Find Your Roots: Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ Beckons

Don’t be surprised if you get an unexpected e-mail or postcard from someone you know – or possibly don’t know – in Ireland in the coming months asking you to “come home to visit.”

It’s part of the unique outreach tied to the year-long extravaganza called “The Gathering: Ireland 2013,” and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. So intense is Americans’ interest in exploring their roots – beginning, often, with immigrant grandparents who passed through Ellis Island – that the National Archives’ website recently crashed after getting 37 million hits on its newly released 1940 census.

America Says “Thank You” to its Skilled Tradesmen

Quickly fading are the days when a father handed down his trusted hand tools so the family plumbing business could carry on for another generation. This trend is affecting all of our lives in ways we never expected.

According to a 2012 Talent Shortage Survey by ManPowerGroup, Inc., “skilled trades” are the hardest jobs to fill. As Baby Boomers retire, more jobs for skilled workers open up, but there aren’t enough skilled tradesmen ready to meet the growing demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than one-third of skilled tradesmen are over the age of 50. In fact, for every three tradesmen who retire, there’s only one skilled person available to fill the gap.

Audiobook Service Helps Blind Vets Recover Independence

In December 1967, a young soldier lay in a hospital bed after sustaining severe eye injuries from a land mine in Vietnam. Tom Miller, now executive director of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) in Washington, D.C., was blind, and his mind raced over all of the things he’d never be able to enjoy again. “I’ve spent the past 44-plus years erasing that list, or finding new things I can do.”

Miller says he owes many thanks to the talking-book program of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress.

Family Fun Alert: Go to the Park. Play. Vote.

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Is there a park in your neighborhood that holds fond memories for you and your family? Are you heading to a state or national park this summer for a family vacation? If so, being active in your favorite park this summer could help it win big in the America Is Your Park campaign. Afterall, the title of “America’s Favorite Park” and up to $100,000 are up for grabs!
For a second year, America Is Your Park encourages families to get active outdoors in parks across the country. People can also vote to help their favorite park win the title and a $100,000 recreation grant made possible by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative. So, if you like rollerblading, biking, running, playing ball or just walking the dog, there’s no better place to enjoy these activities than at the park. And you decide which park wins by voting online at, taking and uploading photos and videos in your favorite park and checking in via Facebook Places.
Think it’s not that simple or that your favorite park is too small to win? That wasn’t the case for last year’s winning park, Bear Head Lake State Park in Ely, Minnesota. The park received more than 1.6 million votes and beat out hundreds of other parks for the title of “America’s Favorite Park.” This was made possible by support from people who care about their parks and spread the word, conducted voting drives and energized their online social networks.
You, too, can help your community get involved using some of the tools on So spread the word by posting a status update on Facebook about why you love your park, or send emails to your friends and family urging them to vote. Or simply get out in the park with your friends and family this summer and check in via Facebook Places.
America Is Your Park was developed in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks and the National Recreation and Park Association. In addition to the top park receiving a $100,000 recreation grant, Coca-Cola will also award a $50,000 grant and a $25,000 grant to the second- and third-place parks. These grants will help restore, rebuild or enhance recreation areas in parks where people can play and be active.
Could your favorite park be crowned “America’s Favorite Park” this summer? It’s up to you — so get outdoors, play in the park and don’t forget to vote!

Help Your Favorite Park Win up to $100,000 This Summer!

Is there a park in your neighborhood that holds fond memories for you and your family? Are you heading to a state or national park this summer for a family vacation? If so, being active in your favorite park this summer could help it win big in the America Is Your Park campaign. Afterall, the title of “America’s Favorite Park” and up to $100,000 are up for grabs!

Bed Bugs: Tips to Stem The Invasion

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – According to a recent survey, one out of every five Americans knows someone who has dealt with a bed bug infestation or has experienced one themselves.
The survey, which was conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), revealed that Americans are concerned about picking up bed bugs in different locations: hotels (80 percent); public transportation (52 percent), their own homes (36 percent); workplaces and other’s homes (32 percent).
Still, many people are misinformed. For example, 29 percent of respondents believed that bed bugs were more common in low-income households. Bed bugs do not discriminate on income, and they can be found in both unclean and sanitary conditions. Nearly half of the respondents thought that bed bugs transmit disease to their human victims. They do not, but their bites can cause itchy, red welts.
The good news? As Americans have become more aware of bed bugs, they’ve taken steps to reduce their risk of an infestation.
“Our survey shows that people are taking the bed bug resurgence seriously and are modifying their daily routines to avoid infestations,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA.
The NPMA offers the following tips for people hoping to keep bed bugs out of their homes:
* Check your hotel room for bed bugs before unpacking. Check behind the headboard and carefully inspect sofas and chairs, as well as the mattress and box spring. Do not place your suitcase on the bed. If you see bed bugs, change rooms or establishments immediately.
* When you return home, inspect your suitcase before bringing it inside. Vacuum your suitcase inside and out, and wash all of your clothes in hot water, whether you wore them or not.
* If you suspect that you have bed bugs, contact a licensed pest professional. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to remove, but a professional can perform an inspection and recommend a comprehensive treatment plan.
For more information about bed bugs, visit NPMA’ s Bed Bug Hub at

Blackout Shades Proven to Help You Sleep Soundly

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night? The importance of a good night’s sleep is well known. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adequate sleep has been associated with a better mood, better health and better job performance. It’s important to address factors that might interfere with a good night’s sleep. Light is one of these factors. The body responds to light as a cue to stay awake, so sleeping in a dark, quiet room can help you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up refreshed.
A full night’s sleep is especially important for children. Studies suggest that most children need about nine hours of sleep each night and that children who get enough sleep behave better and perform better in school than those who are chronically sleep-deprived. Additional research has shown that children who have sleep problems are at greater risk for depression and anxiety later in life, and they are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as teens and adults.
The Cellular SlumberShade, the official window shade product of the National Sleep Foundation, can help improve sleep by keeping excess light out of a room. The SlumberShade features unique sidetracks that attach magnetically to a window frame for easy installation. When it’s time to clean the windows, the sidetracks are easy to remove. These sidetracks block the gaps of light that standard cellular shades let in. They are UV stable, available in several colors to match your window trim. In addition, all SlumberShades have a specialized seal along the top for complete blockage of exterior light.
The shades are made of Comfortex’s blackout cellular fabric, which not only blocks incoming light, but also provides insulation around your windows to help reduce heating and cooling costs. When SlumberShades are installed over a double-paned vinyl window, they provide an R-value of 7.0, which is two to three times greater than that of a similar shade without sidetracks.
SlumberShades need not be limited to the bedroom. Install them in a media room to eliminate screen glare.
For more information about SlumberShades, visit

America’s Homeless Children Are in Need of Comfort

Homelessness can happen to anyone – including families and children. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness one out of every 50 American children experiences homelessness each year. That’s 1.5 million homeless children in the United States. The majority – about 75 percent – are elementary-school-aged. Forty-two percent are younger than six.

To help homeless children, The Company Store, a catalog and online retailer of various bedding and home furnishings, launched its Buy One, Give One Comforter Donation Program. The program will benefit homeless children across the country; for every comforter purchased from its website or catalog, The Company Store will donate one comforter to a homeless child. The comforter will be one of the few things a child can call their own – he or she will be able to take it with them when they transition from temporary to permanent housing.

A Step In the Right Direction: Finding the Path to Better Health

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Most Americans have tried to improve their health at some point — but for many, attempts to eat less and move more do not result in success. So, can Americans truly change bad habits? The National Institutes of Health says “Yes.” No person is too out-of-shape, overweight or old to improve their health.

That said, old habits die hard, and fad diets may do more harm than good. Americans who are serious about changing their habits need to make realistic and gradual changes one step at a time and at their own pace.

Think about what motivates you, what pitfalls have trapped you before and what eating and activity habits you truly enjoy. Then make a plan. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, so make goals that make sense to you. You can set a goal to eat oatmeal instead of a pastry for breakfast, or to park farther away from the grocery store when you shop.

Once you create your plan, track and evaluate your progress. The Weight-control Information Network (WIN), a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, offers the following tips to help you stay on task:

– Overcome your barriers. Ask family members or friends for support. If you know you can’t exercise later in the day, ask a coworker to accompany you on a walk at lunch. Plan ahead to avoid pitfalls. For example, if you usually snack on chips while you watch television, try eating air-popped popcorn or cut veggies and salsa.

– Reward yourself. When you reach a goal, buy yourself a new book or new gear or relax in a hot bath. Try to avoid rewarding yourself with high-calorie treats or time off from exercise.

– Add variety. It’s easy to get bored with one routine, so try new activities, foods and rewards.

– Plan ahead to avoid setbacks. Know what healthy activities you can enjoy in bad weather. If you know you’ll be on the go, pack healthy snacks and a lunch. Don’t give up after a setback — they happen. Simply regroup and start focusing on your goals again.

– Expand your goals. Revisit your goals, and look for new ways to challenge yourself. If you’re comfortable walking five days a week, try adding strength training. If you have successfully reduced your saturated fat intake, try limiting refined sugar.

For more information and healthy lifestyle tips, visit WIN at