National Give Something Away Day

Tomorrow, July 15, we will be celebrating a wonderful, unsung holiday, National Give Something Away Day.  It’s a day that reminds us to give back to our communities and those in need.

There are many ways in which you can give back.  Whether you decide to pay it forward and pay for someone else’s meal or groceries, donate unused items you no longer use, donate blood, or just buy someone some flowers.  This is a great day that reminds us that we don’t necessarily need to spend money, or exorbitant amounts of money, to be able to give back.  Take the time to clean out the rooms in your homes, garages, storage lockers, etc. and see what items you have that would benefit someone else more.

Once you decide what you want to donate, where should you go?  The following list are just a few places where you can donate all of your unused goods.

Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh

There are Goodwill stores all over Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.  Donating your stuff is as easy as taking it to a drop-off center.  Not only do they accept clothing and home goods, but they will also accept books, computers, all types of automobiles, motorcycles, boats, etc.  All you have to do is ask if they will accept the item.

Vietnam Veterans of America

This organization makes the donation process extraordinarily easy.  They have trucks that will come and pick up your household items.  They will not pick up large furniture, however, smaller items like clothing, small appliances and furniture, etc., they will pick up.  All of your items go towards helping veterans of the Vietnam War.  Call to schedule a pick up and make sure your items are easily accessible.  You don’t even have to be home in order for them to pick up your goods.

Washington City Mission

Washington City Mission is passionate about providing clothing, shelter, and food to the homeless and those in need.  Located in Washington County, this mission is always happy to accept clothing, smaller home goods, furniture, and even automobiles.  The most in demand items however, are children’s clothing and winter coats.  There are several drop off locations to donate your stuff or you can call them to set up a home pick-up.

Free Ride!

Free Ride is committed to teaching people about bicycle repair and maintenance, and promoting bicycle use.  Located in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh, they accept all types of bikes, parts, and accessories.  By recycling your bikes, old parts, and accessories, you are helping to keep them from sitting in landfills.  You can donate in two ways.  When the shop is open, Free Ride accepts all donations.  However, when the shop is closed, Construction Junction (see below) will accept all donations on their behalf.

 Dress For Success

Dress For Success’ focus is to empower women to achieve success and independence by providing support networks, professional clothing, and developmental lessons.  Their vision is to create a world “where women do not live in poverty; are treated with dignity and respect; and are strengthening their families and shaping their communities.”  How can you get involved?  First, you can donate your gently- used clothing which helps boost women’s confidence and get them set up to achieve success at interviews and future jobs.  Second, you can donate your money, which is used to finance great developmental programs for women who are striving to become financially independence.  Third, volunteer your time working with these women, planning events, teaching, inventory, picking up donations, etc.

Hopeline Cell Phone Donation

Hopeline collects old cell phones, accessories, chargers, and batteries in all conditions and from any service providers.  These phones are for survivors of domestic violence.  Many survivors are unable to use their old phones and so your unused phone will go towards helping these survivors get back on their feet.  There are a few ways to help.  You can donate your own unused, old phones at any Verizon Wireless retail store.  Or, you could host a phone drive, collecting phones from everyone in your office, at your gym, from friends and friends, etc.

Construction Junction

Did you just clean out your garage or shed and find a bunch of unused building materials that are wasting away?  Well, now there is a place to take those unused items.  Also located in Point Breeze, (point of fact:  Free Ride is located within Construction Junction) Construction Junction is a retail store that is committed to providing affordable building materials for low-income families and help protect the environment.  If you have large materials, they also have a free pick up service, all you have to do is call and set up a time to have your items picked up.

Light of Life

Located right down the street from Allegheny General Hospital in the North Side, Light of Life is dedicated to providing a place for the hungry and homeless to be taken care of and learning how to turn their lives around.  They provide programs that are designed to equip those in need with the education, resources, and stability needed to gain employment and housing.  Light of Life provides a safe space for women and children escaping abuse and helps them get the counseling they need, and provides education and shelter.  They are also committed to helping people who are homeless because of mental illness.  They are always accepting clothing, food, and volunteers.

All of these organizations are committed to not only helping people in their times of greatest need, but also protecting the environment and education.  Don’t forget to celebrate National Give Something Away Day tomorrow, July 15!


Source:  https://www.tripsavvy.com/places-to-donate-items-in-pittsburgh-2707877

L3 Leadership Breakfasts at Babb, Inc.

By:  Russell Livingston, President & CEO, Babb, Inc.

Once a month, on Saturday mornings, a group of aspiring and thoughtful young people get together in our ballroom here at Babb, Inc. to hear a presentation from a prominent Western Pennsylvanian leader.  The presentations have moved me to tears, made me laugh foolishly, stretched my views, and strengthened my beliefs.

Doug Smith, the founder of L3 Leadership, created this organization to create a community of like-minded individuals that want to grow and harness their leadership abilities.  For every new leader that Doug meets and talks with, he creates a podcast, interviewing them on their experiences, struggles, and what it takes to be a great and effective leader.  You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (L3 Leadership Podcast)

L3 Leadership has created a community of leaders through monthly breakfasts, leadership events, Master Mind groups, and service opportunities.  All of the activities can be found on their website, and on all of their social media pages.

If you haven’t experienced an L3 Leadership program or event yet, I would encourage you to give it a try.  The stories and the people are amazing.

To follow L3 Leadership

Facebook:  L3 Leadership
Twitter: @L3Leader
Instagram: @L3Leadership
LinkedIn:  L3 Leadership

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Cyber Attacks

By:  Lynsey Bish

This is the digital age, where retail infrastructure is quickly transitioning form credit cards to one-click shopping. What is not so clear is the personal risk and exposure each consumer takes when we go online to buy a shirt. How can we protect ourselves?  First, a few key facts:

  • Computer Hackers are here to stay.
  • Hackers are getting more sophisticated at penetrating company’s firewalls.
  • The global aggregate information website Intelcrawler.com states that there are currently six retail merchants dealing with cyber-attacks.
  • Companies will not let the public know about a cyber-security breach until there is factual evidence of a breach.

It’s safe to say that this problem isn’t going anywhere so here are a few tips to stay ahead of any hackers with the desire to steal your information

1. Change Passwords Regularly

Keep a habit of regularly changing your passwords, once a month should suffice. As for choosing a password make sure they are long enough that only you can decipher/remember what they mean. Coming up with obvious passwords such as your birthdate or initials do not pass muster. Be creative and make your passwords strong by using random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols that have no connection to you or your family.

If you’re having a tough time remembering all your passwords choose a secure password management service that stores encrypted passwords, like LastPass.

2. Set Up Credit Card Alerts

Most banks and credit card companies have real time notification services that allow them to contact you in the event of a purchase deemed “unusual.” A text notification is an excellent system to know what’s going on with the card at all times.

Some credit card companies even let you set parameters for text notifications. This way a lunch in your area can fly under the radar, but a purchase on the other side of the country will ask for your permission to confirm that it’s actually you making the purchase.

3. Subscribe To Identity Protection

What hackers’ malware does is maneuver its way into private files, grab your credit card and personal information, and sneak out. There are numerous Identity Protection companies who will monitor your credit cards, Social Security number, and other data for a fee. LifeLock is one of the more popular companies that offer identity theft protection.

4. Think Before Biting Into Data

Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways users get hacked. That email from your favorite retailer may look legit but once you click on one of the URLs, you could land on a hacker’s infected web page. Do not click on links you aren’t sure about. Be wary of USB devices claiming to charge you cellphone or other devices. They can poison you with malware or suck up all your personal data.

 5. Keep Your Private Information Private.

Unfortunately, there is a constant threat to your personal data whether you are on the go (cell phone, wallet, and laptop) or at home (PC, home phone). Take extra provision in giving information to unsolicited callers. The more you communicate, the more they learn. Many con-artists make calls to unwitting consumers and are able to smoothly trick the listener into thinking that they are an authorized vendor.

A simple rule: do not provide your passwords or personal information to unsolicited callers. When searching new websites, to ensure its security, make sure there is a closed lock symbol at the bottom right of the screen.  Web addresses that begin with “https” are generally secure, and if you click on the lock symbol on the bottom right, it will display the same “https” address.

Stop. Think. Connect.

The biggest advantage you can give yourself against cyber-attacks is to raise awareness of cyber risk.  Homeland Security has a national public awareness campaign, “Stop. Think. Connect.” that is aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online. Stop.Think.Connect. has an online toolkit that provides resources and guides for Social Media, Cybersecurity while traveling, and discussion topics about Cybersecurity with kids, identity theft, and internet scams.

Protecting yourself online may seem like a daunting task, but by following the five easy steps it becomes simple. You don’t have to be a computer expert to take measures to stay safe online.

#NationalPuppyDay

Dogs, we love them.  And now research is telling us that when we get to spend the day with them at work, these animals make us happier and help lower our stress levels.  Today on National Puppy Day, we want to talk about why allowing dogs in the workplace is a great benefit to your work environment and employees.

Virginia Commonwealth University professors Sandra and Randolph Barker conducted a study that measured the stress levels of employees who worked for a company that allowed dogs in the workplace.  They found that having dogs around, in general, made people happier, lowered stress levels, and made workers more productive.

The most surprising result was that the dogs actually helped to break down communication barriers employees were having between them.  People without dogs would stop by to pet the dogs or ask to take them on walks.  Social interaction is not just a benefit for the dogs themselves, getting to interact with people and other pets, but also creates great opportunities for employees to connect with each other, establishing an atmosphere for better communication and teamwork.

Having a policy that allows dogs in the workplace is an attractive benefit for future hires.  Millennials are quickly replacing the baby boomers as the largest pet-owning generation.  These young, potential employees consistently rate being able to bring their dog or other pet into their office as one of their favorite benefits.  It’s also a great and low cost wellness benefit that is a natural stress reliever and team building activity.

Here at Babb, we get the occasional surprise of having our Group Benefits mascot, Machado the English bulldog spend the day with us.  It allows us to come together and laugh, take a break, and talk to each other.  Not to mention, that on Fridays, when he normally comes in, we are all ready for the weekend and have a build up of stress from the previous days.  When Machado is here, that stress seems to melt away and lightens the atmosphere.  We also get visitors from the other departments to come say hi, coworkers that we don’t always get to interact with on a daily basis.

Let’s face it, there is nothing better than getting to have a midday cuddle with a cute dog.  Check to see what your employer’s stance is on dogs in the workplace or how your employees would react to initiating such a policy.

 


(Photo by Sami Mel Photography)
http://www.aaha.org/blog/petsmatter/post/2016/05/10/317030/The-many-benefits-of-pets-in-the-workplace.aspx
http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/2016/05-06/dogs-at-work.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
http://www.cio.com/article/3000115/staff-management/14-rules-for-creating-a-bring-your-dog-to-work-policy.html
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/15/more-firms-allowing-dogs-and-other-pets-in-the-office.html

 

#ReadAcrossAmericaDay

Today we observe Dr. Seuss’s birthday by motivating children in every neighborhood and community to read.  All across the nation, people of all ages develop activities to inspire young children to expand their mind through the art of reading.  “Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.”

In honor of Read Across America Day, we are providing you with a few tips to help you get involved, not only today, but in improving childhood literacy overall, because, in the words of Dr. Seuss himself, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

  1. Join your local Read Across America event as a guest reader or host.
  2. Get the local middle school and high school students involved. They can hold book fairs, read to elementary school students, or create engaging theatrical events.
  3. Reach out to local businesses for book donations or as a place to hold a reading event.
  4. Create a multicultural event. By involving storytellers from many different ethnicities who speak many different languages, you will expose children to many new and interesting stories.
  5. Make it a special day. Hold a reading ball where kids are encouraged to dress up as their favorite character.
  6. Take a field trip to a local library or bookstore. Most libraries and bookstores hold events all day for children.  You can look online or call your local stores and libraries to see what events they have planned.
  7. Most importantly, have fun! Reading should be fun for everyone.  A lot of children don’t realize the importance of reading to their overall development, but the creativity, focus, comprehension, and broadening of their imagination will be invaluable to the rest of their education.

Remember this, you don’t have to be a teacher or librarian to inspire kids to read.  All it takes is spending time with them and showing them that reading is more than sitting and trying to remember words, it’s about the using their imagination to make stories come to life.  For more details on Read Across America Day, you can click this link.

http://www.nea.org/grants/read-across-background.html

 

 

 

Tobacco Cessation: Saving You Time and Money

By: Bree Leyer, M.S., EP-C

As I’m sure you’ve heard before, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death today.[1] I bet you have also heard about the health and financial benefits that can occur once you quit smoking (as an individual). What you might not know is how a tobacco-free workplace can save your company, and your employees, time and money. How might this happen? Let’s look at some major impacts as to what happens when you do not have a tobacco-free policy at your workplace…

  • Lower Productivity Levels (and Higher Absenteeism Rates)
    • Employees who take four smoking breaks per day actually work one month less per year as compared to those who do not.[2] They also tend to take longer breaks than nonsmokers.
  • Higher Worker’s Compensation Payments
    • A study in 2001 found that businesses pay an average of $2,189 in worker’s compensation claims for smokers and only $176 for nonsmokers.[3]
  • Higher Health and Life Insurance Costs and Claims
    • Employees who smoke can face insurance premium surcharges up to 50% more than nonsmokers.[4]
    • Employees who smoke may have healthcare costs as high as 40% more than those who do not smoke.2
  • Higher Risk of Accidents, Fires, and Property Damage
    • In 2011, smoking-materials fires caused $621 million in direct property damage.[5]
    • You could receive a reduction of 30% on your fire insurance premiums if your business becomes a tobacco-free workplace.[6]

Hopefully some of these statistics caught your attention, but what can you do to help your employees and your company? We offer two suggestions:

  1. Create and implement a tobacco-free workplace policy
  • Some options of policies include:
    • Smoke-free campus (No smoking inside or outside of the building)
    • No smoking inside of the building and designated smoking areas outside
    • No smoking inside but unrestricted smoking outside
  1. Offer a Tobacco Cessation Program
    • Check in with your healthcare company to see what programs they may offer
    • Offer a premium discount on their health insurance for those who are tobacco-free
    • Offer self-help materials, counseling options, telephonic consultation programs, and information on nicotine replacement therapy and medications to support your employees
    • Offer additional incentives for becoming tobacco-free

Interested in learning more about how to successfully implement a tobacco-free workplace or a tobacco cessation program? We can help! Contact Bree Leyer at bkl@babbins.com for more information.

Tobacco Cessation Resources:

 


[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General.Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.

[2] Action on Smoking and Health, March 1994.

[3] Musich, S.; Napier, D.: Edington, D.W.; “The Association of Health Risks With Workers’ Compensation Costs.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 43(6):534-541, June 2001.

[4] http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-smokers/

[5] Hall, Jr., J.R., “The Smoking-Material Fire Problem,” National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division, July 2013.

[6] Center for Health Promotion and Publications. The Dollar (and sense) Benefits of Having a Smoke-Free Workplace. Lansing, Michigan: Michigan Tobacco Control Program; 2000

2016 Spark Pittsburgh Step Challenge Award Ceremony

Last night we celebrated the winners of the Spark Pittsburgh Company Step Challenge at WTAE Studios.  All participating companies and the top three steppers were invited to join us for an awards ceremony celebrating the many successes the step challenge provided.

Guests got to view the commercial ads that were in cycle throughout the campaign and were also able to view some of the raw commercial footage for the top 3 companies.  All of the companies that participated received a special certificate and the individual winners also won tickets to an upcoming Pens game.

After the ceremony, all were invited to tour the WTAE Studio.  Guests had the opportunity to view the control rooms where every bit of camera equipment and technology are controlled from and the studio where the anchors actually report the news.  Even better, all of the guests were invited to stand in front of the green screen and report the weather.

The 2016 Spark Pittsburgh Company Step Challenge, challenged companies to get their employees moving in an effort to see which company could tally up the most steps. During the six week challenge, over 30 companies completed over 200,000,000 steps. With the success of the 2016 Spark Pittsburgh Company Step Challenge, we can only hope to grow and expand the challenge in the upcoming year and to help make Pittsburgh one of the healthiest cities in America.