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Archives for November 2017

U.S. charitable giving map: How and where Americans donate

Tracking donations and volunteer time is an inexact science. There are millions of donations and volunteer hours that go unnoticed and uncounted in every community. That being said, large nonprofits and charity events track hours, and now nearly one-third of U.S. citizens itemize their tax returns to reflect their charitable giving amounts.

So let’s dive into the overall health of charitable giving in the United States of America. How does your state stack up?

The formula

For many charities, cash giving from individuals supplies the vast majority of their operating costs. And with 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the U.S, it can get competitive. The Chronicle of Philanthropy calculated out the ratio of adjusted gross income given to charity per household in every U.S. county. The “adjusted” qualifier means they’ve taken out certain necessities such as business and medical expenses and contributions to retirement plans. This is as close a metric to get a sense of where each state stands relative to each other and the nation cumulatively. It eliminated any skewing due to population size or income level.

However, there certainly are some flaws. This metric, and any other credible statistic, only takes into account legally claimed and itemized cash contributions. If you are one of the around 68% of Americans who never itemize donations on your tax return, then you are not included in this study. That disproportionately leaves out many low income families and families that do not have access to a professional tax professional. So undoubtedly these metrics will skew higher for wealthier states with smaller and more educated populations.

The charitable giving map

Who guessed Utah? The western state is %1.5 higher than the second most charitable state, Mississippi. A closer look at Utah is in order. A possible explanation for Utah’s large giving ratio is found in Utah’s large Mormon population. Many Mormons follow a strict tithing policy of 10% annually. That would certainly drive up the percentage of adjusted income. Utah is also a Republican-leaning state, and according to a study from WalletHub, Republican-leaning states raise more funds for non-profits.

And at a measly 1.85% is New Hampshire. New Hampshire trends in all the opposite directions. It has a low percentage of church-going residents, a smaller per capita median income, and is a Democratic stronghold. Al of these could very well be just a coincidence, but the Northeast states in general did not fair well in The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s report.

Trends and interesting findings

New England, overall, fared very poorly. Rounding out the bottom five are New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The only state from the Northeast to make the top 30 was New York.

Southern hospitality takes the crown in the study. Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas are all in the top 15 for giving ratio. Many of these Southeast states have a large majority of blue collar families. Families with incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 a year donate roughly 40% more than those with larger, upper middle class incomes.

Trusting a charity

Often times people are suspicious of donating to charities with fears of being scammed. Reputable charitable organizations will work diligently to achieve your trust. Recently nine charities within Northeast Wisconsin received the highest rating possible on Charity Navigator, a recognized independent resource and evaluator of charitable organizations. Rawhide Boys Ranch is honored to be recognized as a top charity and thank our donors for their continued support.

Volunteering vs donations

Utah also takes the top spot in annual time spent volunteering per capita, nearly doubling up second place Wisconsin in volunteer hours per capita. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge at the top of the volunteer rankings with states representing every geographical region of the US. In the top 10 is South Dakota, Virginia, New York, Wyoming, Nebraska, Washington, and Oklahoma.

Kentucky, Arkansas, and Rhode Island barely broke one-fourth of the hours Utah donated to helping charities. At 47 is Mississippi, who apparently prefer to give money over their time. Alabama, Texas, and Georgia also landed in the bottom 20 despite large giving ratios.

The state of U.S. charitable giving is strong

Overall these maps are extremely positive and inspirational. We have a gluttony of dedicated, passionate Americans accomplishing great things through nonprofits and other charity. To all who have sacrificed and supported a nonprofit through either your time or money, thank you! It takes a lot of hands to lift up even one charitable cause, and in the U.S. we have nonprofits representing an uncountable number of causes. United States nonprofits contribute over $878 billion to the economy each year (over 5% of our GDP), employ 11.4 million people, and impact the lives millions of people in every state.

A day spent serving hungry folks at your local shelter is crucial. A morning picking up trash on the side of the highway is vital. An afternoon reading to children at the library is transformative. A night taking some local kids to a basketball game is life-altering. Little sacrifices, a fraction of your week, has the power to positively alter the future of our country and planet.

For more info…Check out our volunteering series.

17 community service ideas to make your teen love volunteering

Volunteer opportunities for teens on the rise

The DIY oil change [INFOGRAPHIC]

It’s that time—again? Perhaps many things come to mind when you hear that phrase, but it’s time (drum roll please) for an oil change! OK, so maybe it’s not the most exciting item on your to-do list, but it is important and everyone knows why. Or do they?

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Oil change 101

Regular oil changes are a key factor in keeping a vehicle running smoothly. Think of oil as a vehicle’s lifeblood. Without oil an engine stands no chance of survival. But things are not that cut and dried. Oil changes need to be done on a timely schedule or major engine damage can occur. Why? Because engine oil has a big job to do and while carrying out these duties it can break down. Oil lubricates your car engine and acts as a cushioning film between metal parts. As it carries away the heat of friction, oil cools the engine neutralizing acids and preventing corrosion. In a nutshell, routine and on-schedule oil changes reduce the risk of sludge buildup and make an engine last.

Routine oil changes don’t have to be complicated even though car technology keeps advancing. Many car owners prefer to perform oil changes themselves finding the process to be quick, simple, and cost effective. The first rule of thumb is determining how often a car’s oil needs to changed. The best and most important thing to do is check your owner’s manual. It is the vehicle maintenance rulebook. Following the rulebook is crucial in a world governed by synthetic oils, efficient vehicles, and oil light sensors. Routine oil changes are important even for low mileage vehicles because oil needs to be kept fresh.

What happens after you’ve determined it is time to change the oil? You need the right oil and right filter. Choose the oil first and the filter next. Again, refer to the car owner’s manual for guidance. Carmaker’s oil recommendations may also be stamped on the car’s oil cap. Thin oil, like 5W, pumps well when cold but thins when hot. Thicker oil, like 30W, does not thin when hot but is nearly impossible to pump when cold. Multi-viscosity oil, such as 5W-30, gives the best of both worlds. These are very general guidelines, so always follow the carmaker’s recommendations! Substituting recommended oil viscosity with personal preference could lead to engine damage, poor performance, or a “check engine” warning.

“Using the wrong oil viscosity is the single most common cause of premature engine wear.”

DIY experts of the Family Handyman Magazine

Always match the oil filter to the oil viscosity. Filters come in different quality levels comparable to good, better, and best.  Lower rated oils match up fine with a lower rated filter. Likewise, higher rated or synthetic oils require a higher quality filter.

The process

There are some guidelines to follow before beginning an oil change. A cold car engine should be run for 5 minutes or so to warm the oil. A hot car engine should be cooled for at least 30 minutes. Remember safety first when performing a DIY oil change. Drive the vehicle onto a level and protected surface. Place the car in park, apply the parking brake, and remove the keys. Using proper jacking and blocking techniques, safely support and secure the vehicle. After this crucial step is checked off the list, you are ready to begin.

  • Put the following tools in a small box: safety glasses, box-end wrench, rubber mallet, filter wrench, drain pan, new filter, and rags. You will need these when working under the car.
  • Smear clean oil on the new oil filter’s gasket.
  • Put on safety glasses and slide underneath the car.
  • Place drain pan underneath oil plug.
  • Carefully unscrew the drain plug using a box-end wrench and rubber mallet if needed. Do not use an adjustable wrench or too much force to prevent stripping!
  • Allow old oil to completely flow into drain pan.
  • Remove oil filter and rubber gasket using a filter wrench.
  • Wipe oil filter housing clean.
  • Install new oil filter and tighten snuggly by hand. Do not use a filter wrench.
  • Install new gasket on drain plug if required. Tightly reinstall drain plug using box-end wrench.
  • Clean up any oil drips with rag.
  • Refill engine using a funnel.
  • Run engine briefly.
  • After a few minutes check dipstick and add oil if needed.
  • Pour used oil into a container and recycle it.

 

You have now completed a do it yourself oil change. There is just one more thing. Oil is not the only fluid in your vehicle, so don’t forget to maintain the others. This is the perfect opportunity to top off washer, brake, transmission, and other fluids as well. Always check with a trusted auto technician if you have any vehicle maintenance questions.

Treatment foster care is changing lives one boy and girl at a time

He woke up thinking maybe today would be different, perhaps better. His to-do list was pretty much routine by now. Get the kids up. Find them something clean to wear. Check their homework. Make sure they are fed. Walk everyone to school. Maybe even squeeze in a shower himself before planning tonight’s dinner and leaving for the day. But first he had to check on his mom whose bedroom was down the hall. At least that’s where she should be. His adrenaline began to pump as he wondered whether she came home last night.

What will he find on the other side of that door? Will she be conscious? What if she had finally overdosed?  Or will this be the day the police come knocking on the front door to take her away? He has huge burdens to endure at 16 years old, but he doesn’t have the capability to make it any better.

Drug abuse triggers a child’s cry for help

Many youth live in a world filled with this kind of trauma and uncertainty. They don’t know what life could have been – or should have been – because their parents are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Many minors live in homes of filth and neglect where drug paraphernalia and empty heroin bags are hidden about. Sometimes they witness their parent overdose, as was the case when two very young Portage County children were in the car with their mother as she pulled to the side of the road and died in front of them.

Children affected by parent overdose

The number of drug-related endangerment cases is rising significantly across Wisconsin. One in every five parent-child separations reported to the state in 2015 involved drugs. In 2016, several counties including Fond du Lac, Portage, Marathon, and La Crosse have reported that drug abuse separations have doubled from averages over the past several years combined. In Outagamie County, neglect and parent or caretaker incarceration or drug use are currently some top reasons kids are placed into foster care. Repeated times the neglect is not deliberate. Perhaps a child’s parent or guardian was hospitalized due to poorly treated mental illness or the family was having socioeconomic problems. Whatever the circumstance, these youth live in an unsafe home environment and someone needs to step in and help.

Foster care programs are set up to temporarily support children in need and provide stable environments until they can be reunified with their own family. All too often we hear negative stories about the foster care system while success stories seem to fall by the wayside. Foster parents are vital in providing a strong family environment and stable foundation to neglected youth.  They give children a safe haven, which is a life altering and often times a lifesaving gift.

Foster Care parents help youth

The Rawhide foster care difference

The need for foster care parents in Wisconsin continues to rise. Tammy Curtis, Treatment Foster Care Manager at Rawhide, states there are currently 8,000 Wisconsin youth in out-of-home care. None of these children are receiving parental care. Tammy explains that foster parents are pivotal in providing understanding, healthy guidance, and a loving home to children who have endured trauma, also known as adverse childhood experiences or ACEs. Foster care parents provide support for a child. They are the ones who cheer on the child at sporting events and awards ceremonies during times when the bleachers would otherwise be empty. Foster parents make a difference when many children are going through the worst times of their lives.

Teen Girl in difficult home life

Rawhide’s Treatment Foster Care program is distinct. Parent education and training are a key component. All of our foster care parents hold college degrees. Before becoming foster parents they receive 60 hours of training for Level 3 and Level 4 care. This is more training than foster care licensure requires. A great deal of time goes into matching the right child with the right home through home visits. We want the child’s personality to be a good match to those in the home so parents are able to connect to their foster child as if he or she is their own. Foster care offers these children opportunities for family together time. For many, this is the first time they get up together with both parents, eat together as a family, and are able to enjoy the little things that dysfunctional homes simply don’t have.

Each and every foster care child comes from a unique home situation and circumstance. He or she is not a number – he or she is a child. Rawhide provides foster care to girls and boys throughout Wisconsin and is committed to helping youth and families in need.

If you would like more information on our Treatment Foster Care Program or are interested in becoming a foster care parent with Rawhide, please call 1-888-745-7445 or e-mail Tammy Curtis at tcurtis@rawhide.org.