A former teacher, Candace Lindemann now works as an educational consultant and freelance writer. She writes on several blog's including Naturally Educational, a website dedicated to providing natural ideas and methods for children to learn through play and exploring the world around them. Naturally Educational was voted one of the Top Three Education Blog's in the 2010 Bloggers' Choice Awards.
Lindemann resides in Miller Place with her husband and two children and she is pregnant with her third child. She graduated from Yale University and earned an M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
She sat down with the Patch to let us in on what motivates her to be an active volunteer in the community.
How long have you been an active volunteer?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been volunteering. I was in charge of high school clubs back then. I was the philanthropy chair of my sorority in college, and graduate school I was an active volunteer as well. In graduate school I was volunteering for America Reads primarily, and other things as well.
So my big thing has always been volunteering with kids primarily around education when possible, and I always look for things that have innovative solutions -- simple but innovative solutions.
Was helping others and volunteering a family value in your home growing up?
Oh yes definitely, helping others was always a family value growing up. Definitely a social justice value, it's always been very important with my family, my grandfather, and my parents.
How do you explain to your own children why volunteering is important? Do they ask questions?
They do ask a lot, and I tell them, especially with my daughter, I tell her that there are people who don’t have a lot of the things that we have.
So we talk about it yes, its an opportunity also to talk about needs and wants and necessity's and things that are just nice to have.
With young children, just getting them into the habit of giving back can create life long volunteers. Volunteering with children not only communicates your values but it is also important for their own self-esteem. All day long, children are helped. While receiving that help may make them feel loved and cherished, to be able to help someone else and make a difference is very empowering.
Can we talk about some of your recent events and projects?
We did Elmer’s Bag It Forward for military families. They basically said 'here is 100 dollars, use 50 on your family and 50 for a family in need.' And I said well I would like to use the whole hundred for families and I’m going to get my other friends involved. With the hundred I can get a lot of school supplies if everyone could pick up a backpack or two and I did the same. So this was something very meaningful to me because I know these families in the National Guard.
Last year we did Help A Mother Out, an organization based in California, and they have diaper drives and raise awareness about this issue all over the country. Essentially the idea is diapers are not covered, amazingly, and so many issues are involved in it because you can’t drop your kid off at daycare without diapers. You can’t go and get a job, everyone would love to say go get a job to these women, which I don’t necessarily think is the right response to say to a mother with a young child in diapers. But lets say she does want to go get a job, and she does want to work, how is she going to do that if she can’t drop her kid at daycare without diapers?
Again that is the thing I tend to look for where you can say wow there is all these deep society problems and its not going to solve all of them. But at least it’s a pressure point, its something doable, its something measurable, its something we can all help out with, the same thing with the book drive.
Your referring to Reach Out And Read?
Yes, Reach Out And Read is the most recent thing I’ve done. I did that last year as well without the UPS store, but this year the UPS store approached me about being an Ambassador. One of the things about being an Ambassador is they wanted me to run a charity event. Since they were already working with me on my education site they said they would love for it to be about education.
Literacy is just a big thing for me. I think it’s the cornerstone of so much, academic learning and just functioning in society, and so I love Reach Out and Read it's one of my favorite programs. They found that just giving two books a year and telling parents about the importance of reading out loud can actually make a measurable increase amongst these at-risk children.
And locally, are there people in the community that are in need?
It's amazing to me that a lot of people in this area don’t realize how many people in our community are in need. It's very easy here in Miller Place to not notice that there are hundreds and hundreds of children on Medicaid. When I work for Volunteer 4 Long Island and do their food drive, they go out and feed area people. They are just packing up hundreds of meals for people that are homeless and under-housed in this area. They have an amazing video on Youtube showing what they do.
I was trying to track down the actual statistic the other day but I heard about coat drives in the colder weather and the number of coats needed for children in this area alone is astounding...just astounding. Just in Suffolk County in Brookhaven, it's upsetting so many of our neighbors are homeless or under-housed or in temporary government housing. And these are people in our community, some are chronically homeless and some have had a temporary run of bad luck and those are often families with small children.
Tell us about the book you wrote for the Historical Society.
Yes, I also have written and published this past year the Images of America: Miller Place. I worked with the historical society on that. It's basically lots of photos with lengthy captions and introductions, and its about the history of the community. The proceeds of the book all go to the society.
You also have other projects, blogs and sites?
Army Wives Lives was my first site, then Mamanista was my second. Lilah (daughter) was born with a heart condition, and I ended up researching a lot of different baby products trying to keep her happy and calm and content. We practiced attachment parenting but she was a very colicky child and I HAD to keep her calm. My husband was deployed at the time, so I started getting into swings and swaddle wraps and all these sorts of things and my friend said 'well if you put it down on a blog first you won’t have to keep retyping it every time someone asks for advice.' We launched Mamanista and we donated a lot of the profits to charity, now we take a lot of the profits and put them into Bloganthropy which is my latest project.
Bloganthropy.org is a grassroots organization that we are trying to promote and encourage bloggers' charitable efforts. We have the annual awards, last year sponsored by P&G Give Health, this year it's P&G Education so it's Proctor and Gamble's charitable arms, not the actual main corporation but their charitable arms are sponsoring it.
I have for my education consulting, I’m not trying to make a profit off this site at this time, I’ve done Ambassadorships with UPS store... Occasionally when I feel like it’s a really good fit, but it's primarily to raise my profile as an educational consultant. I make the money from the actual writing and consulting done off site.
Is there anything you would like the people in this community to know?
There is a huge need and no matter what you have to give; your time, your energy or talents or money, you can volunteer spending zero money using your talents and your time and if you don’t have time to commit to weekly volunteering there are other things you can do like one-time drives. Most of the time you can find solutions that are really researched and affective and can have a large impact. That’s what I look for, tested solutions, you want to know the things your doing really are making a difference. It feels great to volunteer but it shouldn’t just be about making yourself feel good, you want to know your actually helping someone else.