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Goodbye 2016

goodbye-2016

There is nothing I love more than new beginnings.  Fresh starts, new notebooks with empty pages that begin to tell a new story and the concept that a New Year brings a new chapter. A few years ago we spent New Year’s Eve in the Galapagos and we watched as people had created replica paper-mache mannequins of themselves with traits they wished to change and lit them on fire before throwing them into the ocean, symbolic of out with the old and in with the new.

This year, I think I would take a paper-mache shaped in the numbers 2016 and do the same. In the scheme of life, 2016 was not a horrible year but a tough one. We began moving last New Year, which was perhaps a foreshadowing of the year to come. It was a year with much movement. This is not to say, it was without fun and celebrations. My husband and I both turned 50, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We took a fantastic trip with our sons to Europe.

However, the year felt heavy, slow, emotional, and there seemed to be a feeling of climbing uphill slowly, very slowly. Do not get me wrong, I am full of gratitude for a life full of blessings. But gratitude aside, the year just felt tough.

So as I look ahead to 2017, I am filled with hope, possibility and the joy that comes with new beginnings. This year, I am dusting off the Charity Matters television treatment, I am opening myself to new possibilities to tell the stories of these non-profit heroes and I dreaming big.

Here is to a year full of possibility, hopes, dreams and making amazing things happen!

 

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.

Post holiday pause

“Christmas gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us. 

A time when we can look back on the year that has passed and prepare for the year ahead.”

David Cameron

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I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday and is slowing down this week to take a post holiday pause.

A time to reflect on all of the blessings in our lives, to slow down and spend time with family and friends and to look back at 2016 in reflection.

It is amazing how much can change in 365 days.

This week I will be doing just that, slowing down, feeling grateful and beginning to get excited for the year ahead.

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.

Christmas love

“Christmas, my child is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Dale Evans

christmas-love

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

It’s here, ready or not…

Christmas Eve has always been one of my favorite nights of the year.

My parents always hosted a large dinner for every friend, family member, stray or wayward neighbor without a place to go….and our home was always such a special place to be on Christmas Eve.

This year will be no exception, we will be with our family at a similar celebration filled with laughter, love and festivity. My heart is full with the blessings of love.

However, especially this time of year, it is so important to reach out to those that do not have a place to go. To a lonely neighbor or a friend who cannot be with family during the holidays.

A simple gesture is the greatest gift and the true meaning of the season.

Every time we love, we give.

My wish is for everyone to feel the love and magic of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all….

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.

The spirit of giving

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting.

It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others.

It is discarding the meaningless and stressing true values.”

Thomas S. Monson

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 I know this is a crazy week for everyone. We are all running around, checking off our list and trying to get ready for the big weekend ahead.

With so much to do, it easy to focus on the list, the food, the gift and….

Not the moment, the people and the joy we get from giving…

Not just giving presents but presence. 

Time is the greatest gift, use it well, cherish each moment and remember to discard the meaningless and find time for others.

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.

A little Christmas magic

a-little-christmas-magic

The other day, I wrote about being present to witness the joy and miracles that are all around us this holiday season. No sooner had I finished that post, when I received an email which had been forwarded to me. The email came from a woman named Jamie to her friend Steve.

Jamie wrote to Steve telling him that she would be going home to Philadelphia for the holidays and would be visiting an elderly nun, named Sr. Helen, who had been a wonderful influence on Jamie in high school. Sr. Helen was elderly and now had no family left and would be alone on Christmas.

Jamie remembered that Steve’s daughters attended a sister school in California, where Sr. Helen had worked years ago. Her request was simple, was there anyone at the school who might have remembered Sr. Helen and who would be willing to write a note or a Christmas card? The only Christmas gift that Jamie knew would touch Sr. Helen’s heart and remind her of all she had done for so many over the years.

I received the email and immediately forwarded it to the sister school, where I am an alumna. Within moments, a reply all came back from an angelic woman, named Angela.  Angela would be thrilled to spread the good word and pull together messages of love for Sr. Helen to be delivered on Christmas day.

One woman’s kindness, sparked another’s and another’s and the result will be pure Christmas magic for an elderly woman who will be reminded that she is not alone but rather the spark to a flame of goodness. Pure Christmas magic…..

 

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.

 

The joy is everywhere…

“The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

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I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit tired and overloaded this time of year. Do not get me wrong, I adore the holidays! I love everything about them, the decorations, the friends, the parties, the food, and even the presents. Truly, I do.

However, there are days when  doing all the shopping, the wrapping and the cooking that it feels a bit overwhelming. We are about 10 days away and while I am checking things off the list, I am concerned with exactly that…..just checking them off, rather than feeling the joy.

With so much to do, it is easy to just go, go, go but if we are all moving at warp speed how can we be in the moment to witness the magic moments of the holidays? The other day I was whirling around getting ready for a party, I dashed into my in-laws to borrow something and in my rush almost missed my tiny niece hanging an ornament on the tree. She squealed with delight, which is what stopped me in my tracks to take the picture above.

And there it was….the joy, the wonder, the magic…right there in front of me and I almost missed it. I write this post as a reminder to myself that the joy is everywhere, if we just slow down long enough to catch it.

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.

Charity begins at home….and raising charitable children

charity-begins-at-home

We have all heard the expression that, “Charity begins at home,” a phrase that I wholeheartedly agree with.  However, when people approach me about how to “teach” philanthropy and giving to their children…my response is that giving isn’t necessarily something you “teach” but rather a value that you adopt and model as a family.

In thinking about the best way to show your children how to care for others and to foster their love of helping others, reflect upon your own values and your families. If that is a goal for your family, then start by creating a culture of kindness and generosity where giving becomes something natural that your family does together.

Some other tips on raising charitable children…..

1. Start young, the earlier the better. For little ones (4 or 5), keep it simple, perhaps canned food for a local shelter or blankets for the homeless. Something that they understand.

2. Be age appropriate. Don’t overwhelm young children with world hunger but rather something relatable to them, perhaps something local in your community.

3. Engage your children in the process, especially the older they get. Find out what they care about? Perhaps they love animals and want to support a local shelter? Have them use their passion to make a difference. I have one son who struggled to learn to read, today he reads to children who struggle with the same thing he did.

4. Research together and suggests a few choices. With 1.9 million non-profits it can be overwhelming for all of us. Our family usually picks 3 or 4 ideas and then we vote on a holiday philanthropy project. We have adopted soldiers, fed homeless, adopted inner city families for Christmas. Ultimately it is the kids vote that decides.

5.  Be intentional with your own giving. Teach by example. Discuss what causes you care about. Let your children hear and see your volunteer efforts or participate in them if possible.

6.  Make giving habitual by being consistent. Whether its part of your allowance structure, a holiday tradition or something you do at birthdays, be consistent and establish giving as a tradition and habit. It’s no different from any sport, the more you participate the easier and more fun it becomes. Ultimately it becomes a part of who they are.

7.  Emphasize the joy and the experience of giving rather than money. Philanthropy is about being a part of something bigger than yourself. Giving is so much more fun than receiving. Make it a joyful experience for your family and something you share in together. Perhaps, start with entering a 5k walk or charity run or volunteering together.

The benefits of philanthropic children: These from Julie Nesbit of Whittier Trust

  1. Opens children’s eyes to the fact that others are not as fortunate as they are
  2. Develops empathetic thinking
  3. Fosters an appreciation for what they have
  4. Enhances self-esteem
  5. Correlates to improved performance in school

Like everything we do with raising our children, it takes time , patience, consistency and love.  Chances are you already do most of these things and don’t even realize it and your children do too. This holiday season, enjoy the process of giving in whatever way you decide to participate. You and your children will experience the real joy of the holidays….together.

Charity  Matters.

 

 

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Annual Worldwide Candle lighting

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The second Sunday in December is an international day of remembrance for children that have died. Every year, in the middle of this crazy hectic season, I curse trying to get to this candle lighting event, I am running on empty and overload, a million lists rushing through my head…..and then I walk into the auditorium…..where I am greeted by hundreds of faces, many who are wearing their deceased child’s image on their t-shirt or clinging to a framed photo, as if it is a life raft…and I pause.

It is then, in this moment, that I know what is truly important. It is here, as I begin to hear one parent share the story of their child’s short journey on this earth and the big impact this small life had on so many, that I know what matters. In this room is full of sniffles, tears and broken hearts the traffic is forgotten, the holiday list vanish and all that remains is love and compassion.

The emotion is palpable and the love and connection these people feel for one another, although strangers, is real. For each of them has walked this path, a hellish journey where they never feel whole again because they have lost a child….their child.

Over 40 years ago, in 1969, a chaplain at the Warwickshire Hospital in England brought together two sets of grieving parents, realizing that the understanding and support they could give one another was greater than he could provide. At that kitchen table the Lawley family, Henderson family and chaplain, Simon Stephens created The Society of Compassionate Friends.

Today, The Compassionate Friends has over 700 chapters nationwide to offer friendship, understanding and hope to bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents and family members when a child has died. There are TCF chapters in more than 30 countries around the world, lead by volunteers who are bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents.

This Sunday, December 11th at 7pm, in time zones across the globe, the world’s largest mass candle lighting event will create a 24 hour wave of light in remembrance of a child gone too soon. I will be lighting a candle for so many, gone too soon and once again be grounded in what it is that truly matters…..love.

 

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.

Pearl Harbor Day 75 years later

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Today is December 7th and for most of us, that day doesn’t really ring any bells. However, for some of us either lucky enough to grow up with parents who told us about this sacred day, or perhaps, old enough to remember, it is a day in infamy.

So, while this may not be a non-profit moment, it is one even bigger. On December 7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese . 75 years ago today, Hawaii did not look like this. A recently discovered family film uncovered the moment the war began and along with it,  uncovered the moment that it ended.

So while you are out Christmas shopping today, remember that you have that luxury because of those who went before us. The ones that gave us the gift of freedom.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well…hello December

” It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready…”

Sarah Kay

well-hello-december

Well….helloooo December!

I am not sure how you snuck up on me

However, I must confess that I am happy you are here.

Am I ready for you?

No..

Am I ever?

No.

But, do I love the lights, the music, the joy…

Yes!

It is the most magical time of year…

So ready or not…

Here we go!

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.