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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Michelle Gant

Sandhya with other members at a home meet-up

South Asian women across the country are finding social support in a thriving Facebook group devoted to them.

The Little Brown Diary has over 40,000 members, primarily between the ages of 20 and 40, and 100 subgroups devoted to niche topics. Some of these include mental health, entrepreneurship, career advice, and more.

Members of the group can discuss their experiences as South Asians, inner conflicts they face, and even bond over their favorite hobbies. The Facebook group has become a safe place for many of its members to find support in the most transformative periods of their lives. These include:

  • Supporting women in domestic violence and sexual assault circumstances
  • Sharing mental health and suicide resources
  • Connecting members to support each other through grief and loss
  • Helping members find the strength to get a divorce or defend their decision to be childfree
  • Helping them navigate career changes
  • Helping to find friends in a new city
  • Finding a community of other neurodivergent people in their shoes

“I joined the online community because I was looking for that sense of belonging and connection with others who shared similar experiences and backgrounds,” expressed Sandhya Simhan, one of the group admins.

“At the time, I was pregnant and eager to find other desi moms who could offer support, advice, and friendship during this significant life transition,” she says.

Another group admin, Henna Wadhwa, who works in Diversity and Inclusion in Washington, D.C., even uses the group to inspire new areas of research, including a study on ethnic-racial identity at work.

“I was surprised and excited for a group that brought together South Asian/brown women. I wanted to meet other women with similar research interests and who wanted to conduct academic research on South Asian American women,” Wadhwa says.


While social media isn’t always the best place to spend our time, studies show that the sense of community people get from joining online groups can be valuable to our mental health.

“The presence of LBD has allowed so many South Asian women to truly feel safe in their identity. The community we have built encourages each person to authentically and freely be themselves. It is a powerful sight to witness these South Asian women be vulnerable, break barriers, and support each other in their journeys,” says Wadhwa.

Hena and Neesha

According to an article in Psychology Today, a study on college students looked at whether social media could serve as a source of social support in times of stress. Turns out, these students were more likely to turn to their social media network rather than parents or mental health professionals for connection. The anonymity of virtual communities was also seen as appealing to those experiencing depression.

“The social support received in the online group promotes a sense of well-being and was associated with positive relationships and personal growth,” the article states.

This is why finding a community of like-minded individuals online can have such a positive impact in your life.

“There are almost half a million women in our target audience (millennial South Asians in North America) and about 10% of them are part of LBD. It’s been a game-changer for our community. LBD is all about embracing your true self and living your most authentic life. It's amazing to see how the members support, relate, learn, and lift each other,” says Wadhwa and Simhan.

True

Making new friends as an adult is challenging. While people crave meaningful IRL connections, it can be hard to know where to find them. But thanks to one Facebook Group, meeting your new best friends is easier than ever.

Founded in 2018, NYC Brunch Squad brings together hundreds of people who come as strangers and leave as friends through its in-person events.

“Witnessing the transformative impact our community has on the lives of our members is truly remarkable. We provide the essential support and connections needed to thrive amid the city's chaos,” shares Liza Rubin, the group’s founder.

Despite its name, the group doesn’t just do brunch. They also have book clubs, seasonal parties, and picnics, among other activities.

NYC Brunch Squad curates up to 10 monthly events tailored to the specific interests of its members. Liza handles all the details, taking into account different budgets and event sizes – all people have to do is show up.

“We have members who met at our events and became friends and went on to embark on international journeys to celebrate birthdays together. We have had members get married with bridesmaids by their sides who were women they first connected with at our events. We’ve had members decide to live together and become roommates,” Liza says.

Members also bond over their passion for giving back to their community. The group has hosted many impact-driven events, including a “Picnic with Purpose” to create self-care packages for homeless shelters and recently participated in the #SquadSpreadsJoy challenge. Each day, the 100 members participating receive random acts of kindness to complete. They can also share their stories on the group page to earn extra points. The member with the most points at the end wins a free seat at the group's Friendsgiving event.


If you want to meet the group in person, NYC Brunch Squad, along with many other locally-based New York groups, is participating in the upcoming Facebook IRL event on December 2. This pop-up experience in New York City’s West Village will provide a space to discover new hobbies, find new friends, and connect with others around the things they love.

Learn more about the event and sign up to attend here.

Not in the New York area but still want to get involved? As a result of NYC Brunch Squad’s popularity, the group is expanding across the country.

“With a robust community established in NYC, we're now excited to announce our expansion with pop-up events in the works in 15 additional cities. What's more, we're launching a travel club, extending our mission to foster connections beyond the city limits and to help people build life-changing friendships in new and exciting places,” Liza says.

If you’re ready to make new meaningful connections, join NYC Brunch Squad! You might just meet your new best friends.

True

The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

Joy

The best and brightest come together to tackle society’s toughest challenges

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is working to eradicate disease, improve education, and address the needs of their local community.

True

Have you ever wished you could solve some of society’s toughest challenges? That’s exactly why the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) was founded.

Established in 2015 by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, the organization’s mission is to build a better future for everyone. CZI is working to eradicate disease, improve education, and address the needs of their local community.

Since its launch, CZI has awarded around $4.8 billion in grants to organizations whose work aligns with these values.


The past year brought many challenges, but none that CZI wasn’t ready to face with their partners. In their just-released 2022 annual letter, Chan and Zuckerberg highlight the “community of builders” who are helping them make progress.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Annual Letter 2022www.youtube.com

Through the organization’s work in science, education, and within local communities, CZI pairs technology with grantmaking to help achieve its mission. In 2022, this meant a focus on research and building tools for scientists and teachers.

“We have engineers building incredible tools, educators strengthening their connections with students, scientists deepening our understanding of human biology, and advocates on the ground building movements in their communities,” said Zuckerberg.

CZI joined leaders in science, technology and academia to launch two new scientific institutes with the goal of pursuing moonshot scientific challenges. One institute is focused on studying the basis of intelligence in natural and artificial systems, and the other is developing technologies to observe the biological processes happening inside our cells.

The organization also created the Science Diversity Leadership Award, a program designed to increase diversity in STEM. It aims to recognize and further the leadership and scientific accomplishments of biomedical researchers who promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. In total since it started, CZI has funded researchers from 31 countries who are working to accelerate our understanding of health and disease.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

In the education space, CZI put well-being in support of academic achievement front and center by furthering research on how students learn and develop. They also committed $4 million to organizations that support teacher well-being because when teachers succeed, students succeed.

Locally in the San Francisco Bay Area, CZI supported over 60 organizations that are helping advance access to housing, healthcare, education, and other social support. With partners, they’re also advancing solutions to make housing more affordable in California. This includes working with Partnership for the Bay’s Future, which has already produced and preserved nearly 4,000 homes in the Bay Area.

To learn more about CZI’s impact over the last 12 months, read the 2022 Annual Letter here.