Becoming an Advocate for Children through CASA


There are, of course, all kinds of ways to become an advocate for children; one of the greatest ways (and the way that will be the focus of this article) is by becoming a CASA volunteer. CASA stands for court-appointed special advocate, and it’s a program designed to empower children who have been victims of abuse or neglect by providing one-on-one assistance through court-appointed volunteers (also called special advocates).

So what exactly does all of this mean? Read on for more information about CASA and what you can do to become an advocate for children.

About CASA

CASA was established in 1977 when Seattle judge David Soukup expressed concern about making decisions on abused and neglected children’s court cases when he didn’t have enough information. David thought it would be beneficial to appoint community volunteers to speak on behalf of those children; and it was. He requested volunteers and 50 citizens responded. Since then, CASA has nearly 60,000 advocates and has helped more than 2 million children.

How You Can Help

By becoming an advocate! As an advocate, you work directly one 1 child’s case at a time. This is the wonderful thing about a program like CASA. You’re not swamped with several cases like lawyers are; you get to focus on 1 case–one child’s life. Now for the nitty gritty details:  

1. Search for your local CASA program and contact them directly

2. Complete a 30-hour training course & background check

3. Take on your first case as an advocate. You will be asked to dedicate approximately 10 hours per month. Most cases last about 1 1/2 years.

For more details on the duties of a child advocate, see CASA’s Top 10 Commitment List.

 

 

The Top 10 LOL Websites

Yes, “the internet” is one of our 300 + hobbies. And why the heck not? It’s a popular hobby–arguably the most popular modern day hobby. But after Myspace, Blogging, and watching that same YouTube video for the 100th time, you might have–gasp–run out of sites to visit. Actually, if you’re a regular surfer, chances are you’ve experienced that sad moment in time, sitting in front of the computer screen, mouse-finger posed to click…and with nowhere to go. Well, internet users,  don’t despare. For your viewing pleasure, we bring you the first in a series of web recommendations, NotSoBoringLife’s Top 10 LOL Websites.

10. Homestar Runner

A classic, but a favorite. Homestar Runner features a cast of unique, funny characters. StrongBad email is a Homestar Runner fan favorite.

9. The Darwin Awards

OK, so it’s not usually polite to mock the dead…but the Darwin Awards are too good to pass up. The Darwin Awards: “salut[ing] the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who
accidentally remove themselves from it…”

8. EBaumsWorld

From the mild-mannered office joke to the offensive video, EBaum’s world is always a good way to waste an afternoon.

7. ComedyCentral

Yeah, we know ComedyCentral is a television station, but we couldn’t pass ’em up. Their website features full-length episodes of some of their top shows, including The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

6. The Onion

The Onion is, quite frankly, “America’s Finest News Source.” And, with their spot-on satire, wit,  and headlines like ‘I Am Under 18’ Button Clicked For First Time In History Of Internet,” they’re one of the funniest as well.

5. FunnyorDie

FunnyorDie is YouTube for funny people. Will Ferrell, in particular, is a well known and accomplished Funny-or-Dier.

4. Best of Craigslist

Some sample ‘best of’ headlines include: “I Will Give You a Kidney for 2 Obama Tickets for Tonight’s Speech,” “I Will Trade My Sombrero for Your Kayak,” and the always popular “My Pubic Hair Epiphany.” Oh Craigslist, how we love you.

3. ICanHasCheezBurger

ICanHasCheezburger features lolcats at their finest. It wins the “award” (there isn’t really an award) for best funny + cute combination.

2. Stuff White People Like

Features stuff white people like. It’s pretty self-explanatory…and hilarious.

1. FailBlog

FailBlog may feature pwnd and fail moments, but it’s made of nothing but win.

Is there an LOL site we’re forgetting?

Leave a comment and let us know about your favorite funny website.

Proper Breathing in Yoga

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

OK–now how are you feeling? If your answer is still “pretty awful thanks” then you really might want to start paying attention to your pranayama. And if you’re wondering what the heck am I talking about, then you probably want to keep reading to find out.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama means “the lengthening of the breath.” To be more specific, it is a Sanskrit word composed of Prana, which means either “life force” or “the breath,” and ayama, which means “to lengthen.”

Pranayama is common in yoga and is used as a way to control breathing.

OK–But Why Does Breath Control Matter?

Yoga isn’t just a form of exercise–it’s a combination of mediation and slow exercise that can be used for everything from relaxation and stress reduction to posture and concentration. And proper breathing is an essential component of practicing yoga.

By controlling your breath, you are able to encourage the meditative aspect of yoga. Some people believe that proper breathing can encourage physical health by reducing toxins and aiding in digestion. While we aren’t sure whether or not this is true, we do know that it sure feels good to try!

How to Practice Proper Breathing

There are a few different techniques for practicing breathing in yoga. One of the things I keep in mind is the saying “abdomen, chest, chest, abdomen.”

What this means is that you inhale first in the abdomen, then the chest.

Next, exhale–first the chest, then the abdomen.

This isn’t something most people can perfect right away, so be careful not to strain yourself. Begin slowly by practicing taking deep breaths in and out. For more detailed information on proper yoga breathing, try here or here.

When I first started practicing yoga, I found this video helpful. It emphasizes the importance of proper posture before you begin practicing proper breathing techniques.

Singing in Choir—Including Some Unexpected Places to Sing

Have you always wanted to join the choir but have been too scared to actually do it? While in the shower, do you secretly belt out the tunes to your favorite Broadway show stoppers? If so, you may want to begin seriously considering singing in the choir as one of your next hobbies.

It isn’t hard to do. In fact, there are all sorts of unexpected places that offer opportunities to join choir. Try some of the following:

Church

If you already attend church, you’ve got a head start on singing in the choir. Most churches have choirs that perform during regular service. If not, they may have a special choir for Christmas or Easter services. Check with your local church to find out whether or not you need to audition.

School

If you’re a student, spend a semester or quarter singing in the choir. Most high schools have choir programs, and even colleges offer credited classes. Some schools even have choirs for the teachers! If there isn’t one already, ask around to see if others are interested. You may be able to start a new trend among teachers.

Your Job

Okay, please don’t start singing during work. Surprisingly enough, some workplaces actually have after-work choirs. If there isn’t one already, ask your coworkers if they’d be interested in starting something up. If you can’t gather enough people for a choir, at the very least you’ll have a snazzy duet or barbershop quartet!

Community

Local organizations sometimes have auditions for choir. Check your local theater or other community programs.

If you’re involved with a nonprofit, see if you could raise money for charity by putting on a show!

Friends & Neighbors

Ask around your neighborhood. You might be surprised to find that the couple next door can belt it out like the best of them. Hobbies that involve friends and neighbors really are the best. You’ll bring the community together while doing something different and enjoyable.

Remember: you don’t have to be afraid to join a choir. A good attitude and a desire to sing are enough for some choirs. If you prefer, you can take individual lessons from a private instructor before joining a choir. Whatever you do, approach it with a positive attitude and you’re sure to have a great experience!

Building a House for Habitat for Humanity


If you’ve already read our article 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Volunteering, you may have decided that building houses for low-income communities is the perfect volunteer opportunity for you.

…and hey, I don’t blame you! Habitat for Humanity is a well-established nonprofit organization, and the experience of working with them is more than just a hobby. It’s an opportunity to make a difference in your own life as well as in the lives of families in need.

History of Habitat for Humanity

According to the Habitat for Humanity website, approximately 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing and 100 million are homeless. Linda and Millard Fuller began Habitat for Humanity in 1976. Since that time…

Habitat has built more than 250,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1 million people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter.

Pretty impressive, right? Here’s how to volunteer:

How to Volunteer

Locally

One of the great things about Habitat for Humanity is that it’s, well, everywhere!

With branches in every U.S. state as well as several international branches, it’s extremely easy to find a local organization. Just use the Habitat for Humanity local search to find a branch near you.

Nationally

If you don’t mind relocating for a short (or long) period of time, Habitat is accepting volunteers at their headquarters in Americus, Georgia. On average, volunteers work 8-5. If you’re not a local resident, you may even be eligible for a small weekly stipend.

For more information, see their website.

Internationally

If you prefer traveling abroad, you might be interested in Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program. The program offers an opportunity to build houses globally while connecting with local residents.

For example: the trip to Comanesti, Romania. Volunteers leave September 26 and stay until early October. While in Romania, volunteers will work on a variety of tasks, including renovation and constructing new houses.

Other Programs

Just when you think the opportunities are over…there’s more! Habitat for Humanity also offers the following programs:

Youth Program

Women Build

Gulf Recovery Effort

Americorps Vista: Habitat for Humanity

RV Travel with a Purpose