Finding A New Way  

I’ve been consumed lately with family and campaign issues. Voting for me is a deeply personal thing. It’s about civic action, responsibility and patriotism. Lately, it’s been too consuming. As this election season grinds to a halt and I whisper to the 4 winds my hopes and dreams for a brighter future, it’s also dawned on me that each of us can and do make a difference, daily. It was with this thought that I had the unfortunate timing to watch the Daughtry video and realize that there’s even more to do, outside of just our own individual lives.

Here’s the video:

But this isn’t actually about the video, it’s about the organizations featured.

Love, Light and Melody

In 2005, musician Brad Corrigan was invited to play for a benefit concert and a youth rally in Managua, Nicaragua. While on the trip, he was introduced to the incredible extremes of this Central American country: an elite upper-class and extreme poverty. Managua's city trash dump is unlike most mountains of trash around the world: it is home to hundreds of people who depend on the garbage for their livelihood, their food, and their shelter.

After several visits to the dump, Brad met the most unlikely and beautiful little girl, Ileana, who in turn introduced him to her family and a vibrant community living in the shadow of past treasures and discarded yesterdays. Inspired by these newfound friends, Love Light & Melody was formed in 2007 to meet the educational, health, and vocational needs of this trash dump community.

Love Light & Melody embraces Brad's powerfully simple concept: "When you walk with someone you're saying to them, 'I am with you.' We can walk in hell and not have fear." Each year, the organization invites friends, family, and college students to join them for Dia de Luz, to celebrate a profound love conquering hate, a beautiful light overcoming darkness, and a resounding melody breaking silence.

Urban Compass

Watts is an economically depressed area known for its high drop out rates, widespread unemployment, poverty, crime and gang violence – and the rate of violent crime triples in the hours immediately following the school day. The local middle schools are the recruiting grounds for new gang members and some children join as early as eight years old.

Urban Compass was formed in partnership with Verbum Dei High School and 112th Street Elementary School to combat poverty and violence and make a difference in the lives of children in Watts. Together we capture children at a very volatile age and offer an alternative model for them: an environment that challenges our young people to envision a rewarding future.

Urban Compass operates after school and summer programs at Verbum Dei High School to serve students from 112th Street Elementary School and Sage Child Care Center. We provide tutoring support, enrichment activities and field trips to keep the children engaged in a positive learning experience – and off the streets.

Insight Prison Project

Since 1997, the Insight Prison Project has been dedicated to reducing recidivism rates and improving public safety by conducting highly effective in-prison rehabilitation programs that provide prisoners with the tools and life skills necessary to create enduring change. Working in partnership with San Quentin State Prison, IPP conducts 20 weekly classes involving some 300 prisoners that focus on preparing the men to become responsible and productive members of the community upon leaving prison.

IPP programs foster a transformational re-education process that combines victim impact accountability, emotional competency and intelligence, rational restructuring, and embodied integration to shift ingrained patterns of destructive behavior into conscious, life enhancing choices.

surf aid international

In 1999, physician and surfer Dr. Dave Jenkins went on a surf charter to the Mentawai Islands with one goal in mind: to find perfect waves. The surf proved to be everything he had hoped for. What he also found, though, were the Mentawai people---mostly women and children-–-suffering and dying from the ravages of malaria and other preventable diseases. Troubled by the inequity of lifestyles and moved by compassion, Dr. Jenkins went on to establish SurfAid International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the alleviation of human suffering through community-based health programs. With the support of the New Zealand and Australian governments, the global surfing community, and most importantly the Mentawai people of the affected areas themselves, SurfAid has come to exemplify the healing power of cross-cultural partnerships.

Together with an impassioned, motivated, and talented team of volunteers, staff, and supporters, the SurfAid journey has begun.

Room to Read

We partner with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children's literature, constructing schools, providing education to girls and establishing computer labs. We seek to intervene early in the lives of children in the belief that education empowers people to improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries and future generations. Through the opportunities that only education can provide, we strive to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time.


Seacology is the world's premier nonprofit environmental organization with the sole purpose of preserving the highly endangered biodiversity of islands throughout the world. In the last 400 years the majority of the world's plant and animal extinctions have taken place on islands, leading biologist Dr. Peter J. Bryant to call this unprecedented rate of species extinctions "one of the swiftest and most profound biological catastrophes in the history of the earth."

Homeboy Industries

Jobs not Jails: Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education.

charity: water

…It's a terrible situation. Mogotia's 21 staff and patients rely on a stream of mud from the now raging river Molo - as long as the pump by the river is working. When it breaks, which happened 4 or 5 times in the past few years, Mosa is forced to pay people to fetch dirty jerry cans full of the same river water.
But the hospital taps aren't the only ones dispensing mud.

Across and down the road, we rolled into Athinai, a town of about 4000. Within about five minutes we were surrounded by 50 children, then 100. Many of them AIDS orphans; many of them belonged to parents who worked in the rope plantation and factory next door for about $1 a day. Athinai is a grubby slum made of ramshackle buildings all sloppily painted in white -- perhaps an attempt to disguise its poverty.

…Even though the clinic does its best to provide good care and medications to its patients, they are undermined by the disease-ridden water. As we interviewed him, Mosa stated the obvious. A circle of disease centers around the water here. In his examination room, he pointed out 3 waterborne diseases on a list of Mogotia's top ten. He sees many of the same patients, and it frustrates him.

Keep a Child Alive

AIDS has a female face almost everywhere in the developing world, and especially in sub-Saharan Africa where, on average, three women are infected for every two men, and among the 15-24 age group three women are infected for every one man. Women continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic by caring for the sick and taking in AIDS orphans more often.

In some areas of South Africa the epidemic is thought to be in 41% of the population.
In general, the epidemic continues to outpace the response. The whole situation creates havoc, with 13 million AIDS Orphans in Africa alone, children trying to raise their siblings in terrible circumstances, not receiving education or being able to be properly nourished and falling prey to sexual coercion or worse, being recruited into rebel armies as child soldiers.

AIDS strikes down adults in their most economically productive years and removes the very people who could respond to a crisis.

Action Sports Environmental Coalition

ASEC represents a group of individuals, athletes and companies who are out in the water, breathing the air, and playing in the snow and dirt every single day. Our members are intimately familiar with what’s happening to the Earth, our playground; so we’ve all come together to improve our collective environmental impact and to find better ways of educating the world about the dangers of global warming and the need for social responsibility. Come on in and explore what's going on, as there is a lot happening and more to come.

Thanks Daughtry for making me think bigger than just my family, my community and me and for pushing me past just this election. There is too much at stake for another 4 years of the rampant ignorant arrogance we’ve had to deal with for the past 8 years. But, we can do both. We can elect Obama and make a difference in the life of people everywhere.

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