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The measure of a life

“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; There is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”

Anais Nin

Last week we lost a dear friend to cancer, someone we had known since college who was not even 50. Sadly this was not unexpected but losing a friend so young and so full of joy was and still is beyond difficult. It is moments like these that make us all stop in our tracks and hit the reset button to think about what is truly important? I found myself asking how am I  using my precious time  and what really matters?

I came home from the service a bit numb, sad and depressed. I decided to read to try to take my mind off the days events. I began to read an article about Paul Allen, Microsoft’s co-founder who had also just passed away. The article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy talked about Paul Allen’s passion for life. It discussed his love of learning, of music, sports, exploring ideas and world’s unknown. Paul Allen donated over 2.3 billion dollars in his lifetime and in addition to that he also took the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate more than half of his estate to charity.

When he took the giving pledge he had to write an essay and in it he said, “My philanthropic strategy is informed by my enduring belief in the power of new ideas.  By dedicating resources that can help some of the world’s most creative thinkers accelerate discovery, I hope to serve as a catalyst for progress-in large part, by encouraging closer collaboration and challenging conventional thinking. When smart people work together with vision and determination, there is little we can’t accomplish.”

Each life, whether our friends, Paul Allen’s or our own is ultimately only as good as the meaning we give it. We are the author, we have the pen and now to script that meaning, our individual plot, our novel and our book. The meaning is for each of us to find and to live.

 

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.

Service

“Use your life to serve the world, and you will find that it also serves you.”

Oprah

This quote could not be more true. The most fascinating thing is that when we set out to serve, we are not looking to receive but rather to give. To help a cause, be apart of something bigger, volunteer in our children’s classrooms and the list goes on as to why we serve.  We do these actions for a variety of motives but thinking about what we get from giving is never one of them.

What is so fascinating is that as the years roll by and the service continues, grows and expands so does what comes back. It is hard to see at first, oh of course, there is that immediate warm fuzzy feeling you get from doing something great. There is no better feeling than knowing that you have used your life to make another’s better.

I have served in so many capacities in my five decades and all with different motivations. As a young girl I served because I was told to. As a teen I served because that’s what my friends were doing. In college, I served because it was a great way to meet people and do something nice for someone. As a young mother, I served to make new mom friends and to begin to show and teach my children about giving.

It was only later, when I was overwhelmed with grief, lost and bereft that service healed and saved me.  Like a lifeline to a drowning victim, service was there to rescue me as I was going under from grief. Service pulled me from my despair and showed me so many others whose lives were in need. Being able to help families at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, not only healed my grief but it gave me a new purpose.

Now decades later, it sounds so cliché to say you get what you give but honestly, you get so so much more. My life is beyond abundant, I could have never dreamed this journey. I ask God each day to use me towards my greatest purpose as I continue to strive to serve. It is a privilege to know that you have used your life to make an others better. Truly the greatest gift of all.

 

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 Blessing Box

 

I was in a meeting a few weeks ago and discussing the concept of Charity Matters. More specifically the fact that kindness and goodness can spread quickly once people can see it in action. The gentleman I was talking too asked me if I had heard of The Blessing Box. I said that I had not, but it sounded interesting. His reply was that The Blessing Boxes that are now popping up all over his neighborhood in LA are a perfect example of the concept that goodness is contagious.

Being curious I tried to track down the original roots of The Blessing Box, which are typically home made boxes where people donate food for those in need. Almost like a miniature food pantry filled with everything from laundry soap to canned goods. In turn, those in need do not experience the shame of asking for food or help. The heart of the Blessing Box is that small random acts of kindness and generosity are contagious.

In Watertown, New York, Ramon Espinoza, a 46 year old Army Veteran decided to build a Blessing Box in front of his home and proved that giving is contagious. Watertown now has over 20 Blessing Boxes and even Home Depot has jumped in to help with the project.

Alex Martinez, pictured above, grew up homeless the first five years of his life. Now safely living with his father in Florida, this fourth grader wanted to do something for the homeless and built his Blessing Box two years ago. He has almost 50 homeless visit his box each week and neighbors come from all around to help keep it stocked. While these boxes have popped up everywhere from Texas, to New York, to Florida and everywhere in between….no one seems to know the original designer of this beautiful concept.

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter whose original idea it was. What matters is the fact that people all over the country, young, old, rich, poor and everything in between are simply helping one another. Even more importantly, the idea keeps spreading. Kindness and goodness are contagious and I would like to believe at the core of who we all are. The Blessing Box is just a perfect example of the goodness that exists in each of us.

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 gift of connection

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”

Mark Twain

For the past few years I have been very involved with my alma mater, an all girls Catholic school, that I was lucky to attend.  A place that taught me “Actions not words” and the meaning of service. Anyone who has high school age children knows that the cost of education, along with everything else these days continues to rise. As a result, families often have to make difficult financial choices about their children’s high school education. A number of schools, including the one I attended, recognize these obstacles and create a way to support families while giving alumni the gift of connection.

For me,  it means that there is one student that I have had the privilege of getting to know the past four years. I have to admit that”my student” is adorable, smart, articulate and full of joy. Yes, I’m totally biased and unfortunately cannot take any responsibility for this. Lucky for me,  this past week we had the opportunity to sit down and catch up at a dinner the school arranged.

As the two of us chatted about school, college apps, boys, soccer and prom I couldn’t help but feel so proud and excited for this remarkable young lady. Her future is so bright and she has the whole world ahead of her. How blessed am I to have the opportunity to know her, watch her grow and share our mutual love of  a school that shaped up us both? The connection, a gift to treasure.

It is easy to think of giving as a strain, a burden, or a sacrifice but in reality giving is a privilege. As Mark Twain said, “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”

 

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.

Sit With Us

In light of last weeks events in Florida and the continued devastation of these schools shootings, my heart is heavy. These tragic events make me think there must be a way that we can come together to work towards a solution. Charity Matters is not a place for politics or debate but rather a community where people have gone through tragedy and turned their pain into  positive solutions, so the next person doesn’t have to suffer, as they did.

People that are hurting always hurt. A wounded animal will snap at you because they do not know what to do with their pain, other than to inflict onto the next. At the core of these shootings is a child isolated, rejected and in pain. So what can we do as a society to include these children before their pain grows and they become ticking time bombs?

One of the things that is different is that when we were growing up bullies didn’t follow you home, they didn’t taunt you on social media and the pain of not being accepted usually lasted as long as a school day. One brave young girl might just have the peer-to-peer solution to this bigger problem that stems from bullying and the isolation that goes with it. Her name is Natalie Hampton and she is the creator of the App Sit With Us.

Natalie was bullied just like an estimated 20% of American teenagers. She decided to change all of that by using technology not to be a victim but to empower and unite isolated teenagers. Her app allows students to find others who do not have a group to sit with at lunch and bring them together so that they are not alone.

The nonprofit that I run works with thirty-one high schools and we tried to partner with Natalie earlier this year on a project to create Sit With Us clubs, which is how I learned about her amazing work. While the project may have to wait until next year with all Natalie has going on. These days Natalie isn’t worried about being alone, but rather just the opposite. She has taken her pain to use it as fuel to bring others together. As Natalie said, “I am using my story to unite others.” 

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.

Time for Camp!

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I am back from a much-needed vacation and re-energized for the busy summer ahead. As most of you know by now, I took a new position last November running non-profit that provides a Summer Leadership Conference for middle school students, called TACSC. Today, I feel like a nervous camper because it’s my first day of Summer Camp or Summer Conference, as we call it.

All year, we have worked, planned, fundraised and organized for this moment. It is exciting, terrifying and fun all at once. Just like the 200 students who will show up today, spending their first week away from home, in a college dorm…I can empathize with their nerves because its my first time too!

This moment is the reason I took this job. No, not to relive my childhood and run off to camp but because of what we do and have been doing for 32 years. That is teaching our students how to lead and inspire others. Planting the seed of compassion by teaching service, having our students learn how to use their voice and stand up for what they believe in and how to lead from behind and by example.

Oh don’t get me wrong, this is still camp….with talent shows, line dances, movie nights, games and all the fun that comes with camp. This is camp with a difference and a purpose.

Last night as I packed up my own 7th grader to attend our program, I realized that he was excited, happy and really looking forward to this experience and I can say proudly, I am too!

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2014 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.