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Final Verdict: Kindness counts

Easter kindnessMore than 40 days ago I wrote to you about my Lenten pledge, which was to perform a random act of kindness everyday of Lent. Well, hippity hoppity Easter is on its way this weekend and here are a few things I have learned this past month.

First and foremost, kindness counts. No matter how big or how small the act of kindness, it truly impacts someone’s day. As you know, my first week in to this promise was a bit dicey. I had really believed that these opportunities would simply present themselves, that however, was not the case. I had to look for ways to be kind randomly.

At week two, I had redefined the word “random.” My slight tweaking of the definition was that it simply had to be random for the recipient, not a random act on my part. For example a friend was mentioning a book she had heard about. I got online ordered it and it just showed up at her house, no note but just “randomly.” I loved it, she loved it but let’s be honest, it wasn’t random.

By week three, what I noticed more than anything was that going out of my way for a stranger became more habitual. Each time I did something like send a note to a long-lost friend or pay the person behind me’s parking I felt amazing and the recipient was sadly, always truly surprised by my kindness.

As I entered the home stretch what became the single best part of my resolution was that kindness seems to be contagious. Who knew? When stuffed some money in a sleeping homeless man’s shopping cart,suddenly a ripple effect occurred, others looked at me and then did it too.

While, I must confess that I did not perform 46 random acts of kindness, I did come  close with 37. At the end of the day it didn’t become about having to log my kindness, it became about how wonderful it felt to make someone’s day. Although, Lent ends on sunday, I think this resolution might just stay around a little bit longer.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Charity Matters.

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Operation Photo Rescue

operation photo rescue

As we begin to get organized for Spring Break, a bunch of items start coming out for packing, the most important being the camera. Capturing memories of precious moments spent with loved ones is a universal tie that binds us all together. The nostalgia of past trips and looking back at photo albums (yes, real books….a thing of the past, I know!) lead me to this amazing story.

In 2006, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, one Kansas woman decided an important way she could help families suffering from their enormous loss and grief of the storm’s aftermath. She would restore some of their damaged photographs. That kind gesture turned into the non-profit Operation Photo Rescue.

When a natural disaster strikes, what is the first item we rush to save? Our photos, which hold the key to our history, our past and our lives.  Once victims are safe and have their basic needs met, they begin the process of searching for any remaining possessions. At this point Operation Photo Rescue starts their online fundraising efforts to underwrite their work.

What began as a simple gesture has today turned into a global initiative. This entirely volunteer run organization now has a network of over 2,000 volunteers representing 77 countries where high end cameras digitally copy the damaged photos for restoration. Over 9,000 images have been restored in the past eight years.

The organization’s motto is, “Insurance doesn’t restore memories but we do,” The group’s President, Margie Hayes said recently, “As so often happens when people bring in their damaged photos, you learn that some of the photos are the only ones left of a relative that is no longer living.  To be able to restore that memory is beyond words.”

Charity Matters.

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Spring has sprung!

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.”

 Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilk

 Spring Flowers
Spring is officially here and with it comes new beginnings, longer days, sunshine and a renewed optimism on life. It is a magical time of year when we need to reward our selves by taking a moment to stop, listen and observe nature’s beauty. It is a gift we all receive this time of year and one that should be treasured while it lasts.

So treat yourself, for all the good you do, by taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of this day.

Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Quotes

“What is uttered from the heart alone, will win the hearts of others to your own.”

Goethe

heart-made-of-peopleHere is to a wonderful weekend filled with love!

Charity Matters.

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Why I write

writingEach week I sit down at my computer and write. Sometimes its a story about an incredible person who shaped our world and made an impact, other days its simply a quote or a thought that I feel compelled to share with you. And some days I wonder why? Why do I feel so compelled to do this?

Since I’m in the sharing mood, I think there are a few reasons that I write. First and foremost, at my core I am a communicator. Whether its my motor mouth, or talking with my hands or through these keys, it is simply who I am.

More than that, I write to remind myself of who I need to continue to strive to be and become. I write about my heroes, people who have taken a problem and turned it into a solution that impacts thousands of others in incredible ways.

Writing broadens my world and brings people and situations into my life, in ways I never imagined. Charity Matters has given me such purpose and my hope is that is has brought some to you as well. As I say every week, we all have gifts. Finding those gifts, recognizing what they are and sharing them in ways to make our world better is just simply what it’s all about.

Charity Matters.

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What Matters?

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary.  What we need is to love without getting tired.  Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” 

Mother Teresa

mother teresa babyCharity Matters.

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An Irish Blessing

Ireland

Growing up I was always told I was as “Irish as Paddy’s pig.” I wasn’t really sure what that meant but I knew the stories of my relatives leaving Ireland and not with a pig to my knowledge.  Regardless, St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend and  I wanted to share this Irish Blessing with you.

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good friends be yours, wherever they may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world, with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!

Happy St. Patricks Day Everyone!

Charity Matters.

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March Madness

cheerful giversIn our house we take March Madness seriously, no it’s not because of basketball, it’s because all three of my sons have birthdays this month…which of course leads to true March Madness. I am always trying to find ways to remind my boys how fortunate they are and birthdays are always a good opportunity for gratitude.

This year I wanted to find a cause that involved birthdays that the boys could contribute too and I came across the most remarkable cause called Cheerful Givers.Org and the person behind it all, just as amazing.

He name is Robin Steele and in 1994 she was touring a local shelter in her community in Minnesota and discovered that parents often looked for a favorite box of cereal or canned good to give their child as a birthday gift.  Robin couldn’t bear the thought of a child’s birthday passing without any acknowledgement and immediately got to work assembling 12 birthday bags that she dropped of at her local homeless shelter.

The next day Robin received a call from the shelter to share the story of the birthday bag. A woman had come into the shelter looking for some sort of favorite food item to recognize her child’s birthday and panicked when there wasn’t anything. However, when the shelter gave her a birthday bag the woman replied, “The whole way over on the bus I prayed and prayed that there would be something here for me to give my child, but I never dreamed  there would be something so beautiful.”

Robin got to work, enlisted volunteers and began Cheerful Givers. However, three years later  Robin still wondered if she was doing enough. So in 1997 she traveled to India to meet with Mother Teresa. Robin met with her hours before her death and returned with a message that we are all hungry for love.

She was more determined than ever to ensure that her birthday bags, “celebrates those lives that matter and that they are a symbol of unconditional love we have for our anonymous neighbors and their children.”

Today, over 622,045 birthday bags have been distributed and counting. March madness in all its glory. The celebration of birthdays is the celebration of life and Robin Steele reminds us all why it is such a gift.

Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Quote

“A gift with a kind countenance, is a double present.”

Thomas Fuller 

birthday presentsAny gift you give, especially a gift of kindness, is the greatest gift of all.

Charity Matters.

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Thank God its Friday! Friday Five

Friday 5, Michael BermanWho doesn’t love Fridays? They are for most of us the best day of the week! Fridays bring casual dress, anticipation of the weekend and a general overall happiness for most  of us. Who ever thought of combining that great feeling with that same feeling you get from giving? The answer: a guy named Mike Berman.

Mike wanted to find a way to “harness the positive energy that Fridays have to offer and use that energy to do some good. Simply stated, people are more inclined to do good when they feel good.”

So he came up with a plan, to quit his job, follow his passion and begin Friday5.Org Take a look, its pretty cool.

Mike is part of the growing group of today’s Social Entrepreneurs, people who are finding a way to combine a passion for doing good, mixed with a little capitalism and technology. The result is so simple and yet so powerful.

He recently quoted, Twitter’s co founder, Biz Stone by saying, “That speaks to one of my fantasies, which is that philanthropy is the future of marketing…If people take their marketing budgets and try to use them for good, you’ll end up with something more”.

I think Mike has found a way to make Fridays, even that much better! Happy Friday everyone!

Charity Matters.

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Tell me “No” I dare you!

Scott Silverman, Second ChancesTwitter is a miraculous platform for those of you who have not yet jumped into the social media deep end. Last week, a random or perhaps,  purposeful connection on Twitter lead me to this man, Scott Silverman and his remarkable story.

In 1984, Scott an upcoming executive sitting by an open window 44 floors up in a New York City skyscraper ready to jump, when a co-worker walked in and asked him what he was doing. Scott broke down, cried and realized he was an addict and needed help. That moment was his first, second chance.

Scott got out of rehab and began volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul in San Diego, where he saw people like himself (recovering addicts) most coming out of prison and beginning the cycle all over again. He realized that there were thousands who also needed a second chance. But Scott told me it really started with helping one homeless man. The man listened to Scott, got a haircut, then clean clothes and eventually a job. He came back three months later and said, “What can I do to pay you back?” Scott’s answer was simply,”Pay it forward.”

After 4 years of volunteering Scott saw a problem that needed a solution and that was the beginning of the non-profit, Second Chance.  He started out with a small dilapidated building, a few donations and a whole lot of hutspa. Scott had seen a tv show on tough love and decided that is exactly what his clients needed to get employed. So he incorporated a readiness program called STRIVE that teaches appropriate workplace behavior, interviewing skills, job search techniques, and a positive outlook toward working and more importantly to employment.

(click the link below)

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/living/2008/03/19/heroes.scott.silverman.cnn?iref=videosearch

Today, Second Chance operates out of large facility, has graduated over 5,000 individuals and helped over 30,000 with everything from clothing to housing and everything in between. 70% of Second Chance graduates do not return to jail, instead they are now contributing members of society, earning wages and paying taxes.

Almost twenty years later, the organization still runs on donations but is now a national model for turning unemployment into employment.  Scott, whose life motto, is “Tell me NO I dare you!” Continues to change lives, inspire, motivate and give second chances. Isn’t is amazing the difference one tweet can make?

Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Quotes

“Life always offers you a second chance.  Its called tomorrow.”

Author Unknown

springtime

Do you believe in second chances?

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.

What Matters?

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Edgar Degas

Innocente

I have to tell you I am still so moved by Innocente and her message of hope, belief in herself and her reason to survive that I needed to share her beautiful face with you one more time. She is a true artist and made us see so much!

Happy 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.