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Grateful, just grateful

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; but it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

It’s here. There is no avoiding it, this is it. Today is the last day before they arrive….no not the in-laws or the kids home from college but the holidays. Today is the last day before the email box is bombarded with holiday sales and Black Friday deals. The last day before people start talking about holiday cards or even worse before they begin arriving. This is it. The calm before the storm. Right now, this moment, it is our gift.

So before it happens I am taking a moment, a breath, a pause to simply count my blessings. A moment to be grateful for the three crazy boys who will be home raiding my refrigerator any time. Grateful for the fact I have a refrigerator stocked with food when so many will go without.  Grateful for the all the friends that will pop by this weekend for football and chili, when there are so many who are alone. Grateful for my crazy wonderful family who fills my life with life, chaos, drama, humor and so much love, when there are so many with broken hearts and homes. Grateful for my health and the health of those I love, knowing so many will spend the holidays in the hospital. Grateful for work I love and for all of those who serve others. Grateful for being safe, happy and healthy and grateful for being mindful that no matter what I have, someone else has less.

They are coming whether we are ready or not. So when it gets scary, stressful, overwhelming, one thing too much, just stop and think about what you are grateful for. I know your list is long and your heart is full. It is not joy that makes us grateful but gratitude that makes us joyful.

Blessings to you and yours for a joyous Thanksgiving.

With gratitude,

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.

A grateful heart: Alliance of Moms

As this week of gratitude begins, I am thankful for so many people, opportunities and moments that make my life and heart full. There is a saying, “it is not joy that makes us grateful but rather it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” In meeting and working with so many nonprofit founders over the years, I have discovered that people either start nonprofits because something happened to them that they want to prevent from happening to someone else or they begin their organization because of gratitude.

This weekend I spent time with the most amazing women, the founders of Alliance of Moms, who are just that….grateful. Women whose hearts are full with gratitude who  wanted to inspire and help other young mothers. You may remember the interview with Yasmine Delawari Johnson and Jules Leyser a few months back about their incredible organization whose mission is to break the inter-generational cycle of babies born to teens in foster care.

In 2012, Yasmine and Jules were both pregnant, along with three other girlfriends (Danika Charity, Emily Lynch and Kelly Zajfen) all at the same time. For some it was their first child, for others their second or third but the girlfriends all experienced  a profound change in becoming mothers. Together they were determined to use that shift in each of them to help other mothers, the most at risk, those in the foster care system.

Jules told me back in May,”My mother grew up in foster care and was a teen parent at 17. I understood the need to break the cycle, 66% of babies born into foster care become teen moms. I also understood that my child had won a lottery that he didn’t even knew he entered, just by luck. We needed to help support all mothers.” 

This past Saturday was the organizations fourth annual Raising Baby event where over 100 underserved youth in foster care and their children came for a day of fun and educational parenting workshopsThese young mothers in foster care engaged with parenting experts and learned practical tips about how to help develop their babies brains during the critical first three years of life. While the parents were learning, Alliance of Mom member volunteers provided childcare for their children.

Yasmine said,”While we set out to serve these young women in foster care, our members were also impacted by serving. The women we serve have changed all of our lives for the better because regardless of your circumstances, we all walk away stronger knowing that we all struggle as mothers.”

It was a day of fun, giving, education, and above all gratitude. These young mothers in foster care were grateful for the support, the education and the childcare. More than that, it was a day of women and community coming together to support one another. The full hearts and gratitude were abundant.

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.

AnnieCannons

Have you ever heard of Annie Cannon? She was a pioneer, who worked at the Harvard Observatory in the early 20th century. Annie Cannon and a group of women discovered the very categories that stars fall into. If ever there was a more perfect name for an organization about two stars who are truly pioneers, it is Laura Hackney and Jessica Hubley’s nonprofit organization Annie Cannons.

Truly one of the most innovate organizations tackling one of the most horrific problems, human trafficking or slavery. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally. Sixty-eight percent are trapped in forced labor, twenty-six percent are children and over fifty percent are women and girls. According to the nonprofit organization Polaris there were over 8,000 reported cases in the United States in 2016. I truly had no idea and was shocked by these statistics.

What was even more stunning was two Stanford graduates (one a Masters from Stanford and the other Stanford Law) who were determined to find a solution to empower these victims by teaching them skills, earning income and building solutions to empower them to break the cycle. Last week I had one of the most incredible conversations, I have ever had…. with Co-Founder Jessica Hubley.

Charity Matters: What is the back story to Annie Cannons, your nonprofit is pretty unique?

Jessica Hubley: Laura was the manager of the Program on Human Rights on Stanford and had worked as a Senior Research Associate for Stanford’s Anti-Trafficking Project. I was an attorney, we had both gone to Stanford and in September 2013, I was writing a nonfiction book about human trafficking. Laura was going to Myanmar for work and asked if I wanted to come along. We met and interviewed nine people who were victims of human trafficking and they all said the same thing. That they were desperate for work, they were poor, vulnerable and trusted someone.

This was shocking to me, but not to Laura who had been in this space for much longer. I asked Laura, “What if we got these people a job?” The answer wasn’t as simple, but we knew that if we could find away to address the financial piece we might be able to impact change.

When we came home, I was a successful attorney working with digital media companies in the technology industry. I was seeing so many people in software development making $400 an hour writing code and couldn’t help but wonder what if we taught these women victims of human trafficking how to do this?

Charity Matters: What did you do then? 

Jessica Hubley: First we spent an enormous amount of time talking to people who ran nonprofits, shelters here in the Bay Area that housed women who were victims of human trafficking, we spoke to Fortune 500 companies and gathered a lot of information.

 We are self-proclaimed huge geeks. That being said, we taught ourselves to write code. Laura taught herself, then she taught me, we began essentially putting a school together for these women and kept refining our curriculum. We knew the market and need for coders and believed that these women who had escaped unimaginable past had what it took. They were good problem solvers, they were survivors, hard workers and they had grit. It turns out that is exactly what it takes to  be a perfect coder.

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work? You are running a nonprofit and a school, essentially and then you are  helping these women get jobs writing code? It is an enormous undertaking, how do you do it?

Jessica Hubley: I think there are three things. One, I still feel I have something to prove to the world. Two, we built the kind of work place that we both always dreamed of that is supportive and collaborative, where we all learn from one another. Lastly, Laura understands and having a partner to lift me up ….and we keep each other going.

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

Jessica Hubley: When I see one of our students thriving and being successful. When I receive a card or note saying you changed my life and my children’s’ lives. When our customers love their apps and websites and when we have found hidden figures in the world that no one is looking at and have given them the economic power to break the cycle of human trafficking. We have helped people build solutions.

Charity Matters: What have you learned from this experience?

Jessica Hubley: I have learned that most people are good but more than that, I have learned that what really matters is the mark we leave on the world.

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.

Planting the seeds of compassion in our children….

This past weekend I was in San Francisco working with the nonprofit  Project Giving Kids, an amazing organization that helps families connect with  incredible philanthropic opportunities. Their motto is “connecting kids to causes” with the hopes of planting the seeds of compassion in our children. Honestly, it was the perfect way to kick off the season of giving and to celebrate tomorrow’s National Philanthropy Day.

I think so often when we hear the word philanthropy we think of fancy parties, old school wealth and privilege, when in reality philanthropy literally means the love of humankind. In 1986, Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 15th as National Philanthropy Day to bring the world together to recognize and celebrate the work that volunteers and donors bring into our communities each and everyday to make our world better.

Watching young children participating in a multitude of service projects at Project Giving Kids Create the Change Day gave me hope for the future. With all the negatively in our world, seeing young children and families helping others was truly witnessing the love of humankind…..and that is something I hope we can all experience not just tomorrow….but everyday.

 

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.

Celebrating our Veterans and Wellness works

Over the years I have interviewed and profiled a number of amazing organizations that serve our troops and veterans, Hugs for Heroes, Operation Gratitude, Veterans Career Exchange, and the list goes on. All fantastic organizations that have served our men and women abroad or helped returning Veterans get jobs once they were out of the military. However in all my interviews, I have yet to meet an organization that’s main focus is  to restore hope and a sense of wholeness of body and soul turning their post traumatic stress into post traumatic growth, until now. The place is Wellness Works, a home for healing  and hope.

Last week, I sat down with the Co-Founder, Mary Lu Coughlin, of the non-profit Wellness Works to learn more about the journey our Veterans go through and the story of this amazing non-profit that continues healing our Veterans. Today we celebrate Veterans Day and all those who gave so bravely for our freedom. It is the perfect time to share about the remarkable work that is being done to support the Veteran community and their families. This video (that sadly isn’t embedding but you can old school click the link) gives you a deeper dive into Wellness Works impact on Veterans.

 

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to start Wellness Works?

Mary Lu Coughlin: Beginning in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, my Co-Founder Nancy was teaching wellness education workshops and holistic healing therapies to nurses mainly to help healing with the large AIDS/HIV population at the time. Our goal was always to he a source of healing and service to the community.  As medications became available for AIDS patients our client focus began to shift, September 11th happened, the war began and then in 2005  when we read Dr. Ed Tick’s book War and The Soul about healing Veterans from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. We knew that we had a healing skills that could help our Veterans and their families.

Soldiers began coming home in 2006 and we knew our healing community needed to support and love these Veterans and give them a place that felt like home. 

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work in serving our Veterans?

Mary Lu Coughlin: Twenty-two veterans a day take their own lives. I know that when we (Wellness Works) have a tangible felt experience and love can come thru us to our Veterans that we are an instrument of healing.

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

Mary Lu Coughlin: When veterans come through our door they feel welcome, they feel at home, they know their invisible wounds are seen and they are not judged. When I over hear one veteran telling another,” I am finally home thanks to Wellness Works.” 

Another veteran, who now serves on our board, said on his second visit to Wellness Works that, “his life’s purpose had been restored. He now had a community with which he could once again strive to serve the greater good.”

Charity Matters:What do want people to think about this Veteran’s Day?

Mary Lou Coughlin: This Veterans Day gives us as a caring community and society, the opportunity to acknowledge the service of the many men and women who have served us so well.

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.

Hand to hold

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

Joseph Campbell

I like to say that I have a front row seat to humanity. I am privileged to meet and share the stories of the most remarkable people and this week’s conversation with Kelli Kelly was so inspiring that I can’t wait to share. Kelli is a real life hero, a woman who went through enormous pain and suffering when her son Jackson was born 16 weeks premature in 2000, weighing a little over a pound. What she did with that experience is a lesson for us all.

Kelli said, “There are defining moments in our lives. Some bring great joy-others sorrow and pain. If we embrace these moments, they can mold us into new and improved versions of ourselves-one that allows us to ignite change, instill hope and find a purpose for our lives we never thought possible.”

In 2000, after the weeks in the NICU (Neo-Natal ICU) Kelli was sad, stressed, traumatized, depressed and emotionally drained not knowing the fate of her newborn son. She said, “The guilt, grief, anguish and pain was overwhelming. Now 17 years later, I can still relate to that defining moment.”  Here are the highlights from our inspiring conversation:

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: “When I realized that 1 out of 8 babies born in the United States is pre-term. We started as a March of Dimes Ambassador family but I realized early on that there were  many organizations to support premature babies but nothing to support the families. I was looking for an organization to help me meet other families going through this same stress, isolation and anxiety and there wasn’t one to help us.

So, at first I gathered some families together at our local hospital and created a program, connecting NICU families but it wasn’t enough. In 2008, we began Hand to Hold to provide families a  peer-to-peer support network for seasoned families of premature babies. We knew we needed to give families ways to survive and navigate their time at the NICU and beyond.”

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work at Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: First and foremost it is remembering what it felt like to be a parent of a child in the NICU and the impact, trauma, ptsd and stress that causes in all areas of your life. Secondly, it is the cards, the emails from the people we touch. We just started a podcast and are now hearing from families all over the world who are grateful we are sharing with them. Most of all, it is a strong faith in those difficult moments that keeps me moving forward.”

Charity Matters: When do you know that your work has made a difference?

I know we are making a difference when organizations like the Preemie Parent Alliance, realize that parents voices need to be a part of this conversation. When we were the keynote speaker at the National Neonatal Nurses Convention or when I’m speaking to national pharmaceutical companies and their employees about what is happening in this space.

We are truly trying to make foundational changes to help families to be better parents and to not only survive but thrive after this experience.

Charity Matters: Tell us a little about your impact and where you are headed next with Hand to Hold?

Kelli Kelly: We know that our impact and reach continues to expand through our national database that connects these families, through our expanding list of health care partners and because we continue to help break down the barriers to reach families going through this experience.

We started a podcast last February and have had over 13,000 downloads in 42 countries. So we know there is a need and that we continue to reach these families. That was the goal to find, connect and support as many families as we can. Our next steps are to begin our work with “Beyond the NICU” with a book and an App to help families navigate the invisible diagnosis that is a factor with preemies. We will be developing a care map to help navigate families through the process of  first all the way through their child’s education.

To end where we began with Kelli’s inspiring words, “There are defining moments in our lives. Some bring great joy-others sorrow and pain. If we embrace these moments, they can mold us into new and improved versions of ourselves-one that allows us to ignite change, instill hope and find a purpose for our lives we never thought possible.”

Kelli is an inspiration to all with her purpose driven life in service of others.

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.

When a hero comes along……

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

Joseph Campbell

This week is all about heroes. It is amazing to me that when you Google the word hero, the images that come up are Super Heroes. So often, I think in this crazy world we live in, why are we focusing on the wrong people? Heroes are everywhere and yet know one seems to know who they are.

This week I will be bringing you two very special heroes. The first is Kelli Kelly of the nonprofit Hand to Hold. Kelli shares her journey from being a sad, scared and isolated mother of a premature son to her journey of leading a purpose driven life where she turned her pain into a national organization to help thousands of families affected by pre-term births.

Our second hero is Mary Lu Coughlin of Wellness Works. Mary Lu has given her life in the service of others. First, as a nun but later when she left religious life she continued to heal and serve those affected by HIV/AIDS. When the AIDS crisis slowed down and the war began Mary Lu shifted gears and their nonprofit began serving our Veterans that we will honor this Friday on Veterans Day.

In light of all the chaos, sadness and uncertainty in our world, let’s focus on those amazing people who are serving others and continuing to give their lives to something bigger than themselves. True Heroes.

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.

A message from grey skies

On an overcast day, I found myself in the most unusual predicament; I was isolated, distraught and home in bed sick. Under the gun at work with year-end wrap-ups due, budget deadlines circling, grants looming ahead and a heap of pressure mounting. More than a cold and the daily life of a nonprofit Executive Director, was the fact that I was home sick, and that I was home without Internet.

The shocking reality began on a conference call from bed that kept going out. Since we live in a canyon, cell service is almost non-existent without the beloved Internet. The landline is also Internet dependent, as clearly, my life has become as well. By 9:30 am it became abundantly clear, as panic set in, that I was completely unable to communicate with the outside world. No phone, no computer, no work….nothing.

Deadlines looming, stress and fever building simultaneously, I thought I might actually combust. My mind spinning with an escape plan, should I go out like this in search of wi-fi or was I delirious from fever? By lunch, I was near hysterical when my husband came home worried since he couldn’t get a hold of me. He also confirmed my worst fear, we were cut off, there would be no Internet until the dreaded cable company was contacted and an appointment made. My reaction to this news was a full melt down of tears. Tears of feeling crappy, tears of frustration and tears because I simply didn’t know what else I could possibly do, except cry?

After, my husband left in search of a saner environment and one with wi-fi, I’m sure. I stared blankly at the white walls of my bedroom and collapsed from exhaustion. A few hours later I awoke with the realization that all of this was a gift. The universe’s way of telling me to rest, to slow down and to simply be….my worst skill by far.

I took a deep breath, leaned back and grabbed a book. Who gets to read in the middle of a grey overcast day from bed? I was just beginning to realize how blessed I was to be away from it all….off the grid, unplugged…whatever it is everyone calls it….when it happened. The buzzing began, the phone went insane with 39 text messages coming in rapid fire, every device pinging me at once and I realized once again to appreciate what you have, when you have it.

The sun broke through the clouds, my fever broke and one by one I dove back into my connected, wired and overly plugged in life.

 

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.

The sweetest thing to do this Halloween

How much do we love Halloween and more importantly Halloween candy? If your like me, you have already been eating your favorites for the past few weeks and hope to never see a Snickers again. Here is some good news, now Halloween candy is twice as sweet (whether it’s from your own bag or your children’s) because there are a number of ways to donate your candy.

So think about giving a treat to these amazing organizations that support our troops:

Operation Gratitude:

You may remember the amazing story of Carolyn Blashek and her incredible cause sending care packages to our troops. Operation Gratitude just sent their 2,000,000th care package. Add your candy to one of their amazing care packages. They also love hand written notes too, so if your children are so inclined this is a great way to teach philanthropy and compassion.

Soldiers Angels:

A similar organization to Operation Gratitude in that they support our troops. Soldier Angels coordinates Treats for Troops each year and this year their goal is to raise over 17,000 pounds of Halloween candy. That is some serious sugar!

Operation Stars and Stripes:

This nonprofit runs Trick or Treating for Troops but sends care packages to service men and women who are stationed in the United States, as well as abroad. They collect unopened candy all year, and so don’t forget them after Christmas or Easter.

Operation Shoebox:

This organization distributes candy all year-long to the troops that are missing the holidays at home. What makes Operation Shoebox unique is that you get to choose which branch of the military you would like to send your treats to; Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines.

When you think about it Halloween is all about giving candy away, so why not keep the giving going just a little bit longer? This Halloween think about a sweet way to inspire compassion, kindness and a little patriotic spirit in your children or yourself. Truly there is nothing sweeter than making someone else’s life better. That is a treat we can all enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

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.

The Good Journey

I have to confess, a few years ago when an acquaintance of mine started a podcast, I was not really sure what that was, when or how you listened to them. Since that time, I have a better understanding of podcasts but have not been bitten by the bug…until now. I was on LinkedIn and came across what I thought was an article about a nonprofit founder but instead it was a podcast interview on The Good Journey Pod. A few minutes into it and I was hooked.

Naturally, I needed to know more about the person behind this brilliance and I reached out to find out who was behind all of this? I discovered the answer, Brady Josephson, a man passionate about the poor and changing charity. He has worked for nonprofits, been a part of technology companies trying to make giving a part of daily life and has built businesses that use technology to help nonprofits grow. While he may call himself a charity nerd, he is anything but. Brady is an entrepreneur, charity strategist, professor, writer (for the Huffington Post and his blog RE:Charity) and the man behind The Good Journey. I can’t wait for you to meet someone who inspires so much good.

Charity Matters: What inspired you to get into the nonprofit sector?

Brady Josephson: I went to college in Chicago and was studying business and playing baseball. I remember seeing the news about the Tsunami in 2004 in Phuket and realized in that moment that somehow I needed to help. That moment changed my focus to wanting to mix business, purpose and technology to make a difference. 

After that,  I spent a few years at a nonprofit called Spark, while getting my graduate degree, and became more passionate about the poor and using my skills with business and technology to help change charity for the better.

Charity Matters: What do think about the state of philanthropy today?

Brady Josephson: On one level the nonprofit sector is fractured, there are simply way too many nonprofit organizations. There is an area in my hometown that has 88 nonprofits within a six block radius all trying to serve the poor and homeless. They all compete for the same donors , dollars and market share. From this level philanthropy can be more effective.

On the flip side do we need another nonprofit like Charity Water? Actually, yes we do. New nonprofits, like Charity Water, are bringing innovation, technology and inspiration to people who have never given before. I think we are going to see more hybrid versions of nonprofits like B Corporations that do social good, like Toms shoes in the future.

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

Brady Josephson: When I was working directly for nonprofits I was directly impacted by the people we served. Today, helping nonprofits to be better at what they do, the rewards are not as direct. I do hear from nonprofits that thank me for my work, I know I am better for going through the process. Now, I just treasure the micro-moments when I know I have made a difference.

Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work, helping nonprofits?

Brady Josephson: Initially being altruistic, when I started working for an international nonprofit, I saw $2 save a life. I know that with the impact of generosity we can literally save lives.  If we can continue to create a culture of giving, then we all win. The more people we can get to truly understand giving and how to make a difference then we can transform our world for the better.

Thank you Brady for bringing us along on your Good Journey and reminding us that our world is a better place when we are better to one another.

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.

Something else to cheer for….

The difference between the impossible and the possible, lies in a person’s determination.”

Tommy Lasorda

So often when we are cheering on our hometown team in sports we forget the amazing philanthropic work that almost all sports organizations do for their communities. Since today is the first day of the World Series and being a LA girl, I thought it only fitting to see what those Dodgers are doing around town to make our city and world better.

While the Dodgers have been supporting the city and hundreds of causes since they first came to Los Angeles, in 1995 they created The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. Their goal, to focus on underserved youth and more specifically; sports, recreation, education, health and literacy.

Since 1995, the team and foundation have been busy supporting these incredible organizations:

photo via: LA Dodgers

Vision to learn                          Serves low-income youth with glasses and eye exams

SPARK LA                                  Serves at risk youth

Summer Night Lights              Provides community events to prevent gang violence and build community.

Jackie Robinson Foundation    Provides scholarship and literacy for low-income students

City Year LA                               Enriches education for high poverty areas of Los Angeles

LA Reads                                    Supports 13 organizations to encourage reading and literacy

If that wasn’t enough, the Dodgers have built over 47 baseball fields in Los Angeles spending over $7.3 million dollars. More than that, the Dodgers have provided over 7,800 children (that is a whole lot of kids…) aged 5-18 with baseball uniforms and equipment. So tonight when you turn on that game, regardless of your team, you have something really amazing to cheer for…a true home run!

Go Blue!

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.

 

 

Grades of Green

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

John Muir

You may remember a few years back I interviewed the founders of Grades of Green, a nonprofit that was founded in 2008, by a few passionate mothers, who wanted to educate and inform children about their choices and the impact on their environment. After receiving an award from the EPA, the founders created a non-profit so that other schools would have free and easy access to the tools and information needed to empower and inspire students to care for the environment.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with this incredible organization and chat with Emily Stewart, Program Coordinator for Grades of Green.

Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and participate in a non-profit?

I was raised with environmental values and completed a degree in environmental policy, so I always knew that I would be involved in the nonprofit world. When I found out about the work that Grades of Green was doing across the globe to inspire children to start their own grassroots sustainability movements, I knew that I needed to be part of it.

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

Grades of Green: Climate change poses very real threats to the future of our planet. I believe that if enough students become involved in the environmental movement, they can tip the scale and create a safer and more sustainable world.

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

Grades of Green: When students that you have mentored take the initiative to innovate their own solutions to environmental issues in their community, you know that you have made a lasting difference by encouraging the next generation to become environmental advocates. For example, a Grades of Green Youth Corps student named Antonio’s work to champion cleaner air through No Idle Zones inspired the passing of ACR 160, a statewide resolution in California.

Charity Matters: Tell us what success you have had? What has your impact been? Number  of people impacted, funds raised…..any and all

Grades of Green is a very exciting and rewarding place to work because its impact in terms of benefits to the environment is measurable, and yet the environmental values and leadership skills that children gain from participating last a lifetime. 568 schools across 43 states and 17 countries are involved in our green programs, and the number of schools and students involved grows every week! Their actions to protect the environment translates to thousands of tons of waste diverted from landfills, gallons of water saved, tons of CO2 emissions reduced, and toxins removed from the environment.

Four moms set out to educate their children and others on how to care for our world and one another. Almost ten years later their message has spread across the country and the globe. To circle back week  with John Muir’s words,When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” 

Charity Matters

 

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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.

 

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Katie’s Krops, a seed that grew

After the chaos of last week, I wanted to bring you the incredible story about an amazing young woman who is living a life that matters…….a life of purpose.

Working with students everyday, I truly believe that kids can do anything. Like a garden, they simply need the seed planted, cultivated, fertilized and time for it to grow. The story below is exactly that, about one 9-year-old girl who had an idea to end hunger.

Her name is Katie Stagliano and her story begins with a seed. In 2008, as a third grader Katie received a package of cabbage seeds. She went home excited to plant her seedlings and began taking daily care of her cabbage. Her hard work paid off and her cabbage ended up being over forty pounds! She knew her plant was special and needed to find a special home for it. Katie and her mother reached out to a local program, that served the homeless and hungry. She helped prepare her cabbage and served so many grateful people and now knew she needed to do more.

It was at that moment that Katie began to understand how many people in our country are hungry and she was determined to do more. She went to her school and asked if they could start a school garden and give the produce to the local soup kitchen, which they did. Still her dream expanded, Katie said,”If people (I hope lots of kids too) could grow even one vegetable plant and donate the harvest to a local soup kitchen we could make a huge difference in the fight against hunger.”

Katie is now 18 and this past month she headed off to College of Charleston as a freshman.

In under ten years Katie has created her nonprofit Katie’s Krops and established over 100 gardens in 33 states. She has summer camp where children learn about growing vegetable gardens and her team of young gardeners has grown thousands of pounds of produce, come together to cook and serve thousands meals since 2008…..all because of a seed, an idea and a boundless heart.

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.