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A rare moment

We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

Its a rare moment when the house is quiet, the morning is still, technology dormant and my mind is calm. The boys are back in school and the silence is deafening. Where are these moments? Are they always here?  Or I do not look or choose to find them? Or are they simply an unexpected gift?

As 2018 begins, I find myself looking back at last year (one bonus of social media, it is all there) and seeing those moments. The rewind is somewhat like scrolling through a highlight reel of your life. Say what you will about social media and the images we choose to project to the world, our most authentic selves or not, we can now look and reflect on those snippets of joy.

When I reflect at last year, I see snapshots of friends, moments with my sons, images of service, the love of my husband, celebrations of life, laughter and a whole lot of sunset pictures. I see a life of joy, a life created of thousands of moments…some appreciated, some unnoticed, some snap worthy. This small reflection, this 3 minute scroll, fills my heart with gratitude. From the gratitude, springs joy and then hope…. towards another year filled with precious moments to treasure.

The phone buzzes, my tranquility interrupted, reflection shattered and a jolt to reality. On the line, a friend reaching out with another precious moment to celebrate.

Only one week into the New Year and I am determined to fill 2018 with remarkable moments and the wisdom to treasure them. Wishing you a year full of beautiful moments and now to get to work!

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2018 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.

What Will Matter

what-will-matter

I think the first week of January we are all in a bit of a post holiday haze. Trying to dig out from under the decorations, put away last year and try to get our head around the New Year. So much for us to process. I was looking at some old posts and came across this, which I posted exactly a year ago. One year later it still resonates as I begin to look at what 2018 can be and what is truly important in a life well lived.

This is the starting point for my New Year’s resolutions, hoping it helps you with yours…

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What Will Matter

By Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured

or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and

jealousies will finally disappear.

So, too your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from or what

side of the tracks you lived on at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.

Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?  How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought

but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity,

compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered

or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.

What will matter is not your memories but the

memories of those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will

be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s not a matter of circumstances but of choice.

 

Choose to live a life that matters.

 

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2018 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 New Years 2018

“To make an end is to make a beginning.”

T.S. Eliot

Happy New Years! In full disclosure I am writing this letter on New Year’s Eve, but by the time you read this tomorrow morning your head may hurt, you may still have not gone to sleep or you will be having a fantastic lazy day in your pjs and I hope it’s the latter. I was recently asked what I do to prepare for the New Year and the question got me thinking about the quote above, “To make an end is to make a beginning.” Before I can begin the New Year I have to properly say goodbye to the old one, so here is my goodbye letter to 2017.

Dear 2017,

First, thank you for keeping us safe, happy and healthy. While I would not say that you were a stand out year, you were not horrible either. We had food, shelter, good health and love, so the basics for gratitude were more than covered. Please know how grateful I am.

Secondly, thank you for the memories. While there is not one standout huge moment from the year there was plenty of fun, joy and celebration. Seeing our youngest son get his driver’s license, first job and first car, trips with friends, special moments with family, traditions, The Dodgers in the World series, the incredible people I met through Charity Matters and all who support this work… and the list goes on. Each moment of being alive, surrounded by friends and family was a gift, so thank you 2017.

Lastly, I have to thank you for the challenges too. Last year was a hard one for me in many ways and so many times I wanted to give up, with my load feeling heavy and overwhelming. I didn’t give up but rather learned the lesson of perseverance. That is what you taught me 2017, to keep going, not to quit, even when things got tough. Now that 2018 is looming ahead, the gift of perspective has shown me that invaluable lesson.

So thank you 2017 and welcome 2018! I lam looking forward to you New Year. I love new beginnings, new chapters and fresh starts. I am excited for the year ahead, for moving the needle a bit farther, to start that book I have been thinking of writing, to continue to dream big, to help and serve more people and organizations and to use my time to make our world better. I look forward to using the new luggage Santa brought for more travels, adventures and time with ones I love. Most of all, I look forward to learning, growing and evolving from all the lessons and experiences you are bringing my way. I am ready for your 2018 so let’s get this year started!

Charity Matters.

 

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Copyright © 2018 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 Year Full of Surprises

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and time with friends and family. As I begin to look back at this past year, I am truly inspired by the incredible people I have met and the amazing journey that Charity Matters continues to be. The surprises constantly take my breath away. Yesterday, I received one that has truly left me in awe.

I have been called many things in my life but being named a Woman Warrior of 2017, by HoopLaHa is truly an unexpected  honor. HoopLaHa highlights Good News Only, and we are kindred spirits of sorts in telling stories of people making our world better. So, to be mentioned in the same breath as Annette Ross, author of  Where Fairy Tales Go and Karen Shayne of the nonprofit,  Women Survivors Alliance is beyond humbling.

As we begin looking back at 2017, I can say that I am proud of the work we are doing at Charity Matters. Grateful to each of you for following, subscribing, sharing and knowing that our world needs heroes and people to show us the way. These non-profit founders are my heroes and it is such a privilege to be considered amongst them as Woman Warrior of 2017.

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.

Spirituality, Faith or whatever you call it…

Many of you may have seen this piece when it was published earlier this year by Thrive Global, who I wrote it for. However, this week as we celebrate Christmas it seemed the right time to revisit or reshare with all of you. This is probably one of the most personal stories I have done in the past five years but it also highlights the journey that has lead me to this place….and a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.

I was recently asked about when my faith or spirituality began. I knew the answer but growing up being told to never discuss religion or politics, I was initially unsure how to respond. I have never publicly shared this story but once asked I felt compelled to share, because I am proud of this journey.

I grew up in a big Catholic family, maybe an oxymoron, but a fact nonetheless. That meant mass on Sundays, prayers at dinner and a Catholic education, Kindergarten through high school. All of these rituals became the building blocks for my faith. Like most religions in the world, the blocks that were presented to me were love one another, trust God, people are good, help one another, and believe in something bigger than yourself.

I thought I had a relationship with God, but honestly I didn’t truly know what that was until the fateful call in the middle of the night that truly changed the course of my life, fifteen years ago. My parents and their friends had been in a horrible car accident. My mom was dead, two of my parents friend were also dead and my dad and his best friend were barely hanging on.

That was when my relationship with God truly began. I prayed, begged, and pleaded with God to not make me an orphan and to save my Dad’s life. A man who has incredible faith. God listened and while my Dad had a long road, he survived and eventually thrived.

Unbeknownst to me, my mom had bought raffle tickets before her untimely death, and a few months after she was gone we received a call that we had won a first class cruise anywhere in the world. I was sure it was a sign but wasn’t sure what it meant? My husband and I picked a Mediterranean cruise, that had a list of places I had visited with my parents over the years. My hope was that somehow, on one of these stops, God, my mom or something would come to me and make sense of the insanity of my loss and overwhelming grief.

City after city on our stop, nothing. No signs from above in Paris, Florence, Venice or Rome. Finally one stop from our final destination, I had given up. We arrived in a place called Ephesus, Turkey. Because we had no idea what to expect in Ephesus we went with a guide through the ancient city.

You might have thought going to church every weekend of my life I would have recalled the Bible readings of St. John to the Ephesians or have known that when Jesus was dying on the cross he is believed to have asked John the Baptist to get his mother to Ephesus to keep her safe. Nope, I was clueless. We listened as our guide wove the history of Christianity, Judaism and the Muslim faiths into a beautiful tapestry that if all could hear, there would not be any religious wars. He was mesmerizing.

Then he took us up a hill to Mary’s house. Yes, THE Virgin Mary’s house. Really? How did I not know about this? The Pope had recently made it an officially site of pilgrimage. I stood in front of Mary’s little brick house, smiled for a picture not knowing what was about to happen. I walked into the darkened tiny room with a stone floor and was struck by the most overwhelming feeling. Tears streamed down my face, I could not speak (which lasted over 2 hours) and the emotions where so overwhelming, unexpected and powerful. Love is the only word that would explain how I felt, overwhelmingly loved.

Was it my mom? God? Mary? I didn’t and still do not know. My husband asked me if I wanted holy water, I nodded yes. He asked if I wanted to write on the wishing wall, I nodded yes. He asked me if this is why we won the tickets for the cruise? Tears streamed down my face like a faucet, as I nodded yes. I knew for some unexplainable reason that I was supposed to be there in that moment. A girl from LA with three small sons halfway across the globe and I was meant to be in Ephesus, my mom had brought me here for a reason.

That moment changed my life and I now know there is a power in the universe greater than us all. Whether you call it God, Mary, love, light, spirit…. it doesn’t matter but I know and believe it is real. Since that day almost fifteen years ago, I have used my life to serve others. I believe in the plan that has been set for me. A year after that trip, a group of us started a nonprofit to provide chaplains of all faiths at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Since that time, in all my work with nonprofits, I am privileged to see and feel that same goodness over and over. As they say, “Faith is seeing light with your heart, when all your eyes see are darkness.”

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.

Pablove

The world is full of amazing and inspiring humans, they are all around us. When you have a moment to learn someone’s life story, it is a privilege to share it.  Last week, I had the most fun and fantastic conversation with Jo Ann Thrailkill, the founder of Pablove.org, a nonprofit whose mission is to invest in underfunded cutting edge pediatric cancer research and improve the lives of children living with cancer through the arts.  I know she will warm your heart  and inspire you as much as she did me. Here is our conversation:

Charity Matters: What was your background before starting Pablove.org?

JoAnn Thrailkill: In my 20s through my 40s I was a music video producer. I absolutely loved my job and was living a dream. I was a single mother with a fantastic life and career. When I met my husband Jeff, who is also in the music business, and we had our son Pablo, I decided to slow my career down a bit and focus on my family and time with my two sons.

When Pablo was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer in May of 2008 everything changed. I went from producing music videos to trying to Executive Produce Pablo’s treatment and care. While Pablo was sick we had so many people who wanted to help, bring food, do something. A co-worker of my husbands, started a PayPal account just so people could do something. We were so involved with Pablo we weren’t really aware of how many people were supporting us through this. 

Charity Matters: When did you realize you were going to start a nonprofit?

Jo Ann ThrailkillWhen Pablo died six days after his 6th birthday we were devastated,bereft and overcome by grief. We were also overcome by people’s kindness and generosity. People really wanted to help us in so many ways, it was overwhelming. When we went to gather pictures for his memorial service, we found so many photos that Pablo had taken with all of our devices. They were everywhere and we had no idea he was such a photographer.

A few months after his death, my husband decided to ride his bike across the country, to deal with his grief and process all that had happened. When he came back, his co-worker asked, “What do you want to do with this PayPal account and the funds?” To be honest we had forgotten about the account and didn’t think it could have had more than a couple thousand dollars. To our total surprise there was over $250,000 and in that moment we felt an overwhelming responsibility to all of these people who had supported us and Pablo.

When my husband said, “You need to executive produce this,” meaning the beginning of Pablove.org, that was the moment.

Charity Matters: Where did you start?

Jo Ann Thrailkill: I went to see Pablo’s doctor, to get a direction and he asked me, ” What would you have wanted that you didn’t have when Pablo was sick?” And my answer was a cure. So I knew we were going to need to invest in research since pediatric cancer research is so underfunded, only 4% of cancer research funding goes towards childhood cancer.

He then asked me what Pablo would have wanted and I knew it was something in the arts and Pablo loved photography. I knew that Pablo just wanted to feel like a kid when he was sick and that his photography had been a form of self-expression. So that is how we began the Shutterbugs program which teaches children and teens with cancer the art of photography.

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

Jo Ann Thrailkill: When the kids tell us that working with a camera and photography has been a life changing experience for them. That is when you don’t want to stop and know you need to keep going. In addition, to know that we have created an organization that is filled with optimism, joy and laughter. 

Charity Matters: Tell us the success you have had?

Jo Ann Thralkill: Our very first year in 2010, my husband did a bike ride across the country again but this time to raise funds for The Pablove Foundation and we raised over $500,000. The momentum continued and we were able to fund a grant our first year. Today, almost ten years later we have thousands of Shutterbugs in 16 cities across the country and have provided seed funding for pediatric cancer.

Since 2010, we have awarded more than two million dollars in Childhood Cancer Research Grants to over twenty institutions worldwide.

Charity Matters: What life lessons have you learned from this journey and how has it changed you?

Jo Ann Thrailkill:  This entire experience has been completely life-altering for me. I think one of the major things I took away from my own family’s cancer experience was that just when you think the world is filled with darkness and hate, you discover that it is actually filled with love.

Things don’t always end up how you hope or plan that they will, but when we were in the trenches of treatment with Pablo we discovered the most amazing support from our community and everyone around us. This gave us not only the financial support but the emotional strength that we needed to start the Pablove Foundation. The experience of starting Pablove has allowed me to always see the light. I am now reminded daily of the love that surrounded me during one of the most difficult times in my life.

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.

Holiday gifts that give back

I have to admit that I am really struggling finding meaningful gifts this year. After our move two years ago and the realization that we do not need any more “stuff,” I also realized that so many of my friends and family do not need it either. So how are we supposed to show the ones that we love with a meaningful gift? I have been looking and here are a few gift ideas that give back that I thought worth sharing.

 Gifts that benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

This year St. Jude’s has partnered with fantastic retailers such as William Sonoma, Home Goods,Brooks Brothers, Pottery Barn, Tumi Luggage, West Elm and Mark and Graham all with proceeds from certain items going to support cancer research and  the St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital where parents do not receive a bill for any of their child’s medical care. To support St. Jude’s and shop 

 LSTN Sound supports Starkey Hearing Foundation

LSTN Sound has amazing speakers, headphones and all things music for the music lover in your life. Their philosophy is that what is good for business should be good for the world. That is why proceeds from every product they sell go to support the Starkey Hearing Foundation.  So this year check out LSTNSound for all things music and to provide the gift of hearing to those in need.

 Public Supply Company in support of education

The Public Supply Company makes beautiful suede,velour and leather notebooks for the writer in your life. More than that their mission is to support creative work in our country’s public schools by channeling 25% of profits from every sale to a teacher in a high-need classroom who will use the money for a project that drives creativity. To find that thoughtful gift that gives back, visit Public-Supply Co. You will be happy you did!

GIVE Lotto Love Scratch Cards

This amazing organization has created their own lotto where everyone is a winner. Play LottoLove to win for someone in need. With the purchase of each scratch card, LottoLove donates to one of its nonprofit partners to support a different worthy cause.

For every card purchased LottoLove donates to their Non-profit partners to fulfill their social mission of helping people receive: clean water, solar light, nutritious meals or literacy tools. Each ‘Basic Needs’ card gives one of the following:
1 week of clean water
3 weeks of clean water
1 month of solar light
4 months of solar light
1 set of literacy tools
3 sets of literacy tools
To purchase these fantastic cards, which by the way make great stocking stuffers, check out Give Lotto Love 

EverythingHappy.com for children’s gifts  in support of children’s hospitals and orphanages

Everything Happy is a one-stop shop for baby blankets, bags, and bibs. This site matches each product sold by donating a second product to a child in hospitals and orphanages around the world, so one purchase makes two kids happy.  This was David Holdridge’s intention when he created Happy Blankie at the mere age of 7 years old. He wanted to create something that would make the world smile. Everything Happy products are distributed to children in hospitals and orphanages all over the world.

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and poverty by providing livestock and agricultural training to communities in need. In addition to providing you with the opportunity to give a family in need an animalsend a girl to school, or help launch a small business, Heifer International also sells products made by the locals that they assist.

You can buy coffee and chocolates made with coffee and cacao beans grown by farmers in need in order to support projects that champion sustainable farming and higher quality of life for these farming communities. All of their gifts or donations come with an Honor Card marking the donation. Take a look at some of their gifts here.

Gifts for Good

Lastly, there is a great website called Gifts for Good where if there wasn’t anything above that fit your holiday list that this is the place for you. Gifts for Good’s mission is to change the way the world gifts. According to their site U.S. corporations spend over $60 billion every year on corporate gifts, but donate less than a third of that to charitable causes. If every corporation purchased gifts that gave back―without spending any more money―we could redirect an extra $60 billion a year to addressing our world’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.

To solve this Gifts for Good has an incredible catalog of gifts that all give back and just might be the final place to finish up your shopping.

Hoping that these suggestions are helpful in making this season of giving meaningful for all.

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.

 

Giving

“For it is in giving we receive.”

St. Francis of Assisi

It is here, December has arrived and with it comes the season of giving. Lately I have been wondering why is giving just for one season? Let’s be real, we all give all year…whether we volunteer, support a cause, give a few extra dollars at the market or in a more meaningful way. We give because it feels great to give.

Why I don’t necessarily love  Christmas shopping, I do love that feeling I get when I give a gift that brings the recipient joy. It is just the best feeling. This year I have really struggled with the holiday shopping because my sons really don’t need anything. I attempted boycotting Christmas and presents in lieu of a trip, with no such luck. My thought was the best gift we could all have would be time together. However, the boys opted for traditions, extended family and friends.

So, I am embracing the art of giving, it is a privilege to be able to give. Finding joy in little ways to make people and causes I care about happy. The result is always the same, you get so much more when you give. Wishing you all a happy season of giving this month and no boys……we are not getting a puppy!

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.

 

 

The history of philanthrophy

As long as people have been on this planet, they have taken care of one another. It is what we do as humans. It is at the essence of who we are. Why I know this to be true, I can honestly say that I have never really thought about the history of philanthropy, which by the way, literally means for the love of mankind.

This past weekend in an effort to avoid all of the holiday junk in my in box I came across an article from The National Philanthropic Trust that was so interesting, I felt compelled to share a few highlights. I highly recommend you take a look yourself.

Here were a few fun facts as broken down from The History of Giving.org

Age of Discovery (1500-1750)

1526-In Spain the government consolidated all charitable resources for those unable to work.

1601-Parliament passes the statue on charitable use

1710-Cotton Mather publishes an essay entitled Do Good and is considered the father of American philanthropy

Upheaval and Reform (1750-1890)

1750- Benjamin Franklin begins a donor match program to build the first American General Hospital that helps serve the poor.

1844- YMCA was founded in London and U.S. Supreme Court establishes Donor Intent for estates.

Lasting Change (1890-1930)

1899-Andrew Carnegie called on the wealthy to distribute their wealth to serve others.

1901- Alfred Noble leaves his estate to create the Nobel Peace Prize.

1904- Gandhi’s social movement transforms India’s concept of giving.

1913- John D Rockefeller creates his foundation

Redefining Philanthropy (1930-1980)

1935- Social Security is established in the United States

1945- World War II relief efforts span the globe but are originated in the United States

1960-Philanthropist fund the Civil Rights Movement.

Again, just a very few facts, from a much longer and more comprehensive history of giving article. The reason why I think it is so important to share, especially this time of year, is to remind each of us that mankind has been taking care of one another from the very beginning. It is just what we do.

So this holiday season, think about what your families history of giving is? Maybe it’s starting with you, if so what will your legacy be?  We don’t have to be the Rockefeller’s to be philanthropist, we simply have to love mankind…however, we choose to do that.

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.

Grateful, just grateful

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; but it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

It’s here. There is no avoiding it, this is it. Today is the last day before they arrive….no not the in-laws or the kids home from college but the holidays. Today is the last day before the email box is bombarded with holiday sales and Black Friday deals. The last day before people start talking about holiday cards or even worse before they begin arriving. This is it. The calm before the storm. Right now, this moment, it is our gift.

So before it happens I am taking a moment, a breath, a pause to simply count my blessings. A moment to be grateful for the three crazy boys who will be home raiding my refrigerator any time. Grateful for the fact I have a refrigerator stocked with food when so many will go without.  Grateful for the all the friends that will pop by this weekend for football and chili, when there are so many who are alone. Grateful for my crazy wonderful family who fills my life with life, chaos, drama, humor and so much love, when there are so many with broken hearts and homes. Grateful for my health and the health of those I love, knowing so many will spend the holidays in the hospital. Grateful for work I love and for all of those who serve others. Grateful for being safe, happy and healthy and grateful for being mindful that no matter what I have, someone else has less.

They are coming whether we are ready or not. So when it gets scary, stressful, overwhelming, one thing too much, just stop and think about what you are grateful for. I know your list is long and your heart is full. It is not joy that makes us grateful but gratitude that makes us joyful.

Blessings to you and yours for a joyous Thanksgiving.

With gratitude,

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.

Celebrating our Veterans and Wellness works

Over the years I have interviewed and profiled a number of amazing organizations that serve our troops and veterans, Hugs for Heroes, Operation Gratitude, Veterans Career Exchange, and the list goes on. All fantastic organizations that have served our men and women abroad or helped returning Veterans get jobs once they were out of the military. However in all my interviews, I have yet to meet an organization that’s main focus is  to restore hope and a sense of wholeness of body and soul turning their post traumatic stress into post traumatic growth, until now. The place is Wellness Works, a home for healing  and hope.

Last week, I sat down with the Co-Founder, Mary Lu Coughlin, of the non-profit Wellness Works to learn more about the journey our Veterans go through and the story of this amazing non-profit that continues healing our Veterans. Today we celebrate Veterans Day and all those who gave so bravely for our freedom. It is the perfect time to share about the remarkable work that is being done to support the Veteran community and their families. This video (that sadly isn’t embedding but you can old school click the link) gives you a deeper dive into Wellness Works impact on Veterans.

 

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to start Wellness Works?

Mary Lu Coughlin: Beginning in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, my Co-Founder Nancy was teaching wellness education workshops and holistic healing therapies to nurses mainly to help healing with the large AIDS/HIV population at the time. Our goal was always to he a source of healing and service to the community.  As medications became available for AIDS patients our client focus began to shift, September 11th happened, the war began and then in 2005  when we read Dr. Ed Tick’s book War and The Soul about healing Veterans from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. We knew that we had a healing skills that could help our Veterans and their families.

Soldiers began coming home in 2006 and we knew our healing community needed to support and love these Veterans and give them a place that felt like home. 

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work in serving our Veterans?

Mary Lu Coughlin: Twenty-two veterans a day take their own lives. I know that when we (Wellness Works) have a tangible felt experience and love can come thru us to our Veterans that we are an instrument of healing.

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

Mary Lu Coughlin: When veterans come through our door they feel welcome, they feel at home, they know their invisible wounds are seen and they are not judged. When I over hear one veteran telling another,” I am finally home thanks to Wellness Works.” 

Another veteran, who now serves on our board, said on his second visit to Wellness Works that, “his life’s purpose had been restored. He now had a community with which he could once again strive to serve the greater good.”

Charity Matters:What do want people to think about this Veteran’s Day?

Mary Lou Coughlin: This Veterans Day gives us as a caring community and society, the opportunity to acknowledge the service of the many men and women who have served us so well.

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.

Hand to hold

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Joseph Campbell

I like to say that I have a front row seat to humanity. I am privileged to meet and share the stories of the most remarkable people and this week’s conversation with Kelli Kelly was so inspiring that I can’t wait to share. Kelli is a real life hero, a woman who went through enormous pain and suffering when her son Jackson was born 16 weeks premature in 2000, weighing a little over a pound. What she did with that experience is a lesson for us all.

Kelli said, “There are defining moments in our lives. Some bring great joy-others sorrow and pain. If we embrace these moments, they can mold us into new and improved versions of ourselves-one that allows us to ignite change, instill hope and find a purpose for our lives we never thought possible.”

In 2000, after the weeks in the NICU (Neo-Natal ICU) Kelli was sad, stressed, traumatized, depressed and emotionally drained not knowing the fate of her newborn son. She said, “The guilt, grief, anguish and pain was overwhelming. Now 17 years later, I can still relate to that defining moment.”  Here are the highlights from our inspiring conversation:

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: “When I realized that 1 out of 8 babies born in the United States is pre-term. We started as a March of Dimes Ambassador family but I realized early on that there were  many organizations to support premature babies but nothing to support the families. I was looking for an organization to help me meet other families going through this same stress, isolation and anxiety and there wasn’t one to help us.

So, at first I gathered some families together at our local hospital and created a program, connecting NICU families but it wasn’t enough. In 2008, we began Hand to Hold to provide families a  peer-to-peer support network for seasoned families of premature babies. We knew we needed to give families ways to survive and navigate their time at the NICU and beyond.”

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work at Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: First and foremost it is remembering what it felt like to be a parent of a child in the NICU and the impact, trauma, ptsd and stress that causes in all areas of your life. Secondly, it is the cards, the emails from the people we touch. We just started a podcast and are now hearing from families all over the world who are grateful we are sharing with them. Most of all, it is a strong faith in those difficult moments that keeps me moving forward.”

Charity Matters: When do you know that your work has made a difference?

I know we are making a difference when organizations like the Preemie Parent Alliance, realize that parents voices need to be a part of this conversation. When we were the keynote speaker at the National Neonatal Nurses Convention or when I’m speaking to national pharmaceutical companies and their employees about what is happening in this space.

We are truly trying to make foundational changes to help families to be better parents and to not only survive but thrive after this experience.

Charity Matters: Tell us a little about your impact and where you are headed next with Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: We know that our impact and reach continues to expand through our national database that connects these families, through our expanding list of health care partners and because we continue to help break down the barriers to reach families going through this experience.

We started a podcast last February and have had over 13,000 downloads in 42 countries. So we know there is a need and that we continue to reach these families. That was the goal to find, connect and support as many families as we can. Our next steps are to begin our work with “Beyond the NICU” with a book and an App to help families navigate the invisible diagnosis that is a factor with preemies. We will be developing a care map to help navigate families through the process of  first all the way through their child’s education.

To end where we began with Kelli’s inspiring words, “There are defining moments in our lives. Some bring great joy-others sorrow and pain. If we embrace these moments, they can mold us into new and improved versions of ourselves-one that allows us to ignite change, instill hope and find a purpose for our lives we never thought possible.”

Kelli is an inspiration to all with her purpose driven life in service of others.

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.

Grades of Green

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” 

John Muir

You may remember a few years back I interviewed the founders of Grades of Green, a nonprofit that was founded in 2008, by a few passionate mothers, who wanted to educate and inform children about their choices and the impact on their environment. After receiving an award from the EPA, the founders created a non-profit so that other schools would have free and easy access to the tools and information needed to empower and inspire students to care for the environment.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with this incredible organization and chat with Emily Stewart, Program Coordinator for Grades of Green.

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and participate in a non-profit?

I was raised with environmental values and completed a degree in environmental policy, so I always knew that I would be involved in the nonprofit world. When I found out about the work that Grades of Green was doing across the globe to inspire children to start their own grassroots sustainability movements, I knew that I needed to be part of it.

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

Grades of Green: Climate change poses very real threats to the future of our planet. I believe that if enough students become involved in the environmental movement, they can tip the scale and create a safer and more sustainable world.

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

Grades of Green: When students that you have mentored take the initiative to innovate their own solutions to environmental issues in their community, you know that you have made a lasting difference by encouraging the next generation to become environmental advocates. For example, a Grades of Green Youth Corps student named Antonio’s work to champion cleaner air through No Idle Zones inspired the passing of ACR 160, a statewide resolution in California.

Charity Matters: Tell us what success you have had? What has your impact been? Number  of people impacted, funds raised…..any and all

Grades of Green is a very exciting and rewarding place to work because its impact in terms of benefits to the environment is measurable, and yet the environmental values and leadership skills that children gain from participating last a lifetime. 568 schools across 43 states and 17 countries are involved in our green programs, and the number of schools and students involved grows every week! Their actions to protect the environment translates to thousands of tons of waste diverted from landfills, gallons of water saved, tons of CO2 emissions reduced, and toxins removed from the environment.

Four moms set out to educate their children and others on how to care for our world and one another. Almost ten years later their message has spread across the country and the globe. To circle back week  with John Muir’s words,When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” 

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.