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Life imitating art….

“When you are able to shift your inner awareness to how you can serve others, and when you make this the central focus of your life, you will then be in a position to know true miracles in your progress toward prosperity.”
Wayne Dwyer

In an interesting turn of events where life imitates art…I am continually surprised by the never-ending twists and turns that land in my path.  Last week took a few unexpected turns and while I had planned on sharing with you my Grades of Green interview, a number of events turned things around a bit.

As some of you know, after almost six years of interviewing and showcasing nonprofit founders for this site only, I have begun to peak my head out of my shell. A scary thing for sure to leave the safety of your people, however, after a variety of events and conversations, I thought I would see if anyone else might be interested in my work? Honestly, while I have thought about it before, I am usually so busy running a nonprofit and serving the ones I am passionate about, that the whole digital self promoting world has simply not been my thing.

Don’t get me wrong, just like everyone else, the more people who see these posts, the more people I hope to inspire with the message of service and how it truly can change your life. All that being said, you may recall that I wrote a piece after the Las Vegas shooting called Something Is Happening Here and because so many of you shared it, it gave me the courage to do the same, which I did on Ariana Huffington’s new site Thrive Global.

A week passed and I heard nothing so thought, well, maybe I should try again? So, I submitted the piece about being lost and looking for the signs, retitled as Finding the Path While Reading the Signs. Since I have already confessed to being lost, I figured it couldn’t hurt to share the post in hopes of helping someone else? Then, a crazy thing happened. I received an email saying that the Vegas piece was published by Thrive Global, I was stunned and thrilled.

 

Even crazier was the fact that the next day, my piece about being lost was also picked up and also published. A sign, I’m not sure? As soon as you tell the world you are lost, it seems that the universe begins showing you the way. I have to admit, it is still scary to putting myself out there in a bigger way. However, as the quote says, “ When you are able to shift your inner awareness to how you can serve others, and when you make this the central focus of your life, you will then be in a position to know true miracles in your progress toward prosperity.” 

I think somethings happening here….

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.

Nature and nurture

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

John Muir

I grew up the daughter of a recycler, my dad used to tell us he was a trash man. He began recycling paper in the late 1960’s long before it was trendy or cool to be green. To my dad it was something that just made sense. He came from a generation that fixed everything and threw nothing away and we were taught to do the same. To us we thought it was kind of cool when he ran the newspaper recycling drives at our school and later in life when he was the member of international recycling boards but to my dad he was simply a garbologist.

Now retired, my dad spends a good chunk of his time doing organic gardening and raising a huge portion of the food he eats. Again, not to be trendy, but more because it just makes sense. So this week when you read Wednesday’s post about a young girl who fell in love with gardening and inspired an incredible nonprofit called Katie’s Krops think for a moment how one simple action such as planting a seed can create such change.

Later in the week we will circle back with Grades of Green. I recently talked with the incredible organization that is not only greening our schools but they are inspiring a generation to take care of our planet, to recycle and to make good choices for our beloved earth.

Only a week out from the tragedy in Las Vegas, I am ready to be uplifted, inspired, reminded of our human connection and think that John Muir’s words still ring true over one hundred years since his death. 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.

Somethings happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear…

 

I think we will all agree that this week has not started off as intended. While I had planned a fantastic story to inspire and lift you up, rather than share that now, I think it is so important to take a moment and recognize what we are all dealing with. We are living in a crazy time. Somedays it is truly hard to focus with all the pain and suffering in the world.

In the past month alone we have had multiple hurricanes with thousands left homeless, the earthquake in Mexico City, terrorism across the globe and now this horrific tragedy in Las Vegas. None of it makes any sense. It is simply impossible to wrap your head around what is happening around us. It is scary,so shocking that it doesn’t seem real, and the sadness is palpable.

We all feel it together and come together. We help, brick by brick, and unite to support one another.

While I wish I had the answers, but sadly, I do not. However, rather than focusing on the chaos, the sadness and all that we can not control, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what we can control.  We can talk to one another about how we feel. We can give blood, smile at a stranger, be kinder, hug our children and tell those that we love how much they mean. We can live fully and without fear. More than that we can love with abundance. That is in our control.

When the world doesn’t make sense, I think of this quote from Leo Rosten, “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 stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”  We can make our lives matter, the choice is ours….

This is dedicated to all those who lost their lives too early and to each of you who strive to live a life that matters.

 

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.

 

Finding the path by reading the signs

“When the path reveals itself follow it.”

Cheryl Strayed

Have you ever felt lost? Not because you don’t have navigation or you lost your phone…I mean the type of lost where you are really not sure where you are heading in life? The big kind of lost. Perhaps a heavy question for the first Monday in October, but one on my mind. Maybe the beginning of a new month and season has me pondering larger directional questions….

Like everyone, I have my daily routine and path that my phone has now memorized. Each morning I get into my car and the phone announces how many minutes to get to the gym. Is my life really that predictable? Obviously, it is. I find myself wanting to drive the other direction, just to confuse the phone and to break from routine in search of a new destination.  Yet, the problem with being lost is that the path is unclear.  Would I recognize it if it revealed itself?

A few weeks back while driving on the 110 freeway, I asked God for a sign, a direction, anything to give me some navigation and this is what I received….

Seriously? I grabbed the same phone that I cursed earlier, to snap the picture of the license plate in front of me that read TRST GOD. Wow! I have never asked for a sign and received such a quick reply. But before I even reached the second tunnel there was another sign…….literally.

Above the tunnel were the words PERSIST. Trust God and persist. I snapped away trying to process the fact that I was driving with navigation on, yet feeling completely lost. More than that, I was trying to comprehend the fact that I had just asked for a sign and been sent two!

Just when you think you are lost, the path slowly begins to reveal itself. Do I now know where I am heading? No, but somehow I have a profound peace knowing that I am going to persist in finding my way. This fall when the path continues to reveal itself, I will follow it wherever it may lead.

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.

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.

Homelessness…where to start?

Regardless of where you live, you have witnessed homelessness. It seems to be an epidemic on the rise and a problem with so many layers, that many of us simply don’t even know where to begin? In communities across the country people are coming together, as Americans do, to roll up their sleeves to support those in need.

Last week a dear friend of mine, reached out to tell me about his amazing aunt, Norah Miller, and the work she is doing in her community to help the homeless. Norah lives in Pennsylvania where the economy has struggled, the opioid addition has skyrocketed and Veterans are unemployed and facing homelessness. It would be easy to turn a blind eye, but Norah simply couldn’t look away. Instead she decided to act.

In 2009, Norah and four friends came together to do something and founded Cornerstone, to support the homeless in their community and by 2016 these five received their official nonprofit status.

Here is what Norah had to say last week:

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

Norah Miller:  It was a bitter cold morning in western Pennsylvania, January 2012, when a young man called me. He identified himself as a veteran who had lost his job and his home in Akron and was doing temp work at a steel mill. His take-home pay wasn’t able to cover the $40 a night charged by the motel. When he called me, he didn’t have enough money for gas to get his family to a relative’s home in Ohio. I met him in a parking lot and gave him $100 in gift cards for gas or food. The windows in his old car were steamed up and he looked toward his wife, three children and their dog. I told him I could help him with housing. He said, “It’s too late.” Then he thanked me profusely and said, “I wish I had met you sooner.” That’s when I knew.

CM: What fuels you to keep doing this work?

Norah Miller:  Committed colleagues, support from the faith-based community and a lobby full of people including a 10 month old baby girl in an old stroller, extending her arms to me last week.

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

Norah Miller: When someone – a recovering addict, a disabled veteran, a family with children – is handed the keys to their very own apartment.

 

CM: Tell us what success you have had? What has your impact been?

Norah Miller:Prior to its 501c3 designation, The Cornerstone was already recognized as the single point of entry to the county’s homeless and housing stabilization programs. $64,000 in private funding was raised in the first 9 months, $450,000 in government funding was allocated and more than 100 people a week receive assistance.

Norah and her team are working to make a difference. They spend every penny they raise on helping others, they do not have a web-site, a logo or a marketing budget. When I asked her what she needed she said, “Our vote.” The Cornerstone is one of three non-profits chosen to win a website. If you are so inclined to take three seconds to click this link, https://digitalboostvoting.isynergy.io to help an amazing woman who is helping others, then you too will be making a difference.

Every decision we make with our time is a choice. Thank you Norah for inspiring us all.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Purpose and a punchbowl

It is graduation season and along with graduations come a slew of commencement speeches. Last year, I was asked to give the Commencement address to my high school alma mater…..a wonderful crazy and surprising experience. A number of you requested this, but let’s be honest by late June..the last thing we want to see is another speech.

So, I thought I would share it with you here, figuring if the speech was going to land anywhere, it should be here on Charity Matters. The story is my own, the only one I have.  The message is about finding that elusive thing we call happiness..when those intersections of passion and purpose connect.


As Pablo Picasso said, The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Memorial Day 2017

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

Joseph Campbell

Over the years I have interviewed a handful of veterans who started non-profits; Eve Chase of American Women’s Veterans, Mark Brenner of Veterans Career Xchange to name a few.  I have also interviewed so many more who started incredible organizations to serve those who serve us….Carolyn Blashek of Operation Gratitude, Rob Berquist of Cell Phones for Soldiers and the list goes on…each person more inspiring than the next.

The common thread between all of these extraordinary individuals? Gratitude. Each one is grateful to have either survived their journey and inspired to help their fellow veterans. Or they are like you and I, ordinary Americans, filled with gratitude for the country we are blessed to live in and the freedoms which we have. They have used that gratitude to fuel their work to serve and honor our veterans.

So today, I will take a page from Carolyn and Rob’s book of gratitude, as I reflect on those who sacraficed to serve us. I am filled with gratitude for these heroes who gave their lives for something bigger than themselves…..

our freedom.

Wishing you all a day full of gratitude.

Happy Memorial Day.

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 gift of mentoring

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 
Benjamin Franklin

A few weeks ago my friend, Alexandra invited me and a few of her inspiring friends, to a very special lunch. The purpose was not to catch up, but rather in a mentoring role. Alexandra has been involved with a local school here in LA,  a place where barriers crumble and community grows. Students from all walks of life come together in this unique school to learn, thrive and grow.

Alexandra spoke to the school’s principal and asked for ways she could support the school and out of that conversation came this age-old and brilliant idea of real conversations with mentors. Something so simple, so perfect and truly missing in our busy lives.

The guest list of mentors included; our wonderful hostess and Friends With Causes Founder, a very inspiring Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker, a super hip successful interior designer,  and myself. We were asked to come armed with questions for these young ladies and to be ready to answer some as well.

None of us knew one another, and yet we were all there to learn and that in itself created a beautiful beginning for conversation. Our discussions ranged from prom dresses, to college, to boys, failures, careers, following your passion and my favorite question, “Who do you think you mentor or inspire?” From that question alone we learned about one girl’s experience with foster care, another who mentored after school at the Boys and Girls Club, another’s younger siblings….but more than that, you saw these girls (young and old) shift in the thought that someone looks up to them.

We all mentor someone, whether we realize it or not. Ask yourself whose life you inspire? I think you will find your self surprised and smiling too. That is the gift of mentoring, you always get so much more than you give.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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The journey continues

TCU football player and Rhodes Scholar, Caylin Moore, stands on the

I am not a stalker, but lets face it…we all like to follow certain people, whether on Instagram or in the media, it could be a top chef, an author, or a celebrity. What these individuals all have in common is that they intrigue us, they seem to be living their purpose. They know who they are and seem to know where they are going.

That person for me isn’t Victoria Beckham or Oprah, while I’m sure they are lovely, the person who I have loved to follow is young man I met in Watts at Verbum Dei High School five years ago and his name is Caylin Moore. He is the one I am following.

As a young man he was a student athlete, a stand up young man with a deep faith. I have followed him via the media, when he headed to Marquette on a full scholarship. I watched when he became a Fulbright Scholar, and then when he landed in my literal path at TCU in February, I was stunned.

I followed Caylin as he created SPARK at TCU to inspire young underserved youth to follow their dreams and to become whatever they dream of. I sat in front of him as he said he had to give back to those that helped him along the way.

Now, I will watch from a far, as he graduates from TCU and heads off to Oxford, England to become TCU’s second Rhodes Scholar. We all need heroes, people to look up to and to inspire us to be our best…Caylin Moore is mine….and one to watch!

 

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 Place Called H.O.M.E.

Telling a magical Christmas story in May, might sound unusual but it is so beautiful, it simply can’t wait until December and since May is National Foster Care Month it seemed only fitting to share it now. A few weeks ago a woman from Maine reached out to me, via email, to tell me about her incredible friend, Janalee Moquin. Like most non-profit founders, Janalee truly did not want any attention on herself, said her girlfriend, via email. However, her friend was undeterred in wanting Janalee’s story told and about her amazing work with children aging out of foster care.  I am so glad she did…

There is no place like home and for thousands of foster care children each year, who age out of foster care, they sadly do not know that feeling. Janalee Moquin was determined to impact and change that in any way she could. She told me, “I had a difficult childhood, and I know what its like to feel like you have no one. I knew I wanted to help that child, that I was.”

Janalee went on to say that the most magical moments and happiest memories of her childhood were at a Christmas tree festival in Massachusetts, where she grew up. Thirteen years ago when Janalee moved to York, Maine she decided to re-create the holiday tree decorating festival in her new town. She went out and bought 32 trees and asked friends to compete in decorating them, in hopes that people would come together, buy tickets, feeling the spirit of the season and the funds would go in some way to support children in foster care.

Well the first year, while her vision was there, the rest of the town didn’t really see it. The years that followed, little by little the idea caught on. The tree festival grew and grew and so did Janalee’s passion for directing the increasing funds into A Place Called H.O.M.E., which stands for Having Opportunity Means Everything.

Janalee worked with social workers to find these young foster care children who were told at age 18, goodbye. She knew they needed support, love, help, mentoring and just basic kindnesses that we take for granted. Janalee and her group of volunteers began asking these young adults what they needed, what would mean the world to them. Their answers, “birthday cards with our name on them, a care package that has something I like, that feels like someone knows me.” The simplest request.

Today, thousands of people come from over five states to attend the now four-day long tree festival. The people of York have tree decorating rooms set up all year in their homes for the big event. Janalee is a foster parent to a 16-year-old boy and knows that she has recreated her childhood holiday magic for her community, for thousands of children and more importantly for the foster care children her work supports.

She said, “I know I have made a difference when I see a photo of a foster care child smiling holding their birthday card and when I can witness a communities joy.” I asked Janalee, what fuels you to keep doing this work? Her answer, ” This is what I was meant to do and why I am on this planet.”

 

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.