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Happy 4th of July!

“May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely than this our own country!”

Daniel Webster

It is hard to believe that today is already the 4th of July! It seems that when this incredible holiday falls in the middle of the week, just a little piece of summer goes missing. However, any day off is usually a good one! The 4th of July is one of THE best holidays because there are no gifts to buy or wrap, no huge elaborate decorations but rather it is a day to do something simple with friends and family…a beach, a picnic, a barbecue and of course fireworks.

Today, we celebrate our country’s 241st birthday. As a nation we are still young and it is evident that we still have more than a few growing pains. While, it has been hard to watch our country so divided in so many ways, I think we often forget how much more connected we are than separated. Our media thrives on conflict and so rarely do we get to witness images of resolution, collaboration, kindness, teamwork and hard work. All of which are things that I have the privilege of seeing in my America.

Interviewing people over and over who give of themselves, their finances, their time, energy and commitment simply to help their fellow man. That is my America. Our 1.7 million nonprofits and the 11.2 million Americans who work for them are there for one reason only, to serve someone else. To help someone who needs it. That is what I see everyday in my America. Hardworking dedicated volunteers and nonprofit employees choosing to give of themselves, just as those who came before us did. Whether service through military, through church and community or simply to one another that is what Americans do.

When September 11th happened we all reached out to one another. We held each other up, we gave of ourselves to help those that were suffering.

That is the America that I know. Yes, we do not all agree on everything and chances are high that we ever will. However, I do hope that today you agree how lucky you are to live in a free country filled with good, kind and hardworking people who model to the world what freedom is. We are Americans, that is what we do.

Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTONMARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Happy 241st birthday America and Happy 4th of July!

charity matters.

 

 

YOUR REFERRAL IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT,  IF YOU ARE SO MOVED OR INSPIRED, WE WOULD LOVE YOU TO SHARE AND INSPIRE ANOTHER.

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.

I Am Waters Foundation

You never know what a lunch invitation is going to lead too…..A few weeks ago a friend of mine reached out and invited a handful of girlfriends to connect with a remarkable woman named Elena Davis for lunch. She was coming into town from Houston and had started a nonprofit organization there serving the homeless in 2009. I of course could not wait until lunch to meet and connected with Elena last week via phone to chat and ask about her journey in beginning I Am Waters Foundation.

I have to say, it was one of the most remarkable stories and amazing conversations.  Elena is truly an inspiration and  I am sure you will feel the same way…

what is the i am waters foundation’s mission?

Elena Davis: I Am Water’s mission is to do one perfect and complete thing: to deliver water. Clean drinking water in a bottle with a message of hope, love and faith to remind the person holding and drinking from the bottle that something important lies beyond physical sight.

charity matters:  there is usually a connection between nonprofit founders and their causes, what is yours?

Elena Davis: My life as it stands now is far from where I started. As one of four kids raised by a single mother on less than three thousand dollars a year and food stamps, my life was lived in extreme need and on the margins of society, with struggle as a constant companion. At the age of fourteen, after having attended over a dozen schools, I started dreaming of a better life than the one into which I was born.  I was introduced to a photographer who took the first shots of me and I began to realize my dream of becoming a fashion model. At the age of 16, having signed with the renowned Ford Agency, I set off to Paris to begin what was to become a lucrative and successful career as a print and fashion model.

 After 15 years of hard work and a successful career as a model, I was able to contribute to alleviating my family’s financial woes . In 1994, I married into one of the country’s more prominent families. Twelve years of marriage and 3 kids later, I had all that I had dreamed of. Or so I thought.   In 2009, while going to pick my kids up from school a homeless woman knocked on my car window. I reached for money and she shoved it back to me and said, “Please, I am so thirsty can I please have your water?” As I handed her the water and felt a jolt, like an electric current. She said, “Thank you and God Bless you.” And she disappeared.

Charity matters: what was the moment you knew you needed to start your nonprofit?

Elena Davis: After meeting that woman, I couldn’t get her out of my mind and I knew that I was being called to do something. I just wasn’t sure what. Then a series of things happened that kept pointing to water and homelessness. I knew I needed to revisit my past and I was scared to face the deeply buried part of myself, my childhood, that I had kept a secret from my friends and the people I knew. Yet, I knew that if we could heal one crucial aspect of the intense need that a person without a home has to deal with daily, by providing water, we could make an impact and so in 2009 we began the I am Waters Foundation.

charity matters: homelessness has so many layers where do you start?

Elena Davis: Did you know the average age of homeless person is 9 years old? We have more than 3.5 million people that are homeless in this country every night and of the 31 million people living in poverty more than 12 million of them are children. We start by providing the most basic human need, water.

charity matters: what keeps you doing this work when The job is never ending and the need is enormous?

Elena Davis: The work is hard but I really believe that I was called to do this. The short answer is God. What are the chances that I was born into poverty and married into a great family? I think I am a bridge between two worlds and this was God’s way of saving me.  Also, my husband has been incredibly supportive through this entire journey.

charity matters: when do you know you have made a difference?

Elena Davis: On a micro level I think we have been able to track people and follow our progress. On a macro level we have worked tirelessly to help change the systems by working with cities, calling out injustices and simply by not giving up. We are excited to be launching a new program I Am Jobs to continue our mission to serve this underserved  population.

charity matters: Tell us the success you have had and your impact?

Elena Davis: We have distributed over 4.1 million bottles of water to the homeless in six states.  We have partnered with countless homeless agencies and 45 shelter partners that we research. We are now working with cities to begin an I Am Jobs program in addition to supplying water and hope to the population we serve. The water continues to be the tool we use to reach people and connect. Each bottle has a phone number that connects us to the individual in need. We have partnered with incredible organizations to help the next steps in the job process. It all starts with the individual person who is asking for help.

charity matters: What life lessons have you learned from this experience and how has this journey changed you?

Elena Davis: Growing up transient I kept to myself. My heart was buried and this journey has cleansed me, given me gratitude and perspective. I have learned that our gifts are tied to our wounds. You need to go down to the core of who we are and face that to move forward to help others.

charity Matters: Thank you for sharing your remarkable story, You truly are an inspiration and more than a super model but a super role model for us all.

 

charity matters

 

YOUR REFERRAL IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT,  IF YOU ARE SO MOVED OR INSPIRED, WE WOULD LOVE YOU TO SHARE AND INSPIRE ANOTHER.

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.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes

As many of you know I run a nonprofit that is a youth leadership organization. During the summer we run three separate weeks of leadership camp, where middle school students stay on a college campus for week away from their parents, learning, having fun and having time to reflect on who they are and where they want to go. This past week we just ended our first session of camp with one hundred and fifty students transformed by their experience.

So often in the nonprofit space we are running a business like almost any other with budgets, timelines, goals and the list goes on. What makes our work (nonprofit work) different is that unlike a company when your numbers are down, less people profit. In the nonprofit world, when you don’t make numbers, someone doesn’t go to camp, get fed, receive medicine and the list goes on. The stakes are real and there is person effected by each choice, for better or for worse.

The other challenge in the nonprofit space is that you can often feel separated or removed from those you serve.  We work all year (our staff of two and 150 amazing volunteers, who will serve 3,000 students) to send one-third of our students to camp with scholarships. Then the moment happens, we see their faces, we watch them grow and learn all week and our efforts beyond worthwhile. Children who live in the inner-city, who have never been on a college campus let alone stay on one and then to hear them share their experiences….well there simply are not words with how incredible it feels.

Each volunteer gives of themselves to change the life of another. You can feel the love, the kindness, the joy, the gratitude between our campers and our volunteer staff. Regardless of what is happening in the world, I know that our amazing college and high school volunteers are transforming hundreds of children’s lives for the better….renewing my faith in humanity and inspiring me to strive to serve more.

charity matters

 

YOUR REFERRAL IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT,  IF YOU ARE SO MOVED OR INSPIRED, WE WOULD LOVE YOU TO SHARE AND INSPIRE ANOTHER.

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.

The Giving Update

I must confess numbers are not my thing and never really have been. However, when numbers involve how much we give and to who….I must admit I’m fascinated. Each of us gives in different ways and at different times through a variety of options.  Who knew that all that giving has been combined, tallied and pulled together? Well this years numbers are in from Giving USA’s 2018 Report and the numbers just might surprise you.

The report is done by Giving USA which is a public service initiative of The Giving Institute and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IU. It is the longest running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America. According to Aggie Sweeney, chair of Giving USA Foundation, “American’s record breaking charitable giving in 2017 demonstrates that even in divisive times our commitment to philanthropy is solid. As people have more resources available, they are choosing to use them to make a difference, pushing giving to over $400 Billion.” 

Last year alone, individuals in the United States collectively gave $286.65 billion dollars, which is up five percent from the previous year. That is a serious amount charity. Individual donations were not the only way people gave;

  • Sixty-six billion dollars was given to foundations in 2017 which was a six percent increase.
  • Thirty-five billion was donated via bequest from people’s estates, which was also a number that went up.
  • Over twenty billion dollars was given by corporations last year, up almost six percent as well.

So who did we give our hard earned funds to in 2017? We gave over $127 billion to religion or religious causes, our churches, synagogues , etc in 2017. Right behind religion was education where Americans gave $58.90 billion dollars. Followed by human services at $50 billion, then foundations, health organizations, public-society benefit organizations, arts and culture, international affairs and rounded up by the environment and animal causes.

Regardless of the cause or the way in which we gave last year, we gave. More than that, we gave big! $400 billion dollars worth of giving.  While the number is important and impressive, what is even more impressive is that despite our challenges at getting along with one another politically, we still at our core believe that we are all here to serve one another. Our actions are proof.

charity Matters.

 

YOUR REFERRAL IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT,  IF YOU ARE SO MOVED OR INSPIRED, WE WOULD LOVE YOU TO SHARE AND INSPIRE ANOTHER.

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.

One year wiser?

“aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always  should have been”

David Bowie

Even though it’s only been a week since we were last together, another year has officially passed and I’m hoping that means that more wisdom, not wrinkles! While I am past the mid part of life, the fact is we never really know where our mid-part is. My mom died at 60, each day our time is ticking and for me it feels like a race. Somedays I run too fast to notice what is around me…..and yet I race to use my time, each precious drop for the greatest purpose….whatever that may be….a walk with a friend, time with my children, service to my family and others.

The process of aging is an adventure for sure and like every growth process there are spits and spurts. We spend the first quarter of our life physically growing. The second quarter trying to figure out who we are. The third quarter coming into our stride and knowing our strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully in Q3 we find how to give those gifts away or our purpose.

I’m not sure if we have one purpose but would like to believe we have many. What I do know is that every one of us is here to love and be loved, to use our gifts to their greatest good and that life is so much more than about yourself, it is about being of service to others. I’m grateful everyday to be alive, for my health, to celebrate another year and looking forward to Q3 and becoming the person I always should have been.

charity matters

 

Your referral is the greatest compliment,  if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to share and inspire another.

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.

Alzheimers

There is nothing I enjoy more than connecting friends and colleagues, especially when there is a good cause involved. So a few weeks ago when I connected two remarkable women, one a fundraiser for USC and the other a well known wealth strategist for Northern Trust, I was thrilled when I received the invitation for an event on Alzheimers the two partnered to put together.

It was a fantastic morning conversation with  Dr. Helena Chang-Chui, a world renown researcher and a top Alzheimer specialist. She is the chair of the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Department of Neurology and has authored over 182 publications on the topic and was fascinating to learn from, which is why I wanted to share.

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimers and chances are each of us knows someone who has been affected by this devastating disease. We learned that Alzheimers disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and according to the Alzheimer’s Association there are currently about 5.5 million people currently living with the disease. Without successful treatments that number is projected to rise to about 13.5 million by 2050! The longer people live, the more Alzheimer’s disease there will be.

So that’s the bad news. Here is the good news:

The National Institute of Health recently allocated $1.3 billion to Alzheimer’s disease research which was $884 million more than ever before! Now the top researchers in the country Harvard, the Mayo Clinic and USC Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute will be working together with some of this funding to find a cure. In the meantime, Dr. Chui shared with us a few things we can all do to protect our mental health.

  1. Diet– A Mediterranean diet based on nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil, coffee and coconut oil has all proven to activate the brain’s metabolic function and may prevent or slow the onset of Alzheimers disease.
  2. Exercise– The brain’s processing speed can begin to slow down as early as 25 but exercise bulks up existing neurons and improves communication between brain cells. The Doctor said it is like a bank account where what you do now strengthens cognitive resilience later.
  3. Quality Sleep- Six to eight hours of sleep for adults is critical so that toxic proteins that are implicated in Alzheimers disease are flushed out during sleep. It is the bodies time of rebooting and sleep gives the body time to restore.
  4. Connect with Others-Relationships are good for the brain and the heart and current research suggest that there is a connection between social interaction and brain health. Being social connects neurons and activities with friends can give the brain added benefits.
  5. Managing Stress-High stress encourages behaviors such as poor eating habits, isolation, or decreased exercise all which increase the risk of dementia which could lead to changes in the brain.

The take away from this fantastic conversation with Dr. Chang-Chui was that we all need to proactive with our health and that includes our mental health as well. We can all take steps today to make tomorrow better for ourselves and our loved ones.

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.

The Countdown to Summer…

“Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.”

John Mayer

Just typing the word makes me happy, giddy, joyful….Summer. I know it isn’t officially here until June 21st with Summer Solstice or when the kids are finally out of school but with Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, I think that the official countdown officially begins now.

Summer brings with it longer days, a slower  pace, a change of routine and one that rarely involves stress or homework. Summer brings simplicity, joy, relaxation and sunshine….and who doesn’t need more of that? We race around all year and then something shifts as soon as we get through Memorial Day. I’m not sure if it is an internal clock that is triggered by our childhood summers or simply the weather but regardless, we all feel it. More than that we need summer, a time for rest and renewal.

So this weekend, as you celebrate Memorial Day, get excited to celebrate summer and all the joy that comes with the season. Have a fantastic long holiday weekend and enjoy the countdown!

Happy Memorial Day.

charity matters.

 

 

Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to share this to inspire another.

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.

Saving Innocence

“i raise up my voice-not so i can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard….we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

Malala Yousafzai

There are so many things that make us uncomfortable. ….driving past the homeless and seeing the ravages of war on the nightly news but this topic is beyond being uncomfortable, it is down right unimaginable. The topic is human trafficking or modern day slavery. It is something that we want to believe only happens in other countries but the harsh reality is that it happens here in the United States of America to over 300, 000 children a year. Children who are sold and enslaved into prostitution, like a product or good sold….but these are our children.

Last week, I was invited to a friend’s home for a Friends With Causes dinner. Her guest was the nonprofit Saving Innocence and the speakers were the Executive Director and a young girl who was sold here in LA at the age of 11. We will call her O and her story was truly unbelievable and haunting.

This inspirational twenty-two year old girl told us her unimaginable story. Raised by  a loving single mom who worked two jobs to support them in house full of love and extended family. O accidentally discovered at the age of 11 that she was adopted and the news sent her reeling. She was confused, angry, sad and upset. At the same time, her mother had just broken up with her boyfriend. The boyfriend came to O’s school to ask how she was doing and offered her a ride home. That moment changed everything because he kidnapped her and sold into sex trafficking at age 11, right here in LA.

Founded in 2012 by actress, Kim Biddle, Saving Innocence are the first responders when trafficked children are identified by the police or other authorities.

The nonprofit arrives within 90 minutes with a Child Welfare and Probation officer. They take the child to the hospital, provide, food, clothing, emotional support and a safety plan and housing for the child. The child is given up to nine months of time, support, love, counseling. Saving Innocence works with the child to see the perpetrator through the justice system and then continues empowerment programs with these young children.

This incredible nonprofit has contracts with the probation offices, judges and prosecutors to help these children through the system and have shown the courts that children who have been commercially sexually exploited need intensive aftercare.

Today, O is working for Saving Innocence and helping the girls get through their ordeal of being held as part of a human trafficking ring. She mentors young girls, works with the police, social workers and empowers these children to become survivors, just as she has done, because of this remarkable organization. As I hugged 22 year old O and told her what an incredible inspiration and leader she is, she cried and said, “No one has ever called me a leader.”  When I told her that a leader is someone who uses their gifts and experience in the service of others, she smiled, hugged me again and said,”Then I guess I am a leader.”

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.

Lessons learned from graduation

“you build a legacy not by one thing but by everything, your legacy is every life you touch.”

Maya Angelou

As many of you know, there many things in this world that make me happy, giddy and joyful. Last week at my alma matter more than a few of them came together. Talking, giving speeches, college graduations, USC Annenberg and Oprah….like a perfect storm they became one. While I was supposed to attend the graduation for one of our volunteers, I sadly couldn’t get there in time.

However, through the power of media I was able to watch Oprah’s speech. She has such wonderful lessons that I wanted to give you some of the highlights here. Oprah knew the first rule that they teach you at Annenberg and that is to know your audience. She certainly knew hers, future journalist, broadcasters and the messengers of the future. Oprah asked those messengers to give voice to the people who need a voice. She said,”Use your gifts to illuminate the darkness in the world.”  She asked the students to, “Be the truth” and asked,”what are you willing to stand for?”

Oprah quoted her friend Maya Angelou’s words saying, “You build a legacy not from one thing but from everything. Your legacy is every life you touch.”  Words that resonate.  As she wrapped up her speech with practical advise about making your bed, being kind, and investing in a good mattress, she pivoted and said,” Join forces in service of something greater than ourselves. Pick a problem, any problem and do something about it.”

These are not just words for USC Annenberg alumns or words for Oprah fans but rather words for all of us to process, think about and decide how we are going to act.

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.

Pivoting

“when patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.’

Tuli Kupferberg

Change. Why is it so hard? And yet so necessary. Even the tiniest tweak in our daily schedule can throw us into a tail spin. Let’s face it we get comfortable and secure knowing that the same things are going to happen in our days. There is a sense of security in routine. On one hand we crave it and on the other we despise it, but which do we want more?

I realize when I do the same things the same way for so long, how can I possibly be surprised when I get the same results? If I go to the gym each day and do the same thing, the results will be the same. If I eat the same foods, do my work the same way, the needle doesn’t move. The reality is that in order to see new results, I need to break out of the pattern and habits that I have created.

The process isn’t easy but necessary to stretch, to grow or even to bend a little. None are comfortable but that discomfort pushes us, stresses our routines and gets us out of our daily comfort zone. The smallest tweak can begin  to make a difference. Let’s face it we are all creatures of habit but breaking some of those patterns feels like a fresh start towards a new world.

 

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.

Reflections on Motherhood

“Having kids…the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings-is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”

Maria Shriver

Lately, I have been thinking about being a mother. Motherhood isn’t something you typically think about, it is a verb, an action and rarely a mere thought. The reflection began last week, when I saw a young mother in the grocery store trying to contain her toddler. I smiled and told her to enjoy this moment because it goes by so fast. She looked at me as if I was insane and her expression said that this moment was already way too long and she hoped it would go by quicker.  I clearly remember being that young mother with three toddler boys in the grocery store.  Older women,(and I mean that in the nicest possible way) would share these  same words of wisdom with me and my reaction at the time was probably pretty similar. Last week,  I realized with horror, that I was now that older woman.

I am really not sure where that time went or how it slipped by so quickly, especially when those days felt like eternity.  The days when the boys drank food coloring and stained their faces, fingers and everything else in sight. The day we were painting the nursery for their new baby brother’s arrival when they knocked over a can of paint, ran through the spilled paint and all over the house leaving baby blue foot prints on the carpets, wood floors and most surfaces.  The upstairs sink they turned on without my knowledge that ran for hours, flooding the upstairs and my husbands treasured old convertible in the garage below. The memories of dirt, destruction and chaos are vast and yet, each crazy moment is now a treasured gift.

The goal in those days was mere survival. If you were showered and nothing was hugely destroyed, the day was a victory. Little by little those toddlers, ran faster and farther. They started using bikes, skate boards  and pushed every boundary mental and physical that they possibly could.  Those beautiful little faces could destroy you and wear you down, motherhood  was an endurance sport where only the strong survive.

Like a triathlon, you begin the race of motherhood full of energy and excitement for the journey ahead.  The swim is the first part of the course, as you dive in you realize the water is colder than you thought but you are just beginning, so  you visualize your finish line. You focus on that moment on the podium and your shiny metal at the end of the race with these amazing humans you have molded, supported, guided and loved. Quickly, very quickly into the race you realize you are sinking…fast and that the race is going to be longer and harder than expected.

Not to worry, if you can survive the swim, then you are ready for the ride. Once on the bike, those twists and turns on the road of motherhood where school, hurt feelings, sporting activities, homework and planning your daily course is harder than planning a military strategic operation. The ride seems as if it has to be better than the swim and yet the challenges are never ending. They just keep coming.

Still, you hold onto your vision, you dream of the finish line. A polite, kind, educated human, with a diploma and perhaps a job. You finish your ride and begin the run. You are now slower, much slower and yet you are determined to finish the race. You will get that prize and so you push through those last hurdles, roadblocks and obstacles. They are big ones, high school, getting into college and everything teenager that will test your mental strength like never before. You are a survivor. You are strong, you are a mother and you are so close to finishing. Then you see it, the finish line and the tears begin because you now realize you no longer want the race to end.

You see those beautiful children, kind, polite, and good and realize that it was the race, the journey and the challenges that were the joy. Each obstacle overcome is a victory and each failure a lesson in love, patience and endurance. You survived the frigid deep waters of babies and toddlers, the twist and turns along the ride to adolescence and the run through the teenage years and college. The tears stream down your face as you cross the line exuberant, proud, strong and tired. Your vision is real, your prize is waiting with open arms….those beautiful, kind, polite and amazing humans are there just as you imagined and dreamed. You are a mother and your race is almost over and now you just wish you could run part of it again.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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 love letter

 

All have you have been on this crazy journey called life with me. Many days the journey involves nonprofits, the incredible people I am privileged to meet, to serve and whose stories I tell. Other days the journey has been personal, I have shared my joy, my sorrow, loss, love and everything in between here on this platform, so it seems only fitting that this large milestone is shared with you as well. Our oldest son is graduating from college this weekend and I am just trying to process it all.

Almost seven years ago when I started Charity Matters, our sons were 16, 14 and 10 and I did everything not to mention them, embarrass them or shine any light in their direction from the blog. Today, however, our oldest has no choice because this love letter is for him.

My dear H-,

Twenty-three years ago you entered this world and made us parents. You taught us what love really means and how to live without sleep. Every new parent writes a secret script for their child. They hold their newborn and envision their first step, teaching to ride them a bike, baseball games, proms, high school graduations, college, first love, first heart breaks and everything in between. We don’t tell anyone our secret parental script but we all have it, the way we think you are supposed to be and who we dream of you becoming.

You taught us to throw away the script early on. You refused to be defined by our expectations or anyone else’s. You arrived on this planet knowing who you were and spent the last twenty-three years informing us. You didn’t want to play with firetrucks but rather vacuums and irons. You didn’t want to play baseball but study how old cars can run on recycled kitchen grease as fuel. You did play sports but only on your terms and more than anything you loved cars, photography, beautiful things, and spending over a thousand hours volunteering to serve the neediest children in South Central Los Angeles. You showed us just how huge your heart is and that you could write a way better script than we ever could.

So this weekend as you graduate from college, you need to know that we have never been more proud to be your parents. You are the most remarkable, honest, real, loving human being and more than that, the world is a better place because you are in it. I know you will continue to surprise us with the script you write and I can hardly wait to read the next chapter. Just know that our hearts are overflowing with love and pride, not because of what you have accomplished in your short life but because of who you are.

Now go into the world and do well but more importantly, do good. We love you!

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.

May Day!

Every new beginning comes from other beginnings end.”

Senea

May. A month full of joy. Sunshine, springtime, Mother’s Day, graduations and Memorial Day….I think  of May as the gateway to summer. So how can we not be excited about that? The dictionary defines the word May as  meaning “expressing possibility.” I can think of no better way to describe a month that is exactly that….so full of possibility.

Today is May Day, which is a holiday that is believed to have been started in Roman Britain around 2,000 years ago. Soldiers celebrated the arrival of spring by dancing around decorated trees thanking their goddess, Flora. Today, we still celebrate May Day but use the May pole instead of a tree….which must have been tricky…just sayin.

Here is to a month full of possibility, beauty, spring, celebrations and new beginnings.  Wishing you the most joyful month!

charity matters.

 

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Let love be the last word

L-O-V-E. Four simple letters that change everything. Love, a word that should always be the first thing said and the last. Anyone who has ever lost someone suddenly knows this. Love and saying, “I love you,“are words to live by.  You hear it, you may think it, but do you actually say it? Life is so short and changes in the blink of an eye and last week we blinked and it changed.

First, was a call that a friend had died unexpectedly. We had seen him two weeks before, told him what he meant to us but had no idea it would be our last hug and in a blink he was gone. Two days later, another 49 year old friend shared that he has 3 months to live and is dying from cancer. The reaction was swift and immediate, hugs, tears and I love yous.  The words didn’t take the pain away and the blows felt like a one two punch, almost too much to process within such a short period of time.  The reality of how fragile our lives truly are came crashing down in a way that just makes everything else seem trivial and irrelevant.

As I watched the evening news that night, still trying to process our loss and find something better to focus on, I saw that a Southwest Jet lost an engine. What struck me wasn’t the pending panic or fear but rather all passengers scrambling to connect with loved ones to make sure they said I love you one last time. Had they started their day with it? Did they say I love you before they got on that flight? Did everyone they care about know how they felt? My sense was no because each of them appeared to try and say it, just one last time.

Fifteen years ago, when I discovered that my mom had died tragically and unexpectedly, one of my first thoughts was,”Did I remember to tell her I loved her before she left for her trip? Was I love you my last word?” I replayed the tape of our last time together over and over until my godmother confirmed that, yes, I had said it. I had a witness and somehow, the pain subsided.

Since that moment, our family doesn’t end a call or leave the house, no matter the rush…without saying , I love you. Angry, late, grumpy we say it. It is a gift and one that I have only recently realized, in light of last week.  Life is precious. It is short. We have so little time and yet somehow, we miss the important stuff. If I died tomorrow, everyone in my life knows that I love them because love is always the last word.

L-O-V-E. Four simple letters that change everything.

 

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.