Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday: Paws of War

It's Giving Tuesday, a day to provide generously to those less fortunate during the holiday season. As part of my list of charities for the coming year, here's one for animal lovers and patriots alike.

Paws of War rescues dogs from shelters around the country and trains them to become service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury.

They're an all-volunteer organization and all donations go directly to the dogs and the vets.

They also offer low cost vaccinations (free for veterans!) to the public's pets.

Be a hero for someone who's already proved him/herself a hero to us. Please give.



Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Friday, November 18, 2016

Giving: The Second Half of Thanksgiving

Many years ago, when I was a young teen, my dad lost his job right before the holiday season. We were a big family, living on my father's meager income and supplementing that income with our own homegrown fruits and vegetables and fish from the local waters. But to lose that income in the middle of autumn didn't make it easy for us to subsist, and then, of course, there were the upcoming holidays.

I remember sitting in my family dining room with my mom one night, planning the homemade gifts we could make (I had just learned how to sew in Home Ec at school) when there was a knock on our back door. When Dad opened it, the first thing I saw was a ginormous basket wrapped in plastic and tied with a huge golden bow. Friends and neighbors had taken up a collection for us and presented us with everything we needed for a Thanksgiving dinner: a turkey, stuffing, nuts and fruit, two pre-baked pies, and even a bottle of wine. I'll never forget the expressions on my parents' faces: an enormous weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Even as a cynical teenager, I was moved by the sheer generosity and kindness shown to us that night. It's why I always strive to give as much as I can during the holiday season.  

There's a food drive going on in my area of the state today for Island Harvest, a local foodbank. If you're a Long Island resident, please visit their website and make a contribution to help ease the holiday stress for a family or two. If you're not on Long Island and want to help someone near you, find a local foodbank or pantry in your area.

I just want you to remind you: kids are poor, too. They can't do much to help, but your help can ease their parents' burdens a little bit and maybe, put a smile on an otherwise stressed face. Give generously. Choose love.

Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When It's Time to Change

Notice anything different? 

Yep. I've updated my blog...again. Over the years, I found the red and gold a little too heavy, through new updates I've discovered difficulty in getting the fonts at a good size, photos weren't popping up on social media the way I liked, and my social media share buttons had disappeared. So, for my benefit and yours, I spent some time cleaning and streamlining this haven for book news, recipes, and my outlook on the world.

This kind of minor upheaval is not that unusual for me. Every half-dozen years or so, I feel the need to declutter, to update, to make a few changes. It's not just online. I'll change my hairstyle (and color--more to come on that!), I'll clean out my closet and update my wardrobe, and I'll renovate a room in my house. 

Sometimes, like now, it coincides with my husband being out of the country. I think it has to do with a sudden switch in my priorities. If I'm not worried about cooking dinner or running errands, I can focus my energies elsewhere. Don't get me wrong. I'm not chained into the Happy Housewife role when he's around. It just seems to be easier to get things done when he's not underfoot or voicing opinions. 


Maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm closing in on The End on another book and I'm dragging my feet?

Yeah, that could be it, too.

Either way, look at my new blog! Ain't it pretty? What's next? Probably my website. Stay tuned.

Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Charity Spotlight: Trinity Place Shelter

Each month, I'll focus on one of the many charities out there doing good work, in the hope it will inspire you to give something back to those in need.

This month, meet Trinity Place Shelter. From their website: 

"...our mission is to help homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ*) youth and young adults in New York City to safely transition out of the shelter system and grow into independent, positive, and productive adults."

Over the last ten years, this shelter based in New York, has sought to provide a safe haven for LGBTQ youth through education, counseling, career guidance, and other benefits. Those with nowhere else to go can find a loving home and safe environment within their walls. Most of all, they receive *acceptance.* Residents learn they are worthy of respect and love and find the strength and support they need to become thriving adults.

Please take a moment to visit their website, learn about what they do, and how you can help!

Thank you. Remember, we're stronger together.

Find me on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Gina-Ardito/e/B001JSBY16

Friday, November 11, 2016

What Do We Do Now?

The election is over and many of us have been left stunned, horrified, or maybe a bit of both at the results. Since Wednesday morning, we've heard the comments to "get over it," "give him a chance," and "focus on 2018 or 2020." Sorry, but I don't think we can wait. Not with the potential for so much damage worldwide in the coming years.

I admit, I've always steered away from discussing politics on my blog and social media sites because I didn't want to alienate readers or writer friends who see things differently than I. But when it comes to people (whether I know them or not) suddenly facing the loss of their rights, their very humanity, under the country's new leadership, I can't remain silent. Book sales and readership don't mean squat if someone or a group of someones could have been helped by my speaking up about injustice and I kept silent to maintain my neutral position. That's not who I am.

Now, I'm a middle-aged white woman, an atheist, secure in my middle income life. I didn't vote for Trump; I headed for the Hills from the get-go because I honestly believed she was the best candidate for the job and never bought into the smear campaign that has dogged her for thirty years. So, technically, I don't have a lot to lose in the next four years. Except my self-respect if I sit back and do nothing for those who aren't as fortunate.

A few days ago, over on the Authors of Main Street blog, I asked everyone to join me and "Choose Love." Here, on my personal blog, I intend to elaborate on that ideal because, clearly, going around hugging strangers isn't going to help anyone. What is?

Action! Going forward, I'll be fighting in my own ways. I've always donated to my pet causes. Now, I plan to give more. To more organizations. On both a national and local scale.

No longer will I wait for the local Girl Scouts to take up a collection for the homeless outside my local supermarket, allowing me to buy a half dozen items from a prescribed list and leave, after handing over my piddly donation, feeling good about myself. No. I will buy an extra bag of groceries, health and beauty items, warm socks, etc. whenever I go shopping and turn those items over to my local shelters or pantries.

I'll donate time by volunteering. I will open myself up to those who need my help and pitch in wherever and however I can.

And most important of all, I will be watching. I won't tolerate bullies, ignorance, or selfishness from those I know. And when I see our politicians attempt to enact some heinous legislation, I won't just shake my head or chuckle along with my favorite liberal comedians on television and radio. I'll be contacting my representatives. I'll call them, write them, let them know that they don't represent the small sliver of society I'm a part of, but all of society. And P.S. not only do I vote, I post on social media and I name names.  

If they try to take away the right to decent medical care for twenty million citizens, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

If they try to delegitimize the marriages of half a million people, based on who they love, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

If they try to deport eleven million people who fled poverty and/or death threats for the chance at a better life, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

If they try to control women's rights to determine our own healthcare needs or worse, criminalize those decisions, I will do everything in my power to fight them.  

If they ignore the warnings about climate change and try to create legislation that will do more harm to the planet, I will do everything in my power to fight them.

I will use my voice, my pen, my money, and my vote to fight. And I'll be sharing much of this with you, friends. Here. On Facebook. On Twitter. In real life.

Care to join me? Feel free to tell me (here, on Facebook, on Twitter, in real life) about something you've done to turn the tide, and I'll find a way to reward you. Writers might receive a review, a free edit, a promo opportunity from me. Readers might get free books or their name in a book I write as a character or a dedication. Anyone could get a gift card or a sweet surprise. 

Choose Love and Fight Hate.

That's what we do now. We don't leave the country. We get up and we fight to be the country we always believed we were: full of hope, full of generosity, full of love of our fellow man.

Here are some places to start:

National Resources Defense Council

Lambda Legal

Feeding America

Fair Immigration Reform Movement

Human Rights Campaign

Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Planned Parenthood

Find Your Congress Representative

Contact Your Senator

and of course,

The Clinton Foundation

Thank you for reading.