Vanilla Ice had the right idea—are you listening to your employees?

Employers are creating wellness programs designed to improve the health of their employees. The programs revolve around improving employee health and can include anything from fitness challenges to rewarding regular doctor visits.

With a broad range of options, it’s important to implement an effective and helpful campaign designed for your employees specifically. When strategizing, ask for input.

  • Ask employees to anonymously complete Community Health Charities’ survey (sample only; we’ll customize one for you)—ask them what they’d like to see, what could be improved, and what they think your organization is missing.
  • Administer confidential health risk assessments. Find out what health issues most affect your employees and then identify the resources your employees need to live their healthiest lives—improved employee health can have an effect on absenteeism, productivity, and your bottom line. Use Community Health Charities’ resources to help provide the health support your team needs.

  • Host a roundtable on company culture. Make wellness part of your company’s culture. Host a conversation and discuss with employees how to best make wellness a part of the daily routine—the roundtable is the first step towards reaching this goal.

Your employees are your best resource—utilize them.

Make today, World Heart Day, the day you start making heart health a priority—incorporating a few healthy practices into your routine is all it takes.

  • Get moving and stay moving. Whether you’re training for a marathon or taking a brisk walk, find a way to incorporate exercise into your daily life. Getting your heartbeat up for 40 minutes three to four times a week can help fight off heart disease and stroke, as well as reduce blood pressure and stress levels.
  • Fuel up and eat mindfully. You are what you eat! Make sure your body is getting the nutrition it needs to keep you going.
  • Stop smoking and stay tobacco-free. Smoking increases your disk of a cardiovascular disease, as well as makes it harder for you to reach the rest of your health goals. Use American Heart Association’s resources to help you quit.

Check out all of American Heart Association’s suggestions for more ways to keep your heart healthy and utilize Community Health Charities’ heart healthy resources.

Trying to spark a healthy change in your office? Try adding some friendly competition to your workplace. Awards can be anything from the best parking spot, healthcare discounts, time off, a company-sponsored lunch, gift cards, or bragging rights!

  • Walking—Challenge your coworkers to see who can take the most steps in a week. Research shows that walking reduces your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. You can track your steps with fitness trackers or an app on your smart phone. Post a chart with everyone’s stats in the office and update it every day to keep the competitive streak going.
  • Water drinking— Drink up! Hydration is key to overall health and maintaining a healthy weight. Keep a white board in the kitchen and have everyone write a tally every time they consume 8 ounces of water.
  • Sleeping—Getting enough sleep each night is important for your physical health, emotional health, and overall productivity at work. Challenge your coworkers to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night one week. The department with the highest success rate wins.
  • Bringing lunch—It’s easier to know what’s in your food when you’re the one making it. Challenge your office to bring a healthy lunch to work twice a week for a month. With a variety of healthy ideas, healthy doesn’t have to be boring.

Community Health Charities has a variety of health resources to help motivate your employees. Check them out, challenge your coworkers, and maximize employee wellness!

This September 11th, remember those who have fallen by supporting military and veterans in need. 1 of every 4 active duty military members shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or other mental health conditions. Whether their injuries are physical, mental or both, our nation’s heroes and the families who care for them need a tremendous amount of support.

Here’s how you can honor our active military and veterans on September 11th:

  • Use our Volunteer on the Spot Guide to coordinate a volunteer event in your office. Write cards for veterans in hospitals, make snack packs for family members visiting their loved ones, or come up with your own event! To volunteer onsite, visit our volunteer tool to find volunteer opportunities near you.
  • Support Hero’s Health. Your support will provide critical physical and mental health programs focused on hope and healing, support for families’ of injured veterans, employment and job training programs, and more.
  • Share our Military and Veteran Health Resources with someone in need.

Thank you to our service members and all those who support them.

Disaster response is not just about rebuilding homes—it’s about rebuilding lives.

Thousands of lives have been affected by Harvey and Irma, both inside their paths and out. Family and friends of our staff have lost everything, been displaced from their homes, and are living in shelters while their communities recover and grow during the storms’ aftermath. Shelly Douglas, a staff member, had a friend recently pass in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Amid the heartbreak, the solidarity and support we have seen has been uplifting—dedicated staff, charity partners working around the clock, and supporters, like you, giving to support communities in need. Funds raised through our Crisis and Disaster Response fund provide everything from emergency medical and healthcare services to mental health and wellbeing. Long-term recovery and rebuilding takes time and resources, as it is more than supplies and buildings—it’s rebuilding and restoring the lives of individuals, children, and families.

We’re building stronger, healthier communities. Together.

Wildfires: it’s more than just the burn; it’s the health impact

Wildfires are burning across the west coast, affecting both the communities witnessing active fire and those surrounding them—a study found that two thirds of the United States was affected by smoke-induced air conditions in 2011.  The fine particles dispersed into the air during fire are linked to a range of health conditions, ranging from burning eyes to aggravating chronic heart and lung diseases.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that those living in areas affected by smoke and worsened air conditions take active steps during wildfires.

  • Use common sense. Stay inside if it look smoky outside or you’ve heard reports of unhealthy air conditions.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports. Stay up-to-date on news coverage and visit AirNow for your area’s air quality.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Avoid anything that burns—wood fireplaces, gas stoves, etc.—plus, steer clear of candles, wait to vacuum, and do not smoke.
  • Run your air conditioner. Filter clean air rather than bringing contaminated air inside.
  • Talk to a doctor. If you have heart or lung disease, if you are an older adult, or if you have children you may want to leave the area.

Take American Lung Association’s special precautions if you have lung disease, chronic disease, or diabetes.

Cause an impact for those living with dangerous air quality by supporting Crisis and Disaster Response and utilizing our crisis resources.

A healthy diet and active lifestyle affects a whole lot more than weight: USDA research indicates that a healthy diet full of nutritious food plays a part in preventing chronic disease.

Whether you’re planning school lunches or making healthy changes to your lifestyle, it’s hard to make a big change all at once. To get started, try these four small changes to make your health and long-term wellbeing a priority.

  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables work to maintain a healthy blood pressure, possibly protect against certain types of cancer, and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Use these creative ways to slip fruits and veggies into your snacks and meals.
  • Make half of your grains whole grains. Whole grains help maintain a healthy digestive track and keep your blood sugar steady, lowering your risk of diabetes. Check out the USDA’s tips on adding whole grain to your diet, as well as the American Diabetes Association’s Create Your Plate tool to ensure you’re getting enough whole grain in your meals.
  • Move to low-fat and fat-free dairy. While dairy can promote bone health, consuming too much high-fat dairy can result in high cholesterol levels. This can increase risk of heart attack and stroke. Follow these ten simple steps to make sure you’re making the right dairy choices.
  • Vary your protein routine. Switch it up! Protein fuels your body, so make sure you’re balancing the kinds you’re eating. Regularly consuming lean protein can help maintain heart health, relieve the symptoms of arthritis, and more.

Check out our health resources for more ways to feel healthy and energized!

What’s your company’s biggest cost?

According to a study by PWC, financial stress could be costing you—big time.

The study found that one in three employees reports that their personal finances are a distraction at work—and 46% of those people said they spend three hours or more a week thinking about or dealing with their personal finances at work. This results in $5,000 in productivity loss a year per employee.

To combat this, U.S. employers are implementing financial wellness programs for their employees.

This doesn’t mean better insurance policies, 401k policies, or the occasional bonus—It means offering programs that teach employees how to manage their finances: budgeting within their means, growing a savings account, utilizing insurance, and more. Whether it’s free employee consultations, workshops, or online resources, see what you can do to reduce employee financial stress and increase productivity.

Health and wellbeing is all-encompassing and includes financial wellness.  Check out a few of the financial resources by one of our charity partners.

Community Health Charities hosted our 7th Annual Health Heroes at Work Recognition Heroes Breakfast on August 18 in Denver, Colorado.

The event celebrated Colorado businesses’ and nonprofits’ amazing work to build stronger, healthier Colorado communities.

“The Hero’s Health breakfast in Denver was an awesome opportunity to celebrate the amazing working taking place in the community.  I enjoyed meeting representatives from local charities as well as all of the campaigns,” said Shelley Hayes, Vice President of Customer Solutions at Community Health Charities. “Seeing Colorado come together to build stronger communities inspires me both personally and professionally.”

The event was emceed by Corey Rose from 9News, an award-winning journalist who annually hosts the event. Beth Bowlen, daughter of Denver Bronco’s owner Pat Bowlen, was the keynote speaker. Beth is a prominent part of the Denver community and previously worked as the director of special projects for the Denver Broncos. She currently serves on multiple nonprofit executive boards, including Alzheimer’s Association.

Don Parsons, a retired surgeon general working at 9Health Fair, was this year’s Health Hero of the Year. Don has been with 9Health Fair for 10 years, serving on the Medical Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees and working as the site coordinator at the Summit County Fair in Frisco. His dedicated spirit demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the medical, health, and wellness of communities in Colorado.

Community Health Charities recognized local company partners whose campaigns excelled. Recipients of the 2017 Campaign Excellence award included Great-West Financial, Kaiser Permanente, King Soopers/City Market, and TIAA. Winners of the 2017 Campaign Success Award included Pinnacol Assurance, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Hyatt Regency Denver.

9News ran a segment on Parsons and Community Health Charities.

Thank you to all that attended the breakfast—and to everyone that continues to work to build stronger, healthier communities.

Everyone loves a barbeque—but this classic option isn’t the only way to honor America’s workers this Labor Day. Try one of our three unconventional ways to celebrate Labor Day this year:

  • Volunteer! Labor Day honors Americas’ workers, but many of them—nurses, emergency responders, police officers, and farmers to name a few—can’t take the day off. Use our volunteer tool to find volunteer opportunities near you.
  • Organize a Volunteer on the Spot event at your workplace this week—and labor for a good cause. You and your coworkers can make a difference on your lunch breaks or in between projects without leaving the office with the onsite volunteer projects in our guide.
  • Begin making employee wellness and engagement priorities in your workplace. Make sure everyone you work with is happy, healthy and able to perform their best.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, North America will see the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse we’ve had since 1979.

While it’s tempting, it’s dangerous to look directly at the eclipse. The sun’s rays are much more powerful during an eclipse than a normal day, and since the retina does not have pain receptors, you can’t feel your eyes being damaged.

Try one of these easy tips to prevent retinal damage or eclipse blindness:

  • Purchase eyewear specifically designed for looking at eclipses. Ordinary sunglasses are not a substitute—keep your eyes safe and get the real thing! Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page for more details.
  • Install a solar filter on your telescope, camera, binoculars, or other viewing devices. Simply looking through these while wearing solar eyewear will not do! These devices magnify the sunlight, making the rays even more powerful.
  • Pinhole projection is another safe option for viewing. This involves passing sunlight through a small opening (such as a hole punched in an index card) and projecting an image of the Sun onto a nearby surface (for example, another card or the ground). Do NOT look at the Sun through a pinhole!

For complete safety information, visit the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Eclipse 101 page.

Unsure when the eclipse will be visible in your area? Check here.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a Community Health Charities partner, issued a warning about a fake charity sweepstakes. The scammers call from a Washington D.C. area code (202), referencing the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and saying that the recipient has won $450,000. The catch? The “winner” must give up their banking information for taxes and insurance. Both the FTC and the Make-A-Wish Foundation posted alerts about the scam.

Keep yourself safe from charity scammers with BBB’s tips on identifying fraud:

  1. If a caller says you have to “pay” for a prize, hang up.  If you truly participated and won a sweepstakes, you will never have to send any type of payment to get your winnings.
  2. Government agencies won’t call you about sweepstakes.Scammers use this ruse to gain your trust and/or to make their tax or fees claim sound more official.
  3. Watch out for unauthorized use of a real charity name. The caller may use the name of a nationally recognized charity, like Make-A-Wish Foundation, to help build credibility, they may even offer to “connect” you with the sweepstakes office of that charity.  That’s another false-trust builder. If you truly want to connect with the charity, go to their official website for details.
  4. Don’t succumb to pressure to do as they say.Sometimes the longer you stay on the call, the more opportunities you will be providing scammers to push the right buttons to convince you.
  5. Report suspected scams to government authorities and the BBB.If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, contact the office of the attorney general in your state, report it to the FTC at, and post your concerns to BBB Scam Tracker so that other members of the public will be informed about it.

It’s back to school season! You know what that means: Busy schedules and even busier mornings.

While it’s tempting to pack a pre-packaged breakfast, what you put in your body in the morning fuels you for the rest of the day. Whether it’s for a child or yourself, stay away from foods loaded with fat and sugar—your breakfast should be filled with hearty food that will keep you going throughout the day. Instead, try the American Heart Association’s Top Ten Tips for a Healthy Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal in an instant!—Instant oatmeal is great on a cold morning and contains fiber and vitamins.
  • Smoothie madness—Blend frozen fruit (bananas and berries are great), low-fat milk or fat-free milk, and 100$% fruit juice for a quick, tasty breakfast smoothie with lots of nutrients.
  • Go 100% whole grain—100% whole grain, cereals containing fiber served with low-fat or fat-free milk are a healthier alternative to sugary cereals. Whole wheat muffins with smashed banana are easy and tasty too.
  • Eggxactly!—Boil, scramble, or poach eggs and serve on whole wheat toast—they’re packed with nutrition
  • Toaster treats—Frozen whole grain waffles take almost no time to make. Top them with berries, low sugar apple sauce, or sliced bananas instead of syrup.
  • Go nutty!—Spreading peanut or almond butter on whole grain toast is a great way to get both protein and fiber.
  • Go fruity!—Fresh fruit cut up with a dollop of low or fat-free yogurt is a great way to start the day. Apples contain fiber and bananas contain potassium.
  • Try all-fruit spreads—Instead of butter or margarine on toast, try all-fruit spreads, fruit butters, or even sliced bananas or strawberries
  • Bagel classics—Try a while wheat or sunflower seed bagel with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter
  • Breakfast on-the-go—Don’t have time to eat breakfast at home? Try whole grain mini bagels, muffins, nuts and dried fresh fruit that can be taken in the car (apple slices and bananas are also easy and not too messy!)

More than 14 million kids and adults in the U.S. attend summer camp every year.  It’s something we take for granted—afternoons spent swimming at the lake, popsicles eaten after a long field day, and the learning done by the creek rather than in the classroom.

For many kids, summer camp is a rite of passage.

It’s more than a tire swing by the river or globs of sticky sunscreen; it’s the chance to just be a kid. It’s the first time many children are apart from their parents for longer than a school day. It’s the first time they get to decide what they want for dessert. It is the first time they get to grow up and be on their own.

However, it can also be something more than just the classic camp experience portrayed in films like The Parent Trap or Meatballs. It can be a place where a child with type 1 diabetes learns self-confidence and independence from mom and dad, plus has an opportunity to be with other kids with diabetes. It can be a moment in the life of a child with special needs where they can broaden their worldview by meeting other children, interacting with animals, and engaging in sports and activities that help expand their social skills and display their unique abilities. Some camps provide youth from poor, inner-city communities with their only access to quality summer educational or recreational programs. This includes mentoring and fitness that can teach kids how daily choices support a healthier, happier life.

Not every child has access to summer camp.  Often, children living with long-term mental and physical health challenges don’t have the opportunity to go away for summer—camp isn’t always feasible when you need assistance climbing stairs or require multiple insulin shots every day.

But long-term health challenges don’t stop kids from wanting to be kids; camps across the country are working to make sure that every child has this life-changing opportunity. Camps like Camp Crescent Moon, American Diabetes Association Camp, and The Woods Project are working to ensure that children living with long-term health challenges, disabilities, and disadvantages still get to experience fun in the sun. From zip lining to fishing, camp gives children the chance to just be kids.

I witnessed the incredible positive impact of these health-based camps over the 20 years I spent with the American Diabetes Association. Spending a week at diabetes camp with all the other “kids” opened my eyes to what a parent of a child with diabetes faced every day. It meant waking up throughout the night to check on campers who might be experiencing low blood episodes, or celebrating with a six-year-old who was learning to test his own blood sugar levels or master the intricacies of an implantable diabetes pump. I learned there that these summer camps for kids with health challenges were about the only place where these children are ever completely “normal”; they could forget about their health issue and just be with other children who are like them, who understand them.

This impact is not limited to children here domestically—it happens all across the globe with camps like SeriousFun. Actor Paul Newman founded SeriousFun camps in 1988 so that kids with health challenges could, in his words, “raise a little hell.” Now, almost thirty years later, there are nearly 30 SeriousFun camps around the world.

For SeriousFun Camp Korey camper Alex, camp is a place that celebrates what he can do—not what he can’t. Alex uses a wheelchair, and often feels left out. But not at Camp Korey. Alex’s mother describes camp as “a place where he can be appreciated for who he is without constantly having to prove that he is good enough to deserve a place….He came home with his heart so full, he overflowed with happiness. It’s a place where he is a kid first and a person with a disability second.”

Alex isn’t the only camper to benefit from the freedom the camps provide. A study done by the Yale Child Support Center in 2015 found that parents noticed a positive change in their children with long-term health challenges after attending summer camp:

  • 66 percent of parents reported their child had an increased interest in social activities
  • 79 percent of parents reported an increase in confidence levels
  • 77 percent of parents reported increased self-esteem
  • 64 percent of parents reported an increased sense of belonging

Yes, camp is about mosquito bites, s’mores, and bunkbeds. But for some children, it’s the first time they’ve been in the water. The first time outside a hospital that they’ve been surrounded by other children who understand what they’re going through. It may be the first time they’ve been treated like kids, not patients.

Let’s help every child experience the confidence that summer camp fosters—and the sweat, smiles, and chlorine-filled fun that accompanies it—no matter what their disease or diagnosis.

Check out our Camps for Kids resources to find special camps for children with long-term health challenges in your area, or support the cause.

Two nights ago, I asked my older child (who just turned 21) if it was okay for me to discuss her personal situation in this blog post. She answered that if we don’t talk about it, we’ll never overcome the stigma associated with mental health problems, and people will continue to suffer in isolation and unnecessary shame. It was exactly the answer I expected.


Two years ago, before Emma’s struggles began, I would have called that a courageous attitude. Around that time because of my work, I began attending seminars and meetings about suicide prevention and mental health in the workplace, and I marveled at the courage of people who shared their lived experience stories of anxiety and depression. I didn’t understand how someone could be so brave as to admit to a room full of strangers that he’d tried to kill himself. But he knew exactly the impact it would have on his audience to witness a brilliant, successful man explain the hidden demon that had been destroying him inside for years.


Then that hidden demon attacked my family.


Ethan was a high school senior, a brilliant, successful kid with high GPA, strong test scores, and acceptance letters from good colleges. Then, suddenly, grades slipped. Anger appeared. He started cutting. As his parents, we didn’t understand why all his success suddenly began falling apart.


And we couldn’t talk about it, of course, because everyone else’s kids seemed just fine and no one would understand. So we stumbled along as best we could.


Shortly after graduation, Ethan and his girlfriend came to us, somber and serious, with “something to tell us.” Naturally we assumed what parents assume in this case, but we weren’t even close. Ethan said, “I think I may be gender fluid.” We didn’t know what that was at the time, but we learned quickly.


The ensuing two years has been a journey like none of us had ever anticipated. “Gender fluid” has clarified to “transgender,” and although Emma still looks to most people like a young man, nearly everyone accepts her for who she is inside. Depression and anxiety, in part driven by her gender dysphoria, has slowed her ability to transition. She’s been hospitalized six times on psychiatric holds for suicidal ideation, and one time she actually tried to take her own life. We’ve found that few doctors or therapists have any experience with or understanding of how gender issues complicate a person’s mental health picture. Although Emma has a tremendous network of support and love around her, depression is a powerful demon.


It’s a difficult thing, being the parent of a grown child whose depression has caused at least one suicide attempt. We are all just stumbling through this the best we can.


At first, I thought this was a private thing, something no one else would want to hear about. Then, during a reception at a work conference, I responded honestly to a colleague who simply asked, “and how are your kids?” By sharing my family’s story, I unexpectedly created space for her to open up about her own family’s struggles.


Telling her about Emma’s transition and depression didn’t feel courageous. It felt more like an act of compassion and connection, a recognition that few of us are as problem-free as we feel we have to present ourselves all the time.


Thus, when I stood up in front of a room of 150 people at the Charities@Work conference two weeks ago and told this same story, I didn’t think of it as courage at all. It should not have to be a courageous act to show vulnerability in public. Suppressing mental health challenges only perpetuates the stigma that makes it harder for suffering people to overcome the crushing feeling of pointless shame. There is no part of me that is ashamed of my daughter. There is no part of me that is ashamed of not having the answers, or not being able to “fix” her.


It’s important to remember that we are all stumbling along the best we can. This is the reason I started WriteCause with Community Health Charities. I hope over time it will grow, with others sharing their stories and shining a light on mental health concerns. Only through this sharing can we overcome the stigma and allow people struggling with mental health issues to change from being a person with a shameful secret, into being a person with a loving, supportive network holding them up.


Join us and share your story:

Everyone experiences fear. The fear of public speaking, failure, heights, darkness, small spaces — and, one of my all-time favorites — snakes. Just ask Indiana Jones. Fear comes in all sizes and shapes, and attacks despite our best efforts to ignore or avoid it. So, what makes you afraid?

We may not agree on politics, religion, or even favorite dessert (I like cannoli), but you will probably agree with me that you share the fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the most feared disease in America.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

I always included the PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening test in any routine physical because I knew that prostate cancer was one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths for men in the U.S., and my PSA numbers had been climbing. To be honest, I didn’t really give much thought to my personal risk of cancer. No one in my immediate family had ever had prostate cancer, and at the time of the biopsy, I was only in my mid-50s. Prostate cancer was a disease that only affected older men.

All my complacency was shattered when the doctor came in and started the conversation with words that would change my life: “Man, you have a lot of cancer in there!”


Read more on The Huffington Post.

With summer vacation fast approaching, many parents are looking for ways to keep their kids active and healthy. Activity occupies the mind, avoids the summer slide, prevents boredom, and keeps kids from becoming couch potatoes.


Experts say too many kids choose sedentary activities over the summer, like video games and television, instead of exercise. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health reported that the body mass indexes (BMI) of more than 5,000 kindergartners and first graders increased by almost twice as much during summer break as compared with the school year. A follow-up study in 2016, published in the Journal of Obesity found that the risk of obesity is higher when children are out of school than when they are in school.


With a little planning, you can ensure your kids have their best, healthiest summer ever with these 12 tips:

  • Create structure and plan daily activities
  • Limit electronics
  • Keep cool with outdoor water activities – pools, water balloons, squirt guns, slip and slide, hose, boating, etc.
  • Make exercise a family affair by walking to a park or playground, biking, playing football or Frisbee in the yard
  • Encourage socialization with friends
  • Checkout summer camp and vacation bible school options
  • Sign up for summer reading programs at your local library
  • Learn something new through activities sponsored by area parks, museums, science centers, libraries, theatres, and beyond
  • Join a summer sports league
  • Try seasonal foods through cooking activities or plant a family garden
  • Give back through volunteering – check out volunteer opportunities
  • Keep a stash of craft activities, board games, books, and art supplies for rainy days



  • Ensure safety and adult supervision
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Consider the impact of air quality
  • Stay hydrated


Summer Obesity Studies:

These gift ideas are perfect year-round for holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and more. Give a great gift that gives back, building stronger, healthier communities for all of us by supporting our trusted member charities. Here are 10 ideas:

  1. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Items include to beaded and charm bracelets as well as home décor (photo frames and throw blankets). Our pick: the Daisy Fuentes necklace or Brooks Brothers Striped Tie.
  2. Free to Breathe: A partnership for lung cancer survivors, Free to Breathe offers a variety of jewelry, watches and apparel, including beautiful bracelets and scarves with a “Be Brave” motto. You also have the option to build your own charm bracelet or necklace for an even more personalized gift. Our pick: Time to Be Brave leather band watch in pearl white. Also featured in Gift Guide for Gamers.
  3. American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society Bookstore has an assortment of books, including a children’s picture book about why smoking isn’t healthy, cookbooks, support & care and cancer education books. Our pick: American Cancer Society New Healthy Eating Cookbook.
  4. American Diabetes Association: Find T-shirts, gifts for the kitchen and entertaining, and more at Our pick: Precise Portions® Go Healthy Travel Pack.
  5. American Heart Association: One of the best online charity shops out there. They have everything from travel mugs to apple scented planners and rhinestone jewelry. Our pick: “Go Red” fleece blanket
  6. Autism Speaks: From T-shirts to jewelry, the Autism Speaks shop has it all. Our pick: NEST Blue Garden Classic Candle.
  7. JDRF: Shop a variety of T-shirts, ball caps, automotive accessories and more at the JDRF. Our pick:  The OGIO® Sonic Sling Pack.
  8. National Stroke Association: The National Stroke Association store has everything from apparel and bags, to drinkware and temporary tattoos.  Our pick: “Come Back Strong” graphic t-shirt.
  9. National Multiple Sclerosis Society: At this shop you’ll find bracelets, lapel pins and even an orange teddy bear! Our pick: Orange and white compactible umbrella with the MS logo.
  10. Sickle Cell Disease Association of America: Sickle Cell Disease Association of America has a variety of gifts that include clothing, drinkware and more.  Our pick: “It’s Time” lunch bag.

My children were raised in a home where Elmo, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch were just another part of our family. Since 1969, Sesame Street has been reaching and teaching children all over the world with comedy, cartoons, games, and songs. More than just ABCs and counting, Sesame Street has influenced our perceptions about developmental psychology, early childhood education, and cultural diversity.

This month, with the addition of Julia, a new Muppet with autism, this long-running American cultural icon has taken another important step to increase the awareness and understanding of children who are “different,” specifically children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The big question we need to be asking ourselves now is whether this unprecedented step forward is enough.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

It’s hard to know where to begin with the current maelstrom swirling around the refugee crisis.

From Trump’s executive orders, to airport protests regarding refugee bans, to deterring terrorism and ISIS, to the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling, this issue has become political dynamite. Politics instead of people.

Read more on The Huffington Post.


Did you know that several of Community Health Charities’ members have gift catalogs and online shops where you can buy great gifts to support a great cause? Gift choices range from jewelry and apparel to home décor and automotive accessories.

Why not shop from one of these online stores for a great way to give a gift to a friend or loved one this Valentine’s Day while also donating to a worthy cause? Here are 10 ideas:

  1. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Items include to beaded and charm bracelets as well as home décor (photo frames and throw blankets). Our pick: the Daisy Fuentes necklace or Brooks Brothers Striped Tie.
  2. Free to Breathe: A partnership for lung cancer survivors, Free to Breathe offers a variety of jewelry, watches and apparel, including beautiful bracelets and scarves with a “Be Brave” motto. You also have the option to build your own charm bracelet or necklace for an even more personalized gift. Our pick: Time to Be Brave leather band watch in pearl white.
  3. American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society Bookstore has an assortment of books, including a children’s picture book about why smoking isn’t healthy, cookbooks, support & care and cancer education books. Our pick: American Cancer Society New Healthy Eating Cookbook.
  4. American Diabetes Association: Find T-shirts, gifts for the kitchen and entertaining, and more at  Our pick: Precise Portions® Go Healthy Travel Pack.
  5. American Heart Association: One of the best online charity shops out there is. They have everything from travel mugs to apple scented planners and rhinestone jewelry. Our pick: “Go Red” fleece blanket
  6. Autism Speaks: From T-shirts to jewelry, the Autism Speaks shop has it all. Our pick: NEST Blue Garden Classic Candle.
  7. JDRF: Shop a variety of T-shirts, ball caps, automotive accessories and more at the JDRF. Our pick:  The OGIO® Sonic Sling Pack.
  8. National Stroke Association: The National Stroke Association store has everything from apparel and bags, to drinkware and temporary tattoos.  Our pick: “Come Back Strong” graphic t-shirt.
  9. National Multiple Sclerosis Society: At this shop you’ll find bracelets, lapel pins and even an orange teddy bear! Our pick: Orange and white compactible umbrella with the MS logo.
  10. Sickle Cell Disease Association of America: Sickle Cell Disease Association of America has a variety of gifts that include clothing, drinkware and more.  Our pick: “It’s Time” lunch bag.

Whatever your cause, our member charity online shops can help you find a great gift for the important people in your life. For more on our member charities, view our complete member list.

Since 2007, the month of January has been observed as Sex and Human Trafficking Awareness Month per presidential proclamation. Unfortunately the epidemic has only worsened. According to the International Labour Organizationat least 20 million people are enslaved today – more than at any time in human history.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

It’s the New Year, and many of us will resolve to eat healthier. We might substitute fruit for candy as our 3pm snack, or start a health cleanse. Check out three easy habits to try for better nutrition and overall better health.

1. Skip the soda, sports and fruit drinks. Drink water instead: Here’s why:

2. Eat more whole grain bread and pasta. Several food chains have now jumped on the whole grain food train and so should you!

  • Subway, Bertucci’s, Carraba’s and Noodles & Company serve whole-grain pasta dishes.
  • Subway, Roti and Arby’s serve whole grain sandwich or pita bread, and several pizza chains including California Pizza Kitchen now offer whole grain pizza crust.
  • For a list of restaurants and food chains that serve whole grains, you can view this guide by the Whole Grains Council.

3. Make better breakfast choices:

  • Stay away from donuts, muffins, or granola bars high in sugar when opting for a quick breakfast. These foods are loaded with fat and sugar and can quickly add inches to your waistline.
  • A better alternative is oatmeal, cold cereal or a whole-grain English muffin or bagel. While all contain carbs, oatmeal and whole-grain cereals, muffins and bagels provide a helping of fiber and 75% less sugar – which not only helps your waistline, but is better for your heart, blood pressure, and risk of stroke. It can also lower your diabetes risk and so much more!

Making a major change to your eating is never easy. So just start small with one change every month. For more resources on healthy eating and what is in the foods you eat, visit

Esteban Santiago, who opened fire in the Fort Lauderdale airport last week, was only 26 years old. He was an Iraq war veteran who had received a general discharge from the military for unsatisfactory performance. He had recently undergone psychiatric evaluation after claiming he was hearing voices. The FBI had been involved. Santiago also had been accused of domestic disturbance, allegedly trying to strangle his girlfriend. Yet his gun was returned to him.

The signs were all there. But Santiago didn’t get the help he needed. This isn’t the first time this has happened. It certainly won’t be the last.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

As we enter the holiday season, #GivingTuesday is an ideal opportunity to way to give back. No matter who you are, where you live, what your income is or how old (or young) you are, everyone has something to give.

Join us on #GivingTuesday and throughout the year to make our community, country and world a better place for all. Working together, we can bring real and positive change. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Donate your time – The gift of your time can be just as valuable as money. Many of our member charities recruit volunteers year-round. Contact us for more information.
  2. Support your favorite health cause – It’s easy to directly impact the health causes that are most important to you. From military and veterans to Zika virus and children’s health, just choose what compels you to give. Visit our homepage and select  Causes to learn more.
  3. Help those experiencing homelessness – With cold temperatures on their way, millions of children, youth and adults are living on the streets. Join your friends and family to hand out blankets, warm clothes, food and toiletry items. Covenant House has 30 locations across the country, or find a homeless shelter in your community to support.
  4. Teach kids the power of giving – Whether it’s a small financial gift, donating their old toys to Salvation Army or volunteering for a local charity, it’s never too early for children to learn the importance of giving back. Share these experiences with your children now to ensure a future generation of caring givers.
  5. Be an organ or marrow donor – Give the gift of life by signing up to be an organ donor. Just one organ donor can save as many as eight lives. Also, check out Be The Match which manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world, saving thousands of lives every year.
  6. Bring doctors to doorsteps – Too many families don’t have access to quality healthcare. Organizations like the Children’s Health Fund bring high-quality care directly to America’s most disadvantaged children, giving them a greater chance for a healthy life. Support Drive For a Cure today.
  7. Support our military – Show appreciation for our military veterans and their many sacrifices by sending letters of encouragement, food and other items. The USO offers tips to help you put together a perfect care package for active-duty troops. Or, check out this list of resources we have compiled for veterans and their families.
  8. Protect the health of veterans – Whether their injuries are physical or mental, military veterans and their families deserve our support. Volunteer for Vets4Warriors, which provides a 24/7 helpline, or donate frequent flyers and hotel points to Fisher House Foundation, which houses the families of veterans while their loved one recovers. Learn more about supporting Hero’s Health.
  9. Start a workplace giving campaign – Many employers still don’t offer the opportunity to give at work. Ask your HR department if they would consider starting a workplace giving campaign, or add more options to an existing campaign. Partnering with Community Health Charities can help raise critical funds to help military veterans, children fighting cancer and more.
  10. Pay it forward – Be thankful for the people you care about and send them a text or note. Consider paying for coffee for the person in line behind you, or doing a random act of kindness for a neighbor like raking their leaves. These small acts make a big difference – not just for those you help, but for you as well.

#GivingTuesday is November 29, but we have the opportunity to give back and improve our world every day of the year. Please join all of us at Community Health Charities to create healthier, happier communities for everyone.

When we see a community mobilizing to address critical health challenges, we at Community Health Charities want to do our part. In communities across the U.S., we bring together leading charities working on the most critical health challenges that affect people’s quality of life and well-being.

In the East Bay, just outside San Francisco, California, Black, Hispanic and Asian women experience a higher loss of life to breast cancer – but these lives can be saved with increased access to screenings and early diagnosis. This includes placing a high priority on breast cancer screening and treatment of African-American women, who are estimated to be 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women according to recent statistics. These women are mothers, daughters and sisters who are not getting the early screening that they need to keep them alive.

On Tuesday, October 25, we launched the East Bay Breast Cancer Fund, bringing together Black Women’s Health Imperative, Better Health East Bay and Susan G. Komen. This new fund changes how we raise dollars for critical health needs in communities by supporting the great work of these incredible organizations working locally in the East Bay to advance the goal of better breast health for all women.

We have already rolled out this fund in workplace giving programs in more than 150 businesses in California, including City of Oakland and City of Berkley workplace giving campaigns that are currently underway.

You can help a women #GetScreened today by supporting the East Bay Breast Cancer Fund. It takes one $400 gift, or $33 per month, to give a woman a screening – and a chance to save her life. Give Now

Your support of the East Bay Breast Cancer Fund, managed by Community Health Charities, will help:

  • Increase breast cancer screenings
  • Provide resources to educate women on healthy living options
  • Advance research for risk-reduction and treatment
  • Improve access to health services and life-saving treatments

This blog post by Jim Hickman, CEO of Better Health East Bay, details their plans to improve early breast cancer detection, treatment and patient support services.

I also invite you to learn more about our national High Impact Funds, which address critical health causes across the country. Whether national or local in scope, Community Health Charities continues to strive to make a difference for the millions of Americans who face health challenges.

July 4, 1976: On America’s birthday, I found myself at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center being handed a white plastic bag and led on to a bus. We left the base and made our way to Solider Field in Chicago where we were lined up, asked to don our plastic bags and stood there as we were photographed. I now am part of a world record at a great football stadium — a world record for being part of the largest human American Flag.

This was the start of a 46-year ride of service to my country, and it was an amazing start. From Great Lakes, I was fortunate enough to pull a temporary “sales” assignment working with the recruiting command out of the Glenview Naval Station. My company commander in boot camp told the Navy that it appeared I knew a lot of people in the Chicagoland area, as almost every day somebody showed up at the gate with cookies or other snacks. I never received any of these but apparently my Commanding Officer loved them. After my recruiting assignment, I reported to the Naval Air Station in Meridian Mississippi where I completed my “A” school and was awarded the rate of Disbursing Clerk. I finished in the top three of the class and as a result ended up with “shore duty” for my first assignment: a remote post in Winter Harbor Maine. Not bad but I signed up for blue water, warmth and ports of call.

Maine proved to be a maturing experience. One of only two disbursing clerks, I had to learn to work independently and put in many hours. In addition to my day job from 6am to 6 pm, five days per week we stood watch every other day. I was assigned to the base fire department and ambulance which also covered many of the area towns as they did not have fire service. I was a young 18-year-old going out on accident calls, delivering a baby and doing CPR. It was definitely a time to grow up. When my time came to leave Maine, I wished I could stay, but the cold would be left behind as I joined the commissioning crew for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) – just me and 6,000 of my shipmates who were ready to set sail on adventure.

Being the newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the fleet, they put us to sea to show us off around the world. The work was hard but the rewards were great. We travelled to St. Thomas, St. John, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Cuba (where I stood watch on the fence), Spain, Portugal, Italy (six ports), Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. They were fun times but not without work. We worked 12 on, 12 off schedules at sea and had to stand watch while in port. A lot of guys would take my watch for me so I could go ashore more – this of course was in exchange for them to get front of the line privileges on payday (we paid everyone in case and lines were long).

While I was part of the Cold War Navy, we were brought in to a tough time when 52 American Diplomats were taken hostage by Iranian students. We were responsible for prepping and delivering equipment and supplies for a failed rescue mission which resulted in the death of eight shipmates on 4-24-1980. The crisis lasted 444 days and ended one minute prior to President Regan taking office. I still think of the shipmates I lost during my service. I think of them on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day as they gave the ultimate sacrifice: All gave some, some gave all.

When I enlisted to serve this great country, I took an oath – an oath that has no expiration and one that is payable with dedication, service and, if duty calls, giving my life. It reads:

“I, David Selzer, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

My service is one of the greatest honors of my life. To my fellow Veterans, thank you for your service. To all those who were not able to experience the great privilege of serving our country through military service, thank you for allowing me the great honor of serving you. Having travelled the way I have and seeing what I saw — good and bad — I can tell you we live in the greatest country on earth!

One final thought:  Many of my shipmates and I suffer from some of the side effects of military service — things you just do not think of. For me, sleeping ¾ of an inch under a steel flight deck has left my hearing impaired, and two years of standing while working on steel decks has had an adverse effect on my knees. These are not complaints but simple facts. Some of my shipmates have severe long-term disabilities as a result of their service for all of us. I think of them today and personally donated to the Hero’s Health Fund in their name. The money raised to support organizations that help our veterans is needed, as so many veterans (like myself) do not qualify for VA services. It is unfortunate but it gives all of us the opportunity to now serve those who served for us.

Not All Battles are Fought in a War Zone

Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Dale Beatty remembers the day his life changed forever. On November 15, 2004, Dale was injured when an IED explosion flipped his Humvee, causing him to lose both legs. “It’s amazing how clear everything becomes when you think your next breath could be your last,” Dale says.

After sacrificing and serving our country, heroes like Dale deserve to have every opportunity – for good health, for support and for employment – when they return home. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. The Hero’s Health Fund, managed by Community Health Charities, connects the most trusted health charities with caring donors who want to make a difference in the lives of first responders, military service members, veterans and their families.

For Dale and so many others like him, the return home can be just as challenging as their time on the battlefront. It’s often a matter of healing the wounds we can’t see – nearly one of every four active duty military members shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or other mental health conditions. The threat of suicide remains unusually high. Returning to civilian life can be a time of joy, but also a time of emotional upheaval for the entire family. And for those with loved ones who never make it home, the healing process must begin.

Whether their injuries are physical, mental or both, the families who care for these heroes need a tremendous amount of support. Thanks to Fisher House Foundation, a participating charity in the Hero’s Health Fund, Dale’s wife Belinda and his children were able to stay by his side throughout the recovery and rehabilitation process. “Living in the Fisher House was home away from home,” Belinda says. “I was never alone and I could always talk to someone – you’re surrounded by love.”

Dale’s story has a happy ending. Today, he plays in a band, golfs and works to help other veterans. But he isn’t sure what would have happened if he hadn’t received help. “Without Fisher House, I don’t know what my prognosis would have been, or where I would be now not having my family next to me,” he says. “I remain forever grateful.”

The Hero Health’s Fund supports these fully-vetted and trusted organizations:

Fisher House Foundation – Lodging for veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers

March of Dimes – Support for active duty military families, especially during pregnancy and when baby arrives

National Alliance on Mental Illness – Support for veterans with PTSD, depression and other mental health conditions

National Hospice and Palliative Care – Compassionate care for veterans at the end of life

Operation Restored Warrior – Healing programs for veterans and their families

Pet Partners – Therapy pets and animal-assisted interventions

Snowball Express – Serves and connects the children of fallen military heroes

Our military fights for us – let’s fight for them. Learn more about Community Health Charities and how the Hero’s Health Fund supports the mental and physical health of our nation’s heroes.

We are also hosting a special Veterans Health session on November 16 at the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2016 Corporate Citizenship Conference in Washington, DC: Exploring Cross-Sector Collaboration to Advance Military, Veterans and First Responders’ Health. We’ll kick off the event with a keynote by First Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and then an interactive panel moderated by Fox News Anchor Heather Nauert. The panel will feature Major General (retired) Mark Graham, Brigadier General (retired) Allyson Solomon, Marianne Downs from Lockheed and Kerri Childress, a Navy veteran and VP of Communications for Fisher House. Join us to hear more about the mental and physical health of our veterans and what we can do to help.

Community Health Charities is all helping people live healthier lives, whether they are facing a long-term personal health challenge or a crisis affects the overall health and wellbeing of their community. When natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew threaten the health and safety of others, it’s important to respond quickly and efficiently. That’s why we worked swiftly with our partner charities to create the Hurricane Matthew Response Fund.

Hurricane Matthew has barreled through the Caribbean and is making its way up the Eastern U.S. coastline, devastating communities from Haiti to Charleston, South Carolina. More than 400 lives have already been lost and many more injured. In the wake of this monstrous weather event, communities are scrambling to get access to basic needs – like food, clean water, shelter and medical services – to remain healthy and safe. The devastation of Hurricane Matthew is estimated to be nearly $50 billion.

Your support of the Hurricane Matthew Response Fund, managed by Community Health Charities, will provide families with:

  • Water filters
  • First aid
  • Hygiene kits
  • Blankets
  • Food
  • Housing
  • And much more

Please give now.

The Hurricane Matthew Response Fund supports emergency services provided by these leading charities:

Funds will be distributed to these charities who are actively working in emergency relief in Haiti and all areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. 100% of the funds raised will go to charity.

Our trusted charities are accountable, audited, and vetted using standards developed by the BBB WiseGiving Alliance, the National Health Council, and Guidestar.

Working together, we can do something right now to help. We can make a meaningful difference for the children, individuals, seniors and families whose lives, homes and health are at risk from Hurricane Matthew. Thank you for joining us.

The nation’s largest workplace giving campaign – the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) – is now underway. With donations topping nearly $200 million each year, the CFC raises critical funds for our member charities, bringing vital services and support programs to communities across the country.

Join me in championing the health causes you care about most by posting a #ShowSomeLoveCFC selfie today and encouraging others to participate as well. You can make an impact by giving to one of many health causes supported by Community Health Charities and our members.

What health cause do you care about most?

  • Access to health care – Ensure that vulnerable populations across America have access to the care and health management tools they need
  • Camps for kids – Provide life-changing camp experiences for children with long-term health conditions
  • Children’s health – Improve child well-being by supporting the best children’s health charities in the United States
  • Community health – Provide critical health resources to communities affected by natural disasters and other crises
  • Education – Put an end to bullying, teenage pregnancy and other barriers to a safe and healthy learning environment
  • Human trafficking – Fund prevention and support services to end the trafficking of women and girls
  • Military & veterans – Protect the physical and mental health of our nation’s military, veterans and first responders
  • Research – Help find a cure for the diseases that impact that most Americans
  • Women’s health – Ensure that young women receive the health services and support they need to prosper

The next steps are easy. Use this sign to tell your friends, family, co-workers and others why you support health causes and how you are choosing to #CauseAnImpact. Take a selfie and then post it on social media to encourage them to join your efforts to fight for the health cause that is most important to you.

How does it work? Simply choose the health cause that is most important to you and then spread the word on social media using the hashtags #ShowSomeLoveCFC and #CauseAnImpact. It takes just a minute of your time, but the impact can be immeasurable for the millions of Americans living with health challenges.

For example: I will #CauseAnImpact for Women’s health (fill in your choice here) with @HealthCharities. #ShowSomeLoveCFC

Working together, we can ensure the continued success of the CFC and make a meaningful difference for our member charities – and the millions of Americans they help each day.

To learn more about Community Health Charities, please call 800.654.0845 or contact us today. You can also find us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Our focus at the Arthritis Foundation is on a dynamic and multifaceted approach to conquering arthritis.

Our broad network of advocates is fighting to change state and federal legislation to make accessing treatments easier for patients. Our teams and extensive network of volunteers are present in local communities providing daily support for people across the country. We are creating tools and resources to help people live better now. And all the while, we are pursuing vital research to create new diagnostics, treatments and, ultimately, find a cure.

Many people know that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., and affects more than 50 million Americans. But often overlooked or misunderstood is the population of children – an estimated 300,000 kids – who deal with this disease daily. (JA) creates unique challenges for families. From missed school days to feeling isolated from other children – from the ongoing need for shots and visits to the doctor, and even a nationwide shortage of doctors who treat the disease – JA families are challenged each day to overcome barriers most of us can’t even begin to fathom.

Because we recognize the needs of these families are unique and pressing, the Arthritis Foundation provides a plethora of resources to the children and families across this country that live every day with the effects of JA.

JA Research

Our commitment to conquering pediatric rheumatic diseases is unwavering. We have pledged $23.5 million in funding to JA research through the Childhood Arthritis & Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA). Data collection has already begun at CARRA and in one year alone, more than 60 new discoveries and insights into pediatric rheumatology have been made. This is life-changing research that will directly benefit the families we serve. The Arthritis Foundation continues to explore opportunities to invest in JA research and we’ve partnered with leading research organizations to do so.

JA Camps

Each year, we host approximately 50 JA camps nationwide – an incredibly meaningful experience that brings kids with JA together to make lasting memories. Surrounded by others like them while engaging in activities designed just for them, JA kids have a place to call home at our JA camps.

And through our partnership with Community Health Charities, companies and employees can support current JA camps and expand our existing network thanks to their new Camps for Kids with Health Challenges cause fund.

These camps are a source of togetherness, camaraderie and friendship for kids who often don’t get to meet and interact with others like them. We have heard from countless families about how important these camps are for their children.

JA Conference

The Arthritis Foundation’s JA Conference is an annual event that touches the lives of thousands of families. This year, we hosted two national JA Conferences to meet the needs of our diverse and broad JA community. Marked by sessions filled with opportunities to learn, grow and feel empowered, the JA Conference is a way we bring families together yearly so they don’t feel alone, and so they can share and grow with others like them.

Daily JA Support

Our website dedicated to pediatric conditions,, and tools like our JA Power Packs provide families with additional resources for the daily help and support they need – and to feel better, and live better, each day.

At the Arthritis Foundation, we recognize that the needs of families living with juvenile arthritis are unique. And we will continue fighting every day to support those needs while pursuing the path to a cure. We are here for you. We are all family.

To learn more, please visit

Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, and over 15 million are acting as their caregivers. By 2050, the number of people living with the disease may rise as high as 16 million.

Each of these statistics is so much more than a number – each represents a person and a family who are facing the devastating consequences of Alzheimer’s. Despite the overwhelming burden this disease places on our nation and the deep concern of so many Americans, too many still don’t know or accept the realities of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

To defeat this disease we must work together – and knowledge is the first step. During June, Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is asking you to help our country better understand the realities of dementia and share these facts with others.

The realities are:

  • Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that kills more Americans each year than breast and prostate cancer combined. It attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, and affects an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. Ultimately, people with the disease lose the ability to communicate and control movement, and require round-the-clock personal care. There are no survivors.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is more than memory loss. It presents itself through a variety of signs and symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions – or can go undetected entirely.
  • Early detection matters. More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, but only about half have been diagnosed. Additionally, less than half (45 percent) of seniors diagnosed with the disease or their caregivers are aware of the diagnosis.
  • Caregiving can become anyone’s reality. As our population grows older, and more people reach an age of greater risk, an increasing number of friends and family of all ages will provide care to someone with Alzheimer’s. According to the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, it’s estimated that 250,000 children and young adults between ages 8 and 18 provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.
  • Women, African-Americans and Hispanics are at a greater risk for developing the disease. While everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s, African-Americans are about twice as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and Hispanics are about 1 ½ times as likely. Additionally, more than two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women.

These facts are a reality for millions of Americans — and that must change. As a nation, we’re rallying around this cause. We’ve got a national plan that targets effective treatment and prevention in less than 10 years and we believe we can ultimately do even better. To make that happen, the Alzheimer’s Association has led the way to milestones in federal funding, innovative research, care and support, but there is still much to do. And you can help.

I’ve seen firsthand the power that our dedicated advocates, constituents and volunteers can have in changing the course of this disease. During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, visit to learn how you join us:

  • Learn about the disease and take action
  • Go purple to raise awareness
  • Spread the word on social media

No one should face this disease alone. Together, we can show the millions of Americans facing Alzheimer’s that we are here to help. And by doing so, we can each – and collectively – make a very real difference.

In the realms of nonprofit and corporate social responsibility, the word “partnership” is thrown out often. The partnering of organizations sometimes is as simple as swapping logos and engaging in promotions together. Other partnerships lead to a financial relationship where one may pursue a line of service together or in concert with the other.

But what does it mean to partner with your employees on cause engagement?

When asking organizations how they partner with employees on cause engagement, they typically respond with:

  • We let our employees use our cause engagement benefits as a way to further and deepen their interests in the community.
  • We work side-by-side with our employees to design volunteer projects.
  • We counsel with employees to hear what they would like us to focus on and the types of causes we should be helping.

These are not bad responses, but do they reflect the true nature of employee partnership today? Let’s take a look at two specific situations of how companies can partner with their employees.

Individual Choice

We hear a lot about choice today when it comes to the social and cause issues individuals want to address through workplace engagement. Some companies have used their employees’ interests and choices to institutionalize new ways to direct giving, service and skill-based involvement of the employee in the community. For instance, we see that individuals can have their gift matched to any nonprofit in the community or serve any organization of their choosing.

But is this truly partnership?

In this model, there is an assumption that the individual is self-aware of their interests in causes. But what if the employee doesn’t know yet where his or her interests lie? In comparison, it’s like offering a 401(k) program and letting the individual select the type of investments – but then he/she only chooses the default investment options, due to lack of knowledge of how to make the choice.

Companies can partner with employees by actively helping them identify where their interests may lie. For instance, when an individual starts employment at the company, he/she would be asked a few clarifying questions to understand his/her cause interest and participation level. The employee would then learn of the opportunities relative to his/her potential interests, including ways to experience the cause firsthand through the company.

The Unknown Issues

In studies we have performed, we consistently hear about “unknown” issues – issues that employees may have interest in, but don’t know enough about. When we hear that an organization or cause has fallen out of favor with employees, we always question whether or not the issue has been addressed through education and awareness enough to warrant a perception or attitude. This is an important question to consider. If your employees aren’t interested in a specific issue, is it because the cause is no longer relevant – or is it because the way they are educated or engage with the cause is no longer relevant?

While the brands of some causes exude perception and attitude, employees can still lack understanding of the issues the organization is addressing, and especially how those causes do their work. In this situation, companies have a real opportunity to partner with their employees to:

Build a wealth of knowledge among employees about issues

Take the time to help employees learn about issues through informal discussions, internal education campaigns and/or exposure to participating nonprofits.

Become a learning community on issues

Make the workplace an opportunity to learn about the issues affecting your employees and their communities. Bring them together to learn about social issues, the causes working to address them and ways to activate for them. Consistent learning through various new media can truly make a difference for employees and leadership to come together.

Some companies might see this approach as too intensive or overreaching. But in reality, a company with employees who believe in the power and capability of the workplace to come together for individual and corporate social issue engagement is one that will yield stronger affinity and value for the place where they spend 40+ hours a week.

Suppressing the social interests of employees during the work day can be a very challenging situation that no one feels good about. If we truly care about the communities where our companies reside, and the people who use our products and services, let’s go the extra mile to partner side-by-side with employees to use their assets to make change happen. In the end, not only does the community win, but so do the employees.

The millennial generation (those born from 1980-2000) is known for “doing good” – that much we know for sure. But if you think cause engagement in the workplace by millennial employees just “happens,” you’re likely to be disappointed.

In partnership with the Case Foundation, we have been conducting research on millennials’ attitudes and behaviors toward cause work since 2010 through the Millennial Impact Project ( The 2015 Millennial Impact Report focused on cause work in the workplace in order to help companies and organizations:

  • Understand the relationships that drive participation in the workplace
  • Build corporate cultures that leverage cause work
  • Recruit and retain talented, passionate employees through cause involvement

The six-month update to the 2015 report looked at millennial employee cause engagement through a slightly different lens – to determine how the size, culture and availability (or lack) of cause work programs affect the participation of millennial employees and managers in company-sponsored cause work initiatives, and to establish whether such programs alone will retain employees of this generation.

To do so, we examined five companies of various sizes and with various levels of cause work programs (including volunteering opportunities, giving campaigns or both). So what did we find? Overall, companies with cause work programs have higher rates of participation – but these rates seem to decrease as the employee or manager’s tenure increases.

When looking at the views of millennial employees and managers on volunteering in company-sponsored initiatives, three key trends emerged:

Millennial employees are more likely to volunteer in company-sponsored cause work initiatives if the company has a formal cause work-related program.

Four of the five companies we examined had established or formal cause work programs. At these four companies, only about one-fourth of millennial employees and managers did not volunteer in 2014 – compared to more than half of millennial employees and a third of millennial managers at the company without an established cause work program.

Millennial employees at companies with established volunteer programs volunteer most during the first one to two years of employment.

The majority of millennial employees (ranging from 68% to 94%) at the four companies with volunteer programs participated in company-sponsored initiatives after being employed one to two years with the company.

Millennial employees and managers at companies with cause work programs are more likely to be influenced to volunteer by incentives and competitions – and again, most likely in the first few years of employment.

Nearly two-thirds of millennial employees and managers at companies with cause work programs are likely to be influenced to volunteer in company-sponsored programs by incentives (ex. a gift, name recognition, extra days off, etc.), compared to closer to half of employees at companies without established or robust programs. Similarly, approximately half of millennial employees and managers at companies with cause work programs are likely to volunteer if a competition is involved, compared to a third or fewer of employees or managers at companies without programs. For both groups, likelihood to participate decreases as tenure increases.

So, why does this information matter?

In most instances, millennial employees and managers at companies with established volunteer programs are more likely to participate in company-sponsored events and initiatives designed to give back than employees and managers at companies that may or may not offer such programs.

Reach Millennials by Establishing a Program Now

Overall, millennials want the opportunity to “do good.” Companies should embrace this passion for philanthropy by establishing well-thought-out volunteer programs and initiatives as a way to not only further their own commitments to being socially responsible, but to also create a culture that entices and helps retain millennial employees and managers. After establishing such a program, leadership should then determine the best way to create awareness within the company about the existence of the program and volunteer opportunities.

As we discovered in the three-month research update of the 2015 report, millennial employees and managers want to participate in cause work they feel personally passionate about. They also want to be involved in the planning process. When creating cause work programs and volunteer initiatives, consult team members at all levels to learn what causes they are most interested in and what initiatives would most entice them to participate.

In all instances, employers should gather feedback from both millennial employees and managers to discover how they like to be communicated with and involved in cause work programs. What types of initiatives would entice team members to participate – and to keep participating? How can the company’s volunteerism program be incorporated into the orientation process? How can managers help involve newer employees? Find the answers to these questions, and you’re on your way to establishing a successful cause work program.

Once thought of as a condition that affects older people – and one that almost always ends in severe disabilities – stroke can happen to anyone. Charu Raheja was a healthy 42-year-old professional when she had a stroke. Keep reading to learn about Charu’s harrowing experience and how it changed her life.

Please tell us your stroke story.

I was in Miami with friends for a birthday celebration and had a really bad headache before dinner. I thought it was probably nothing – just hunger or fatigue – and I ignored it. But when I got to dinner, I started feeling so dizzy that I had to lay down. Some of my friends who were with us were doctors. My husband took me back to the room, where I felt even more nauseous and dizzy. We own a company where nurses evaluate patients over the phone and we knew they would tell me to go to the ER, but I didn’t want to go in a different city for what we all assumed to be a migraine.

We returned home from Miami and I went back to work. I kept thinking my symptoms would go away, but they continued to worsen. After five days, I could barely open my eyes. I finally went to my doctor for a MRI and that’s when they found blood in my head. I was immediately sent to the Mayo Clinic, where they determined that I was having a stroke. That’s how my journey started.

What happened next?

During an angiogram test used to diagnose my stroke, I ended up with a punctured artery which required an emergency stent to be placed. We learned that I had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – 20% of patients with this type of stroke die within 10 minutes. After the stent placement, I was put on blood thinners and spent a month and a half on bed rest. Finally, I was able to have brain surgery.

The surgery took three hours and the doctor thought everything went well, but when I woke up in recovery I was completed paralyzed on my right side. The doctor’s last words to my husband were, “I’m going to try to save whatever I can.” They weren’t sure why I was paralyzed and sent me back to ICU. I don’t have much memory of that time – I couldn’t talk, only mumble, but my husband was at my bedside. I finally moved my thumb a day later and everyone was overjoyed because it meant I would recover.

When I woke up, I had completely forgotten English – I could only speak Portuguese! I had to practice moving my body again and relearn how to talk in English. I still have trouble going down the stairs and my kids complain that I have an accent now, but I know that I am lucky.

How has this experience impacted your life?

Personally, it has made me appreciate life. Every day is precious. If I wake up and I’m alive and my hands and feet move, then nothing else matters. I’m involved with an aneurysm and AVM support group here in Jacksonville and hear the stories about children and young adults who had a stroke and are still paralyzed. I count my blessings every day. I never realized how fragile we really are. As hard as it was to go through my experience, I feel like it has made me a better person.

My stroke changed the whole course of our company as well. As soon as I got better, I started saying, “If this can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.” So we started a new branch of our company called Continuwell, which provides 24/7 access to experienced nurses and doctors to help patients diagnose health conditions and receive the appropriate level of care.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. What advice would you give to others?

Don’t ignore headaches. I know so many people who have serious disabilities from a stroke because they ignored their headache and didn’t get help fast enough. If it’s the worst headache of your life, get to your doctor.

Also, you don’t have to be old to have a stroke – I know of a 22-year-old girl who fainted because she had an aneurysm and died just five minutes later. It can happen to anyone, and it happens suddenly. I encourage everyone to learn the signs and symptoms of stroke, the different types of stroke that occur and how you can Act F.A.S.T. to save lives.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you spot these signs, call 911 for help right away.

F – Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A – Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T – Time to Call 911 – If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

How did you get involved with Community Health Charities?

I had just returned to work after my recovery when I went to a Women Business Leaders in Healthcare meeting and met Linda Ireland, who was Chair of the Community Health Charities Board of Directors at that time. She told me about Community Health Charities and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Why should a company partner with them?

Because Community Health Charities is bringing healthcare to people. I love how they vet the charities to make sure they’re doing what they say they are doing – as a business owner, we want to make sure the money we donate is being used properly. I also love how they help employees engage with charities and provide access to local resources for people who need health support. Donating money is great, but when you become a part of something you feel more connected to it. Community Health Charities is an amazing organization and I really want to see it succeed. It fits so well with the mission of my own company – to give people access to an educated health professional.

Now that you have healed, what are your hopes for the future?

We have come so far in terms of learning about new technology and new surgeries for stroke. I hope that we can continue developing new and better techniques. Ten years ago, my surgery would have been open brain and extremely risky – I don’t know if I would be functioning right now. My hope is that we can continue the collaboration between different fields in healthcare to benefit all stroke patients.

Recently, as I drove my son to preschool, I passed the YMCA and my eye was immediately drawn to a frazzled mom – baby on her hip, two kids she was trying to corral as they scampered across the parking lot, her gym/diaper bag barely hanging on the other arm. Her hair was a mess, and she looked a bit terrified like, “Am I really bringing all three kids here? Do I really expect to get a workout in?”

As I watched her, a flood of emotions came over me. You see, that was me – the exhausted mom who worked hard at her job during the day and still wanted to care for her family when she got home, but felt tapped out trying to do it all.

Women want so badly to do it all. We want to put our best foot forward in our workplace and our home, with our kids and loved ones. We want to care for the people we love, but we also want our career to thrive. We often spend so much time on these things that we lose ourselves in the process.

Despite my best intentions, the fact that I wasn’t making time for my own health was felt by those around me. It was only after I began to take care of myself that I could care for other people and pursue life with passion and purpose.

When I became a health and wholeness coach, I met women who were dealing with similar issues – exhausted, comparing themselves to others and with a boatload of insecurity sinking their soul.

As these women carved out time for themselves by making mindful, long-term choices about their nutrition, fitness and soul care, each one grew stronger in her own way – physically, emotionally, spiritually.

These women and I started by changing our mindset. Here’s how we began thinking differently:

1. Change Your Motivation

Why do you want to be healthy? To attain the unattainable standards the world places on body image? So you can have energy and stamina for your job and your loved ones? To live longer and to enjoy a full and healthy life? When we understand that self-care means more than striving for the Photoshopped body images portrayed in magazines, things change.

2. Have No Expiration

Don’t give your body or your health a time limit. Instead, commit to a healthy mindset for the long haul. I’m not a fan of diets or 21-day cleanses or “drink this and you’ll get perfect abs in 30 days” programs. There is just no magic trick or fast track to good health.

My favorite story comes from when our training group was sprinting in my neighborhood. A neighbor called out, “What are you training for?” One of our runners shouted back, “Just for life, sir, just for life.”

Find a workout you love and want to stick with – something that makes you feel strong and empowered and is fun. Find a nutrition plan that offers moderation and a menu you don’t dread cooking or eating. Food should never guilt or consume us; it should be enjoyable and satisfying. Enjoy life by making long-term life decisions.

3. Make a Plan

If you want to start working out, then make a plan. Write an appointment on your calendar, just like you would for your job. And don’t miss it! Taking care of your body, your soul, is everything.

If you need to start eating healthier, then PLAN ahead. Throw out the junk in your cabinets, decide what to prepare for next week’s meals, write a grocery list and shop. Buy a new cookbook, get some inspiration and find enjoyment in the process. You will never stick with something you dread.

4. Recruit a Cheering Section

Whether you are just starting this journey, getting back at it or have been in it for the long haul, find people who will come alongside you and keep you accountable – not only to cheer you on, but to call you out when you are not meeting your goals. We all need each other in our journeys.

5. Fill Your Tank

Write down five things that make you smile, feel alive, feel YOU. It could be writing, painting, reading, grabbing coffee with a friend or going for a run. When was the last time you did that? Schedule a time each week, so you fill your tank with the things you love. When your tank is full, you get to pour out that goodness on everyone else.

The key is to . . . just start. May is Women’s Health Month, so there’s no time like the present. Take the first step and then another one. Don’t wait until you have it all figured out. Do just one thing – don’t try to nail all five of them in one day. And don’t get discouraged – remember, you’re in this for the long haul.

If you need help or inspiration, check out the webinars, podcasts and online support offered by Community Health Charities and their network of nearly 2,000 trusted health charities across the country. I also write about the real world of moms and getting healthy, and I’d love for you to join the conversation on Facebook or online.

In April, Autism Awareness Month celebrates all kinds of minds. It amplifies the voices of people eager to showcase their own unique strengths. It honors people and families who turn challenges into opportunities on a daily basis. It also signifies the potential of a world united in support of one mission – to embrace the more than 70 million people affected by autism spectrum disorder.

At a time when world leaders don’t agree on much, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution to pay tribute to the global autism community every year on April 2. Watch Autism Speaks Co-Founder Suzanne Wright address the United Nations.

While we celebrate amazing progress made since the first World Autism Awareness Day eight years ago, the issues facing the autism community remain as urgent as ever. For Autism Speaks, that means we need to transform awareness into understanding, provide resources and support, and continue to push for advances in autism research that lead to personalized treatments for people with autism across their lifespan. Our partnership with Community Health Charities allows donors in the workplace to directly impact these goals.

The facts about autism as we know them today are ever-evolving as science and research help us understand the magnitude of the issues and the possible tactics to addressing them.

In its latest survey, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 1 of every 68 children is affected by autism. The report also highlighted a significant gap between the onset of symptoms and actual diagnosis. We know that autism can reliably be diagnosed anywhere from 18 to 24 months old, but the reality is most children are diagnosed after age 4.

These children grow up.

At Autism Speaks, one of the things we hear most often – what’s going to happen to my son or daughter when I can no longer take care of them?

That question motivates us to address housing, health care, education and employment services for adults with autism. For example, we helped launch to create a portal of jobs for people with autism and other disabilities. More than 100 companies have posted 47,000 jobs. There is no doubt that adults with autism possess valuable talents and skills. They are an asset to our country’s workforce and should not be overlooked.

We also sponsored the House to Home Prize to generate creative housing solutions for adults with autism.

The numbers tell one story. But each number represents a child, teen or adult with autism and more broadly, a family impacted by autism.

It’s the Diaz family of California, whose eldest daughter Maya has autism and at 9 years old is starting to use words. Maya doesn’t write yet, but her family and the team of teachers and therapists have faith that she can learn.

It’s also self-advocates, such as Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro, who is an accomplished motivational speaker and best-selling author. Kerry provides a valuable voice for the autism community. Watch Autism Speaks staffer and self-advocate Kerry Magro’s TEDxTalk about adults with autism.

The spectrum is vast, which means our solutions and support systems need to reflect the diversity of the community.

World Autism Awareness Month is a wonderful start. It is one month in the lives of many people who live with autism every day. Our goal is to make each day that follows easier, happier and more fulfilled.

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