Monday, April 30, 2007

Fundraiser This Thursday for Future Teacher Who Needs Community Support

Mike & C’s Family Sports Grill in Peachtree City is holding a fundraiser this Thursday, May 3rd for local resident Tracy Russo.

Tracy is a twenty-two year old college student at the University of Georgia majoring in Education. Tracy, who has been suffering from seizures, headaches, and other symptoms and was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. She is currently under the care of a neurologist in Fayetteville.

Due to the severity and location of the tumor, Tracy’s neurologist has recommended that her surgery be done out of state by a team of specialist. Tracy is without health insurance and the cost of the surgery will be approximately $130,000. Tracy’s family is hoping to raise the necessary funds so that Tracy can have this surgery very soon.

Tracy was only 9 years old when her parents got divorced. That brought lots of changes to young Tracy’s life. Sadly, even more changes were in store for young Tracy; at the young age of 16, her Dad, an alcoholic, was tragically murdered. Tracy completed her high school education at Fayette County High School and looked forward to that simple life she always dreamed of.

Tracy enrolled at the University of Georgia and has been majoring in Education. Tracy hopes to be a teacher one day. She dreams of helping young people who have had tough times, like she has. Tracy has worked hard to finance her education. She has earned the Hope Scholarship and has qualified for some financial aid. She made the Dean’s list this fall while working her way through school, doing the best that she can.

Tracy has a strong religious faith and has overcome many difficult obstacles in her young life. By pursuing her passion for teaching and her love of children, she hopes to give back to her community one day. She wants to make a difference in the lives of children, but needs financial help to pay for this tumor surgery.

If you would like to help support Tracy, and enjoy a pleasant dinner out, please join Tracy’s family and friends at Mike & C’s Family Sports Grill this Thursday night. Mike & C’s will donate 10% of all sales made this Thursday, from 5:00 PM until closing. Donations may also be made to any Bank of America, deposited to the Tracy Russo Medical Fund account number 334001258276. For more information about Tracy Russo please see her web site at:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Americans Divided When It Comes to Giving Back

Look for Simple Ways to Include Volunteering in Your Life

(ARA) - Whether it's cooking a meal for the homeless or sprucing up a garden area, there are many ways to give back to those who are in need. But sometimes the hardest part about volunteering is finding the time and the right opportunity to get involved.

A recent national survey commissioned by McDonald's, as part of its support of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), reveals that less than half of Americans (45 percent) currently volunteer their time to charity. While most people recognize the importance of volunteering, they do not prioritize it in their daily lives. An overwhelming majority of respondents (93 percent) believe that it is important to promote volunteerism among today’s youth; yet more than half of Americans admit that they’d prefer to spend their free time reading, watching television or even visiting their in-laws than volunteering for charity (51 percent versus 8 percent).

The most commonly cited barrier to volunteering is a perceived lack of free time (49 percent). Others say that they haven’t found a charity they want to get involved with (16 percent) or that they simply don’t know how to get involved (8 percent). The survey also shed light on what inspires Americans to volunteer, with 42 percent stating that they look for a personal connection to a charity and an additional 40 percent citing involvement in their community as a driving force. Nearly one in ten Americans say they got involved in volunteering because their employer encourages it (9 percent).

“It is always important to remember those who need help and find a way to give back to your local community,” says Marty Coyne, RMHC president and CEO. “We realize, however, that between work and family it can be challenging to find the time. That is why, at RMHC, we believe in offering a variety of opportunities that fit into our volunteers’ active lives.”

There are a number of easy ways in which people can contribute their time and get involved through RMHC. A few simple ways that people can make a difference include:

* Pick up the phone -- Just make a call to the volunteer coordinator at your local RMHC chapter and ask how you can help with one of their programs, such as Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.

* Be a chef for a day -- Get a few people together and call your local Ronald McDonald House or Ronald McDonald Family Room. A nice home-cooked meal can go a long way to helping families who are caring for seriously ill children feel more at home.

* Bring the movie theater to a Ronald McDonald House/Ronald McDonald Family Room -- Bring a wide variety of movies, pop some popcorn, and invite families to join in the fun.

* Exercise your green thumb -- Help maintain the garden areas to brighten the space for the families at a local Ronald McDonald House.

* Get rid of loose change -- For those who are unable to volunteer their time, simply drop off some change in an RMHC collection canister at your local participating McDonald's restaurant.

Visit for more information on community programs and local volunteer initiatives.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Each year, up to $41 million go unclaimed by homeless Georgians with mental illness - DHR has solution

Annually, up to $41 million in social security entitlements go unclaimed by homeless Georgians with mental illness. With support from a new three–year federal grant entitled "SOAR," the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) will help homeless people with mental illness significantly enhance their access to social security benefits by helping them complete complicated applications. Nationally, Georgia ranks 49TH with respect to social security approval rates; its denial rate is 74%. For the homeless with mental illness, rates are believed to be even worst. Reasons behind Georgia’s performance are largely due to individuals having difficulty completing applications or simply not knowing they are eligible. Approximately 45% of Georgia’s homeless population is believed to have mental illness.

"Almost half of the homeless population is missing out on benefits for which they are eligible," said Gwen Skinner, Director for the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases. "With new statewide training and coordination among DHR, outreach workers and local social security offices, we will be able to dramatically improve the lives of thousands and alter Georgia’s homeless culture."

Under the new program, DHR has trained more than 500 homeless outreach workers statewide on techniques to expedite access to social security benefits. The new processing time will now take approximately 90 days as opposed to 12 months. SOAR trainees personally assist consumers in completing applications and help them retrieve medical records from health care facilities, which historically has been a significant barrier.

SOAR which stands for SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery is considered a national best-practice model designed to enhance access to supplemental security income and social security disability insurance for people who are homeless. States that have successfully implemented SOAR have been able to save millions of dollars in recovered Medicaid and general assistance funds.

It is estimated that $4 billion is spent annually on homelessness by local and state governments.
For more information on SOAR, contact the DHR Office of Mental Health at 404.657.2134.

Do You Know a Woman Who Has Made a Difference? Help Her Get the Recognition She Deserves

(ARA) - Thanks to Paula “P.K.” Beville of Marietta, Ga., nursing home patients in her hometown are no longer feeling alone and forgotten -- they are living their dreams. Maria Palestini Bye of Voorhees, N.J., has found a way to make sure teenagers in her community who are dealing with life-threatening diseases can find the comfort they need. And Denise Resnik started up a desperately needed research and resource center in Phoenix to help families in need of answers about autism.

Paula, Maria and Denise come from very different backgrounds but they have a lot in common. In addition to their deep passion for helping others and a commitment to their communities, this past October, they, along with four other outstanding women, were named winners of the first annual Women of Worth contest sponsored by L’Oréal Paris.

“I applaud all our fabulous women who are inspiring volunteers and outstanding achievers who have an inspiring heart for making differences in their communities. The four simple words ‘Because I’m Worth It’ continue to serve as a galvanizing and unifying force for the L’Oréal Paris community,” said Carol J. Hamilton, President, L’Oréal Paris.

If you know someone who is deserving of recognition for their ucommitment to volunteer work, the call for entries for the 2nd annual Women of Worth award has just gotten underway. From now until May 24, 2007, nominations are being accepted at the Web site: An elite panel of judges will select the 13 finalists, and America will have the opportunity to vote for one national honoree after reviewing their online profiles this fall. Monetary donations will be awarded to the charity of choice of the finalists.

If you’ve always wanted to get involved, but don’t feel you’re yet among the caliber of people deserving of recognition, there’s no better time than the present to make the commitment. You can show your worth by being active in your community. Join a local nonprofit organization, set up a charitable fund, or even start your own community initiative. To learn more about the L’Oréal Women of Worth Program, how to become a local volunteer or to nominate someone outstanding you can visit

If you are looking for some advice on how to get involved as a volunteer in your local community, here are some tips from the Points of Light Foundation, L’Oréal Paris' nonprofit partner in executing the Women of Worth program, to get you started:

1. Research the causes and issues important to you.

Look for a group centered around issues you feel strongly about. You might already be giving money to one of these organizations, and that might be a good place to begin your volunteer experience.

2. Consider the skills you have to offer.

If you enjoy outdoor work, have a knack for teaching, or just enjoy interacting with people you may want to look for volunteer work that incorporates these aspects of your personality. Many positions require a volunteer who has previous familiarity with certain equipment like computers, or who possesses specific skills, such as an ability in athletics or communications.

3. Try something new.

Perhaps you would like to learn a new skill or gain exposure to a new situation. Consider a volunteer opportunity where you'll learn something new.

4. Combine your goals.

Look for volunteer opportunities that can also help you achieve your other goals. For example, if you want to lose a few extra pounds, pick an active volunteer opportunity such as cleaning a park or working with kids.

5. Don't over commit your schedule.

Understand how volunteering can fit comfortably within your busy schedule. Spend time selecting a cause that will allow you to continue to maintain a strong balance between work, family, and home.

Courtesy of ARAcontent