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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Five Things You May Not Know About First Step

About a year ago, I participated in an executive leadership program through Inforum Michigan. Our group selected First Step as a charitable cause for our group project.

Here are some things you may not know about First Step.

1. Who they are. According to their website:

Who We Are:
First Step envisions a community where respect, fair treatment, comprehensive support, and social justice are available to all survivors of domestic and sexual assault and their families.
The mission of First Step is to eliminate both domestic and sexual violence and to provide comprehensive services to individuals and families impacted by these crimes.

2. They have a downloadable pocket card:

3. You can help in more ways than you know. Check out their wish list:

4. Pets of these families need help, too. Click to read more:

5. They are building an awesome, safe playground. Check out their Facebook page for photos and updates.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Five Facts About the University of Michigan Depression Center

Denise Kulak and a visit to Other Fun Stuff:
guaranteed to make you smile!
When I mentioned that I would be blogging about non-profit, charitable organizations, my friend Denise Kulak (owner of "Other Fun Stuff") suggested adding the University of Michigan Depression Center to the list, in memory of George Orley, a talented young man in his twenties. While I don't know George personally, I think we all can relate to knowing someone who has suffered from or is suffering from depression. If you are reading this blog and seeking help, I hope that this blog is helpful.

Here are five facts about the University of Michigan Depression Center.

1. They offer resources for family and friends of those dealing with depression. Visit to read strategies for helping a loved one who is working through depression.

2. Support groups are offered for several areas at Support group categories include: Depression and Bipolar Disorder; Survivors of Suicide; College Students; and Military Family Members. Information about group meeting times and locations can be found at the workshops link noted above.

3. The site mentions that "One in six people will experience an episode of depression in their lifetime." Depression often goes underdiagnosed and untreated. Depression may be more common that we think and it does not discriminate.

4. Multiple resources and self-tests are available, including those covering Insomnia, Depression, and a Sleep Assessment. The site cautions you that these are not to replace medical advice, but the self tests may help you to identify if there is an issue.

5. They have news and tips including an article on Seasonal Affective Disorder which is common in the dark, winter months. According to the site, symptoms of SAD include:
  • Low mood for most of the day
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sleep
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty getting along with others
  • A heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • In extreme cases, suicidal thoughts
Thanks again to Denise for the suggestion of the University of Michigan Depression Center.

Was this blog informative and/or helpful? Please click to share on your social networks and leave a comment. And if you are suffering from depression, please know you are not alone and resources are available to you. 

Read about other charitable organizations here

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Five Things You Should Know About the Fraser Barrier-Free Park Project

If you live in Fraser, Michigan, you are probably aware that the Fraser First Booster Club is committed to supporting the development of a barrier-free playground at McKinley Park... "where children and adults of all abilities can play and learn together."

But, there are a lot of other great facts you may not know about this project. Here are five things in particular.

1. If you are interested in supporting the project, there are many ways to help. Become a member of the Fraser First Booster Club. Volunteer your time. Donate money. Direct a fundraising project at your school or organization toward this project. If you ask Vania, she'll tell you your support can come in many different ways that aren't all monetary commitments. But money is always appreciated. In fact, you may have seen a "Park-$-Ching Meter" at a local Fraser restaurant like the Fraser Ram's Horn where you can donate.

2. Read about news and information regarding the park project at the Facebook page  While you're at it, please give the page a "LIKE" and mention you read about the project from this post.

3. The park location is just north of 13 Mile Road off of Grove Street. Drive by and check out the progress. And in the meantime, check out the images below to see what the completed project will look like.

4. The barrier-free playground makes all areas accessible to children and adults of all abilities. The project includes a 1,300 foot play structure, walking path, restrooms, ADA parking lot, and more.

5. There are many, many residents of Fraser and Macomb County supporting this project. The first time I met Mike Lesich was at a Detroit Regional Chamber marketing event and in our first discussion, he asked if I could help support the project in any way. In the years since that first discussion, I've learned about the Fraser First Booster Club, met Vania, supported the project with donations and at their fundraisers, and most importantly I've learned about the vision and passion that so many share about this project. There was a Macomb Daily article about this project earlier this year which you can read here. (thanks @debbiekomar1It makes me proud to live in Fraser.

Please click to share this post with others, and add comments below if you have been involved with this great project.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Takeaways from #SocialMitten

Today I'm attending #socialmitten and will be live tweeting my notes from @BrendaMeller. Sometime this weekend, I'll come back and share my main takeaways.

1. I'm digging the fact that I walk in the room and laptops and smart phones are welcomed and opened. Plus there are power strips everywhere for plugging in. The Social Media Club and conference planners really "get" us social media folk. Kudos to you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Five Things You May Not Know About the American Cancer Society

1. You can send an e-card to family and friends announcing your quit day and asking for their support.

2. Their current ad slogan is "The Official Sponsor of Birthdays." How awesome is that?

3. In case you've wondered like I always have, cancer cells are abnormal cells. From their site: "Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells can’t do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell."

4. They offer you the ability to create a free mosaic page to honor someone who has battled, is fighting, or has lost their life to cancer. The pages include links for fundraising.

5. Perhaps most important of all: "More than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices like not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and getting recommended screening tests."

Monday, September 15, 2014

The BIG 4-0

Yes, that fireball is 40 candles. ~ Brenda Meller
In honor of celebrating my 40th birthday and with hopes that this blog will reach people far and wide and hopefully make a positive impact on organizations on this list, I asked my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn network to share their suggestions for blog topics on charitable organizations, including a web link and their thoughts on the organization. For many, I'm finding the blog topic is in memory of a loved one or friend.

It's no ice bucket challenge* but I do have hopes that this post and the concept about blogging about charitable organizations will go viral. Also, I hope it is beneficial to the organizations who have been mentioned by giving them a bit more awareness beyond their current supporter base. Being active on social media is an interest of mine, and blogging about these wonderful organizations is a small way of using my talent to help others.

If you know me, you know I'm a big believer in the power of social media. It has truly connected and amplified our impact with others throughout the world. Therefore, the focus of this "BIG 4-0" is a list of charitable organizations to consider, as well as to serve as a platform for information sharing. And if something intrigues you, please follow the link and consider supporting the organization. 

At the very minimum, read the entire blog and click to share -- because you never know who might benefit from one simple click or share. Yes, YOU are that powerful. :)
Thanks to all those who offered suggestions. 

  1. American Cancer Society in memory of my mom. They are dedicated to eliminating cancer. Side note: to pay tribute to my mom, I would love to get involved with this organization in some significant other way than giving (yes, I already give). I've participated in their Relay for Life Walk and I'm also signed up for a long term study to support cancer research.
    Five Facts about American Cancer Society
  2. University of Michigan Depression Center in memory of George Orley. A talented young man in his 20s. (Thanks to Denise Kulak for the mention)Five Facts about University of Michigan Depression Center
  3. First Step. First Step-the western wayne county project on domestic assault makes it possible for survivors of domestic and sexual assault to change their lives -peaceful families and safe communities! -plus , we are putting in a wonderful playground and healing garden for the 600 or so kids who see us each year and also a pet area so victims won't have to leave their pets behind when entering the shelter! And all of our services are free! (Thanks to Theresa Bizoe for the mention)Five Things about First Step
  4. Mary's Mantle, which helps support homeless, expectant mothers. Always a great cause. (Thanks to Caleb Bellow for the mention)Five Facts about Mary's Mantle
  5. To support adult stem cell research for ALS, other neuromuscular diseases, cancer, and poor diseases (those big pharmaceutical companies do not think they could profit from), you could mention the John Paul II Medical Research Institute... (Thanks to John S for the mention).Five Facts about JP2MRI
  6. The Dearborn Animal Shelter. After 20 years of providing shelter to more than 42,600 animals and offering high-quality service to the community, we are embarking on a campaign to build a new Animal Adoption & Education Center. Please join us in our efforts to “Build a Home with Heart.” We’ve always had the heart . . . now we need a new home. (Thanks to Anne Garbus for the mention)Five Facts about The Dearborn Animal Shelter
  7. The New Day Foundation for Families. Because, they truly help reduce financial, emotional and physical strain on families affected by cancer. (Thanks to Josephine Dries for the mention)Five Facts about New Day Foundation for Families
  8. Mcrest Macomb county home shelter. Rotating homeless shelter supported by Macomb county churches...90 day program to help men, women. and families facing homelessness.  (Thanks to Gary Lusk for the mention)Five Facts about MCREST:
  9. Angels of Hope. Non profit organization which offers financial support for families with children effected by cancer.  (Thanks to Gary Lusk for the mention)Five Facts About Angels of Hope
  10. Gilda's Club "an org I help regularly in honor of both of my grandpas that had cancer," says my friend Jessica.  (Thanks to Jessica Knapik for the mention)
    Five Facts About Gilda's Club of Detroit
  11. American Heart Association says my friend Jessica, "because my dad and uncle both had quad bypass surgery." (Thanks to Jessica Knapik for the mention)
    Five Facts About the American Heart Association
  12. CaringBridge, says Cindy W., "a non-profit website hosting organization for people needing/desiring to keep friends and families in touch during times of medical challenges. In addition, personally, in memory of our sweet, 7-year old friend Morgan." (Thanks to Cindy Wyckoff for the mention)
    Five Facts About CaringBridge.
  13. U of M Pancreatic Cancer Research says Carol, "in memory of my uncle Joe that passed this year. My aunt Kelly Butler Saullo and family have a fundraiser in Nov at Black Finn in Royal Oak". (thanks to Carol Butler for the mention)
    Five Facts About U of M Pancreatic Cancer Center
  14. Autism Speaks in support of my family member who was diagnosed at age 2. There are too many children impacted by the autism spectrum disorder. (by me)
    Five Facts About Autism Speaks:
  15. Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County: Local affiliate of international humanitarian organization that places the dream of home ownership within reach of low income households by providing a hand up, not a hand out. Over 120 simple, decent, and affordable houses have been built or refurbished in Oakland County through a sustainable partnership model built upon the foundation of mutual sweat equity contributed by donors and the families that purchase Habitat homes. (Thanks to Derrik Kingsley for the mention)
    Five Facts About Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County:
  16. As described on their site, "a group of local women who are interested in supporting our local community in the Detroit MI area by contributing to local charities together as a unit to increase the impact." 100+ women Motown (Thanks to Karen Rashid Balow for the mention)
  17. Through the American Red Cross, you can give blood to help others.  Also through the American Red Cross, you can donate blood platelets. It's a longer process but the platelets are precious to recipients.
  18. International Asherman's Association is an organization dedicated to awareness of Asherman's Syndrome, which causes infertility and is treatable with proper medical care.
    Five Facts About International Asherman's Association and Asherman's Syndrome. 
  19. In memory of a family friend who recently passed away and requested donations, I'm adding Forgotten Harvest to this list. Also suggested by Leslie Herrick. "The mission of Forgotten Harvest is to relieve hunger in the Detroit metropolitan community by rescuing surplus, prepared and perishable food and donating it to emergency food providers."
  20. In memory of the passing of a close friend's dad, Disabled American Veterans. "DAV is the most long-lasting veterans advocacy and assistance group in this country. We’ve watched this country change and grow, and we’ve grown along with it. However, DAV has never wavered in its core mission to fulfill our country’s promises to the men and women who served."
  21. The National Marrow Donor Registry. "For the thousands of people diagnosed every year with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, a cure exists. Over the past 25 years Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. We work every day to save lives through transplant."
  22. Gift of Life Michigan, whose mission is: "To improve and extend lives through quality programs which maximize organ and tissue donation for transplantation."
    Five Facts about Gift of Life
  23. Fraser First Booster Club is leading the effort to create a barrier-free playground at McKinley Park in Macomb County (Fraser, Michigan). This playground will be an inclusive and innovative project "where children and adults of all abilities can play and learn together."
    Five Things About Fraser Barrier Free Park
  24. SOS (South Oakland Shelter) is the Oakland County version of MCrest whose goal is to end homelessness. (thanks to Diane F. for the mention)
  25. "In honor of my aunt, the Alzheimer's Association in Southfield, MI." (thanks to Diane F. for the mention)
  26. "I have a nonprofit that I have worked with called Bridgepointe. We have worked with kids in SW Detroit for sixteen years. Here's a story about a travel club I started five years ago. you would like to learn more about our work in the D check out our site at (thanks to LinkedIn connection Terri for the mention).
  27. The Troy Nature Society (thanks to Laura Gabriel for the suggestion).
  28. The Nature Conservancy Mission: conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in more than 35 countries, all 50 states and your backyard. Suggested by Leslie Herrick.
  29. The Pink Fund provides 90 days of non- medical financial assistance to cancer victims and survivors, as suggested by its founder Molly MacDonald.
    Five Facts About The Pink Fund
  30. The Greening of Detroit suggested by Leslie Herrick Inspiring sustainable growth of a healthy urban community through trees, green spaces, food, education, training and job opportunities.
    Today, The Greening of Detroit is a well-established, nonprofit resource agency that pa
    rtners with federal, state and local agencies, corporations and foundations to assist neighborhood groups, churches and schools in their efforts to improve the ecosystem in Detroit through tree planting projects, environmental education, urban agriculture, open space reclamation, vacant land management, and workforce development programs.
    Transforming this city from a post-industrial urban center into a healthier, safer and greener environment will take commitment and a bold new way of thinking. We are ready for that challenge.
  31. Team in Training suggested by Jennifer Chinn who is an absolute rockstar. Jennifer Chinn Team in Training through The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. #tntmi
  32. The American Diabetes Association Chris Meller The American Diabetes Association in honor of my dad.
  33. Kim Osborne suggested the Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund. Provides unrestricted scholarships to low income women over age 35 who are pursuing technical degrees or first baccalaureate degrees. I am a former board member.
  34. Mary suggested the Michigan Animal Rescue This is a wonderful no-kill animal shelter in Pontiac. They work primarily with dogs and cats. I have volunteered there. Great staff. They do a wonderful job socializing animals getting them ready for adoption. There is a wish list posted on their website. They can always use donations of dog & cat food (and puppy, kitten food).
  35. Game On Cancer suggested by Lori Jo Vest. 
  36. Tiger Lily Rescue suggested by Inge Leinberger Yes it is a nonprofit organization where I adopted both of my cats. I am friends with them on Facebook and their homepage is
  37. TBD
  38. TBD
  39. TBD
  40. TBD

Organizations # 37 through 40 are still open. Reply to this post or message me on social media and I'll add your suggested organization to this list, and will blog about it then tag you in the blog post when I share it on social media.

* Speaking of the ice bucket challenge, how cool would it be if the extra visibility and awareness, combined with the donations made are causing so much positive momentum that it might lead to a cure for ALS? And then maybe the next mass viral trend tackles cancer or another disease next.  Plus, consider that there is a parallel to those suffering from ALS. They wish the symptoms of their disease would just stop, too. The public annoyance over this trend is just a drop in the bucket (pun intended) of ALS patients' own form of suffering. It's making us all talk about the disease and that's a good thing. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Twitter Etiquette - What to do when someone "Favorites" your post

As asked by a friend:

Q: I need your input... when someone "favorites" one of your tweets, what is or is there a response "protocol"?

A: I think when Twitter first launched the "favorite" feature, they intended it to serve as a bookmark for its users. When you favorite a tweet, you are able to access it again at a later date by clicking on "favorites" on your Twitter homepage, you are able to see those tweets that you favorited.

However, over time, people started using the "favorite" feature as a way to show that they liked a post. Lately, I've noticed that most people are using the "favorite" feature to show their appreciation, approval, or simply their acknowledgement of a post.

What do I do in response? It depends on the situation.

1. Nothing.
2. Look at their recent tweets, and return the favor by favoriting one of their tweets.
3. Retweet one of their tweets.

Options 2 and 3 help to create greater engagement between you and the other Twitter user, plus it helps to increase their visibility on Twitter.

I rarely rely to say "thanks" for someone favoriting a Tweet, because that is not really necessary. It would be like sending a thank you not for receiving a thank you note.

Now, I'd like my Twitter peeps to weigh in: how do you respond (if at all) when someone favorites one of your tweets? 

Tweet your response using the hashtag #FavoriteEtiquette and I'll RT you and give you a "favorite."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Love Pie on 3.14 and everyday

I have a pie confession.
Those who follow me on social media know that I love pie. But there are days when I wonder, "Do I really love pie?
I work out so I can enjoy guilt-free pie. ~ Brenda Meller 

Then I start really thinking about what I like about pie. Is it the sweet and salty crust? The fruit filling? The combination of fruit filling and buttery flaky crust which makes it seem somewhat nutritious (it's not)?

Is it that I "own" the whole pie-loving thing because frankly, there just aren't that many pie-lovers out there? Or is it due to my family memories of pie growing up?

Sidebar: my mom loved to bake. 
She entered the Michigan State Fair each year with a variety of baked goods. I remember the months leading up to the State Fair she would start marking her calendar for the bake days and drop off days. She would pull aside index cards with cookie recipes she made throughout the year. And one year, she and I entered a Mother-Daughter pie baking contest together. She wore a black blazer with white pants, and I wore a white blazer and black
This would be an awesome gift for me.
My mom would've loved these too.
pants. We baked an apple pie. I don't think we won, but it's a memory I'll never forget. But I digress. 

Pie = Truth
So after significant contemplation, I come to the conclusion: Yes, I truly do love pie. But it's not an obsession. It's more of a fondness. I rarely buy a whole pie (because I'm the only one at home who will eat it and that's a dangerous calorie risk), so it makes it that much more special when a pie opportunity (pie-portunity?) presents itself. I simply appreciate pie. 

#Pieup on Pie Day
Tomorrow is March 14. Or as I like to call it, 3.14 pie day. Now I know there's some "official" pie day on the calendar and it's probably in the fall,
Pie Humor.
but come on - 3.14 should be Pie day!

I'll be celebrating with a lunch of pie at Grand Traverse Pie. I've heard others will be joining me. And they are all rock stars. 

Now that I'm an adult, I've finally learned if you do the right thing and eat lunch first, your belly will be full and you will not appreciate the full pie experience. #PieAppreciation 

This probably sounds familiar, right? Think of Thanksgiving: There is a whole parade of pies, often on display for the whole meal, that go uneaten until hours after the turkey because everyone is so full. Then when you finally do sit down to enjoy pie, you're even not that hungry and you're only eating dessert because you don't want to hurt the feelings of your mom / aunt / grandmother. How could you be hungry? You've just eaten more carbs at Thanksgiving than you eat at any other meal ever. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. 

Some of My #Pie-isms
Randazzo's Rocks.
They sell HALF PIES.
The point is - I'm a pie purist. If you want to enjoy pie, eat pie INSTEAD of your meal. That way, your hunger will be satiated at the same time that you are enjoying that delicate crust, the delicious fruit filling, and if you choose, whipped cream or ice cream topping.

"But pie will not fill me up," you say? Well then go ahead and get yourself a sandwich or cup of soup AFTER you enjoy the pie. Better to waste a full belly on plain 'ole ordinary soup than on a wonderful piece of pie. Pie does not complete its pie destiny unless it is fully enjoyed. #Pie-isms

Again, this brings me to my conclusion. Yes, I do love pie. 

And tomorrow, I'm eating pie for lunch. And if I'm still hungry, I'll eat a second slice. 

Give these a follow. Tell them you read about them in this blog. Companies like when people do that stuff.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Trinkets and Trash

Promotional items can help to give your business long-lasting impressions with current and future customers. Done right, they'll have shelf life (or "desk" life) with your audience and avoid the trash.

Here are a few examples of logo'd items on my desk and why I think they are successful trinkets:

LinkedIn Water bottle
If you haven't produced an eco-friendly water bottle yet, you should consider it. I have to admit this is one of my favorite water bottles because I am such a huge fan of LinkedIn. Carrying this water bottle around at the gym gives me the same feeling as when I carry a Starbucks cup at the mall.

"My Boss Thinks I'm Kind of A Big Deal" Statement Cup
Baudville has some awesome items for employee recognition. I bought these for my team as part of their holiday present. It makes a statement about them, but perhaps even more importantly, it shows my peeps how much I care about them.

Personalized Calendars
These personalized calendars have been around for a few years, but I still get a kick out of the clever designs on each month with my first name. I have to admit that I receive at least three or four of these each year though. This one from Graphic Resource Group.

Smart Women THIRST for Knowledge Mug
I received this one as a gift probably fifteen years ago and it's still one of my favorite mugs that follows me around to every job. You can get your company logo printed on these, too. Check out the Smart Women site.

Silly BobbleHead Pen
This was a tradeshow gift from a former job and it still makes me smile.

Screen Wiper

Potential client said no? Pica Marketing Group used this as an opportunity for a secondary message.

Clever marketing.  And proof that visionary marketers see opportunity in everything.  Even in the word "No."