Friday, February 20, 2009

Tikkun Olam Fridays – Repairing the World One Step at a Time

Another Friday, another post on tikkun olam – to repair the world. Remember, you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

What action did you take this week, big or little, to make a difference?

Sometimes we need to be reminded why we ever thought it was important to work on improving the world. We’ve forgotten why we care and need help remembering the reasons we got into this Save A Piece of the World business in the first place.

That’s why I like reading blogs like Have Fun Do Good – A Blog for People Who Want to Make the World a Better Place and Have Fun! Britt Bravo does a solid job covering the nonprofit/social activism arena, interviewing people who have made a difference in the world, writing about change organizations and teaching her readers how to use social media for repairing the world.

You can see why I enjoy catching her posts. Yesterday’s, Interviews with 38 Social Changemakers: 3rd Anniversary of the Big Vision Podcast, is a good example of why reading her ideas helps me clarify what I’m doing. I’m encouraged by what others are doing whether it’s working to change our distribution food system, increase literacy, solve health issues, attack poverty, redesign cities, create recycling programs, well you get the idea.

In fact, you never know where you’re going to get a good idea or meet someone offline who’s doing good just because and can be that catalyst that we all need to stay in the game.

In November 2007 I took a trip to Boston to visit our oldest daughter in college and stayed at a B&B in Somerville. The lovely couple, who offered up extra bedrooms to visiting professors on speaking tours and parents attending college graduations, had started a personal nonprofit from the ground up. Personal in that it was inspired by the woman’s father, a Russian physics professor who became blind in childhood from measles but continued to live a full, successful and rewarding life.

Svetlana and Harris Sussman started the M.N. Adamov Fund, in memory of her father, to help talented visually impaired Russians get access to canes, computers and other kinds of support. They speak around the country, travel to Russia, specifically to St. Petersburg where Prof. Adamov lived, to deliver what people have donated and generally get the word out that blind people in Russia need help.

The Adamov Fund is a nonprofit organization registered in Massachusetts. Here’s their December email report, updating friends and supporters about their efforts for 2008. Also check their website, to see what can happen from a spare bedroom.

Dear Friends,

In 2008, we continued to help talented blind people in Russia through the MN Adamov Memorial Fund, which we started in 2005 in the name of Svetlana's father. We are still the only project in the US dedicated to doing this. We help people on an individual basis through personal contacts.

In various ways we were able to assist over 150 blind people in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Essentuki, Volokolamsk, Novosibirsk, Sergiev Posad. We did not go to Russia this year. We plan to go to St. Petersburg at the end of January 2009 and look forward to meeting with many old and new friends.

Thanks to donations to the Fund, we provided folding white canes to 50 more people this year, digital voice recorders to several dozen students, magnifiers to visually impaired people, some used laptop computers, toys to a teacher of blind children, educational materials to a group of expressive therapy teachers, a talking Braille watch, copies of a guide to English Braille.

We were able to find a number of people going to Russia who agreed to be couriers for us--a woman from New Jersey, a tourist from Cambridge, four business travelers from Boston, a professor from Dartmouth, several students from local colleges. We always need more couriers to take things in their suitcases.

We arranged for 6 undergraduate students from Duke University to spend two months volunteering with a rehabilitation center for the blind in St. Petersburg over the summer.

We were invited to speak at the national conference of the Russian American Medical Association in Boston in October.

We spoke at the regional meeting of Young Professionals for International Cooperation in Boston in October.

We were on an IDEAS competition team at MIT that won an award for a Braille Pencil concept in April. We were advisors to an MIT class project that designed a Braille labeler in December.

We attended the Unite for Sight conference at Yale in April.

An article about the Adamov Fund was published in the newsletter of the US-Russia Chamber of Commerce of New England.

We maintained and updated the web site

We stay in touch with people in Russia through email, Skype chat, phone calls. We monitor the situation in Russia and learn about things we can help with.

We are ending the year with a few hundred dollars in the Fund's account. We need financial support to continue. We have requests for many more canes--they cost us $30 each--and for more digital voice recorders which cost $40 each.

For various reasons we decided not to apply for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. We will continue to operate as a nonprofit corporation registered in Massachusetts.

Donations to the Fund are tax-deductible through the continued assistance of the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Mass.

Thank you for your support.

Svetlana Adamova Sussman

Harris Sussman


Roger said...

We plan to go to St. Petersburg at the end of January 2009 Simply Canvas Art and look forward to meeting with many old and new friends.

ethan said...

Great post, it's good that you keep in touch with everyone, so much to help do these kinds of things now!
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Roger said...

I think it's really important we can keep this going, let's get some donations!

Arthur said...

Awesome post, I'm really glad to hear this and hope more people pick this up!
canvas art print said...

Great news, thanks a lot for sharing this with us!
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