Want to be a Hospital Volunteer? Here’s How

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the many ways we can be of assistance to hospitals in our communities.

Plenty of hospitals operate on a bare-bones budget, no pun intended! If, like so many civic-minded folks, you would like to help a local hospital by volunteering, here are a few tips to make the process go smoothly. Because you’ll be around ill and infirm people, most hospitals have a more extensive screening process for volunteers. They just want to make sure their helpers are qualified, have no communicable illnesses, and can handle the unique atmosphere of a busy health care facility.

• Decide which of your local hospitals you would like to help. Some volunteers are only interested in working at nonprofit facilities. If that’s your preference, be sure to ask each hospital you call what their status is.

• Ask about the steps to take in order to become a volunteer at the facility. You will probably be asked about your areas of interest, background, age, experience in health care (it’s fine if you have none, they just want to know about your skills), and available hours.

• Download or pick up any application materials and attend required orientation meetings and classes. Most hospitals, for example, will require you to have a tuberculosis (TB) test, at their expense, before you can volunteer.

• Attend training sessions for your particular volunteer duties and be ready to take part in the exciting world of health care.

Volunteering at a hospital, in any capacity, is one of the most rewarding things you can do to help your community. Many hospital volunteers keep at it for years and years. Take a walk through any major city hospital and randomly ask some of the volunteers how long they’re been there. You will be surprised at the longevity of service. That’s because the tasks are so rewarding, hospital volunteers who have found their niche don’t want to leave!

Be good to each other, and consider volunteering at your local hospital!

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Dr. Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are advocates and co-founders of numerous nonprofit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others.

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Our Obligation to Help the Blind

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In today’s post, Julian Omidi discusses what we can all do to help the blind.

Do you know someone who is blind or has low vision? People who are sighted often wonder how to be of assistance to the blind without coming across as patronizing or rude. The American Foundation for the Blind has an informative website where everyone can learn about blindness, help with fundraising for related causes, or even volunteer time to a charity that works with the blind.

Experts with another organization, Vision Australia, have posted some helpful tips on their website that explain the best way to assist a blind person you may meet on the street or at your job. Here’s a quick summary of the tips. Be sure to check out their website for more information.

  • If you think a blind person needs a hand, always introduce yourself and say hello first, then ask, “Would you like some help?” Don’t assume that the person needs or wants assistance.
  • Listen to how the person responds to your inquiry and don’t feel bad if they reject your offer.
  • If a blind or low-vision person is in a room that you enter, let them know you are there, address them by their name (if you know it), and tell them when you are leaving the room.
  • When walking with a blind person, a dangerous situation may arise. Never say, “Look out,” but rather, “Stop.” Clarity is the key here, and the phrase, “Look out,” is potentially ambiguous to someone who can’t see well.
  • If you fill a drinking glass for a blind person, never fill it to the brim.
  • When accompanying a blind or low-vision person to a social event, make sure you describe what is going on around you.
  • When helping a blind person into a chair, put their hands onto the back of it. From that point, they will be able to seat themselves.

The above list is just a sample of the many tips, suggestions and ideas you’ll learn at the Vision Australia and American Federation of the Blind websites. Spend some time learning how to help your blind, or low-vision neighbors and friends.

Blindness is a unique disability, and requires all of us to play a role in assisting our fellow citizens who have limited eyesight.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Civic Duty, an organization that examines ways all citizens can help their communities, as well as other charitable organizations.

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Get to Know Your Police Dept.: Take a ‘Ride-Along’

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Julian Omidi is an advocate for the health and well being of people and animals. He also promotes causes that involve civic duty. In today’s blog, Julian examines police ride-along programs.

If you really want to see your city’s police department from the inside, consider signing up for a ride-along. Most municipal police forces offer a program whereby any law-abiding citizen can do a bit of paperwork and get on the ride-along roster. You might have to wait as much as a month or longer in larger cities, but the wait is worth it.

Is it dangerous?

The very first thing most people want to know about this intriguing form of civic duty is, “Will I be in danger during the ride?” The honest answer to that question is, “Maybe.” It all depends what happens while you are accompanying the officer. Keep in mind what it is you are doing! When you request to join a working police officer, you should know the risks involved. These programs are not for everyone, but they can be an invaluable way to learn about the side of police work that most of us never see. Forget everything you “learned” by watching crime shows on television. This is the real thing. Often, short periods of intense stress are separated by long stretches of boring patrol work.

How to behave during a ride-along

If you choose to go on a police ride-along, acquaint yourself with a few basic rules of etiquette so you don’t get in the officer’s way during the shift. Here are a few of the key points to remember:

  • Fill out the appropriate paperwork at the police station or on the city website.
  • Don’t be a chatter-box. Try to listen more than talk. Remember, you are a guest in someone else’s “office,” so try not to initiate too much conversation.
  • Hands off: Though the officer will probably give you a complete tour of the car and its contents, including sirens and radios, it does not mean you should fiddle around with the equipment during the ride-along.
  • Dress appropriately: In very cold places, police officers tend to not run their vehicle heaters as much as you would if you were in a regular car. That’s because police wear lots of extra gear and don’t require a heater as much as civilians do. So on cold winter days, bring some extra layers to keep warm. Same thing goes for summer time. Police can be hot while wearing vests and extra gear, so they usually crank the AC up to the max. You might need to bring a sweatshirt or sweater, even if you go for a summer ride-along.
  • Don’t eat food or play with your electronic devices or phones during the ride. Have a decent meal before you go. If the officer stops to eat, you can always have a snack with them, but don’t ask for a meal stop.

Police department ride-alongs are a great way to get to know your local law enforcement personnel, and see first-hand what their jobs are like. If you think this is something you’d enjoy, contact your local police department and see what the requirements are for your locality.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Dr. Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are advocates and co-founders of numerous non-profit organizations including Animal Support and Civic Duty.

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Emergency Medical Volunteers: Never a Dull Moment!

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Julian Omidi is an advocate for the health and wellbeing of people and animals. In today’s blog, Julian discusses what it takes to become an emergency medical volunteer.

Civic duty takes many forms. Some prefer to donate their time in the public library or at community centers, while other altruistic individuals help low-income citizens prepare tax returns or assist at animal shelters. These are all wonderful ways to give back to the society in which we live.

If you want to express your civic duty desire in a truly fast-paced, professional environment, consider becoming a volunteer EMT (emergency medical technician). The work is demanding, the hours can be odd, to say the very least, but the experience is often life-changing.

Here’s what you should know before embarking on a volunteer mission in which you will literally save lives every day:

  • You will need specialized training to become an EMT. Class time and on-the-job training can range from 40 to 1,000 hours, depending what level of certification you are aiming for. So-called “first responder” EMTs usually need just 40 hours of training, while paramedics need at least 1,000 hours.
  • Expect to train and study for between six and 24 months before getting certified.
  • Minimum requirements include: good vision (corrected with glasses or contacts is acceptable), color-capable vision, the ability to lift at least 25 pounds, a high-school or GED diploma, emotional stability and above-average physical condition.
  • If you are thinking about a career in the medical field, there is perhaps no better background than EMT training. You will accumulate experience on the scene of life-or-death situations like auto accidents, house fires, natural disasters and every type of medical emergency imaginable.
  • To get started, contact your local community college, fire department or hospital. They will be able to point you in the right direction for classes and preliminary training. Every state and municipality does things a bit differently, so getting advice from local sources is the wisest way to begin.

Keep in mind that you might end up loving the challenge of being an EMT volunteer so much that you decide to turn it into a paying career. Countless first responders have ended up becoming professional paramedics.

So, if you are the type of person who loves a challenge, enjoys a fast-paced job and wants to help people who are in dire need, volunteering as an EMT might just be the toughest, and most rewarding, volunteer work you ever sign up for.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Dr. Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are advocates and co-founders of numerous non-profit organizations including Animal Support and Civic Duty.

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Child Poverty in America Ranked 2nd Highest in Industrialized Nations

child poverty

 

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the current epidemic of Child Poverty in the US.

America 2nd Highest Child Poverty Rate in Industrialized World

The U.S. Census reported last month that 1 in 5 children are on food stamps. That means, a total of about 15 million U.S. children are living below the poverty level. That’s only a total of $24,000 in annual income for a family of four. This highlights the sad fact that the U.S. is ranked second for having the highest level of child poverty in the 35 industrialized nations. The question is, are we making progress?

Before the housing crash of 2007, a total of 1 in 8 children were receiving food stamps. So, it would appear we have made progress seeing how those numbers are down. However, in 2014 a total of sixteen million children received food-assistance program benefits compared to only nine millions in 2007. What is the impact of these startling statistics?

Impact of Child Poverty in the U.S.

What is so alarming about these statistics, is that the top 1% of American income earners are on track to own most of the world’s wealth by 2016. Yet, we only out rank Romania when it comes to child poverty? Let’s examine the implication of child poverty has for the future of our country.

The implications associated with child poverty cost a total of 3.8% of the GDP. That is roughly a half a trillion dollars a year. This is because of lost productivity, as well as health and crime costs.

Since 2007, the rate of children living with married parents who receive food stamps has doubled! This clearly shows that the problem, if not addressed, will only substantially get worse. We must do something.

Relieving Child Poverty as a Country

We can no longer turn a blind eye to this topic. The astronomical income gap is making it too apparent that some families are disadvantaged, and their children will need help. If you look towards our capital, there are huge debates on the solution. Both sides want the solution, but are unable to work together on the solution. We must advocate for these little ones in hunger. They, after all, are our nation’s future. If we do not find a way to alleviate these statistics, more children will grow up disenfranchised. That will lead to more cost to the government in the future due to likely costs from crime and poverty relief.

If we can learn to work together, we could be on our way to healing our nation as a whole. Individually, we all can make a difference by working with various charitable organizations that help feed hungry children, whether you donate your time or volunteer. You can also get involved in the political process, by writing you representatives and asking them to take action. There is no reason that a nation as great as America should be ranked second in child poverty.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

(Julian Omidi, along with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, are philanthropists who founded various charitable organizations including No More Poverty.)

 

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Are You Properly Caring for Your Heart?

American Heart Month

In today’s blog post, Julian Omidi highlights American Heart Month and gives tips on taking care of you most important muscle.

February is American Heart Month, which is a great opportunity to educate the public about the risks of heart diseases, learn how to prevent it and save lives.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure – is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.  According to The Heart Foundation, approximately 1 million Americans die every year from heart disease, about 1 in every 4 Americans, more than any form of cancer.  In 2008, the disease cost the U.S. an estimated $448.5 billion in healthcare services, medications and lost productivity.  By 2020, heart disease will be the leading cause of death throughout the world.

The disease is 80 percent preventable with education and lifestyle changes.  The main risk factors in heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. To lower the risk of heart disease:

  • Watch your weight
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy

For more information visit:

http://www.healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/keep-your-heart-healthy

Throughout the month of February, there will be many events to raise awareness of the disease and promote healthy behaviors.  You can also do your share to spread the word:

  • Wear red on Feb. 6, National Wear Red Day, to raise awareness about heart disease in women.
  • Encourage co-workers, friends and family to make healthy dietary changes.
  • Encourage physical activities in your child’s school.
  • Get an annual physical exam.
  • Participate in community events to raise awareness of heart disease or donate to help find the cure.

American Heart Month - Go red!

(For more on American Heart Month, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.)

Julian, along with his brother, Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, has established a number of charities to help people and animals live better lives.

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Je Suis Charlie?

Omidi Family Je Suis Charlie

Julian Omidi writes about the recent shooting in Paris, France. The victims were journalists and cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In the wake of shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office, emotions are stirring in France and around the world. The shooting in Paris occurred on Wednesday. Two masked, heavily armed men entered the office during an editorial meeting and opened fire, killing two policemen and ten journalists.

The satirical magazine is notorious for offending religious communities. Muslims around the world protested several cartoon depictions of their prophet that Charlie Hebdo published. The shooting was allegedly in response to the way the magazine has portrayed Muslims. Witnesses told police one of the gunmen shouted, “We have avenged the prophet. We killed Charlie Hebdo.”

Earlier today, the two men responsible for the Charlie Hebdo shooting and another were killed after taking a hostage. They can no longer instill fear into the communities of Paris.

Words and violence

Charlie Hebdo tried hard to offend nearly any group of people. Self-described as “Journal irresponsable” (irresponsible magazine), it is an equal opportunity offender. They have taken shots at the right, the left, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and nearly any other group you can think of. They used words and symbols, which can hurt, but words never require a violent response.

The old nursery rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” comes to mind. It is used to convince taunting victims to refrain from physical retaliation. It reminds them that words do not physically harm anyone and to choose appropriate responses to provocation.

Charlie Hebdo certainly is guilty of provocation. But civilized societies have no place for this type of response to cartoons. Are the remarks and cartoons of Charlie Hebdo civil? That is certainly up for debate, but the actions of these murderers are most certainly not.

Where do we go from here?

You’ll probably see articles and comments from your friends on Facebook about this most recent tragedy and the events that inspired it. People are claiming the magazine has some responsibility in the shooting because of the nature of the views they expressed.

Should people in free societies be allowed to publicly humiliate large groups based on their beliefs? That, too is up for debate. One thing is certain: Free societies cannot let murderers dictate what can and can’t be said. The fear of violence should not determine what people can or cannot say.

How do we go on from here? Do we put an end to offensive speech? In an ideal world, maybe. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We should aim for the standard of knowing what we say could attract violence, but speaking out as though there is no threat. This is the nature of courage.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi and the Omidi family, Cindy Omidi and Dr. Michael Omidi, are founders of several charities aimed at improving lives for humans and animals around the world.

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Starbucks to Change Policy on Animal Products

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In this entry, Julian Omidi discusses the new Starbucks policy that is causing American businesses to think twice about animal welfare.

Many Americans begin their day with a Starbucks coffee and breakfast. People choose Starbucks because of their quality coffee and ethical business practices. According to their own website, in 2013, 95 percent of their coffee was ethically sourced through C.A.F.E. Practices, Fairtrade, or another externally audited program.

A recent company publication indicates that Starbucks will phase out eggs from caged chickens as well as pork products from pigs raised in gestation cages. The company is trying to figure out an appropriate timeline, but it has made a clear move toward a more sustainable business model. They haven’t released a time when cage-free eggs and pork raised outside of crates will be made available.

Outside Pressures to Change

Those concerned with the ethical treatment of animals have had a beef with Starbucks for some time. A group called the Humane League gathered over 100,000 signatures on a petition criticizing Starbucks for sourcing “the vast majority of their eggs from cruel battery cage farms.” They were calling for cage-free eggs to be used in all baked goods sold by the chain.

The group’s video pointed out that seven venti Starbucks cups can barely fit inside the space a hen spends her entire life in on some of the Starbucks farms. That comparison probably struck a chord with the chain’s patrons. Starbucks was founded on the principle of “standing for something more,” which is probably why they receive more scrutiny from the public than other franchises.

The policy change comes at the same time relevant California legislation takes effect on Jan. 1. The new laws mandate cage-free production and sale of eggs within the state. Nearly one-fifth of Starbucks stores in the U.S. are located in California.

A Game Changer for Animal Welfare

Though Starbucks is a single company, it is a $61 billion enterprise. Changes they make will ripple throughout their supply chain, having a large effect. The Humane Society’s director of food policy, Josh Balk, called the move a game changer.

The impact of this policy change will be felt far outside the walls of your local Starbucks. An industry leader moving forward on sustainable production will likely influence the entire industry. The future is looking better for animals all the time.

Thank you for reading,

Julian Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Michael Omidi and Julian Omidi, are cofounders of several charities, including No More Poverty, The Children’s Obesity Fund, and Animal Support. Their work supports the betterment of creatures large and small.

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Keep Your Holidays Healthy

Julian Omidi Holiday TipsIn this entry, Julian Omidi discusses some health hazards to be mindful of during your upcoming holiday celebrations.

The holidays are a magical time with family, friends and cheer. I don’t want to be a Grinch, but ‘tis also the season to be extra mindful of your health. There are some holiday hazards that can be avoided so you and your loved ones can celebrate for years to come.

We tend to stray from our normal routines during this time of year. New cooking techniques, different foods, decorating materials and their methods can pose some risks. And that’s before the rest of the family gets there! I composed a list of some things to remember so your holiday celebration will come off without a hitch.

Holiday Food Factor

When visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head, it can be hard to think about calories. Unfortunately, the holidays are a time for chocolate, sugar, fat and salt. All of which should be used in moderation. Try to put an equal amount of healthy and sweet snacks out for your guests.

Don’t let anyone drink too much, either. Sure, alcohol is full of empty calories, but it can also lead to some awkward moments at family gatherings. If people drink, encourage them to eat some food first. Drinking on an empty stomach is asking for trouble.

You won’t avoid the extra calories that come with the season. Don’t expect to. You can help to lessen the damage by adding some exercise to your day. Take a walk with your family and enjoy each other’s company along the way. If the weather allows, play a game outside.

Other Holiday Dangers

Julian Omidi Tips for the Holidays
Eggnog and cookies are one type of danger, but there are some holiday hazards that could be much worse. Always be mindful of possible dangers to guests of all types, including children and pets.

Holiday decorations can be filled with tasty looking pieces that come off easily. Don’t let children or pets chew on things that could become lodged in their throats or are toxic. That’s right, toxic. Holly and mistletoe are poisonous, so you may not want to deck the halls with the real stuff if you’re going to have children or animals over.

Choking on food is also a possibility. Make sure to take small bites and chew slowly. Know how to perform the proper emergency techniques if someone shows signs of choking.

Use caution when decorating. It isn’t often you are running garland along your ceiling. Secure your stepstool or ladder on level ground and stay centered. Decorate with a helper if only to make sure you aren’t alone if you fall.

Of course there is the possibility of your tree catching fire. You might be thinking, “That old chestnut?” But, between the years of 2007-2011, fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average 230 house fires that began that way. It is no joke. An average of 6 people a year died over that same time.

Relax. If you experience high levels of stress, let someone know. Things will never be perfect. Your guests, friends and family members know that. Enjoy the time you have with them and forget about the performance.

The holidays are a time for happiness. Use your head and make sure your house is a safe and healthy environment for everyone in it. With some forethought, your celebration will be one to remember.

Keep your sleigh bells ringing,

Julian Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Michael Omidi and Julian Omidi, are cofounders of several charities, including No More Poverty, The Children’s Obesity Fund, and Animal Support. Their work supports the betterment of creatures large and small.

 

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Government Programs Reduce Poverty

Julian Omidi discusses government programs

Today, Julian Omidi discusses an interpretation of new data from U.S. Census data on poverty levels in the nation. It seems government safety nets are doing some good.

You often hear debate about whether certain government programs do anything worthwhile. Most of the time it is just baseless speculation.

A new study from PEW Charitable Trusts offers some real data from the U.S. Census Bureau to shed some light on the subject.

Social Security, food stamps, unemployment benefits and earned income tax credits all seem to have an effect on the poverty level. Some of the study’s findings include:

  • The official poverty rate in the U.S. was 14.5 percent (45.3 million people)
  • Without food stamps, the poverty rate would be 17.1 percent (an additional 8 million people)
  • Without Social Security, poverty rate for Americans 65 and over would be 52.67 percent instead of 14.6 percent currently
  • Without programs like earned income tax credits, poverty for children under 18 would be 22.8 percent (19.9 percent currently)

These numbers are staggering. Consider what America would look like if each of these programs were removed or cut back significantly. That is what safety nets are for. No one wants people to live in poverty, but America continues to have problems with income inequality.

The great poverty divide

In the current political debate on poverty, both sides have answers, but they seem to be coming from opposite directions. Those on the right wish to see these programs cut or changed, and those on the left wish to see them improved, for the most part.

Most Americans are somewhere in the middle. Some reform is certainly necessary, but these programs are helping people currently. How can we improve things and make sure no one slips through the net while curtailing abuses? This is one of the most difficult questions of our time.

We can certainly use some better metrics on the matter. Census information only considers income level to determine whether someone is under the poverty level. This doesn’t include things like food stamps and other programs that help people.

In 2010 our government introduced the supplemental poverty rate, which considers consumer spending on necessities like shelter, food and utilities. Someday this measure may be used as to determine assistance levels. It has the potential to reign in abusers and find those eligible people who need help.

Things keep getting better, as a whole, for all of us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continually try to improve. Look for solutions and not ammo. Our public discourse will be much better off.

Thanks for reading,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi and his brother, Michael Omidi, are co-founders of No More Poverty, a charity committed to the eradication of income inequality.

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