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Here to serve

On a rain soaked day, a couple of weeks ago I met the most remarkable woman for lunch, her name is Katie Quintas. Katie is a living example of C.S. Lewis quote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an  extraordinary destiny.” Katie’s hardship re-routed her destiny.

Katie’s life was fantastic.  She had a husband, Silvio, she adored. A wonderful son, Bryan and a fantastic career consulting non-profits. Then all of that changed in 2006, when her husband Silvio was diagnosed with leukemia and six months later, her only child Bryan, was diagnosed with Stage Four Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 16.

Katie’s employer was supportive as she tried to manage a full-time job and the two most important people in her life’s cancers. What Katie didn’t realize was how was she going to manage to cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop, update everyone on Bryan and Silvio’s conditions, deal with the offers for help, all while working and driving between two hospitals over an hour apart from each other? She was overwhelmed, wondered how families manage and didn’t even know where to look for help.

It turns out that she was not alone.

As 2007 came to an end, and both Katie’s husband and son were finishing up their cancer treatments, she began looking for organizations that help families through daily life during an illness, especially the illness of a child. In 2009, when she still hadn’t found an organization that fit the need, she began discussing the idea of creating one with her husband Silvio. With her husband’s encouragement, she did just that launching Here to Serve.org in 2011.

The Quintas family had been through so much but realized that there were so many people who had less. With Silvio’s support Katie set up her non-profit to connect and create online care communities that come in at the beginning of the health crisis to organize, friends, resources, medical information, funding, support all without overwhelming the caregiver, who is typically the parent.

As I sat at lunch and listened to Katie’s story, it was almost too much to process what she had been through but even more to grasp what she does for others. When we both went onto her web-site together and I saw what a care community looked like for a family, it was unbelievable. Once I was part of a sick patients community, I could sign up for everything from walking the dog, bringing a meal, doing laundry, running an errand, donating groceries and the list goes on. The services Here to Serve provides is everything that Katie needed when she went through this and didn’t have.

Sadly, Katie lost her beloved husband to cancer, but she said his memory still keeps her going. Katie told me, “I can’t imagine not doing this. Here to Serve gets me up in the morning, it motivates me and I was created to do this work. This is my purpose.”

Charity Matters.

 

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Operation Photo Rescue

Operation Rescue Mission

With the rain pouring down this past week in LA, I have been thinking about something that has literally NEVER occurred to me…a flood. I know, crazy isn’t it? However, floods are reality in many parts of the country and when a flood or natural disaster strikes, the first concern is safety, housing and food. Once those needs are met victims begin the process of recovering their possessions, most especially trying to find and repair their families photos. This is when Operation Photo Rescue steps in to literally rescue a families memories.

In 2006, photojournalists Dave Ellis and Becky Sell launched Operation Photo Rescue after they witnessed victims throwing out treasured family photos that had been destroyed. Their mission became, “Insurance doesn’t restore memories but we do.”

A few weeks after a natural disaster or flood, OPR‘s team of volunteers set up a location where people can begin to bring in the photos they have found to see if they can be saved and restored. The damaged photos are digitally copied and a host of volunteers from around the globe use Photoshop and give hours of time to restore the images.

Over 12,000 photos have been restored thanks to more than 2,000 volunteers around the world. For many of these volunteers the work behind the scenes becomes personal and being able to give families their memories back is a gift.

It seems fitting to end the week where we began, with Aaron Siskind’s quote, “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

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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.

St. Sebastian Project

The Gurbach Family
The Gurbach Family

As fall kicks into gear and we all begin to settle into our new school year routines, one thing that I always look forward to is watching my boys participate in sports. There is nothing more fun that sitting with a group of parents who are all cheering their children on.

A few weeks ago, I sat down for lunch with an amazing woman and non-profit founder, named Clare Gurbach. Clare has two daughters that are college athletes and her youngest daughter seems to be following in the family footsteps. We talked about our children, sports and the moment that all of those came together to inspire Clare to help so many children keep playing sports.

 

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start your non-profit?

Clare: In 2007, I was watching our oldest daughter play volleyball and seeing the disparity in resources between our team and one we were playing. The other team did not have nice uniforms. Some of the girls had masking tape on the back of their shirts for their numbers. Many did not have knee pads or proper shoes. Our team had everything and a professional coach as well. Winning that game 25-2 was not a good outcome for anyone.

We were called to action to “level the playing field” in providing uniforms, sports equipment and resources for under-resourced Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  We named our non-profit The Saint Sebastian Sports Project after the patron saint of athletes.”

CM: What fuels you to keep doing this work?

Seeing the huge impact we are having as we have grown. We know that sports help children in so many ways. Beyond the obvious physical benefits of playing sports, children also learn sportsmanship, commitment, and leadership and have fun at the same time. Our students must maintain a minimum GPA to play on their teams so they are incentivized to work hard in school.”

CM: When do you know you have made a difference?

“When we see the smiles on the faces of all the children we serve. When we visit the students at school and bring the schools’ funds and equipment to support their sports programs.  When students attend our various tournaments, camps and college visit days at USC and LMU.  Many of our students are now trying out for their high school teams that never would have had this opportunity in the past.”

Tell us what your impact been? 

“During the 2009-2010 academic year, we were able to support seven sports programs. This academic school year we will assist 39 schools with grants and  will serve at least 2,500 students this year.

There are 100 schools in Archdiocese of Los Angeles that need funding. We hope to find more foundation money and person donations to fuel additional growth in the future.”

Now that is a win-win for everyone.

 

Charity Matters.

 

 

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Guest blogger: Molly Yuska Project Giving Kids

Since Charity Matters just celebrated its 5 year anniversary it seems time for some fresh perspectives. So I have invited our first guest blogger, my friend and non-profit founder, Molly Yuska. Molly is not only a mother but founded Project Giving Kids, a place to empower and teach children about philanthropy.

So, without further ado, here is Molly….

molly yuska pic

 

For many of us, the world has started to feel rather scary lately. Almost every week there seems to be a report of some major attack somewhere on our small planet. I can’t help but think how much scarier it must feel to kids who can’t remember a time when the world seemed at peace.

I believe when faced with these kinds of tragedies, we have a choice – to move away in fear and try to hold on even tighter to safeguard our own self-interest in hopes the tighter grip will protect us just a little bit more (or at least make us feel that way) OR to put the fear aside and see it as a call to action, a call to spread kindness and to turn that dark tide back toward the light.

I recently came across an article about kindness and kids. In it, a teacher by the name of Marlem Diaz-Brown states: “I have learned that when you teach kindness and compassion to students and they really understand the concept, everything else falls into place. This should be the first lesson of every teacher.” (Article: http://bit.ly/25IIynS)

Whether the teacher be a parent, an after-school mentor, a grandparent or an actual teacher, I think our children today, perhaps more than any generation that has come before it, need to be reminded of the power of kindness. I want my children to live in a world where they don’t walk the streets in fear of what senseless tragedy may come next. I want them to walk the streets knowing that the power of kindness is stronger than the fear that drives violence. And the sooner we turn them on to their own power to create ripples of kindness, the better off we all will be. After all, kindness is a choice like any other.

I couldn’t have said it better myself! If you want quick and easy project ideas your family can use to begin teaching kindness, visit Project Giving Kids.

Charity Matters.

 

 

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One Hope

one hope

A few weeks ago I was at a charity event and was offered a glass of wine. Nothing better than a chilled glass of chardonnay on a warm summer night, after a day of work. The wine was delicious and I asked the woman behind the bar about it. Her reply, was surprising because the wine was made to benefit charity….which just made it that much more delicious.

The story behind it is just as good. In 2007, Jake Kloberdanz  had an idea, 168 cases of wine and eight friends just out of college. No, it was not a party but the beginning of his company, OneHope that’s mission is to make the world a better place through every product they sell.

OneHope‘s core product is wine but they have expanded their brand and their charitable donations along with it. Every product benefits a cause and to date OneHope has donated over one million meals to the cause Why Hunger, 65,000 diapers to help premature infants, planted 52,000 trees, provided clean drinking water and the list goes on.

More than that, OneHope has donated over $1.6 million dollars since its inception. Now that is a cause worth raising your glass for!

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Charity Water

Charity water

With 1.9 million non-profits and more stories to share than we possibly could right here, Charity Matters had to put some filters on who we covered. The core root, is people helping people in the United States. As a result, we don’t always cover some amazing international causes because its is a little outside the scope.

Every once in a while, we come across someone, who just gets it and it really doesn’t matter where they live or who they serve, it is what they do for others that becomes the filter for goodness. Without trying to create water and filter jokes, Charity Water is one of those stories. More specifically, the story of Scott Harrison, the former nightclub promoter who turned his life and thousands of others he serves around by creating Charity Water.

Scott says in his bio, “For me, charity is practical. It’s sometimes easy and more often inconvenient, but always necessary. It is the ability to use one’s position of influence, relative wealth and power to affect lives for the better. Charity is singular and achievable.”

Since 2006, Scott and his team have provided over 6 million people with the gift of clean water. Now that is a true filter for goodness.

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.

Billions in change

Billions in change

Over and over we hear it said that one person can change the world, a phrase I do believe in. Anyone who inspires change, knows it takes a village to do so. It is a global village that billionaire Manoj Bhargava is creating to deliver products that can directly impact humanity and he is seriously the real deal.

Manoj has taken his fortune, created from 5 hour Energy, to focus on three areas to improve the world;water, energy and health. His approach is to, ” make a difference in other people’s lives, not just talk about it.” A new documentary called Billions in Change, follows his journey. Take a small peak here at what one man can do to improve the lives of seven billion people.

As our world becomes increasingly smaller and the global village a reality. It is people like Manoj Bhargava, who will not only change our world but inspire each of us to do the same.

 

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.

Kind

Kind

Being married to an entrepreneur, I am always fascinated by what motivates people to start a business, even a non-profit. When someone comes along who creates a great product and business combined with doing good, well in my book, that is about as good as it gets. The man who has done just that, is Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of Kind Snacks.

Daniel Lubetzky is the son of a holocaust survivor, who grew up in Mexico City before moving to the United States with his family. After graduating from Stanford, he became fascinated with finding a way to resolve the Israel-Palenstine conflict through business. He created an international movement called OneVoice and then a food company called Peaceworks that promotes economic cooperation in the Middle East.

It was in 2004, when Daniel was unhappy with the unhealthy snack choices Americans had, as well as the rise of obesity, that he developed the Kind Bar. His concept was that we can be “kind to our bodies and to the world.” Last week he took his kindness to a new level, by creating a new corporate foundation that will give $1 million in cash prizes to individuals who are making a difference in their communities by kindness.

The Kind Foundation will accept nominations through March 31st and five kind individuals will win $100,000 and one grand winner will win $500,000. The company is known for its generous support to a host of non-profits that are voted on through the companies web-site each month.

When asked about his motivation for giving, in a recent interview in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Daniel cited his father’s experiences during the holocaust.”I don’t see it as philanthropy so much as a duty,” he said.

Taking Kindness to a whole new level.

 

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.

Superbowl Sunday

Super-Bowl-50

Its seems that the Superbowl and I will both be celebrating big birthdays this year, this sunday the Superbowl will turn 50. We all know that this weekend’s Superbowl game will be the Denver Broncos versus the Carolina Panthers. What you probably didn’t know is that the NFL was a non-profit organization from 1942 until just last April.  Who knew?

For reasons still a mystery to some, the NFL decided to remove their tax-exempt non-profit status.  However, despite your opinion on the controversial decision, the NFL Foundation still exists.  The Foundation was created to support the health of the NFL athletes, youth football and communities that support the sport. The foundation has  donated more than $368 million dollars since 1973, served 3.1 million people through grants given since 2011, awarded 364 players grants in 2011 and built over 356 fields since 1998.

So regardless of who you are cheering on this weekend, know that the NFL is still doing its part to support players, youth sports and communities. That is something everyone can root for.

 

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.

 

Movember

Movember 15

This week is the beginning of Movember. No, this isn’t a typo but rather a movement. I was reminded last week, when my second son asked me to sponsor his fraternity’s fundraiser in support of the cause. You may recall that last November there seemed to be an unusual amount of facial hair and beards. Those beards and unshaven faces were not by accident, but rather a statement for men’s health.

A statement that all began in 2003, when two mates in a bar ( Travis Garone and Luke Slattery) were having a simple conversation about whatever happened to the moustache or the Mo, as they called it, and a joke about bringing it back. These buddies from Melbourne, Australia decided to talk their friends into growing a Mo for a purpose.  They were inspired by a friend’s mom who was raising funds for breast cancer and decided to direct their efforts towards men’s health and prostate cancer. They sent an email titled Are you man enough to be my man?  The result was 30 guys willing to take up the challenge and pay ten dollars each, towards their cause and the beginning of Movember.

Their goal started small but never wavered. These four friends wanted to recruit men who would support Movember, who by the way are called MoBros. The Mo Bros, would begin by registering at Movember.Com and start Movember 1st clean-shaven, then grow and groom their Mo, for the rest of the month, raising money along the way. In addition, these men become walking, talking billboards for their cause. Not to exclude the girls, they also started Mo Sistas, who champion their Mo by registering and supporting the Mo Bros in their life.

What started as a fun bar conversation in 2003 and 30 MoBros in Melbourne, Australia has morphed into over 4 million participants globally, who have raised more than $649 million to date. Movember, is more than a month, but rather through the power of the moustache, it has truly become a global movement that is changing the face of men’s health.

Charity Matters.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

photo via: WestFWlifestyle.com
photo via: WestFWlifestyle.com

As you know I have been thinking a lot about dreaming big and continuing on my quest living a life full of purpose. When I think about the combination of these two together, my mind immediately goes to thoughts of my amazing friend, Ann Louden. Ann is a breast cancer survivor who took her diagnosis and turned it into a purpose fueled mission. The result is her non-profit TCU Frogs for the Cure.

Ann has worked at TCU for over twenty years and over a decade ago when she heard the words, “You have cancer” she knew she needed to do something. As the ultimate connector, she engaged her Fort Worth and TCU community in finding a cure, supporting those with breast cancer and partnering to support the cross town organization Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Her organization was the first to engage college football with breast cancer and now today you can’t tun on a game in October (pro or college) without seeing pink, it all started with Ann. However that dream wasn’t big enough, she went further in creating inspiring music videos with thousands of survivors to bring everyone together in support for this cause. When the videos are downloaded from itunes, the proceeds go to fight breast cancer.

This years video will debut at the Thursday, Oct 29th at the  TCU football game vs West Virginia and is aptly done to the song,”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.   I cannot think of  a better song to describe Ann Louden and all breast cancer survivors journey to overcome and fight this disease.

 

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.

 

A New York State of Mind

New York State of Mind

Last week I was in New York City with friends, a city that I love to visit. The energy and the frenetic pace take this Angelo’s breath away every time I am there. The word that comes to mind when I see New Yorker’s in action is, alive. There is something so special about the city, the people and the passion of New Yorker’s that is contagious.

On a stunning day in the city, walking along the High line I found myself wondering how do New Yorker’s give back? Where do they volunteer? My first place I checked was Yelp and the top rated New York non-profit (according to Yelp) was an organization called New York Cares.

The organization began in the late 1980s, when a group of friends wanted to take action against some serious social issues that New York City was facing. Finding few options to help, they created their own organization to address the problems from the ground up.   Their mission was mobilize caring New Yorker’s into volunteer service.

New York Cares is now the city’s largest volunteer management organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools. They have more than 62,000 volunteers who volunteer annually with them and together help over 400,000 disadvantaged New Yorker’s each year. That passion and love that New Yorker’s have for their city and one another continues to make New York more than just a state of mind.

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.

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

A few years ago, I attended Maria Shriver’s first Women’s Conference in Long Beach which had previously been set up as an event for the Governor’s wife. Of course, at the time Maria was the Governor’s wife and she used that platform to create an event to empower and honor women. It was an extraordinary day that I will never forget.  Oprah spoke and we then watched Maria honor her mother, Eunice, who was the founder of The Special Olympics.

Next week the Special Olympics World Games will come to my hometown in Los Angeles, to celebrate their 14th Special Olympic Games. When I saw this tribute, I thought you should too.

Maria and I don’t have much in common, but we both had mothers that told us we could be anything and do anything. It is that belief, when installed in another that will inspire more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 170 nations to compete in 25 Olympic-type sports.  These athletes will demonstrate their courage, determination and spirit of sportsmanship, just as their founder Eunice Shriver did from the very beginning…..bringing the gift of possibility to all.

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.