Op4G's $500 Sweepstakes Winner: The Tree House Humane Society!

16Now here’s something to purr about: the Tree House Humane Society is Op4G’s $500 sweepstakes winner for September!

Founded in 1971, Tree House is a Chicago-based humane society dedicated to promoting the value of every animal and to educating the public about responsible animal care. The non-profit focuses primarily on stray cats, especially those with special physical and emotional needs.

To achieve its mission, Tree House rescues sick or injured cats from across Chicago (over 16,000 to date). It then provides a full range of treatments, including veterinary care, vaccinations, behavioral counseling, and spaying/neutering to control overpopulation. Finally, when the cats have returned to good health, Tree House locates safe homes for the cats via off-site adoption events.

In addition to these activities, Tree House also helps others care for cats. The organization offers a pet food pantry program, which provides supplemental cat food to cat owners with low or fixed incomes. It engages in education outreach, presenting to students and adults on various aspects of cat care. Furthermore, through the TNR Feral Friends Program, Tree House sponsors feral colony caretakers throughout the Chicago area.

Please support Tree House in their mission by registering with Op4G today.

Flickr photo credit: crazybananas



2012 Among Costliest Year for Natural Disasters

18The numbers are in. According to the National Climate Data Center, 2012 marks the second-costliest year for natural disasters since 1980 (exceeded only by 2005). Total damages across the country totaled approximately $110 billion.

Hurricane Sandy, which struck the eastern seaboard last October, inflicted the greatest damage, with a price tag of over $65 billion. A severe drought covering more than half of the United States followed behind at $30 billion. Nine other weather events – including tornadoes, wildfires, and windstorms – incurred over $1 billion each.

Such events and their growing costs beg a controversial question: are natural disasters linked to climate change? After scouring various sources, it appears that “The degree to which we can identify historical changes in extreme events, and link them to climate change, varies depending on the event and the location”.

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For example, experts express medium to high confidence that climate change is increasing the frequency of heat waves. It is triggering more severe precipitation events and shifts in rainfall patterns leading to “both increased likelihood of flash flooding and drought”. There are also indications that “global warming is causing more frequent and destructive hurricanes”. Finally, climate change has raised sea levels, contributing to higher storm tides.

Less certain is the connection between climate change and other extreme weather events. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “there is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail”. As a further caveat, some experts note that “evidence for the influence of climate change is difficult to identify in the context of major natural cycles”. However, “observed changes are consistent with modeled effects of GHG emissions”.

For more information, check out the IPCC Special Report on climate change adaptation.

Flickr photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


How can you help Colorado communities devastated by epic flooding?

Colorado National GuardWhile much of the rain had stopped by Monday night, the devastation and damage continues.  The latest news indicates that flood conditions have spread across 17 counties. 1,500 homes have been destroyed, according to Colorado Office of Emergency Management.  More than 11,750 people have been evacuated while 520 remain in shelters.  Unfortunately, thunderstorms are possible through Tuesday in these flooded areas. Parts of Boulder have experienced a 1-in-1,000 year flood meaning that a flood of this magnitude only has a 0.1% chance of happening in a given year.

Op4G would like to highlight a few Non-Profits to support their efforts in leading the ongoing Colorado relief.

Helping the Victims

Foothills United Way has established the ‘Foothills Flood Relief Fund’ in response to the impact of the severe flooding across Boulder and Broomfield counties. The funds raised through this effort will be used toward health and human services for those affected by the flooding in Boulder and Broomfield counties. is a partnership between the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD). This initiative brings together government agencies and non-profit organizations so they may better assist communities affected by disasters.

The American Red Cross serves the residents of Colorado through five chapters and hundreds of local, community-based volunteers. They are providing food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to thousands of people forced from their homes by devastating flash flooding. Meanwhile, numerous shelters remain open across the state to serve those displaced by flooding.

All Hands Volunteers will be launching a project in Colorado when it is safe to do so. If you are a volunteer who would like to help, PLEASE DO NOT SELF DEPLOY. It is dangerous for you and for those you may try to assist. All Hands Volunteers is a US-based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization, that provides hands-on assistance to communities around the world, with maximum impact and minimum bureaucracy.

Flickr Creative Commons Photo Credit: The National Guard


Remembering the Veterans of a Forgotten War

6It is sometimes easy to forget the war in Afghanistan. Now approaching its 12th year, the war receives relatively little mainstream coverage in the west. In part, this reflects changing NATO involvement in the war – in June, the military alliance transferred security operations to Afghan forces, refocusing on training, advising, and assisting. It may also reflect a growing “war fatigue” and the emergence of new hot topics like Egypt and the NSA leaks.

But as the war lingers, the last thing we should forget are the casualties. To date, over 2120 Americans have been killed and over 19000 wounded. According to a 2012 report by the Department of the Veterans Affairs (VA), 46% of those wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq have filed disability claims. Moreover, nearly 30% of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans at VA hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Regrettably, many of the casualties of the Afghanistan War have yet to receive the treatments they require. As veterans pour into VA medical facilities at a rate of approximately 10,000 a month, a considerable backlog has developed. Benefits to veterans are also delayed. By 2012, 44% of post-9/11 veterans diagnosed with PTSD had not received benefits. More recently, in June 2013, 851000 veterans awaited answers on compensation claims (2/3 for longer than the government target of 125 days).

Recognizing the problem, Washington has granted every budget increase requested by the VA since 2008, raising the department’s budget by 40%. Yet, the backlogs remain – a reality likely to continue into 2014, when the US plans to withdraw remaining troops from Afghanistan. At the same time, there is growing pressure to rein in US military spending. In fact, in July 2013, the White House threatened to veto the 2014 defense appropriations bill, citing the unsustainable cost of military benefits and healthcare.

Thus, increasingly, support may need to come from outside of government. Non-profit organizations, for example, can play an instrumental role by providing health and wellness services, training, and employment placement for returning veterans. These non-profits include such Op4G partners as Give an HourStill Serving VeteransHonoring the Path, and the Travis Manion Foundation.

If you want to support our veterans, please donate or complete Op4G surveys for these non-profits today.

Flickr photo credit: The US Army


Extending a Warm Welcome to our New Non-Profit Partners

New Non-Profit PartnersWelcome to our new partners!  Op4G looks forward to providing excellent service and support as we raise money to benefit their mission.

Neurofibromatosis Midwest
is dedicated to the increasing number of men, women and children challenged by neurofibromatosis. They work tirelessly to educate, comfort, improve clinical care and fund research for treatments and a cure. Their Non-Profit staff and volunteers include people with a personal interest in NF, with real experience and a determination and motivation to use precious funds in an efficient manner. Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a complex, often devastating set of genetic disorders with possible complications throughout the entire body that may also hold the genetic mystery to a host of other human ailments. Affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 people or 2 million people worldwide, it appears equally in all races, ethnic groups and both sexes.

Help the Neurofibromatosis Midwest Organization

We also welcome the United Way of York County! Established in 1986, their organization works to advance the common good of everyone in York County by focusing on the unique characteristics of their community and by strengthening programs focused on Education, Income and Health. By galvanizing individuals and organizations to act, while mobilizing resources, expertise and funding, United Way of York County creates opportunities for residents through lifelong learning, financial stability and healthy foundations for life.

Please support United Way York County

To learn more about how the United Way of York County has earned the reputation as a trusted convener and partner with a broad, long term view and countywide perspective, check out their Community Partnerships page.

Flickr Photo Credit: KittyKat3756


Man’s Best Friend? America’s Broken Promise to Pets

bunnyAmerica is a country of animal lovers. In fact, over half of US households own a dog or cat. Yet, 8 million animals arrive at American shelters every year. Tragically, 3.7 million—or nearly 50%—are ultimately euthanized.

Many other pets end up on the streets. According to the US Humane Society, there are 50 million stray cats alone in the United States. These animals face incredible threats, ranging from traffic and harsh weather to disease and predation.

The sheer magnitude of shelter and stray animals has profound ethical implications. It also, unfortunately, creates significant health and financial problems. Stray animals can become hungry and rabid, attacking people and livestock. Furthermore, US taxpayers spend approximately $2 billion annually to capture, shelter, and treat animals.

Sign up to support Luck Dog!

So how did this problem arise? One of the leading causes is pet overpopulation. Despite recent public awareness campaigns, a full 35% of pet owners neglect to spay or neuter their pets. Furthermore, though 17 million Americans acquire new pets annually, only 20% adopt from animal shelters. The remainder purchase from breeders or pet shops, “creating demand for irresponsible breeding”. Finally, many pet owners simply view their pets as “disposable”. They abandon their pets when they move, have children, or feel overwhelmed by the time and financial commitment.

The Humane Society of the United States

Still, there is hope! Americans can reverse the growing shelter and stray populations by adopting their pets from reputable non-profits. They can sterilize their pets early, preventing “accidental litters”. They can tag (or even micro-chip!) their pets in the event that they become lost. Moreover, they can educate themselves and others on the responsibilities of pet ownership.

To learn more, or to adopt your next pet, contact our non-profit partners! Simply visit our National Non-Profit Partners Page and select the “animal/wildlife” category.

Flickr photo credit: Susan G2


A Big Thanks and Congrats Go Out to Ashley Dowling-Cloud!

Member SweepstakesOur Op4G sweepstakes winner for August is…Ashley Dowling-Cloud! Ashley supports Transformations Autism Treatment Center in Bartlett, TN, making them our “Non-Profit of the Month”!

Ashley joined Op4G 8 months ago after hearing about us from Transformations.  Since joining, Ashley has earned about $70 for Transformations.  Ashley likes how the Op4G website is set up and feels it is “very easy to use and understand”.  She is an active member and “enjoys the surveys” that she has been invited to and participated in.  Ashley has qualified for “almost all” that she has been selected for.

Ashley selected Transformations as her Op4G non-profit because that is the center that her autistic son attends each week for ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy.  She is both a volunteer and a parent of the center which she “loves doing”.  Transformations Autism Treatment Center helps the community by providing “the one therapy within our area that is extremely hard to get for a child who has autism”.  In addition, they provide services for parents and “don’t turn their backs on autism”.

Ashley plans to continue taking Op4G surveys for Transformations, noting that “every little bit helps”. Since Ashley also volunteers at Transformations helping out in the front office, she is confident that she can help recruit additional supporters to sign up for the Op4G panel and participate in surveys.

Thank you, Ashley, and congratulations from Op4G!


Op4G's $500 Sweepstakes Winner: Peninsula Humane Society!

pup2Good news, animal lovers! Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA is our $500 sweepstakes winner for August!

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA opened its doors in 1950 and is now one of the largest animal welfare organizations in California’s Bay Area. The non-profit provides animal sheltering; animal adoptions (including 100% placement for healthy dogs and cats); animal rescue and cruelty investigation; low-cost and free spay/neuter surgeries; community outreach and education; and the Hope Program. In addition, it is one of just a few humane societies in the United States that provides care and rehabilitation for sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife.

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA is a private, independent, non-profit which receives no funding from national animal groups. All funds received through Op4G are put towards the Hope Program, which helps the neediest animals (over 200 per month) get a second chance at life. These animals often require extra medical care, behavior training, or just simply TLC to be adopted into a new forever home.

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA thanks Op4G and all its volunteers, which assist paid staff in nearly every area. If you’d like to be a digital volunteer for Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, simply sign up here.

Flickr photo credit: sunsets_for_you