The Boston Marathon

American Red Cross

Our hearts go out to those affected by the tragedy yesterday at the Boston Marathon. Here are some resources for those who want to help or need assistance.

Hop online. Send tweets using the hashtag #BostonHelp to offer or request assistance of any kind. You can stay up-to-date on breaking news and show your support by liking the Facebook page R.I.P. for Boston Marathon Victims 2013. The #RunChat group is also encouraging people to wear blue and yellow, the Boston Marathon colors, to show support.

Share your digs. has set up a Google Doc for those offering a place to stay, and for those who are displaced and need a place to stay in Boston.

Let someone know. The Red Cross Safe & Well page allows those affected to register themselves in their database as unharmed. Family or friends can search this database to check in on loved ones.


Get involved. The Salvation Army will be offering food, beverages and crisis counseling for those affected by this tragedy. Learn more here.

One last note – be careful. The Better Business Bureau has issued a release urging donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others. Read the full story.

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The Rumpshaker 5K

Last month marked the 5th Annual Rumpshaker 5K – a family-friendly street race in Birmingham, Alabama. Each year, thousands turn out to pound the pavement in honor of the late Lisa Martz, a well-known Birmingham resident who battled colon cancer for nearly four years before sadly passing away in 2007. Inspired by her bravery and perseverance, friends and family of Martz founded Rumpshaker, Inc. – an organization designed to educate and raise awareness about colon cancer (check out their inflatable colon!).

Rumpshaker Inc. hopes to honor Martz’s memory by advocating for those living with colon cancer today, and encouraging regular screenings for those at-risk. Their message is simple: take a day to save your life.

This year, because the Rumpshaker 5K fell on Easter weekend, the team incorporated a “Bunny Hop” 1 Mile race before the 5K in addition to a whole slew of Easter-themed activities and games.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a day like this calls for a lot of helping hands. This year’s Rumpshaker 5K signed up over 150 volunteers for the big event. “Prior to using VolunteerLocal, we used a different volunteer module which was more complicated for both our volunteer manager and our volunteers,” says Amanda Vandegrift, President of Rumpshaker, Inc. and Race Director for the Rumpshaker 5K. “Volunteers had trouble navigating [the old system] and the manager had to maintain separate records for emailing and communicating with the volunteers.”

This year, Vandegrift and her team made the switch to VolunteerLocal. “The set-up was easy and it allowed us to give a lot of information to our potential volunteers on a nice and organized site,” she says. “We could easily see how many volunteer spots were open for each volunteer job and we could easily track and communicate with our volunteers.”
Vandegrift adds, “one of the features we liked the most was the confirmation email that was sent to our volunteers when they signed up.” Want to learn more? Visit their website.
Photos courtesy of the Rumpshaker 5K

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Alzheimer’s Association

It’s tempting to want to believe that Alzheimer’s disease only happens in movies and tragic romance novels (looking at you, Nicholas Sparks), but the dark reality is that Alzheimer’s has affected our friends, families and grandparents more than many realize. In fact, the threat of diagnosis is higher today than ever before. “Between 2000-2010, other diseases have gone down anywhere between 2-10%,” says Chantelle Mathany, the Development & Communications Coordinator for the Greater Iowa Chapter Alzheimer’s Association. “In that same time frame, Alzheimer’s has risen 68%.”

Every 68 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Thanks to the good work of people like Chantelle Mathany, however, there is hope for a brighter future – a world without Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. “We provide programs and services such as a 24/7 toll-free helpline, support groups, and community education,” says Mathany. “We also engage in advocacy initiatives and research activities to both help those living with Alzheimer’s today and those who may be at-risk.”

The Greater Iowa Chapter was a grassroots endeavor. Originally started by groups of dedicated caregivers from across the state to share best-practices and support one another, they eventually merged to form a nationally-affiliated chapter headquartered in Central Iowa. The Greater Iowa Chapter now provides programs and services in 63 Iowa and Illinois counties, with four outreach offices and, of course, the Chapter
headquarters in West Des Moines.

The Greater Iowa Chapter uses VolunteerLocal to manage their volunteers; it’s especially helpful during the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraisers. “Organizing volunteers was a nightmare before VolunteerLocal,” says Mathany. “Now, I don’t have to send five emails to each individual and update Excel spreadsheets three times a day.” The biggest benefit, says Mathany, is the ability to list all volunteer opportunities online in one place: “Volunteers can customize their experience based on their availability and interest.”

Find a Walk near you, or volunteer locally today!

Photo courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association

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