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826Valencia

826-valencia

There is something magical and cathartic about writing. For me, it is a time to hear my inner voice and explore the outside world, as well as a gift that I cherish. That is why when I heard about 826National.org I was smitten with their mission and story to encourage the gift of writing.

Their story began in 2002, when author Dave Eggers and educator, Ninive Calegari were looking for a solution to help overburdened teachers, while connecting talented working adults and students who needed help. They located a store front in the Mission District of San Francisco, aptly at 826 Valencia Street, where they opened a pirate store in the front and built a writing lab for kids in the back of an old gym space.

Word spread quickly and before long 826 Valencia was serving 6,000 students, between the ages of 6 and 18, annually with over 1,700 volunteers.


Only two years later in 2004 a second chapter of 826NYC, opened in New York City and the following year chapters opened up in Los Angeles, Ann Arbor and Boston. By 2008, 826’s fifth anniversary the non-profit had published its first book with their students work and opened their national headquarters called 826 National with a mission that believes great leaps in learning can happen with individual attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

Today, 826 National.Org serves over 30,000 students across the country with over 5,300 volunteers, the organization has been a part of over 886 publishing projects and currently has seven chapters nationwide.

Now that is something to write about!

 

Charity Matters.

 

 

 

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#GivingTuesday 2016

giving-tuesday-2016

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, a successful black friday, are enjoying your cyber monday and are now ready for the most important day of all…tomorrow’s #GivingTuesday. What is #GivingTuesday, you ask? It is a movement that began in 2012 to celebrate and support giving and philanthropy.

More than that, #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that last year united over 70 countries around the world by sharing our human capacity to care for and empower one another. And today more than ever we need to be doing a little bit more of that…

What I think is even more fantastic, is the volunteering efforts that go along with the day.  If you are not sure where to start then merely go to the #GivingTuesday link here and you will find a list of local volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. Last year alone over 700,000 people volunteered for clothing drives, tutoring projects and a wide range of activities aimed at helping local non-profits across the country. Almost 40,000 charities, corporate and civic partners registered to officially be a part of Giving Tuesday this year.

Sheila Herring from the Case Foundation was quoted as saying,”The biggest thing for us is that Giving Tuesday directly challenges Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where you have analysts lining up to look at the numbers as a gauge of the health of our economy. What if, as a nation, we focused that kind of attention on giving and we wanted that to be our identity?”

What if? Our world would be a better place. And it already is because what started as an idea, just five years ago, raised over $116,000,000 last year for charities and causes around the world. When we come together in unity, we can make beautiful things happen. I can’t wait to hear what you are doing tomorrow on #GivingTuesday.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 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.

Happy Thanksgiving

“What if today, we were grateful for everything?”

Charlie Brown

modern-family-thanksgiving

Today is the day that we give thanks for all that we have….our crazy wonderful families, our health, a meal, our freedom and time to just be together.

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude.

Perhaps, this year we can begin to make every day one of gratitude.

If we continue to focus on all of our blessings and all that we have, we will always be full….and not just of turkey and stuffing!

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2016 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.

Gratitude

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

 Eckhart Tolle

gratitude-i-am-grateful-for

As we all begin to prepare for Thanksgiving, it seems like an appropriate time to think of all we have to be grateful for.

It is so easy to think of all we have to do, but perhaps for just moment we can reflect upon all the blessings we have.

When my sons were younger we did “Thankful Thursday” every Thursday night at our dinner table. The boys would roll their eyes and then share whatever they were thankful for from “no homework” to “everyone at our table.” As the years went by, it became clear that this lesson in practicing gratitude was a gift.

Today, our college age sons reference their gratitude frequently. Now it comes in the form of a family text thread, the most recent from my 21-year-old “be thankful that we are all healthy and alive”

I think that is a great place to start….

Charity Matters.

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Inside vs. Out

inside-vs-out

Once upon a time I dreamed of living in a big beautiful house on top of a hill, driving a beautiful old car and having four boys…..and all of those dreams became a reality. As a little girl I did dream those dreams and as an adult they all came true, with the exception of  having 3 boys…. but sometimes my husband does counts as a fourth…just sayin!

Last year, when we moved from the house up on the hill for all to see, to a house down a very steep hill for no one to see, my wise friend Wendy said,” Your old house was all about the outside and this house is all about the inside.” A comment I have chewed on over and over since she said it.

The other day I wrote about living an external life vs. an internal one.  As I reflect, it really is no different from living in that house on the hill. We bought that house because we fell in love with it, it was falling down in disrepair, it needed us and it was across the street from one of the most beautiful parks in Southern California….and with three little boys at the time…it was heaven on earth…not about being “seen.”

And yet, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being house proud. Zillions of hours gardening, painting, fixing, moving rocks, and in general loving that house. I did want everyone to see our masterpiece and our home. We didn’t do all that work for people driving by, we did it for ourselves and for our family. If I had it to again I would not change a thing.

As I reflect on my new home hidden from the world, from the street and from all who try to find it. I reflect on Wendy’s words. This house and this time in my life is about reflecting inward and not about what is seen from the outside.

So, while the thousands of influencers try to fight for your attention and impress you externally, I will sit in my glass house alone in the canyon and hope that these thoughts from within resonate…from my insides to yours.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Being an influencer or just being real

influencer

I recently watched a segment on 60 Minutes about “influencers.” Yes, Kim Kardashian and a host of other people I have never heard of all trying to gain favor amongst advertisers for surprise…guess what….our attention…which of course equates to dollars.  I get it, I do.

I don’t write for myself, well kind of, I do… but truth be told I write to inspire people to want to help others. Sounds crazy I know…but the more people who are inspired the more that are helped..it is just that simple. So, in watching the 60 Minutes piece, I probably should have been inspired myself but somehow I felt the exact opposite. The reason being, is influencing others from their vantage point, does not feel authentic, but rather feels sad.

Of course people want to be entertained, they want to watch others glamorous lives, none of this is new. Yet, the need to win over others for something external, is where I am having an internal struggle. How can I judge the Kim Kardashians of the world, when in reality the more people I “influence” the more people I help. That makes me as much a part of this ugly system as the people featured on the show….and for whatever crazy reason, I am having a hard time with that.

No, I am not better or worse than the Kardashians, the youtube makeup artist, the international sensation who does the splits around the globe or a funny guy who cranks out 6 second Vine videos…each person brings their own talent to the world and each of us vie for the same thing…attention. Honestly, a painful truth to admit.

I must confess, for me, it’s not about your “eyeballs” it’s about your heart and your soul. If one person is inspired to do a kind thing for another because of what they have read here…well then my heart is full and my job is done….influencer or not…that is the real deal.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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American Women Veterans

americanwomensveterans-org

Today is Veterans Day and the day that we celebrate all of those amazing men and women who have served our country. Last week I had the privilege of speaking with one incredible veteran and her name is Genevieve Chase. At only 38, she has served two tours in Afghanistan, is the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge, and is the Founder of AmericanWomensVeterans.org

Genevieve had trained for two years as a counter intelligence agent and was in Afghanistan for only two months, in April 2006, when a car bomb detonated and changed her life forever. She and her team survived but suffered varying degrees of traumatic brain injuries. She told me, “Angels watched over us and I knew I survived that bomb for a reason.” 

At the end of 2007, Genevieve came home, depressed, unsure about her purpose and began volunteering for another military non-profit. She began to realize that women veterans where not being heard, served or listened too. More importantly she discovered that there are 2.2 million women veterans in the United States.

In December 2008, Genevieve and her sister (shown above) put a call out on Facebook to any women Veteran’s in New York City to come join them for breakfast and thirteen women did. As she listened to stories about their shame to be a veteran, the way they were treated or ignored she knew something had to be done and that was the beginning of AmericanWomenVeterans.org

eve-chase

Today, almost eight years later the American Womens Veterans has become a change agent for women veterans. Genevieve has testified before U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and Veteran Affairs Committee to bring change and attention to these incredible women who have served. The American Womens Veterans is proud that they have helped to bring women’s health care to every VA facility in the country, helped acknowledge women veterans who were not allowed to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery and continue to shine a light on the remarkable role that women veterans have played and continue too, as they serve our country.

As we honor all of our veterans today, we need to remember that not every GI is a Joe.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 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.

TED

photo credit: Forbes
photo credit: Forbes

Last weekend, I attended my first TED talk. While I have listened to an occasional talk here and there, I am one of the rare people on the planet who is not addicted or really even familiar with TED. I was even more surprised when I learned that TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a non-profit organization….but isn’t everything these days?

The TED concept was created in 1984 from Richard Wurman’s observation of three amazing fields converging, technology, entertainment and design. The very first TED talks included demos from revolutionary new products, the compact disc and the e-book. However, even with such a wow factor the conference and idea lost money and six years later, in 1990 Richard Wurman tried again and this time it worked.

A decade later, media entrepreneur, Chris Anderson met with Wurman and in 2001 Anderson’s non-profit, the Sapling Foundation acquired TED. Anderson believed in the concepts that make TED great and was determined to seek out the most interesting people on the planet and let them communicate their passion.

 

So as I sat in an auditorium and listened to speakers talk on such topics as, The Future of Women in Science, Troubled Water on water conservation, Transforming Prisons from the Inside, Out, Accepting my transgender daughter, and the list goes on….I was inspired. Each speaker and topic more unique than the previous, and yet they were all the same.

What was it that made this very different group the same? Their passion. Each speaker was passionate about their topic and their passion and insight was real, it was human and the hundreds of us in the audience became one…..and that is the magic of TED.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Presidential birthday

“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”

 Louis Brandeis

pres-bday-flag

I know that today is an incredibly important day. It will hopefully be a day to remember and celebrate. It is a day that each of us need to exercise our freedom and come together.

I have cast my vote and am proud that I live in a country where each person has the privilege to do so.

So, while our country glues themselves to hear the outcome of today’s election, I will be celebrating another historic moment…my husband’s 50th birthday.

A day to remember for sure, and a day to celebrate life, love and liberty.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2016 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.

Friends with Causes

alzheimers-fwc

Last week I was invited to my friend, Alexandra Dwek’s home for another amazing and inspirational evening in support of Friends with Causes. Not book club or bunko but girl’s night with a wonderful speaker, cause and philanthropic goal. We are always surprised by the non-profit, the speaker and are completely engaged and last week’s dinner was no exception.

The first speaker was Kate Edelman Johnson, who shared the journey of her loving husband’s slow deterioration with Alzheimer’s. Kate reached out to her friend’s daughter for guidance, Patti Davis, who been through the journey with her father, Ronald Reagan. Kate spoke about what caregivers and loved ones of Alzheimer’s patients endure with this disease.

Kate began attending Patti’s Beyond Alzheimer’s support group and soon realized that she was in the position to not only support Patti’s amazing work but also the bigger problem of funding Alzheimer’s research. So Kate founded the Deane F. Johnson Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. She told us that without the discovery of new treatments, the number of Alzheimer’s victims will grow from 35.6 million to 65.7 million in 2030.

As we listened to Kate share her journey and then Patti Davis sharing hers, both as a daughter and as someone who has spent the last six years with these families in her work. Patti told us, “You need to be with other people who know what you’re going through, who won’t judge you or dismiss you. Several group members have told me that, before coming to this support group, no one had ever asked them how they were doing.”

These family members become patients too with this disease and it is people like Kate and Patti who take their suffering and turn into hope for others, that continue to inspire.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 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.