Friday, December 12, 2014

The Friday Four, Part 96


Below are more worthy organizations both local to the Inland Northwest and further afield to help you make this holiday season a season of giving!

As I mentioned before, all of these organizations I'm posting about are ones that I have either donated to or volunteered for, or that someone close to me has, but that doesn't mean that I'm actively contributing to all of them at this very moment.  Just like you, I have to make hard decisions about how to allocate my limited resources and time.  I draw comfort from Elder Holland's words in his recent (amazing!) General Conference talk, "Are We Not All Beggars?":
I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves. But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again.
So please don't feel bad if you are not able to give to every cause that tugs on your heartstrings.  Make the best decisions you can based on the information you have and on what speaks to your soul and move forward.  There's a time and a season for everything.


The non-profit Mobius Spokane runs two science museums in the heart of downtown Spokane: Mobius Children's Museum for little kids and Mobius Science Center for the slightly older crowd.

Back when it was only Mobius Children's Museum and Will was really young, we bought an annual family membership and went frequently.  With lots of hands-on activities available Will was never bored, flitting from the water table to the Filipino market to Cooper's Corner where he could drive a plasma car and learn about traffic safety to the dress-ups and musical instruments on stage.  When Josh came along, I'd sit with him in the Enchanted Forest - an area especially for kids three and under - and with the open layout felt confident letting Will explore on his own as I could always see him.

Eventually, though, they both aged out of being interested in all the "little kid" activities.  They just weren't that fun anymore.  So I'd just take Evan on his days off from preschool and let him explore just like his older brothers used to.

And then they opened Mobius Science Center across the street.  We finally went just last weekend and the boys had so much fun watching the turtles and snakes and other creatures and exploring magnets, prisms, sound, centrifugal force, hydropower, circuits, and of course Sue, the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever discovered!

The boys with Sue!

I love how kids are able to self-direct learning in both of these fantastic museums.  They can spend as much or as little time at each activity as they want and they're learning actively at each stop.  This is exactly how to get kids interested in and not intimidated by science.


When I heard about THRIVEGulu a few years ago, I was immediately entranced.  The horror stories out of northern Uganda broke my heart and this organization, hyperfocused on this one area, this one place to do good and make a significant difference, caught my attention.

THRIVEGulu "operates a center for community gathering and learning in Gulu, Uganda, to support the emotional healing and rehabilitation of trauma victims of the Ugandan civil war through educational programs." Their mission is to "assist the communities of Northern Uganda heal from the traumatic events of war, sexual enslavement, extreme poverty and lost opportunities."

What I love about THRIVEGulu is that, unlike organizations that swoop in with a well-meaning "white knight" complex, THRIVEGulu has cultivated relationships with local leaders, hired local Ugandans to run the programs, do the accounting and bookkeeping, maintain the community center, teach computer literacy, and partnered with a Ugandan NGO.  Nothing is done without the input and direct involvement of the local Ugandans.  This is truly an effort to empower the Ugandan people with dignity and self-reliance while letting them know they are not alone.


American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest (ACCOIN) does amazing work in this area to support children with cancer and their families.

Inland Northwest

They distribute family comfort kits and information to families with children who have been recently diagnosed.  Recognizing the added expenses that come with travel for treatment, the possible loss of a job in order to care for the sick child, and other financial pressures on these families, they provide emergency financial assistance, including gas cards, grocery cards, parking validation, etc.  They run support groups and fun events for the children with cancer and for family members.  Basically, they do anything and everything to support families through an incredibly difficult time.

Both of my two older sons had hospital experiences when they were very young, Will stayed in the Pediatric ICU for a week for his central apnea right after he was born and then spent a few days in the hospital for RSV when he was a toddler.  Josh had outpatient surgery for double inguinal hernias when he was about three months old.  I remember feeling so lost and alone and scared, and these were relatively minor issues.  I can't imagine how much more intense and prolonged those feelings would be if my children had cancer.  I'm so glad there's an organization like ACCOIN that provides these families with financial and emotional support in every possible way.

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