Community Volunteers: Teach English as a Second Language (ESL)


In today’s entry, Julian Omidi discusses the rewards of volunteering to be an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor in your community.

One of the most rewarding pursuits for community-based volunteers is teaching. Every major U.S. city offers dozens of such positions through the public library system. Whether you live in Miami or Anchorage or anywhere in between, there is almost certainly a library volunteer program that could use your help as an ESL teacher/volunteer.

Teaching English as a second language to foreign immigrants, most of whom are newly arrived, is a great way to help those in need and to make your community more productive. For the majority of immigrants, job choices are extremely limited when they don’t speak functional English. Fluency is usually not the goal of these programs, but what linguists call “functional literacy” is.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to take on the challenging and exciting task of becoming an ESL volunteer teacher/tutor.

• Libraries will train you. You do not need to be a certified teacher in your state to work as an ESL volunteer. Just be ready to take about 10 to 20 hours of prep classes (some online) before you are allowed to step into the classroom.

• Your classes will include a mix of people from various countries. Typical groups you might end up teaching will include recent arrivals from Mexico, Somalia, China, Korea, and India.

• It generally takes about two or three months from the time you sign up until you are in the classroom teaching.

• Expect very small classes, most of which will not have more than six students.

• Library volunteer programs will give you everything you need in the way of books and supplies, but you might want to invest in a few inexpensive pocket dictionaries to cover the various languages your students speak. That way, you will be able to look up a word or phrase now and then when the course materials are insufficient.

• Learn to speak slowly and clearly so your students can understand and hear the words they already know. Practice using simple sentence structure and common words.

Helping immigrants adapt to their new country is a rewarding way to invest your time as a volunteer. As a bonus, you will likely acquire many new friends during your stint as an ESL teacher, and you’ll learn a great deal about other cultures. Sign up at your local library if you are interested in this kind of volunteer work.

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 nonprofit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others.


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The Zoo Animals We Love the Most


In today’s entry, Julian Omidi looks at the most beloved zoo animals.

The worldly editors at Encyclopedia Britannica have made it official: some zoo animals are more popular than others. In fact, the erudite editorial educators are now offering up their own top-10 list of amazingly adorable animals on display at public zoos. Note that, unfortunately, not every creature is available in every zoo.

When you head out to your local eco enclave this summer, you might not encounter all of them. Here’s Britannica’s roundup that should be copied and posted on your refrigerator door for future reference. Check each one off as you see them in your travels. Happy zoo-going!

Meerkats (see photo above)
So human and so curious, meerkats combine the best traits of raccoons and monkeys in a weird mixture of adorable, childlike friendliness.

Red Pandas
If you don’t instantly fall in love with these loveable tree-dwellers, then your heart is set to “chill.”

Forget what you’ve seen in vampire films. Most enclosures for bats are the coolest thing in the entire zoo.

Perhaps the most popular zoo creature of all time, these semi-human simians are always a big draw wherever they appear.

Poison Frogs
An oddity of the animal kingdom, these minuscule hoppers are a blast to watch, as long as there is a strong piece of protective glass between you and them.

Another classic zoo favorite. Throughout history, kangaroos have captivated and intrigued those who encounter them.

Beware the mysterious and not-so-friendly Tamarin, which is actually a mini-monkey. They look so cuddly and cute but, as any zoologist will tell you, they are definitely NOT meant to be pets. Even so, they are amazing to observe and impossibly tiny.

Tree Kangaroos
These small, monkey-like climbers are new to the zoo scene, but make almost everyone’s top-10 “loveable animals” list.

An age-old zoo favorite that appears to be almost human.

These friendly giants are the world’s largest rodents, but you’ll see more guinea pig than rat in their countenance. Plus, kids instantly fall in love with these animals, so if your zoo has some, don’t miss them.

Be sure to visit and support your local zoos, wildlife refuges and animal shelters. They do so much for our communities!

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 nonprofit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others. To read an account of the Omidi brothers rescuing an abandoned baby harbor seal, visit their charity

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Do the Right Thing by Helping Injured Animals


In today’s entry, Julian Omidi explains what to do if you find an injured animal.

Whether you live in an urban area or in a more rural setting, you should know what to do if you find an injured or incapacitated animal. Sometimes what appears to be a disabled critter is nothing more than a baby that has been left alone while its mother forages for food. Learn to size up situations like these, and you will be performing a valuable service for your furry, feathery and hairy friends.

Wild Things Sanctuary’s website features a detailed listing of what we humans need to know about abandoned animals. Here’s a summary of what experts suggest we do until professional help arrives:
• Do not hold or feed an injured animal, and try to keep it in a quiet, dark place. Even animals with minor injuries can die of shock, so take special care not to frighten the creature.

• Be very careful, and make sure to wear gloves if you must have any contact with the animal. Bites can be painful and dangerous for humans who are unprepared for such an encounter.

• Put a box over the animal until help arrives, and keep all pets away from injured creatures.

• Contact a local shelter or animal welfare agency at once to find out what the next step is, and to make certain that you are securing the animal properly.

• Keep in mind that baby rabbits, deer and other so-called “suburban wildlife” are often left alone during the daytime hours while their mothers hunt for food. Feeding times are typically at times when we humans are asleep, so don’t assume an animal is abandoned just because it is alone in a nest or secluded area.

With warmer weather approaching, let’s all make an effort to keep an eye out for abandoned and injured animals.

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 nonprofit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others. To read an account of the Omidi brothers rescuing an abandoned baby harbor seal, visit their charity

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The Best Career Choices for Animal Lovers

julianIn today’s entry, Julian Omidi takes a look at career paths for people who want to help animals.

Have you ever thought of becoming a zoologist or veterinarian? Perhaps you’d rather be involved with animal training or marine biology. Whatever your particular animal-related field of interest, there is a career for you. Like any other avocation, the choices diverse and most require at least a college degree in a specific subject area. Here’s a quick rundown, from, of the most common career choices for those who truly love animals and want to spend their lives helping them:

Veterinarian: This is perhaps the best-known and most difficult career path for animal enthusiasts. It’s essentially a doctoral degree program where candidates spend as much money and time as they would in a traditional medical school. You’ll need a solid college transcript to get into vet school. Spots in most schools are limited and highly competitive, so it pays to plan ahead. If you want to become a vet, take as many science courses as possible in college, get part-time jobs at animal clinics or shelters and keep your grades up. The average veterinarian in the U.S. earns close to $100,000 annually as of 2014. (Yes, all that hard work is worth it!)

• Animal care worker: This field is broad and the educational requirements for jobs depend largely on what you do. Growth is expected to continue and jobs are plentiful. Anyone with at least a high school diploma can enter as a staff member at a shelter or an assistant at a veterinary clinic. Many people work as animal groomers during high-school summer breaks.

• Zoologist/biologist: You’ll need at least a college degree to enter this field, but the career choices are wide and well-paying. If you have good observation skills, hold a degree in biology (even marine biology), zoology or a related discipline, you’re good to go. There are also Ph.D. paths for zoologists and biologist which would allow you to teach at the college level. Pay is very good and those willing to travel to remote areas have the best opportunities for advancement.

• Animal massage therapist: This is a relatively new field. Entry requires a high school diploma and massage therapy license in the U.S. Specialized courses in horse, dog and cat massage are a big plus. Some states are now beginning to certify equine (horse) and canine (dog) massage therapists. Many equine therapists work with race horses and top breeders around the world. You won’t get rich, but pay is better than average and you’ll also be able to sell your services to humans as a traditional masseuse/masseur.

Be good to each other, and consider a career in an animal-related field,
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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Mentoring the Future of America

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the importance of mentoring children, as well as the benefits it provides.

Giving back is always a rewarding experience. This is especially the case with mentoring the youth of America. You can provide mentorship in multiple capacities.

Providing Guidance

When you mentor, you utilize both professional and personal experiences that help instill lessons to the person you mentor. It can help them realize that anyone who grows up and becomes successful can experience challenges. You can provide stories of resilience that they will be able to take and apply to their future.

Additionally, you can help them with professional skills that they can apply. You will feel confident providing wisdom, which will in turn will feel rewarding. You can positively change the course of a child’s life.

Forming Bonds

When mentoring someone, you form bonds. You become a role model to someone much younger than you. Simultaneously, you can learn from them. They can show you lessons from their own resilience, especially if you are mentoring a student from a lower socioeconomic environment. Their optimism and perseverance can show you what humans are truly capable of when they have a burning desire to change their circumstances.

Learn How You Can Mentor

There are many different organizations you can partner with that can link you to a child or teen you can mentor. Some of these focus on more professional and business minded students, while others focus more on recreational mentoring. By researching an organization, you can find one that fits your background and personality.
Through mentoring, you have the chance to transform your life as well as someone else. It can give your life a deeper purpose, knowing you are helping guide and shape a young person’s life. Try mentoring in your area.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist that works to better the world for children and animals.

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Effective Ways to Help the Homeless


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 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


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?



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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