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May 2013

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Charity Matters Quotes

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

Vincent van Gogh

 van Gogh couple

With final exams and graduations upon us, it made me think of just how much you can accomplish when you do what you love. It is simply the key to everything.

Love.

Charity Matters.

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A little inspiration

STEMI am a communicator, connector and doer. I’ll admit some of these traits are good to have, but truthfully, none of them in excess is fantastic. So, when I was invited to an amazing event at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles on Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. I was excited to be able to use of few of these traits in one place.

No, I don’t possess any math or science skills but I wanted to connect some high school girls from my alma mater to a place I love, CHLA. These five women panelist were everything from MIT robot inventors, researchers studying the impact of pollution on Autism and even non-profit founders.  Each woman on her own was beyond impressive but collectively, they were remarkable.

They were not remarkable because of their science, educations, impressive resumes or their White House honors. The reason each speaker was so impressive was that they all independently had the same message. The message was, “Do something that matters. Have a purpose and make a difference. Find your gifts and use them towards the greater good.”

Now, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out just how brilliant that advice is? Simply genius.

Charity Matters.

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Happy Memorial Day!

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.


Lee Greenwood


APTOPIX FRANCE D-DAY ANNIVERSARY
While we enjoy this ritual kickoff to summer, let us remember all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to enjoy our day and our precious freedom.

God Bless America and enjoy your holiday!

Charity Matters.

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Remembering those left behind, American Widows Project

American Widow Project, tarynNext monday is Memorial Day, which gets everyone excited for summer. However, Memorial Day is also a time to remember those that have served our country, our military and their families. We watch the evening news and hear of road side bombings in Afghanistan and somehow become de-sensitized to the fact that those soldiers were people’s sons, brothers and husbands. Those left behind are holding pieces to shattered hearts and lives.

One woman who lived the nightmare of two service men knocking on her door was then 22-year-old Taryn Davis. It was 2007 and she was told that her young husband, Michael had been killed in Iraq. Taryn’s life was shattered.  She felt alone, devastated and didn’t know where to turn.

She decided to travel the country and interview other military widows and the result was both her healing and a documentary she entitled “The American Widow Project.” A few short months later she founded a non-profit with the same name, The American Widows Project.

Taryn’s goal was simply to ensure that no military widow should feel alone in her grief. She believes that each military widow deserves the opportunity and tools to help rebuild her life. When a widow reaches out to The American Widow Project they immediately receive Taryn’s film, a phone call from another widow and thousands of online supporters as well as local support groups. In addition there are monthly activities such as sky diving, zip-linning or surfing, to help these women feel alive again.

 

To date The American Widow Project has reached out to over 800 widows and counting. Since 2001,over 6,600 U.S. service members have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. This number doesn’t include the thousands more that have lost their lives due to sudden illness, accident, homicide or those that have taken their own lives due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This Memorial Day, lets take a moment to remember not just those who we lost but also those left behind.

Charity Matters.

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Charity always matters, especially now

moore-tornado-woman-apEach week I write about people who change other people’s lives. Regular people with passion and conviction. Today, as I watch the recovery efforts in Oklahoma there are thousands of those people everywhere. No, they haven’t started an official organization but they have organized.

They are neighbors helping neighbors, survivors helping strangers, first responders digging through schools and hospitals that were destroyed by the massive tornado. They are organized.

In a matter of minutes, thousands of lives were forever altered, homes destroyed, a life’s worth of work simply wiped away with the wind. Yet, when you hear the people of Moore, Oklahoma speak, they are resilient, they are caring for one another and they are determined to begin again.

The definition of charity is an organization set up to provide help, volunteering and giving of help and lastly, kindness and tolerance. All of these matter, now Moore than ever.

Charity Matters.

 

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Looking at the man in the mirror

looking at the girl in the mirrorOk, I’m looking at the woman in the mirror and having a moment. No, it’s not about how I look, but rather the reflection of my life and my work.  Volunteer work that is. Maybe its the pending birthday that has me connecting the dots. The epiphany is that wherever I am in my life is a reflection of where I give my time.  As my life changes and priorities shift, so do my causes.

I suppose most of you already figured this out but when I look back it all sort of starts to make sense. I began volunteering in 6th for the local boys and girls club and I was the same age as the kids in the program. What I had to offer then, I’m not really sure but I volunteered hundreds of hours all through middle school.

By high school, I was volunteering at a local thrift shop. Now that I think about it, shopping was pretty high on the list back then. By college, I worked with my sorority volunteering for a variety of projects involving education, as I struggled to focus on my own.

The early years of my career in sales and marketing brought a lot of travel and sadly little giving of time but more resources. Those were the days…. double incomes, no kids.

Once my sons arrived and the career took a back seat, I found a drive to help build a local children’s’ museum, which focused on children….surprise as the same age as mine. My parents car accident, mother’s death and father’s time in a coma lead me to hospitals and the need one has for faith in the face of adversity. The result was a collaborative effort and the formation of the non-profit, Spiritual Care Guild at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

A decade of working to provide Chaplains, that care for young families and children, while leaving my own family, felt odd but weirdly right. Which brings me back to the mirror and this moment. I just returned home from board meetings for two amazing high schools (neither which my children attend). The light bulb went off, while my work at these schools does not help my children, it serves children the same ages as my own.  Once again a perfect reflection of where I am in my life.

It makes me wonder, what causes are next? I know I’m not ready to help the elderly just yet. Wondering what does your mirror say about you?

Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Quotes

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

 Marcel Proust

Charming gardners

Wishing you a beautiful spring weekend surrounded by those whose make you happy!

Charity Matters.

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The Gangsta Gardener

Ron Finely, LA Gren Grounds

I know what your thinking, did I read the title of this correctly? Isn’t that an oxy moron? Gangsters and gardeners are usually not lumped into one category, until now. That is until you meet the renaissance man of South Central Los Angeles, Ron Finely.

Ron, a native of South Los Angeles, was tired of seeing what was happening in his community. Not only the violence and crime but illness due to disease like childhood obesity and diabetes. He decided it was time to change that and founded the non-profit, LA Green Grounds. They are a volunteer group in South Los Angeles that builds gardens to serve low-income residents and others with scarce access to fresh, affordable food.

Founder, Ron Finely says, ” Gardening is gangsta because you are empowering yourself. Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”

 

In addition to growing gardens in South Central, LA Green Grounds is expanding to other low-income areas of Los Angeles. They are on a mission to advocate for the underserved in the communities by promoting gardens, open spaces and general wellness. LA Green Grounds wants to help eliminate the crime and disease by bringing the community together planting the seeds of love. There is nothing Gangsta about that!

Charity Matters.

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The Chocolate Bar Book

chocolate bar boysSometimes inspiration comes from the craziest places. Yet, I continue to revel and delight when I am touched and inspired by loving acts of kindness and friendship. This story is as sweet as its name and the angels who created it.  This is the story of The Chocolate Bar Book.

The story begins  with two best friends, named Dylan and Jonah. These six-year-old boys are not exactly like average little boys because Jonah suffers from a very rare liver condition called Glycogen Storage Disease 1b. Dylan wanted to help his best friend find a cure for the rare disease and had an idea to write a book as a fundraiser.  He wrote The Chocolate Bar Book in hopes of raising one million dollars to help find a cure. “Chocolate Bar” is Dylan’s and Jonah’s code word for awesome, which is exactly what these two are.

 

To date these two pint sized wonders have raised over $200,000 and counting. Dylan’s hope is that his words and pictures will help change the world, one book at a time. I think he has already accomplished that goal. How sweet is that?

Charity Matters.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

“Mom, when thoughts of you are in our hearts, we are never far from home.”  

Author Unknown

mary-cassatt-mother-and-child-7-80959This weekend is Mother’s Day and its my 10th Mother’s Day without my mom. While it gets easier each year, it is still a bitter-sweet day for me. Our mothers are our life anchors, they root us in ways we never imagine until the roots are pulled up and we must find new roots within ourselves.

This is the sweet part of Mother’s Day, being a mother. The attention is nice, as is the luxury of sleeping in, but more than that is the pride in looking at my sons and the amazing men they are becoming. A day to revel in the decades of work, love, lunches and laundry. This is a day we celebrate love. The love I still have for my mother and the amazing love I receive from being one.

Whichever side of this day you fall, I hope that you are celebrating the love we all share in being a family. There is no greater love than that.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Charity Matters.

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Help A Mother Out

help a mother out 2Since this week is Mother’s Day, I thought it was important to take a moment to look at an amazing non-profit making a difference for mothers.  There are thousands of organizations that help women around the globe but this organization started with a single purpose and its name says it all, Help A Mother Out.Org

That single purpose was to provide disposable diapers for low-income mothers, which Food Stamps do not provide for. Mothers can not take their children to daycare or school without providing disposable diapers. Since these diapers can cost up to $100- per month, many struggling mothers were jeopardizing their children’s health by trying to stretch their diaper supply.

So in May 2009, two friends from the Bay Area, Lisa Truong and Rachel Fudge had an idea after seeing reports of families struggling during the recession. As a young mothers, they called some local shelters and asked what was needed and the answer was diapers.

On Mother’s Day 2009, the two decided to hold their first diaper drive and gathered over 15,000 diapers. Today, Help A Mother Out has provided over 1,000,000 diapers! They are a non-profit organization based in San Francisco with chapters in Southern California and work on diaper drives in other states like Washington and Arizona.

As we all know motherhood can be a dirty business but with organizations like Help A Mother Out women and children will all be sitting pretty this Mother’s Day.

Charity Matters.

 

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And the Medal goes to….

Medals for mettleOn Wednesday, I shared the beautiful story of Brent Cunningham’s giving his Boston Marathon medal to a stranger who hadn’t finished due to the terrorist attack. That story  lead me to this and it seems that medals bring out the best in everyone.

Something that Dr. Steven Isenberg realized the day after he finished the 2003 Chicago Marathon, and went to visit a friend who was hospitalized. Unsure of what to say, even as a surgeon, Dr. Isenberg pulled his finishers’ medal from his pocket and placed it around his friend’s neck. “I want you to have this,” he said. “You are running a much more difficult marathon than the one I completed.”

Sadly, his friend didn’t win his race but had told Dr. Isenberg how much he treasured the medal. Those words were the inspiration to start Medals4Mettle.  So in 2005, Dr. Isenberg formed the non-profit, to collect runner’s medals which could be donated to those who are battling serious illnesses and who have demonstrated courage and mettle in fighting their battle.

Today, Medals4Mettle had awarded over 18,000 medals to recipients across the world. Medals have been awarded by Indy 500 race car drivers, Olympic athletes and individuals who want to experience the incredible joy of giving their hard-earned finisher’s medals to courageous human beings.

Currently, Medals4Mettle is humbly accepting donations of Boston Marathon finishers’ medals from this year, or past years, to be sent to their Boston area chapters. They will then place Medals4Mettle ribbons on them and award them to the courageous victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the first responders that raced to help them while respecting the privacy of all victims and family members.

I think everyone is a winner in this race.

Charity Matters.

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Love always wins, especially in Boston

boston-marathon-runner-from-ak-reunites-w-001As I have mentioned before my husband is both a tri-athlete and a marathon runner. He has never run the Boston Marathon but when he saw this story on Facebook, as many of you did, he shared it.

This was Laura Wellington’s Facebook post, about her experience moments from the finish line in the Boston Marathon.

As some of you know, I was 1/2 mile from the finish line when the explosion went off. I had no idea what was going on until I finally stopped and asked someone. Knowing that my family was at the finish line waiting for me, I started panicking, trying to call them. I started walking down Mass Ave towards Symphony Hall still not knowing where my family was.

I was able to get in touch with Bryan and found out he was with my family and they were safe. I was just so happy to hear his voice that I sat down and started crying. Just couldn’t hold it back. At that moment, a couple walking by stopped. The woman took the space tent off her husband, who had finished the marathon, and wrapped it around me.

She asked me if I was okay, if I knew where my family was. I reassured her I knew where they were and I would be ok. The man then asked me if I finished to which I nodded “no.” He then proceeded to take the medal off from around his neck and placed it around mine. He told me “you are a finisher in my eyes.” I was barely able to choke out a “thank you” between my tears.

Odds are I will never see this couple again, but I’m reaching out with the slim chance that I will be able to express to them just what this gesture meant to me. I was so in need of a familiar face at that point in time. This couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing had happened, everything was going to be ok.

That couple was Brent Cunningham and his wife, from Sitka, Alaska. After Laura’s post went viral, ABC News tracked him down and Brent flew back to Boston to meet the stranger once again. Brent gave a tearful Laura a huge hug and said, “Evil may have won the battle but they’re not gonna win the war.  Love wins. Game over.”

Charity Matters.

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/boston-marathon-bombing-evil-win-19006669

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