Tag Archives: Fundraising

Score or Fumble? The NFL Tackles Domestic Violence. (Finally.)

Purple Ribbon

It’s wrong to hurt other people. Hurting other people is a very, very bad thing.

Most of us learn this life lesson pretty well sometime during our earliest years. Then there are some people who grow up, become football players, make unfathomable amounts of money, and think there’s no difference between tackling your opponent on the field and tackling your girlfriend until she’s unconscious or dead.

This mindset has been business-as-usual in the NFL for decades. Now, if Commissioner Roger Goodell is to be believed, the new football season has ushered in a new attitude. In a letter sent to all 32 team owners, Goodell wrote:

“My disciplinary decision [in the Ray Rice incident] led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future
properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we

You’ll forgive me for not performing a shaking my ass, pointing to the sky celebratory endzone dance for you.

I should be. But I can’t, and here’s why.

I spent five years working at Laurel House, a domestic violence agency in suburban Philadelphia, and during that time, had the opportunity to coordinate several fundraising events and domestic violence awareness projects with Coach Andy Reid and his wife Tammy during their tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Reids’ commitment and compassion to helping victims of domestic violence – often in private, off-camera ways – was something genuine and that our agency saw often. I’m grateful for having had that experience and for getting to know them in the way I did. The Philadelphia Eagles also lent their support – both financial and by having players involved – to our events. And more.

What we in Philadelphia knew was something the rest of the NFL didn’t. We knew that having the strength of the Eagles brand during 14 mostly pretty damn good seasons (no matter how the Reid era ended) was some of the most powerful advertising, advocacy and awareness for domestic violence that a nonprofit could have dreamed of. It was our personal Gatorade bucket challenge.

Imagine how different the NFL would be today if each one of the 31 teams had been doing this work alongside us for the past 14 years. We always wondered how much more magnified that message of prevention and awareness could have been if it was shouted throughout every stadium.

I’d like to believe Goodell is sincere and truthful about taking a stand against domestic violence. The reality is that attitudes about domestic violence change slowly, and usually not with press releases or letters hung up in locker rooms, especially in cultures that are indoctrinated to think otherwise. The NFL has been in overtime on this issue for entirely too long.

Now there’s a mandate and an opportunity for teams to partner with the experts in their communities to educate everyone from their players to the fans to the front office staff to the guy hawking the beers in the stands on how to recognize the signs of domestic abuse and how to get help for yourself or someone in crisis. It will take staff and funding and time – all of which are in short supply at domestic violence agencies across the country – but the NFL is a well-funded machine and has the dollars to do this right if they choose to do so.

As they kickoff a new season, here are two things the NFL can do within the next 60 days to demonstrate their commitment to helping to educate people about domestic violence.

1. Remove O.J. Simpson From the Hall of Fame. 
It’s been 20 years since the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and yet O.J Simpson, former running back for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, still remains a member of the Hall of Fame.

In his letter, Goodell writes: “Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be …violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child. A second offense will result in banishment from the NFL.”

If Pete Rose can be banned from baseball for gambling, then O.J. can be removed from the Hall of Fame for practically beheading his ex-wife and companion while his children slept upstairs.

2. Drop the ball on the pink. 
Hey, have you heard about this disease called breast cancer? You have? I think most of us are Very Goddamned Aware of breast cancer. Then why, pray tell, do we really need the NFL to go all Pretty In Pink every October?

Between the fuchsia ties on the NFL Gameday hosts and the shoelaces on the players, October makes me long for the days of black-and-white television. (Yeah, buddy, I’m old enough to remember that.)  I don’t mean any disrespect to any of my friends or family who have been through this battle, but everyone knows someone who either has or has had breast cancer, most people know where to get answers and help (hint: another of my former employers, the American Cancer Society is a great resource).

Did you know that October happens to also be National Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Oh, you didn’t? I’m betting the NFL didn’t know that, either. What if, in addition to wearing purple, each NFL team distributed purple ribbons at every Sunday game in October along with instructions about what to do if you think someone is in an abusive relationship?

What if they launched a national campaign?

What if a DART (Domestic Abuse Response Team) was stationed on-site at every game, for counseling?

What if the NFL created a foundation that would support direct services in local communities for education and shelter and legal assistance for domestic violence victims, and what if a significant, substantial, meaningful percentage (I’m talking almost 50%) of ticket sales from October went towards domestic violence services in each team’s local community?

I’m encouraged by Roger Goodell’s letter – and heartened that it includes some specific examples of ways that the NFL plans to change. Since January 2000, there have been 77 players involved in 85 domestic violence incidents so forgive me for feeling like this is too little, too late. The League has a history and a reputation of fumbling the ball on this issue.

Only time will tell if the NFL scores a touchdown on this one.  I’ll be watching.

And waiting to do my celebratory dance in the endzone.


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Book Review: The Grievers, by Marc Schuster

The GrieversThe Grievers, by Marc Schuster
The Permanent Press
176 pages

The Grievers may possibly be one of the best books you’ve never heard of.

This is the somewhat unusual case where I’ve heard of the author before the book. You see, Marc’s a Philly guy and although our paths haven’t (to my knowledge) crossed, I’m thinking I had to have read something of his at one point.

He’s just too good.

The Grievers came to my attention in late 2011, when my friend – and fellow Philadelphia author – Beth Kephart shared some reflections about it on her blog.  I immediately added it to my Goodreads TBR list. There it sat until several months ago, when I spotted The Grievers on the shelf at the library.

(This is the irony that’s become my life nowadays: I need to move across the damn state to discover an author from my hometown. Somehow, I think that the main character Charley Schwartz would appreciate – and relate – to that.)

“Elvis Costello was singing on the radio. Neil cranked the volume and lowered his windows. As the world flew by at sixty miles per hour, we became children again – or pretended to, at any rate – belting out song lyrics with the wind whipping all around us. It wasn’t freedom, exactly, but a small part of me wondered what would happen if Neil laid a heavy foot on the gas and kept going – past the Academy, through the city, over the Delaware, and straight out to the Jersey shore. Could we have a do-over, I wondered? Could we win back the infinite possibility of childhood?” (pg. 62-63)

When prep school friends Charley and Neil learn of the death of Billy Chin, a fellow classmate, they agree to help the school with the memorial service … which turns into something else entirely. (Those of us who work or have worked in the development profession will especially enjoy this part of the book, as there may be more than a few incidents that sound all too familiar.)  It also turns into something of a midlife crisis of sorts for Charley. (Or, as the book description puts it, “The Grievers is a darkly comic coming of age novel for a generation that’s still struggling to come of age.”)

The Philadelphia setting is absolutely dead-on; Mr. Schuster nails every detail of the geography. Although several of the locations are fictionalized, it was pure fun guessing what Mr. Schuster may have been referring to with certain aspects of his story.

I’m oversimplifying, it seems, but Mr. Schuster absolutely does an excellent job with this novel. Discover why – and how – for yourself.


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Raising Some Green @ Verde for the GLCC of Pittsburgh


During a week when Pittsburghers raised our flags to celebrate our Pirates’ much-awaited entre into the playoffs, a group of local social media aficionados met over dinner and drinks to raise funds for The Gay and Lesbian Community Center (GLCC) of Pittsburgh.

The event was PghTweetUp, a way to make real-life connections with the folks we talk to online. Our venue was Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina, located at 5491 Penn Avenue. I believe it’s technically in Garfield but walk a few steps in either direction and you’re in East Liberty or Friendship.

Anyway, I am all about trying new (to me) restaurants and hanging with my tweeps, especially when a good cause is involved. Last night, Verde donated 10% of all food sales to the GLCC.

I’m a straight ally volunteering on the GLCC’s Development Committee because they are truly doing some good work for all members of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQA community. That includes youth (including many who are homeless), adults who are seeking social activities that don’t involve the bar scene, and family and friends who need support and resources.

We have some exciting things in the works and I’ll be talking more about them on the blog as they come into fruition.You can also check out the GLCC’s website for the most up-to-date information about programs, services, and events.

In the meantime, last night’s event was all about good conversation and good food. Our table certainly lived up to that! Most of our conversation centered around the upcoming Podcamp Pittsburgh event (October 5!) and – here’s a shocker – social media talk.

Verde - Sunset MargaritaWith a few opinions about Verde’s new drink, the Sunset Margarita, too.

(It’s slightly bigger than that. You can thank my camera phone for the shotglass version.)

I didn’t partake of the margaritas, but those who did pronounced them very good.

And very strong.

Onto the appetizers and dinner.

SAM_6837What I did indulge in (heavily) was Verde’s guacamole, which was excellent. I’m a bit of a guac snob. For me, it needs to be a particular consistency – not too chunky and not too smooth – and more on the milder side of life.

I could have eaten this straight.

As it was, we had a round for our portion of the table and then I ordered another as a side with my dinner. I was tempted to get ANOTHER order as take-out order to serve as my lunch today. (When I came home from a morning appointment famished, I was regretting not doing so, believe you me). 

At $9.00, the guac is pricey. But so good. It reminded me of my days of working in Norristown and walking to a small Mexican restaurant to buy guacamole as an energy-booster during the afternoon. That stuff was good; this was even better.

I’ve been experimenting with a gluten-free diet over the past few weeks (I’m pleased with the initial results) and I was happy to see that Verde had several gluten free options on their menu, including their mahi-mahi tacos. I love fish tacos, which happens to be something the rest of my family does not enjoy, so it’s usually my dish of choice when dining out Mexican style.


That’s a citrus salsa on the side, which I didn’t try because I need to limit citrus. (I sound like a freakin’ octogenarian, don’t I?) But these three fish tacos were very good. At Verde, you can choose corn or flour tortillas. (The corn are gluten free.)

All in all, it was a fun night with friends – and hopefully, connecting more people with the work of the GLCC of Pittsburgh. Those attending the TweetUp were encouraged to bring donations of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for the GLCC. One of the reasons why goes back to the reason why we do the TweetUps in the first place.

Just like the TweetUp was about connecting, so is the GLCC. Whether that happens on the phone line (412-422-0114) from someone looking for support or someone dropping by the center in person who needs a friend to listen. The GLCC provides a safe and welcoming place for everyone. And with the fall and winter months settling in here in the ‘Burgh, it would be nice to do that over a cup of coffee or tea – or to offer someone a cuppa something to warm up from the cold.

It’s even nicer to be able to count on friends in the community to help out – whether they’re a restaurant like Verde hosting a great fundraiser, a group of socially-minded (in every sense of the word) folks coming together to do good things, or a place that keeps its doors open for everyone.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to the GLCC of Pittsburgh.

Click here to learn more about the GLCC of Pittsburgh’s programs and services. 

Thank you to Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina as well as the PghTweetUp folks for a great night!


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dust on my shoes, nothing but teardrops (awaiting a supreme court decision)

Baby G - Three Shoes

At 10 months old, the Wisconsin courts took Baby G away from a loving and caring home – and the only parents she ever knew. Now almost 3, she has been moved from foster home to foster home. Her story is being heard next month by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. With your support, you can help bring Baby G back home to the adoptive parents who love her, who have never stopped fighting for her, and who she still calls Mommy and Daddy.  http://www.gofundme.com/3ev1b0

“Pictures on the nightstand, TV’s on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you’re missing, you’re missing
You’re missing when I shut out the lights
You’re missing when I close my eyes
You’re missing when I see the sun rise
You’re missing …” ~ Bruce Springsteen, “You’re Missing”

They are so close.

So close after two years of sheer unimaginable hell.

So close after the oceans of tears.

So close after two years of sleepless nights of worry, of nightmares that don’t end in the daytime.

So close to seeing the power of prayer and the meaning of miracles, to having the test of their faith validated.

They are, as regular long-time readers of my blog may have guessed, my friends who are involved (still) in the now 2 year long adoption fight for Baby G.

I’ve written about them here:

The Real Victory That’s Needed in Wisconsin (2/5/2011)

 “That Sound You Heard? Was the Other Shoe Dropping” (4/27/2011)

“Sky Blue and Black” (4/28/2011)

“Mommy, Why Does Baby G Have to Go to Jail?”  (5/25/2011)


“What Has Been Lost”  (9/20/2011)

There are reasons I haven’t written much about this since 2011. The whys don’t really matter. What matters is that this is STILL GOING ON, TWO YEARS LATER and has gotten more complicated … and, as these sorts of trials do, more costly in every sense of the word.

“Children are asking if it’s all right
Will you be in our arms tonight?” ~ Bruce Springsteen, “You’re Missing”

Nothing will bring back the missing years, the un-celebrated in person birthdays and holidays, the milestones missed. Nothing will erase the pain, the hurt and injustice that my friends have suffered. There’s no excuse for what this innocent little girl has been through because of the mistakes of a misguided and misled jury and judge.

But there is still a chance.

The Wisconsin State Supreme Court has agreed to review my friends’ adoption case, and this is a very, very good thing indeed. It means that the mistakes that were made in the lower courts (and there were many) will see the light of day. It means that outdated legislation in Wisconsin for children’s rights will be changed for the better.

It means that Baby G might get to go home.

The case could be heard in a matter of weeks and this family needs our financial support now more than ever. That’s why a gofundme site has been established to help the family with the legal bills for this Supreme Court fight. The site also has information about the legal history and status of the case.

“Morning is morning, the evening falls
I have too much room in my bed, too many phone calls …” ~ Bruce Springsteen, “You’re Missing”

This is extremely humbling and difficult for my friends to do. If you knew them, you would know that they are the type who would do (and who have done) anything for their friends, family, and strangers in need. I know how tight money is these days and believe me, so do my friends. They are far from wealthy themselves; instead, their riches come in the abundance of love they have to give a child who would face a very different future if it wasn’t for the years that they have already invested in her and in other children like her who simply need a stable, caring, loving home.  

As a fundraiser, I know this is a daunting amount to raise. As a fundraiser, I’ve seen the best in people and how even $5 or $1 can really make a difference.

And that’s all that they want. A chance to make a difference in a child’s life.

I know we can help make this happen.

Thanks so much.

Baby G - Three Shoes

My friends’ shoes, with Baby G’s shoe in the middle, from when they were once together as a family.

 “I got dust on my shoes, nothing but teardrops…” ~ Bruce Springsteen, “You’re Missing”

Click here to read more of BabyG’s story and to make a contribution to the BabyG Legal Fund.


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Blogging for LGBT Families Day: We Are Family

Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2013


Six years today, my coworkers and I were celebrating a wedding.

Now, I’ve been to a lot of weddings, including my own. But this one was especially memorable for me.

And in retrospect, it had very little to do with the fact that this ceremony was between two wonderful women, Shari and Evette.

OK, yes. That was significant, to be sure. I admit, I hadn’t been witness to such a union before. And the ceremony was incredibly moving and beautiful, as these things should be. But what I remember about that time, and that occasion, was the overwhelming joy and excitement that our group of coworkers felt in the months leading up to it and the honor of just being there, six years ago today.

It was that way because we, as coworkers, were like family. We were, by choice, so very involved in the wedding, from the legalities to the food preparation. My coworkers cooked almost everything and as we set up the buffet tables, the food just kept coming in the door. Prior to this, I contributed the calligraphy for the invitations as my wedding gift.

(And as a LGBTQ ally, I didn’t – and still don’t – feel my own heterosexual marriage was threatened by doing so.)

And we danced too. To all the great songs – not the remixed technocrap that you often hear thumping through your skull at some events. The music just kept playing.

It was simply a joyous celebration of two people who loved one another and had chosen to spend the rest of their lives together, wherever that would take them.

* * * *

Recently we celebrated again with this still-together couple – although as coworkers we are now divorced somewhat because time has scattered us to different states and to different jobs. Through Facebook, we welcomed Matthew into their lives. We knew they wanted to be instruments of light in a young person’s life as they have been to so many others,

As they usually do, they did things their way.

Because instead of seeing pictures of a newborn or a toddler on their Facebook page, we saw … a teenager.

You see, Matthew is 18.

As he puts it, living with Shari and Evette has given him the emotional stability he needs.

Which is all that matters.

Not the “label” of being an LGBT family, because, really, they are just like every other family. They are my family. They are your family. Their kid is my kid and they are me and my husband. They work damn hard to do whatever they can to help their kid succeed, to reach his dreams and fulfill his passions.

In Matthew’s case, that’s music – and he’s exceptionally good at it, and he needs some help to continue.

Matt just graduated from the Denver School of the Arts, where he was the principal English Horn player. He is also the Principal Oboist and English Horn player of the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra. After graduation he intends to continue studying music, and hopes to one day hold a position in a professional orchestra as either an oboist or English Horn Player.

He really needs a new, professional quality English Horn to continue his studies and is working hard for such, but funds are tight. Evette is a Rabbi and Shari is a personal chef. Matt has launched a gofundme campaign to try and raise the $6,500 he needs for a new English horn.

“This past year has been extremely emotionally and financially taxing on me,” he admits. Despite many obstacles, he knows his truth. “Music is my life, and it’s what I want to spend mine doing.As I’m getting ready for college, I really need a new instrument, but there’s no way I’ll be able to afford one. The music world is so competitive, that not having a good instrument is almost a death sentence to aspiring musicians.”

You can help Matt out – and extend anniversary wishes to Shari and Evette – by donating to his campaign for a new English horn here.

So, happy 6th anniversary, Shari and Evette. May the two of you – with Matt – always keep making wonderful music together.

Shari, Evette, Matt


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Presence Into Presents

If you want a glimpse of what I do to try and pay a bill or two around here, I give you this:

The nice folks from Benchmark Email recently reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in submitting a guest post for their “Presence for Non-Profits” series. (It’s a great series with incredible posts. If you’re in the non-profit field, you’ll want to take a few minutes and read them.)

This is the first time I’ve been ask to blog professionally about something in my field, which makes me a little proud of this piece, if I do say so myself.

3 Ways to Turn Your Non-Profit’s Presence Into Presents

I’d love to hear your thoughts. And oh, hey? If you retweet the actual Benchmark post? The Benchmark people will enter you into a drawing to be eligible to win a Kindle Fire.

Told you they were nice folks.

    I am an Amazon.com affiliate. Making a purchase through any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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The Sunday Salon: Best Laid Plans

Is it wrong of me to admit that I was kind of hoping for a rainy Sunday?  All my errands were done yesterday (yay, go me!) and I wanted an excuse to be a reading-and-blogging-coffee-sipping-couch-potato for the day.

(Apparently, the Weather Gods read my blog … because a pop-up thunderstorm has just literally rolled in. Um … yeah, I didn’t mean a freakin’ biblical monsoon.)

I’m hoping to spend some time finishing up my reading of Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World, by Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania, and Mark R. Kramer. It’s about how philanthropists who truly make an impact on the world do so by focusing their giving on one problem or issue, and directing their contributions to that particular cause.  The book gives many examples of people who have done that (and who are doing that) and how they’ve been able to make a difference through advocacy and leveraging corporate know-how and resources.

Granted, this one isn’t probably going to be of much interest to most folks outside of the philanthropic world, and that’s fine. Truthfully, it’s a little slow going and repetitive in parts.  When I saw this at the library, I thought it would behoove me to read something current in my field. I guess it helped because it allowed me to drop the phrase “catalytic philanthropist” during a job interview on Friday, which hopefully made me sound intelligent and articulate.

(The interview, BTW, went incredibly well.  It’s a departure from what I’d envisioned and planned on doing – launching my own business as a fundraising consultant – and it is a bit of a salary hit from what I was making in my last two jobs, but I believe that opportunities come our way for a reason.  If it works out – which I’m optimistic that it might – this looks like an interesting one.  Plus, there’s the small matter of the economy teetering on a second recession, and millions of people being out of work, and The Husband and I needing to feed two kids (and ourselves), and all of a sudden the best laid plans don’t quite matter so much anymore, do they?)

I’ve had some tossing up in the air of my best laid reading plans, too. This week I’ve gone from being all ho-hum, whaddo I read next? to holy guacamole, I got books (and read-alongs, and e-galleys, and review committments) out the wazoo.

This is all my doing.  You see, I done went and signed myself up for NetGalley (because our library is a bit lacking in the new books department) and promptly requested something ridiculous like 10 books.  How the hell did I know I was going to get all of them except The Night Circus?  (Which I really, really wanted, BTW, but shrugs  ….) Fortunately, some of them are already published and some have October publication dates, so I’m not too concerned.  Yet.

I’m participating in the upcoming blog tour for Irma Voth by Miriam Toews, and I just signed onto Florinda’s read-along of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  (The latter is a re-read for me, but I haven’t read it since college.)

All this isn’t doing too much to reduce the number of TBR books on my shelves – which I am committed to doing because there is simply not enough space in this apartment for the books I selectively brought with me (not to mention the dozens of boxes of my books in storage) – and I really don’t want to have to pay to move any more books than I have to.  (I’m hoping that Bookalicious’s September is for Reading Your Own Books Month will help with this.)

I did just start listening to one of my TBRs, Jacquelyn Mitchard’s A Theory of Relativity, on audio. Not sure if I’m going to continue with this one or not. (I suspect that for me, Mitchard falls into the same category of authors as Anita Shreve and Jodi Picoult, both of whom I tend to be kind of meh about.) I’ll decide after Tuesday, when I’ll have a chance to listen to it when I head Downtown again for a second interview for this potential job.

What are your reading plans this Sunday?  Or for this week?  (The weather seems to be wishy-washy on its plans too.  In the two hours it has taken me to write this post, it has gone from cloudy and overcast, to partly sunny, to a monsoon, to a drizzling rain, back to cloudy and overcast again, to an all-so-brief thunderstorm, to more downpours, to barely raining with sun shining.)

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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