Love and resilience


Last weekend I attended the most amazing event, it was a series for women authors, who were brought together to share their journeys as novelist and tell us how they came to write the stories they wrote. It was like book club on steroids! The group that brought these incredible authors together was a local nonprofit called the Pasadena Literary Alliance, which was established a decade ago to recognize the accomplishments of authors, to advance the community about literary arts and to raise funds to support local literary programs.

What made the day so incredible were these amazing women authors, who didn’t know one another, or compare their notes and yet every one of them spoke about failure, resilience and love. Each of their messages was so powerful and inspiring that I had to share, besides these are also great tips for summer reading!

The author of the New York Times bestselling book, Miss Burma, Charmaine Craig spoke about her families rich history in Burma. Charmaine’s mother was the most famous woman in Burma, an actress, a beauty queen and a resistance fighter and yet growing up in the United States her mother was quiet, unassuming and spoke little about her past. Charmaine shared her own personal journey in telling the story about her family, her recent house fire and losing everything and her families love for one another, their country and their incredible resilience in the face of adversity.

Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, shared her personal story of being from immigrant parents, going to Yale and living the American Dream only to realize that it wasn’t. She became a successful attorney was diagnosed with a rare disease and became acutely aware of her time left on this earth and how she wanted to spend it. She told us that when she moved to Japan with her husband for business she volunteered to feed the homeless and quickly realized that the only volunteers were Americans. The experience changed her, her perceptions and she said that we each have an incredible superpower which is simply, “to love and persist” and that is the way we heal the world and one another.

The last author’s story I’m going to share was Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley,who told us about her early failures, heartbreaks,family illnesses, financial struggles and lives challenges that seemed never ending. She decided to run away to write and was literally hit by a car on her way to run away. It was that moment that made her realize she was alive and she said to herself, “If you only had so much time left what story would you tell?” She told us that each of us has the ability to, “create a reflection of our pain to heal ourselves and the world.”

As I listened to these incredible women, each uniquely different and yet exactly the same.  I realized that their journeys are exactly like those of the nonprofit founders I share each week, just in a different outlet. The authors use their pain to help heal themselves by telling stories and the nonprofit founders use theirs to create organizations to heal others. We all have challenges but how are we using ours to heal ourselves and the world around us?

charity Matters.


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Guest blogger: Theresa Gartland

This past week I had a long over due catch up with my friend Theresa Gartland of Operation Progress. Theresa who is originally from the Washington DC area came to Los Angeles, more specifically Watts, right out of college. Watts is still considered one of the most dangerous places in Los Angeles, but Theresa fell in love with the children and families in Watts. In the past decade plus, she has worked for a few different organizations, all with the same mission of making Watts a place for children and families to thrive.

Today, I am handing the handing Charity Matters over to Theresa to share her remarkable story of service…she is a true inspiration to us all.

As I am embarking on my 15th year of working in Watts and serving the youth of the community, I cannot help but reflect on what keeps me energized and going, of course two words…the kids! Everyday, I’m so grateful that I get to fulfill my life purpose by provide the most incredible, life-changing opportunity for some of the most deserving youth.

Attending Holy Child High School in Potomac, Md, I was taught the values of giving back through action not words. This rang true for me during my high school service trips to an afterschool program in Southeast DC. During my service, I would play with the children, help them with their homework, and spend time getting to know they. I quickly learned that they only difference between them and me was our neighborhood, and they were just as deserving as all the opportunities I was given. It was my actions that were making an impact. Through service and volunteering I had found my voice, it sparked my passion but I no idea it would ignite my career.

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned through my work is that each child deserves to feel safe, validated and know that someone is proud of them. This has become my mission, to make sure every student feels apart of something bigger than themselves, to feel validated, nurtured, and empowered.

My biggest success thus far, has been watching two girls that I have known since they were in 2nd grade, now sophomores at an all girls catholic high school, flourishing and succeeding. To be apart of their journey and see how OP has literally changed their life trajectory has been of the biggest rewards of my career.

It’s truly been a joy, honor and privilege to work at amazing schools and organizations in the Watts community that are so committed to inspiring, fostering and developing the youth. Being able to be there for a children, to motivate, challenge, and encourage them is no short of a miracle.

Thank you Theresa for reminding us what it means to serve, you are an amazing example to all.

Charity Matters.


Copyright © 2017 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.




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 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.




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.

Reading Partners Follow Up

Hearing these words from 9-year-old Tavan last week was pure joy!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

I was invited to see the opening of a new chapter of Reading Partners, a literacy program for elementary school children, here in town.  You may remember the  post on Reading Partners from last spring.  It was so exciting to witness progress in action. When 9-year-old, Tavan got up and read Dr. Seuss in front of a group of strangers with pride, you can’t help but get excited.

Reading Partners began a decade ago, as three women noticed their local elementary school in trouble and wanted to help. Their goals were simple:

  • Focus on children from low-income communities.
  • Give one-on-one instruction at the student’s reading level.
  • Recruit and train community volunteers to work with children.
  • Partner with high-need elementary schools to offer an effective program on campus.
  • Provide a way for volunteers to give a small amount of their time to make a huge difference in a child’s life.


These three women started out with one school and today Reading Partners has over 5,000 volunteers in 65 schools in 5 states…all because a few women cared about their community and committed to making it better. Do you have an hour to spare a week? Maybe do you know someone who might? Simply click here and go under volunteers. You can change a child’s life simply by helping them read.

“Oh! The places you’ll go!”

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 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.