Category Archives: non profit

Leslye Borden – Founder of Handmade Especially for You


Julian Omidi profiles the founder of Handmade Especially for You, Leslye Borden.

Sometimes, having someone make a kind and thoughtful gesture, even if it is small, can make all the difference in our feelings of self worth.  People who have suffered years of abuse might have been conditioned to believe that simple kindness is something they will never either experience or deserve, but one organization, Handmade Especially for You, seeks to give people without hope a ray of handmade sunshine.[1]

Leslye Borden’s organization Handmade Especially for You, gives battered and abused women heartfelt, hand-knitted comfort scarves, which might be one of the few pieces of clothing the women have managed to retain after fleeing their dangerous conditions.  These scarves are colorful, lovingly packaged and created by groups of volunteers from all over the world.  Ms. Borden works with legions of recruits from church groups, retirement communities and community centers in order to produce the brightly patterned, cheerful scarves.  Since the organization’s inception in 2008, more than 57,000 scarves have been knitted and distributed to women in abuse shelters all over the United States.

Ms. Borden’s organization was founded shortly after she sold her stock photo business in 2007.  An avid knitting enthusiast, she spent her days knitting gifts for her grandchildren.  Scarves, sweaters, slippers, mittens, hats; any item of clothing that could be fabricated with yarn and needles.  When the number of articles began to overwhelm her family, she began donating the items to local shelters, and actively seeking organizations that needed knitted clothing.  When she found a Chicago shelter looking for knitted scarves for the rape survivors it helped, the concept of Handmade Especially for You was born.

Many of the volunteers are abuse survivors themselves.  Domestic abuse survivors are underrepresented members of society; they have little political or economic clout, so they are woefully unserved.  Organizations such as Handmade Especially for You bring the problem of domestic violence to the fore by encouraging survivors, witnesses of domestic abuse and those who haven’t been personally affected to work together to give a neglected segment of society a gift and a helping hand.

Handmade Especially for You is currently seeking facilities to house the supplies and scarves, as well as serve as a workshop for volunteers.  Currently, Ms. Borden keeps the supplies and donations in her home, which, thanks to the generosity of benefactors and volunteers, is becoming overwhelmed.

There are several satellite workshops where people can gather to knit and inspect scarves in accordance with Handmade’s specifications.  However, for those whose schedules or obligations do not allow them to visit one of the organized workshops, Handmade has patterns and kits for people to use when working on their own.  The organization has been highlighted by, as being a worthy volunteer opportunity for people who want to serve a charity from home.

We at Civic Duty would like to applaud Ms. Borden and her organization, not only for the invaluable service they provide to a vulnerable segment of the population, but also for bringing the problem of domestic abuse to greater public consciousness.  Handmade Especially for You also gives survivors as well as people untouched by domestic violence the opportunity to gather together and learn about each other, which is essential if we are going to increase empathy and understanding of this tragic problem.

By Julian Omidi


[1] Lubinskey, Annie: Local ‘Hero’ Offers Comfort to Abused Women Palos Verdes Peninsula News 3/5/2014


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Children’s Lifesaving Foundation Celebrates Two Decades of Assistance with Donations

Julian Omidi discusses the importance of Children’s Lifesaving Foundation (CLF) and their landmark 20th anniversary in late September of 2013.

At Civic Duty, my brother Michael and I wanted to help the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation celebrate their 20th anniversary by providing support in the Rise to Thrive Charity Challenge. The CLF, the organization devoted to changing the lives of homeless and at-risk children and families in Los Angeles through academic social and domestic support, sported three victories in the late September celebration.

The first win to kick the celebrations off was that the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation partnered up with CrowdRise (founded by actor Edward Norton), a philanthropist group that hosts fundraising websites, to assist the Omidis and company to raise funding for six at-risk children’s college education. The campaign partners have already risen $3,893 – 19 percent of the way toward their $20,000 goal.

To encourage all to join in on this goal, an incentive of creating a personal CrowdRise page was implemented. The top five fundraisers of the CLF will receive VIP ticket to the CLF’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Concert on December 7th. This event will be hosted by 1980s rock legends four-time Grammy Winner Pat Benatar and husband and lead guitarist Neil Giraldo.

The final and most generous victory came from top fundraising organization CrowdRise’s: The Rise to Thrive Challenge. This organization sponsored by CrowdRise and Visa Rush Card (co-founded by Russell Simmons) won a $25,000 donation to assist CLF continue its philosophy in transforming more lives.

In 20 years of giving, the CLF has served over 75,000 at-risk and homeless youth, moved 45 low income families into new apartments and provided thousands more with in-kind and financial donation, issued 44 college scholarship to well-qualified youths in addition to other enriching, like family and holiday opportunities.

CLF and Civic Duty invite you to not only start your own CrowdRise, but be mindful, supportive and compassionate towards children and families that are homeless and at risk. To get involved or to lend a helping hand to families suffering, send us a message on our Civic Duty webpage, or on the Civic Duty Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter pages for more information.

The Rise to Thrive Challenge concludes October 22nd.

By Julian Omidi

childrens lifesaving foundation

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“Philanthropubs” Used to Promote Charity

Julian Omidi discusses the opening of nonprofit bar/restaurants, where the revenue generated by the sale of drinks and food are donated to various charities.

Marrying fun with good deeds isn’t new; we’ve all heard of altruistic dance-a-thons, walk-a-thons, bake sales and car washes, but when was the last time you ordered a cocktail for charity?
One of the newest philanthropic phenomena is the nonprofit bar. Also called “philanthropubs,” the patrons order their drinks and support worthy causes at the same time.1

It’s a unique charity model. It’s one of the few that doesn’t pair an inherently G-rated activity with charity. It’s quite adult, and it’s also something that generates quite a lot of revenue.
San Francisco is the latest city to open a philanthropub, but these nonprofits have been springing up across the nation for years; Washington D.C., Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia all have charity bars which support diverse causes.

The San Francisco philanthropub will be called “United Libations,” after the group developing it. It plans on donating its proceeds to a fund for teaching English to Haitian orphans and developing a system for collecting rainwater in Uganda. Before the pub settles in a permanent site, it will host “pop up” fundraising events to introduce the concept to San Franciscans and, presumably, iron out any kinks in the project model before the actual philanthropub goes into operation. According to the United Libations mission statement, all of the profits will go to the charities the bar serves.

While some may take issue with this approach it might be an operation that provides a lot of revenue for worthy charities. As any restauranteur will tell you, most of a restaurant’s profits come from the bar – people only order one entrée, but they might (and often do) order one or two cocktails followed by several bottles of wine during the course of an evening. Many nightclubs offer table service, where a full bottle of liqueur is purchased at an outrageously inflated price for a table in a VIP section. If a nonprofit pub can harness this kind of money, then there will be ample opportunity for any number of charities to benefit.

It will be exciting to find out how this model progresses. The philanthropub in Washington D.C.,– Cause – began in late 2012 and seems to be going strong so far. The only issue is the overhead costs, since the liqueur and food likely won’t be donated from the vendors, and there is the matter of rent and operating costs. Nevertheless, if the operations are successful, we may be seeing other such philanthropubs springing up in cities across the U.S.

By Julian Omidi

1Groden, Claire: Proposed San Francisco Bar Pairs Drinking with Charity Time Magazine 6/25/2013


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Julian Omidi on the Condition of Children in Sierra Leone

Julian Omidi discusses the plight of children in Sierra Leone. Julian Omidi illuminates the state of these children’s lives and what one nonprofit is doing to help these children.

While exploitation of children occurs in many developing countries, one of the most noticeable places where child exploitation occurs is in the country of Sierra Leone. According to Afrol news, approximately three-quarters of children in Sierra Leone are involved with work with the majority of young boys in the country working in mines and many young girls caught up in the sex trade.

Statistics put the proportion of children ages 5 to 14 participating in work (including working for family business and on family farms) at 71.6%. As a result of so many of the nation’s children being employed in one way or another attendance at schools is limited, resulting in decreased levels of education across the nation. While attendance in primary school education is legally required by Sierra Leone for 6 years, with an additional 3 years of secondary school required, attendance rates for primary school average at about 63% between boys and girls, and secondary school attendance is 31% for males and 35% for females.

This is why the work of the Raining Season is so important. The Raining Season was formed after the struggles endured by Erica Stone to adopt a suffering child from Sierra Leone. Stone spent 3 years attempting to find and adopt a young child she had seen on a website dedicated to finding homes for orphaned children. In 2008 Stone along with her husband formed the Raining Season to help “protect the family unit, in order to help control the number of children abandoned.”

For this reason my brother Michael Omidi and I are proud to provide our support to the Raining Season organization. In a country with more than 70% of its citizens living below the poverty line, the Raining Season is fighting an uphill battle, but one that we know with our support, and yours as well, it is a battle that we can win.

Please join the Omidi Brothers in our support of this amazing organization and assist children in Sierra Leone achieve an education, a safe place to sleep, food in their mouths, and the opportunity for a better life today.


“Afrol News – Child Labour Affects 72% of Sierra Leone’s Children.” AfrolNews, 09 Feb. 2005. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <;.

“At a Glance: Sierra Leone.” UNICEF, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <;.

“Education in Sierra Leone.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <;.Image

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