Today is World Wish Day. World Wish Day is organized by Make-A-Wish to commemorate the anniversary of the wish that inspired the creation of what is now one of the world’s leading children’s charities. Seven-year-old Chris Greicius’ wish to be a police officer was granted in Phoenix, Arizona by volunteers on April 29, 1980.
The Wishes give these children and families something to look forward to, to dream of and a slice of hope. One of my favorite wishes was the little boy from the Bay Area that wanted to be Batman. Never underestimate the power of a wish.
Since Chris’ wish in 1980, more than 300,000 children around the world have had their fondest wishes fulfilled by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Make A Wish Foundation’s mission is to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
Every 37 minutes, Make-A-Wish grants the wish of a child with a life threatening medical condition somewhere in the world. Today the Make-A-Wish is active in 35 countries. All of this began, with just a simple wish.
As the school year creeps closer and closer to the finish line, which is summer….I am tired. Students are tired, teachers are tired and it feels as if the countdown has begun. It is this time of year, when the sun is out, that the last thing anyone wants to do is work. This is when the word commitment kicks in.
It is easy to give up, slow down or even stop. It is a commitment to self, to cause and to purpose that propels us forward in the home stretch. As we anticipate the lazy days of summer, it is that commitment that will get us the finish line.
I’m late, a week late. It seems that last week was National Volunteer Week and that the week shifts from time to time in April, as a result I missed it. However, it’s never to late to learn more ways to get involved and about the people who are doing just that.
National Volunteer Week was created by the Points of Light Foundation to promote volunteering. The organization was created out of George Bush’s 1989 inaugural speech calling for a thousand points of light. The organization, helps millions of volunteers change the world. They mobilize people to take action on causes they care about through programs, events and campaigns, such as National Volunteer Week.
Points of Light creates a culture of volunteerism, that celebrates the power of service. The week is used to encourage and volunteering, finding a cause that interests you and inspiring people to jump in. Non-profits from all over the country posted service projects and volunteers went to work.
In addition, some inspiring storied were shared to prove the power of one. This was one of them.
We all have gifts and talents, but how do we choose to share them? When we do, those points of light radiate out of us because there is simply nothing better than knowing your life improved anothers. As volunteer Amy Paterson said,” Anyone can make a difference. The important thing is to find what your strength is and then find a place to put it. Be that point of light, because the world needs you.”
Today is Earth Day. With thousands of non-profits, I have to admit I find myself focusing on people helping people and less on the environment. However, as the daughter of a recycler (my Dad calls himself a trash man, but was in the wastepaper recycling business for decades, long before it was trendy) I have spent a lifetime being taught about the environment and ecology.
I must admit I was fascinated to learn that Earth Day began when Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, who witnessed the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, he could force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment”. That first event was April 22nd, 1970.
That day over 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. That first Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
In 1990, twenty years later, Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, for his role as Earth Day founder. Today is the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day and over a billion people will volunteer, organize an event in their community, change a habit, launch a community garden, reach out to an elected representatives, do something nice for the Earth and make a difference.
Yesterday, I was asked to speak to the high school volunteers and their parents at our annual Staff Recognition Day. I sadly had procrastinated on what to say and I found myself on Facebook…where I believe most of us procrastinators eventually end up. Before I knew it I found myself reading an article from the New York Times called The Moral Bucket List.
Upon reading it, I knew exactly what to share with our group of extraordinary volunteers and I thought it was worth sharing with you. The article talked about “resume virtues versus eulogy virtues.” It was written by David Brooks, who was more or less in search of enlightenment after finding career success, he began to ask what really mattered? He wondered why do some rare people emanate that light, joy, radiance and others do not.
Brooks goes onto say, “ Our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success rather than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character”.
The more I read the article, the clearer it became to me that everything he was searching for was in fact exactly the skills that our non-profit teaches to its 5th, 6th and 7th grade students. More than that it was what we ask our high school staff to pass onto their younger mentors.
The author posed three questions:
“What values bring happiness and character?”
“Have you developed deep connections that hold you up in times of challenge and push you toward the good?”
Lastly the author asks, “People on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me? How can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?
I know these seem to be deep questions to ask to teenagers. Yet, as I spoke to them about finding their gifts and sharing them with the world, I looked at an audience of nodding heads. They already understood what “radiating light and joy” was that author was so desperately in search of ……because each of them was already aglow.
As you know change has been a common thread in my life lately. Our oldest is unsure of his next step, our middle son deciding where he will attend college and our youngest getting ready to go to high school. As if that change isn’t enough, we have decided to move.
This decision has not come lightly or quickly but one that our family has pondered for sometime. Knowing that with an emptier nest we don’t need as much space as we once did, that our home is where our family is and some innate sense that it is simply time. Do we have a new nest? No. Do we know where we are headed? Not really. Is that scary? Yes.
The reality is that all change is scary because it is all about the unknown. What we know is safe and secure and what we don’t is terrifying. There is also something exhilarating about change that makes you feel alive, excited and looking ahead. What I do know for sure is that it feels like the right time, that while we have only moved twice, both times it was simply a feeling that inspired the move, and in hindsight those gut instincts were right for us.
So, as I ponder the unknown and where we might land, I through it out to the universe, God and all that is bigger than myself….knowing that change is growth and home is wherever my family is.
“We must care for each other more, and tax each other less.”
I’m not sure about you, but April 15th is not always the happiest day at our house.
Since I try to always look on the bright side of things, all I can offer up today, for those that are grumpy is that we live in a great country, try our best to care for one another and do what we can. Mentioning the charitable deduction might not make you feel any better as you send off your returns but reminding you that you do so much for so many, just might.
I am alone. I suppose we all are at sometimes in our life…the problem is that I cannot remember the last time, I was. Sure there have been moments in the car or shower but is that really being alone? For the next 24 hours my family is scattered for Spring break and I am holding down the fort solo.
A million thoughts run through my head…do I jump on the bed? Blast girlie music? After all, I do live in an all boy house….should I eat candy for dinner? Journal? Garden? Shop online? Read a book? Watch a sappy chick -flick? The options are endless….my mind is racing with possibilities….unsure of where to start with this magical gift of time.
Since my New Year’s resolution (remember those?) was to do things that bring me joy. I refer to my list (how pathetic is that?) and so I begin. Taking a yoga class, gardening, walking the dog in the park, reading and when the evening comes I realize I simply want to be. Quiet (shocker), alone with my thoughts and time to think about all the change happening around me as my nest continues to empty out.
I realize that this time is a gift, fleeting and to be savored because in hours, they will all barge in with tales of their journeys, dirty laundry, hunger and the noise will once again fill my home and alone I will no longer be.
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. “
Maybe its spring but change is in the air. Our second son is deciding where he will attend college in the fall. Our eldest is deciding which direction life is taking him. Our youngest is wrapping up the last weeks of middle school, as high school looms ahead. My husband and I, just stare at each other and find ourselves asking the other, “Where did the time go?”
The change is everywhere but while change is loss, it is also a sign of growth, maturity and ultimately a promise for what is to be.
Just hearing the words, Let it be I begin to hear the song..speaking words of wisdom, let it be…let it be. Sometimes letting it be is the most difficult thing of all. Those words were the singular wish of a young girl named Karla Rosen who was diagnosed January 7th, 2005 with a rare brain cancer. Her heartfelt desire was to “just be.”
During that year, their community rallied around their family to take care of meals, Karla’s two siblings, yard work, and all of life’s task that shift in the wake of a child’s health. The community support was overwhelming, wrist bands were made and sold to help pay the medical bills. After a year of fighting this horrible disease, Karla Rosen lost her battle with cancer on February 5th, 2006. She was 15 years old.
Her parents, found a letter in her room shortly after her death that said, “I have only known two other people with my condition: one passed away, and one has been struggling for life in the hospital for many months. I now know, because of what I am able to accomplish once again, what miracle God wanted me to pass on – the miracle of life. Thanks to my cancer, I now do not sweat the small things in life and live it to its fullest.”
With the help of the community, within months of Karla’s death, her family decided to celebrate what would have been Karla’s 16th birthday with the creation of the Let it Be Foundation. Their mission is to provide ongoing support and services to families and children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses throughout the child’s treatment, with a focus on the entire family.
The Rosen family has taken their unbearable loss and turned it into a legacy of compassion for others. As the song says, “there will be an answer, let it be…let it be…..”
A few years ago when the movie The Blind Side came out, I was told by a number of friends that I reminded them of Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie. At the time I thought it was perhaps because I had overly highlighted my hair, was raising a football player and had once done interior design. While I love Sandra Bullock, that was not who I was being compared to, but rather to Leigh Anne Tuohy, the character she played. I wasn’t sure exactly how to take this comment.
Months later, while speaking with my step sister, who was then promoting The Blind Side, she told me she had just met the Tuohy family from the film. Unaware of the previous comparisons, she said the same thing, however, this time about the actual person, Leigh Anne. She explained that Leigh Anne Tuohy wanted to bring orphans to the Academy Awards to highlight the need for adoption of abandoned children. Needless to say, that didn’t happen….but I secretly loved the idea.
A few years passed and I forgot all about the comparison. Then, last weekend, my oldest son came home for Easter, and brought me a present. He said, he had heard Mr. Tuohy speak at his school, promoting their new book, In a Heartbeat, Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving. My oldest said, as he heard Sean Tuohy describe his wife, it reminded him of me, so he waited in line and brought me this.
I was flattered beyond words and for once was completely blind sided.
“For I remember it is Easter morn, And life and love and peace are all new born.” Alice Freeman Palmer
For as long as I can remember I have either hunted Easter eggs or hosted an Easter egg hunt. Never in my lifetime, whether in college or as a newlywed did my parents not have an Easter egg hunt for us. Now, as I am entering the mid-section of my life, I think this Sunday maybe the last egg hunt I host.
How I went from the little girl with the basket, to the crazed hostess stuffing eggs and eating twice as many that are being filled, I am not exactly sure?
What I do know is that the joy that comes from hosting, from giving, sharing and delighting in others happiness is sweeter than all the chocolate consumed.
We have begun our spring cleaning. No, not with mops and brooms but rather clearing out closets, drawers, garages of unwanted, unused and unnecessary possessions. Luckily for me, I was inspired by recent visit to the Los Angeles Chapter of The St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Time and again, I have cleared out my closets and driven to the Goodwill….and am embarrassed to say that I am not sure what it is exactly they do with my things? One of my earliest childhood memories was of the St. Vincent de Paul truck pulling up for our used donations. Over the holidays, I met the Executive Director of the LA Chapter, and he invited me down to see what exactly it is that they do and trust me, it is so much more than a truck!
On my visit I learned the history of this amazing organization, which was founded in Paris in 1833 by a compassionate college student named Frederic Ozanam. He was challenged by the poverty he saw on the streets and organized a “Conference of Charity” to help the poor of all religions. Frederic wanted to create an avenue that assisted people to express their faith and grow spiritually through acts of charity. My kind of guy.
For over 100 years, SVDP has been serving the needy throughout the United States. The Society, as its called, is able to help provide the needy to become self sufficient by providing emotional and financial support, food, clothing, furniture and housing because of donations both financial and household. Many of the household items are passed on directly to someone in need.
Today, the Society, is an international volunteer organization with over 1,000,000 members in 142 countries and continues its founder’s mission to “seek and find the forgotten, the suffering or the deprived.”
So, as you start your spring cleaning, remember how much good your unneeded items are for another.