Would Obama’s volunteer proposal work?


It sounds like a great plan: To every college student who volunteers at least 100 hours a year give a $4000 tax credit that would be paid directly to that student’s college.

Having just had a student in college – my husband – I can say that a $4000 credit on the UT tuition bill would have been a tremendous help. In fact, that would have covered just about all his classes, leaving out parking, books, and other fees. He didn’t live on campus so there were no dorm expenses.

Because he was a more “mature” student, he didn’t quite fit into the role. While study groups met around dinner time, my husband was busy “meeting” with his wife and son. When he got injured and had to visit the campus doctor, they wouldn’t let me come in to the examining room due to a policy designed to protect a student’s privacy – no matter my husband was way older than 21 and I was his wife, not his mother. Also, professors would wait until the last minute to provide the dates and locations of overnight geological field trips, which was fine if you slept in your school clothes but more difficult if you were trying to arrange child care.

 So when I read about Obama’s proposal, I automatically thought, “Define student. Define volunteer . Define college.”

I know a surge of fresh, energetic volunteers would be a boon to nonprofits across the country. But I also start to think… wait. Who’s the nonprofit staff person who’s going to have to keep track and report those hours?

There would have to be a system, people! Is creating, maintaining, supporting, and standing up for that system worth the effort? Is this finally a sensible proposal to build volunteerism or would it be more burden than benefit?

APRIL 5: El Buen’s First Annual Spring Gala



1. Just look at those kids! The gala benefits the Early Childhood Development Center, which has been providing bilingual care to East Austin children for almost 30 years. It is certainly one of the longest-running and most successful early education programs in Central Texas.

2. The Mexican American Cultural Center.

 Austin Mexican American Cultural Center

Think you know Austin? If you haven’t visited the MACC yet, you don’t know the half of it. The gala is the perfect opportunity to see this gorgeous building and learn more about the classes, galleries, and history behind this superb Austin resource.

3. Endowment. According to the Las Comadres listserv, “The Center has recently been blessed with a generous donation to start an endowment fund and we invite you to help us raise $50,000 to match the donation. The endowment fund will be managed by the Austin Community Foundation for the benefit of El Buen Pastor Early Childhood Development Center.

The Fund has been established to ensure that the Center’s families who are unable to afford full tuition costs are provided scholarships long into the future. Currently, 75% of the children fall into the 2008 Federal Poverty Guidelines.”

Here are the details:

El Buen Pastor Early Childhood Development Center
First Spring Gala
7  to 9 PM
Saturday, April 5
Mexican American Cultural Center
600 River Street, Austin, Texas

~ Music ~ by Mariachi Tejas and Jake Scarbrough
~ Wine Tasting ~
~ A Silent Auction ~
which will include Artwork by Amado Pena and Courtney Enriquez

Cocktail Attire Recommended

Please RSVP to Sarah Vasquez at 476.4505 or

Oliva’s first online photo

One picture and then I promise we’ll get back to the business at hand.

Norwood and Olivia at Easter

This is Norwood (my husband) holding Olivia on Easter Sunday. She’s wearing a headband with a bow. What can I say….? It looks like she’s waving and tilting her head, but she has so muscle control. In fact, she’s kinda flopping around. Here’s more about Olivia… and now I promise… no more photos. Thanks!

Study: Giving – not spending – leads to happiness


Happiest couple in Austin, the Butlers.

Proof that the Butlers are the happiest people in Austin… this article from Forbes.

Now, I’m always skeptical about new stories about scientific “studies.” There’s so much junk science out there that gets reported as truth…. But this study and its findings seemed harmless, and like most studies of its kind, mostly proved something we all kind of figured was true anyway.

“As researchers sifted through the numbers, they found that happiness didn’t correlate with personal spending but, rather, with how much they gave away.”

It didn’t seem to matter if people gave away $5 or $500, they tended to be happier than the folks who spent the money on themselves. So here’s the advice from Forbes, the magazine about wealth: Next time you’re feeling blue, give some money away.

My Olivia’s here!

As some of you may know (if you’ve seen me, it’s been pretty obvious), I had been expecting my second child around the end of Februrary – right around the time we wanted to have the first issue of GoodCause wrapped up. What was I thinking?

After a full day’s laboring on Monday, Olivia Renee Williams was born on Tuesday morning, February 26, a full eight pounds even. Breech as all get-out. Which explains why she could hold her head up at just four days old. (Not a medical opinion, just a mom’s.) The week before that I’d been in high-gear nesting, putting together my four-year-old’s birthday party (his birthday is February 25, a day before his sister’s!), and making peace with pink everything.

We’ll settle into a routine soon, I think, but for now the magazine and the blog are on hold for a bit. We’ll be back to making progress toward the first issue as soon as I convince Olivia to sleep more than three hours in a row. Okay, sooner than that.

Thanks for your emails and good wishes!