The Youth Who Need Our Caring

Rock-a-bye baby, where did you grow?

How young were you when learned that the world was so cold?

How old were you when you learned what it meant to be stoned?

That your momma couldn’t love you more than she loved the fast life?

When DCS stormed in and took you from her in the middle of the night?

Rock-a-bye baby, how did you feel?

How many promises did caregivers break before your faith in them wasn’t real?

How many times were you alone in the world and in your head?

Did you know it wasn’t your fault and you deserved more when you went to bed?

Rock-a-bye baby, how many foster homes did you see?

Did any one of them make you feel loved and or fill your heart with glee?

Did you wonder why no one adopted you when you aged out?

Was there one person that cared for you through it all, without a doubt?

Rock-a-bye baby, did you know?

Did anyone tell you your story’s not unique in the way it unfolds?

That there’s 20,000 just like you that get to answer these questions when they turn 18 too?

The Sad Truth

The number 20,000 the above poem refers to is the 20,000 children who “age out” of the foster care system in the United States each year. There are roughly 400,000 minors in foster care in the United States.

These children at 2 times as likely to suffer from PSTD as US war veterans. The worst part is there aren’t enough foster homes to help each of them through their rough times. These children grow up to face a plethora of negative statistics that include 20% of them becoming homeless upon aging out, 70% of women becoming pregnant by age 21, and 60% of the males becoming involved with the legal system.

These numbers may seem gloomy. The good news is one caring and loving adult is often all these children need to beat the odds. The number 1 way to help is to become a foster parent, however, that is unrealistic for many of us.

Foster Youth Need Your Care

Making a Difference with Less Commitment

There are ways to show up for a child without taking them on full time. Below is a list of ways one caring adult can be a force for change in the lives of a youth who truly needs it.

  1. Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA): CASAs are volunteers who are mentors and confidants for foster youth. CASAs play a vital role because they serve as the voice of the foster child in court and advocate for their wants and needs.
  2. Become a mentor: A quick search for “mentor a foster youth” will reveal all the programs in our areas that allow us to mentor and support foster children.
  3. Become a Respite Foster Care volunteer: Respite volunteers will watch foster children while their foster parents are out. This is sort of like baby sitting and add to the loving adults that a child sees.
  4. Donate supplies and gifts to group homes: Foster youth in group homes often go forgotten. A quick call to a local group home could make a child know someone cares for them.

Remember, to change a life and even the future of our society, all we must do is care. Caring is like throwing a stone in a lake; it causes a ripple effect.

by Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

The Trick is Treating Yourself

As Autumn descends and the leaves fall, our own physical and mental states begin to go through seasonal changes, too.  If you’re not careful, a true witch’s brew of toil and trouble await. So pay close attention to how shorter days, lowering temperatures, and rain impacts our mood.  The Fall can also contribute to a wide range of illnesses.  These include insomnia, irritability, headaches, and digestive issues.

All the more reason to make sure we are spending at least as much time on self-comfort, as we are on self-care.  That’s because adapting to Autumn can lead to fatigue of the body.  In fact, Autumn can affect our overall balance more than we imagine.

The Twilight Zone

As bewitching as an early twilight may seem, look again! Fewer daylight hours makes us more subject to mild states of anxiety and melancholy. In this spooky season of skeletons, the influence of the sun can also be seen on a physical level.  That’s because UV rays stimulate the production of vitamin D, which is useful to bones.  Sunlight also stimulates the production of serotonin, helps muscle relaxation and balances our biological rhythms. Less light darkens our mood.

That’s why, even when the days become shorter, it is important to treat yourself to more soothing time spent outdoors.  Try to work in a leisurely walk, hike, or bike ride during the week.  Think of it as a way of “stocking up” on light.  The sun’s bag of goodies allow the body to produce melanin during the night.  Melanin improves the quality of sleep and acts directly on your body’s hormonal balance.

“Weather” or Not

Changes in temperature and light also affect the immune system, almost playing tricks on it. Long before COVID, you probably remember in past Falls, how common it was to show symptoms of colds and flu, (“seasonal illnesses”).  The last thing we need is prolonged fatigue, with a side helping of apathy.  You can combat them both with equal measures of self-comfort and self-care. Think of them as aiding in the response that our body gives to outside stresses when the weather requires us to put in extra effort to adapt.

Choose warm bubble baths, pedicures, and massages over curling up on the couch with Halloween candy binging old TV shows.  All that sugar can throw your self-comfort into a tizzy.  As grandma used to say: Enjoy some candy, but don’t let it go to “waist!” If caring for yourself turns into distracting or numbing or avoiding, it’s time to pause. Always check in with yourself — what are you really craving in those moments?

Ask “whether” you really need it. And “whether” you need self-comfort or self-care in that moment.  When you need comfort — you’re craving warmth, pleasure, a break.  Pamper yourself by following your body’s yearning for “feeling good.”  When you need care — you’re craving self-respect, connection, alignment.

Fall Into Healthy Habits

Treat yourself with kindness and honor your strengths and values.  Follow your heart’s yearning for “doing good.”  Write in your journal.  Have a soulful chat with your best friend. Declare your gratitude.  Gaze at the stars on a crystal clear night.

Let’s not forget that Autumn is a season in which nature offers the great beauty of her golden crown.  Spectacular colors and healthy foods of exceptional quality abound.  Mushrooms – including truffles – pumpkin, grapes, sweet figs and more are in season. Enjoy these guilt-free treats.

do you need self-comfort or self-care?

Care for Your Mind – While Comforting Your Body

With the transition to Autumn, our body makes very clear demands on us.  But don’t overlook the signals that the mind is sending us, too. Well-being is achieved when body and mind are both healthy and in balance.  The best approach to the change of season involves taking self-care and self-comfort of the entire body and soul.

If You’ve Got It – Haunt It

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real.  It can cause fatigue, poor concentration, nausea, irritability and decreased desire.  Any one of which can disrupt our ability to get out and enjoy life. Recognizing moods and emotions can be more difficult with masks on, but it’s necessary to stay in touch with yourself.  Make an effort to evaluate your general well-being, so you can activate and remedy the discomforts you feel. Don’t forget to look in on your friends and neighbors, too.  They may be feeling lost. It’s always easier to get out of a maze together, through teamwork.

The peak of Fall doesn’t have to be scary.  Just treat it with respect while treating yourself to the self-care AND self-comfort you need.  And don’t forget to carve out some time for fun along the way!

by Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Local Communities are Vital for Tree Planting Success

The ecosystem benefits of reforestation get talked about a lot—and with good reason! Healthy trees support entire ecosystems—and planting them helps nature to regenerate lost landscapes, increase biodiversity, and offset carbon emissions. But if done thoughtfully, reforestation can also have profound socioeconomic impacts by improving food security, protecting livelihoods, and helping to heal communities. In fact, local communities are vital for tree planting success.

UCA sponsors One Tree Planted who maintains a 80% success rate goal for tree planting in reforestation projects. With UCA’s care for communities being a priority, we asked them to share why local communities are an important part of that success rate.

local communities are vital for tree planting success

Involving local communities in reforestation efforts is essential to the success of any project with One Tree Planted, but with our agroforestry initiatives, it takes center stage.

When asked what trees they want to see planted, locals usually request species that will help them support their families and get food on the table. By focusing on the intersection between natural restoration and community needs, we also decrease the risk of subsistence-driven deforestation in surrounding regions. In impoverished areas, deforestation is often driven by the need for income or fuel. By working with local communities as active partners that help to shape projects, we increase the likelihood that the trees we plant will reach their full potential.

Agroforestry is agriculture that incorporates the cultivation and conservation of trees, and it’s gaining attention as a productive, feasible practice that enriches soil and strengthens local environments rather than depleting and degrading them. When compared to conventional farming practices, which lead to diminishing returns, agroforestry shines by providing a more sustainable and net-positive solution. And it has real, on-the-ground benefits for smallholder subsistence farmers and their communities by improving their food and income security.

Project Highlight: Reforestation in Rwanda

In Rwanda, where 70% of the population farms, One Tree Planted recently worked with a woman-led farming coop to plant approximately 25,000 trees on over 380 acres, most of which were Grevillea Robusta, a species preferred by agroforestry farmers because it grows relatively quickly and doesn’t require a lot of water to thrive. We also planted tree tomato, lemon, and avocado trees, which will provide cash crops for farmers and directly benefit 180 households.

While agroforestry and food security were the primary objectives, these reforestation efforts will also help to reduce soil erosion, landslides and severe floods downstream, benefit environmental restoration, store carbon, and ensure that more families thrive. A separate but related project here will also help educate communities about the importance of biodiversity, so they can work to reduce the threats to Gishwati-Mukura National Park and re-integrate indigenous species into their agro-systems.

Planting Trees After Forest Fires

As you probably know, wildfires are burning at unprecedented rates around the globe. In Australia, where a devastating 21% of temperate broadleaf and mixed forests were burned in late 2019 and early 2020, we’re working to plant 1 million trees over the next 5 years. The process will begin with establishing and supplying nurseries, and will rely on close monitoring of fire damaged ecosystems to assess when they’ll be ready for planting. The project will help rebuild habitats for those that have been most affected by the fires, including koalas and the glossy black cockatoo.

In British Columbia, a historic rank six wildfire consumed 230,000 hectares of land, devastating iconic forests and displacing the wildlife and indigenous communities that rely on them. We worked with the First Nations people to reforest the area with carefully selected species including Lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, Hybrid spruce, Western larch, Ponderosa pine, Trembling aspen, and Black cottonwood. In addition to reforesting, we teamed up with Canada’s Forest Carbon Initiative to support carbon modeling to determine how much carbon is sequestered as the forest continues to grow and recover. 

Furthermore in California, we partner with conservation districts, The US Forest Service, and local watershed organizations to reforest after forest fires – including after the devastating Camp Fire of 2018 which severely damaged the town of Paradise. When such disasters occur, reforestation is conducted very thoughtfully so that that right species of trees are planted in appropriate locations to reduce the risk of future fire spread while helping nature recover.

How One Tree Planted Plants Trees Around the World

Reforestation can restore damaged ecosystems, stabilize soil, support the water cycle, protect biodiversity, and slowly recover the vital ecosystem services that we all depend on. So how do we do it in so many different countries around the world? Through a network of carefully vetted and knowledgeable on-the-ground partners. Once we’ve connected with a partner, we carefully vet them to make sure they will be able to deliver on their goals. Then, we work with them to develop a plan and get the logistics into place. Meanwhile, we’re spreading the word about these amazing projects and securing the donations necessary to support these efforts. Once the funding is there, the planting site is prepared, supplies are procured, and seeds are collected and grow into strong seedlings. Then, when it is the rainy season and environmental conditions are ready, the trees are planted! After planting is done, the trees are carefully maintained and monitored by our partners until they can survive on their own.

While the size of projects vary, it takes dozens of people on average to execute any single reforestation effort to make it a success. Between the donors who help with funding, internal staff to help with planning and coordinating global projects, and local partners to get the trees in the ground, and the local communities that are vital to tree planting success, we recognize that every person who contributes plays an important role.

By Diana Chaplin, contributing author and member of One Tree Planted

Silver Linings

silver lining

Silver Linings

Did I brush my teeth this morning?”  Kind of an odd question, but not an infrequent one these days as some of us stumble through our unscripted days.  We may have decided to stay in pajamas – or eat chocolate for breakfast – anything so as not to face the day ‘responsibly’.  

But as the novelty of staying home wears off, the fog can roll in and cloud our focus as well as challenge our brain.  What once seemed like an ongoing pajama party, now feels like zombie shock as reality starts to seep in. If you’re shaking your head trying to release some cobwebs, there is hope – read on.

Here’s the good news — You’re not alone!

It doesn’t matter whether you were a corporate executive, a busy store clerk, a stay-at-home mom or a retiree.  We all had ‘pre-pandemic lives’ that were pretty much on automatic pilot. Now that we’ve had to abruptly re-write our scripts, we must forgive ourselves for our baby steps, and look for the silver linings.

Silver Lining 1

It is better to be dealing with boredom, daily sacrifices and financial challenges than being sick with the virus.  We are in this together, and federal and local governing forces, employers and other Samaritans are figuring out ways to help us all get through this.

Silver Lining 2

What a great opportunity to reach out to others and offer verbal support or assistance if you are in a position to do so.  You never know how one small act of caring can make a huge difference in someone’s life. The bonus here is that an act of caring releases serotonin – a natural antidepressant – for you and the other person.

Silver Lining 3

Much to be grateful for.  Our nation’s gas stations, drug stores and grocery stores are bending over backwards to accommodate those who need to be out and about ,or shop for necessities.  These folks put themselves on the line every day to make the basics available and keep us going. Our postal carriers – firefighters – law enforcers – truck drivers – medical personnel – all are sacrificing for the good of the whole. Saying THANKS to them not only acknowledges their efforts, it reminds us how lucky we are.

Silver Lining 4

You now have the opportunity to deepen bonds by sharing your feelings with someone close to you.  It not only provides a safe platform for your personal expression, but you may also have the chance to validate what someone else might be feeling.  A win-win bonding experience created out of hidden feelings we may not ordinarily think about. 

Silver Lining 5

Take time to ‘play’.  Whatever that looks like to you.  Want to stay in your pajamas – fine!  But maybe you want to put on sunglasses and a straw hat and have a picnic on the floor.  Or make some magic in the kitchen and create a totally absurd but tasty treat. Have a pillow-duel with your spouse or fly paper airplanes.   There really is no script… just play… and have some fun!

Silver Lining 6

Perfect time to reconnect with friends or acquaintances you haven’t been in touch with.  A simple “how are you doing” can rekindle some fond memories. You might even want to resurrect the art of letter-writing.   Words formed with a pen are more connected to the heart. 

Silver Lining 7

Look at what’s going on around the earth.  Atmospheres are clearing, animals are reappearing, nature is stretching in a way she hasn’t been able to in years.  What a blessing for this planet and our future well-being. It is wise to take note of how rapidly this is occurring.  The damage caused by years and years of pollution is reversing itself at warp-speed. We are being given a second chance, and there is renewed hope that people everywhere will become more respectful of our host planet.

Silver Lining 8

Whoever thought that Israel and Palestine would come together for the sake of helping their people?  Officials from both countries are working together to coordinate efforts against COVID-19. Now ambulances from Israel are traveling to the West Bank to transport patients.  Medical workshops are being offered to the Palestinians to facilitate best practices in keeping the virus at bay. These steps of cooperation for the common good are a global miracle – a HUGE step toward peace, and a testament to the humanity in man.  

Silver Lining 9

Your fellow men and women are AWESOME!  Look how this country is pulling together – small-time manufactures retooling in record time to make respirators – homemakers making masks – restaurants staying open for take-out – distributors working night and day to keep the supply chain going.  Everyone seems to be on the same page and the compelling mindset is “we’re all in this together”.  If that isn’t an exquisite example of love for our fellow man, I don’t know what is.  As the Beatles so simply stated: 

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung

Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game

It’s easy

All you need is love

All you need is love

All you need is love, love

Love is all you need

Silver Lining 10

Now it’s your turn. Here’s where you get to choose what your silver-lining is!

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!

Lifetime Membership

Lifetime Membership

Unified Caring Association (UCA) has been sharing caring news and resources with our members since 1987. We love supporting and sponsoring caring projects that reflect values that C.A.R.E. (Children, Animals, Reforestation, and Elderly). As we grow, we add more to our products and services, like our health and fitness tools, Caring Community online store, community resources, and scholarships! We are always  listening to what our members are looking for most to select our next caring addition. This time, the addition is all about flexibility in membership options. We are proud to present the newest membership option: UCA’s Lifetime Membership.

Ask, Listen, and Receive

UCA’s new Lifetime Membership option is a response to our members’ changing needs through their adult life.  When many members needed to reduce their benefit selection, we began asking if each member would prefer to remain a part of the membership community at a base level of benefits. The overwhelming answer was “YES!”  So, we have introduced the new Lifetime Membership option to provide the flexibility to meet life’s needs and be as active as desired without worrying about monthly charges.

A great way to see if being a part of this quietly building caring community of over 150,000 people is with the basic $15 month-to-month membership.  Members sign in to their secure area of to access a wide array of benefits. These benefits include: self-care, care for family and pets, community connections, savings on a vast array of online purchases, sponsorship of caring impactful projects, positive and inspiring news, and access to a whole bunch more benefits that keeps growing with members’ needs.  

With society’s need to grow caring children, take care of our communities, and equally importantly to take of ourselves over a lifetime, the new Lifetime Membership option of a one-time $99.95 forever purchase. This lifetime membership keeps our members connected to the mission and benefits so needed today and tomorrow.

Our membership is diverse across the U.S.  There is one thing common to the vast majority of those wanting to join and stay a part of the association. Our members want to find ways to live a healthier life and have an impact as a community to put caring into action. If they can do both plus receive assistance in reducing expenses or getting access to products and services with big savings, then “all the better value.”

Stop by and check out our membership benefits summaries.  We hope to see you join our community soon.

We love sharing UCA caring news and resources, research, and caring acts in our community through our website and blogs. Or would like to receive more Unified Caring Association caring notes throughout the week? Follow us on: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter! We are looking forward to sharing more with you, our caring community!

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