New film to help students take action on global water crisis

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

We take it for granted when we turn on the faucet and clean drinking water  appears and is plentiful.  Yet, throughout the world more than 1 billion people do not have clean drinking water.  The Thirst Project, an proactive student organization hitting the clean water problem head on, says  80 percent of global diseases are water-borne and result from drinking contaminated water.  These diseases kill more than 2.2 million people per year.

In a new movie, “Earth to Echo,” the stars of the film receive “distress signals” on their phones from someone who needs their help.

Students can join The Thirst Project and “Earth to Echo” to take action against the global water crisis without having to give, donate, or raise any of their own money. All you have to do is TEXT the keyword ECHO (in all caps) followed by your message for hope and encouragement to someone in a developing community without safe, clean drinking water to 51555. For every message we receive, the movie “Earth to Echo” will donate to The Thirst Project to build wells to give clean water to those who need it most. Not only that, but we will capture the actual messages we receive and install them on murals on the wells funded by this campaign. Then, go see the movie “Earth to Echo” in theaters everywhere July 2014. Visit www.ThirstProject.org/EarthToEcho to learn how you can get involved today!

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ST Blog: Some healthcare insurance coverage might deter doctors to give quality medical care

In February 2014, I was diagnosis by a podiatrist surgeon that I had a torn Achilles tendon and other tendons in my left foot.  I saw the MRI results — horrible stuff. The podiatrist said my left foot was a mess with Planter Fasciitis, a bone spur, and again, a torn Achilles tendon.  I was fitted with an orthopedic boot and scheduled for physical therapy. He said two surgeries were needed.  Okay, I said to myself, “This is serious, and I have proactive measures in my future.” The podiatrist said weight loss, physical therapy and a wellness program was the formula to provide strength and a good plan for recovery after the surgical repairs. I was vigilant in keeping up with my physical therapy, lost some weight and felt positive in moving toward the enviable surgery.

By April, the physical therapy had greatly reduced the foot pain, but the pain returned if I walked without the orthopedic boot for very long.  I knew the long-term goal: surgery.

I returned  to my podiatrist in late April for a six-week check up.  Soon after I checked in at the doctor’s office,  the receptionist immediately asked me to make a payment for what the insurance company had not paid for the doctor visits, the MRI and orthopedic equipment. I had no idea how much the insurance company paid or did not pay — ya know, the deductible thing.

I was told that if a payment was not paid immediately I would not be able to see the doctor today for the appointment. The receptionist said I owed $800. At this time, I did not have the information to make a decision about any payment.  I asked when the bill with insurance information was sent.  The receptionist said, “Yesterday.”

With my Irish temper in check, I assertively pronounced that I was not going to make a payment until I received “the bill.”  Again she said I would not be able to see the doctor today. My voice became a little louder. The other clients in the waiting room no doubt had heard me. I asked to see the doctor. The receptionist said she would see if the podiatrist was available to talk to me.

The doctor agreed to see me for the appointment.

After sternly articulating the humiliating experience I had at his reception desk, he looked at my foot for a follow-up. Oddly enough, he kept mentioning my insurance company in his conversations with me. Next, twisting my foot back and forth, he said the physical therapy was doing a great job in lessening my pain. His next statement, well, it shocked me. The doctor said the nothing of my major surgeries ahead but instead spoke of small cuts to release scar tissue on my foot as the new medical plan. Period. He said to come back in six weeks.

Stunned, I left the doctor’s office even more humiliated. This podiatrist had changed his mind about my medical care based on my insurance company’s ability to pay him well and not wanting to face an imaginary billing battle with me in the future. By the way, I have never defaulted on any medical bills.

I am looking for a new podiatrist.

- Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

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Pop-up store might provide dignity for America’s homeless

Capetown, South Africa, has found a way to clothe their homeless with dignity. Can we do the same here in America? The Street Store concept is to provide a series of multifunctional cardboard posters that would turn city sidewalks or fences into a shop for the homeless. The posters are designed with holes in them for citizens to donate clothes and shoes they don’t wear and to provide an inventory of clothing for the homeless living on the streets. Instead of rummaging through dumpsters and trash cans, the homeless can with dignity select clothing of their taste and need.

For more information on this movement, link to The Street Store and read the article from the Huffington Post entitled, “Charity ‘Store’ For Homeless Gives Customers So Much More Than Just Clothes.”

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2011 Sundance film launches movement for equality

The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or circumstance can fulfill their potential.

For more information visit therepresentationproject.org. 

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Mississippi single mothers poorest in the nation

Shae Hill holds her 3-month-old daughter inside a store May 7, 2009 in Glendora, Mississippi, a highly impoverished town in the rural Lower Mississippi Delta region. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation.  But its status is not without trying to walk away from this title.  Although social services and benefits have allowed the poorest of the poor to receive more food and health care, the ability for Mississippi’s poor to journey out of poverty has been a long and challenging battle.

The Mississippi poor consist of a large population of single mothers — who are working.  Many have graduated from high school but are unable to find a living wage in the small town and rural communities for which they live.

In an article by NPR’s WUBR, “Women and Children Most At Risk in Mississippi,” Carol Burnett, executive director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, discusses the situation in Mississippi, as well as underlying issues and myths.

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School-to-prison pipeline might start as early as preschool

By high school many minority students or students with disabilities could be on the school-to-prison pipeline. palantelatino.com photo

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

Are we giving up on a large population of our young people in this country?  With minority students and students with disabilities, including teens with emotional and behavioral problems, carrying the majority of school suspensions and high school dropout rates, could the path toward school-to-prison pipeline be condemning a new generation to failure?

When I worked as a reporter in Mississippi several years ago, the self-fulfilling prophecy for many minority students went as far back as preschool. One southern Mississippi school official told to me the state counted the amount of children not attending preschool programs as an indication of how many prison cells would be required for state correctional facilities 20 to 25 years later. Their justification to watch these numbers was due to the inaccessibility or cuts of preschool programs such as a Head Start, and the broad number of illiterate parents unable to teach the fundamentals early childhood skills to prepare their children to enter kindergarten.  As a result, many preschoolers might start out behind in school as early as five years-old.

By the time many of the minority or students with disabilities enter high school, there is an even bigger chance a student could be railed onto the school-to-prison pipeline.

In a comprehensive report by America Aljazeera, the saga of the school-to-prison pipeline is examined with alarming statistics.  Link here.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech a benchmark for peace and equality

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to millions at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

In 1963 I was only five years-old, but I knew something extraordinary was happening in this country.  As I watched the television network news with my family, I saw the raw footage of riots in the South and fires in Detroit as this country fought for civil rights for all its citizens.  As a child, these images sometimes frightened me, but they also intrigued me.  I just couldn’t figure out what the fuss was all about.  I guess at five we are still color blind.  I don’t remember watching Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech on television, but I do remember the news of his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was all over the newspaper headlines. Very soon after his speech, President Kennedy was shot and killed.  And in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  I was ten years-old in 1968 and was beginning to understand the chaos in this country concerning poverty and race, as well as the rising discourse concerning the Vietnam War.

Martin Luther King’s speech imprinted a broad change in this country that led its people toward King’s dream of quiet and peaceful protest, and even more important, equality.  Even though fighting for equality was not always peaceful, his speech and actions created a benchmark toward peaceful resolutions.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, please re-read his speech to understand his mark in U.S. history. We might  have come far as a  nation in the understanding of equality, but we need to remain relentless in redefining equality as it was is spoken so clearly in King’s speech in 1963.  Read Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream,” by linking here.

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Hunger agency asks for help on Day of Service

America’s are asked to use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service volunteer at local agencies serving the needs of communities, such as a food pantry. sfgate.com photo

Food banks provide nourishment for millions of people each year. Feeding America encourages people to work at food pantries on the MLK’s Day of Service, Jan. 20. Texans.clubs.com photo

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

Chicago, Illinois – The nation will pause to reflect and remember the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 20. To honor his memory, his birthday is now commemorated as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Each year millions of Americans across the country gather on this day to serve their neighbor s and communities, especially for those who are hungry.

Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, is asking people to consider volunteering at a local food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen to honor the holiday this year. Feeding America is a network of 203 food banks providing food and groceries to 37 million Americans each year.

“Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?” said Dr. King as a challenge to the nation.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports 49 million Americans are food insecure, including 16 million children. “Our economy continues to be troubled, and many Americans are out of work,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding of America. “Our state and federal governments face enormous budget shortfalls, and there is concern that there will be significant cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits.”

Aiken says everyone can do something to help their neighbors who live at risk of hunger whether it is sorting food, packing boxes, or serving a meal at a soup kitchen. “We particularly want to encourage children to volunteer on this national holiday, when most schools will be closed,” said Aiken.  He said it is important for future leaders to learn more about the 16 million children who live at risk of hunger.

“Feeding America believes that together, we can solve hunger.” said Aiken.  To find volunteer opportunities in your community, visit: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx

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Shriver Report website brings issues of women to forefront

The Shriver Report is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary look at how American families live and work today, giving clear insight into one of the most important social trends of our time: the emergence of women into all areas of society.  To view this new website, link here.

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