Posts by Idealist

Idealist Gratitude: What Jasun and all of us are grateful for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, we asked our fellow Idealist staff members to reflect on a person or organization they’re grateful for. We’re posting their stories this week.

We’d love to hear what’s stuffing you with thankfulness this holiday season, too—drop us a line in the comments.


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A few SOS Outreach kids.

I volunteer with an organization called SOS Outreach, where I mentor at-risk youth. I get to use snowboarding to help them develop self confidence, leadership skills, and positive decision making via a set of core values.

On a typical day, we do some snowboarding, then eat lunch and talk about pretty much anything. At times I am frightened at how big a responsibility it is to be a positive role model to them. I’m also sometimes frightened by how strong their riding is—they’re fast, and can navigate trees and jumps!

But I’m most thankful for this opportunity because the kids tend to teach me more than I teach them.

For example, last year they taught me about being a courageous and inspiring leader when we were off the mountain doing a service project about bullying. I was sincerely moved by a poster we made to hang in their elementary school. They did all the work—but I led the conversation about this volatile topic and helped them get their thoughts on paper.

When I volunteer with SOS Outreach, it reminds me how big a difference one person can make.

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth? Search Idealist for over 2,600 ways to get started.



Jasun Wurster is an operations engineer at Idealist.





This is what gratitude looks like.

Of course, we don’t want to go without saying that YOU make our snood wobble with joy every day, Idealist community! Your dedication, good ideas, creativity, generosity, and sheer intelligence truly make for a moveable feast.

Thank you for being here with us, and happy holidays.


The Idealist crew, November 2013.

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Idealist Gratitude: What Becky and Joshua are grateful for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, we asked our fellow Idealist staff members to reflect on a person or organization they’re grateful for. We’re posting their stories this week.

We’d love to hear what’s stuffing you with thankfulness this holiday season, too—drop us a line in the comments.



Mara with a pig she is about to turn into bacon.

My friend Mara is the kind of tattooed farmer chick who built her own canoe and had pet goats until she butchered them.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer this September, self-pity wasn’t really an issue.

She was pissed about losing strength, kind of “silver lining” excited about getting new boobs after her double mastectomy, and as a 32-year-old, upset about losing fertility because of the estrogen suppression therapy she’ll need to stay healthy.

I’m thankful that she was able to find support and resources through the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s Fertile Hope program, which helps cancer patients secure financial assistance for fertility treatments. Fertile Hope covered the cost of her appointments with the fertility specialist and Walgreens donated the (crazy expensive) medication.

Because of this awesome program, Mara and her partner can have a kid when they’re ready to be parents. I have a feeling that in a few years, they’ll be taking some pretty epic family canoe trips.

Want to make a difference in the fight against cancer? Idealist can show you over 2,000 ways.

becky olson!


Rebecca Olson is a communications intern at Idealist.





Joshua’s greyhound, Conquer.

Nine years ago, I was at the grocery store and saw three greyhounds sticking out from the back of a truck. The driver was going around to racing tracks, trying to find greyhounds new homes so they wouldn’t be put down after they’d fulfilled their commercial purpose. I told him next time he was at the track to find me a dog and I’d take it in.

One month later I had Conquer. She came to me both emaciated and muscular. She had hairless patches from malnourishment. Her toenails were fragile and would easily break. She didn’t know what stairs were, and the first time she saw a fireplace she walked right into it.

It was amazing to watch her transform. Before I had her she’d only known the racetrack and cage she lived in; eventually she knew things like how to play with balls and splash in the ocean. She opened up to my affection, and loved being petted and cuddled.

Because of this experience, I’m extremely grateful for groups such as the Greyhound Adoption Center and Greyhound Pets of America for the work they do rescuing retired greyhounds from racing tracks across the nation and placing them in good homes.

It is not well known that greyhounds make amazing pets, and the exposure and advocacy these organizations generate for these gentle animals is crucial to their welfare.

Passionate about animal welfare? Browse Idealist for over 6,000 animal-related opportunities.



Joshua Richey is a web designer at Idealist.

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Idealist Gratitude: What Celeste and Tim are grateful for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, we asked our fellow Idealist staff members to reflect on a person or organization they’re grateful for. We’re posting their stories this week.

We’d love to hear what’s stuffing you with thankfulness this holiday season, too—drop us a line in the comments.


Joe Bell

Joe Bell.
(photo via Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner)

Jadin Bell was 15 years old when he took his own life. He was an openly gay teen in La Grande, Oregon who couldn’t take the bullying anymore.

For six months afterward, his father Joe Bell walked across the U.S., talking to anybody who would listen about his son’s suicide: students, churchgoers, random passersby.

When I first read about Joe in this beautiful Salon article, I was moved by the sheer amount of physical, mental, and emotional energy it must’ve taken him to talk with all those strangers, rehashing such a painful event. As an idealist, I applauded him. As a mom, I cried.

Here Joe was, a grieving father helping the best way he knew how by literally taking steps toward ending homophobia. He set up a nonprofit, Faces for Change, to help fund the journey.

He made it as far as Colorado. In a terrible twist of fate, he was struck by a car and died last month.

This holiday, I’m grateful to Joe for showing me the remarkable depths of a parent’s love. I can only hope to be that dedicated, compassionate, and courageous someday.

Want to help break the bullying cycle? Search hundreds of opportunities on Idealist.



Celeste Hamilton Dennis is an editor at Idealist.





A cared-for classroom is a happy classroom.
(photo courtesy Shutterstock)

I’m thankful that exists. Whenever I get the urge for some retail therapy online, I stop first at DonorsChoose to browse. I find that donating towards the education of deserving students and classrooms in need makes me feel a lot better than a new pair of sneaks!

I first became aware of DonorsChoose when a previous employer of mine gave the staff $50 DonorsChoose “giftcards” rather than a traditional corporate holiday gift. The company was, in effect, giving money to worthy causes, and employees got to funnel the funds to things they were passionate about or interested in. I’ve been a fan since.

Just last week, I funded an elementary school class back in my home state of Ohio. They were looking to acquire books that would help the students learn to read while garnering scientific knowledge. My mother recently retired after decades as a reading teacher, and I am personally very interested in furthering STEM education, so this particular opportunity was a win-win!

Need some good giving ideas for the holidays? Browse the 80,000+ nonprofit organizations on our site for inspiration.



Tim Forster is a video producer at Idealist.

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Idealist Gratitude: What Emily and Derek are grateful for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, we asked our fellow Idealist staff members to reflect on a person or organization they’re grateful for. We’re posting their stories this week.

We’d love to hear what’s stuffing you with thankfulness this holiday season, too—drop us a line in the comments.



Ameena Matthews in The Interrupters.
(photo via

Ameena Matthews and I have nothing in common.

She is the daughter of a notorious Chicago gang leader, and former gang member herself, who is now an on-the-ground violence interrupter, getting in the middle of gang activity and breaking up negative energy before anything worse can begin. (I, on the other hand, grew up in suburban New Jersey and sit at a desk all day.)

Still, I like to think of her as my Tyler Durden: she can do anything, living without fear and emboldened by a sense of true righteousness. She is also a prominent part of a movement that has nothing to do with my lived experience but everything to do with my life’s work: making the world a better place.

For Ameena and the rest of the violence interrupters working with Cure Violence, they take the cache they earned on tough streets all around the country and use it to show gang members a way out.

In the documentary film The Interrupters, where I first learned of Ameena, she seems to be the only female interrupter. There’s one particularly tense sequence in the days following the shooting of a young man.

At first, Ameena is surrounded by this group of guys who you can tell start off not wanting to give her space or respect. But by the end, their silence is palpable—as is the respect she commands—and you know she’s the right person for this job, to be working hard to change hearts and minds.

As she continues to win acclaim for being a warrior and a powerful, enigmatic woman, I couldn’t be happier that more and more people will begin to know the name Ameena Matthews.

Inspired to help stop violence in your community? Search Idealist for over 4,000 ways to get started.



Emily Hashimoto is an account manager at Idealist.



Outside In in Portland, Oregon.

When I was a resident assistant at Portland State University, I would always see a lot of homeless youth hopping between dorm rooms. That’s because the students would go outside to smoke, get to talking with them, and invite them up.

I wanted to help the homeless kids, but I had to be concerned first and foremost with the residents. In my role, the best I could do was tell them about Outside In while helping them out of the building.

I’m grateful for Outside In, and for all their partners that help “homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.”

They provide tons of resources spanning housing, educational programs, and medical services. They even facilitate a large syringe exchange, tattoo removal, and a doggie day care job-training program.

I feel for everyone who’s been homeless, but there’s something about youth being homeless that makes me especially sad about their wasted potential. And it’s an issue that’s not going away.

Want to support homeless youth where you live? Idealist has over 7,700 ideas to get you going.



Derek Hurley is a software engineer at Idealist.

More ways you can help the Philippines

Survivors stand amidst debris in the city of Tacloban.
(photo via Erik de Castro/Reuters)

Over the weekend, Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines. The death toll is estimated at 10,000 in the Leyte province alone, and there is widespread infrastructure damage.

The Huffington Post and CNN have posted roundups of organizations that are sending supplies, people, and more. Here are some other ways to help:

  1. Donate. The all-veteran disaster relief organization Team Rubicon is raising funds to send its vets to help with search and rescue efforts and medical assistance.
  2. Donate. The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is currently accepting donations for community aid.
  3. Tweet. Micromappers is asking people to be strategic about tagging typhoon tweets so the UN can gain a better understanding of the situation.
  4. Hack. Geeklist is looking for developers, designers, and other techies for good to get involved with a hackathon for various projects, including building a relief coordination and survivor check-in app.
  5. Report. The social news network Rappler needs help reporting critical information such as flooding, road or building damage, or those who need rescue or assistance.
  6. Work. Merlin, a UK-based disaster relief organization, is looking to recruit emergency staff who can help long-term (three-to-six months).

Check your local Filipino-American groups or associations and the Super Typhoon Haiyan – Yolanda Recovery Facebook group for more ways to help. Please also leave a comment if you know of more opportunities.

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Links We Love: Why your IQ doesn’t matter, classroom hacks for teachers, jobs & events galore

This week’s edition: all things education.

Watch an inspiring video from TED Talks on Education, like this one about how grit is key to success:


Take action:

There are over 250 events worldwide on Idealist right now with the tag “education.” Search the site and see what grabs you.

Idealist is currently hosting over 6,500 job postings throughout the world tagged “education.” We also have almost 4,000 education-related internships and 9,000 volunteer opportunities to choose from.

September is back to school time. Dive into and see what you can learn!

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Throwback Thursday: Live from Argentina’s “Crazy Radio”

Did you know we used to create podcasts? Listen to one our favorites. 

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The staff and contributors of Radio La Colifata.

On the outskirts of Buenos Aires, tucked away from the ubiquitous tango clubs and steakhouses, is Hospital Borda, the largest and oldest mental hospital in Argentina.

But this isn’t your typical psychiatric ward. In the middle of its courtyard stands a small, bustling building full of recording equipment and unbridled energy, where each Saturday patients gear up to take the mic. This is Radio La Colifata, the first radio show in the world to be broadcast from a mental hospital.

This podcast follows Idealist staff member Celeste Hamilton Dennis, a transplanted New Yorker, and Cecilia Gil Mariño, a native Argentinean, as they give us an intimate glimpse as to why everyone from taxi drivers to famous musicians can’t get enough of Radio La Colifata.

We hear from staff and patients, or colifatos, as they like to be called, about how it all began, why it’s lasted almost two decades—and why this innovative form of public therapy has spawned 40 similar radio stations all over the world.

To listen in English, click here.

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Our staff picks of the TIME 100

TIME Magazine recently released its list of 100 of the world’s most influential people. Though the list includes people from a variety of sectors and industries, there are many who touched our lives in some way. See our staff picks in the slideshow below.

Have you checked out the TIME 100? Who’s influenced you?

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What kind of volunteer opportunity is right for you?

Datatel Volunteers Shelving Picture Books at Centreville Regional Library (Photo credit: Fairfax Library Foundation, Creative Commons/Flickr)

During this time of year, many people want to give back. But whether you are looking for a one-time opportunity or are eager to jump start a long-term volunteer experience, you should take some time to figure out what kind of volunteering you would like to do.

  • Hands-on: activities where almost anyone can show up and, with minimal training, get started (taking tickets, cleaning up parks, planting trees)
  • Skilled: tasks that depend on a volunteer’s particular skill set or experience (using graphic design skills to help an organization redesign brochures, building or maintaining a nonprofit’s website, providing legal advice for an immigration support agency)
  • Direct service: volunteering on the front lines of the organization and likely having direct contact with the population served (delivering meals, packing food bank boxes)
  • Advisory: serving in a more behind-the-scenes role to help build an organization’s capacity to reach their mission (providing feedback on strategic or fundraising plans, helping organizations learn more about using social networking sites and tools, serving on a committee or board whose role is largely oversight and governance)
  • Online: completing projects that you can do from anywhere in the world as long as you have email or internet access (translating materials, blogging, developing websites, advising on strategic plans)

Action steps

  • Think about what kinds of activities you really enjoy or have always wanted to try.
  • Do a skills assessment to see how you might be able to lend your personal and professional expertise to an organization, issue, or cause.
  • Think about where you want to get involved—behind the scenes, on the front lines, online.
  • Don’t forget to consider what you would like to gain from this experience—and what kinds of activities are likely to help you reach your own personal or professional goals.

What kind of volunteering do you enjoy?

This post is republished from our volunteer center.


Go beyond a resume and create a career portfolio

Photo credit: scottkellum, Creative Commons/Flickr

With only one month left of 2012 (!), now is the perfect time to reflect on your career growth this year. To capture your accomplishments, why not spend some time creating a career portfolio?

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a professional scrapbook of sorts where you can neatly store any and all artifacts of your past work and volunteer experience. While traditionally people use binders, you could also create an online portfolio with documents to download, or links to work you’ve done online.

Your full portfolio could include artifacts you’ve saved, like copies of work and writing samples, thank-you notes that speak to your impact, survey results, white papers you’ve written, meeting agendas and training outlines you’ve created, action plans you’ve implemented, photos and screenshots of your work in action, volunteer position descriptions you’ve drafted, policies you’ve written and more.

You can divide your portfolio into sections that work for you, for example:

  • An introduction that includes your most recent position description and positive performance review, your resume, and general letters of recommendation.
  • A section for each transferable skill set with a cover page featuring photos of you in action followed by related work samples and what you’ve been able to accomplish as a result of your skills.
    • Think broadly about what skill sets you possess — you can include skills you’ve built through travel and personal experiences (such as developing a travel itinerary, managing your family’s budget and purchasing, redesigning your child’s bedroom, etc.).
  • An education section (if relevant to you) with academic artifacts such as transcript(s), certification(s), relevant course or workshop descriptions, published academic papers, reflections, etc. (Note that any professional experience that you gained during college or grad school you can present in your skill set section.)
  • Other sections such as awards, hobbies, news clippings about you and your work.

How can I use a portfolio?

To a job interview, bring a mini-portfolio with items only relevant to the position. You can use a small presentation folder — sliding your work samples into plastic sleeves. Or you can use a file folder.

Referring to your portfolio contents can be challenging during an interview. If you can, practice ahead of time — but otherwise focus on the conversation more than your portfolio.

At the end of the interview, you should plan to leave behind copies of your most relevant work samples. For example if you apply for a fund development position, you may leave behind a narrative you wrote for a grant proposal (with any proprietary information blacked out). For a communications position you could leave behind screenshots of a professional blog you edit, a postcard you designed, and an example of an e-newsletter you created.

Have you created a career portfolio?

This is article is republished from our career center.