A few years ago, I was worked to put on a Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference, that highlighted amazing women who had started incredible companies. One of our guest speakers was a woman named Lee Rhodes, the founder of Glassbaby.
Her story and business, a true social entrepreneur, where beyond inspiring. I never forgot but just recently received a Glassbaby candle as a gift and thought her story was worth sharing with you. When Lee was diagnosed with lung cancer she had an epiphany. She began to, “see the inequities of cancer, people who could not afford their chemo, the bus to get to chemo, or a lunch to sustain them through their treatment.”
So in 1995, when she was going through her third battle with cancer, as a mother of three…her husband came home from a glass blowing class with a little jar. Lee dropped a votive in his homemade creation and knew it was something special. In 1997, she began making these beautiful votives and giving them as gifts to dear friends and by 2001 Lee was selling Glassbabies out of her garage with the goal of donating as much as she could to support those with cancer.
Today, Glassbaby has donated over 3 million dollars to charities and has started their own 501c3, non-profit called the Glassbaby White Light Fund. The goal is to continue their mission of lighting the way for those in need.
When actor Gene Wilder passed away a few weeks back, I was reminded of his beautiful love affair with Gilda Radner and their subsequent involvement in cancer support. Wilder’s death coincided with a lunch catch up with a friend, who works for the organization that helped Gilda Radner through her battle with ovarian cancer, Cancer Support Community.
As I caught up with my friend, Meg Symes of Cancer Support Community, she told me her own story of watching her mother go through cancer in the 70s without the support, community or a place to go where it was “socially acceptable to have cancer.” When cancer struck Meg decades later, she was blessed to have the resources her mother did not. When the opportunity presented itself to be a part of supporting those with cancer Meg was all in.
Meg explained that Cancer Support Community was founded in 1982 by Dr. Harold Benjamin to provide free support, cancer education and hope. “So no one needs to face cancer alone,” patients and their families learn skills to enable them to regain control and restore hope. Patients and families can attend workshops, classes, yoga and come to a safe warm welcoming place that feels like home and gives the support needed to take on cancer.
In the Pasadena chapter alone, Cancer Support Community serves over 1,100 people a year, all free of charge. Today, Dr. Benjamin’s concept of providing support, education and hope for people with cancer has expanded to over 100 locations worldwide. Regardless if you were Gilda Radner, who attended the Santa Monica location or in Tokyo or someone here in Pasadena, because of people like Meg and thousands of donors and volunteers…..no one has to face cancer alone.
Yesterday was the first day of fall. In LA, we had an unusual crisp, 75 degree September day with big puffy clouds and the tiniest hint that perhaps Mother nature was up to something. As I drove home from my son’s high school football game, I felt joyful. Let me be clear, it wasn’t the score of the game that put me in the mood, but rather the feeling that change was in the air.
There is something that happens with change, it brings little pieces of hope and inspiration. As I sat in crazy 5 o’clock LA traffic, with the sun roof open, I had my first glimpse of fall.
No, it wasn’t a tree with turning leaves, but rather a women whose car was broken down. She had a look of fear and panic on her face and then something magical happened….two separate men parked their cars and rushed out to push the women and her broken car through crazy rush hour traffic.
Perhaps, an everyday occurrence…..but to witness chivalry, kindness and compassion, to this Angeleno, the first and best sign of fall…..and the feeling that change and hope was in the air.
Ever wonder what happens when you go out to eat and your children leave all their free crayons behind at the restaurant? Well you are not alone, one LA mom did too. Her name is Sheila Michail Morovati and after dinning out weekly at their families favorite restaurant, she noticed all of the unused crayons being left behind. After a little research she learned that there are actually 150 million neglected crayons that get tossed every year in the U.S. Who knew?
Determined to teach her children And so the Crayon Collection was born. Here is how it works: The non-profit organization creates presentations for each restaurant that signs on, gets trained in how to collect the crayons so that they are clean and not soiled, and how to store them. The restaurant is paired with a school about 2-5 miles away and a crayon pick-up is scheduled for about once a month, to get those crayons to the school and in the hands of students who will actually use them.
Believe it or not, they even take those scrappy not so pretty crayons too. “The schools we are serving are so under supplied that even the chalky crayons offer some benefit,” said founder Sheila Morovati.
The goal is simply to reallocate gently used crayons from restaurants, and in the process begin to teach children at a very young age about the needs of other children who can benefit from this simple resource so often taken for granted, teaching the joy of generosity and recycling for a greater good….all while helping another.
Now that seems like the perfect art of childhood….
Every once in a while a story comes across my path that touches my soul and melts my heart. This story is exactly that. The story of a homeless man in Brazil, named Raimundo Sobrinho, who dreamed of becoming a poet. Yet, for thirty-five years he was faceless, nameless and one of thousands of homeless, that was passed by everyday.
Yet, in 2011 a woman named Shalla Monteiro, befriended him and his life was forever changed.
A beautiful story and reminder to us all that everyone we pass belongs to someone, has a story, a dream and a purpose.
I don’t know about you, but I have always adored Katie Couric. I follow her on Instagram and for the past two weeks every day she has posted a picture and told the story of someone’s life affected by cancer. Each story more devastating than the next, with faces of children, mother’s, grandparents….each one of us knows someone who has been affected by this horrible disease.
Katie has been involved with an organization called Stand Up 2 Cancer. It began as an idea in 2008, to bring the entertainment industry together to raise funds for cancer research. Tonight, once again they will do just that.
Since 2008, Stand Up 2 Cancer has raised millions of dollars that have funded over one thousand cancer researchers and 19 cancer dream teams put together to end this disease. So, tonight turn on your tele to be entertained, inspired and to join in this fight that Stands Up 2 Cancer.
Last week I was privileged to speak at the launch of the USC’s Women in Leadership Society at the Annenberg School for Communication, my alma mater. An amazing organization founded by Professor Christopher Smith to provide support, build self-confidence, build community and connect young female undergraduates who are at the intersection of tech, media and entertainment. So what could I possibly say to these young women?
First, I remembered what a challenging time USC was for me, my parents had gone bankrupt and I was putting myself through school. I had boyfriend problems, was trying to figure out my path and the basic challenges of having fun, growing up and juggling it all that all young co-eds face.
I wanted these young women to know that we all go through this. More importantly, I wanted them to have a bigger goal and keep their eye on the prize. So often, the vision is short-sighted and they can only focus on the internship, the A, the diploma or the job. I want them to focus on living a life full of purpose, where you are using your gifts to the greatest ability.
While leadership is a tool that helps you on the path to acquiring all of the above, isn’t the real goal of leadership simply one life inspiring another? I shared my favorite leadership quote by Woodrow Wilson who said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
Because Leadership is at its essence….one life simply inspiring another and after all, isn’t that is the purpose?
I hope this finds you enjoying sometime relaxing with friends and family, as we celebrate Labor Day and the official ending of summer. This year, I found myself curious about the history of Labor Day and thought this little snippet did a good job explaining why we have this wonderful holiday.