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February 2013

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A Reason To Survive: ARTS

 Innocente OscarAs the buzz from Sunday nights Oscars begins to wind down, there is one small movie that’s buzz continues to grow. The Oscar-winning film, “Inocente” which won for Best Documentary Short Film.  “Innocente” told the story of a homeless child named Inocente Izucar and the cause that saved her. That cause was A Reason To Survive or ARTS.

The film’s goal was to put a face on the homeless children in the United States and the fact that 1 out of 45 children in this country are homeless.  These children need a reason to survive. Inocente is that face.

It was children just like Inocente that Matt D’Arrigo set out to help, when he founded ARTS in 2001. Although Matt had never been homeless, he too had a moment in his life when he needed a reason to survive. That moment was in 1992  when his mother and sister both battled cancer. Painting and music were his refuge and gave him that reason.  Just as the arts helped him during one of the most difficult times of his life, Matt wanted to provide that same opportunity to other kids facing their own personal crises.

In 2001 he founded ARTS on his philosophy that the arts can heal and change lives. Matt began with an outreach program at Ronald McDonald House by bringing art to the children there. Soon, community agencies began to request ARTS services.

By 2007, that vision expanded and ARTS opened the 7,000 sq ft Pat D’Arrigo ARTS Center which includes a music room, media arts lab, performance space, ceramics studio, printmaking and mixed media studio, painting studio, and a gallery to showcase and sell the kids work.

Today, ARTS serves 5,000 San Diego youth ages 3-22 from more than 42 partner organizations such as hospitals, foster care agencies, schools, homeless and domestic violence shelters.

As Matt D’Arrigo said, “We are here not only to heal these young lives through the arts, but to also inspire and empower them to overcome obstacles and thrive in this world – to become compassionate, creative human beings who make a difference not only in themselves, but in the world they live in.”

Innocente did just that as she stood on the Academy’s stage Sunday night. A year ago she was homeless and today, she has a home, an Oscar award-winning movie about her life and A Reason To Survive.

Charity Matters.

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The Oscars, the day after:Closets for Causes

closets for causes, angelinaWhat happens the day after the Oscars? I think it’s a little bit like the day after a parade… so much excitement, excess and fun and then what? Where do all of those Red Carpet moments of glamour and excess go? Most end up in video clips for eternity but what happens the next day to the items left behind from that magical night?

Well, many of them go back to the stylist and are then returned to the designer but many are given to the celebrity who wears them. The result is closets filled to the rim with amazing designer clothes, bags, etc. One stylist, Talia Bella saw the waste and excess as an opportunity to make a difference. She did so, by founding Closets for Causes.

What Closets for Causes does is  bridge the gap between style and philanthropy. They raise serious funds by liquidating celebrity client’s closets and organizing the sale via eBay. Those funds in turn go the charity the celebrity chooses. The result brings attention and funds to an important cause and makes our celebrity crazed society happy to own a piece of celebrity fashion.

So whether you are a fashionista, a celebrity stalker or just someone who needs something new in your closet you can follow the companies mantra, “Shop good, do good, look good.”

Red carpet or not, making a difference is way more beautiful than anything else you do.

Charity Matters.

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Random acts of kindness: one week in

old and young handsHow many of you made New Years Resolutions or Lent sacrifices? If so, how is that going for you? I can honestly say after a week into my commitment to perform 46 random acts of kindness, this is more challenging than I thought.

Part of the problem with resolutions I’m discovering is, that we have an expectation in our minds of how they are supposed to play out. We give up chocolate and see ourselves as a super model in a bikini or we give up Facebook and see ourselves with so much extra time. Sadly, these preconceptions are often what becomes our roadblock to success.

I, of course, envisioned myself helping hundreds of little old ladies from Pasadena who were just lining up waiting for me to help them…randomly of course. Surprise, that hasn’t been the case. This past week I have had to go looking for opportunities, they did not come to me as I had thought.

Day one I helped a handicap man at mass, day two I helped an elderly lady at the grocery store, and day three there was no one in line behind me so I could pay for their coffee….hmmm so I put money in an expired parking meter. Then I hit a serious lull, it was late in the afternoon nothing had presented itself (or I wasn’t paying attention) and I panicked..what to do? I picked up the phone and phoned a friend, one I hadn’t spoken to in a long while. Warning: grey area here. Is this a random act of kindness or pre- meditated desperation to fulfill my obligation?

Either way it was a good feeling and even better conversation. So I have still have 39 days to make this right, be kinder, make an effort and more importantly make a tiny difference in this world. Hey, a difference is a difference! Random or not.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Charity Matters.

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SADS

SADS girlI think I mentioned that heart disease is a very personal cause because it has affected my family for decades. Did I ever mention that my Dad has “died” more than a few times? Well, he has and his last episode was caused by SADS. Thankfully, he is one of the rare lucky survivors due to a defibrillator close by.

A horrible sounding name,  that conjures up unpleasant thoughts. So what is SADS? It is an acronym for  Sudden arrhythmia death syndromes. (SADS) are genetic heart conditions that can cause sudden death in young, apparently healthy people and takes approximately 4,000 young lives annually  These conditions can be treated and deaths can be prevented.

In case your interested here are the warning signs: family history of unexpected, unexplained sudden death under age 40; fainting or seizure during exercise, excitement or startle; consistent or unusual chest pain &/or shortness of breath during exercise. My Dad was on a spin bike when his heart stopped almost 2 years ago.

Until then, I had no idea that since the early 1970’s a doctor named Michael Vincent, in Salt Lake City, Utah was trying to solve this mystery of the heart which takes so many lives.  He began studying the long QT syndrome (LQTS) which is what triggers SADS (don’t dr.s just love acronyms?)

Dr. Vincent and his research team were frustrated by the number of young people with this syndrome who were undiagnosed  and at risk for dying of this disorder. It seemed that doctors were simply not aware of the problem or the ability to test for it.

So in 1988, Dr. Vincent approached his genetics colleagues, and asked if they would be interested in attempting to find the genetic abnormality that leads to SADS. By early 1991, they had located the LQTS gene on chromosome 11.

On December 12, 1991 Dr. Vincent and colleagues established  the SADS foundation a non-profit with the purpose of helping to prevent sudden and unexpected cardiac death in children and in young adults.

Today over twenty years later, their amazing work continues to inform and save lives and there is simply nothing sad about that.

Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Joy

“Joy is a heart full and a mind purified by gratitude.”

Marietta McCarty

a happy lifeI hope this post finds you enjoying your holiday and feeling grateful for all the gifts you have….starting with a day off! Happy Presidents Day!

Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Quotes

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched … but are felt in the heart.”

Helen Keller

 red glove snow heart

I hope your Valentines Day was filled with love and your weekend filled with happiness.

Charity Matters.

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Happy Valentines Day

“A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.”
Author Unknown

candy hearts

Sending love to each of you today. For all the love you share with me, with friends and most importantly, with those whom you have never met. Happy Valentines Day!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

A time to give

ash wednesdayToday is Ash Wednesday. It is a day when strangers continue to remind me that I have a smudge of dirt on my forehead, as well as the (roughly) 40 days before Easter and the beginning of Lent. Typically Catholics like to mark this day by giving something up. Most people give up sweets, some give up Facebook, you get the idea.

I however, have never bought into this theory of denial. I understand it but rather than give something up I like to use this time to do something positive. In years past, I have committed to favorite causes, given extra time (always the best gift) and tried to use my time and talent for their greatest purpose.

This year, between now and Easter I am committing to do a random act of kindness each and every day …..all 46 of them. So whether it is paying for someone’s expired parking meter, buying a cup of coffee for the person in line behind me or going out of my way to help another. This is the gift I choose to share.

So regardless of your faith or religious beliefs, what can you do in the next 40 days to make your life and the lives of others better?

Charity Matters.

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What matters?

In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.”

Marianne Williamson

heart-made-of-people 

You have the power.

Charity Matters.

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Over the rainbow

Tom NilesA friend of mine whose son suffers from a congenital heart defect recently shared this video with me. I thought I would share it with you.

Tom Riles, whose day job is the warm up act for the Ellen Degeneres Show, is the father of a child who was born with a congenital heart defect. He put this piece together with other dads whose children have also have CHD for his web-site, Life of Dad.

I thought it was the perfect happy way to leave you smiling this friday. A big shout out for the great voices from CHLA. Have a great weekend everyone!

Charity Matters.

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Have a heart

heart stetha scopeWell it’s here! February and with that brings much more than chocolates, cupids and Valentines. February is National Heart month. Something I know you all have, a heart that is. I don’t know about your family but heart disease has struck way too close to home in mine.

My father has heart disease and has had multiple surgeries to help that big heart of his, my uncle and my grandfather have all suffered. So this month there is much to do to honor all of those whose hearts are so big that they have created organizations to help those suffering with the silent killer.

I thought to kick off February, sharing this story will both touch your heart and perhaps make you appreciate yours.

We are all so blessed to have such wonderful hearts. Thank you for sharing yours with me today and for always knowing that Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Quotes

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”  

William Wordsworth

writing from the heart

 I am continually inspired by so many who share their passion to help another. It is that journey that fills my paper and my heart.  My hope is that it fills yours too.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Charity Matters Quotes

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

Edith Sitwell

firesideHome is where I am heading after a great week of winter.  Have a fantastic Super Bowl weekend everyone!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.