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501c3 Awarded to FAOG

After much planning, advice and effort, the IRS has awarded For All Our Good with 501c3 status.  As an officially registered non-profit FAOG may now accept tax-exempt donations from interested people and third parties.  For donor information, please contact me here.  Thanks for all of your support!


For All Our Good

On our trip to India in 2007, we met a woman who decided to use her business talents to make a social difference.  That woman was Dilbur Parakh, the founder of ASEEMA

During that visit, we realized immediately that Dilbur is one of us: an entrepreneur.  We also realized that we could make an impact on the lives of thousands, perhaps even millions of people, by creating an organization to support innovative social entrepreneurs like her.  In October, that organization became a reality.  We've named it For All Our Good.

At For All Our Good, we envision a world where every child has the opportunity to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit. We believe elevating children is the key to breaking cycles of poverty.  From entrepreneurship comes individual prosperity and individual prosperity benefits every community where it germinates.

That path to prosperity for children and their families begins with clean water, sound nutrition, electricity and education. For All Our Good, therefore, will seek out and support select social entrepreneurs with novel ideas for delivering the essentials of prosperity to children around the globe. 

Our process will be simple: raise funds, offer advice and provide networking opportunities for select social entrepreneurs. Our goal is equally simple: measurable and sustainable results. Each program we support will have clearly defined objectives, achievable milestones, and a plan to become self-sustaining. Ultimately, successful programs will provide templates for other social entrepreneurs to replicate in other places.

The organization will have its own website soon.  Until then, send your positive energy our way!

More as it develops.  Stay tuned.


Joys of Parenthood

As the dates of posts here will prove, I've not been on line very much nuturing Vicinoti.  Instead, I've been nurturing the newest addition to our family: a 5-year old boy from Ethiopia who joined our family this summer.  Compared to what others have experienced and written about, our experience has been a dream.  Our new son is a glass-half-full child and approaches every new experience as a challenge, not a problem.

My experience as an adoptive parent is one of joy and transformation.  It's something one might approach with fear, however our new little guy has taken all of that away quickly and replaced it with love and the pleasure of knowing he's embracing his new opportunities.  If you're considering adoption, continue to give in to the possibilities.  You'll be amazed by the rewards that await if you follow through. 


Thanks USA!

While this post is not travel-related, it certainly fits with the themes covered here at Vicinoti.  ThanksUSA! is a non-profit organization started by two inspiring young women with a simple mission: provide educational scholarships to military dependents, namely spouses and children of US military servicemen and women.

Since their humble beginnings, ThanksUSA! has raised over $5M and provided scholarships for over 1,700 recipients.  And they continue to grow.

While issues regarding US military policy attract great debate, there's no debating the fact that those men and women called to serve face unique challenges when it comes to building and raising families.  ThanksUSA is helping alleviate one of the largest challenges -- the ability to afford quality education -- faced by military families,  including the citizen-soldiers of the Army and Air National Guard, in the United States.

I'm proud to be associated with this incredible group through LMO Advertising.  LMO is the pro-bono agency of record for ThanksUSA! 

You can learn more about this organization through this video press report.


New Family Member

The trip to Ethiopia gave us more than a wonderful experience.  It gave us a new family member!  We're pleased to welcome a new son to the family.


First Pics Posted

I've posted the first of hopefully many photos from Ethiopia.  We've started with some street scenes and faces, the most often requested variety.  We'll post some personal pics for friends and family in the near future.


Ethiopia Trip Starts!

We'll be posting as possible events and activities during the upcoming trip to Ethiopia.  If you're interested, please feel free to follow along.


For All Our Good

The snappy title suggests this will be a deep and meaningful post.  Actually, it's something more literal: a name. 

For All Our Good (FAOG) is the name of a new Foundation set up to support some of the work reported here.  FAOG has the mission of providing guidance and support to highly entrepreneurial not-for-profit organizations pursuing novel, practical and demonstrably effective solutions impacting the core challenge of poverty.  While poverty's symptoms are many, its root causes can be traced back to issues such as water quality, energy indepence and education.  FAOG will do what it can to impact these issues. 

While we'd like to tackle it all at once, FAOG's initial mission will be supporting primary education initiatives in developing countries.   The first project receiving direct support is none other than ASEEMA, the organization in Mumbai, India first encountered on the "India" trip covered here.  ASEEMA has continued to do great work and FAOG is working to accelerate their model by supporting development of a sister rural school, as well as providing a computer lab with internet connectivity in their existing city school.  I encourage you to learn more about ASEEMA and, should you feel moved to offer support, consider making a donation to FAOG.  (The website is still under development!)

FAOG would not be possible without the initial sponsoring support of Lurn, Inc. and their awesome team.  Thanks Lurn!


Fear vs. Abundance

Over the last few months, our country has become irrationally gripped by fear.  Not since 911 have we seen such an onslaught of fear messaging carpeting the airwaves, news pages and blogs.  The fear-mongers and their political ends are a subject for another post.  The result of their work, however,  is "self-fulfilling prophecy": bad things happening to good people.

There's an alternative to fear, people: abundance thinking.  What do I mean by "abundance"?  I mean stop seeing everything as a zero-sum game and stop worrying about protecting what others perceive as being the little we have left.   Instead, dwell on things that are in infinite supply and, in fact, can be shared without fear of losing them.  Consider love, for example.  No matter how much of your love you give, your supply never reduces.   The great spiritual teachers taught just such a reality. They understood that it is the giver, not the receiver, who gets more out of a gift.

Can abundance thinking work with those things our economy holds dear?  With time? With money?  Imagine a world where no matter how much of these seemingly finite resources you give, the resources available to you never dwindle.  Is such a world possible?  Yes.  It's called Innovation.  Doing things better, faster, cheaper.  It's the phenomenon that explains how economic growth can outstrip population growth.

With both Love and Innovation, there's no downside. They are things that better your world and you can do fearlessly.  Living fearlessly is a concept that can be hard to swallow and I understand why: it's hard to let go.  In this period of perceived despair, however, what do you have to lose?

Get started on living a fearless life right now.  Over the next few weeks,  try doing two simple acts every day and see if you don't find the fear melting away and new opportunities opening up for you:

Hug a friend, co-worker, colleague or even stranger.


Give away a personal possession of at least $10 in value.

Does the idea of performing these two actions make you uncomfortable?  Why?  What are you afraid of? 

Break through that fear.  It's more simple and fulfilling than you might think.  Hand that CD in your glovebox to someone on the street; leave a ridiculous tip for that kid pouring your coffee; pick up the tab anonymously for the couple with kids at the booth across from you at Denny's; give the cold person next to you on the bus your sweatshirt; drop a ten-dollar-bill in a homeless person's cup.  Want to get your abundance homework out of the way fast?  Just hug the person you're gifting at the same time!

When you break through that fear, perhaps you'll begin to perceive the abundance all around you.  So, go ahead and share some love and wealth this week.  If you do, I think you'll find more time, energy, love and money will come your way.


Most High in Haiti

Over the last few months, I've had the opportunity to meet Scott Bonnell, the Executive Director of Most High Ministries, a Florida-based non-profit dedicated to reaching people across the world with messages of hope and a helping hand.  I'm a better person for the experience.

Scott's work is fearless and heartfelt -- driven by a passion to give even when there's not much material he has to share.  His passion work began in Africa, where, after retiring from an Oil Company, he helped establish an orphanage in Nigeria.  Now, Scott's energies are being invested much closer to home in Haiti.

Hope For Haiti is Most High Ministry's latest commitment.  Scott's efforts currently focus on providing basic necessities for school children trying to leverage eductation as a path from the country's abject poverty. 

Scott's efforts to bring resources to the region include a voluntourism program where select travelers can accompany Scott on his frequent relief trips to Haiti.  While I have, as yet, been unable to join, members of our Heart & Passion travel group have joined Scott on his travels; each has reported having transformative experiences.

Travel to Haiti is not for everyone.  As friend and voluntourism visionary David Clemmons once observed: "sometimes, people want see it for themselves, while others just want someone else to tell them about it."  Either way, and regardless of your selected spiritual path, consider reaching out to Scott, sharing your message of hope and lending a helping hand.  Deep inside, you'll be glad you did.