13randon’s weblog
Just another WordPress.com weblog

Dec
02

For me the most important thing that I have learned in this class is the value of the internet. Knowing where to search for things on the internet has been very helpful and expanded my knowledge of the non profit sector. Access to information gives you power and efficiency in decision making. Seperate from the course material I have learned a lot about class room dynamics. The new century college experience was very difficult to me but it is something that I think can be very beneficial. Significant control over the learning process is something I never really felt comfortable with but I can see how it can be a good thing. It was obvious to see who had been in an NCC class prior and the ones that had not. The more active students had prior experience with NCC and felt most comfortable guiding the class. I have learned that it is hard to get 25 people to agree on one thing and that a lack in patience creates compromise. When people were fed up with the decision making process they tended to go along with anything. Overall this was a very good learning experience from an academic standoint as well as and interpersonal learning experience.

Advertisements
Dec
02

The only questions that I have about civil society cannot be answered. For example, what does the future hold for civil society. Will its strength in society improve or deterriorate? I think what is most important about my experience in this class is that I now have the tools to answer any questions I might have about the non profit sector. This class has showed me the value of the internet and its wealth of information. Any question I do have, I have the ability to answer myself.  If I want to find out news about civil society I have access to numerous blogs full of current affairs. If I want to start up my own non profit organization I know that salsa.org offers information on all of the paperwork and logistics. If I want to look at the tax details of an organization to see where the money is going I can go to guidestar.org. If I want to donate money to a reputable organization I can go to give.org where the Better Business Beaurea examines organizations on its standards of accountability. The list goes on and on. This class has opened my mind to the scope of civil soceity and enabled me access lots of information. Therefore posing a question in this blog would have been pointless because any question I could have asked I could answer myself.

Dec
02

This comment is in reaction to the blog about the Hampton Roads Youth Hockey Association. This blog was very interesting because I myself am a sports enthusiast and have been effected by many sports organizations. I have participated in countless sports for various clubs and organizations over the years. Sports organizations are a part of civil society similar to the Boys and Girls Club of America, which I blogged about previosly. They are primarily involved with kids and teach good habbits at a young age. I find these types of organizations most important among civil society. If you can instill hard working attitudes and good morals into kids early on it improves the success of a soceity. Adolecents is the stage when childeren are forming their views and attitudes for the rest of their life so it is important make sure they start off on the right foot. As we all know “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” so its easest to teach people when they are young. Also sports are a great way to teach kids without them even knowing it. While they are having fun competing sublte hints about how they approach a particular game, ways to improve and preperation can change their behaviors off of the court or field. So these habbits will be a part of their family and academic lives. I know personally that my competitive attitute in sports has translated into better grades in the class room. For example, my competitive spirit causes me to do better in school because I am always striving to improve my grades and because of what I learned in sports as a kid the only wat to get better is through hard work. I think when people think of non profit organizations and civil society today they think of organizations that help the poor and charaties that are aimed to fix already existing problems.  I think it is important not to forget abou the organizations like sports organizations that help mold and direct kids at an early age to a safe and healthy future. In a way they are correcting problems before they start.

Nov
30

As I had written in a previous el blog the Salvation Army solicitors were one way in which I was affected by the organization; later I realized that the Salvation Army played a larger role in my life. As winter break approaches my mother constantly reminds me of her plans to reorganize and clean the house when I get home. Typically people refer to the time when you go through old clothes and boxes in your closet and around the house as “spring cleaning”, but because my brothers and I are away at school during the spring she has adopted “WINTER cleaning.” Now some people just take their old things to the dump, but my family insists on donating our things to the Salvation Army. To be honest the place felt like a dump to me and I felt it to be a waste of time, but after researching the Salvation Army I have realized how important this civil society organization is.

I have come to find out that thrift stores are just one of numerous ways that the Salvation Army is serving the American people today. They encourage monetary donations that you most commonly see collected by people stand outside of grocery stores with the red kettle and a bell. Also, they have adopted online donations that are easily collected electronically from the comfort of your home. In addition they accept automobile donations and volunteer help. A unique and easy way to give this holiday season that I found was the donation of your accrued air miles to help Salvation Army personnel quickly travel for disaster relief. The Salvation Army has teamed up with United Airlines to make this possible. The Salvation Army is very technologically savvy too; they have created a concept called the virtual kettle where you can get your family and friends to donate online to your personal kettle. This is an inventive way to set a target donation goal and accumulate donations online.

On my last blog about the Salvation Army I realized how civil society can physically affect business with solicitors outside of grocery stores, but this time around I learned how well civil society is modernizing and adapting its technology and resources to be most affective. They Salvation Army uses many very unique and effective techniques to raise donations and awareness. In today’s society communication and visibility are the biggest factors to success. Because we live in a fast paced information filled world, if you cant be very visible and relate your cause to the people with money then you will not be successful. The fact that “more than 35 million people received help from The Salvation Army in 2006” shows that they will be very effective for time to come.

Nov
30

The experiential learning process has got me thinking about how civil society is currently affecting my daily life. As the connections developed I realized that my entire childhood was based around a civil society organization. It quickly became obvious that the Boys and Girls Club of America played a large roll in my adolescents. Because both of my parents worked jobs from 9:00am to 5:00pm I spent many hours at my local Boys and Girls Club after school and during the summer. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was learning many valuable lessons that would help me to be successful in life and in the classroom.

When researching the Boys and Girls Club of America I discovered their history and the 5 main objectives that make up their mission. The club started in 1860 in Connecticut as a way to get wandering boys off the streets. It wasn’t until 1990 that the club extended its services to women. Their main objectives include character and leadership development, education are career development, health and life skills, the arts and sports fitness. This is a well rounded mission that helps to develop all aspects of local citizens. In my personal experience I benefited most from the arts and sports fitness. I found a passion in basketball and painting during my 8 years as a member of the club. This passion developed into a hard working attitude in high school sports and academics. As a result of hard work in high school I was able to get into George Mason where I am currently on my way to a Bachelors degree in Global Affairs. As you can see the lessons I learned in the Boys and Girls club have helped me to succeed today.

Furthermore, each Boys and Girls Club is a private non profit agency managed by a full-time executive director, assisted by full-time career professionals, part-time assistants and program volunteers. Also a professional staff runs programs promoting the health, social, educational, vocational and character development of youth ages 6-18.

Nov
24

Civil Society in Brazil and Kenya is characterized by their history of western European colonialism and strong military governments.  Kenya was a British colony until December of 1963 and Brazil was a Portuguese colony until 1889. Although Brazil has been an independent nation for much longer their colonial backgrounds play into the role of their current civil society. In Brazil civil society emerged from clandestine groups of educated elites that were against the current government; their efforts to change the status quo which was repressing the majority came with a battle. Civil society in Brazil has always had conflicting views with the government creating a seesaw battle between the two. Similarly Kenya’s civil society has struggled with the military governments to actively help its people. There hegemonic power of the government in both cases has dictated the ability of civic society to pursue certain goals.

Nov
24

The Nonprofit Literature Blog created by the Foundation Center is a very resourceful place to go for information regarding nonprofits. It has various links for fundraising, management and nonprofit statistics. There are numerous blogs on wide ranging topics such as: New Report on Community Foundations around the World, Leadership Development: What is Your Role? and Rural Philanthropy: Challenges and Opportunities.  As you can see by the three lates blogs, this is a very well rounded website covering many interesting and informative topics. There is also a very useful link call the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature where you can search The Foundation Center database for literature on various nonprofits. Also there is a New Acquisitions section that links you to recent articles written about the nonproft sector. The blog is filled with information regarding nonprofit organizations and philanthropy which makes it a good place to start research or just to keep abreast recent nonprofit news.

Nov
18

On my way into Safeway this afternoon I was met by volunteer soliciting for donations. In the past I would have hardly taken notice to such a character but because of my increased awareness of the non-profit sector the Salvation Army sign jumped out at me. I began to think of all of the solicitors that I have seen standing outside of supermarkets and how I have been affected by their presence. For me I am not bothered by solicitors and for the most part I don’t even notice them, but for some people like my friend Lindsay they become frustrated by their heckling. As we walked past she was annoyed by the volunteers ringing bell and begging. This experiential learning process has encouraged me to ponder the

When I got home I googled Salvation Army solicitors, and sure enough there were a few controversial stories involving soliciting. In particular Target stores reacted to customer complaints of annoyance by banning all Salvation Army solicitors from their entrances. An article put out by the American Family Association, a Christian watchdog group in Mississippi, condemned Targets ban of solicitors and criticized their ethics. This article got very interesting when the AFA argued that Target supported homosexuals, and further more it refused to support religious organizations. As a result of the solicitor ban the AFA is discouraging people from shopping at Target and encouraging Wal-Mart because of their support of the Salvation Army.

I think soliciting is a special opportunity for non profit organizations in which they benefit from private organizations. Utilizing their exposure to passersby is a chance to get customer for donations. Especially during the holiday season people become more generous and giving. This makes grocery store entrances a great place to position themselves to promote awareness. I think it is completely up to the business as to whether or not they will allow solicitors; in fact it is a favor to non profit organizations to allow them access to store entrances and exits. I disagree with the AFA and their anti-Target stance; it is wrong and they should realize that it is not a right but a privilege to solicit. Although I support the Salvation Army, I don not look down on Target in the least bit for their right to choose. Finally the experiential learning has lead me to realize how strongly civil society can in fact influence the business sector.

Nov
17

I found a post that talked about the NRA which caught my eye. I find the NRA to be a very interesting organization, although I don’t agree with the need to bare arms for protection I respect this organizations relentless commitment to preserve the second amendment right to bare arms. A good point is made that it is the person behind the gun that makes the decision to shoot and not the actual gun doing the damage. But I disagree with the main argument made by the NRA that guns are necessary to protect ones family. Perhaps I am too optimistic and trusting in people but I think the existence of guns for protection against criminals undermines the goodness in people. Its sad that we cannot trust or neighbors. That being said I understand there have been rare cases of burglary and kidnapping where a gun could have saved lives. For me I choose to put trust in people and hope for peace.

The post also reminds me of some recent happenings involving gun enthusiasts. I have witnessed people protesting for the right to bare arms in universities, where guns are currently prohibited. These protests were more prominent just after the Virginia Tech shootings last year and caused great debate among colleges nationwide. The argument was that if guns were allowed on campus that students could have prevented the attacks. The NRA actively supported these protests and this notion that guns would make universities a safer place. I will save my opinion on this issue because I’m sure its obvious where I stand. But I would like to say that the expression of different ideas is good for universities and diverse views are essential for a well rounded society. Especially at George Mason University I am thankful for our free speech zone that gives people and organizations a chance to really voice their opinions for quality debates.

Nov
17

I think the atmosphere of a college student is very unique, especially at George Mason University. The amount of activism and diversity of people’s views on campus make for a brilliant melting pot of ideas. Each time I walk through the quad or Johnson Center a wealth of information is at my access. Organizations are constantly organizing, promoting and informing students of critical issues in our society. From fraternities to campus ministries there is something that everyone can appreciate and learn. Commonly I see campus organizations blend with each other; in addition they invite outside perspectives to make for a truly rich environment. A great example of this is Homeless Action Week which is sponsored by numerous organizations within George Mason University and help extends to private organizations. A very unique organization that really caught my attention was Homestretch. The experiential learning process provoked my further research of the organization to uncover some very exciting information.

Homestretch is based in Fairfax county and its goal is to provide support for the homeless. Their assistant stretches far and wide, some of their services include: “subsidized housing, families in Homestretch receive a variety of services including case management, employment counseling, ESL classes, computer literacy training, GED tutoring, domestic violence education and counseling, therapy, substance abuse counseling life skills training, transportation assistance, and numerous services for children.” On Saturday the 22nd of November there is a Help the Homeless Walk sponsored by Homestretch in Washington DC that I plan to attend. At this event I plan to engage with other volunteers to promote help for the homeless.

Furthermore, I think the freedom of speech zones at Mason really encourage people to raise many important issues affecting Americans today. Because of our diversity there are many differing views, but this makes for competitive debate and increased quality of discussion. I have never been more aware of civil societies affect on my life than now.