blog

Op4G's Non-Profit of the Month: Okizu!

3After 3 years as an Op4G partner, Okizu is our Non-Profit of the Month!

Based in Northern California, Okizu provides peer support and recreational programs to families affected by childhood cancer. Most notably, the non-profit offers a weeklong camping trip for children with cancer and their siblings (as well as weekend camping trips for families and teens). To date, over 3000 children have participated in Camp Okizu.

In light of the high cost of cancer treatment, all of Okizu’s programs are completely free. A team of 600 volunteers meet staffing needs, while donations, grants, and fundraising proceeds cover remaining expenses. These donations include earnings from Op4G, which totaled $1445.70 as of January 2014!

To support Okizu’s programs please sign up with Op4G, or to volunteer or donate, please visit the Okizu website, Facebook page, or Twitter account.

Flickr photo credit: Audrey

blog

Op4G's $500 Sweepstakes Winner: Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit!

92014 is off to a good start for Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit. The Op4G partner is our $500 Sweepstakes Winner for January!

Founded in honor of comedienne Gilda Radner, Gilda’s Club provides free social and emotional support for individuals living with cancer, as well as their families, friends, and caregivers. Support programs include educational lectures, children and teen activities, art workshops, and support/networking groups.

Since opening its iconic red door in 1998, Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit has welcomed more than 10,000 members. It invites prospective new members to attend a meeting on Monday at 1:00 pm or Wednesday at 5:30 pm, or to request a more convenient time.

To help Gilda’s Club, please join their community of survey takers here.

For more information on Gilda’s Club, or to make a donation, please click here or call (248) 577-0800.

Flickr photo credit: James Marvin Phelps

blog

New Concept Car Hints at Solar Powered Future

1At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, companies from around the world unveiled exciting new technologies, from a bendable ultra HD television to a self-balancing, one-wheeled, motorized skateboard. But perhaps the coolest technology—from an environmental perspective—was Ford’s new C-Max Solar Energi, the world’s first solar electric car.

The Solar Energi derives its power from 16 square feet of rooftop solar panels. To maximize the panels’ energy absorption, Ford developed a solar concentrating lens in collaboration with the Georgia Institution of Technology. The lens sits on a stationary canopy above the car when parked, magnifying sunlight 8 fold and “funneling it onto the photovoltaic cells”. Ford has also programmed the car to automatically move forward or backward to track the sun throughout the day.

With these state-of-the-art features, Ford estimates that the car takes 6-8 hours to charge in an average US city. This roughly equates to the length of time people leave their cars in workplace parking lots. Once fully charged (to 8kW), the car can travel for 21 miles before reverting to the gas engine. Research suggests that this distance can cover 75% of trips by the average US driver.

American Solar Energy
What does this mean for the environment? Ford calculates that the Solar Energi could reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions of a typical owner by 4 metric tons. This exceeds the reduction for plug-in electric cars, as most US electricity is still generated from fossil fuels. According to Mike Tinskey, Ford’s Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, “Not all grids are the same in terms of renewable content. You definitely get 100% renewables” from the Solar Energi.

But don’t expect the Solar Energi to be “cruising down your street anytime soon”. The car is still “a concept vehicle not ready for dealer showrooms”. It also faces numerous issues. For example, the solar panels are ineffective in underground parking or cloudy weather. The canopy requires additional space, as well as frequent installation. The highly concentrated sunbeams pose a potential safety hazard. And while Ford hasn’t revealed the price of the car, it is believed to be “significant”.

Despite these shortcomings, the Solar Energi proves just how much solar efficiency has improved and is “pushing the boundaries of what’s possible”. It “hints at an automotive future powered directly by renewable energy”. In the words of Tinskey, “We need to get the conversation started.”

To learn more about solar energy, please contact the Solar Foundation, Grid Alternatives, or our partners, Solar Sonoma County and Clean Air Coal Planet.

Flickr Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

blog

The Dizzying Rise of Concussion Rates in Athletics

footWith the NFL and NHL seasons well underway, concussions have returned to the national spotlight. In fact, in the last week alone, at least five pro athletes in the US sustained concussions during play.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a “bump, blow, or jolt to the head”. As the brain does not completely fill the skull, the brain “rebounds off of the front or the back side of the cranial cavity” resulting in bruising or shearing. Immediate symptoms can include headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, fatigue, and – in 10% of cases – loss of consciousness.  Long-term symptoms are more serious and include difficulty concentrating, memory problems, sleep disturbance, irritability, and depression.

According to studies, concussion-related hospitalizations have risen significantly in recent years – particularly among youth. Experts offer several possible explanations. First, on a positive note, concussion diagnosis has improved: “People are recognizing the signs and symptoms [and] are more aware of the complications. So people are coming in more.” This enhanced awareness may stem from educational campaigns or increased media attention on concussion-related deaths and injury among professional and varsity athletes

Matthew Gfeller Foundation
Others maintain that concussions are actually increasing in frequency. In the words of one expert, “Children today are bigger and faster and the increased weight and velocity may also be causing more of these injuries”. More youth are also participating in organized sports, which “tend to be more intense in terms of practice and competition”. Finally, the rising culture of “staying quiet when injured and getting back in the game”, may be exacerbating head injuries.

To treat concussions, the American Academy of Pediatrics advise patients to “restrict both physical and mental exertion” (including schoolwork, playing video games, and watching TV) “until symptoms have resolved”. This generally takes a few weeks, however, “symptoms of a severe injury could persist for months or even years”. In severe cases, doctors may also perform surgery to relieve brain pressure from swelling.

Unfortunately, options for preventing concussions are limited. While wearing helmets can reduce skull fractures and lacerations, it cannot stop the brain from “rattling around” in the skull. Instead, medical professionals encourage athletes (especially those with multiple past concussions) to retire from contact sports completely. But this may soon change. Research suggests that there may be ways to increase the volume of the cerebral venous system, creating a sort of “bubble wrap” effect. This naturally occurs in woodpeckers, longhorn sheep, and potentially humans at high altitudes (where concussion rates are 30% lower).

To learn more about concussions, or to support concussion awareness, please contact the Matthew Gfeller Foundation, the Brain Trauma Foundation, or our partners, the Brain Injury Association of Tennessee and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.

Flickr Photo Credit: John McStravick

blog

Op4G's $500 Sweepstakes Winner: City Dogs Rescue!

2Op4G is pleased to award $500 to a charity that gives so much: City Dogs Rescue (CDR)!

Created in 2011, CDR is a Washington DC-based, volunteer-run animal rescue. Its primary aim is to rescue adoptable dogs from overcrowded, high-kill shelters. In fact, many of the dogs it rescues are just days or hours from euthanization. Consequently, CDR has been hailed as a “lifeline” for DC’s dogs and puppies.

As of December 2013, CDR had rescued and arranged adoption for over 530 dogs. With the $500 prize from Op4G, the non-profit estimates that it can save 2 more! The funds will go towards shelter fees, veterinary care, and transportation.

To learn more about the City Dogs Rescue, or to volunteer through Op4G, please click here.

Flickr photo credit: Alex Balan

blog

Maximizing your Op4G Earnings: Outreach Methods for our Non-Profit Partners

moneyAt Op4G, we are always looking to increase funding for our non-profit partners. To this end, we encourage our partners to ask their supporters to register with Op4G, complete surveys frequently, and increase their donation percentage.

But what are the best ways to convey these messages to supporters? Op4G suggest several outreach methods. First, we recommend engaging in direct online communications. Experience shows that such communications, particularly dedicated emails or newsletters, drive the best results.

Other online methods have also proved successful. These include blogging, posting on social media platforms (Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn etc.) and featuring the Op4G logo on the non-profit’s website or email signatures. In all cases, partners should include a link to the Op4G registration page.

Furthermore, non-profits can use traditional communication methods. For example, they can reference Op4G in mailings to members, as well as in event marketing materials (signs, programs etc.).

Whichever methods a non-profit chooses, we strongly advise them to follow-up. In general, we find that more follow-up translates into greater Op4G enrollment and earnings. We also ask partners to inform us of their outreach activities. We can then cross-promote and send data on the success of the outreach efforts.

For more information, please contact support@op4g.com.

 

Flickr Photo Credit