Thursday, April 14, 2011

April is National Volunteer month-get involved!

This month, we're highlighting various volunteer groups with long histories of contributing to the betterment of America. To kick it off, we're focusing on the 129-year-old AAUW (American Association of University Women), a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institution partners. The AAUW is a group founded and mainly run by volunteers. It's goal: advancing 'equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research'. Each year, it gives fellowships, scholarships, grants, and awards to worthy causes at both the national and local level. And the group calls attention to key women's issues, such as the persistent gender pay gap.

Did you know that, according to a study in 2009, women working full time in the United States still earned just 77 percent, on average, of what men earn? Ouch! That's a gap of 23 percent, and while the gap has narrowed since the 1970s, that's due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Progress has stalled in recent years, and the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has been on the front lines of the fight for pay equity since 1913, according to their website. And when President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law, AAUW members were right there in the Oval Office. And here it is, almost 50 years later, and still the AAUW continues to lead the push for policies and legislation to encourage and enforce fair pay in the workplace.

Sometimes it must seem like an uphill battle. In November 2010, the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have given women additional and much-needed
equal pay protections. Oh well, 77 percent of a paycheck for the same work a man does is good enough for our sisters, daughters, mothers and aunts, isn't it, folks?

Get involved: Learn about the gender pay gap, or join the AAUW.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Budget cuts harm libraries--and America as we know it

One of my good pals from high school alerts me to a renewed threat to libraries. Bonnie posted on Facebook recently: "This library (shown in a photo), in my hometown was a Carnegie funded library. As a child, I fell in love with books here- Jack London, Burgess, the Oz books, heaven. Every week I'd check out a stack - a huge treat. I can see and smell those rooms now. What will budget cuts do to places like this?"

Good question, Bonnie. And her pal, Don, commented
"Corporate America and their representative lackeys and hatchetmen in Washington know that an educated populace is dangerous. They count on the people not being able to connect the fact that tax breaks for corporations and the richest 1% of Americans have to be paid for by the closure of libraries and national parks, the laying off of teachers and policemen and the discontinuance of myriad other services for the people."

The state of California has already axed its support for libraries, and in my town we're struggling to keep the library doors open a mere 12 hours a week. (If you want to help keep library programs going in my little town of Lincoln, please go to the Friends of Lincoln Library website and hit "Donate".) Can you imagine our parents' generation allowing that to happen to their society? By
letting conservatives play on our fears of paying adequate taxes and cutting programs like the military, we are letting them make choices about what kind of country we will be in the coming years.

If these proposed cuts go through, here's what we could could end up with: a country with a big military, a small but vastly wealthy upper class that controls politics and services, and a huge and swelling lower class, whose children and seniors don't have access to educational resources (good schools and libraries) and health care, and fewer chances to break out of poverty.

We may be the only nation to go from an advanced economy to 'Third World' status in one generation. Oh, but we'll reduce that all-important deficit, so rich folks won't have to worry about their stock portfolio. Great job, America.

Get involved: Talk to your congress person, your city council members, your mayor and tell them you support libraries. Join your local 'friends of the library' group, and if your means allow it, make a donation to your library today. Or you can help one little library.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Free fun at national parks

My friend John Poimeroo sent me a quick note about upcoming deals at national parks that I thought I'd pass along. John reminds me that National Park Week is coming up (Ap. 16-24) and there are dozens of discounts, offers and deals valid during that special week. You can find them all online at The offers being made by park businesses and organizations are in addition to free admission to all national parks, being given by the National Park Service on Fee-Free Days in 2011.

So plan now for a national park visit and make a long weekend of it. You'll never forget the trip.

Details: Fee-Free Days in 2011 include National Park Week; the first day of summer, June 21; Public Lands Day, Sept. 24; and the Veteran's Day weekend, Nov. 11-13.
COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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