Stay Connected Helping Communities Care For Seniors Mentor Students Fight Cancer Christmas Seals Grant Hill Stop MRSA Race With Insulin

Staying Connected During Emergencies

(NAPSI)-Putting a plan in place can help families stay connected with loved ones nearby and overseas, should an emergency strike.

Every year, people are separated from their relatives in an emergency, such as an earthquake, typhoon or armed conflict. Telephone, Internet and postal services are often disrupted, leaving loved ones miles or oceans apart with no way to communicate.

"The chaos and confusion that accompany these crises can separate families when they need each other most," said Kathleen Salanik, manager of family tracing with the American Red Cross.

Similarly, when people immigrate or seek refugee protection in the U.S., an ongoing conflict in their homeland often prevents them from staying in touch with those left behind. People forced to suddenly leave their country can struggle for months or years to reconnect.

Experts offer tips to help you reconnect if separation occurs:

  • Call during off-peak hours or send text messages, which can often work even if telephone lines are down.
  • Check social networking profiles, such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Contact employers, schools or religious centers where loved ones might go.
  • Use a free Internet-based tool, such as Safe and Well at, to send or search for messages from loved ones within the U.S.
  • Reach out to the U.S. State Department (1-888-407-4747) to inquire about loved ones with U.S. citizenship who are traveling or residing in another country.

Additionally, the Red Cross offers a free service to help reestablish communication between immediate relatives separated internationally by a war or disaster, and last year alone helped reconnect more than 860 families.

Local caseworkers work with families to find loved ones and send messages until normal communications can be restored. In places like refugee camps, such a message is often the only method of communication available, but the words "I am alive" may be all that is needed to ease the minds of distraught relatives half a world away.

In addition, to avoid stress and prolonged separation during an emergency, Salanik says to prepare a family communications plan in advance. Start by identifying a meeting place, carrying a list of telephone numbers and designating an out-of-area contact.

For more information about preparing an emergency communications plan and finding loved ones, visit or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

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Simple Ways To Make A Difference

(NAPSI)-Finding ways to "give back" to the community can be relatively easy, even when the economy is not the strongest.

That may be why, a Web site of the Corporation for National and Community Service, reports the formal volunteering rate in the U.S. has remained relatively stable--even as many families face hard financial times.

Indeed, something as simple as doing business with companies that give back to the community can make a difference, while often not costing consumers extra cash. Just look for companies that donate a percentage of proceeds to an important cause. With a little research, you'll likely find businesses with a corporate culture that constantly promotes the betterment of their community. For example, Subaru of America has donated new vehicles to local Red Cross chapters, given used vehicles to high-school automotive education classes and donated mountain bikes to local police departments.

This year, the company will once again run its unique "Share the Love" campaign, during which anyone who buys or leases one of its new vehicles can select one of five charities to receive a $250 donation from the automaker. Last year, the company donated $4.6 million as a result. More information on the program can be found at

You might also consider donating your old car or extra vehicle--especially one that doesn't get driven often or that is not in need of repairs--to charity. Many groups will either sell the vehicle for profit or use it for operations. Since vehicle donations are often tax-deductible, seek tips and guidance from a qualified source, such as Charity Navigator (, when donating a vehicle, boat or RV.

However you'd like to contribute, you should bear in mind that the smallest efforts can provide the biggest results for those in need.

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New Ways For Older Americans To Maintain Independence

(NAPSI)-The oldest baby boomers will turn 65 just two years from now--but they are not likely to follow previous generations of seniors into old folks' homes anytime soon.

These days, the average age of a nursing home resident is 82 and older Americans are insisting more and more that they be able to receive the care they need at home as long as they can. At the same time, the number of seniors living in America is expected to double to an estimated 71.5 million by 2030. This creates a tremendous demand for home- and community-based services for older people who require a certain level of care, but who demand the freedom to remain in their own homes or wherever else they choose to live.

Home- and community-based services can take a variety of different forms.

Community engagement programs can create an organized system that lets neighbors help neighbors. Volunteer banks--where one person "banks" a certain number of volunteer hours helping others in exchange for receiving assistance from other volunteers later on--have been successful in providing basic services that help seniors live independently for longer. This could be as simple as helping an older neighbor with shopping, yard work or minor home repairs.

For those needing a bit more help, home-based services provided by professionals include health care and help with daily activities such as medication management, medical equipment services or assisted living at home. Like community engagement programs, these services aim to help older people receive the help they need while remaining independent and living at home as long as possible.

Finally, Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, provide services at a central location, where seniors come during the day while continuing to live at home. Services provided at PACE centers include meals, medical care, therapy, prescription drug fulfillment and referral to other social services.

Volunteers of America--one of the nation's largest and oldest human service organizations--has served the needs of seniors for more than a century. It recently launched a new initiative called Aging with Options™ to transform the current elder care system and increase access to home- and community-based services. Volunteers of America is already a national leader in providing care and housing for seniors, and is the largest nonprofit provider of affordable senior housing, the fourth-largest nonprofit provider of skilled nursing care and the sixth-largest nonprofit provider of assisted living for seniors.

For more information about Aging with Options, visit or call (800) 899-0089.

Organizations like Volunteers of America are increasingly bringing services to seniors in their own homes and communities.

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Help Students Write A Better Future
As an online pen pal, you can encourage students
in underresourced areas to love reading

(NAPSI)-In2Books is an eMentoring program that helps third- through fifth-grade students build reading, writing and thinking skills through the support of online mentors.

Thousands of students across the country will be expecting pen pals this fall. In2Books is now signing up adult volunteers for the 2009-10 program.

Throughout the school year, pen pals and their matched students read five books across different genres and exchange online letters about the important issues in the books.

What does it take to be a pen pal? Volunteers must be able to dedicate a few hours a month and are required to pass a standard background check for which there is a nominal processing fee. The program's books can be found at libraries, bookshops or online bookstores.

To learn more about In2Books and to become a pen pal, visit

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Massage And Exercise Help Fight Breast Cancer In Surprising Ways

(NAPSI)-Massage and exercise are both popular ways people stay healthy, but this year they are joining forces to help the fight against breast cancer in a nontraditional way.

Massage and Breast Cancer

A growing body of research shows that massage can have serious health benefits for many people--including those battling breast cancer.

In a Mayo Clinic study published in the August 2009 Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, breast cancer patients receiving massage therapy reported a reduction in fatigue, creating a general feeling of wellness and an improvement in sleep quality and their ability to think clearly. A study at the Touch Research Institute showed that levels of "natural killer" cells and lymphocytes that help to battle cancerous tumors increased among breast cancer patients who received a massage three times a week.

"Massage therapy can often help alleviate pain and fatigue, which can make a huge difference in the overall feeling of wellness for those overcoming breast cancer," said Judy Stahl, national president of the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA). "As a breast cancer survivor myself, I know the difference massage can make when going through such a difficult experience."

Walk To Defeat Cancer

Many people walk to keep themselves fit, but this year, thousands across the country are making their steps count for others in the fight to end breast cancer--and enjoying massage as a reward.

The 2009 Breast Cancer 3-Day® is a series of 15 walks nationwide where participants commit to walk 60 miles over the course of three days to raise money to help Susan G. Komen for the Cure® accomplish its promise to end breast cancer forever. And at the end of the long days of walking, participants are treated to complimentary massages courtesy of event presenting sponsor Energizer.

At the Energizer Live it Up! Lounge, walkers can enjoy a free 10-minute chair massage to help them relax and recharge for another day of walking. All massage services are donated by professional members of the AMTA. "By providing massage, we're not only helping these walkers relax and relieve their tired and aching muscles, but also helping them recharge so they can maintain their spirit throughout their 60-mile journey," said Stahl.

Tips For A Better Massage

When getting a massage, consider this advice from the AMTA:

  1. Communicate with your massage therapist. Give accurate health information and let the therapist know your expectations and reasons for the massage. Tell your massage therapist what you prefer in the way of lotions and oils and whether you have any allergies.
  2. Remember to breathe normally. Breathing helps facilitate relaxation.
  3. Drink extra water after your massage.
  4. Don't get up too quickly and do allow for some quiet time after your massage session. If you're dizzy or light-headed after the massage, do not get off the table too fast.

What Else You Can Do

For those interested in supporting the cause, Energizer is currently offering a free, limited-edition Keep Going® Journal, the first in a series, which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. The collectible 80-page journal features inspirational quotes, a calendar and a pink ribbon bookmark. It's available by mailing in three proofs of purchase from select Energizer products. For every journal redeemed, Energizer will donate $1.00 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® up to $15,000, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $10,000.

Learn More

For more information, visit or For information about breast health or breast cancer, visit or call 1-877-GO-KOMEN.

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A Healthy Holiday Tradition Returns

(NAPSI)-Americans were expected to send about 20 billion pieces of mail last holiday season, according to the U.S. Postal Service. But this year, the cards you send could spread more than cheer--they might spread good health, as well.

A storied tradition has returned to households across America, as people are including a special type of holiday stamp on their mailings. In the early 1900s, funds raised with the colorful stickers provided help in the fight against tuberculosis. Today, they help combat swine flu and seasonal influenza, lung cancer, childhood asthma, tobacco use, air pollution and more.

Holiday Health

Called Christmas Seals®, the stamps are available from the American Lung Association. The charity sends them to 15 million people who use them to decorate cards and packages. In return, people send in small contributions of around $10 to $15, which add up to become the organization's most successful fundraiser of the year.

The Lung Association also offers a line of holiday gifts and products ranging from colorful wrapping paper and whimsical globe ornaments to greeting cards, adhesive gift tags, and lapel pins, which are available for purchase at

Also, people can visit to send free e-cards to family and friends, selecting a seal from all those issued over the past century. They can also collect and share Christmas Seals on Facebook.

A History Of Helping

The campaign has attracted plenty of attention since it began more than 100 years ago, with celebrities like Bob Hope, the Smothers Brothers and Cybill Shepherd helping to spread the word.

The 2009 national celebrity campaign chair is actress S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lt. Anita Van Buren on the show "Law & Order."

For more information or to view the seals, visit

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Helping Guard Against MRSA

(NAPSI)-Learning about an increasingly common health risk, MRSA, could help you prevent the spread of it in community settings, such as locker rooms, gyms, schools and even your home.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a potentially life-threatening antibiotic-resistant Staph bacteria. Infections caused by MRSA are becoming increasingly common in community settings. In 2005, invasive MRSA affected about 90,000 Americans. NBA all-star Grant Hill is among those who've been inflicted.

To help others avoid MRSA, Hill and the STOP MRSA Now coalition joined the North American Booster Club Association to launch the Bleacher Brigade challenge. "It encourages people to get in the game to help reduce the spread of MRSA," says Hill.

Practical tips such as not sharing personal items like towels, using an appropriate bleach solution to disinfect hard surfaces, and keeping cuts covered can help prevent the spread of the germ.

"Simple prevention steps can go a long way in helping to prevent the spread of MRSA, and we need everyone's help in spreading the word," says Steve Beden, president, North American Booster Club Association. "Join Booster Clubs around the country in the Bleacher Brigade challenge and encourage prevention in your community."

For more tips or to share steps you've taken to help prevent the spread of MRSA, visit

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Diabetes Awareness Picks Up Speed, On Twitter And On The Racetrack

(NAPSI)-As a leading professional race car driver, Charlie Kimball continues to prove that, with proper management, diabetes does not have to be a roadblock.

As he travels to events across the country, the first American open-wheeled racing driver with diabetes will update fans on the free social messaging service Twitter, providing updates (called "tweets") directly from his mobile phone about his race progress and diabetes management, representing a different direction in sharing real patient experiences. Kimball's page, called "Race with Insulin," is part of a larger initiative sponsored by Novo Nordisk, the company that makes the insulin he uses to help manage his diabetes.

"'Race with Insulin' provides me the opportunity to regularly reach out to my fans with real-time updates about life as a race car driver with diabetes," says Kimball.

"When I am not traveling at speeds of 160 miles per hour, I hope to reach as many people living with diabetes as possible with my own story and inspire them to take an active role in managing their health."

Kimball, who began racing go-karts at age 9, chose to bypass admission to Stanford University to follow his dream to become a race car driver. When he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007, he was forced to abandon his racing program mid-season. Remarkably, in 2008, he returned to the cockpit and claimed a podium finish in his first race back. Today, he continues to compete in some of the most competitive racing categories in the world, continuing to prove that his high-performance life is possible with diabetes.

Kimball was first introduced to Novo Nordisk when his physician prescribed Novo Nordisk insulins.

In 2008, Kimball approached the company about becoming a sponsor. He has had the Novo Nordisk corporate and insulin logos on his fire suit and helmet since April 2009 and on the car since May 2009.

"Charlie is an inspiration to anyone with diabetes," says Craig DeLarge, associate director of marketing at Novo Nordisk. "We hope that by providing Charlie an interactive platform to share his message, we can motivate patients and health care providers to learn more about ways to dialogue about health care."

Kimball and Novo Nordisk are committed to ensuring compliance with all laws and regulations, including the PhRMA organization guidance on direct-to-consumer advertising.

Throughout the season, Kimball tweets from his various races. To subscribe to the "Race with Insulin" Twitter page or to learn where Kimball will be racing next, visit To learn more about Novo Nordisk insulins, visit

"When I am not traveling at speeds of 160 miles per hour, I hope to reach as many people living with diabetes as possible with my own story and inspire them to take an active role in managing their health."

-Charlie Kimball

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