship with UNICEF in support of girls’ education.

Without getting into too many details, there’s been a barrage of recent media coverage highlighting the need for a campaign of this magnitude. How major are we talking? Well, they’ve partnered with NGOs like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and their Advisory Board consists of advocates and leaders like Arianna Huffington, Meryl Streep, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Yasmeen Hassan.

I’m incredibly excited to see what comes out of this initiative. The website nods to a major announcement happening in mid-March. Can’t wait to find out the details.

For more information and to join Chime for Change, head on over to their website www.chimeforchange.org.