Monthly Archives: February 2011

Be The Match – How Might We Increase the Number of Registered Bone Marrow Donors to Save More Lives?

In January, when my sister celebrated 25 years of survival from childhood Leukemia, I wrote about it here on the blog and encouraged you to register as a bone marrow donor at It only took one week for me to hear back from a friend that as a registered donor herself, took the initiative to help her fiance get registered as well.  I was encouraged by these positive results and hoped that of the 107 people who have viewed that blog post, at least a few more have been inspired to register.

Sharon speaking at the StartingBloc Insitute in LA

Kristeen and I giving our Be The Match pitch at StartingBloc Insitute in LA - Photo Credit: Kwiri Yang

Remembering the success of telling my sister and I’s story on the blog, I used the  opportunity of the Ideas Marketplace at StartingBloc to ask a captive audience of about 90 people to register.   I did this with the help of my new friend Kristeen Singh, one of my group members at StartingBloc.  Kristeen inspired me, giving her bone marrow last December to a 17 year old boy who was suffering from Leukemia.  She appears to have saved his life, and having also worked for the National Marrow Donor Registry, is committed to getting more people registered as potential donors.  Kristeen and I were so pleased and proud to find out that one of our group members, Julian, registered as soon as he returned from the Institute.  This makes me think that for every 100 people I can tell my story to, and ask to register, at least one will follow through and add their name to the Bone Marrow Donor registry.  This is progress, but how can we increase that percentage and get to a tipping point on Bone Marrow registrations?

Kristeen shared with me this new challenge from Open IDEO and the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University.

If you’ve never heard of Open IDEO (as I hadn’t) – it is a really cool open source platform for creativity and collaboration.  Right now this challenge is in the Inspiration phase, which means you can post sources of inspiration that may help generate new solutions (pictures, videos, ideas).  The Inspiration phase is open for 10 more days.  The next phase is Concepting where you are encouraged to share your ideas for how to solve this problem, drawing on what was suggested in the Inspiration phase.  Next, the challenge moves to Evaluation where you can rate and comment on the ideas.

So, now you have 2 ways to get involved in helping to save more lives through Bone Marrow Registry

1. Register as a Bone Marrow Donor at

2. Join the Open IDEO challenge & contribute your ideas on how to register more bone marrow donors

Shout out to Rachel, Hadyn, and LiAnn who are also registered as potential bone marrow donors and serve as inspiration to others.  Also, thank you to Vinod who has donated marrow twice and commented on the previous post.  And thank you to Amy who commented previously to let everyone know that after you register online, all you need to do is a simple cheek swab — no pain, no blood, even a Tewksbury could do it!  And finally, a shout out to my friend Kim, who shared on the last post that she was a kidney donor and was able to save a life without any personal health complications.

Welcome Home – Phoenix, AZ

Jay returning home for the first time in months

We may be technically homeless, but it doesn’t feel that way since we have multiple home bases around the country.  A week ago we arrived at Jay’s parents house in Phoenix; a home which carries special significance for us.  We met in October 2003 as college students in Flagstaff Arizona.  We had just started considering each other dating material when I needed a ride to Phoenix to visit my grandmother who was living in Sun City at the time.  In those days Jay drove a total lemon, a Chevy Lumina sans hub caps (since they would fall off when he took it off road).  While not pretty, the car was still functional and served as the vehicle for our first road trip together.  When I met his family that first weekend (before we were even introducing ourselves as girlfriend and boyfriend), I knew I realized I had found a great guy.

Jay and his brother Nate

Jay getting a warm greeting from his brother Nate

A bit rough around the edges, Jay becomes animated and caring when in the presence of his family.  I still remember the first time seeing him around their kitchen table talking and laughing.  His mom still referring to him as her baby and him not resisting the potentially embarrassing label.  At the dinner table, as I heard his dad discussing his landscaping work and his mom excitedly sharing news about the next big author they would be bringing to the library, I finally understood why he could identify both desert plant life as well as great literary works.  Until then I really wondered if he was just making stuff up.


For Jay and I both, our families are very important to us.  I appreciated living in the DC area for the last two and a half years so that I could be closer to my family.  Our extended family gatherings are epic and I will miss them greatly … Jay was just starting to get used to them…  It will be hard to spend most of this year away from them, but I am reassured to know that I will have more time with my second family.  I am also excited to see Jay back to being his best self, lifted up by his family and friends and the desert he knows and loves.

Jay's niece Laya

Jay's niece Laya playing in our "home"

My 10 Favorite Free IPAD Apps

Last month I won an IPAD through the HandsOn Network Get HandsOn Campaign. I was entered to win by committing to complete a service project using one of their Project Playbooks.  I pledged to host a food drive and have since contacted the Northern Arizona Food Bank with the hopes of completing the food drive in March.

The IPAD arrived this past week in Phoenix where we are staying with Jay’s parents.  Since it arrived I have been tooling around on it constantly.


Sharon and her IPAD
Showing off my new IPAD

My 10 Favorite FREE Apps So Far Are:

1. Flipboard – This app has the most beautiful and intuitive user interface.  It acts as a digital customized magazine where you can choose which news / photos are shown on the screen.  You can look at up to 9 different feeds at once, quickly getting up to date on the latest news and images from your favorite social media sites.  I have added GOOD magazine and TED Talks.

2. ABC Player – Having never owned a TV, I have gotten used to watching my favorite shows (like Castle and Greys Anatomy) on digital devices.  ABC makes it free and easy to stream their shows and watch them on the IPAD.  Since the IPAD has great screen definition and good sound quality, it makes an excellent viewer.  I hope that other channels will follow their lead.

3. Google Books - The google books app is perfect for me because A) I’m cheap, B) I enjoy reading C) I haven’t read most of the classics.  Google books has a huge selection of free ebooks, most of which are classics like Walden, Alice in Wonderland, & Pride and Prejudice.  I look forward to catching up on some great literary works.

4. The Weather Channel Max – This app shows the greatest improvement over its IPOD version.  The IPAD app allows you to look at the 10 day forecast in a visually appealing and easy to use way.  You can also see the actual radar map or even check out what all the forecasters are tweeting about (not sure how often I’ll use that).  More useful — you can get notifications if there are storm watches for the city that you have it set to.

5. Adobe Ideas – Before I left Volunteer Arlington, I was just getting into the Adobe Creative Suite.  This is a very basic app provided by Adobe that allows you to draw.  I am interested to see how it may work with other Adobe products.

6. Epicurious – Although I haven’t had a chance yet to actually make any recipes from this cooking app, I am just enthralled by the beautiful food images and basic layout.

7. PS Express – For anyone that uses Photoshop, this basic app is a nice choice for a free photo editing tool.

8. NPR – NPR is a leader in embracing new technology and delivering great content.  Their app, which came out soon after the IPAD’s arrival in the marketplace, is both beautiful and functional.  I found the IPOD version to have some glitches, but so far the IPAD version has worked seamlessly.

9. Echofon – I used the IPOD version of this app to manage my twitter account.  The IPAD version is basically the same but easier to use because of the size.  They provide a simple interface to read tweets, write, retweet, search for users, etc.

10.  Pocket Pond – I first played with Pocket Pond on my cousin Amy’s IPAD.  I think every IPAD owner must have this app and it is all I can do not to show it to my 2 year old niece who I know would then covet the IPAD and destroy it.

Do you have an IPAD?  If so, what apps do you recommend?

What IPAD apps, if created, do you think would do the most for the service movement?

Shout Out to my Bad Assets Teammates from the 24 Hours at Old Pueblo

Over the weekend the 24 hours of Old Pueblo mountain bike race kicked off at noon on February 19. The event is promoted by Todd Saddow so it helped to collect canned food as well as money for the Arizona Cancer Center. I had not planned on riding this event but had  always wanted to. So when I got a call asking if I would like to be a last minute substitute on the Bad Assets team with Kevin, Mary, Tom and my new friend Dan I could not turn it down. I figured it would be a fun opportunity not to be missed.

Click here to see some awesome pictures from the race

Boy was I right.  My team even chipped in and covered my entry fee. The food and beer was all set when I came on board.  In fact Tom prepared what proved to be the bacon highlight of the trip so far.  This took the form of a breakfast burrito featuring a fresh tortilla. The bacon was of course good but what made it special was the whole package.  Of course food cooked on a camp stove always tastes better.

CLICK HERE to read more about the race.

Example of a Cholla cactus

The racing action was fun since the course was well laid out and offered up some fun challenges. A flat straight course is a curse on a 24 hour event since it gets boring. This course was exciting and fun to ride even in the cold. The  Cholla cactus thickets required constant concentration in the wind and claimed one unknown rider early on. I sure hope they are alright and wish them a speedy recovery! The weather was truly awful with high winds, rain, fog and drizzle. This only cut into the number of laps  we did but not the fun.

Thanks again to the Team for a fun filled weekend!

Third Week In Review – Sharon & Jay Go Their Separate Ways

This week Sharon went to the StartingBloc Institute in Los Angeles while Jay went to Tucson for a 24 hour bike ride and then spent the rest of the week in Phoenix with his family.

Hours volunteered: 0, but we both did activities that had an emphasis on social good

States:   Arizona, California

Budget: not sure, … still trying to see if I really have to pay a $64 parking ticket

People Visited: Elle Durden   — Sharon also made about 80 new friends from StartingBloc that we hope to visit on the rest of our journey

Nights under the stars: 2 (Jay)

Best meal: Burrito by Tom (Jay), Salad Nicose at Annenburg Community Beach House (Sharon)

Best beer: Lagunitas Cappachino Stout

Manhattan Beach

View Near Elle's house at Manhattan Beach

Photo Review: Camping in New Mexico

After leaving McKinney Texas last Sunday, Jay and I headed into New Mexico and spent two nights camping in New Mexico State Parks, Brantley Lake and Leasburg Dam.  The weather was warm and the camping was excellent.  Here’s a sampling of the views from our campsites.

Brantley Lake Sunset

leasburg dam state park

At StartingBloc in Los Angeles

Today I start a five day Social Innovation Institute through StartingBloc.  I will be spending all day at the Annenburg Community Beach House on Santa Monica State Beach.  Unfortunately it is supposed to rain almost every day that I am here, but we will be spending so much time in the meeting room that it is probably just as well.  If you are in the LA area and are interested in connecting please let me know, or consider attending the StartingBloc Launch Party this Sunday night (basically a coming out party for us young social innovators).

By attending this Institute, I hope to meet other energized young leaders from around the world.  I am excited to hear about their ideas and to expand my network.  Also, I hope to learn more about the intersection between for profit and non profit.  The Great Recession got me thinking about how to create jobs and / or create wealth while still focusing on building community and social good.

Thank you again to my sponsors and for everyone that contributed ideas for how to spend $100M towards addressing climate change.  I look forward to sharing with you what I learn.

Second Week in Review – Alabama to Arizona

Hours volunteered: 6.5 (combined)

States:  Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona

Budget: over by $30  (we’ve under budgeted for gas)

People Visited: Candi Williams, Robin Popik, Buffy, Jack and Katie Wimmer, Cindi, Morgan, and Nate Holt and our niece Laya.

Nights under the stars: 2

Best meal: every meal at the Wimmer’s  house in McKinney Texas

Best beer: an imported Belgian Trappist Ale that Jack Wimmer gave us

lake in McKinney Texas

view from the Wimmer's backyard

Volunteering in the Community Garden – AKA, Ruining Our Shoes

These 6 hours of volunteering were sponsored by Tiffany Kudravetz and Terri Defazio.  Thank you for the support!

One of the things I didn’t think about until my shoes were covered in about 5 pounds of black prairie soil is that on this trip we only have the stuff in the car.  I have only one pair of walking shoes and on Saturday they got filthy.  It was a memorable way to learn that Plano Texas is part of a unique strip of soil that is incredibly rich and comes in either of two forms: sticky or solid.

Shoes covered in Black Prairie Soil

Jay's Shoes Covered in Black Prairie Soil

On Saturday morning we woke up early to backtrack from McKinney to Plano Texas.  My friend Robin had given us the heads up on a community garden work day there.  Arriving a few minutes late (we’ve been getting lost frequently on this trip), the coordinator, Erin, had already started her intro.  We joined a small crowd made up of teenagers from Future Farmers of America and women who are garden regulars.  This Saturday turned out to be their once a month volunteer work day, so we jumped right in with picking up litter and digging rocks out of the soil.

Plano Community Garden

The garden area we were working in

When I think gardening, I think planting, weeding, harvesting, watering….  We did not do any of those things.  As you can see above, the garden isn’t much of a garden yet.  It turns out that there used to be an extensive garden here, but it had to be transplanted in order to make way for a new LEED Platinum Certified Environmental Education Center, built on the grounds.  The building has just been completed, so now it’s time to get the garden back in.  That means a lot of grunt work, tearing out any plants that aren’t part of the plan and picking all the rocks and junk out of the soil.

Jay dragging tree branches to the street

Jay dragging tree branches to the street

It felt good to get a little dirty and join in the community effort.  Community gardens are particularly noteworthy for being a place of common ground where diverse peoples can gather and work together to create a space that is beautiful, productive, and safe.  When we are in Phoenix at the end of February, we plan to revisit the Garden of Tomorrow, that I volunteered at in November.

Sharon carrying tree trimmings to the street

Sharon carrying tree trimmings to the street

NAVPLG – Plugging into my peer group on the road

NAVPLG, the National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government is a unique organization of volunteer managers who organize volunteers in Cities and Counties throughout the United States.  I joined the NAVPLG Board at their Annual Meeting in San Francisco in 2009 and have enjoyed meeting NAVPLG members from around the country through my involvement with the association.

NAVPLG members

NAVPLG past and present Board members in New York City for the last National Conference on Volunteering and Service

When we arrived in Shreveport Louisiana a few nights ago and looked up our route to McKinney Texas, I suddenly realized that Plano Texas was directly en route.  Plano Texas is famous in my mind as being the home of Robin Popik, one of the previous NAVPLG Presidents and a leader in the field of Volunteer Management.  Robin is a professional volunteer manager, a leader in the field who is currently involved in the national debate over where the field of volunteer management is headed and how to bring in a new generation of leaders in volunteer management.  I was glad to get a chance to have lunch with Robin and share ideas and knowledge about volunteering in local government.

Sharon and Robin

Visiting Robin at her offices in Plano, Texas

Robin told me about a new program that the City of Plano has started called Helping Partners.  This referral service program, funded by a HUD grant, brings together several community partners to identify, assess, and repair homes in Plano.  Residents can apply for assistance with home repairs such as handicap accessible ramps, exterior painting, and fence repair.  Next a volunteer team of assessors (made up of individuals from Habitat for Humanity, faith-based groups, corporate groups, etc) go to the home to identify what work needs to be done and what skills are needed to do the work.  Then each project is matched with a volunteer team with the required skills.  The City coordinates the match, keeping the homeowners information private until an approved volunteer group is selected.  The initiative is ongoing, but they use “Love Where You Live” days to direct focus on the project.  The last Love Where You Live effort assisted 77 homes.

We hope to come back through Plano in April on our way to our friend’s wedding in McKinney and may get a chance to participate in one of their big events such as Love Where You Live or Live Green in Plano.