4 Texas Nonprofits That Are Making A Difference

Many multi coloured hands waving and celebrating

One of the most rewarding and thoughtful things you can do is giving back to your community. With so many nonprofits out there, it can be hard to know which one to volunteer with or to donate to. If you live in Texas, you’re in luck because this state is filled with a number of incredible nonprofits. No matter what cause you care about, you’re bound to find an organization in Texas that works for that cause.

Here are a few of the best nonprofits in Texas:

1) Soldiers’ Angels

Located in San Antonio, Texas, Soldiers’ Angels works to provide aid and comfort to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as their families. Soldiers’ Angels was founded by the mother of two American soldiers. This organization helps veterans as well as wounded and deployed personnel in a number of ways, providing individualized and immediate assistance. Volunteer “Angels” adopt individual deployed troops whom they are able to stay in touch with during their deployment.

2) Minnie’s Food Pantry

This nonprofit strives to combat the issue of hunger. Founded by Dr. Cheryl “Action” Jackson in honor of her mother, Minnie Hawthorne-Ewing D.D., this organization operates entirely on the funds of the people and the community. A number of larger corporations have gotten involved with Minnie’s Food Pantry. Volunteers have come from Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, and Fossil. Food has been contributed by Market Street, Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut. Located in Plano, Texas, Minnie’s Food Pantry provides several programs to meet the needs of the hungry people who walk through their doors. This organization has been featured on The Food Network documentary, Good Morning America, The Talk, The Ellen Show, The Steve Harvey Show, and Entertainment Tonight. This lauded organization is a wonderful place to volunteer or donate if you care about feeding the hungry.

3) In-Sync Exotic, Inc

In-Sync Exotics is dedicated to rescuing abused, neglected or unwanted exotic felines. This organization hopes to educate the public on the unique characteristics of the animals that live there and the irresponsible, and often illegal, nature of the ownership and captive breeding of exotic wild animals. This nonprofit organization also aims to inform people of the need to stronger legislation against those who abuse exotic wild animals. In-Sync Exotics also has a community outreach program which visits schools, churches and other organizations to spread their message. They also offer scheduled group tours of the sanctuary 7 days a week.

4) Miracle Foundation

Located in Austin, Texas, the Miracle Foundation works to change the lives of the world’s orphans by providing them with ways to help themselves. The Miracle Foundation’s proven and sustainable model is based upon the established 12 Rights of the Child. This organization puts this model into practice by giving purposeful employment to local people who need work. The Miracle Foundation also funds scholarships for education, transforms local orphanages into homes, and trains displaced women to become cherished mothers.

No matter what issues you strive to fix in the world, there is a nonprofit organization in Texas that aligns with your values. These organizations are making a huge impact on the world, and you can too by getting involved.

Communities: HSA/HRA/MERP/FSA Admin & Finance

An article that I co-wrote and wanted to share with you all:

IRC 105 (March 10th, 2014)

Communities: HSA/HRA/MERP/FSA Admin & Finance

HRA/MERPs Are Still a Viable Tax Savings Device for Small Businesses

MADISON, WI — March 10, 2014 — Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)/Medical Expense Reimbursement Plans (MERPs) are a popular way for small business owners to save thousands of dollars each year on their taxes. The good news is that contrary to popular belief, many categories of HRA/MERP’s will not change under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Based on Section 105 of the Internal Revenue Code, HRA/MERP benefit programs allow small business owners to deduct 100 percent of family out-of-pocket medical expenses as business tax deductions. This includes insurance premiums for health, long-term care, vision, and dental. The savings can be substantial: On average, Employee to save $5,000 a year – family on employees group insurance (deductible, co-payments, dental, vision)may save $ 15,000 on their taxes with a Section 105 HRA/MERP.  All HRA/MERP claim payments with underlining group medical, dental, vision coverage are not as a rule income to the employee/dependent.

IRS Notice 2013-54 has caused a great deal of confusion and misinformation in the marketplace, even among industry experts. In fact, Section 105c, h itself was not amended by the PPACA. Rather, the new ACA “market reform” provisions impose a penalty on some categories of HRA/MERP’s. But the following Section 105 c, h HRA/MERP plan designs are not affected by these “market reforms” and are still permitted as a pre-tax benefit:

  • One Employee HRA/MERP (see 105 restrictions, Maximum payout per employee)– These types of HRA/MERP’s are typically offered to an employee/dependent and are only available with Group insurance. This HRA/MERP category does not change: It can be used for medical, dental and vision expenses and can include or not include a maximum limit cap.
  • Limited Purpose HRA/MERP – These HRA/MERP’s provide coverage for dental, orthodontia, vision or long-term care only and also remain unchanged.
  • Integrated HRA/MERP – These are multiple-employee HRA/MERP’s that are integrated with Group insurance. Each benefit eligible participant must be enrolled in a Group health insurance plan to qualify.
  • Health Indemnity HRA/MERP – This HRA/MERP type reimburses premiums for certain limited scope policies, including most traditional hospital indemnity and other fixed payment policies and specific illness policies (e.g., cancer).
  • Retiree HRA – For these plans, the employer controls the cost of retiree medical coverage by funding a fixed amount each year from the general assets of the business funded prior to the employee turning 65 unless continued employed.

According to Andy Biebl, a well-known agricultural tax authority, CPA, and principal with CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, “These HRA/MERP’s (listed above) remain legitimate, logical and suitable methods of tax avoidance. I personally have recommended HRA/MERP plans to small business owners who qualify.”

If you find this all a bit confusing, contact a national third-party benefits administrator or DBT professional who specializes in small/mid-size business taxes and changing Healthcare Reform legislation.

About TASC and Diversified Employee Benefit Services, LLC (DEBS)

TASC is an award-winning nationwide third-party benefits administrator & DEBS using its certified Benefit Trust are tax-advantaged health benefits plans offering comprehensive services and serving companies ranging in size from two (2) employee to thousands! New product development, innovative tools, and outstanding transparent service keep TASC & DEBS products and services at the forefront of 105 c, h.

Agri Plan NOW and Biz Plan NOW (Section 105 HRA, MERP) are products that fall under TASC & DEBS Microbusiness umbrella. Agri Plan, Biz Plan NOW & DBT save small business owners an average of $5,000 a year on their out-of-pocket medical expenses!

More HSA/HRA/FSA Admin & Finance Articles

When Wellness Programs Aren’t Enough

Over the past decade, employers have embraced the connection between healthy employees, productivity and job performance. The recently released Willis Towers Watson Global Benefit Attitudes Survey 2015/16, found that nine out of 10 employers cited health and well-being programs as a key part of their overall benefits strategy and many

The Cadillac Tax: How It’s Threatening Health Care Consumerism

Despite its name, the Cadillac Tax is set to affect millions of people, and not just CEOs and Wall Street executives with gold-plated plans. Middle-class families will be among those most affected, as they tend to benefit the most from the current tax exemption.

However, if tax attorney, Cpa use a service provided by DEBS or TASC, the HRA/MERP 105 c, h will circumvent all “…Cadillac tax”.

Charity: Water


Around 660 million people worldwide are do not have access to clean water. That amounts to nearly twice the population of the United States or 9% of the world’s total population. Having access to clean water is often something that people take for granted. Water can play such a large role in the daily lives of people all over the world. Below are 4 facts about water that may change the way you value water and the many ways that you use it.


  • Diseases and Infections from the use of dirty water kill more each year than every form of violence, this statistic includes war and combat. Around 40% of those recorded deaths are children ages 5 and younger.
  • Each year African women spend 40 billion hours fetching water. These hours take away from schooling, food gathering and income-producing work.
  • With access to clean water stable plumbing, more children, specifically females will be able to attend school and not have to miss 1 week out of every month at home.
  • 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa is carried out by women. Access to clean water can give them their life back.

Why People Need Clean Water

  • Proper hygiene can be maintained with clean water to bath in. Cleaner people means fewer diseases.
  • Over three quarters of disease in underdeveloped countries is waterborne and can be combatted with access to clean water
  • The less time that people are spending searching for clean water, the more time they have to attend school.
  • More clean water gives people access to safe cooking practices
  • Economic development can be jumpstarted as every 1$ invest in clean water can yield a return of around 8$ economically

Addressing The Issue

Charity: water works with local communities worldwide to promote and implement sustainable water solutions to help assure that everyone worldwide has access to clean water. Since Charity: water was founded in 2006, 20,000 projects have been funded which has resulted in 6.3 million people having access to clean water in 24 countries. This includes the installation of new water collection systems and the repairing of old ones. 100% of donations are used to fund projects, since operations expenses are covered privately.

How to Contribute

  • Donate on a monthly, daily or one time basis. Charity: water accepts checks, stocks, PayPal and cash.
  • Sponsor an entire water project that will be started or continued at an appropriate location. With a donation of $10,000 or more, an entire community can have access to clean water.
  • Pledge your birthday to Charity: water, instead of asking your friends and family for gifts, ask them for donations. An average of 38 people get access to water from a birthday campaign.


40 Worth Street

Suite 330

New York, NY 10013

tel. 1-646-688-2323

fax. 1-646-883-3456


Donate wisely by using Charity Navigator



Making charitable donations to worthy causes is a relatively simple way to help those in need, or to give back to a community. Many people have a favorite charity with whom the collaborate, volunteer, and/or donate money to regularly. Unfortunately, many more neglect to properly search for a cause that meets their requirements and expectations. Far too many organizations market themselves as charitable, only to be revealed as scams after further research. That’s why it falls upon the giver to do their research before choosing to contribute to a cause. Fortunately, one website has made this a lot easier.

Charity Navigator has positioned itself as a watchdog in the philanthropic community. Founded in 2001, it has become the country’s largest and most widely used evaluator of charities. It uses an objective, numbers-based system to assess over 8,000 of America’s charitable organizations. Charity Navigator’s evaluation system focuses on two central factors: the charity’s financial health and its accountability and transparency. It also focuses on the organization’s consistency across times, and its level of commitment to good governance. It uses a mathematical formula to calculate a score on a scale of 0-100, where 100 is the best. Charity Navigator accepts no funding from the organizations it evaluates, and is completely free to use.

It’s incredibly important to make sure that the charity you’re choosing to donate to uses your money wisely. It is far too common for charities to devote huge portions of their budget to administrative costs–which often translates to the CEO and other top executives paying themselves handsomely with money that could have gone directly to the cause. And some of the most highly-rated causes on Charity Navigator are not the best known: India Development and Relief Fund (score: 99.75) and Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (score: 98.93) are two such organizations that lack renown but more than make up for it in competence.

In addition to identifying lesser-known charities, the website can also be used to reevaluate your opinion of established charities. Charity Navigator’s Watchlist compiles organizations that have engaged in conduct that may affect a donor’s decision to support that charity. The Clinton Foundation was placed on the list in March of 2015 after major news outlets raised questions about whether corporations and foreign governments had used donations to the charity to curry favor with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The foundation was removed from the list in December, after it provided publicly accessible information regarding their tax forms over the last few years.

Though the controversy has subsided, the Clinton Foundation saga has taught us an important lesson about giving: it is essential to do your research. Giving is great, but giving smartly is better. Look up your charity of choice on Charity Navigator here: http://www.charitynavigator.org/


Getting Involved with The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

MS ribbonMultiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.

The National MS Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. To fulfill this mission, the Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, collaborates with MS organizations around the world, and provides programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.

To move us closer to creating a world free of MS, last year alone, the Society invested nearly $50 million to support more than 380 new and ongoing research projects around the world while providing program services to over one million people.

If you are looking for ways to get involved, participate in one of the numerous fundraising events that are happening all over the US!

Walk MS connects people living with MS and those who care about them. When you participate in community events like this one, the funds you raise give hope to the more than 2.3 million people living with MS worldwide. Fundraising walks have been going on since 1988 and to date have raised more than $870 million to support life changing programs and cutting-edge research.

There are walks and rides happening throughout the year as well as other events such as The Dallas On The Move Luncheon. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will host the 9th Annual On the Move Luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas on Friday, November 13th, from 11:00am to 1:00pm. The annual luncheon, which raises funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis, will feature Keynote Speaker Jason DaSilva, Artist and Filmmaker, who at the age of 25 was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Money raised at this year’s events will support research progress in many areas, moving us closer to our ultimate goal of a world without MS!

The American Cancer Society: Fighting Childhood Cancer

The American Cancer Society is actively fighting cancer that develops in children through a variety of different ways – research being one of the most essential. The Society has dozens of full-time researchers and external grantees who actively watch the state of childhood cancer, discovering effective treatments and monitoring various ways to improve upon existing ones in order to fully understand how and why certain cancers develop at such a young age.

Stephen Geri houston

Preventing, detecting, and treating are the three main goals of the American Cancer Society’s full-time research staff catered to childhood cancer. According to their website, “The Society’s Surveillance and Health Services Research program analyzes data on childhood cancers on an annual basis as part of its Cancer Facts and Figures report,” (Cancer.org). Some of the main findings in the 2015 report include:

  • An estimated 10,380 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2015
  • An estimated 1,250 deaths will occur among children up to 14 years old
  • Mortality rates for childhood cancer (birth to 14 years old) have declined by 67% over the past four decades

Though there have been vast improvements in research methods, preventing, treating, and detecting cancer in children for the last couple of decades, there are still many challenges on the road ahead towards fighting these critical diseases.

The American Cancer Society produced a special report on childhood cancer in the year 2014, which summarizes both the challenges and progress made in fighting childhood cancers. According to their website, “The report points out that although advances in treatment of childhood cancer have saved many lives over recent decades, there has been less progress made in understanding the causes and prevention of childhood and adolescent cancers,” (Cancer.org).

The Society is dedicated to research and health professional training associated with improving the quality of life of children who have cancer, as well as their loved ones who are also affected by it. The Society has partnered with the National Palliative Care Research Center to help fund various research mechanisms and will continue to support long-standing initiatives catered to childhood cancer research.

The American Heart Association: Saving Lives One Heart at a Time

Stephen GeriKnown as the nation’s largest and oldest volunteer organization that concentrates on fighting heart disease and stroke, the American Heart Association was founded by six cardiologists in 1924 and now contains almost 23 million supporters and volunteers. The AHA is one of the biggest leaders in regard to funding research, providing medical tools and information to help save lives, and fighting for greater overall health policies, many of which have been implemented across the nation.

Heart disease is the number 1 cause of all deaths in the world, which is the primary reason why the American Heart Association is extremely important throughout our communities. Strokes are the second leading cause of death globally, which is why the AHA established the American Stroke Association in 1997, honing in on strokes in more detail. Annually, heart disease and strokes kill around 787,000 Americans – a number that is far too large to be ignored. The AHA has also noted that cardiovascular disease affects over 33% of all adult Americans.

Stephen GeriNationally, the American Heart Association has 156 offices and over 3,000 employees. Originally located in New York, its national headquarters moved to Dallas in 1975. The nonprofit is most widely recognized for providing public health education to help raise awareness of heart disease and establish best healthy heart practices. Not only does the AHA provide treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals in order to improve overall heart care across the
nation, but they are also the nation’s number one leader in CPR education training.

One of the AHA’s main goals is to raise awareness that heart disease and stroke is a major problem in our country  – but that they can be prevented. By not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, staying active regularly, eating well, and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, your heart’s risk for these diseases can be greatly reduced.

For more information about the American Heart Association, please visit their website here, and remember to spread awareness so that the ones you love, and the nation as a whole, can be saved one heart at a time

Fundraising for Charity

Stephen Geri Charity ideasRaising money for a specific cause or charity can be more difficult than you may think – that’s why it’s important to go about fundraising in a creative way. When fundraising is implemented creatively, you can avoid the hassle that comes with boring, repetitive fundraising techniques that most people don’t get too thrilled about. Instead, help people get motivated to donate by engaging in a fun activity within the community. Here are a few ideas of how you can set up a unique fundraiser for a great cause:

First, get the children involved. Let’s face it – people of all ages become inspired when they see young children participating in an event for charity. Whether it’s a dance recital, a play, or a sports event, parents and other donors will undoubtedly be influenced to support their children and help raise money for the cause.

Next, organizing a competition is a great way to raise money for a charity – just make sure you have everything planned out beforehand. There are plenty of options to choose from here – you can host a fashion show, a pie-eating competition, or even a basketball shooting competition in your community that everyone will want to participate in. These types of events not only get people excited to participate in, but they raise the level of community involvement and bring everyone together.

Third, host a dance-a-thon – because who wouldn’t want to go dancing for charity? The way you market this event is key because there are very different types of people for your target audience. You can speak towards couples, dance teams, athletic teams, elderly men and women, and children alike to give them each a different experience to look forward to in order to raise money for a great charity.Stephen Geri fundraising ideas

Lastly, we live in an age where people are aware of the importance of health and fitness, and are increasingly becoming involved with various fitness events – so use one for a fundraiser! Not only will you be supporting a good cause, but people will want to be involved with an event that benefits their own body and brings people together through good health. So, set up a 5K within your town, or host a yoga or zumba fitness class outside in a park – there are plenty of options you can use here, and community member will love it!

For more information on how to start a fundraising for a nonprofit organization, please read this article published on Udemyblog.com


About ACTS Missions

Stephen Geri ACTS logoACTS Missions is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the word of God among Catholic communities through various retreats around the world. The ACTS values statement reads as follows:

  • Honor God in everything we do
  • Build relationships based on trust & respect
  • With a servant’s heart, maintain integrity & excellence in leadership programs, services and retreats

These values incorporate the heart of a servant leader as well as charisms of the Holy Spirit and working well alongside others.

ACTS Missions aims to unite Catholics across the globe through retreats that have helped men, women, children, teens, Catholics, and non-Catholics, both nationally and internationally through the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. The Cursillo retreat was the first Mission retreat that began in Spain between WWI and WWII. It’s popularity quickly grew as participants noted the profound effect that spiritual enlightenment has on individuals.

Stephen Geri ACTSThree of the men who were part of the initial spread of the Cursillo retreat into the United States founded ACTS, their names were Ed Courtney, Joe Hayes, and Marty Sablik. The experience these men had as participants of the Cursillo retreat brought them a long-lasting friendship and had ideas to improve the retreat with more relevance toward the parish. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Ed though of the main themes that the Mission should represent: Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service, coming up with the name ACTS.

ACTS’ first retreat occurred in 1987 in the San Antonio Archdiocese. Soon, 15 parishes emerged and included the ACTS program. By 1997, ACTS Missions became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and was eligible to maintain the ACTS retreated wherever needed. Larry Lopez and Tony Deosdade started ACTS Missions from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas after having a great experience with their own retreats. Now, ACTS can be found in 22 states in the U.S., along with Mexico, Canada, Honduras, England, and South Africa.

For more information about ACTS Missions, please visit their official website here.


About Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts of the United State of America advocates strong leadership opportunities for girls growing up. This program is influential in many ways, especially when it comes to advocating for important issues in our society.

stephen geri photo of girl scouts

To begin with, Girl Scouts encourages healthy living opportunities for girls. By increasing access to outdoor activities, girls learn from a young age to be connected with nature and to familiarize themselves with outdoor survival skills. In addition to educating young girls about the importance of spending time outside, the program reduces bullying and relational aggression in attempts to promote and create healthy relationship skills.

Girl Scouts also promotes economic opportunities and teaches girls the importance of gender equality. Through activities and educational events, Girl Scouts increases girls’ involvement with engineering, math, technology, and science. It also strengthens girls’ financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills by giving them the confidence that they can learn and excel in everything they do. In addition, Girl Scouts promotes a global voice for all girls by fostering global citizenship and supports a strong nonprofit community and girl scout experience, teaching girls from a young age the importance of helping those in need.

stephen geri girl scouts logo

Girl Scouts was founded by Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia on March 12th, 1912, when she assembled 18 girls into a meeting. At the meeting, Daisy spoke about her thoughts on how girls should be given the opportunity to develop spiritually, mentally, and physically without being isolated in at-home environments. A few years later, Daisy’s dream became an organization centered around the needs for young girls and is now part of an even larger organization that more than 59 million women in the United States has been a part of.

For more information about the Girl Scouts and why you should donate to this well-established nonprofit organization, check out their official website here and learn more about the history of Girl Scouts.