By Melanie Graysmith
Saturday August 19, 2017 is World Humanitarian Day, a day the United Nations General Assembly designates to commemorate and reflect on the many men and women around the world who selflessly put their lives at risk working in humanitarian causes around the globe. The tireless efforts of the Sergio Vieira de Mello family and foundation came together to remember and honor Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq. Sérgio and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.
If you wonder how to get involved in San Francisco to contribute a positive impact, look to our community that unfortunately is home to too many residents in need and who have little hope for positive change. See World Humanitarian Day as an incentive to do something outside of an organized event that you get attached to. The essence of being a humanitarian is reaching out to help and give assistance when no one asks you to do so. Get involved to make a difference. Start locally by helping your neighbors in need; they are all around you ~ be informed, be inspired, be involved.
Project Open Hand
730 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Project Open Hand is an exceptional non-profit organization that has been a valuable safety net and lifeline for many people in need since 1985. Volunteer and make a difference. There are so many opportunities to take advantage of, from food preparation, food sorting and packing, to delivering nutritious meals to seniors and seriously ill people in need of not only a daily meal, but also a friendly smile from someone, and that someone can be you. Do you know someone needy who is fighting illness or the difficulties of aging? Refer that person to Project Open Hand’s medically tailored food program and give the gift of good, healthy food and community concern. Visit the website and review the volunteer opportunities and requirements, and then fill out an application. What a fantastic start and way to show the humanitarian in you. If the East Bay is home, contact Project Open Hand in Oakland to begin making a difference on the sunnier side of the Bay. Project Open Hand Oakland, 1921 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 622-0221.
Program on Human Rights Freeman Spogli Institute For International Studies
616 Serra St., Suite C100
Stanford, CA 94305
The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies is a Stanford University wide education and research institution that is dedicated to “understanding the problems, policies, and processes that cross international borders and affect lives around the world.” The site provides a list of Human Rights Organizations around the Bay Area, although it not a complete list it provides links to many organizations so you can make contact and inquire about ways to help. Listed organizations include: ACCESS/Women’s Health Rights Coalition (Oakland), American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project (San Francisco), Amnesty International USA (San Francisco), Business for Social Responsibility (San Francisco), California Prison Focus (Oakland), Global Exchange (San Francisco), National Center for Lesbian Rights (San Francisco), and Survivors International (San Francisco), plus many more. Visit the website for links to these and additional organizations for inquires.
Human Rights Watch, San Francisco
350 Sansome St., Suite 1000
San Francisco, CA 94194
Human Rights Watch is a non-profit, non-governmental human rights organization established in 1978. Its global staff of human rights professionals includes country experts, lawyers, journalists and academics from an array of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, all working to promote human rights and justice throughout the world. The organization encourages everyone concerned about human rights and the work of Human Rights Watch to learn about its committees and join in at an upcoming event: the San Francisco Committee and the San Francisco Young Professionals Network. Visit the website to learn more about ways you can help this organization.
American Cancer Society
71 Stevenson Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Get involved and help make a difference in the lives of those living with cancer in a variety of ways. The ACS encourages compassionate locals to volunteer to save lives with any amount of time you can give and discover the rewards of being a volunteer. Other ways to help are to by donating flyer miles, shopping for patients, or participating in important fundraising activities. The possibilities are endless. Visit the website and find the perfect fit volunteer opportunity for you to get involved.
UNICEF San Francisco
101 Montgomery St., Suite 625
San Francisco, CA 94104
UNICEF San Francisco is proud to have a devoted local community that cares deeply about the world’s children in need. Bay Area students, donors and all advocates help UNICEF in its efforts to protect and save children. If you have ever wondered about this amazing organization and its determination, commitment, and fundraising advocacy throughout the year, then Humanitarian Day 2017 is a good time to learn more and join the effort. Sign up as a UNICEF volunteer (you must be at least 13 years old to register). There are also activities and ways to become involved, including:
UNICEF Kid Power, a staple in San Francisco schools since Bay Area students piloted this program in 2014, is an activity tracker that allows kids to make a global impact. As children wear their UNICEF Kid Power Band (or use the free App) every step taken goes to unlocking lifesaving nutrition for severely malnourished children around the globe. Download the free App or visit www.unicefkidpower.org.
There are more than 10 UNICEF High School Clubs, and 3 College Initiative programs in the Bay Area working to educate and fundraise on behalf of UNICEF’s mission. Find a HS club or college club or start your own! You’ll get resources and toolkits that show how you can have fun with classmates while supporting UNICEF’s lifesaving mission.
Ignite your online media! Host a digital fundraiser to support UNICEF, or take action and tell your legislators why you support the world’s children.
San Francisco SPCA Pet Adoption Center
250 Florida St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Animal lovers know neglected animals need a show of love and care too, and if you prefer to donate your time and share the humanitarian spirit with dogs and cats in need, the San Francisco SPCA would love to hear from you. Check the website for a range of volunteer opportunities and pet adoption needs.