Thursday, December 17, 2009

'tis the season to think of others...

On the heels of a post about charities I specifically avoid, I'll rehash some I think are worthwhile. Because I know you care.

Let's start out with a list of Skeptical and Atheist Charities, courtesy of TechSkeptic.

And now for those I care to support:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Purpose: to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual; to advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services; to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality; to promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical, behavioral, and social implications.

Donors Choose
An online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need.
Here's how it works: public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class.
Then, you can browse project requests and give any amount to the one that inspires you. Once a project reaches its funding goal, we deliver the materials to the school.

The Humane Society of the United States
Purpose: The HSUS seeks a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We are America's mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect, as well as the most trusted voice extolling the human-animal bond.

Victory Junction Gang Camp
Purpose: to enrich the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun, and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment.

Public Broadcasting Service
Purpose: is a non-profit public broadcasting television service with 354 member TV stations in the United States, with some member stations available in Canada.

Heifer International
Purpose: to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth; providing gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to financially-disadvantaged families around the world

Guttmacher Institute
Purpose: to advance sexual and reproductive health through an interrelated program of social science research, policy analysis and public education, designed to generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate, promote sound policy and program development, and, ultimately, inform individual decision-making.

Human Rights Campaign
Purpose: America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Efforts
Purpose: a secular alternative to faith-based relief efforts; a program of the Council for Secular Humanism; working with Americares (purpose: to provide immediate response to emergency medical needs and support long-term humanitarian assistance programs for all people around the world, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion)

Secular Coalition for America
The national lobby representing the interests of atheists, humanists, agnostics, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans.

Freedom From Religion Foundation
The FFRF works to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism, and to promote the constitutional principle of separation between church and state.

Center for Inquiry
The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

James Randi Educational Foundation
Its aim is to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today.

Plan USA
Our vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people's rights and dignity. If James "The Amaz!ng" Randi thinks this is a worthy cause, it must have something going for it.

The National Organization for Women
Purpose: NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.

Kiva loans that save lives
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

To restate what I said last year:
Remember, these organizations need support, donations and volunteers year round and not just during the holidays, but if you can give anything, even a little, it helps a lot. Send an anonymous check or request not to receive solicitations if you are worried about getting on a mailing list, but do send something. Perhaps in lieu of dinner out some night you could buy dinner for a less well-off family. Perhaps in lieu of buying a new DVD you could help others. Perhaps in lieu of another new pair of sneakers, you could help supply warm shoes for a needy person. We all likely have more than we need, especially if we have the time to wile away on a blog, so we should take a few moments this season and see what we can share with others.

As always, check out the Charity Navigator to see how your chosen charities are rated.

Besides, 'tis the season for giving, after all, and 'do unto others' applies to secular folk, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

why I do not give to the United Way

...because charity is supposed to be private and personal
...because charity should never been mandatory or compelled or bribed
...because I would prefer to donate to the organizations directly rather than go through a giant umbrella organization -that way I'm sure that my money is going where I want it to
...because, while the United Way undoubtedly does a great deal of good, and while it certainly meets the Better Business Bureau's Standards for Charity Accountability, I have a hard time supporting a charitable organization whose President and CEO makes $973,535 a year

And if anyone's curious as to why I do not give to the Salvation Army and why I avoid establishments in front of which they are allowed to panhandle, look no further than their stance on homosexuality -not to mention the fact that they are, you know, ridiculously faith-based.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Whew! Marriage is safe, for now.

Since we all know how damaging it would be if consenting homosexual couples were allowed to get teh married, it's kind of a relief that the NYS Senate voted to NOT extend equal marriage rights to teh gays -by 38-24, no less, meaning that not only did ALL the Republicans vote against the bill (including my state senator, George D. Maziarz) but some Democrats, too. Oh wait, except that it's not. It's actually stupid and awful and shameful.

Seriously. Shame, shame, shame on you, NYS. FSM-forbid consenting adults all be given the same rights and protections. And no, "civil unions" aren't the same. I'm not going to get into the whole marriage-is-a-religious-institution b.s. (because if anyone wants a good example of how it's totally not, well, haaaaaaaaave you met me?!), but if straight folk get it, then so should gay folk. If you make marriage a religious thing only, and everyone else gets secularly civil unioned, then fine. We'll get un-married and will get civil union'ed. That's cool. But if it's a matter of different terms based on the gender of the person you love or denying equality all together, then no, that's not okay.

Blah, blah, blah "sanctity of marriage" blah, blah, blah "fragile children being taught teh gay" blah, blah, blah "Adam & Eve"... Yeah, shut up. I'll see your marriage myths and I will bust the fuck out of them.

Interestingly, Senator Maziarz sent out a special health bulletin to his constituents regarding H1N1, which I received yesterday. That's great and fine and good, the information is valid and accurate as far as I can tell, and it's good to get the word out to his constituents about this. The irony (that's irony, right?) in it is that he showed clearly on Tuesday that he really only cares about the well-being of SOME of his constituents. Namely, the straightees. Harrumph.