Justice and Sandesh are heroes who fight for what's right, but what can readers
do to help champion justice in their own communities?
I'm lucky enough to have wonderful people in my life who are active in
volunteering in the community. I'd like to share some of the ways these people,
and I myself, have contributed to justice and caring within our communities.
Make care kits for the homeless-This is probably something
more suited to people who live in or around big cities but recognizing the needs
of our homeless not only helps restore their dignity, but it replenishes our
humanity. Giving credit where credit is due, this idea was not suggested, but
demonstrated to me by a couple of dear people in my life. Last year while
visiting NYC with my friends, one of our group, author Margaret Reyes-Dempsey,
handed out care packages that she'd put together for homeless people. She
purchased needed supplies, including hand wipes and socks. She carried these
care packages in a backpack distributing them as we went. Around the same time,
my daughter, a public defender, did the same thing—handing out thick socks,
hats, and gloves to people at her courthouse. Care kits that includes socks,
toothbrushes, wet ones, and individual food packets like crackers is a wonderful
way to show kindness. If you need suggestions on what is most needed in your
area, reach out to local shelters.
Donate books-We all know the transformative impact books
can have on our lives, but not everyone has an equal access to reading
materials. There are many we can donate to help expand access to reading
materials, but I'd like to highlight those charities designed specifically for
children like Project Night
Night. Project Night Night focuses on getting books into the hands of
homeless children. As stated on their website, "Each Night Night Package
contains a new security blanket, an age- appropriate children's book, and a
stuffed animal — all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag. By providing
objects of reliable comfort, Project Night Night reduces trauma and advances the
emotional and cognitive well-being of the children we serve."
Another book program that focuses on children is Room to Read which,
"…seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income countries
by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education." But if you want to do
something a little closer to home, you can always build A Little Free Library
in your community or in front of your home and stock it with books that promote
causes near and dear to your heart.
Volunteer to be a cuddler- As the opioid crisis continues
to ravage the country, more and more babies are born addicted. National
Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) estimates that a baby is born addicted to opiates
every 25 minutes. In addition to being more likely to suffer low birth weight
and a host of other complications, these addicted babies often stay in hospitals
for months, unable to have contact with addicted mothers who themselves are
going through withdrawal or have difficulty getting to the hospital daily.
This is where you come in. Hospitals in various states around the country are
launching volunteer cuddle programs, allowing volunteers to come into hospitals
and offer some much-needed support—cuddling, soothing, cooing, reassuring
tones--for babies going through the difficult and painful withdrawal process. An
internet search or calling your local hospitals will help you to locate a
program in your area, but if these fairly new programs haven't reached your town
or city yet, you can always try to initiate a program yourself or volunteer at a
local women and children's shelter.
Throw a party-Although this might seem like an excuse
to test out your new Margarita maker, throwing a neighborhood or apartment
building party is actually a great way to get people together and bridge the
divide that our current political environment perpetuates. This idea can create
a sense of community and promote understanding and lessen hostility. I know,
because nearly every year since I've been in my new home, I've thrown an
Oktoberfest party. My husband and I invite people from our street, neighbors
across the lake, people from work, friends, and family. It's turned into a big
event. Everyone gets into it. We dress up in lederhosen, have a beirgarten, a
haunted hay ride (we mix-and-match our holidays here), and include homemade
carnival games. When people begin to see each other as human, when we hear each
other's stories, share laughter, and experiences, the anger dissipates. If we
lessen the hostility, loosen the barriers and fences that divide us, there is
greater chance for community change that benefits us all.
Speak up- When my daughter was in high school, yes the
public defender, she witnessed a developmentally challenged teen being teased by
a group of kids on the bus. Shaking, she stood from her seat and yelled at this
group to stop. She only had one weapon, her voice, but she not only got these
kids to stop, she got the attention of the bus driver. For the rest of the year,
that bus driver sat the harassed teen behind him, ensuring him a bit more
safety. As individuals, we can champion justice in the world and communities by
speaking up, not just for ourselves but for others. We're living in a very
exciting, and despite what you may hear, positive and transformative time.
That's because societal challenges are front and center in a way that provides
great motivation and even opportunity to heal wounds and further equality. This
might seem like a little thing--speaking up at work, at church, at the baseball
game, or Starbucks--but it's not. When you stand up for human rights, social
justice, and basic freedoms and safety for marginalized people, women and girls,
or for whatever organization has your heart and interest, you are reaffirming
your beliefs and encouraging others to do the same.
Roll the dice-Not sure how you want to help? Why not try Volunteer Match a
program that, "brings good people and good causes together." It's easy to get
started. Putting in your local zip code, will get you a list of nearby places
where you can volunteer. The sidebar will even offer you options on different
cause areas like emergency safety, women, or seniors. So if you're feeling a
little unsure of exactly what you want to do, roll the dice and give this
website a chance.
These are just a couple of small and maybe even silly (parties count) ways that
can help promote understanding and further justice in our communities. What
suggestions do you have for promoting justice, understanding, and just causes in
She's ready to start a war Justice
Parish takes down bad guys. Rescued from the streets by the world renowned
Parish family, she joined their covert sisterhood of vigilante assassins. Her
next target: a sex-trafficking ring in the war-torn Middle East. She just needs
to get close enough to take them down...
He just wants peace Sandesh Ross left Special Forces to
found a humanitarian group to aid war-torn countries. But saving the world isn't
cheap. Enter Parish Industriesand limitless funding, with one catch―their
hot, prickly 'PR specialist', Justice Parish.
Their chemistry is instant and off-the-charts. But when Justice is injured
and her cover blown, Sandesh has to figure out if he can reconcile their
missions. With danger dogging their every move, their white-hot passion can
change the world―if it doesn't destroy them first.
[Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: May 1, 2018, Mass
Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492662389 / eISBN: 9781492662396]
Diana Muñoz Stewart is the award-winning, romantic suspense
author of the Band of Sisters series. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania in an
often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can include
husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two. When not writing,
Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it
sounds–practicing yoga on her deck, flying, climbing, or hiking with the man
who's had her heart since they were teens.
These are some fantastic suggestions. Thank you for discussing ways to get involved. I have been disabled and unable to work for yrs, but I want to volunteer and help others. I really want to make a difference in someone's life no matter how small. (Jen Frederick 1:18am May 3)
This sounds like a awesome book. There always so many ways that we can find to volunteer in todays society All of you suggestions are great ones. (Margaret Yelton 9:16pm May 4)
I must say that you offer some wonderful suggestions. Am afraid that I don't have anything new to offer. Of your list, I must say that cuddling babies going through withdrawal in the hospital really piqued my interest. (G. Bisbjerg 8:23am May 5)