Stylish and charitable jewelry: Thoughtful Thursday

May 22, 2014

I like to think that I am stylish or at least I try to be and I am definitely charitable, but what if you could be both? Many companies are becoming increasingly socially conscious. They give back to individuals and communities through charitable campaigns, donations, and grants. I have discovered a few jewelry companies that have affordable stylish pieces and they donate a portion of their proceeds to a charitable cause.

The founder of Bloom and Grace was working in sub-Saharan Africa, and wanted to find a way to connect fundraising efforts to charitable work there. She created a jewelry line called Bloom and Grace which donates a specific portion of each purchase to the Shot@Life campaign. There are four donation levels depending of the cost of the piece. Those donations provide 3 to 12 vaccines per piece purchased. The line has been featured in InStyle, Women’s Wear Daily, and The Zoe Report.

The brand Alex and Ani created a specific division within their own jewelry line to promote charitable giving. The division known a Charity by Design donates a specific portion of a jewelry purchase within that line to designated non-profit organization. The jewelry line uses customized symbolic charms to raise awareness for causes and donating to those campaigns. They have dozens of partner organizations including Blessings in a Backpack, Donate Life America, Farm Aid, and the One Campaign
Pearls Against Polio is an etsy jewelry store started by a champion for the Shot@Life campaign. Jen Lovallo hand makes each piece and donates all proceeds from the line to the campaign. She uses stones such as onyx, jade, pearl, and quartz to make simple and elegant pieces. They timeless enough to be treasured for a lifetime. 
Whether you’re considering adding jewelry to your wardrobe, looking for something to compliment your favorite outfit, or maybe buying a gift for a friend all of the above brands will allow you to be charitable and stylish.
Do you know of a great brand giving back? I would love to know about them. 
Happy Thoughtful Thursday, 

Thoughtful Thursday: Shot@Life Smartphone Application

April 10, 2014

There are many reasons why funding for global vaccine access should be a priority.

Photo Credit: Shot@Life 

I want to highlight a few reasons why:

  • It is the morally correct thing to do. All children have the right to live a healthy life regardless of where they were born.  Every 20 seconds a child dies of a vaccine preventable disease. Don’t you find this unacceptable? 
  • Germs don’t need passports to travel. A threat to public health any where is a threat here, especially in growing unvaccinated populations. 
  • Dollar for dollar it is the most cost effective form of humanitarian aid.  

If you have read this far down, you probably agree with me.

Maybe you’re curious what you can do to help and you’re unsure where to start?

Photo Credit: Shot@Life 

Probably the easiest way to get started is to download the free Shot@Life smartphone application.  

The app makes its incredibly easy to take action and start advocating for global vaccine access. 
The smartphone app can:

  • Track milestones for a child(ren) that you love
  • Snap photos of important milestones 
  • Show you easy advocacy actions
  • Sign up for text alerts 
  • Share all of the above via social media 

Here are a few screenshots to show you how easy advocacy can be. I inputed my zip code, and the app found the twitter handles for my Members of Congress. I just selected Representative Harold Rogers and it composed my tweet. I can also send precomposed emails through the application, and customize those emails.

Photo Credit: Shot@Life 

I have been a Champion with Shot@Life for 16 months now, and today was the first time I noticed that I could sign up to receive text alerts about the campaign or important actions. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? 
So what are you waiting for? 
Download the app and start advocating.  

Can’t get enough social good? 
The Shot@Life campaign is hosting an Advocate2Vaccinate Coast to Coast Challenge.  Many of the above actions are eligible to earn points for your region (And this blog post earned points too!) 
To learn more about he Advocate2Vaccinate Coast-to-Coast Challenge click here

Why I choose to Advocate2Vaccinate

March 27, 2014

Fourteen months ago I knew very little about how to contact our Senators and Representatives, much less about lobbying in Washington D.C. Last January, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs selected me to represent them in their partnership with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign to advocate for global vaccine access. I was sent to Washington, D.C., to learn about public speaking, advocacy, and fundraising, but I discovered much more about myself as a citizen and as a person. 

Image credit: Shot@Life

In 1933, a young woman named Rose Garland Cole graduated from Union College. She moved to a holler’ in Stinking Creek to teach, first in a one room school, and eventually at Dewitt Elementary. Rose was small in stature, but what she lacked in size she made up for in heart and passion. She taught hundreds of students in her education career which spanned nearly five decades. Rose taught at several one room schools in the Dewitt area, Dewitt Elementary, and Dewitt Baptist Church Sunday School, often with a Bible on her desk and a paddle at her side. She loved God, her family, her students, and this community. 

Rose Garland Cole 

Rose was no stranger to generosity, and her own family undoubtedly influenced her kindness. Her brothers Beckham, Charles, and James Garland had each contributed to her education; they helped to pay the tuition for Rose and their sister Etta to attend Union College. All five siblings would eventually graduate and teach in Knox County during their careers. 

It was Rose Garland Cole who motivated me to return to Washington, D.C. with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign in recent weeks. Her devotion to community influenced me profoundly. She had always told me to stand up for others—a lesson that I had almost forgotten. She wanted to positively influence her students and family. 

Poverty has a powerful influence on society. It prevents access to basic needs including food, clean water, access to healthcare, and education with no respect for geographic boundaries. I stumbled in on Cameron Mills speaking at Knox Central High School on Tuesday, and he mentioned the difference between the poverty we see in our community and extreme poverty abroad. He reminded students that many families living in extreme poverty don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and there are no organizations there to help. 

People here struggle with paying for doctor visits, medical procedures, and medication, but children in developing nations don’t even have these options. Did you know that every 20 seconds a child dies of a vaccine-preventable disease? Polio, measles, pneumococcal disease, and rotavirus routinely take the lives of children around the world. Did you know that $20 can vaccinate a child against these diseases for an entire lifetime? Every child deserves the right to a healthy life, and parents shouldn’t live in fear of losing their children to vaccine-preventable diseases. 

Image credit: GFWC 

Last week I had the pleasure to speak the Interclub dinner for the Barbourville Woman’s Study Club, Barbourville Junior Woman’s Study Club, and Barbourville YoungerWoman’s Club. The clubs collected enough donations in one meeting to vaccinate five children for a lifetime, and they completed 56 advocacy actions to let Representative Hal Rogers, Senator Rand Paul, and Senator Mitch McConnell know that they support funding for global vaccine access. Those three clubs are a testament to the collective impact that a group of individuals can have when devoted to a common cause. 

Robert F. Kennedy said, “Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.” Rose worked to improve education in an area overrun with poverty, and that would be her legacy. What will be this generation’s legacy, and what will your legacy be?

Passion: My Hope for Gabriel

October 2, 2013

Rarely do I struggle for words, I am generally full of them.  The only person I know who talks more than I do is my 3.5 year old son.  Two weeks ago I was asked to go on stage at the Social Good Summit in NYC, and in a few sentences describe my hopes for my son.  Like many parents, I have many aspirations for him.  How could I possibly narrow it down?  I want him to be healthy and happy.  I want him to have access to a quality education and healthcare.  He needs to see compassion and empathy.  I hope he can find strength in adversity.  I had flashbacks from a discussion with Raising America Executive Producer Rena Popp at the Mom2.0Summit when I was pondering my answer.  She said she feared I would get to talking and not know when to stop.  I definitely didn’t want to be “that mom”. 

United Nations Foundation’s Peter Yeo dubbed “Charlie” and Shot@Life Champions “the angels”
Photo Credit: Myrdin Thompson

I thought long and hard about what I would say, and not just what I would say to the public but what I would say to him when he was old enough to understand.  I reflected on the last decade of my life, and what single piece of advice would have been the most constructive.  I always felt lost.  My entire life I had been told that I needed to be a doctor.  I was book smart and I had a desire to help people.  It sounded great at the time.  I generally have nerves of steel and an iron stomach, so it seemed like a fit.  It took me years to realize that my draw to medicine wasn’t actually practicing medicine, it was helping others.  I had invested my life in pursing a career and an education that wasn’t really meant for me.  I wish I had someone to help me figure out what I was passionate about, and how I could have developed that into a career.  

My sweet friend took a screenshot during the lives steam. 

My light bulb moment happened.  I knew exactly what I hoped for my son in a singular phrase.  I wanted him to discover what he is passionate about.  My words to the million people listening were,

 “My name is Jessica Peace-Urgelles, my hope for my son Gabriel is that he finds what is passionate about, no matter how long it takes him to find that.  I hope he has the courage to follow that passion, and he has people to encourage him just like I have had people encourage me”

Good Things Come to Those That Wait

September 11, 2013

It has been hard to not pull the “why me” card the past few years. 

We dealt with my ex having PTSD and ITP
My brothers tragic murder
A house fire
The trial of my stepfather for my brothers murder
My ex volunteering to work out of the country for the Army and leaving me to care for our 1 year old
Struggling to get off my baby weight
Discovering my ex had several inappropriate relationships
A rather nasty and ugly divorce

It is easy let personal tragedy wear you down.  Negative emotion will consume you, and all the joy life has to offer. I have ultimately had to spend my time reflecting on my triumphs, most of which happened in the last year instead of the tragedies . 

The birth of my son, Gabriel Christian.  He is the love of my life. 
I was selected to represent the General Federation of Women’s Clubs with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.
I completed a Tough Mudder
I have ran several half marathons
I was chosen as a Shot@Life campaign spotlight champion.
I have worked with my congressman’s office on veterans affairs.
I attended the Mom 2.0 Summit
I was chosen by HLN’s Raising America during the Shark Tank panel to represent mom bloggers.
I went to BlogHer. 
I went to Mom + Social. 
I have been mentioned a New York Times and a Washington Post publication. 
I started writing for Ask Miss A and became the Outreach Director. 
I met Amanda Peet, J Lo, Brandy, Nigel Barker, and Gene Gurkoff (Bet you never saw that sentence coming Gene)
I went to NYC and LA in the same week. 
I just started two new campaigns with LeapFrog and Chick-fil-a
I realized the best kind of revenge is karma. 

I have decided to live my life unapologetically, and without hesitation.  I have everything I truly need with my son.  He loves me unconditionally.  I have realized that I can’t determine my personal worth on the opinions of others.  I must love myself first before anyone else can love me. 

 I waited almost 10 years to have Gabe.  Good things do come to those that wait, he is proof of that.  I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years hold for me. 


Happy Terrific Tuesday,

Ten Things You Should Know About Me

July 22, 2013

This list is for my new BlogHer friends, we are trying to get to know each other!

1. I have a very strong southern accent, and it is okay to ask me to repeat something.  I try to talk slow. 
2. I attended the same college that my great grandmother did.  She graduated in 1933.  Impressive huh?
3. I am in the middle of a divorce. (Uh-Oh!) 
4. I have a 3.5 year old son who is my absolute joy in life.  
5. I have braces on my teeth, and they make me look much younger than I am.  
6.  I am a runner, actually a marathoner.  
7.  I am very opinionated and frankly it gets me into trouble.  
8.  I love social good, and helping others.  
9.   I auditioned for HLN’s Raising America at Mom2Summit and I got a segment.  
10.  I am a Champion for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.  I advocate for global        vaccine access.  I have made so many friends who are kinda like family now through the campaign.  Ask me how you can get involved!  
You can link up to Steph’s original post over on A Grande Life

Happy Manic Monday,


Everyone Needs Validation..

I was speaking about global vaccine access at KFWC State Convention

It seems like I have been so consumed with other things lately, I haven’t posted about something that
really matters to me.  My true passion for advocacy arose from my involvement with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign.  There are not words to describe how much the people I work with inspire me.  We have so many outside interests yet we are still devoted to one similar cause.  Everyone involved with the campaign believes that every child deserves access to potentially life saving vaccines.  I have been given so many opportunities and incredible support.  Whether it is Aaron talking to us about “using our wine glass” and channeling our voice, Jamie watching over ALL of the champions so diligently, quiet but powerful Maggie driving the campaign forward, or Anastasia and her bright smile and encouraging words, all of the champions have amazing support with the United Nations Foundation staff.  I am honored and grateful to be a part of such a wonderful campaign.  When I feel like mankind is lost in a very ugly and chaotic world, I look the Shot@Life campaign and I know there is hope.  There are good people that love others without hesitation and with true kindness, and my hope for humanity lies in you.  When I have been made to feel lesser and unaccomplished by someone who should have been my biggest support, you have made me feel powerful and validated.

In the words of a dear friend, “Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle.”  You are amazing and you were meant to shine.  You should be able to trust others, but most of all learn to trust yourself.  You know that you are powerful beyond measure, and you can achieve anything that you put your heart into.  Don’t let the belittling, petty, and hurtful actions of others change the heart of who you are.  We were born to do amazing things.

Happy Smiling Sunday,