Innercity Weightlifting Founder Jon Feinman Featured on TheEditorial.com

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Heidi Legg of TheEditorial.com sat down with Innercity Weightlifting founder Jon Feinman for an illuminating interview as part of their new Young Blood series. In it, Feinman discusses the challenges and successes that ICW has faced since its founding in 2010, and his goals for the future. Check out the interview here!

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ShePartakes Featured in the Boston Globe!

SheGives was featured in the Boston Globe this morning! Sacha Pfeiffer highlights some of our ShePartakes events to celebrate women chefs in the Boston Area, including Monday’s sold-out luncheon with chef Nancy Cushman. Check out the article here.

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Women More Likely to Give, and More Likely to Give More

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Illustration by Serge Bloch, from the Wall Street Journal

Here’s a fascinating short read from the Wall Street Journal. Research at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy shows that women give more than their male peers at all income levels, even though women have fewer available resources.  And women and men give for different reasons.  Women tend to be more altruistic and empathetic than men – to give to help others, whereas men tend to give when the appeal frames the donation as being in the man’s self interest or a a way of maintaining the status quo.

Check out the article here.  There’s a lot to chew on from this article – but for now we’ll just leave it at that.

Article by Kirstan Barnett.
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Hate Planks But Looove College Bound Dorchester…?!

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Laura Gassner Otting (SheGives Founding Board Member amongst many other incredible titles like Founder, Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group, Board of Directors College Bound Dorchester) prompted us with this question: Hate Planks but Love College Bound Dorchester? She’s spearheading a Plank Competition to support College Bound Dorchester, one of our original slate of nonprofits, and has challenged us to form a SheGives Plank Team.  You can support college track programming for some of the toughest-to-reach kids in a community where less than one-quarter of the population has a college degree – all while getting beach body ready for summer weather – which by the looks of it outside, could be any month now?!

The concept is simple: Each person donates a minimum of $10.  We start on Monday, February 1 with 20 seconds, from wherever we want to plank — it’s totally virtual — and add a little more time each day.  On the last day, you see how long you can hold it.  Half of the proceeds go to College Bound Dorchester, a quarter go to whichever planker holds for the longest overall, and a quarter goes to captain of the team with the most overall minutes.  More plankers means more money for College Bound! To sign up, read about the challenge, the rules and where to send your $$$ click here | Read more about CBD here.

Article by Kirstan Barnett.

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WhoIsShe? SheGives Member Tamsen Webster

STAT BOX

SVP, Executive Communications and Coaching, Oratium; Executive Producer, TEDxCambridge

Grew up in the Philippines, Connecticut, Hawaii, San Diego, but (mostly) in Virginia Beach, VA -- Navy kid!

Mom/Stepmom to three boys, aged 11, 7, and 5

Can score a baseball game, thanks to being the Manager of the Varsity Boys' Baseball Team in high school

Worked for Weight Watchers for 15 years (13 years as a leader) after losing 50 pounds back in the late 1990s.

We know that Laura Gassner Otting brought you into SheGives. What do you like best about Laura?

Laura’s fearless. That’s what I love most about her. She sees something she likes or wants or thinks needs to happen, and she just does it. She also manages to do it with style and flair. She is the very definition of a dynamo.

What causes are near and dear to your heart?

Where I’m most interested is in organizations that help people realize their potential. The event at InnerCity Weightlifting was awesome—when the first student spoke about the impact of ICW, I was literally in tears. I just thought, “It’s amazing what can happen here.” That’s the kind of thing I love. I like to call it the power of possibility. You have to show someone what’s possible, and once they see what’s possible, there’s usually very little that gets in their way of getting there. InnerCity Weightlifting really speaks to me because it’s a way for kids to a) see that there’s another option b) see that there’s a clear path that works with who they are to achieving that other option. I’m a fan of anything that does that.

Is there a book/movie/play that has had a tremendous impact on you?

I’d say one of the most enduring pieces of art that did have an effect on me was a Stephen Sondheim musical, Sunday in the Park with George.

Probably one of my very favorite songs from the musical is a song called “Move On” and the lyrics go: “Stop worrying where you’re going/Move on/If you can know where you’re going/You’ve gone/Just keep moving on”

The whole song is just perfect for me. You just keep going. You might not know if what you’re doing is new or different, but I love the line: “Stop worrying it your vision is new/Let others make that decision-They usually do/You keep moving on.”

That’s been very formative— that spirit of how to approach life.

Who would be invited to your ideal dinner party?

Dorothy Parker, first and foremost. I’d also invite Diane von Furstenberg, Mark Twain, Martha Graham, Hans Rosling, who is this economist I love. My husband, of course.  Oh, and Ella Fitzgerald. She needs to be there. We’d need some entertainment.

What is your favorite trip you’ve ever taken?

That would be hard to choose. Each trip that I’ve taken has a different, awesome memory attached to it.

My favorite “see the world in new ways” trip was a trip I took with my family over the holidays when I was still in college. It was to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Bali.

My father had been in the Navy; my parents had gone to Hong Kong when he was stationed in Japan, and they loved it. They had quite literally saved up their entire lives to take us with them on this trip back to Hong Kong. It was also the last trip my sister and I, along with our parents, took as just a family of four—it was the last trip before there were boyfriends and husbands.

Each of the cities we visited was just a completely foreign experience to anything I had seen before. I mean, Hong Kong was like landing in Blade Runner. It was the coolest trip and was so formative.

I also have so many memories tied up in New York—that’s where my husband and I got married, and that’s where we escape to if we need an escape. New York to me is essentially like a neighborhood of Boston. New Yorkers would be horrified to hear me say that. But to my husband and I, it’s like “should we go out to dinner in the North End or should we take a trip to New York?”

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SheGives Members Break a Sweat at InnerCity Weightlifting

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SheGives members gathered in Kendall Square in Cambridge on Monday to participate in a workout and to listen to Jon Feinman, Founder and Executive Director of InnerCity Weightlifting (ICW), discuss his organization and the positive changes it is making in Boston. The Kendall Square ICW is a small gym tucked into a corner of the Square, but already it has made a big impact. Its goal is to keep at-risk youth off the streets and out of jails, while giving them the opportunity to develop skills and connections for future employment.

After some light stretching and strength training exercises, Feinman began the talk with an alarming statistic: less than 1% of Boston’s youth are responsible for 70% of the gun violence in the Boston area. He added that cities with the highest crime rates tend to be the ones that have the highest levels of segregation. The young people his organization attracts often come from households that have incomes of less than $10,000 a year, and they struggle daily with the poverty and violence in their communities. These are the youths who are “pushed to the outside, where there is no opportunity,” Feinman said.

Feinman, who grew up in a middle class home in Amherst, sought to address these issues by opening InnerCity Weightlifting in 2010. ICW attracts at-risk youth to the gym by first gaining their trust, “not the other way around,” Feinman said. The organization then helps them to make positive changes and learn valuable personal training skills, all while providing them with financial and educational resources and a place where, Feinman says, “they don’t have to look over their shoulders.” These are all vital parts of ICW’s Student Apprenticeship Program, in which students gain job experience and have the opportunity to earn a certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. They can then get hired at ICW, or they can apply their personal training skills to a position at another facility.

Feinman also created ICW to create personal and professional connections between different members of the community; students can then use these networks at ICW for career advancement. The relationships formed also give students confidence and a sense of hope for the future. Mac, a trainer at the Kendall Square location, described ICW as “like a big brother,” that gave him the “guidance and structure” that he needed to get his life on track. Eric, another trainer at the Kendall Square location, was grateful to ICW’s donors and supporters. “I’m making a decent living because of all of your support,” he said.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, InnerCity Weightlifting now operates in two facilities–the Kendall Square location opened in May and the other is in Dorchester. ICW currently has 156 students, but Feinman plans to expand in 2016: “What’s exciting about 2016,” Feinman said, “is that we’re trying to double our staff, and increase the number of students and clients we serve.” It recently met a $50,000 matching goal, which was matched by the Devonshire Foundation. In addition to expanding the number of personnel and students, Feinman hopes to use the new funds to open two new sites in the Boston area, specifically in areas near the boundaries between the wealthy and the at-risk.

Feinman’s ambitions, however, are grander than the city of Boston. Eric and Mac both mentioned another cornerstone of Feinman’s philosophy: “breaking down barriers.” By connecting different members of the Boston community, Feinman hopes to foster connections that will help create a “national shift in perception.” The long-term goal is to expand into other cities by 2019; Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are prime targets due to their high levels of segregation. His method is very simple, Feinman said: “For all the complicated solutions, the one that seems to work the best…is understanding. When people know each other…everything looks different. That’s ultimately what we do.”

You can learn more about InnerCity Weightlifting by visiting their web site. You can also follow them on Twitter or Facebook for information on how to get involved.

Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below. 

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SheGives Members Get Educated on Safe Skin Care at Follain

shegivesfollain730Over twenty SheGives members and friends attended Monday night’s Festive@Follain event in Beacon Hill, where they shopped, learned all about the healthy beauty products that Follain—which is Gaelic for “healthy, wholesome, and sound”—offers, and discussed the issues facing the beauty industry today.

Walking into Follain’s Beacon Hill location, one immediately feels welcomed by the calm, relaxed environment and the eager customer service reps, who, according to Founder and CEO Tara Foley, are all taught with a 300-page training manual when hired. Each is abundantly knowledgeable about the chemicals found in our everyday beauty products.

Foley says her primary goal for the store is to share this knowledge with the public. “Every time someone walks in the door, we know they’ve been educated,” she says. She will begin talking to women by asking them how many products they use a day, and if they are aware of the lack of federal regulation of the chemicals in those products. In some cases, women will walk in with a makeup bag full of products and walk out having swapped each product for a safe option.

Foley began educating SheGives members and guests Monday night by talking about the harmful chemicals that can appear in common skincare products in the United States. There are many chemicals that are banned in other countries, she says, but they continue to be used in the United States. According to Foley, these chemicals can cause health problems when they bio-accumulate, or become concentrated in the body. “Our skin doesn’t have a liver to digest stuff like that, so it goes right into our bloodstream,” Foley said. She also cited a direct link between the chemicals found in many deodorants and breast cancer.

Her solution? “Safer products.” Foley became passionate about finding safer beauty products in 2009, when she started reviewing products on her blog. At that time, she says, there were not enough brands to open a store. After reviewing the stores in the area that included safe products, she received positive feedback and decided to quit her job and move to France to work on an organic lavender farm. “I spent the next four years on a journey learning about skincare, learning about sustainability, learning about business,” she said. Upon her return to the United States, she enrolled in an MBA program at Babson College and, after graduating, opened her first store in the south end of Boston in 2013, despite her professors’ assertions that opening a brick-and-mortar store was “a terrible idea.”

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She now has four stores that carry products from 47 brands. All products are screened to ensure that they are safe and environmentally sustainable, and all products are made in the U.S. and are not tested on animals. But Foley’s only getting started. “This is a growing movement,” says Foley. “A third of these brands didn’t exist in 2009.” And the issue has been getting attention: on November 29 of this year, columnist Nicholas Kristof posted an opinion piece in the New York Times comparing the skincare industry to the tobacco industry in that both have powerful lobbies that resist legislative change.

Foley seeks to make her customers more aware of this issue. “Our goal is to shift a mindset on skincare products,” says Foley. Many women, she says, come into the store after being affected in some way by the negative consequences of these products, and she wants to start educating people before this happens. If you want to start using safer skin care products, you can make an appointment at any of their locations, attend a makeup tutorial, and follow them on social media for other events. You can also read Tara Foley’s blog and learn more about their products at the Follain web site.

Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below.  

 

All photos courtesy of SLY Photography

 

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Boston Herald Covers Lovin’ Spoonfuls Tailgate Party

(Boston, MA 112215 ) Thomas M. Menino Award for Leadership honoree Andrew Zimmern poses for a photograph with Lovin' Spoonfuls Executive Director Ashley Stanley after the award presentation during the Ultimate Tailgate Party hosted by Lovin' Spoonfuls at Black Falcon Terminal in Boston, Massachusetts November 22, 2015. Staff Photo by Chitose Suzuki

Photo: Chitose Suzuki of the Boston Herald

Lovin’ Spoonfuls is in the news! The Boston Herald covered Sunday night’s Ultimate Tailgate Party, where over $200,000 was raised. You can read the full article here.

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Elisabeth Jackson of BOTW Addresses SheGives Members

bridges034Elisabeth Jackson, Executive Director of Bridge Over Troubled Waters, spoke with over 40 SheGives members and their guests on Monday night about the life-changing services that Bridge provides. Bridge, a new non-profit on the SheGives slate for this year, serves 3,000 homeless young people each year. They offer a free mobile medical van, transitional housing, a winter shelter, and many other services for homeless youth in the Greater Boston Area.

Jackson began our discussion with the stories of June and Arlene. They were only two of the many homeless youths in Boston, but when they came to Bridge they were treated as unique individuals. Their program is “Very individual,” says Jackson. “We don’t have to cookie-cut them.” She emphasized the important connections that the adults at Bridge make with the kids to help them transition into independent living, with a particular stress on learning life skills.

For Jackson, a vital part of the operation is their youth shelter that is open from November to April. Adult shelters can be dangerous, she says, for young people, so it is important that they have a safe place to go. “The first thing I want to do is keep you safe,” says Jackson. 135 youths used the shelter last year, and, when asked what she would do for her organization if she had more funds, she did not hesitate: “more beds.” The shelter was a lifesaver for those youths who needed a warm bed during last year’s brutal winter.

The most visible service that Bridge provides is the mobile medical van that you may have seen in the Boston area. You can read more about the van here.

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Jackson left us with the most important lesson that they teach the kids they serve: self-worth. Bridge Over Troubled Waters strives to help give homeless youths the ability to take good care of themselves, and puts no other priority before the kids. “We’re not tied to the child welfare system,” says Jackson, “we’re not tied to the court system, we’re not tied to anyone but our individual donors that support us and want us to make sure each kid gets the individual attention they need.”

Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below.  

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Scroll through the arrows for more photos!

 

All photos courtesy of SLY Photography

You can also learn more about BOTW at their web site.

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WhoIsShe? SheGives Member Janet Wu

STAT BOX

News Anchor/Reporter

Op-Ed, Essayist and Travel Writer

Attended Yale, Columbia and Harvard

Has traveled to 60 countries, 12 of them alone

Was named a Girl Scouts Leading Woman of the Year for 2015

Has trekked around Everest, K2 and summited Kilimanjaro.

Who brought you into SheGives? What do you like best about her?

I’m lucky to be personal friends with many SheGives members including Mira Genser and Ellie Chu. It was “Love at first meeting” with Kirstan. I admire how she channeled loss and grief into positive actions to make the world a better place. What’s better than that?

What causes are near and dear to your heart?

My world travels show me the dark side where too many people live. I think of girls who are forced into prostitution, slavery and bad marriages simply because of where and how they were born. How many other Malalas will be deprived of education and denied the simple right of speaking out? How many kidnapped Kenyan school girls will never grow up, experience a sense of accomplishment and joy?

Internationally and locally, we need to stop the cycle of abuse and domestic violence. It is a scourge that perpetuates itself in many costly and damaging ways.

Do you have a favorite SheGives memory?

I remember feeling exhilarated at the very first nonprofit presentation when we vetted Lovin’ Spoonfuls at Myers & Chang. I later gushed to friends about the evening. A male friend remarked,”Guys give by pointing to the next guy and asking ‘How much did he give?’ You women are superior to us.” Right then, I knew Kirstan and the founding board had created something extraordinary, and I was privileged to be a part of it.

Would you like to share about anything you’re currently working on?

I am expanding my work as a writer, and I find myself pondering the emotional difficulties affecting so many of my friends and colleagues.

By definition, happiness is fleeting so we shouldn’t expect to be happy all the time, but why are so many people depressed, despite having expansive and privileged lives? We need to find contentment within a society that is filled with noise, self imposed stress and unrealistic expectations.

I am obsessed with that process and writing about it.

What book had a tremendous impact on you?

It’s too hard to name just one! Jane Eyre made me fall in love with reading and the joys of a great story told through the craft of a great writer.

The Greek play Antigone by Sophocles had a great impact on my intellect. Here is a female character written 2 thousand years ago who defied the pressures and laws of society for her sense of duty and loyalty. The story is an allegory on the idea of a moral compass.

Who would be invited to your ideal dinner party?

Leonardo DeVinci. Who wouldn’t want the ultimate “Renaissance man” at the table? He could be the most brilliant person to ever walk the face of this earth.

Johannes Brahms. I love music and he composed my absolute favorite classical piece. His 2nd Piano Concerto was actually panned at its debut. I’d love to ask him about that and thank him again for composing it.

Dorothy Parker. We share the same snarky sense of humor. She’d keep the conversation lively.

Catherine The Great. If we’re going to discuss politics, why not kick it old school? I would corner her to ask if all that stuff in her biography was true.

And I’d invite all of you so we could hear the answers.

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