Category Archives: Giving

Help Ukraine Fight for Freedom

I had a whole post written for you today, all about startups, founders, fundraising, yada yada yada.

But the war in Ukraine made that seem pretty insignificant. So today, I’d like to talk briefly about how we can help.

People in Ukraine are fighting for freedom, and for their lives. A tyrant is trying to enslave them and kill anyone who resists.

Ukrainians need our help.

Please join me in donating to the cause. Here are some great options to easily send a donation:

I pray the brave Ukrainians can fight off Russia and restore peace and democracy. Glory to Ukraine!

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At the Top Dog Gala!

On Tuesday night, I had the joy of attending the Top Dog Gala, a benefit for the Animal Medical Center (AMC) in New York City. AMC saved my little gerbil’s life three times and helped him live to a ripe old age, so I love getting a chance to support such a great cause!

AMC is an incredible place. It feels like a high end human hospital more than a veterinary one.

There are departments of hematology, orthopedics, radiology, you name it. The imaging machines they use were bought from human hospitals, just a couple years old.

There’s nowhere better to take your pet. And despite the very high level of care, you’d be surprised how reasonable their prices are!

On Tuesday night, we filed into the beautiful Cipriani 42nd Street in the heart of Manhattan. I had passed the building a million times but never been inside.

It’s a beautifully converted bank with some of the teller windows still intact! I admired the massive windows and velvet curtains while munching on delicious snacks.

As the dinner was about to start, a very funny older lady came from the bar:

I’m getting a double. It’s going to be a long night with a lot of speeches.

Chuckling to myself, I sat down at a table replete with flowers and the presentation began. AMC President Kathryn Coyne introduced us to Sadie, a very special German Shepherd who saved her owner Brian’s life when he was having a stroke.

She licked Brian’s face to keep him awake after the stroke, then helped drag him to the phone to call for help. Without Sadie, Brian wouldn’t be here.

They may not be able to speak, but it’s amazing how animals touch all our lives.

We also met the canine officers of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) police! I was struck by their bravery.

Humans sign up for that job. Dogs don’t. But they do it all the same, risking their lives to keep us safe.

The Top Dog Gala made it clear how animals support us. But how can we support them?

By supporting AMC! AMC gives away a fortune in free care every year for those who cannot afford it.

But they can’t do that without our help! Please consider joining me in donating to this wonderful cause today.

The cute doggies, kitties, birds and rodents will thank you!

More on animals:

Cute Animals Online: My Top 5

The Real Groundhogs of New Jersey

When The Cat Who Supported Her Through Cancer Got Sick, Jessica Knew What She Had to Do

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

When The Cat Who Supported Her Through Cancer Got Sick, Jessica Knew What She Had to Do

Jessica had battled a brain tumor for a decade and was finally feeling better. Her little cat Olive had stood by her throughout her treatment, and now they were relaxing together at their house in Harlem.

One weekend, Jessica couldn’t find Olive anywhere. She went down to the basement and heard faint meowing from the corner. Olive was very sick.

Jessica grabbed Olive and rushed for a taxi. Together, they headed to the Animal Medical Center (AMC) on New York City’s Upper East Side.

Dr. Kate Crecraft of AMC found that Olive had an extremely rare condition: a piece of grass had lodged itself in the sack around her heart (the pericardium). This was causing enormous fluid buildup and a life threatening infection.

Surgeons removed the blade of grass and treated the infection. After some TLC at home from her mom Jessica, Olive is feeling as good as ever!

Jessica finally had the chance to repay the friend who stood by her through her own illness. Now they’re together, healthy, and happy.

I found out about this story in a wonderful letter I received from AMC today. I know firsthand the good work they do; they saved my pet gerbil’s life multiple times. I wouldn’t want to take a pet anywhere else.

AMC is a marvel. There are departments of hematology, radiology, neurosurgery, everything the best human hospitals would have! But it all costs money, and as a nonprofit, AMC needs support from people like us.

If you want to be a part of incredible stories like this, please donate here.

How we treat these little animals says everything about us. Let’s enable more Olives to get well! When we heal them, we also heal the humans who love them.

How I Know The Need Out There Is Real

I was at the grocery store recently when the woman behind me in line tried to return a pair of hubcaps.

There’s nothing wrong with them. I just need groceries more than I need hubcaps.

That’s what she said. The hubcaps cost $14. Fourteen dollars was the difference between her eating or not eating.

You may be picturing her in your mind. I’d wager your picture is wrong. She was a nicely dressed woman in her 50’s who would have fit right in at a corporate office. Perhaps she used to work in one.

“Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with them,” she repeated.

The store manager took pity on her and let her return the perfectly good hubcaps. In place of them, she slid a small pile of groceries down the conveyor belt.

It’s easy for us to make excuses. Isn’t this the government’s job? What about food stamps? But it’s easy for people to fall through the cracks of a system that’s largely indifferent to them. Paperwork gets lost, caseworkers don’t show up, appointments are all booked until three weeks from Tuesday, etc.

The economic devastation of this pandemic is very real. And it may be a lot closer than we think. I certainly didn’t expect it right behind me in line at the grocery in my well-off town.

How can we help? A favorite charity of mine is the Salvation Army. It provides food to people who have nowhere else to turn. You can donate here.

Have a great weekend and a happy Valentine’s day, everyone!

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Photo: “Swan, homeless, on Mission St.” by Franco Folini is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

How Planned Parenthood Is Providing Critical Care…Even in a Pandemic

Providing critical medical care to patients who sometimes have very few resources, all in the face of enormous political opposition, is challenging at the best of times. The pandemic has made it even harder. But Planned Parenthood is adjusting rapidly to make sure that people who need help get it.

I just got off a Planned Parenthood Federation of America Leadership Briefing call, and the steps they’ve taken to keep helping people in a difficult time really impressed me. Here are some of the great things they’re doing:

  • Reaching 25 million people online in 2020 with sex ed, counseling and telehealth
  • Using a new chat text program available in Spanish to provide counseling and information to those who may not be comfortable in English
  • Training staff nationwide how to provide sex ed online, as opposed to the usual in person offerings
  • Providing COVID vaccine safety information to patients. Many patients trust Planned Parenthood, so hearing from a trusted voice that the vaccines are safe can mean a lot!

I was also impressed that not only are they offering telehealth, they’re gathering data to measure how well it works. This data-driven approach tells you that donor dollars are in good hands.

I couldn’t helped but be incredibly impressed with the hard work of the PPFA staff under these most difficult of circumstances. If you want to support their work, you can donate here.

Bonus: One of the attendees mentioned that they worked at Pandia Health, a company I had never heard of. It is a startup in Sunnyvale, CA that provides birth control by mail on a convenient, subscription model. As an investor, I was intrigued. The Yelp reviews look impressive. I’m gathering more information.

Photo: “Rally to support Planned Parenthood” by Fibonacci Blue is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Boy Who Was Me

I recently received a wonderful letter from a young man named Corey, who is at Rawhide boys ranch. Rawhide is a place that takes in boys who have gotten in trouble with the law and helps them change their lives. Corey was behind in school before he arrived at Rawhide, but he’s done a complete 180 and will graduate high school early at 16!

This is a rare outcome even for children from the best of circumstances. For Corey to be able to pull that off despite the disadvantages I imagine he’s faced in life is nothing short of astounding.

I can relate to Corey because Corey was me. 22 years ago, I was in Rawhide too. I had gotten in a lot of trouble as a kid but Rawhide completely changed my life.

What Rawhide does is take kids from situations where they’re not doing well, puts them somewhere different, and gives them a chance to change. Instead of being around friends that are also going down the wrong path, you’re around more positive people. Instead of having to fight to avoid victimization in difficult circumstances, Rawhide provides a tranquil place to live.

Corey grew up in Milwaukee, where many people, especially black folks, face few opportunities and a violent environment. I imagine if he had grown up somewhere like where I live now, he probably would’ve never gotten in trouble in the first place. But Rawhide gave him that better environment.

The letter included an envelope so I could reply to Corey, and I plan to write him later today. It’s wonderful to see a young person doing so well.

If you want to support Corey and others like him at Rawhide, you can donate here. Your investment will pay the best sort of dividends.