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AnnieCannons

Have you ever heard of Annie Cannon? She was a pioneer, who worked at the Harvard Observatory in the early 20th century. Annie Cannon and a group of women discovered the very categories that stars fall into. If ever there was a more perfect name for an organization about two stars who are truly pioneers, it is Laura Hackney and Jessica Hubley’s nonprofit organization Annie Cannons.

Truly one of the most innovate organizations tackling one of the most horrific problems, human trafficking or slavery. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally. Sixty-eight percent are trapped in forced labor, twenty-six percent are children and over fifty percent are women and girls. According to the nonprofit organization Polaris there were over 8,000 reported cases in the United States in 2016. I truly had no idea and was shocked by these statistics.

What was even more stunning was two Stanford graduates (one a Masters from Stanford and the other Stanford Law) who were determined to find a solution to empower these victims by teaching them skills, earning income and building solutions to empower them to break the cycle. Last week I had one of the most incredible conversations, I have ever had…. with Co-Founder Jessica Hubley.

Charity Matters: What is the back story to Annie Cannons, your nonprofit is pretty unique?

Jessica Hubley: Laura was the manager of the Program on Human Rights on Stanford and had worked as a Senior Research Associate for Stanford’s Anti-Trafficking Project. I was an attorney, we had both gone to Stanford and in September 2013, I was writing a nonfiction book about human trafficking. Laura was going to Myanmar for work and asked if I wanted to come along. We met and interviewed nine people who were victims of human trafficking and they all said the same thing. That they were desperate for work, they were poor, vulnerable and trusted someone.

This was shocking to me, but not to Laura who had been in this space for much longer. I asked Laura, “What if we got these people a job?” The answer wasn’t as simple, but we knew that if we could find away to address the financial piece we might be able to impact change.

When we came home, I was a successful attorney working with digital media companies in the technology industry. I was seeing so many people in software development making $400 an hour writing code and couldn’t help but wonder what if we taught these women victims of human trafficking how to do this?

Charity Matters: What did you do then? 

Jessica Hubley: First we spent an enormous amount of time talking to people who ran nonprofits, shelters here in the Bay Area that housed women who were victims of human trafficking, we spoke to Fortune 500 companies and gathered a lot of information.

 We are self-proclaimed huge geeks. That being said, we taught ourselves to write code. Laura taught herself, then she taught me, we began essentially putting a school together for these women and kept refining our curriculum. We knew the market and need for coders and believed that these women who had escaped unimaginable past had what it took. They were good problem solvers, they were survivors, hard workers and they had grit. It turns out that is exactly what it takes to  be a perfect coder.

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work? You are running a nonprofit and a school, essentially and then you are  helping these women get jobs writing code? It is an enormous undertaking, how do you do it?

Jessica Hubley: I think there are three things. One, I still feel I have something to prove to the world. Two, we built the kind of work place that we both always dreamed of that is supportive and collaborative, where we all learn from one another. Lastly, Laura understands and having a partner to lift me up ….and we keep each other going.

Charity Matters: When do you know you have made a difference?

Jessica Hubley: When I see one of our students thriving and being successful. When I receive a card or note saying you changed my life and my children’s’ lives. When our customers love their apps and websites and when we have found hidden figures in the world that no one is looking at and have given them the economic power to break the cycle of human trafficking. We have helped people build solutions.

Charity Matters: What have you learned from this experience?

Jessica Hubley: I have learned that most people are good but more than that, I have learned that what really matters is the mark we leave on the world.

Charity Matters.

 

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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.

Planting the seeds of compassion in our children….

This past weekend I was in San Francisco working with the nonprofit  Project Giving Kids, an amazing organization that helps families connect with  incredible philanthropic opportunities. Their motto is “connecting kids to causes” with the hopes of planting the seeds of compassion in our children. Honestly, it was the perfect way to kick off the season of giving and to celebrate tomorrow’s National Philanthropy Day.

I think so often when we hear the word philanthropy we think of fancy parties, old school wealth and privilege, when in reality philanthropy literally means the love of humankind. In 1986, Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 15th as National Philanthropy Day to bring the world together to recognize and celebrate the work that volunteers and donors bring into our communities each and everyday to make our world better.

Watching young children participating in a multitude of service projects at Project Giving Kids Create the Change Day gave me hope for the future. With all the negatively in our world, seeing young children and families helping others was truly witnessing the love of humankind…..and that is something I hope we can all experience not just tomorrow….but everyday.

 

Charity Matters.

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to pass the torch/post and inspire another.

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.

A message from grey skies

On an overcast day, I found myself in the most unusual predicament; I was isolated, distraught and home in bed sick. Under the gun at work with year-end wrap-ups due, budget deadlines circling, grants looming ahead and a heap of pressure mounting. More than a cold and the daily life of a nonprofit Executive Director, was the fact that I was home sick, and that I was home without Internet.

The shocking reality began on a conference call from bed that kept going out. Since we live in a canyon, cell service is almost non-existent without the beloved Internet. The landline is also Internet dependent, as clearly, my life has become as well. By 9:30 am it became abundantly clear, as panic set in, that I was completely unable to communicate with the outside world. No phone, no computer, no work….nothing.

Deadlines looming, stress and fever building simultaneously, I thought I might actually combust. My mind spinning with an escape plan, should I go out like this in search of wi-fi or was I delirious from fever? By lunch, I was near hysterical when my husband came home worried since he couldn’t get a hold of me. He also confirmed my worst fear, we were cut off, there would be no Internet until the dreaded cable company was contacted and an appointment made. My reaction to this news was a full melt down of tears. Tears of feeling crappy, tears of frustration and tears because I simply didn’t know what else I could possibly do, except cry?

After, my husband left in search of a saner environment and one with wi-fi, I’m sure. I stared blankly at the white walls of my bedroom and collapsed from exhaustion. A few hours later I awoke with the realization that all of this was a gift. The universe’s way of telling me to rest, to slow down and to simply be….my worst skill by far.

I took a deep breath, leaned back and grabbed a book. Who gets to read in the middle of a grey overcast day from bed? I was just beginning to realize how blessed I was to be away from it all….off the grid, unplugged…whatever it is everyone calls it….when it happened. The buzzing began, the phone went insane with 39 text messages coming in rapid fire, every device pinging me at once and I realized once again to appreciate what you have, when you have it.

The sun broke through the clouds, my fever broke and one by one I dove back into my connected, wired and overly plugged in life.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Sharing is caring, if you feel moved or inspired, please inspire another…

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.

The Good Journey

I have to confess, a few years ago when an acquaintance of mine started a podcast, I was not really sure what that was, when or how you listened to them. Since that time, I have a better understanding of podcasts but have not been bitten by the bug…until now. I was on LinkedIn and came across what I thought was an article about a nonprofit founder but instead it was a podcast interview on The Good Journey Pod. A few minutes into it and I was hooked.

Naturally, I needed to know more about the person behind this brilliance and I reached out to find out who was behind all of this? I discovered the answer, Brady Josephson, a man passionate about the poor and changing charity. He has worked for nonprofits, been a part of technology companies trying to make giving a part of daily life and has built businesses that use technology to help nonprofits grow. While he may call himself a charity nerd, he is anything but. Brady is an entrepreneur, charity strategist, professor, writer (for the Huffington Post and his blog RE:Charity) and the man behind The Good Journey. I can’t wait for you to meet someone who inspires so much good.

Charity Matters: What inspired you to get into the nonprofit sector?

Brady Josephson: I went to college in Chicago and was studying business and playing baseball. I remember seeing the news about the Tsunami in 2004 in Phuket and realized in that moment that somehow I needed to help. That moment changed my focus to wanting to mix business, purpose and technology to make a difference. 

After that,  I spent a few years at a nonprofit called Spark, while getting my graduate degree, and became more passionate about the poor and using my skills with business and technology to help change charity for the better.

Charity Matters: What do think about the state of philanthropy today?

Brady Josephson: On one level the nonprofit sector is fractured, there are simply way too many nonprofit organizations. There is an area in my hometown that has 88 nonprofits within a six block radius all trying to serve the poor and homeless. They all compete for the same donors , dollars and market share. From this level philanthropy can be more effective.

On the flip side do we need another nonprofit like Charity Water? Actually, yes we do. New nonprofits, like Charity Water, are bringing innovation, technology and inspiration to people who have never given before. I think we are going to see more hybrid versions of nonprofits like B Corporations that do social good, like Toms shoes in the future.

Charity Matters: When do you know you have made a difference?

Brady Josephson: When I was working directly for nonprofits I was directly impacted by the people we served. Today, helping nonprofits to be better at what they do, the rewards are not as direct. I do hear from nonprofits that thank me for my work, I know I am better for going through the process. Now, I just treasure the micro-moments when I know I have made a difference.

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work, helping nonprofits?

Brady Josephson: Initially being altruistic, when I started working for an international nonprofit, I saw $2 save a life. I know that with the impact of generosity we can literally save lives.  If we can continue to create a culture of giving, then we all win. The more people we can get to truly understand giving and how to make a difference then we can transform our world for the better.

Thank you Brady for bringing us along on your Good Journey and reminding us that our world is a better place when we are better to one another.

Charity Matters.

 

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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.

Two blind brothers…

While the post name sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, it is the reality for two New York City brothers Bradford and Bryan Manning who were diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, a form of macular degeneration at the age of 7. Growing up they knew that their eye sight would continue to deteriorate over time, potentially leaving them both blind.

Rather than having that as a disadvantage both brothers pursued their goals attending University of Virginia and began careers in finance and sales. The two decided to quit their day jobs and begin a clothing line that would raise funds to cure blindness. Bradford, who is on the board of the Foundation Fighting Blindness believes that the science is there and that the research funding can cure their disease. The result is Two Blind Brothers.

These two brothers have made it their mission to help cure blindness. Their clothing is soft, has braille tags, which the brothers were taught to use as children for the pending loss of their eyesight and is flying off the racks. More than that, all of their proceeds go towards finding a cure. They do not take a salary and donate everything towards their mission.

They both believe the cure is with in sight. As Bryan said recently,”Call me optimistic but there is a cure in there.” Something we all want to see.

 

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.

A birthday present to present

The other day I shared the fact that this week Charity Matters celebrates its 6th birthday. Over 800 posts, hundreds of interviews, nonprofits profiled, inspiring people met along the way and countless hours logged sharing this crazy journey with you.

Well it seems that it just wouldn’t be a proper birthday without a birthday gift. So, Charity Matters will be getting a new website and updated look for its 6th birthday. Truly the gift is for you, because without you there would not be a Charity Matters.

My hope is that the new site will be easier to read, to enjoy, to share and most of all to inspire a mission of love, compassion and service. So stay tuned…..because all good gifts are worth waiting for!

 

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.

 

And the beat goes on….

As Father’s Day is quickly approaching, I begin thinking about my dad. A wonderful man, with a big heart, heart disease and a history of heart problems. My Dad and I still spin together at least twice a week and he will be 78 this fall. However, a few years back, while in spin class my Dad’s heart stopped, while he was on his spin bike. Technically he died. Thankfully, due to the gym’s quick response and having a defibrillator (think the paddles on medical tv shows) close by, his life was saved.

The other day I came across the story of Michael Salem and it reminded me so much of my dad. Mike Salem was also a great guy beloved by all and in 2002 he was playing golf with friends when his heart stopped. Sadly, there was not a defibrillator near by and he did not survive. His company and co-workers wanted to do something in his memory, the result is The Mikey Network. A non-profit whose mission is promote healthy heart living and to provide public access defibrillators, which they call Mikeys.

Since 2003 the Mikey Network has raised millions of dollars, trained thousands on how to use defibrillators, placed hundreds of defibrillators in schools, camps, police cars and in public transit. More importantly than that, they have saved over 15 lives (that they know of) and counting, all because of one man’s legacy.

We never know when our time is up, that is something I have witnessed with both my parents. As a result, everyday when I exit my spin class with my Dad, I say loudly (in front of the entire class), “I love you Dad.” It just takes one moment to change everything….and it is people like Hugh Heron and The Mikey Network who have changed that moment for so many families.

I can no longer take moments for granted….and the beat goes on…

 

Charity Matters.

 

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800….who would of thought?

In 2011, I had a dream. A dream to tell the stories of people who inspire me, who make our world better each and everyday and who are truly unsung heroes…non-profit founders. This dream, woke me up in the middle of the night and was so real that I wrote it all down. That dream became Charity Matters.

No matter what has been happening in my life, good or bad, I have not given up on that dream. I interview, I write and I search for these people and their organizations out in every spare minute I have. A strange hobby perhaps, but it has become my mission, a daily reminder of gratitude, perseverance, the joy of giving and my purpose.

As Leo Rosten said,”I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think that the purpose of life is to be useful, responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”

So today, I take a small pause to recognize the 800th post and to thank you for being here with me along for the ride. I am beyond grateful for each of you, your friendship, loyalty and generosity in sharing these posts and spreading the word that Charity Matters.

 

 

 

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Cell Phones for Soldiers

 

As many of you know I run a non-profit youth leadership organization as my day job. One of the things I love the most about my job is having the privileged position to inspire thousands of middle school students each year by teaching them how to serve others. In order to do that effectively, we look for non-profit partnerships with amazing causes. This year we partnered with a remarkable organization called Cell Phones for Soldiers, that was started by two kids, brother and sister, Rob and Brittany Berquist in 2004.

These two heard about a soldier with an $8,000 cell phone bill and decided that just wasn’t right. What these two siblings did next was even more surprising and the most inspiring story to inspire thousands of today’s kids.

Rob, who is now 27 ,and still runs Cell Phones for Soldiers has continued his mission to ensure that no military service person should ever have to pay to call home.  Today, his sister Brittany works in marketing for the Kind Company. To date Cell Phones for Soldiers has donated over 300 million minutes in free talk time, recycled more than 15 million cell phones and still mails about 1,500 calling cards to service men and women around the globe per week.

This past January, Robbie and Brittany were honored by Forbes Magazine in their 30 under 30 issue for their incredible, vision, service and mission.  What began simply because a brother and a sister saw an injustice and wanted to right a wrong, turned into something, so very right.

 

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.

The heart warming follow up of Saving Tiny Hearts

“If someone had raised funds for research for us 30 years ago and our baby was given a chance to live. Ten years from now will be a whole different ball game into medicine, science and technology into heart defect research.  We don’t want to wait for what doctors say ‘will be….’ we want to fund research to change the future for ‘what can be…’ for all children, like my beautiful Joshua suffering from heart disease.  Out of our heartache, there is hope….”

The words above were sent to me five years ago from non-profit founder, mother and champion for families dealing with congenital heart disease, Francie Paul.  I spoke with Francie and board chair of Saving Tiny Hearts, Larry Kluge, to see what has happened since they began this journey over a decade ago to bring awareness and research to Congenital heart disease .

CM: What do you want people to know about Congenital Heart Disease?

Francie: I want people to know that twice as many children die from heart disease versus all pediatric cancers combined and that cancer receives five times the funding for research.

Larry: Over a million children are born each year with congenital heart disease.

CM: What is your goal at Saving Tiny Hearts?

Francie: Our goal is to fund a project that will not only save our son’s life but to ensure that no one else should ever have to go through this.

Larry: We have been able to fund over 30 research projects that keep getting us closer to making this a dream a reality. We want to find the answer that makes Saving Tiny Hearts obsolete.

CM: What keeps you going?

Larry: The love, passion and support of our community is extraordinary and the researchers we support.

Francie: People carry you through your darkest days and they have made our journey all the more humbling. It is the heart, hope and passion of our team. We are all a part of this.

As Francie said, five years ago “Out of our heartache there is hope.”

 

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.

Saving Tiny Hearts….

February is heart month. Over the years, I have interviewed so many people with such heart warming stories, but one that has truly touched me is the story of the Paul family and their journey as parents of a child living with congenital heart disease.

You may remember them, because they are extraordinary people who took their pain and turned it into a non-profit foundation called Saving Tiny Hearts.

When I first interviewed Francie Paul five years ago she sent me this note, which I wanted to share here today. On friday, I will tell you what the Paul Family is doing now.

 

Thank YOU for your beautiful post– we are extremely honored to have Saving tiny Hearts featured.

We did have high profile malpractice attorneys at our doorstep…practically before we were out of the hospital from Joshua’s firstheart surgery…it wasn’t who we were…our life’s mission came out of the greatest need for medicine and science into heart defects to catch up to support all children, like our little love, afflicted with heart defects.

Starting the Saving tiny Hearts Society began before our Joshua’s second heart surgery (- he has had 3) at 3 months old, after pediatric heart surgeons told us that there was a desperate need to fund research, that young hungry scientists were being turned down for government funding because they didn’t have enough monies to beef up their revolutionary proposals….which is where we would come in, to provide the seed money for it all.

Most people don’t realize that so many babies and children do not survive because of lack of research to save them.  We didn’t know that it was the #1 birth defect in the world and the #1 cause of birth defect related deaths….we didn’t know that it could happen to our baby.

Someone had raised funds for research for us 30 years ago and our baby was given a chance to live. Ten years from now will be a whole different ball game into medicine, science and technology into heart defect research.  We don’t want to wait for what doctors say ‘will be….’ we want to fund research to change the future for ‘what can be…’ for all children, like my beautiful Joshua suffering from heart disease.  Out of our heartache, there is hope….

I don’t know if you had seen the movie ‘Something the Lord Made’ but it was an HBO movie about one of the very first heart surgeries ever performed, the Blalock-Taussig Shunt (-BT Shunt). It was the very first successful heart surgery that began with a blue baby as doctors were afraid to touch the heart and felt that of these babies wouldn’t live otherwise, so they would try this most revolutionary procedure on a baby first.  Nearly 60 years later,at 4 days old, after our baby was stabilized, he had a Blalock-Taussig shunt.

We can’t thank you enough for sharing our story; it has truly been a humbling journey for us and in the greatest of heartache, we have seen the very best in friends.  Can’t wait to read more Charity Matters and see all of the amazing things that are happening because of you.

With Gratitude & Very Best Wishes,

Francie

 

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.

February is heart month

Today is February 1st and the beginning of heart month. Over the years, I have interviewed a number of non-profit founders who have started incredible organizations to find a cure for congenital heart disease, which is the number one birth defect in the world.

This month, I will share some of those stories with you and re-visit some old Charity Matters friends to update you on their progress. I came across musician and heart transplant recipient, Paul Cardall’s video the other day and thought it sets the stage for this important month.

So, as we begin the month of February, let’s all remember to keep our hearts open to those who suffer with this horrible disease.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

The Empowerment Plan

This past week, you would have to be hiding under a rock to know there has been a lot of talk about empowerment, but today I would like to share with you an inspiring non-political, good old-fashioned kind of empowerment. It’s the story of a young woman named Veronika Scott, who in 2010 found herself in a college class with an assignment to create a product that would fill a need in her Detroit community. An assignment that would change her life and empower so many more.

Veronika  was the daughter of parents who had struggled with addiction and unemployment. So she found herself in a warming center for Detroit’s homeless with an idea to create a coat the could also become a sleeping bag. While she was working on her design, a homeless woman angrily confronted her and said, “We don’t need coats, we need jobs.” It was that moment that Veronika realized she could do both. She said, ” I wanted to create an opportunity, that I wish my parents had when I was a kid.”

In 2012, she created the Detroit based non-profit The Empowerment Plan, to elevate families from the generational cycle of homelessness. Veronika began hiring single parents from the local shelters, trained them as seamstresses to make the coats to meet the needs of the homeless community. More than that, she gave these women a purpose, a job, education, full-time employment and a chance to regain their independence.

Today, Veronika at age 27, has founded the non-profit The Empowerment Plan, employed 39 homeless women and made and distributed over 15,000 coats since 2011. As C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Veronika is a living example when she said, “No matter what you’ve gone through, you still can do a lot with what you have.”

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.