Effective Ways to Help the Homeless

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In today’s entry, Julian Omidi discusses the many ways we can be of assistance to the homeless who live in our communities.

People who want to assist the homeless often wonder if giving pocket change is the best way to approach the situation. Of course, a spare 50 cents or an extra dollar can indeed go a long way for someone who is living on the streets. But are there better ways to help homeless people than giving whatever we find in our pockets?

The experts at JustGive.org offer a useful list of ideas that are usually better than the traditional “Buddy, can you spare a dime,” solution. They suggest the next time you encounter homeless people and you want to help them, consider one or more of the following ideas:

• To begin with, always try to treat homeless people with the same respect you would expect if the roles were reversed.

• Keep a list of homeless shelters on a card or in your device. When you encounter someone who is looking for a place to sleep, direct them to the closest shelter.

• Many people, especially those who live in large cities, carry a bit of nonperishable food with them to give to hungry people they see in the course of the day.

• Yes, it helps to give small amounts of money directly to people who ask for it, but also consider donating to nonprofit organizations that support the homeless in your community. Quite often, just five or 10 dollars can go a long way in the hands of a charitable entity.

• Donate a bag of healthful groceries to your local homeless shelter on a regular basis. This is a doubly smart tactic, as it not only feeds hungry people but cuts the shelter’s food expenses. That way, there’s more money available for beds, job-training programs, etc.

• Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter. Whether you end up serving food, doing maintenance or tutoring children and adults, your talents will be welcome.

Be good to each other, and do what you can for the less fortunate individuals and families who live in your town,
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 Civic Duty and many others.

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How Children of Veterans are Impacted by Parent’s Service

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses how children of veterans are impacted upon their return from battle.

Our country is blessed to have men and women willing to fight for our freedoms. America’s veterans are courageous advocates of democracy. However, they also are victims to the traumas of combat. Many of these men and women are also parents. Upon their return, their children may endure psychological impact of war.

Veterans who serve their country are at risk for many possible injuries. Thirty percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are said to have suffered some form of injury. These include injuries both physical as well as psychological. In battle, they could lose an appendage or develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Some veterans even suffer brain damage. All of these take their toll in a significant way.

Losing an appendage could mean losing mobility, which could impact future employment as well as recreational activities. Suffering a brain injury can limit cognitive abilities. Living with PTSD can develop a myriad of conditions that affect the emotional stability of the victim. It is sad when any of these occur. It is more so saddening when it happens to a mother or a father.

Children of injured veterans are significantly impacted by their parent’s return. Their once upbeat and capable parent may become dependent. This could force the child to grow up at an earlier rate than their peers. More responsibility could be placed upon them to help their parent live their daily life.

What’s more, when a parent suffers an emotional disorder from combat, the child is forced to deal with the emotional instability. This can lead to them suffering silently. Children with parents who are injured vet can themselves develop anger issues or anxiety. This loss of childhood can negatively impact their self-esteem.

It is important for us to take care of our veterans but more importantly we keep an eye on their children. Through various organizations, such as the Veteran’s Families United Foundation, it is possible to help these families recover from their injuries. Do your part, if you know children of wounded vets, consider taking on a mentorship role.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist that advocates for children throughout the country.

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The Truth about Service Animals

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi, co-founder of Animal Support, discusses service animals and their role in modern society.

Service dogs are among the most intelligent and well-trained animals in existence. In addition to dogs, you will sometimes see horses, monkeys and even birds that have been trained to help humans who have some sort of a disability.

We are all familiar with guide dogs for the blind, the most common type of service animal in the U.S. and Europe. The fact is, some service animals assist the deaf, the paralyzed or partially paralyzed, and people with other disabilities. Technically speaking, any animal that can be trained to help a disabled person can be considered a service animal.

Courtesy of the experts at Please Don’t Pet Me, an organization that works for “promoting widespread understanding and respect for service dog teams,” here are some facts about service dogs that you might not know:

• Any animal that helps a disabled person perform a task is a service animal, according to the Americans With Disabilities Act. That includes not just guide dogs for the blind, but all other animals that assist the disabled.

• In the U.S. any business that is open to the public must allow any type of service animal to enter its premises. This applies to restaurants and hospitals as well!

• Service dogs can NOT be refused entrance to a business if someone on the premises is allergic to dogs. If the business owner or another customer is allergic to dogs, that is not a legal reason to deny access to the animal and its owner/companion.

• Service animals get plenty of relaxation time, even though it is a common myth that they are always “on duty.” Sometimes, service dogs get even more recreation time than regular pets because of all the structured play and training activity they take part in.

My hat is off to organizations like Please Don’t Pet Me, without the help of organizations like them, we would be less informed about vital topics like this one. Service animals perform an essential job for the people they help. Be sure to let them do their jobs without interference. And when possible, consider donating to an organization that trains or provides service animals to those who need them.
Be good to each other (and to service animals),
Julian Omidi
Julian Omidi is co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit that works to support the rights and health of animals everywhere.

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Why Adopt a Shelter Animal?

 

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi, co-founder of Animal Support, discusses the best way to acquire a shelter pet.

With warm weather approaching in numerous parts of the country, many people start thinking of getting a cat or dog as a family pet, the better to frolic in the park with kids, friends and neighbors. Wanting to add an animal to the family is a commendable idea, especially when your new pet comes from a local shelter.

One of the world’s largest, and oldest, animal welfare organizations, the ASPCA, has some sound advice about how to adopt a shelter pet. Here are some of the key things they point out. Be sure to visit the ASPCA website for more detailed information, as well as a resource for all things animal related.

What you might not know…

• About a quarter of dogs and cats you see at shelters are pure-bred animals.
A large number of shelter dogs and cats have already lived a good portion of their lives with human families, so they are anything but ragtag, undisciplined pets.

• Your adoption fee goes a long way toward supporting the good work of the local shelter. And don’t forget that by adopting, you are actually saving an animal’s life!

• Almost all shelter cats and dogs are well-behaved animals that ended up without a home through no fault of their own. Pet owners take animals to shelters for all sorts of reasons, from lack of space after the birth of a baby, to a death in the family.

• The cost of pet adoption is much, much cheaper than acquiring an animal from a private breeder or professional pet store. Plus, shelters usually spay or neuter animals before adopting them out. That’s one less cost to worry about.

• Finally, when you adopt a shelter pet, you can rest assured that your new dog or cat has undergone a thorough physical exam and had all the shots it needs.

Animals bring so much to our lives, why not consider bringing a pet into your home if you have the space and time to care for it. As adults, some of our happiest memories of childhood usually involve the family cat or dog. Visit your local shelter soon, and even if you decide not to adopt, go ahead and make a small donation anyway to support the wonderful work that local shelters do.

Be good to each other (and support your local animal shelter!),
Julian Omidi
Julian Omidi is co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit that works to support the rights and health of animals everywhere.

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Facts for Prospective AmeriCorps Volunteers

julianIn today’s blog, Julian Omidi, co-founder of Civic Duty, discusses AmeriCorps, the U.S.-based community volunteer agency.

If you have ever considered joining up with America’s largest and most effective national volunteer organization, AmeriCorps, learn some of the key facts so you’ll be able to choose your niche within the vast network. AmeriCorps is indeed huge, with volunteers able to donate their time among various causes like, education, environmental cleanup, public safety, health care and others.

Since it began in 1994, AmeriCorps has witnessed rapid growth. Currently, about 80,000 people participate each year. If you think AmeriCorps is for you, here are some points to help you decide, as well as information about signing up:

• There are three parts to AmeriCorps; State/National, National Community Civilian Corps, and VISTA. Each has a different focus.

• State/National volunteers donate about 1,700 hours over an 11-month period, and receive a living allowance, child care assistance, tuition awards, and health benefits. Most work in their local communities doing a wide range of activities, from after-school tutoring to home building.

• National Community Civilian Corps volunteers is a full-time, residential program for people between the ages of 18 and 24. There are five campuses around the U.S., each of which serves as a staging ground for a vast array of team-oriented volunteer tasks.

• VISTA (volunteers in service to America) used to be a stand-alone organization before it was incorporated into AmeriCorps in 1993. The focus of Vista is poverty. Right now, about 5,000 Vista workers do their best to bring low-income families out of poverty.

If you would like to know more, or better yet sign up for AmeriCorps, visit the organization’s official website. People who are serious about community service and civic duty often end up in either AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps, two of the most famous, and effective, volunteer entities that have ever existed.

Be good to each other,
Julian Omidi
Julian Omidi, is co-founder of Civic Duty, a nonprofit that works to encourage community volunteering.

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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

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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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