7 Ways to Participate in #GivingTuesday

After a frenzied shopping weekend featuring tons of doorbusters and a few brawls, it's easy to feel a little disenfranchised with the holidays. This season is supposed to be about giving, and yet slogans like "Thanks-getting" and advertisements featuring starry-eyed kids with endless gifts under the tree convey an entirely separate sentiment.

To get back to the true spirit of the season, today's #GivingTuesday reminds consumers to look beyond themselves and give to someone in need. Consider these seven ways to give back today (and beyond), and consider making it a part of your holiday tradition.

Have your children donate toys.
To cultivate charitable giving within your kids this season, start a tradition where your children select one (or more) toys from their current collection to donate to a child in need. Research local organizations accepting gently-used toys and schedule a time to accompany your child to the donation site. Allowing your child to experience charitable giving first-hand will help him or her understand the good feeling it produces.

Participate in a fundraising activity.
Many community events including 5K runs often benefit a local charity and represent a fun way to spend time with family and friends. Head to your city's website or Facebook page for details on upcoming activities and determine what makes the most sense for your family. A brisk run before Christmas dinner that benefits the local food bank, for example, offers a healthy activity for your kids as well as an opportunity to help others.

Pick up extra groceries for the local food bank.
As you shop for holiday meals this season, consider picking up a few extra items to donate to your local food bank. Some grocery stores even have bags of food for purchase, which they donate on your behalf. The annual Grab 'n Giveevent from Sprouts Farmers Markets, for example, discounts bags of food by 10% and donates them to local food banks in their communities.

Get vaccinated.
Still need to get your flu shot? You can vaccinate yourself against this common holiday illness and give back at the same time. Through Dec. 1, vaccines administered at Walgreens will result in two vaccines for children in need through theUN Foundation's ShotLife Campaign.

Volunteer your time.
There are several opportunities to donate your time, whether it's an afternoon visiting with residents at a local nursing home or serving at your neighborhood soup kitchen. These activities are popular during the holiday season, so call ahead to determine availability. You can also check out to find local volunteer opportunities based on your interests.

Shop with stores that give back.
You can make a difference as you shop this holiday season by purchasing from stores that give back (and save a little money, too). TOMS Shoes is a popular brand that donates a pair of shoes, glasses or other items and services to someone in need for every purchase, and also has coupon codes for savings at At JCPenney, for every pair of fingerless striped gloves purchased through Dec. 24, $2 will go toward the JCPenney Cares non-profit organization which supports after-school enrichment opportunities for children. You can also use Amazon Smile to donate a portion of the cost of your purchase to a charity of your choice.

Gift donations.
If you're struggling to find the perfect gift for people on your list, consider donating to a charity on their behalf. You likely know what causes are important to them, plus many non-profit organizations also provide a tax write-off. For a list of trustworthy charities by cause, check out Kiva offers a unique twist of gifting donations with its Kiva Card, which gives recipients an opportunity to provide a loan to someone who inspires them. The funds are then repaid as the recipient works off the loan, and the money can be loaned again to someone else. 

Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice.  As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more.

Women on the Move Awards to be presented

For the 30th time, Texas Executive Women will present its annual Women on the Move® Awards  at a luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar St. The big event benefits Texas Executive Women’s mentoring and scholarship programs for high school girls.

This year’s Women on the Move honorees include the following outstanding business women: Nory Angel, Christina Morales Berger, Victoria Bryant, Melanie Brown, Jane Cummins, Gina Gaston Elie, Julie Hardin, Jonia Wallace Reynolds, Gayle Slaughter, Cheryl Lyn Walker. Receiving TEW’s 2015 Rising Star Award will also be presented. This time to E. Nicole Baldwin. 
Nory Angel is the executive director and CEO, SER Jobs for Progress. SER Jobs for Progress is a non-profit organization that provides education, training, employment and empowerment services to those in need. 
Christina Morales Berger is president and CEO of the Morales Memorial Foundation. She has carried her family’s tradition of driving progress in Houston’s East End by continuously overcoming obstacles and giving back to the community. Berger took the reins of the Felix H. Morales Funeral Home family business in 1993.
Melanie Brown, head of the Technology Operations Strategic Execution Office at CenterPoint Energy, oversees annual strategic planning and initiative operationalization, and special projects with a $110 million portfolio. Brown also is an author and public speaker who empowers business leaders and organizations to succeed.
Victoria Bryant is president of Ambassadors Caregivers. Her ambition is to make a difference and leave a legacy. She provides professional caregiver services to seniors, the disabled and anyone who needs an extra hand.  
Jane Cummins is the executive director of Educational Programs, Inspiring Communities dba The HEART Program. Because of her work, she was appointed by Houston’s Mayor and City Council to serve as commissioner on the Houston Commission on Disabilities. She also currently serves as president of the Texas Lyceum.
Gina Gaston-Elie is a news anchor at KTRK-TV, ABC 13. She enjoys sharing news stories that inspire viewers and giving them information to make better decisions, big and small, and grow as a human being. 
Julie Hardin is a partner at Reed Smith LLP. She is a graduate of Leadership Houston and serves on the board of directors of Girls Inc. of Greater Houston and The Women’s Resource, and on the Advisory Council for Dress for Success Houston. 
Jonita Wallace Reynolds is the CEO of Gulf Coast Community Services Association, Inc. GCCSA’s programs and services are designed to educate, equip and empower the un-served in Harris County. Reynolds is a public speaker and true servant-leader who awakens daily with the desire to personify Gandhi’s profound words, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” 
Gayle Slaughter, senior associate dean for Graduate Education and Diversity at Baylor College of Medicine, is dedicated to improving the quality of life through training the next generation of scientists and physician scientists. She currently directs several programs that help transform curricula at three Houston universities.
Cheryl Lyn Walker is the Welsh Chair, professor and director of Texas A&M Health Science Center, Institute of Biosciences & Technology. She is an active researcher, conducting cutting-edge research on how the genes individuals inherit, and exposures to chemicals in the environment, determine risk for diseases such as cancer. 
Rising Star E. Nicole Baldwin is the founder and CEO of Biao Skincare and a U.S. Army veteran. She is a burn victim and survivor who has used her own skincare line to virtually eliminate physical scars from her face and body. She formulated her safe and effective beauty and skincare line to address the unique complexion needs of women of all ages and races.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of this year’s class and we are looking forward to the awards luncheon with great anticipation,” said Friederike “Rike” Hass, executive director of  Texas Executive Women. “Women on the Move® is an opportunity to be inspired by the achievements of great women and also raise college scholarship funds for the next generation of great leaders.”
Sallie Sargent, president and CEO of the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee, will be the featured speaker at the Woman on the Move Luncheon. Sargen, a 28-year veteran in sports marketing and event management, has a resume that includes All-Star games, college bowl games, Republican and Democratic conventions and a variety of other events.
The 2015 Women on the Move Award Luncheon is underwritten (to date) by: Platinum Sponsor H-E-B; Gold Sponsors Sofia Adrogue/Gray Reed & McGraw, PC/Kelli Cohen Fein/Caroline Baker Hurley/S. Shawn Stephens and Y. Ping Sun; and Silver Sponsors Ambassadors Caregivers, ConocoPhillips, MDS, Inc., Debra Ibarra Mayfield, Nancy Hall, Shira Yoshor, KPRC-TV, Melanie Gray/Winston & Strawn LLP, and Susan Soussan/ Elizabeth Ray/Katie Kennedy. In-kind sponsors (to date) include Barfield Photography and Lisa Malosky Productions. Media partner is Houston Woman Magazine.
For more information about purchasing tickets and/or sponsorships, visit 

What's does "multicultural" really mean?

For citizens born in America, the term “multicultural” tends to sit on a spectrum of meanings, usually a connotation of something good.

For many, it means celebrating cultures into which they are not born. For others, it’s something to be merely tolerated. And, for a minority, “multicultural” means a threat to a traditional way of life, one that’s being lost to an influx of foreign or non-majority cultures.
Thankfully, my experience in the United States has been by and large a welcoming one; however, as an actual immigrant, ‘multicultural’ arguably has more meaning
The U.S. immigrant population stands at more than 41.3 million, or 13 percent, of the total population of 316.1 million, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey.
Immigration is, in part, what continues to make this a great country, and I think it’s helpful for more Americans to know what an immigrant’s experience is like.
The truly multicultural experience is enriching. Born right in the middle of the India, I was able to travel to both the north and south areas of the country. I took in the multicultural flavors of my  country of birth and was able to appreciate India’s diversity, which often has ancient roots. My time in America has enabled me to more deeply appreciate my original culture and appreciate the U.S. when I’m away from it.
You can appreciate what you have in both countries. “In many ways, I am fortunate that I have the means to visit India. Having two globally significant countries to call home has its benefits. 
However, many immigrants to America throughout the centuries have been too poor to ever visit their original homes.
Fewer people understand that dual sense of home. While there is a sizeable community of Indian-Americans in the United States, not all immigrants know where to go or how to relate to each other during transition. Immigrants to America tend to have a clear goal in mind and, over time, the new country feels more and more like home. However, roots are still felt in one’s original country, which may have very different cultural norms.
There are pluses and minuses in each culture. America is a first-world, developed country that still has issues, such as advertisements for unhealthy products such as cigarettes and people who are less welcoming to people from other countries. And, unfortunately, racism continues to remain deeply entrenched in [parts of the society] – a problem that immigrants have to often contend with.
India still has a long way to go with civil liberties, including an archaic and unfair caste system and discrimination and violence toward women that is far too common.
And, these differences don’t add up to some kind of balance. Immigrants try to acclimate to these differences and try to work around them, and they often do.  Fortunately, this can enrich our minds and experience. I’d like to think that I have a better – more compassionate – take on humanity because of my multicultural background.
Simi K. Rao was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years, working as a physician. She is the author of “The Accidental Wife,” her second novel. The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her own experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships, as well as stories and anecdotes collected from friends, family and acquaintances. She lives in Denver with her family.

Clanton: Going Postal in Houston

“A man’s gotta know his limitations.” (Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry)

We manly men like to think of ourselves as capable of accomplishing anything. The more abilities we perfect, the more we can lay claim to the vaunted title of “Renaissance Man.” I could be the exception to that rule.
I recently enlisted as a Rural Carrier Associate with the United States Postal Service. After all, how hard could it be?
There are a dozen Postal Service workers in the chain of events getting your mail from here to there. Twelve persons receiving, collecting sorting and sending, proofing and posting, servicing and serving, casing and carrying and finally, delivering letters and parcels, magazines and advertising circulars to your mailbox. Daily.
The USPS has contracted with Amazon to deliver packages on Sundays. Fed-Ex and UPS also contract with USPS to deliver some parcels on routes that aren’t economically viable, since postal carriers do visit every address in America every day. Twice a week, the USPS is asked to insert those light-reading materials known as advertising inserts into the mail stream, which effectively doubles the volume of mail to be delivered on those days. All of these extra functions must be performed without fail, within time constraints and regardless of the weather. 
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” That’s not the official motto of the USPS, but the phrase is engraved on the front of the James Farley Post Office building in New York City. And, it’s quite apropos, even though the USPS does indeed cancel deliveries from time to time on occasion of extreme conditions.
The men and women of the USPS are modern-day heroes. Each one knows his route intimately enough to be able to catch nuances that would otherwise delay delivery of important items. Hundreds of mailboxes; hundreds of addresses; hundreds of names, all mentally compiled and adjusted daily, as old customers move on, and new customers move in to the route.
So, earlier this year I was invited to interview for a position as a Rural Carrier Associate. I was assigned to a West Houston post office station, where I tagged along with a veteran carrier for two weeks. She was spectacular, and the difference in the way men and women think was never more glaringly pronounced than when I tried to learn her “system” for running her mail route. Women are from Venus, men are from Mars. Men are linear thinkers, and women’s brains are more like The Matrix, which is a helpful thing to have as a postal carrier. 
We “cased” the mail together — preparing bundles of mail grouped by address for delivery. We drove the route together, delivering and picking up from regular customers. I began to have a greater appreciation of what postal carriers do each day. Which brings us full-circle to the Dirty Harry quotation about man’s limitations.
I was able to complete about half as much work as the regular mail carrier in about twice the time. I was counseled by one well-meaning postal worker to sort the mail right-handed, so the addresses would be right-side up for everyone else. I am acutely left-handed.
I consider myself a pretty organized guy — but trying to organize and remember stop sequences and packages that weren’t familiar to me was a learning curve I barely climbed before the regular carrier left for a well-deserved vacation. My first day solo on the route was a disaster. 
One of the sources of stress for postal workers is the deadline at the end of the day to get “raw mail” collected on each route inserted into the postal system for distribution and delivery. There’s a big truck that visits each neighborhood postal station every evening to gather all incoming letters, parcels and packages, and deposit it at Houston’s central mail processing facility. You cannot miss that truck. 
I did. More than once.
The routines and rhythms of postal work can be learned in time. When you’re up against the gun to learn a route so someone else can take vacation, however, is a different kind of pressure. I failed. I had other postal workers helping me case the mail. Others helping bail me out by delivering mail to parts of the route I couldn’t complete before the mail truck deadline. It was taking three people to do one route. 
On a Tuesday night, after returning to the postal station way past time, I was told to not come in the next day. 
“Take a rest,” they said. “Come back refreshed.” 
I’m no dummy. I was creating more havoc than the system could handle. 
I resigned as a Rural Carrier Associate that week. The entry-level position I’d hoped to use as a foot in the door for other work more suited to my skill set was a rung on the ladder impossibly high to reach. A man’s gotta know his limitations. I do.
Brent Clanton is a Houstonian and member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. 

Women: Participate in Business Golf Now!

Here in Houston, there are a plethora of year-round business opportunities for golfers. Every Monday, for example, there are countless charity events at public and private facilities all over town. Men greatly outnumber women at these events, and it is time for this to change! Think about entering the wonderful world of golf…you will be glad you did!

Please do not fret about the fear and intimidation that many of us experience as we begin our journey into the game of golf. All of us who play have “been there, done that” as we began to learn about the game and develop the skills needed to play the game. Isn’t this the same for any new hobby or endeavor we want to tackle? Be realistic and patient.
Most important? Let’s rid ourselves of the number of untruths  out there about playing golf,  especially the biggest one of all — that everyone who plays this game does so at a high level.  Not true!  With this being said, there are a few things to evaluate so there will be a positive level of comfort when playing in business golf environments:
• Can you hit the ball about 100 yards off the tee?
• Can you hit a shot about 75 yards on the fairway?
• Can you hit out of a bunker?
• Can you strategize to reach a green when you are within 50 yards of the flagstick?
• Can you three putt most greens?
• Do you have golf etiquette and golf rules knowledge?
If you answered these questions with positive responses, do think about joining in on all the fun…now!  
If you aren’t quite there, allow an LPGA trained professional  to help you with your skill development and knowledge base about playing. You will enjoy the experience of learning and the transition into playing will be easier! 
A round of golf offers an opportunity to build a personal relationship with business clients or colleagues by spending four to five hours in a relaxed setting with people who otherwise can be difficult to reach.
Golf and business have become inseparable for many business executives and many believe playing golf is a good way to make new business contacts. Many also believe the way a person plays golf is very similar to how he/she conducts business affairs:
• The practices in golf usually parallel those in business.
• Golf gives you time to get to know a person’s true character.
• Golf is an ethical game.
• Golf and business demonstrate the same level of competitiveness.
Golf is a game that combines physical skill with mental stamina. To succeed in this sport, you will want to develop confidence in your playing ability and your place on the golf course. Doing this isn’t any different than applying the discipline needed to succeed in business. However, this game is steeped in tradition. The social skills you exhibit can be just as important as the physical skills you develop. Knowledge of the basic rules of golf and an understanding of appropriate social behavior and etiquette are essential.  
Understanding the following will help you to become a knowledgeable, courteous and enjoyable fellow competitor.
• The Invitation
• Dollars and Sense
• Arrival at the facility
• On the First Tee
• Order, Pace and Safety 
• The Tee, Fairway and Green
• In the Woods and Water 
• Cart Etiquette
• Appropriate Attire 
• Corporate Golf Games
• Terminology
You do not need to be a “great golfer” to combine business and pleasure on the golf course. Be a “great person” to golf with and you, as well as your fellow corporate golfers, will enjoy playing this great game!
LPGA Master Professional Deb Vangellow teaches people to play golf at Riverbend Country Club in Houston. Among other distinctions, Vangellow is the 2012 LPGA National Teacher Of The Year and LPGA and Golf Digest Woman “Top 50” Teacher. 
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