Summer Vacation at N Street Village

Annabel Simpson and Devon Fore spent the summer of 2015 as interns at N Street Village. Annabel is a political science and sociology major at Baylor University. Devon is peace building and development major at Eastern Mennonite University.

Working at N Street Village, specifically in Bethany Women’s Day Center, has grounded the significant difference in meaning between “homeless people” and “people who experience homelessness” into our minds, hearts, and souls. Working with, and getting to know the women made it impossible to see them as their current housing situations, as people in the larger everyday society often do. People are complex, they demonstrate many characteristics, carry diverse stories, have many fears, hopes, and goals. No one is just one thing and the way that this became evident through our time at Bethany’s was both awe inspiring and heart breaking. How in the world do we as people just overlook the complexities that come along with being a human being? Maybe because it is easier than taking the time to understand people’s diverse narratives.

It has been hard for us as well.

While hearing stories of trauma and resilience is taxing, it is also enlightening, the stories allow us to remove the labels that we place on people and learn about their whole being. Miss C isn’t a homeless woman; she is a (seamstress) and a wife for 60 years this upcoming September. Miss D isn’t just living in a shelter; she is a radiant soul who works hard and will soon be a nurse. The ability to overlook what is on the outside or what appears to be on the outside is a gift that N Street gave us and that we will continue to use in our everyday lives.

 One specific attribute of the stigma of homelessness  that we have seen and hope to conquer is the lack of dignity these women often experience. For example, people often donate clothes for the homeless/low income community,which is great. But the condition that they are received in does not always reflect the condition that the women deserve. After hearing these women’s stories, it is apparent that one’s financial success is not completely a factor of merit, ambition, or tenacity, but is severely affected by the circumstances one is born into and the opportunities they are given, not just the ones they make for themselves. To want to separate yourself from individuals who experience homelessness and poverty is a very human thing to do. No one wants to relate to this group, because if there is common ground between us, then what is to stop this from happening to me as well? However, acknowledging this vulnerability isn’t a weakness, but a strength and serves as a connection to bring more respect and love to those who are in need. The woman who goes to nursing school and then sleeps at a shelter is no less worthy of the same dignity and respect than the CEO passing her by on the way to work. These women don’t deserve torn and stained sweatshirts any more than the staff at Bethany Women’s Center does.

 We will be forever grateful for the women we met, the lessons we learned, and the experiences that we had at N Street. There is no simple or concise way to write about the impact that this experience had on our lives and it is hard to imagine we won’t be benefitting from these women’s teachings years from now. If we want people to take one thing away from this piece it is that people are people. We all have fears, needs, and vulnerabilities and we hope that we can all learn to keep this in mind when we are judging someone as inherently different or less than us.


Saranah Says: How to Be A Better Volunteer

Nonprofits are always in search of a really good volunteer. I’m pretty sure most of us feel that giving our time for free already makes us the best After all, time is money. But there are some ways to really be a shining volunteer that will enhance your experience AND make you a rock star to the organization you are serving:

1)   Show up. Yep, the number one way to really excel at being a volunteer is to simply follow through with the commitment. Ever show up to an event and there are TOO many volunteers? So you sit around kinda twiddling your thumbs waiting for something to do and feeling like you are wasting your time? Well that’s because organizations usually overstaff since so many people flake. Keep your commitment and if there is an emergency communicate it as early as possible to the powers that be.

2)   Be.On.Time. That should be a rule for life in general, but I know some people are challenged when it comes to timeliness. However, when you are giving your time to an organization you are essentially acting as a representative of that organization. If you show up late it causes a ripple effect, and it looks bad for the nonprofit. Set two alarms, get an accountability partner, sleep at the venue, do whatever you have to do to show up ready and ON TIME.

3)   Channel your inner MacGyver (bless your heart if you don’t get that reference). Invariably things will go wrong. Be a problem solver because no one wants to hear people complaining, especially volunteers. If you DO see room for improvement pitch in and help or offer concrete ways to make something better.  

4)   Go with the flow, and by that I mean be flexible. If you and three friends signed up to do face painting but when you show up they have moved you to the dunking booth, don’t bitch about it, just go and do whatever it is that you are asked to do. You’re there to help, not hang with your friends, so be that person who is willing to be flexible when the plan changes. And, you know, wear underwear in case you get put in a dunking booth.

 5)   Have fun. No one likes a negative Nelly or a Grumpy Gus. Laugh, smile, enjoy yourself.  Your positive attitude will help make the experience all the better for yourself and everyone you meet.  

About the Author: Saranah Holmes is the president and founder of the Daily Do Good. She has been an active volunteer since her teen years, and would happily take on the dunking booth. For a good cause. 

Saranah Says... Five Tips For Pulling Off A Great Fundraiser

1) Music makes the people come together 
So said Madonna, and therefore it is true. Music (and love) makes the world go round. It's the easiest way to add some levity to your event without costing any money... iPod, Songza, pillbox speaker. Boom. Instant atmosphere. Happy people = helpful people. Helpful people write checks.  

2) Feed me, Seymour! 
Please... no boxes of pizza unless you're officially calling it a pizza party. But you don't have to splash out on filet mignon and lobster tails, nor am I suggesting you go all Martha Stewart. Safeway and Costco have  lovely large trays at reasonable prices. Offer options: A little something on the heartier side, some veggies and dip, a nice cheese plate, and then a little something sweet. Presentation counts. Make it look nice, and it really doesn't matter if it's not a huge spread.

3) Check one, two... what is this?
Keep the mic time to a minimum. Attendees love to mix and mingle, not shift from foot to foot balancing a cocktail plate and wine glass while listening to someone perform a monologue for 30 minutes. There are plenty of of ways to get information across without a lecture. If you need some ideas I'm at your service.

4) Shake a hand, shake a hand
I always ask people how they heard about the event, and I try to thank each person for coming. Yes, you probably have someone greeting guests at the front door, but the host (committee or board for a large event) should always work the room. Speak to everyone you don't already know. Personally connecting with guests shows them that you really do care about their support
It's also a chance for you to learn which marketing efforts were most effective.

5) Give it away, give it away, give it away now
Everyone loves free stuff. It's like we're hardwired to perk up no matter what... "Oh, they're giving away erasers with a logo on them? I'll take four." Never mind that you haven't used a pencil since you took the SAT's. Having a freebie for every attendee can be cost prohibitive. A raffle or door prize can be a great budget-friendly alternative. You don't have to break the bank -- a $25 Amazon gift card or some sort of gift certificate will do. You might even be able to get the venue owner to donate one. 

Et voila, five easy ways to make your soirée simply smashing.


(Photos from The Daily Do Good's Be My Volunteer Valentine Event, Feb. 12, 2015)


Saranah Holmes has a decade of experience in fundraising. She offers consulting services to nonprofits and small businesses/volunteer groups looking to creatively fundraise. Contact her at for details and pricing.



Oscars, Move Over!

Kids in the Spotlight, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2009. The program trains youth in foster care programs and other underserved youth to create, write, cast and star in their own short films. This training culminates in an annual film festival competition: “Movies by Kids, for Kids.”

Why Kids in the Spotlight?
KITS was created to create a platform for foster care kids to tell their stories their way, and to be celebrated for the courage that it takes to tell their stories. It came from an encounter I had when I visited an all-girls group home.

A group of KITS students standing on the stage at last year's film festival competition

A group of KITS students standing on the stage at last year's film festival competition

Can you talk more about that encounter?
My husband was teaching an acting workshop at the group home. After the workshop, we toured the facilities. In the girls rooms were twin-sized beds. Above the bed were pictures of their families. Beneath the beds were a few personal items. I thought, Wow, this is all of their personal space! I was moved to sympathy and compassion. Then I noticed a group of girls misbehaving. First, a moment of judgment came. Then, a quickening came and said, “Yes, they’re acting out, but they’re doing it because they want your attention.” I asked the administrator how to help. She said that they needed mentors.

How did you end up creating the “Movies by Kids, for Kids” Film Festival Competition?
After I attended a seminar at my church: “Finding God’s Purpose,” I asked God, “What am I supposed to do?” He reminded me of those girls at that foster care facility. I heard, “They needed attention. Give them their story. Let them write their stories, cast their stories, and star in them. Give them something nobody can ever take from them. And don’t stop there. Create an awards ceremony. This is going to be their Academy Awards.

The poster from a Kids in the Spotlight film

The poster from a Kids in the Spotlight film

Why is it important for them to tell their stories?
When you are removed from your family structure, when you think about the magnitude of being in an institution where people are dictating your every move, and you are away from your family…you need some type of outlet. The arts are medication.

What changes do you see in the students—from the beginning of the ten-week process—to the end?
They come to us, like cocoons in a shell. They are a little resistant. They have trust issues, understandably. We see them coming out of their shells. And by the end, they are  beautiful butterflies.

Many kids who have performed in KITS and have been encouraged by our professional artists, have gone on to college and are now majoring in the performing arts.

What is your ultimate goal for the youth whom you work with?
To make sure that they are not victims of their circumstances. We say this affirmation at the end of each class: “I can do great things because I was created to do great things.”

Founder Tige Charity with KITS participants and actor Derek Luke

Founder Tige Charity with KITS participants and actor Derek Luke


About the Author: Chanté Griffin is a writer, TV personality, and proud code-switcher.  Connect with her via her blog: and via Twitter: @yougochante


DDG Wants You!

The Daily Do Good is looking for dedicated volunteers who want to help spread a little sunshine in the world. If you are a believer in the power of doing good and giving back, we might love you.

Do you enjoy talking to people? Know your affects from your effects? Are you a digital diva or graphics guru? Can you talk people into giving us their money? Can you write? No seriously, are you any good? We might really love you.

Here’s who we need:

Content Crafters
Writers, bloggers, photographers, videographers… come forth! We are looking for people who know how to tell a story, be it in words or pictures. The work includes interviewing folks, so a journalism background is helpful, but not necessary. Grammar nerds, raise your hands. Contact Holly Leber, Editorial Director, at

Marketing Mavens
Love makes the world go ‘round, but we can’t run this business on love alone. So, frankly put: We need money. And in order to get money, we need as many people as possible to know about us and love us. We’re seeking marketing assistants with strong research abilities. Experience in crowdfunding is a huge plus. Show us your sales savvy – sell us on YOU! Contact Saranah Holmes, President, at

Social Media Specialists
Are you all a-Twitter? Did you teach your Gram to Instagram? Do you have more Facebook friends than people you’ve actually met in your lifetime? Give us some #LOVE. Attend fundraisers, post pics and comments (how fun is that?!), and just generally tweet your face off about @TheDailyDoGood. Contact Crystal Davis, Social Media Manager at


  •       Self-starters – must be able to problem-solve and manage time well
  •       Good communicators – respond efficiently and keep us in the loop
  •       Be able to work remotely without immediate supervision
  •       Approximately 10 hours a week (15 for crowdfunding)
  •       Weekly e-mail check-in
  •       Monthly meeting  

Tell us why you want to work with The Daily Do Good. Include a resume and a few pertinent work samples. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

 Do Good, Feel Good!


Giving for the Social Media Generation

This article was written for the Miami Herald by Daily Do Good writer Marcella McCarthy. It is reproduced here exactly as printed on the Herald's website. 

The cultural change toward frugality that took place among millennials during the recession has affected the way they give back to society.

It’s no longer “hip” to pay $500 for a gala ticket. As such, organizations have had to reinvent their strategies to attract young donors.

The Miami Foundation, an organization that connects philanthropy with community needs, has capitalized on technology and social media. Through its Give Miami Day initiative, a 24-hour online campaign complete with a Twitter party, the foundation solicits donations from around the world for Miami-based charities.

“Part of our way of engaging millennials is to meet them where they are, which is online,” said Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of the Miami Foundation.

In 2013, Give Miami Day raised $3.2 million in 24 hours. With minimum donations set at just $25, the campaign is more accessible for young people. This year, Give Miami Day 2014 will take place Nov. 20. As of last week, 173 Miami-based nonprofits had registered to participate. People can click on the charity they want to give to.

“Give Miami Day is a website, and it’s totally mobile so you can access it on your tablet or phone,” said Soto.

Give Miami Day isn’t just about raising money for today’s problems; it’s about developing a habit of giving back in young people.

“Today’s $25 Give Miami Day donor is tomorrow’s endowment builder,” Soto said.

Other groups are following the Miami Foundation’s example in wooing young people.

Marly Quinoces has created the PARK Project, which stands for ‘‘performing acts of random kindness.”

When Quinoces, 31, was growing up in Miami, she thought she had to be older to be a philanthropist, but she said that when she learned the broader meaning of philanthropy, she realized that giving of her time and skills was also just as important.

PARK Project is a nonprofit that earned third place in 2013 in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge. One of its events, the 5K PARK Fest encourages runners, walkers and cheerers to sign up for $40, half of which will go to a charity of their choice.

The project has benefits for both the nonprofit beneficiaries, which can register for free, and the runners and walkers, who start building a team of like-minded people with whom they can work out and socialize.

To help get the word out, PARK Project supplies the charities with communication materials, from pre-written emails to Twitter posts. The only thing the organizations have to do is reach out to their networks.

“You’re giving them everything they need to be successful,” she said.

The idea of doing the heavy lifting for charities that have suffered from the financial downturn is the concept behind Philanthrofest.

Philanthrofest, begun by Miami native Estrella Sibilia, 35, puts together what Sibilia describes as a “job fair within a carnival.” Charities come together to create an event where the public can not only sign up to help, but can learn about the services that are available to them within the community.

Prior to founding Philanthrofest, Sibilia worked in real estate development in Miami.

“I’ve spent years building the skyline, so now I’m building the community around the skyline,” she said.

Philanthrofest 2015 will be held in Miami’s new Museum Park on April 11.

Sibilia also helps organizations with their communication efforts, giving them the tools to build their own marketing campaigns.

“We host digital engagement institutes to teach nonprofits how to engage with social media so they can amplify and build their audience,” she said.

At last year’s Philanthrofest, about 100 organizations participated, Sibilia said. Throughout the year, she has heard stories of how the organizations have helped change people’s lives.

Meanwhile, other organizations are asking young donors to give their talents and skills to a cause.

Blair Butterfield, 33, originally from North Florida, is the founder of Colony1, which she bills as Miami’s “first sustainability center.”

With a net-zero water and energy building in the design phases, Colony1 will be located at 550 NW 52nd St. on a 14,000-square-foot plot of land donated by Miami-Dade County. They began work on the site in June.

Butterfield, director of the Art of Cultural Evolution, a nonprofit, said the site will host a “teaching and learning garden.”

“Instead of paying to harvest your own vegetables, you’ll be growing your own food and taking it home. We’re going to have a local food kitchen that is going to offer one organic meal a day. People who eat that food will be learning to cook that food, too,” she said.

But for those who just want to drop by and pick up some fresh organic food for their household, they can bring their own containers and shop at the zero packaging store. Goods at the store will be grown at Colony1’s 2.5-acre plot of land in Homestead.

All the work for Colony1, from the design to the engineering, has been done by volunteers, who are predominantly millennials.

“There are so many young people [here] who have so many great talents — and so all these people have come together and offered their skills,” she said.



Park Project:


Miami Foundation:

Read more here:


Outtakes with Carla Hall

She's a chef, TV host, cookbook author and soon-to-be restaurant owner. Carla Hall took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about one of her favorite organizations, DC Central Kitchen, and to answer some fun questions just for you! 


Is it scientifically possible to eat just one your Petite Cookies?
“No! You don’t have to choose just one. There’s a smorgasboard.”

What is your favorite cooking smell?
“That’s hard! Would it be a cake in the oven, or my grandmother’s cornbread… let’s say bread baking. I have this fascination with bread baking…”

What is your least favorite cooking smell?
"Being from the South, it would have to be something like pig’s feet, that smells really funky, or chitlins…. When you’re like “what the hell?”

With all due respect to your husband, do you have any celebrity crushes?
“My husband knows I have a crush on Jamie Oliver. I told Jamie “it’s okay, my husband knows that I love you, too.”

What is, no holds barred, no political correctness, no apologies, the best kind of pie to have at Thanksgiving?
“I honestly would like peach cobbler. I honestly know peaches aren’t in season, but if I had some canned, I would do a peach cobbler. Or cherry. Sour cherry cobbler.”

Play a round of ‘Bang, Marry, Kill’ with your gentlemen co-stars (Clinton Kelly, Michael Symon, Mario Batali)
Aw, dang, this is going to be so hard… Marry Clinton.. oh wow… this is like asking, which of your brothers would you bang or kill? I’ll kill both of them! I’m more grossed out by the bang part than I am by the kill part. I wouldn’t want to bang either of them… you’re giving me the willies! Okay, bang Michael, kill Mario… Gross!

Why is The Daily Do Good truly awesome?
The Daily Do Good is awesome because 1) it reminds you to do good, 2) they do with a smile and laughter, and 3) they ask you tough questions that you all want to hear.