Illuminating Invisible Disabilities
Quadriplegics in a wheelchair or Blind people with a walking cane are some afflictions that come to mind. If I asked you, “What is the most common disability?” what would you say? Actually, the most common ones are typically non-physical related. Many people will not know immediately that someone is living with these Hidden Disabilities. This is where we want to step in to help spread the word.
Improving Lives With Heightened Hearts Foundation
Who is the Heightened Hearts Foundation?Recently, the Dreamscape Foundation had the pleasure of speaking with Lyubov Smirnova, the Founder and CEO of the Heightened Hearts Foundation. While speaking with her, it was clear she is a driven and dedicated woman on a mission. It is no surprise that since founded in 2015 they have been able to implement over 32 successful programs in the US, Ukraine and Mexico. Outside of these set programs, Heightened Hearts is open to doing all they can to provide for those in need. But what sets them apart from many organizations is their ideology that providing needed goods alone is not enough. In line with their mission of creating lasting solutions for poverty, hunger, and social injustice; they focus not on just providing for temporary relief but work with people to help them become self-sufficient once again. To put into prospective, as the old saying goes, you can give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, or you can teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry again.
Programs Leading to Lasting SolutionsHeightened Hearts has 6 main programs established to help families, individuals, children, students, and the elderly. These consist of: Food Box program, Adopt-a-Grandparent, Back to School Children’s Baskets, Spiritual Programs, Teen Pregnancy Education, and Global Relief Centers. The Food Box program offers meals and vital nourishment to people in the worst conditions. The recipients of this program are constantly struggling to battle hunger, malnourishment and even starvation. However, it goes beyond just providing them with food for survival, but to educating those better off, of the devasting conditions being faced around the world. The programs purpose is to save countless lives, while educating and inspire others to join the fight. The programs run twice a year every November and June. Adopt-a-Grandparent is a sponsorship program to aid the aging and elderly. Unlike most developed countries who have assistance and elderly care programs, many seniors in other regions of the world are not as lucky. All volunteer sponsors will aid in offering services to the senior they are connected with. These services include obtaining proper medical care, proper nutrition, and companionship to let them know they are not alone. To ensure children have all the necessary supplies they need to learn and further their education, Heightened Hearts has created their Back to School Baskets program. Many families struggle financially and are faced with enough hardships as it is. Heightened Hearts believes their children’s education and chance for success should never be one of them. What this program offers are baskets full of all the necessary supplies a young student needs. Including backpacks, notebooks/paper, pens/pencils, highlighters, rulers, calculators, dictionaries, folders/binders, and a whole lot more! The Heightened Hearts Spiritual programs focus on specific themes from the Bible to provide insight and an opportunity for reflection on life. Help comes in all different forms and for many, reconnecting with God and strengthening themselves from within is all the help they require. Additionally, these programs allow individuals to address broken relationships with God, friends/family, and even themselves. The Teen Pregnancy Educational program is just as it sounds. A program established to properly educate teens on the aspects of safe sex practices. Additionally, many unplanned pregnancies around the world come from abuse. That is why Heightened Hearts includes therapy and clinic-based programs to ensure no child/teen is left to suffer alone. Lastly, the Global Relief Centers program is an initiative to give communities around the world a place to meet and discuss social and economic issues. Heightened Hearts will work with these communities who lack social gathering or relief centers, to build new Community Centers. Providing a safe, spacious area to discuss solutions to the problems they face.
Holiday Events on the HorizonEvery year, leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, Heightened Hearts goes to work. Packing large sized laundry baskets with pantry staples, foods, snacks, desserts, detergent, toilet trees and more, to ensure families will have much needed supplies to make the best of their holiday season. Delivered one week before the holiday, the baskets include enough supplies to last through the holiday and for weeks to come. At Heightened Hearts, they feel families should be helped in the long term and not just for a day or two.
Love the Mission and want to get involved?Heightened Hearts relies entirely on Volunteers. With almost no paid employees, they are always look for new donors or volunteers to support their programs. If interested in donating, you can go online and give funds right through their website. But if you are more interested in helping prepare for the upcoming holiday events, they are still in great need of the following items:
- Children’s toys, clothes, school supplies
- Nonperishable food items
- Home goods: detergent, toilet trees
- Kitchen items
- Beds or bedding
- Cooking items
- Adult Clothing: Male and Female
Habitat For Humanity: A Helping Hand in every Community
What it’s all about“What I enjoy most is the team I work with. They all are there to help and they want to be there. Everybody is great to each other and helps out, plus they are all passionate about the cause” Recently, Dreamscape had the pleasure of speaking with Jessica Grybek, the Marketing Coordinator at the Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. Jessica has been with them for 3 years and is loving every minute of it. She was able to give us some insight on what their organization is all about. This particular location was founded in 1978 and, is actually in a tie for the oldest of Habitat Humanity. Their main focus is to create a world where every person has a decent place to live. Habitat For Humanity offers a home ownership program, along with building homes, renovations, and pairing with families to make sure they have a pathway for affordable housing and home ownership. I would agree with you that this organization is quite wonderful, but how do they pull it off? By not doing it alone, of course! From partnering with donors, to hard working volunteers it takes a whole team to get the job done! Our local location of Collier County builds in Naples and Immokalee. With having such a great team of people behind them they were able to recently celebrate their 2,200th home this year! That is such an incredible win and I can’t believe the impact they’ve made in just this community alone.
Okay, now I’m interested!Are you someone who is struggling with finding a safe and secure home, or simply just somewhere warm to lay your head at night? Please, don’t be afraid, they can help! We asked what the best way to apply is and she advised for people to go directly to the local office. During the time you’re there, they will do a quick pre-qualification interview. She recommends this because their application is so extensive that they will meet with you first to make sure you will qualify. This part of the process is easy and will typically only take 15-30 minutes. Once you pass the prerequisites, they will continue to help you along to the application process. If you do not qualify… no worries! They will still work with you to them get things in order and be a constant resource for you. I have even included the link to the families and communities prequalifying flyer. Currently they don’t have any events coming up. Their primary focus is on the personal relationships with their volunteers and donors. As a successful nonprofit they are always in need of resources and a helping hand. Right now their biggest need is volunteers to help with the job sites. As for the stores, their biggest sellers are appliances, varying from kitchen items and bedroom sets, to washer and dryers. If you are in need or if you are interested in lending your time, Habitat For Humanity is just one click away. « PreviousNext »
Good360: The Charity That Never Stops Giving
The MissionGood360 is a product philanthropy, partner based nonprofit organization. This means they work with large and responsible companies to donate their excess merchandise to charities or other nonprofits. They then partner with the charities and nonprofits to help them receive goods for their specific needs. Their mission is to help people, whether it be individuals, families, or a community, who are impacted by disasters or other challenging life circumstances. By providing nonprofits with the goods they need, they can free up their resources to spend on more important aspects of their organization including programs and events. Good360 views the products as more than just stuff, to them it could be providing a bed to a child for a much-needed good night’s rest. Or even something as little as a pair of soccer cleats to help someone pursue their passion confidently. They have a 35-year track record and have distributed more than $9 billion worth of products. Currently their organization has 400+ corporate donors and 800,000+ nonprofit members. By doing this they are able to give old products new life and reducing waste by keeping it all out of landfills. The hard workers of Good360 take pride in not only the product donations, but in their help with disaster recovery. In the first few days of a disaster they will be there for people who have been displaced from their homes. They could supply them with products including toiletries, socks, diapers for babies, toys, games, and snacks for kids. When it comes to clean up, Good360 will partner with other organizations to help provide various cleaning supplies to help with things such as the debris and mold. After the cleaning is complete, they will then work on getting donations of the reconstruction materials needed. These materials could be something as small as paint or as large as kitchen appliances. This is extremely important to them because it’s helping people get their homes and lives back. The best part about their disaster recovery is that even years after the impact, they will still be there to help people with things like mattresses, furniture and other home goods.
But wait, there’s more!This organization even has a blog to discuss all of the wonderful nonprofits and donors they work with. A lot of their blogs will include information on how the programs have given back to the community. Their articles talk about a variety of different things. Some of them will have information on current or previous disaster relief and even articles about how they have helped women dress for success! You might even get a little emotional when reading their impact stories and true testimonies from the numerous lives they have helped and transformed. Not only do they have a great amount of pride and value in themselves but also in their partnerships. They are constantly talking highly of all the people they work with and this shows even when only reading one of their articles. Dreamscape has recently had the pleasure of starting a partnership with Good360. We started in mid-July of this year, and we have been more than impressed. They have made it easy on us start to finish. The employees listened to what we needed and walked us through to make sure everything smooth and accordingly. We have had the pleasure of starting with two donors and they have yet to disappoint. This program has been a tremendous asset to our organization. We are supplied the goods and products that we need and give back to the community what we don’t. This program has also been extremely beneficial for us to partner with other nonprofits in our community. Anything that we don’t need or can’t use, we reach out to other local charities to see if we can donate to them. This is such a great asset for everyone because it helps us with creating relationships with other local nonprofits and it helps them get a donation of things, they need but don’t typically get. Aside from the products that Good360 has helped provide us, this has helped us with saving resources to use on other important things within our charity. For example, being able to receive the donated products this has made us be able to save and use our finances towards other things such as the prizes we give away during a fundraiser event. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that this is a scam because there can’t possibly be a nonprofit organization out there that does all of this. But, I’m here to tell you that this is not a scam and it is true. When we first heard about Good360 and all of the great things they do we were a little skeptical at first, but we cast our worries aside and gave them a try and now we are more than pleased with the outstanding partnerships we have developed. The best part is whether you’re looking to receive products as a nonprofit, a person who is struggling, or a business who wants to donate their surplus of goods, Good360 has a valuable place for you. « PreviousNext »
Friends of Foster Children Forever
Friends of Foster Children Forever (FFCF), to learn what it truly is all about.
The mission behind it allThe Friends of Foster Children Forever is a local non-profit organization in the Southwest Florida area. They strive to help children all across the area to succeed in life. The organization provides a variety of tools and programs, from supplies to summer camps, but their largest is the Academic Mentoring Program. This is extremely important to them because being prepared academically, will set a child on the right course to success. This mentor program helps the children get excited for school and makes them hopeful for their futures. Aside from the mentorships, they provide after-school programs such as dance, and various sports. They also provide professional tutoring for children who are having a hard time in school or with certain subjects. These tutors will continuously work with them regardless of switching from home to home or school to school.
Behind the scenesThere are a lot of great things provided, but what does it take for this organization to successfully help? Well, the community around them of course! Aside from the wonderful employees, the volunteers are a huge asset. From mentors to running summer camps, FFCF is always looking for help from their local community. On top of providing your time, all donations are welcome and extremely helpful as well. The donations help pay for the professional academic tutors, field trips for the kids, and supplies needed to help. In addition to donations, they hold fundraisers including this years back to school drive, being their most successful one yet! This year, more nonprofits and groups participated than ever before. They were able to distribute 150 backpacks, with 500 still left to give. On top of the backpacks they were able to provide uniforms for children whose school does not supply them. The organization is always prepared by providing an emergency backpack for the children who are taken from a home in an emergency or short notice. These emergency backpacks include, clothes, pajamas, blankets, tooth brush/tooth paste, and a stuffed animal or toy.
Upcoming eventsIncluding everything they provide, the FFCF also encourages field trips for the children. They have different trips based on age groups. For the elementary school kids they will take them to Legoland, and for the high school kids they will take them to Busch Gardens. These field trips allow the children to have an outlet by spending time focused on fun and excitement rather than the stress they undergo on a daily basis. Also, during Christmas time, the organization does a gift giving. What this entails is, they will pair the children up with a volunteer and they go to pick out gifts for their family from Walmart. Then later in the year, for the caregivers/guardians they will take them to pick out toys and gifts based on what their child likes. During the holidays they provide wrapping paper, and on December 21st, they will be holding a Holiday Toy Fair.
Hope for the FutureWe asked Ann what her favorite part of working for the organization was and this is what she told us. “It gives foster children hope for a better future, they start with kids when they are infants and will follow them into their 20’s in some cases.” This is extremely important for a child as they grow because it provides comfort and stability to have people who will continue to work with them regardless of how much they move around. By providing that stability, the children have a better opportunity in having a wonder and successful future. Anything helps, even if its just your time. So, if you are interested in foster care, volunteering, or donating to the Friend of Foster Children Forever please click on the link below and follow their website. « PreviousNext »
Guiding the Blind Community with the Lighthouse of Collier
What is the Lighthouse of Collier County?Founded in 2009 and celebrating their 10th anniversary this April, the Lighthouse of Collier County (LOC) is a blind and visually impaired professional care service center. They provide training and rehabilitation services for people of all ages, at no charge, to help those in the community who are blind or visually impaired. All their programs are tailored to each individual’s specific needs and sessions (both group and individual) are conducted year-round. Being the only rehabilitation center for blindness and vision loss in Collier County, LOC has made a commitment to their community. However, actions speak louder than words! So, what have they done thus far to prove this commitment? Well, to date they have offered and provided services to roughly 14,000 children and adults in the Collier County only! Additionally, their goal is not just to help people get through today but to give them their independence back and help them get themselves through every day to come! And if that doesn’t shout commitment and care, I don’t know what does! Their mission is to foster independence and enhance the quality of life for the blind, visually impaired and their caregivers. We had the opportunity to speak with LOC’s Executive Director Scott Flagel and asked him to elaborate on their mission. “It’s very straightforward and simple; we are here for the blind, visually impaired, and their caregivers and the whole mission is to enhance the quality of their life”. He went on to say, “It’s not clinical in nature. It’s really to make sure someone can live independently and to make their life more manageable”.
Staff, Instructors and AccreditationsCommitted to ensuring all rehabilitation training will be instructed by certified and qualified staff, LOC’s instructors all are required to meet or exceed the contract standards established by the Florida Division of Blind Services. Currently, they employ the following certified positions:
- Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (CVRT’s)
- Certified Assistive Technology Instructors
- Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS)
- Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI)
- VIISA Certified
Services ProvidedThe programs and services provided continue to increase and expand based upon needs in the community. Additionally, they come with no financial burden what so ever; “We do not charge for services, so it does not matter where you live in collier county, if you need services you get them and there is no cost to you”, said Scott Flagel. Blindness can happen to anyone and it does not care whether you are rich or poor, so why should the services you can receive be any different! Please see below for the complete list of their services:
- Independent Daily Living Skills
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Orientation and Mobility
- Assistive Technology
- Early Intervention/Babies (birth – 5yrs)
- Children’s Programs (5yrs to 14yrs)
- Transition Program (14yrs to 22yrs)
- Support Group for Individuals who are Blind/Visually Impaired
- Care Takers and Parent Support Group
- Braille Training Program
- Lecture Lunch (Brown Bag Lunch) Series
- Recreation and Social Activities