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January 2015

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Charity Matters Quotes: Evolution

“WHEN WE ARE NO LONGER ABLE TO CHANGE A SITUATION, WE ARE CHALLENGED TO CHANGE OURSELVES.”

 VIKTOR E FRANKL

 

CM quotes-evolution

 

The beauty of writing is each week, is that I try to pour my life experiences into a theme, something I’m not sure I would do without you here. As the week began with the movie Wild and the theme of loss, grief and taking on your fears, I realized that evolution was definitely this week’s theme.

The young men from Watts stood in my living room, this past weekend telling their stories of going from the streets of gang ridden Los Angeles into corporate America and then onto 4 year colleges, I realized their struggles originated from the same place….a place where they had no control of their situation. A similar theme from the movie Wild, which dealt with the loss of a parent. Neither had control, however, both had a choice.

It is only when the challenge becomes internal rather than external that the growth, change and evolution occurs. As Victor Frankl so beautifully said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

 

Charity Matters.

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Cristo Rey

Last weekend I hosted an event for a board I am on and a cause that is near and dear to me. The cause is Verbum Dei High School which is a part of an incredible network of schools that is transforming urban America and our inner cities.

A few years ago I had the good fortune to have lunch the founder of Cristo Rey, Father John Foley. He is an amazing man and his story is remarkable and defitiitly worth re-telling.

In 1995, Father Foley was living in Peru working with the poor when he was asked to return home to Chicago by his Jesuit Provincial.  The Provincial wanted Father Foley to use his 34 years experience educating the poor in Peru to help educate the underprivileged Hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen in Chicago. Their request was to create a college prep high school and the challenge was how and with what funds?

Not to be stopped by something like money, Father Foley met with an “out of the box guy” where they brainstormed solutions to what seemed like an impossible challenge. The result was simple and brilliant. The students would work one day a week in an entry-level job at a company that would basically underwrite their tuition costs.

After going door to door visiting old students and friends and asking them to sponsor a student with a job. Father Foley told me, ” I had more jobs than students and thought, I think this just might work.” The following year he opened the first Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

In fact, the Corporate Work Study Program worked so well, that in 2001 Father Foley was approached by groups in Portland, Denver and Los Angeles about taking his business model and duplicating it in other disadvantaged communities across the country. The result was the creation of the Cristo Rey Network of Schools, which became a non-profit in 2003.

Father Foley’s mission has now educated over 7,400 students in 25 schools with 100% of the students going to college. Today, after seeing these amazing results of what a job and an education can do for a student, foundations and corporations are getting behind The Cristo Rey Network in the hopes of doubling their efforts with an additional 25 schools.

Did Father Foley ever dream that this brilliant simple idea would positively impact thousands of students? His response, “No, I just did what I was asked to do.”

Charity Matters.

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Wild

photo via: Huffington Post
photo via: Huffington Post

“I spent my life trying to be the woman my mother raised me to be.” Those were the words that haunted me from my weekend journey to the movies seeing Wild.  A great movie about loss, self-discovery and grief….

A movie that spoke to me, not because of the self-destructive behavior or the hiking for that matter) but about finding out who you really are once you no longer have someone telling  or showing you who to be. I have said it here before that my re-birth began with my mother’s death and this movie resonated that theme.

Why is it that we wait to be who we are supposed to become? Is it that our evolution really takes that long? So often our parents don’t live to see our success. My mom did live to see her grandsons and my joy in being a mother, but sadly died days before her only granddaughter arrived. At that juncture in my life, I wasn’t fully formed, the pieces hadn’t all come together….honestly some days I wonder if they ever will….but when the shifts occur and the pieces fall into or out-of-place in your life you know. You do.

I know that none of us really know what our parents expected us to be or dreamed we would accomplish but somehow I know over a dozen years later that I have become the woman my mother raised me to be. Still a work in progress but somehow…. I know she is proud.

 

Charity Matters.

 

 

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Making a Difference

Making a difference

After a long day at work yesterday, I arrived home only to be told by my second born son, that I needed to get back into the car and head to his Senior Service night. Did I mention that it was at 7pm in downtown Los Angeles? Needless to say, I was not happy at the thought and yes I know, service is what I love but back in the car I went…because I also love my son, but boy was I grumpy.

However, not for long. Quickly, my grumpiness faded as  I listened to these 17-year old boys sharing their experiences about their various month-long service projects throughout Los Angeles. My sons class of 303 young men practice their school’s motto of being “Men for Others” by spending one month committed to service. Some of the stories shared were about living on Skid Row for the month, working with victims of domestic violence, being at Homeboy Industries with rehabilitating gang members and on and on they went.

What made my grumpiness fade was to see the shift in each of these incredible young men as they learned from doing….the power of serving others. While I was incredibly proud of my son, his month-long commitment to inner city children and their low-income school, I was beyond proud to be a tiny part of an organization that makes a huge difference in our world….and more importantly practices what they preach in raising Men For Others.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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American Sniper

American Sniper

This past weekend I went to see American Sniper, an amazing movie. It made me think of many of the military non-profit post I have done over the years. More than anything the movie reminded me of the incredible sacrifices our military families make.

The movie is one that stays with you. When sitting down to write I couldn’t decide if I should write about the Navy Seal Honor Fund, which supports the children of fallen Navy Seals or if I should revisit one of my favorite, The American Widow Project…which I decided to do here. The story begins with that fateful knock and the nightmare that followed of the 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.

While the movie American Sniper was about a hero, it is the people like Taryn Davis who take care of those left behind , who are also hereos.

To date Taryn has helped over 800 military widows and counting.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Charity Matters Quotes:MLK

The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King

CMQuotes- MLKToday is Martin Luther King Day, a holiday and more importantly a day that is recognized as a national day of service.  MLK day is often referred to as a “Day On” rather than a day off.

I think the hardest thing to do in having a “Day On” is discovering where to begin.

What should I do? What can I do with my children or family?

Here are a few first steps….

doonething.org/actnow
handsonnetwork.org
volunteermatch.org
serviceforpeace.org
nationalservice.gov
servenet.org
idealist.org

Sometimes it simply takes a little faith to know that even the smallest step forward makes a difference.

As Dr. King said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Enjoy your Day On and know that every step you take big or small makes a difference.

Charity Matters.

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Je suis Charlie

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”

Voltaire

je suis charlie

I saw this cartoon and it made me cry. I can’t think of the last time pencil and ink brought me to tears. I am by no means a journalist but I am a messenger. We all are.

Je suis Charlie.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2015 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.

Freedom

Not Afraid

Simply there is a non-profit for every topic and every passion. As the world units this week around the events in Paris and freedom of expression, it seems only appropriate to share the story of a non-profit whose mission is to promote press freedom worldwide and to “cherish the value of information for a free society.”  That non-profit is The Committee to Protect Journalists or CPJ.

Every day we turn on the news or go to our phones for information and we often forget our messengers, the journalists.  In 1981, a group of U.S. correspondents united to found the non-profit, The Committee to Protect Journalists. They realized that they could no longer ignore the plight of colleagues whose reporting put them in peril on a daily basis. Their idea was put into action in 1982, when three British journalist were arrested in covering the Falklands War.  CPJ, Chairman Walter Cronkite’s letter helped to free them.

Since that time that journalists around the world have come together to defend the rights of colleagues working in repressive and dangerous environments. Over eleven hundred journalist have been killed since 1992 for simply doing their job by valuing information for a free society.

This week added to the list of journalist killed are:

  •  Bernard Maris, Freelance January 7, 2015, in Paris, France
  • Georges Wolinski, Charlie Hebdo  January 7, 2015, in Paris, France
  • Jean Cabut (Cabu), Charlie Hebdo January 7, 2015, in Paris, France
  • Stephane Charbonnier (Charb), Charlie Hebdo January 7, 2015, in Paris, France
  • Berbard Verlhac (Tignous), Freelance January 7, 2015, in Paris, France
  • Elsa Cayat, Freelance January 7, 2015 in Paris, France
  • Moustapha Ourrad, Charlie Hebdo January 7, 2015 Paris, France
  • Phillipe Honore, Freelance January 7, 2015 Paris, France

Charity Matters.

 

 

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Charity Matters Quotes: Unity

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”

Mattie Stephenek

APTOPIX France Attacks Rally

Watching the world come together yesterday for democracy and freedom of speech was a historical moment. While this is not a place of politics, it is a place where I am free to voice the work of thousands of people who have come together in unity to make our world better.

Whether you are starting a non-profit, have the freedom to write about one or work together for a common goodness, unity is the glue that makes it all work.

Charity Matters.

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Charity Matters Quotes: Dreaming

” To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan but also believe.”

Anatole France

Keep Dreaming

I know that when January rolls around and we all begin to think about resolutions but perhaps we should simply dream about what we want to accomplish. When I think about all of the non-profit founders I have interviewed, so many of their stories began with a dream. In almost all of the stories I have heard, the common dream was to make life better for someone else.

Why make a resolution?

Just dream and act.

Charity Matters.

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What If Foundation

Photo via: Traditional Home
Photo via: Traditional Home

Once upon a time, long ago I was an interior design student and one of my favorite joys continues to be following the interior design world through magazines and media. Interior design is one of my guilty pleasures, so imagine how thrilled I was when I was reading my Traditional Home Magazine and came across this inspiring story.

The story was about a woman named Margaret Trost who was a young widow in 1999, when she was asked to volunteer in a Haitian orphanage.  She had a young son and wasn’t sure the trip was a good idea but once she decided to go, she never looked back. One look at the hunger and poverty changed everything. Margaret found herself asking the question, “What if I could help these children?”

Today, Margaret’s question of “What if” has turned into $4.5 milion dollars to fund over 6,000 meals each week, school scholarships and now a building to house this dream.  Margaret said, “The world is a mosaic, and each of us is called by a little piece of it.”  Simply asking the question “What if ?” opens a world of possibilities.

Charity Matters.

 

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Because I’m Happy

Soul sunrise
I have a dear friend who is also a yoga instructor/yogi and she recently shared this with all of her clients. I was so taken by the simplicity and brilliance of this advice that I felt compelled to share. These are the thoughts that I am beginning my New Year with and I hope you feel inspired to do the same.
Do more of the things 
that make you happy.
 
Make a list of 10
of your greatest passions,
10 activities that fill your heart
with joy and remind you
of how good life can be.
 
And then, over the coming
10 weeks, inject one 
of those pursuits into 
your weekly schedule.
 
Powerful thought:
the things that get scheduled
are the things that get done.
Until you schedule something, 
it’s only a concept – 
and 
extraordinary people
don’t build remarkable lives
on concepts.  They build
their greatness on action.
 
When you do things
that lift your spirit
and send you soaring, 
you reconnect with
a state of happiness.
 
– Robin Sharma
I have made my list and now need to begin to calendar the activities…a perfect beginning to a new year…..whats yours?
Charity Matters.
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Happy New Years

“Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.”

Michael Josephson

Happy New Years:RESOLUTIONS

Very rarely do I look back, it is simply not my style…I am a move ahead kind of person. However, this time of year I like to look back at my past posts and see what resolutions I made to you, myself and how I stacked up. I have to say, this is the one time that a blog is a blessing and a curse.

The blessing is that I am held accountable to each of you in a very public way and the curse is I am held accountable in a very public way.  This year as I looked back and read last years posts I was struck at how spot on it was and remains. So I am sharing the highlights of it here:

Looking back for me, is more than checking items off my list, but rather a time to ask myself the real questions:

  • Was I present and in the moment with my children and family?
  •  Was I a good spouse, daughter, friend?
  • Did I use my gifts and skills to help others?

These are the questions that define me, my life, and these are the items that matter, to me. So while I love making list, setting goals and proudly checking some items off the list…….the reality is that if I don’t ask the real questions to myself regularly, than nothing on list really matters.

So, as I bound into 2015 with excitement, I cherish these last few months with my middle son home and dream of travel and home renovation projects to accomplish….I am mindful that a resolution is simply something to strive for. Being the best person you can be, for yourself and the ones you love is truly the goal.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2015 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.