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Bad Criminals

Posted on 8/30/2007 4:47:53 PM

stealing from people's goodwillIs there an anti-charity thief loose in Michiana? First on Monday someone broke into a house and stole $3,400 raised by the Elkhart fire department for muscular dystrophy patients. Then yesterday someone broke into the house of a relative of Zachary Combs, a 5-year-old battling cancer, and stole $1,700 raised at benefit events for Zachary and his family. In both cases the money was stolen before those who raised it had an opportunity to deposit it in a bank.

As Zachary's grandmother said, "God will handle this." You can read more about Zachary in an article here, which mentions an account set up at Fifth Third Bank for those who want to donate.

Great Maps of Michiana

Posted on 8/17/2007 11:01:07 AM

I’ve always liked maps, but with the emergence of google maps and online satellite imagery, maps have become even more fascinating. I have compiled a list of online maps that may be of interest to anyone living in the Michiana area. All of these were selected because they provide a lot of information for the Michiana area. Some of them work with Google Maps and require you to set up a Google log-in. This is a quick, painless, and free process and gets you lots of other benefits as well if you haven’t done it already.

Helping America’s Youth Map. This map has information about local agencies and resources for helping youth. You can see all the Boys & Girls Clubs, police stations, Head Start agencies, and lots of other local agencies that could help youth. Just type in the place name and then click on View Resources and select what agencies you want to see.

Bridges MapBridges Map. After the bridge collapse in Minnesota, everyone has suddenly taken an interest in how safe their local bridges are. Generally people only worry about these things for a short time before the shock wears off and the media moves on to other stories, but you might as well take a look at the data available for the bridges you drive over all the time. (The bridge I use daily has a 96.5% sufficiency level, but that’s one of the highest ratings I saw anywhere.) You have to manually zoom into the area you want to see. has many local walking and running routes mapped out along with the distances computed. You can share your own routes or use their calculator to find things like average speed and calories burnt during your run. Michiana has quite a few routes on there so check it out. (Google log-in required)

Gas Buddy Map has the current gas prices of local stations put on one map so you can search around for the lowest price. Definitely useful when you are planning on making a trip somewhere. You have to click on the "My Maps" tab and then check the box next to "Gas Prices from" to see the local gas stations on the map.

WiFi Map will show you the places where open wireless networks are reported in your area so you can essentially use the internet for free. I’m a big fan of free wifi places, especially ones like Panera that have free coffee refills as well.

Weather MapFinally, Weather Bonk has mapped their current temperatures and weather reports on a map so you can see how weather fluctuates and travels across an area. (Google log-in required)

Back to School Time

Posted on 8/15/2007 4:04:13 PM

This week marks the beginning of the school year for most high school students in the Michiana area. Last month the South Bend Tribune partnered with WSBT to raise the awareness of the need of mentors in the South Bend School Corporation. Here are some numbers you should know:

1 Hour The amount of time required a week to mentor a child. The Mentoring Dream Team is looking for mentors to eat lunch with a child once a week at the child's school.

52% A 2000 study found that youth who are successfully matched with an adult are 52% less likely to skip school. Another 2007 study on school-based mentoring reports that students with mentors showed improvement in overall academic performance, quality of class work, and feelings of competence academically.

65.9% The graduation rate of Riley High School, according to the new formula employed by Indiana this year, for the class of 2005-2006. Adams, Clay, and Washington reported rates of 69.4%, 71.8%, and 70% respectively. The Indiana state average was 76.5%.

6,000 The number of mentors that the South Bend School Corporation is currently searching for to match with students. For only an hour a week, could you be one of those mentors?

You can read more about mentoring here before getting an application here. There is an hour-long training session for new mentors on Monday, August 27 at 5:30PM. More training sessions will be offered throughout the year if you cannot attend that one.

When so many local students fail to complete high school, it's a problem that can have a long-lasting effect on a community in the form of increased poverty, crime, and healthcare costs for the uninsured. (All of Indiana's drop-outs from the class of 2006 alone cost the state more than $5.8 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetimes as well as $284 million in health costs) You can make a difference not just in your community but, more importantly, in the life of one student by applying to be a mentor today.

UPDATE: Here is a video from youtube that covers the need for mentors, courtesy of the WSBT/Tribune series earlier this summer.

How to be Happier

Posted on 8/9/2007 5:02:19 PM

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."


Is happiness really that important to you? If it is, you're in the right place: according to a recent article, researchers have found that giving leads to a happier, healthier life. If you want to find instant happiness, then, I would advise that you to spend some time on this page. It could be the happiest thing you do all day. There are over 260 agencies on our site that would love to help you find that happiness!

happy guyThere is quite a bit of research showing that while higher incomes may yield higher reports of happiness, what is required to reach those higher incomes could be very costly. Things like volunteering, church attendance, and relationships with friends and families are found to be more crucial to happiness, and these things tend to suffer when people work longer hours and begin to feel rushed to do more. That's why even though Americans have seen increased prosperity and significant improvements in standard of living conditions over the past 30 years, they were actually happier 30 years ago. So how do you avoid this American happiness decline? Just make a visit to this page or this page and increase your happiness with a few clicks. You'll probably increase someone else's happiness at the same time.

Joining the Blogforce

Posted on 8/7/2007 5:34:48 PM

After a brief recess during the transition period, the Make a Difference blog is officially back in action! My name is Andrew Lynn and I am the new Programming Director at Make a Difference Michiana. I am excited to work with Mary and the rest of the Board of Directors to continue Make a Difference's work in connecting non profit organizations with resources and people in the community. When I joined Make a Difference in January as an intern, I quickly learned that a community like Michiana benefits greatly from a non profit sector that maintains a highly-visible presence on the internet. The 72,000 web visits we see each month attest to the need for a one-stop website for people to find services or ways to help and get involved. I am glad to be a part of providing that service.

In the coming weeks we will be laying out more and more details of our Social Networking initiative, which I promise you isn't nearly as complex as the name sounds. It is, however, an innovative way for our website to serve you more effectively. At the same time we will continue to provide all of our current services to those who want to play a role in making a difference.

To Blog or Not to BlogFrom time to time I'll be posting on the blog about articles, events, and web resources that fit into Make a Difference's mission, as well as updates on what I have been up to lately, much like Mary has done in the past. I also hope to generate some conversation about things happening in our community, as well as new developments on the internet and in the non profit sector. If the blog concept is new to you or if you are considering starting a blog for your own organization, I certainly hope you find our blog to be a resource to you.

Be sure to keep your eye on the Non Profits in the News page that is updated daily with articles about different non profits in Michiana. That's it for now --as always, feel free to post a comment below (logging in only takes a few seconds)!

(Cartoon courtesy of


Andrew Lynn