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National Volunteer Week

“A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens – citizens in the fullest sense; partners in civilization.”
President George H.W. Bush
Founder, Points of Light

Its back and it here! No, not taxes, something much better…National Volunteer Week! Who knew that this week is National Volunteer week? In case you missed the memo from the White House, or your local news didn’t deem it important enough to cover, consider yourself informed…or at least you will be, by the end of this.

National Volunteer Week, a program of Points of Light  was established in 1974 and has grown each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled for the week. The week is all about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about showing that by working together, we can do anything. National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging people to be at the center of social change – discovering and  demonstrating their power to make a difference.

If you don’t know where to start, take a peak at one of my favorite sites, Volunteer Match.org. You just type in your zip code, what you love to do and it will match with an organization that can use your help, in your community. You can also go to Project giving Kids if you are looking for opportunities for you and your children to volunteer together. In addition, this Sunday, is Earth Day so maybe you can do an environmental volunteer project next weekend, the opportunities are endless.

Think of National Volunteer Week as an opportunity to shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve. Each year twenty-five percent of Americans volunteer, which is 62.8 million people! They average about 32 hours per per person, per year according to the Corporation for National Community Service, which comes to 7.9 billion hours of service or $184 billion dollars. 

I hope this week finds you inspired to be an active part in a cause you care about, in your community, helping a neighbor or meeting new friends volunteering. It is people like you, the power of volunteers who build stronger communities and a better world for us all.

Happy Volunteering!

 

charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2018 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Warrior of The Light

First, I wanted to say welcome back to all our email subscribers, we have missed you! Thank you for being patient, as they say good things are worth waiting for. While I wish I had an incredible interview lined up for you today, I am still taking some much needed vacation time to decompress from my day job of running a nonprofit but promise to be ready to roll next week!

Spending a few days in the desert to relax, unplug and rejuvenate. I don’t think I realized how tired I was until I stopped for a moment to take a pause. As I mentioned on Tuesday, I started reading an incredible book  by one of my favorite author’s, Paul Coehlo. The book is called Warrior of The Light: A Manual. I’m not sure if you would call it a how to guide to life but I can’t put it down.

In the book he discusses our call to be Warriors of the Light for ourselves and to others. To follow our path, our dreams, to listen to our souls and to be relentless in living our purpose. One of the thousands of messages that resonated and needed to be shared was this, ““The Warrior, however, transforms his thinking into action. Sometimes he chooses the wrong goal and pays the price for his mistake without complaint. At others, he swerves from the path and wastes a great deal of time only to end up back where he started. But the Warrior never allows himself to be discouraged.”

As I have been slow this week and in a self reflection mode, I thought this message was important for all of us to hear. Sometimes, we work so hard at something and it doesn’t go the way we expected but it is in persevering that we prevail. Something that I think we occasionally need to hear, keep dreaming, keep doing and keep moving forward on our paths.

So as I recharge, rest and contemplate next steps, I wish you a fantastic weekend and looking forward to moving forward with each of you next week!

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.

Today is the International Day of Happiness

“happiness is not something ready made. it comes from your own actions.”

Dalai Lama

Are you happy? Well if not, you might want to rethink that thought because today is the International Day of Happiness. A holiday we all should be celebrating. If this is the first time you have heard of the holiday, you probably are not alone and not to worry I don’t think Hallmark has created cards for it just yet. It seems that in 2012 the United Nations had an assembly on happiness and made happiness a resolution, recognizing happiness as a fundamental goal of the UN. In 2012, the United Nations deemed that March 20th would be the International Day of Happiness and the first year it was celebrated was 2013.

This international day is coordinated by the nonprofit, Action for Happiness, which is a nonprofit movement of people from over a 160 countries and growing. Their goal is to commit to building a happier and more caring society, where people care less about what they can get for themselves and more about the happiness of others. The Dalai Lama is one of the organizations main supporters.

Just in case you need a little help to get in the mood, maybe Pharrell Williams can help you out.

So today, smile, eat healthy, exercise, be grateful, give back, think positively, spend time with friends and family, spend time alone, be mindful, dream, listen to music, say thank you and mean it, compete, be charitable and most of all do what makes you happy.

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.

Dollies Making a Difference

Do you remember that childhood toy that you treasured and cherished? A stuffed animal or doll that you carried everywhere, that made you feel safe and loved? I think most of us can conjure up an image of that one special toy we loved as a child and more importantly how it made us feel. So, a few weeks ago when a mutual friend told me about the work that Dollies Making A Difference was doing, I knew I needed to find out more about the inspiration behind this amazing and very special organization.

Earlier this week I had a fantastic call with Co-Founder, Cindy Simon, who told me the heart warming story of this amazing organization that simply believes that to give is to receive.

Charity Matters: When and how did you start Dollies Making a Difference?

Cindy Simon: In 2010, I was back east and had just read an article about a group of women who had gotten together to sew some dolls for the children suffering from the earthquake in Haiti. These east coast women were inspired by Dianne Sawyer’s coverage of the earthquake and knew the moment  they saw Dianne Sawyer pull a doll from a pile of rubble and say, “Look some little girl has lost her dollie.” that they needed to act.

The article about these women inspired me to act. I called them up, went over to see what they were doing, learned their process and said I wanted to help. When I got back home to Los Angeles, I called some friends to ask them to help me make 500 dolls for the children of Haiti. My dear friend, and non-profit co-founder, Dorothy Miyake, was the first to help. She had a large group of friends that were crafty and we decided to meet every Wednesday in my dinning room to make these dolls.

Charity Matters: What was your goal when you started Dollies Making a Difference?

Cindy Simon: The mission was simply to help the boys and girls in Haiti by providing homemade dolls and teddy bears but we quickly learned that what we were doing was not about a doll and was so much more. Our mission is that to give is to receive and we quickly learned that with the Three Cs:

Community, the group of women who sit around my dinning room table every Wednesday for over a decade sharing, caring for one another. We have gone thru  health issues, death, birth and life together. We are a community.

Connection, we don’t send our dolls and teddy bears through huge organizations. We find Ambassadors that can be people we know or small nonprofit or church organizations. We request that each of our handmade toys is delivered by hand from an Ambassador to a child and that the human connection is what makes the experience special for both the child and the person delivering the dolls.

Comfort, is what the child receives from having and holding their own doll or teddy bear.

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

Cindy Simon: We know we have made a difference when we make a child smile, when the person who delivers the doll is moved and this had made a difference for all of us making these dolls.

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work 10 years later?

Cindy Simon: This work has given me a passion, a purpose, I feel worthy and relevant. It is fun to be connected to wide variety of people and organizations around the world. More than that it renews my faith that there are a lot of good people in our world who are helping people they will never know.

Charity Matters: Tell us about your success and impact?

Cindy Simon: What started out as a small project has turned into over 13,000 hand-made dolls and teddy bears being hand delivered to over 300 organizations around the globe. In addition, we have given over $107,000 away to other nonprofits in grants with the funds we raise. 

Charity Matters: What life lessons have you learned from this experience?

Cindy Simon: Everyday I am reminded of how many good people and organizations are out there in the world. I think I underestimated the power of community and what goes on with the connection and community we have in making the dolls, it is the sharing that just happens.

This journey has made me more compassionate to all the needs out there. I have learned that we can all be of help to others and especially to those who we will never meet.

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.

Well Hello February!

“In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other.”

Linda Ellerbee

Well hello February! I must admit with 80 degree days in LA, I dream of seasons and winter ….some days. January for me was all about goals, dreams, planning ahead and thinking about what the year will bring. February is about rolling up our sleeves and putting the plan in motion, even if it is just the tiniest of steps.

More than that, February is a month about love. This month my hope is to introduce you to a few new nonprofit founders that are all about heart. In full disclosure, my day job as a nonprofit Executive Director, is in full swing, and juggle as I may, I have to admit that making everything happen has been a bit daunting lately.  I honestly believe that I can not talk about giving and philanthropy every week unless I walk the walk, which I do with a huge smile on my face.

However, running a nonprofit, serving on multiple nonprofit boards and sharing the stories of my nonprofit heroes can often times be a serious balancing act. So I am going to thank you in advance for being patient with me this month as I try to make it all happen. This Friday, I will have a chance to meet former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn at an event here in LA.  So stay tuned for more about this amazing humanitarian next week.

I hope this weekend brings your team a Super Bowl victory and that this month gets you thinking about how you can achieve your dreams. Dreaming big is one of my mantras and if you are not yet doing it, maybe February is the month to try? Lastly, if I don’t say it enough, know that I love you all for reading, sharing this work and believing in goodness. After all, we are all here to serve and love one another and not just in February.

 

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 Happiness Projects

A few years back there was a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin that spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list. The author had an epiphany that she wasn’t happy and didn’t spend enough time doing things that brought her joy. The result was a year long journey exploring her happiness and a bestselling book on the topic.

I have been following an amazing group on Instagram called by the same name but in no relation to the book. A few times a week I come across beautiful images of happy people doing service projects from feeding the homeless on skid row in Los Angeles, bringing brown bag lunches, visiting senior homes with flowers repurposed from other events (even plucked from Rose Parade floats) and the list goes on. So finally, my curiosity got the best of me and I reached out to find out who was behind The Happiness Projects?

The answer, a joy filled young woman named Ivy Luong, whose passion is to bring happiness to others. An event planner by day and philanthropist in every spare moment in between. I talked to Ivy earlier this week about what inspires someone with a full-time job, a full life and tons of friends to create a group that serves others? I think you will find her answers as inspiring as I did.

Charity Matters: What inspired you to start The Happiness Projects?

Ivy Luong: I have always felt grateful for all that I have. I am a first generation American and have watched my parents work so hard for our family. I know that there are so many people in need. Last January, I reached out to a bunch of my friends to see if they wanted to volunteer. I made it easy, fun and we called it The Happiness Project. I never thought a year later what we would accomplish.

Charity Matters: So what has your impact been in just 365 days?

Ivy Luong: We didn’t set out with a goal, we simply wanted to show people (the homeless, the elderly) that someone cares. We just wanted to help empower as many people as possible. I reached out to a few friends and a few nonprofits that I cared about and before I knew it there were more friends and more causes. Last year we completed 18 projects, had over 115 volunteers and delivered happiness to 1, 666 people.

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work and when do you know you have made a difference?

Ivy Luong: All the people I meet. Bringing strangers together to do good. The interaction from the people we serve. Our lunch bag project on Skid Row, for example, when you feed someone who hasn’t eaten in days and they smile at you when you give them food. It not only makes you realize that their hurdles in life are bigger than your own but more than that it compels you to move forward to the next project.

Knowing that if I can help just one person, that’s when I know I have made a difference.

Charity Matters: What life lesson have you learned from The Happiness Projects? And how has this year of service changed you?

Ivy Luong: I have learned big lessons. First, is that you never know what someone is going through . More than that, give back whenever you can. Connecting people, opportunities and causes  has been one of the greatest experiences, not only for me but for everyone involved.  Just knowing you have helped one person let alone hundreds is what The Happiness Projects is all about.

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 weekend full of service

I hope you all had a great holiday weekend. The weather in LA was perfection and it was a great weekend to get out and come together in our communities. For me, Martin Luther King weekend ended up being a bit of a full circle moment. Years ago when my sons were toddlers I was extremely involved with a little children’s museum called Kidspace in Pasadena. At the time it was run out of an old school and was a homegrown space for young moms and children to come together to play and learn.

I met many of my closest mom friends at Kidspace, chaired their Halloween festival, benefit and advocated for the building of a then new museum near the Rose Bowl. I was passionate about supporting something that had given  so much to my sons. This past weekend, almost twenty years later I was asked to come to Kidspace in conjunction with Project Giving Kids to celebrate the weekend of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

It was so much fun working with young families and planting the seeds of compassion in children. We partnered with three different nonprofits (St. Vincent de Paul with Meals on Wheels, a local animal shelter and Reading Partners) and did simple craft projects such as creating Valentines Day Cards for homebound seniors, cat toys and book marks.

An unexpected treat was getting on the local KTLA news to share all of the wonderful work that we were doing.

While the weekend was full, there truly was nothing greater than seeing children understand the power they had to make someone happy and give of themselves…and to see parents understand the power of compassion and kindness in their children.

As Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?” If the work that was done at Kidspace this weekend was any indicator the world is going to be just fine!

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 day of service and rememberance

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing in service for others?”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK day 2016

 

On Monday, we will honor and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A visionary, man of peace and an inspiration. It is only fitting that this great man is honored with a national day of service. Martin Luther King Day, the holiday, is often referred to as a day “on” rather than a day off.  Monday will be a day where millions of Americans will come together to honor his legacy by serving others.

Many will serve in their communities, churches or schools and for those who do not know where to begin, there are a number of places to start. For young families you can go to Project Giving Kids to find age appropriate volunteer opportunities. Another terrific starting point if you don’t have a plan is to take a look at Volunteer match this weekend.

Think of Volunteer Match as the eHarmony for nonprofits connecting you to a cause and volunteer opportunity that matches your passion, whether it is animals, the environment, education, you name it….there are thousands of service opportunities by location to choose from.

So, plan on making Monday a “day on” to honor this remarkable man through serving others. I’m looking forward to sharing with you next week how I will be honoring Dr. King. In the meantime,  ask yourself, “What are you doing in service for others?”

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2018 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Happy New Years 2018

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

T.S. Eliot

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

Dear 2017,

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

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

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

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

Charity Matters.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Looking back, a year in review

As we begin to wrap up the year and look back at what we accomplished in 2017, I am always amazed by the incredible nonprofit founders we met this year. Their hardships, determination and passion to turn their journey into an organization that gives to others…. simply an endless source of inspiration.

So before we look ahead, lets take a moment to recall some of these extraordinary people we talked to in 2017:

Katie Quintas with Here to Serve showed us that in the face of adversity of having a husband and a son with cancer, she would create an organization to serve families whose children have cancer. Katie combines technology , her ability to connect and compassion to help families with items from food, to groceries to medical expenses.

Francie Paul with Saving Tiny Hearts, took her experience having a newborn with congenital heart disease to create an organization that funds research to save these tiny babies born with congenital heart disease. One of the loveliest humans with the biggest hearts I have ever spoken too.

Rebecca Pontius of the Do Good Bus. Rebecca and her friends decided that doing good together is fun and makes the world better, so she created a nonprofit that brings groups of people together to volunteer and do good. A fun way to serve, connect and make a difference.

Andy Goodman of the The Goodman Center shared how to use the power of storytelling as a tool to impact the world.

Two amazing women, Yasmine Johnson and Jules Leyser of Alliance of Moms created an organization to break the intergenerational cycle of teen mothers in foster care and inspired me with their incredible organization. These two women are beautiful inside and out and ones to watch for sure!

Ford and Heidi Johnson, Jennifer Hull, daughter Josie and Sienna Dancsecs

Jennifer Hull and daughter Josie, founders of Once Upon a Room, transform hospital rooms for the sickest children, think Extreme Home makeovers on hospital rooms. Their story is beyond inspirational and one for all to see.

Hand to Hold‘s Kelli Kelly inspired us all with her story of being the mother of a premature baby and the struggles that ensued. The result is her incredible organization that supports families through this challenging time. A beautiful story of love and compassion.

Hope and Comfort‘s Jeff Feingold’s amazing story of taking his child’s birthday party and turning it into a nonprofit that provides soap, toiletries along with  Hope and Comfort to thousands of children in the Boston area.

Annie Cannons The incredible story of Laura Hackney and Jessica Hubley’s remarkable adventure to end human trafficking in the United States. A nonprofit that not only teaches women how to write computer code but gives them skills, an education, hope and the ability to break the cycle and create change for others. Two of the most inspiring women and the most brilliant organization that is approaching a horrific topic in a fresh and empowering way.

JoAnn Thrailkill of Pablove showed us that even when your loss is overwhelming, there is love and hope. JoAnn shared the tragic story of losing her son, Pablo and creating a lasting legacy of hope for children with cancer. JoAnn’s  words haunt me, “The experience of starting Pablove has allowed me to always see the light. I am now reminded daily of the love that surrounded me during one of the most difficult times in my life.”

It is people like JoAnn and all the other incredible people we met this year that will inspire me moving forward into 2018. The sources of inspiration are endless, the people awe-inspiring and there are so many others we met this year that I hated not including. My dream for the New Year is to share as many of these heroes as possible with the world. It is obvious to me that we simply need more heroes.  They are all right here, every week, sharing their challenges, journey, humanity and hope for us all. Thank you for subscribing via email to a little soul and inspiration this year, for liking our Facebook page, commenting or sharing a post. It takes a village to spread the word of light, hope, goodness and charity.

Wishing each of you blessings in the New Year filled with love, gratitude and kindness to all.

Charity Matters.

 

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

Wreaths Across America

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFPN (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi)

Apologies for the delayed post this week but Christmas and a cold set me back a bit. As usual things happen for a reason because last night as I watched the evening news I came across this beautiful story, that was more than worth a share.

The story is about a couple, Morrill and Karen Worcester from Maine, who own a Christmas wreath business. In 1992, their Worcester Wreath Company found that they had an 5,000 extra wreaths that year. Morrill remembered a childhood visit to Arlington National Cemetery and had always believed that his good fortune and success was in large part due to the values of this country and the Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. This visit was the inspiration for his idea of what to do with the extra wreaths.

Merrill wanted to place a wreath on every grave site at Arlington National Cemetery. So he reached out to his Senator to make arrangements to place the wreaths at Arlington in an older section of the cemetery. This went on for a number of years until in 2005, when the image above of the snow-covered wreaths  went viral and suddenly thousands of people wanted to help. In 2007, Wreaths Across America received their nonprofit status.

In December 2014, Wreaths Across America achieved its goal of placing 226, 525 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. Earlier this week on December 16th, close to one million wreaths were laid at 1,000 locations across the United States and beyond. From Bunker Hill, to Valley Forge and to the September 11th site, thousands of fundraising groups, wreath makes, truckers, corporate sponsors  and volunteers contributed  to make this possible.

The Worcester’s hope is that their gesture will inspire us all to remember our fallen veterans, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom.

Charity Matters.

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

Pablove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charity Matters: Where did you start?

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

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

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

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

Charity Matters: Tell us the success you have had?

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

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

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

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

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

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Charitable children, it’s never too late to start

I am always so amazed that is the same time each year that I find people asking me for suggestions for raising philanthropic children. As a result, I share this post once again as refresher for all, holidays or not.

When my sons were younger I wondered if they were really understanding what we were doing as a family for others. We wanted to raise compassionate and charitable children, good humans. While my sons are far from the poster children for philanthropy, they certainly do a lot to help others. I am proud that each of them has found different ways to give back and share the gifts that they have been given. My oldest has a passion for serving inner city children. His younger brother, has recently gotten behind Movember and men’s health through his fraternity. His house is one of the top Greek organizations in the country for fundraising this year. The youngest, at 16, has recently gotten involved with a nonprofit, Once Upon a Room, that does hospital room makeovers for very sick patients.

Each year at Thanksgiving, we sit down as a family and decide what our family will do this season to help others. We have adopted soldiers for a year, adopted families over the holidays that could not have Christmas, we have wrapped gifts at local Childrens’ Hospitals and voted on which non-profits we want to support. Each person trying to convince the others why their cause is most worthy.

The reality is that there is no simple answer to this question and that raising charitable children is an ongoing process. Families now have resources such as the nonprofit Project Giving Kids, which cultivates volunteer opportunities for young children and families. I read an article recently that said role modeling philanthropy is simply not enough. The article referenced a new study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. The director, Debra Mesch, said “the research showed that talking to children about giving increased by 20 percent the likelihood that children would give.”

Here are a few tips to remember as we approach the season of giving:

Six Tips for Raising charitable children:

  1. Start early, as early as 4 or 5 years old. Giving becomes a habit.
  2. Talk to your children about what causes interest them and bring causes to their attention.
  3. Be intentional by involving your children in your own charity endeavors.
  4. Use online tools to research organizations to involve your children
  5. Be consistent. Make charity a part of your traditions, the holidays and birthdays.
  6. Emphasize the joy because giving feels great.

Benefits of raising charitable children:

  1. Opens children’s eyes to the fact that others are not as fortunate as they are
  2. Develops empathetic thinking
  3. Fosters an appreciation for what they have
  4. Enhances self-esteem
  5. Correlates to improved performance in school

While this topic is relevant for the holidays, it is important to remember that giving does not just happen once a year. Teaching the gifts you receive from giving should be a part of the year, not simply the season. Once your children feel how great it is to give, their lives will forever be altered in wonderful ways.

Charity Matters.

 

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Giving

“For it is in giving we receive.”

St. Francis of Assisi

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

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

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

Charity Matters.

 

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