Hold the Ice: How You Can Really Help.

By now, you’ve already seen and heard of the #IceBucketChallenge for ALS. It’s a viral campaign that picked up a lot of steam and there’s no arguing that it’s created a lot of awareness.

I’m all about awareness. I know that in today’s world, something going viral makes a lot of difference.

What I’m against is wasting clean water after the point has already been made.

I’ve been watching conversations, observing different people in my networks and they all have one thing in common: They want to raise awareness. They care about making a difference.

Here’s where the divide happens.

I’ve seen comments, on numerous conversation threads, where people have expressed that they didn’t even know that the #IceBucketChallenge had anything do to with ALS. Although numbers indicate that a lot of people are, in fact, donating money, the water being dumped shouldn’t be necessary.

Out of all the celebrities who took the #IceBucketChallenge, my favorite is Charlie Sheen. Instead of dumping water on his head, he dumped out the $10,000 he’s donating to the ALS Association. “Ice melts – money makes a difference,” he said.

I’ve also seen a lot of people take the challenge by making a donation to different charities, like Charity Water, UNICEF Tap Project, and the Thirst Project.  Do you have another cause that’s near and dear to your heart? If you’re tagged with the #IceBucketChallenge next, hold the ice and just make a donation. I promise it’ll still make an effective difference without wasting clean water.

Oh and in case you need a visual:


Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 9.38.19 AM


Image credit: California Department of Water Resources


It’s time to make a change

The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they’re showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


Eating disorders.

Teen Moms.

It’s not easy for a young girl to be empowered these days. If they don’t have the guidance, they can get lost.

Which is why it’s great that there are organizations like Girls For A Change (GFC) around whose mission is to empower girls to create social change.

And boy, do we need some social change.

Some of us, in our 20s, are having trouble finding our voice, and feel in limbo at times. Some of us experience QLCs. Some of us just barely make the right decisions for our own lives, let alone extend our energy for making an impact on the world around us.

Which is why it’s important that the next generation of girls need to have that guidance from an early start.

“We envision a world where girls with strong voices become active leaders and passionately engaged citizens, impacting not only their own neighborhoods but also their nations as girls become informed and participating citizens in their civic, political and cultural communities. By connecting them with adult women trained to serve as volunteer coaches, girls develop trusted relationships with powerful role models for civic engagement while women become strong advocates for girls and their neighborhoods.”

GFC has a few programs, including Girl Action Teams, Change Your World Trainings, New Girls Network and the GFC Action Network.

You can help make a difference for the girls who are learning how to create social change.

“Girls For A Change is committed to giving all girls the opportunity to fly, the opportunity to invent, and the opportunity to experience the spark that comes with seeing your own idea take form and make a difference. A gift to Girls For A Change supports a high leverage model of social change at the hands of middle and high school girls with broad, lasting impact.”

All you have to do is change your browser’s homepage to Yahoo! by July 1 and Yahoo! will donate $10 to GFC. Easy enough, right? So go for it.


[Events] In DC This Week

I normally don’t do events post like this one but when two amazing events are happening in Washington, DC in one week, I certainly have to highlight them!

DC Fit Week

Beginning today, DC Fit Week is geared toward bringing excitement and awareness to physical activity as a means to stimulate weight loss. By doing this, it will motivate and empower active social adults with the knowledge to lead healthier lives and to provide a support network of like-minded professional people.

You can sign up for free classes through the week,. The full schedule is available here.

Wednesday night is the DC Fit Week Expo which is DC’s only fitness-focused happy hour, expert chat and fashion show sponsored by local fitness shops! It’s free so be sure to sign up! I’ll be there with WGirls DC so come by and say hi!

For more information on DC Fit Week, be sure to follow the them on Twitter.

DC Twestival

I love using Social Media for raising awareness and DC Twestival is part of the global organization, Twestival. An event fundraiser is hosted to benefit either a local Washington DC charity or one global charity with global impact.

This Thursday, March 24, you should join us for this year’s fundraiser!

Come join us for a a social media fundraiser in Washington, DC! This year, DC Twestival Local is joining with FAIR Fund to elevate community awareness surrounding human trafficking. FAIR Fund’s program, “Tell Your Friends,” reaches out to youth in DC schools with a four week process to educate and discuss the serious nature of human trafficking, how to identify it and how to end or report it!

100% of ticket sales and donations will go directly to FAIR Fund in support of local DC programs and initiatives! Join us Thursday, March 24th, at Shadow Room. Be ready to meet the DC Twestival team, and talk with the FAIR Fund nonprofit executives!

You can buy your tickets here if you haven’t yet. If you can’t make it, be SURE to spread the word. Tweet about it using the #DCTwestival hashtag! For updates and more information, follow DC Twestival on twitter.

So, in case you missed it, you buy your tickets HERE.


Celebrate PQ

OK, so this isn’t a major event but my birthday celebration will be at the Science Club on Sat, March 26th so be sure to stop by.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Advertise & Give to a Good Cause = Win-Win

I’m going to start letting you guys advertise on my blog, if you choose.  This is for three reasons:

1)I’m blogging more often so you’d get more exposure.

2) Being a full-time freelancer means a girl’s gotta use all her assets.

3) I want to be able to give to charity, but because of #2, I have to get creative.

I haven’t figured out the pricing 100%…but I do know that 10% of my proceeds every month will go into a charity fund.  Every three months, with your help, we’ll pick a cause to help.

When I was blogging on Myspace [Don’t laugh, I promise I’ll tell you the story behind this], I got the idea to do an online auction. 24 hours. Purely using the blog and items that other bloggers contributed to the auction.  My first one raised about $1000 back in 2006. Three months later, the second one raised over $1500.

All in 24 hours.

Since I can’t do this right now (I am hoping to put this into effect again in the future. Please do not steal my idea because it is my baby and part of a bigger plan), I’m getting creative.

I will have 5 ad spots on my right sidebar which is currently inactive.

You can rent a spot on a monthly or 3-month basis.

You can promote your blog, business or Etsy.

The first ads will go live in April.

If you’re interested, or know someone who would be, please e-mail me: berrakdc@gmail.com.

& Spread the word.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

I’ll take suggestions for the first charity in this blog.

Heart of Haiti

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, and the hearts of many all around the world.  A year later, those who survived the catastrophe are struggling to make a living with the limited resources available to them. Haitian artisans continue to turn unlikely raw materials into beautiful works of art, which reflect their unwavering resolve in the face of adversary, as well as their rich culture & history.

The Heart of Haiti project bring pieces of art made from recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier mache,and stone, offering the first sustainable income since the earthquake.  Purchasing one of these handcrafted masterpieces directly benefits Haitian artisans, enabling them to support their family, repair their homes and send their children to school.

Heart of Haiti also offers new opportunities for artists to collaborate with US designers, strengthening artisan associations and inspiring and energizing their communities.

You can get this beautiful mirror handmade from the steel of recycled barrels and named for the island’s sea god, Agwe.

Or this vibrant Market Canvas Print.

There is, of course, my favorite, the watermelon sculpture.

You can find these & more at the Heart of Haiti site.

More information on the the Heart of Haiti founder and Fairwinds Trading CEO Willa Shalit can be found here.


I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.


Before you do anything, go over to the left and click ‘Like’ since I finally made a FB page for DC Princess. Go, do it. <3


I love taking surveys.  As bad as I am about writing reviews, I do enjoy giving feedback on products that I enjoy and products that may interest me but need improvement. (Let’s not even start with the ones that I don’t like).

I also like giving to charity, though I may not always have the financial ability or the time to do as much as I would like to help out to the different causes that are important to me.

So when I discovered Crowdtap, “the first a pay-per-action social marketing and research platform”, I was intrigued.  I immediately signed on and began playing around with the options available to me. Once I realized it was something that I will actively use and would like others to participate, I began spreading the word.

It’s fun & easy to use AND you earn cash for gift cards and charity for your participation. In fact, you earn your first dollar just for signing up. (Sign up now!)

When you first log-on, you see your progress, actions available to you & community activity.

Above that, you have your navigation for ‘Home’, ‘Stats’ (Where you can see your own dashboard, stats & history, as well as any badges you’ve earned), & ‘Redeem’ (Once you reach $10, you may redeem your earnings for a gift card & the charity you choose).

One of my favorite things about Crowdtap is their blog, OnTap, “keeping you up to date on all the latest happenings direct from the team. From new functionality and new perks to how Crowdtappers are making an impact , OnTap will keep you in the know.”

Their blog is informative, engaging and provides you with tips, news & announcements.  For a great start-up like this, I believe that an active and engaging blog is key and the folks at Crowdtap are definitely on top of it!

Currently, Crowdtap is invite only so click this link to go & sign up!  Let me know what you think!

You can also find Crowdtap on Facebook and Twitter.


This is not a sponsored post and I am not affiliated with Crowdtap in any way. 

It Was Time

Sometimes in life, it’s necessary to have a pen name.  Sometimes, it just makes things easier because all you’re doing is creating a name that is not so uncommon that it comes up on Google searches.

Sometimes, you just need that safety net.

And then, there comes a time when it gets too complicated.  You make friends, you sign up for conferences and your business cards and everything else has your pen name while your name tag at the conference has your real name.

Sometimes, it’s time to figure out the best way to consolidate the two because you still don’t want your real name EVERYWHERE on the web.

You have to start somewhere. So I have.

I’m not sure how I will go about consolidating the two LinkedIn profiles, or my bio on here.  I will figure it out.

I do know one thing.

The ‘PQ’ stays.

Welcome to the next stage in my life, where I finally take control.

Be patient with me as I figure it out.  Just stick to calling me “B.” or “PQ” online. Let’s keep it simple.

Though, I’ll be honest. Seeing MY name in a byline? Priceless.

If you’re around D.C. tonight, you should stop by 18th & U for a  Fundraiser for LGBTQ Youth (The Trevor Project). Details here. (Yeah, that’s my real name up there.)

Drink, Volunteer, Track: A-SPAN, DCCK, Miriam’s Kitchen & More

I haven’t really talked about my new internship on my blog but the post I wrote for the blog pretty much sums it up:

Why myImpact on Social Good Day

When I was in high school, it was a race to get the fullest college application. Who took the most AP classes? Who had the highest GPA? One of the most fulfilling experiences, however, was the community service requirement. In order to graduate from high school, I needed to complete 160 hours over the course of four years. Back then, the only way I tracked it was on a sheet that would be signed by the supervisors and then filed away.

As a high school student, I did everything from volunteering with the summer program at the local library to organizing the initiative to make 2,000 ribbons to be given out on World AIDS Day. Even though it started out just to fulfill a requirement, the impact that I made always stuck with me.

Years later, before I got involved with Social Media, I was a blogger on Myspace. I organized two 24-hour fundraiser auctions using only the blogs on Myspace and getting donations from other bloggers. The two fundraisers raised over $2,300 ($1,000 & $1,300) in only 48 hours. This was BEFORE there were tools such as Facebook and Twitter to get a movement going.

How do you use Social Media? How do you track your impact? I am excited to be working with myImpact because the platform integrates a tool that we use everyday to help us keep track of our impact. When you make a $10 donation, it may not seem like a big deal. When you can see your volunteer hours and those $10 donation accumulate over time, then the impact that you have on the world around you unfolds.

Check out the myImpact platform. You have the opportunity to see the difference that you make, as well as the difference other people are making in their community. See the difference you make. Encourage others to do the same.

In honor of Social Good Day, sign up for myImpact and share your impact with others. It’s a Twitter-based web platform for tracking the difference you make on the world around you.

Isn’t it time to use Social Media more productively?

If you volunteer, that’s awesome! Help us make the myImpact platform the best that it can be. We need YOU to use the tools so that we can get the feedback to take it to the next level.

Are you a parent? Has your child started doing community service? Direct them to myimpact.org

If you don’t volunteer, maybe it’s time to start. You can do as little as 2 hours a week to make a difference in the community around you. If you’re local to DC, there are a TON of places you can volunteer.

For starters? DC Central Kitchen’s vans were vandalized this week (Who would do such a thing?) Those who serve our community need your help to get back on their feet. You can check out their Twitter feed to see how you can help.

Love to cook? Sign up to volunteer at Miriam’s Kitchen to serve the homeless.

Need a specific event to jump-start your volunteer motivation? On October 12th, come join us in Clarendon for the Sock it to Virginia happy hour to learn about volunteering with A-SPAN, an agency that’s been lifting people out of homelessness for 20 years, and how social media is bringing a voice to the homeless from Shay Kelley of Project 50/50. Details here. Mark your calendars today.

Tracking your volunteer activity is a way to give others that push to volunteer. Ask a friend to come volunteer with you one day. More than likely, all they need is a little push.