Tag

Spiritual Care Guild

Browsing

Touched by an Angel

 

“We are each of us angels with one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

Luciano De Crescenso

I’m not sure if any of you remember the infamous tv show Touched by an Angel? The shows premise is about an angel named Monica who is tasked with bringing guidance to people who are at a crossroads in their lives. The show ran for years and honestly I only saw a few episodes. I started following Roma Downey on Instagram recently and perhaps as a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about angels lately.

As you know, I don’t believe in coincidences but time and time again angels cross my path in the most beautiful and amazing ways. Many of them I have met for Charity Matters, many have become friends but each person has come into my life at just the time they are needed most. Each beautiful person, teaches me, guides me and shows me the way. Over time I have been able to identify them as the angels they are and I truly believe we all have them, but do we recognize them in that way?

Angels have been a sign in my life ever since my mom died, over a decade ago. Recently, I was talking to a friend who had lost her husband unexpectedly. I was telling her that when my mother died, a friend called me and said, “Heidi, please look for the signs.” To be honest, in the trauma of unexpected loss it is hard to look for anything, let alone function, but low and behold the signs kept coming, over and over…and all of them were angels.

Years before my mom’s death, my sister had given our family these angel necklaces that were big, silver and well, we never wore them. Oddly, the first time the three of us were together we all had the big angel necklaces on. I lit a candle the day after my mom’s death and it melted into angel wings, I was given angel statues, and on and on, angels began to appear everywhere.  My mom was amazing but angel wasn’t really a word that came to mind in describing her. If we were playing a word association game, the words would be more like smile, joyful, fun, happy, loving, gracious… but not angel.

A year after her death, when a group of us got together to start a nonprofit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, we needed a logo. A friend said, “let’s have our children all draw a picture and submit them to the hospital to choose.”  Yes, you guessed it, the logo was this angel and still is. We were trying to get the nonprofit off the ground and this charming gentleman, who lived on Angelo drive, became one of our guardian angels in Spiritual Care.

Since that time, more angels have come across my path than we have time for and each one has been a gift in my life bringing  guidance, direction, support and is always the right person at just the right time. Angels are everywhere we just need to look a little closer to see them…but trust me they are there.  Do you know who the angels are in your life?

We are each angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

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.

To persevere…

 “When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.”

Isak Dinesen

Years ago when a group of friends and I set out to create a nonprofit to provide chaplains at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, we did so with the singular goal that if we just helped one child then we would have been successful. Our motto was and is, “One spirit, one soul, one child at a time.”  The goal was huge and yet small and realistic. 

There were so many things that made our goal achievable and yet there was one characteristic that was critical to our success and that was perseverance.  We refused to give up until we had accomplished our goal. A trait I am confident that every nonprofit founder would agree is necessary to create change.

This week Charity Matters has another milestone and because I am a big believer in celebrating each step along the journey, we will celebrate this one on Thursday. In looking back, it is clear that perseverance, tenacity and simply putting one step in front of another…is what moves us forward. Sometimes slowly, but eventually we get there and that is worth acknowledging.

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.

Always a storyteller, rarely the story

For all of you that have followed Charity Matters over the past few years, most of you know that I truly enjoy being the storyteller. I am Irish after all, so I guess it comes naturally? However, when the Good News Only site called Hooplaha.com approached me about doing a story on Charity Matters….well, the tables were turned.

The Hooplaha team and I share a common belief that people are innately good and more than that, good news and stories about good people doing great work need to be shared. So with that in mind, if this so inspires you, please feel free to share. The world needs more kindness and goodness, so thanks for spreading some and check out Hooplaha if you need a little happy news to brighten your 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.

 

Annual Worldwide Candle lighting

candlelightingceremony04tablepeople-copy

The second Sunday in December is an international day of remembrance for children that have died. Every year, in the middle of this crazy hectic season, I curse trying to get to this candle lighting event, I am running on empty and overload, a million lists rushing through my head…..and then I walk into the auditorium…..where I am greeted by hundreds of faces, many who are wearing their deceased child’s image on their t-shirt or clinging to a framed photo, as if it is a life raft…and I pause.

It is then, in this moment, that I know what is truly important. It is here, as I begin to hear one parent share the story of their child’s short journey on this earth and the big impact this small life had on so many, that I know what matters. In this room is full of sniffles, tears and broken hearts the traffic is forgotten, the holiday list vanish and all that remains is love and compassion.

The emotion is palpable and the love and connection these people feel for one another, although strangers, is real. For each of them has walked this path, a hellish journey where they never feel whole again because they have lost a child….their child.

Over 40 years ago, in 1969, a chaplain at the Warwickshire Hospital in England brought together two sets of grieving parents, realizing that the understanding and support they could give one another was greater than he could provide. At that kitchen table the Lawley family, Henderson family and chaplain, Simon Stephens created The Society of Compassionate Friends.

Today, The Compassionate Friends has over 700 chapters nationwide to offer friendship, understanding and hope to bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents and family members when a child has died. There are TCF chapters in more than 30 countries around the world, lead by volunteers who are bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents.

This Sunday, December 11th at 7pm, in time zones across the globe, the world’s largest mass candle lighting event will create a 24 hour wave of light in remembrance of a child gone too soon. I will be lighting a candle for so many, gone too soon and once again be grounded in what it is that truly matters…..love.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 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 to do when the dream is a reality

whenthedreamisreal

We all dream. Sometimes we don’t remember them, sometimes we wake up feeling like we are falling and sometimes we just dream big. But it is those moments when we are awake and realize that our dream is real and really happening…well there just are not words to describe.

That is exactly what happened last friday at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. The dream became real, not only for me, but for thousands of patients and families that will now have a place to go, to think, to pray, to meditate or just to be. Over twelve years ago we set out to build a non-profit to provide chaplains of ALL faiths 24 hours a day 7 days a week at CHLA, and we did it!

Then once the hospital had chaplains, we realized they didn’t have a chapel that could accommodate more than one person at a time. So a journey began to create a beautiful space where people of all faiths or none at all, could come and be. Patients, families, doctors, nurses, a place for all.

Last Friday morning, as I watched civic and religious leaders from all over Los Angeles, open and bless the new InterFaith Center at Childrens Hospital, I knew the dream was real. It took a village and years to make it happen, but it did. Standing there in that moment, my heart filled with pride in being a tiny part of this incredible legacy of compassion.

I was reminded that dreams do come true, especially when you dream big.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 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.

Dreaming Big

10 year founders SCG copy 2

I was raised by parents who told me I could do or be anything and somewhere along the line I began to believe them. “No” has never been a word in my vocabulary, for better or for worse.  Did I mention that being  stubborn is also part of the equation? The result of this is being a bit of big dreamer.

Over a decade ago, a friend reached out and asked a group of us girls for help. He was the one of two chaplains at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He shared his vision for help, support, families having chaplains of all faiths before surgeries, end of life, celebrations and simply someone trained to listen and provide faith and hope. It was a tall order for a group of women who had never started a non-profit before but a perfect big dream.

Within a year of the launch of The Spiritual Care Guild we had chaplains 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But big dreamers don’t stop at that, they keep going because once one dream is achieved, its time to make the dream bigger. Each year the Spiritual Care Department grew as did its integral role in the hospital, with staff and patient families.

Like all good dreams, they can’t come to an end. Then five years ago, the dream expanded to having a chapel that would accommodate people of all faiths, families, patients, staff and give them a place to pray, to think, to hope and to dream. This was the biggest dream of all, especially in a hospital where real estate is reserved for medicine and all that goes with providing excellent health care to tiny patients.

However, last week that dream became a reality. I stood in the physical space, now a construction site, that will become the new Interfaith Center at CHLA. It was such an amazing moment to see what happens when people come together with a common goal, a big dream and a huge team effort. Dreams do come true and the bigger the dream the better!

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2015 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 Hearts

 happy_hearts_fund_pic_petra_nemcova

Today, I was part of an upcoming 10 year anniversary photo shoot for The Spiritual Care Guild. Not by coincidence, my sister sent along info on another non-profit that is also celebrating its 10 year anniversary, The Happy Hearts Fund. While, its founder is a Sports Illustrated swim-suit model, who is no stranger to photo shoots….she is someone who took her tragedy and made something so inspirational… that I had to share.

Her name is Petra Nemcova and she was in Thailand when the Indian Ocean Tsunami struck on December 26, 2004. After recovering from her injuries, she returned to Thailand to see how to be of the best help. When she witnessed families without homes, children without parents, and entire communities swept away, she knew she had to act. Petra was most affected by the children who were not getting any help five months after the disaster.

So in 2005 Petra  was determined to restore hope and opportunity to the children affected by the Tsunami with a vision to rebuild schools and children’s’ lives following natural disasters. It was the first time she experienced the “gap period” which occurs after first response and before governments step in after a natural disaster. For this reason Happy Hearts Fund concentrated its mission in the gap period by building “Happy Self Sustaining Schools.”

 

Happy Hearts Fund was structured so all administrative costs would be underwritten, thereby ensuring 100 percent of all donations received would be directed to children’s programming. Since inception, Happy Hearts Fund has worked in a total of 14 countries and is currently active in six countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Haiti. They have built or re-built 85 schools and kindergartens. Since their inception The Happy Hearts Fund has benefited more than 46,000 children and 490,000 community members.

Now, that is something that makes this heart very happy!

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.

Finding the voice

Find-Your-Voice

It is almost impossible to believe that this is my 400th post! I sat down two and a half years ago to share stories of amazing people who make our world better every day through their philanthropy. In the process, I think I found myself and more importantly my voice.

I remember the first day, the first post… trying to find that voice, my voice, my tone, my soul to share. I was excited, scared and determined. It was a little bit like starting The Spiritual Care Guild, our motto at SCG was if we could just impact “one spirit, one soul, one child at a time” we would be a success. I think I approached Charity Matters the same way. If just one person was inspired or touched or moved to action than my time was well spent. Sometimes low expectations are easier….

Here we are 400 posts later, wonderful new friends, old friends, friends of friends all of who feed and inspire my voice. If there is one gift I have become abundantly aware in these last few years it is that…the power of  voice. We all have one and they are all equal…..when was the last time you used your voice for something you care about?

I know….trust me…we are all tired. We are. We do so much, our plates are so full and sometimes it is just more energy than we have to speak up. But what happens when we don’t? Where does our power go? You don’t have to be Erin Brockovitch or Martin Luther King but if something is happening in your community, your school, your church, your Girl Scout troop….whatever it is, you have a voice. Use it.

So think about using that beautiful gift you were given. The energy you put out will come back, it is a magical renewable source. Thank you for being here and listening to mine. There are not words to express my gratitude for all you have done to enrich my life…..and most importantly to help me find myself and my voice.

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.

Keeping the Dream Alive

Father JohnAs you already know, I spend a lot of time talking about ways to use your gifts to make others’ lives better.  What is a little less comfortable is talking about my own time and what gifts I use to share with others. So today, I thought I would let you know that I do practice what I preach, or at least try my best….

For the past few months I have been working on a new video for the non-profit, Spiritual Care Guild, which ten of us founded a decade ago, to provide chaplains at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. As a story-teller (I am Irish after all) telling the story of our non-profit was challenging, fun and at the end rewarding. So please, take a look….

When we began our group, the first benefit was Field of Dreams, an outdoor movie night set on a baseball field. Our hope was to “build it and they would come.” A decade later, I am so proud to say they did. Ten years ago, we could never have imagined all this group has accomplished. Today, our dream continues as we continue to support and provide chaplains to thousands of families and children at CHLA.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2013 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.

 

 

 

Looking at the man in the mirror

looking at the girl in the mirrorOk, I’m looking at the woman in the mirror and having a moment. No, it’s not about how I look, but rather the reflection of my life and my work.  Volunteer work that is. Maybe its the pending birthday that has me connecting the dots. The epiphany is that wherever I am in my life is a reflection of where I give my time.  As my life changes and priorities shift, so do my causes.

I suppose most of you already figured this out but when I look back it all sort of starts to make sense. I began volunteering in 6th for the local boys and girls club and I was the same age as the kids in the program. What I had to offer then, I’m not really sure but I volunteered hundreds of hours all through middle school.

By high school, I was volunteering at a local thrift shop. Now that I think about it, shopping was pretty high on the list back then. By college, I worked with my sorority volunteering for a variety of projects involving education, as I struggled to focus on my own.

The early years of my career in sales and marketing brought a lot of travel and sadly little giving of time but more resources. Those were the days…. double incomes, no kids.

Once my sons arrived and the career took a back seat, I found a drive to help build a local children’s’ museum, which focused on children….surprise as the same age as mine. My parents car accident, mother’s death and father’s time in a coma lead me to hospitals and the need one has for faith in the face of adversity. The result was a collaborative effort and the formation of the non-profit, Spiritual Care Guild at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

A decade of working to provide Chaplains, that care for young families and children, while leaving my own family, felt odd but weirdly right. Which brings me back to the mirror and this moment. I just returned home from board meetings for two amazing high schools (neither which my children attend). The light bulb went off, while my work at these schools does not help my children, it serves children the same ages as my own.  Once again a perfect reflection of where I am in my life.

It makes me wonder, what causes are next? I know I’m not ready to help the elderly just yet. Wondering what does your mirror say about you?

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 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.

 

In remembrance

candle-light1The second sunday in December is an international day of remembrance for children who have died.  All around the globe families, parents, siblings and friends light candles in memory of a child who has passed away. This year’s candle lighting came a week too early.

As I write this, tears stream down my face and my heart breaks for all of those families in Connecticut who lost their beloved children last friday.  Those 12 beautiful girls and 8 little boys are God’s newest angels. There really are not words.

Nine years ago when we started the Spiritual Care Guild at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, the department head asked us if we could provide a candle lighting ceremony for the parents at CHLA.  And so we did.

Hundreds of parents arrived with their deceased child’s picture in a frame or printed on their shirts, they enter an auditorium where other grieving parents share their story. Meanwhile the siblings, write love letters to their deceased brother or sister on cut out dragonflies. When the parents leave the auditorium they are given a candle that is lit and they walk outside under a beautiful tree filled with the dragon-fly love letters. The parents will not leave until their candle has gone out.

Some talk to other parents, some cry, some sit in silence but the power of unity and the comfort of the shared loss is palpable. It is here where the tiniest piece of healing begins. Nine years later we still provide this ceremony and many families come back year after year to remember their beloved child.

Every year I leave that ceremony with a renewed sense of purpose, gratitude for my own children and compassion for these families. So this holiday season, when you light a candle, think of these precious 20 children…. our unity and love will overcome.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2012 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.

Ten Years later

Today is the ten-year anniversary of my mom’s death. I think Dr. Phil calls it one of the 5 defining moments in your life, I think this was my number 1 moment. My mother was  hit by a bus, yes I know it’s an expression that doesn’t really happen but in her case it did. She was 60 years old, celebrating my dad’s birthday with all of their dear friends and  loving life when this happened not only to us but to 3 other families as well.

A decade later and I still miss her everyday, think about picking up the phone to give her a call. I wish she was here, to see the men her grandsons are becoming. Some days it feels like yesterday and others seem so much longer, since I received that fateful call in the middle of the night.

The tears stopped long ago but that void is always there.  I think the magic and irony of loss is that with it comes growth. There isn’t a forest fire with out new fertile soil and a new forest, an earthquake without rebuilding, a death without a rebirth.

My mother’s death began my rebirth. I really do appreciate moments that before, went by unnoticed. I spend my time and try to use it as the gift that it is. I am driven to make a difference and feel she is propelling me to do so. My joy comes from my children and truly by helping others. This is my rebirth.

It began a year after my mother’s death when a friend asked me to come down to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. My friend John, was a hospital chaplain, for a hospital that had 300,000 patients come through its doors with only 2 chaplains, no one at night and no one on weekends. He asked for help from 10 of us and I knew it was something I had to do. In that hallway at CHLA almost 10 years ago we founded The Spiritual Care Guild, a non-profit that provides non-denominational chaplains at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

Today, we have chaplains 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Founding Spiritual Care Guild  was my rebirth. Seeing the thousands of families that have chaplains by their children’s bedside has brought purpose to my mother’s death and giving has brought more joy than receiving ever could.

I know each week I tell the stories of people who started these non-profits but what I haven’t shared with you is that their story is mine as well. I too am one of these people.  This is not my pulpit but simply my voice. Giving, service and charity have healed me in unexpected and imaginable ways.  I share this in hopes it might do the same for you or someone you love.

I still miss my mom but know that wherever she is, she’s smiling.

This is why Charity Matters so much to me.   

Copyright © 2012 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 Have a Dream

Since this week was Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday I thought it only fitting to share with you my “I have dream” post.

I have always been labeled a big dreamer and as the years roll by, it is a label that I am increasingly proud of.  My dream is to continue to share with you inspiring stories of people that have taken their tragedy and turned into something much bigger. In many cases, it is the story of the small non-profit that began from someone’s pain.

I am familiar with this story and this journey because it it also my own. When life hands you a tragedy you are given a choice, to let it destroy you or to define you. I hope my life is used doing the latter. In these moments you realize just how little time it is that you have on this planet to really make a difference. As Dr. King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Silent is not my strong suit. There is much that matters. There is much to do.  The non-profit that sprouted from my tragedy (created with an incredible group of people) is called The Spiritual Care Guild at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Being a part of building a non-profit and being able to provide chaplains to children and families at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles has been a defining moment and a dream that has become a reality.

Like all big dreamers, somehow the dreams become bigger. That big dream is to help to give a voice to these stories with Charity Matters.  There are 1.7 million non-profits in the United States and many of them started from a tragedy, as mine did. These stories need to be told.

Dr. King used his voice to spread a message of hope. It is my dream to use my voice to continue to spread the message of these non-profits and the bigger message that Charity Matters. I think its a dream that Dr. King would approve.

Copyright © 2012 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.