What Matters?


Happy 12th Birthday Charity Matters!

Twelve years ago I had a dream. For someone who sleeps through earthquakes and their own children crying it was extremely in usual to be woken up in the middle of the night by a dream. This was one of those dreams that was so real that you felt as if you watch the scene from your life. It was unlike any dream I had ever had before. The dream was to tell the stories amazing humans who make the world better. The dream was Charity Matters.

I remember it so clearly, I literally got out of bed, found paper and pen and wrote it all down. The next day I told my husband that I think I’m supposed to be starting something. He replied,” That’s great! What are you going to start?” I replied, I was going to start blog and a website that told and empowering stories about real life heroes. His response,” A website? You can barely operate a computer.  Are you sure this is the right direction?”

His comments were valid. Technology and I were barely friends in July of 2011. That is the truth. Since I had just walked away from running a nonprofit my skills were a little rusty at best. Building a website by myself, which I did was an enormous challenge. Knowing where to go for help, how to start finding my heroes and all of it was more than a little daunting. In reality, what did I have to lose? Nothing. What did I have to gain? The ability to leave the world better than I found it. To connect people to causes that matter. Helping the helpers and creating an upward spiral of kindness and goodness. There was no option but forward.

Today, 12 years later I still feel the same way. I continue to have technological challenges. However, the risk versus reward definitely points in favor of reward. Rewarding is exactly the word for this 12 year milestone. Charity Matters has been more than rewarding. Its hard to believe that we have had almost 2,000 posts, hundreds of nonprofit interviews  and over 60 Podcast interviews. We have met remarkable humans from all walks of life. Learned so much about resilience, kindness, compassion and the human spirit.

Each person we have met has been an incredible gift and privilege. They have trusted us with their story, shared openly and honestly the huge challenges of this work. More than that, each nonprofit founder lifts us up. Reminds us who we can be and shows us the best of humanity. To all of the nonprofit founders who have shared, thank you. To all of you who listen and read this each week, thank you. You bless me and this work and propel it forward. My gratitude has no words.

So here is to onward and upward! My birthday wish is for Charity Matters to continue to grow and spread. So if you feel like giving us a gift this year, tell a friend, share a post that inspired you. That is how we collectively change the world. One small action, one story, one person at a time. Thank you for changing mine.




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Episode 62: Mitchell Thorp Foundation

There is nothing better than meeting a total stranger and feeling like you could be old friends. That is exactly the warmth and graciousness that today’s guest Beth Thorp brought to this week’s conversation. Beth is a ray of sunshine who shares her incredible story of loss and purpose.

It is always challenging talking to parents who have lost a child.  Beth and her family have taken their loss and turned it into incredible support for families whose children suffer from life threatening illness with their organization the Mitchell Thorp Foundation. Join us today for an uplifting, inspirational conversation of love, family, faith and purpose.


Here are a few highlights from our conversation:


Charity Matters: Tell us a little about what The Mitchell Thorp Foundation does?

Beth Thorp: We are a public 501 C3  organization and we support families with children with life threatening illnesses, diseases and disorders by providing financial emotional resource support to them.  The foundation is in honor of my son’s name. That’s why it’s titled Mitchell Thorp Foundation. His name was Mitchell. He was my firstborn son and beautiful young man. A 4.0 students who loved to play baseball. He was known for that and his father played the Dodger organization at one point before he succumb to an injury. We are a little nuts when it comes to baseball season around here.


Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start The Mitchell Thorp Foundation?

Beth Thorp: My son at the age of 13, came home from school with very severe headaches.  As any parent, you think maybe you’re coming down with the flu or something. So you do next indicated thing, give him a pain reliever go lay down. As days went on, he kind of got a little better, and then went back to school, but the couldn’t concentrate with  head pain. Until one day he came home and he just kind of collapsed in the front yard, which just totally frightened me.

 I’m  crying out to my husband come quick, something is seriously wrong.  We go to the doctor, and then it was really a rude awakening to our medical system. We checked off the boxes going to the doctors, and then it gets worse than he ends up in the hospital.. At his first hospital stay, he was there for three days running tests and things kept coming back negative normal. So then you’re trusting the doctors going down this path. Fast forward we had a five year journey of chasing pain, chasing trying to find a diagnosis and doctors scratching their heads trying to figure out what it was. It was a season of chaos, fear and anxiety and all those emotions that were watching your child suffer.

 This was also a  season of testing your faith.  We all go through it at some point in time in our lives, where the rug gets pulled out from underneath us, and things change on a dime. And you’re not expecting it at all. Where is your strong foundation? Because if you don’t have one, you’re going to crumble. We’ve seen so many people who fall into situations like us.  Statistically  close to 75% of families end up  in divorce or separation because the stresses of dealing with a medically critical ill child or a child with severe disabilities.

In 2008, a story ended up in the Union Tribune, about our family.  People really wanted to help us and they created a walkathon to help us pay off our huge medical bills that we had even with great insurance.  That experience totally changed us and humbled us and it really was also in my deepest pain and grief from losing our son.

As the faithful woman,  I heard something deep within my spirit resonate.   I knew it had to been God’s speaking to me because he said, “This is not the end, this is the beginning.” And I just sat up in my bed looked up or the heavenlies and said, “Oh, this feels like the end. What do you mean? What do you mean by that?”

So I’m looking up there and asking where did that thought come from? Why would I think that? Where would that have come from? That same week, my husband was at the local church and there was two boys he coached in baseball.  Both boys unfortunately had cancer.  Again, families trying to make ends meet and he really had that strong calling. He thought, we should form a foundation to help many families going through what we went through. So he comes home to tell me that.  And I said, “You want to do what?” Then I really had to realize, Oh my goodness maybe that’s what he meant by that this is not the end, this is the beginning.

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

Beth Thorp: It takes so much drive and that entrepreneurial spirit to make this work happen. The perseverance you really have to have is strong. And for us, it was a God given vision that we could not let go. This vision was driving us forward, like a steam engine.

Charity Matters: Tell us what success you have had and what your impact has been? 

Beth Thorp: We’ve actually given back over $3 million already back into the community. So that’s like, oh, wow, we’ve helped 1000 plus people and children and counting.  That’s a huge!  We just started with one child and one family at a time. And that’s how it started. And you just kind of kept one foot in front of the other.  Seeing these families scared out of their minds and just being that light in the dark for them is is huge for us. But yeah, the impact was huge.

Charity Matters: If you could dream any dream for your organization, what would that be?

Beth Thorp: I thought about that question and the big dream. Well, the beautiful thing was since the release of the book, my publisher now put me in touch with two film producers, who are we are writing a screenplay. Yay! We wanted to take the organization worldwide, because right now we’re just California based. We we want to build different chapters throughout the United States.

We do see ourselves what we call scaling up for that and we’re getting ready for that.  And we’re in the midst of taking it and the book into an adaptation into script. So we’ll see what happens? That would be my my dream. To see it on film, the story out to those who need to hear it, to see it.  And that’s going to be an inspirational story.

Charity Matters: How has this journey changed you?

Beth Thorp: I think what changed me the most is learning that I have no control over anything. If you think about it, we really don’t have control over anything. Especially my type of personality, we want to control and make things work the way it should work.  So the big lesson was surrender.

I keep having to surrender every day. It’s not my will, but his.  And when you can learn to do that it’s a beautiful thing to see how people come into your life, serendipitously. Those divine appointments, keep surprising me. So that is the one thing that has changed me, giving up the control and keep surrendering. 

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

Beth Thorp: There’s a lot of lessons that I had to learn. Well, I think for me was to stay strong in my faith, because faith doesn’t always take you out of problem. They’ve taken you through it. Faith doesn’t always take away the pain but its going to give you the ability to get through it. And then faith doesn’t always calm the storms of life but it gets you through the storms. So it’s really for me, it was just hanging on. I’m like a cat with the claws when I felt like I wasn’t hanging on. But just staying strong in that and to just persevere and never give up.




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Celebrating community in a divided land

Happy 4th of July everyone! Today is one of my favorite days of the year and not just because it’s a celebration of independence; but because it is a celebration of community and the deep connections we share as Americans. It is a day when neighbors come together, families gather, and friendships are strengthened. In a world often divided by differences, the 4th of July reminds us of the common threads that unite us all.

It makes me sad seeing how divided our country has become these past few years.  The strength of our nation lies in our connected tissue and community, not our division. Today, we have the opportunity to set aside our individual concerns and unite as a community. We engage in picnics, parades, and other festivities that bring us closer, fostering a sense of belonging and togetherness.

In celebrating the 4th of July, we acknowledge that our nation is not a solitary entity, but a vibrant tapestry woven together by the diverse backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs of its citizens. Our shared experiences and values create a sense of camaraderie and solidarity.  Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” The 4th of July serves as a reminder of the strength and resilience that arise when we stand united.

Moreover, the celebration of the 4th of July allows us to honor and appreciate the remarkable contributions of our fellow Americans. It is a day when we recognize the accomplishments of individuals who have shaped our nation’s history and those who continue to shape its future. We remember the leaders, innovators, and everyday heroes who have made sacrifices to uphold the ideals upon which this country was built. Many of them you continue to meet each week here at Charity Matters.

The 4th of July is also an opportunity to reach out and connect with those who may be different from us. It is a chance to bridge divides and build bridges of understanding. At the end of the day, we are more alike, than we are different. This day encourages us to set aside our differences and find common ground, fostering empathy and compassion for our fellow Americans, as well as have some fun. Besides who doesn’t love a Tuesday off?

More than a day off,  celebrating the 4th of July allows us to strengthen our bonds as families and friends. It is a time to create lasting memories, to share stories and traditions that have been passed down through generations.  The 4th of July provides an opportunity to open our homes and hearts to loved ones, to appreciate the support and love that surround us.

In this digital age, where screens often replace face-to-face interactions, the 4th of July reminds us of the importance of human connection. It encourages us to put aside our devices, to engage in meaningful conversations, and to cherish the moments of laughter and joy shared with those around us. The bonds we forge on this day transcend geographical and ideological boundaries, reminding us that we are all part of the American tapestry.

This holiday is one of my favorites and  holds a deep significance in our lives as Americans. It is a time to celebrate our independence, but it is also an occasion to celebrate our community, our connections, and our shared experiences. It is a day when we come together as neighbors, friends, and family to honor our history, to embrace our present, and to look forward to a brighter future. As we celebrate with joy and gratitude, let us remember that the strength of our nation lies in the unity and compassion we demonstrate as a community of proud Americans who care about one another.




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Speaking of Impact

I hope you all are having a great weekend. We don’t usually publish our post on Sunday’s but our site was down for a little work. The unexpected break gave us a little time to get out of town to celebrate another lap around the sun. With LA’s June gloom, finding some sun was in order too!

Before I get the celebration going, I wanted to share a fun conversation I had a few weeks back with Bob De Pasquale as a guest on his Speaking of Impact Podcast. Bob is a great guy whose podcast focuses on interviewing leaders who use their gifts to make the world a better place. He lives a purpose driven life and was really fun to talk too. It was a terrific conversation so if you have time over the weekend please take a listen here.

At the age of 18, Bob  found himself in a fight for his life when diagnosed with cancer. It would become a journey that ultimately shaped his view of himself and the gifts that he could share with the world. His podcast Speaking of Impact is an empowering and educational show that helps people to recognize their time, and gifts  that bring joy and fulfillment not only to themselves, but to the world around them.

Last week’s conversation with Dana Bouton has continued to stay with me, as powerful conversations often do. Like Bob, Dana really left such an indelible mark on me with how she is choosing to spend her remaining time on this earth. While Dana might have more clarity on her timeline, most of do not. As a result, we waste so much precious time. Both conversations with Bob and Dana are reminders to use our gifts and time to make a difference.

As this weekend marks another trip around the sun, the gift that Dana and Bob have given each of us is to ask how are we living our best lives and impacting others? I am grateful for my health, the time I have with those I love, the opportunity for a little adventure and most of all the privilege it is to connect amazing people to incredible causes. I will continue to try my hardest to be a joyful messenger of service and to hopefully inspire a few people along the way to do the same.

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend. Please know how grateful I am for this incredible community of kind and good humans.


Charity Matters

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Across the finish line!

For the past twelve years you have been a part of my life. When I started Charity Matters in 2011 our sons were 15, 13 and 9 years old.  You have followed our families journey from the last football game to taking our first son to college and everything in between. I wrote about it all and you not only read these crazy stories, you replied, you understood and cheered us on. It was as if I were running a race and all of you have been on the side lines cheering. So many miles were tough and you got me through. As in most races, the clarity comes once you have finished and in looking back.

I remember getting on the team football bus for our middle son’s last game and having parents passing the post I had written around the bus on their phones. People hugging and thanking  me for expressing their feelings about The Last Pass post. It was the first time I really realized people were actually reading Charity Matters.

Each Christmas Charity Matters shared the Raising Philanthropic Children post as we tried so hard to guide our sons towards service. Teaching them to find their gifts and those they had to share with the world. You cheered them  on as they served so many great organizations and helped start a few. More than that, you shared what your kids were now doing which was even better.

When I dropped our oldest son off at college I was devastated. Again, all of you were there. I wrote this post and you sent so many supportive notes I could cry just thinking about them. You began the TCU journey of service with me as well. Then watched as I made The Last Lunch and the second son become a Horned Frog and finally the third.

Each ceremony marked the ever quickening passage of time. It was if each ceremony was a mile markers in a marathon. Some miles were harder than others.  When our youngest graduated high school and we became empty nesters, those struggles were real. The post, Someday has Arrived is a reminder of those struggles.  Supposedly, the last few miles of the marathon always are.

Then that moment comes when you see the finish line. It doesn’t seem real or possible. The race has been so long. The push for homework, for grades, not to mention the finances of it all. It feels as if it will never end. Suddenly, there you are …at your youngest child’s college graduation. Is it real? The finish line always seemed so far away. Now it is right in front of you, the final marker. How did the race go by so fast?

You push through that finish line with hands raised and a feeling of incredible joy. Your heart is filled with pride and beating so fast. The pictures are snapped marking this incredible moment. The diploma is given. You reach your neck out for the medal. The ticker tape flies. The crowd cheers (that’s you). And in a blink the race is over.

You have raised three great men. They are employed and launched. You smile, you cry, pat yourself on the back and then you wonder…now what?




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Wow! Oprah!

Last week my girlfriend, Alexandra, reached out and invited me to an event at UCLA for mental health. You may remember Alexandra from her organization, Friends With Causes. Alexandra couldn’t attend but asked if I wanted her seats. I hesitated for a brief moment, however, when she mentioned Oprah.  Well, I was all in.

The invitation was for the WOW Summit and this conference more than lived up to it’s name. WOW stands for Wisdom of Wellness Mental Health Summit. The WOW Summit was created to nurture the body, mind and spirit while supporting mental health research, education and patient programs at UCLA. This year’s lineup certainly did all of the above.

The morning began with Oprah Winfrey interviewing two college students about their own personal journeys with mental health. One young speaker spoke of her suicidal thoughts and how she has persevered. Today she helps other students at UCLA with a mental health organization she has created on campus. I had a minute to tell her on the break just how powerful she was and I am sure this young woman is going to go on to do great things.

Next up was author and Harvard Professor, Dr. Arthur Brooks, who has become an expert on the science of happiness. One of the most interesting facts he has learned is that there is one overall absolute key to happiness. What do you think it is? I was not surprised to discover that the answer is faith. People who have a belief in something bigger than themselves are significantly happier than those without. His mission is to create an army of happiness warriors. My guess is when his next book comes out with Oprah, he will!

For me, the highlight of the day was listening to the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Many of you may have read his most recent statement about loneliness. He elaborated on the topic by saying that,” The single most powerful antidote to loneliness is service.” It was music to my ears. More than that, he spoke about having a moral awakening in the United States. Coming back to our core set of values to guide our moral compass.

We have lost our way and I believe he is right. He said,” Our mental health and these values also effect the health and well being of our country. The sooner we return to kindness, generosity, service and love we will redefine our strength as a nation.” I couldn’t agree more.





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Traveling with a purpose

“Some travel to see the difference, others travel to make a difference.”

Author Unknown

As we begin to prepare for summer vacations many people have asked for suggestions regarding vacations with a purpose. We are just beginning to dream of travel. Our youngest son is graduating college in a few weeks and I hope that means we get a raise? If so, I am looking forward to planning some of these excursions for our family and began the research which I wanted to share with you.

Like any trip the questions of who, what, where are always good places to start. Are you taking young children or elderly parents? What do you want to accomplish through your volunteering and who do you want to serve? There are so many fantastic organizations in need all over the globe but thinking about this helps you narrow down the hardest question which is where should we go and who do we want to serve?

Step one: Research

For me, the starting place was visiting websites like Responsible Travel. Since 2001 they have been planning vacations and have served over 150,000 people in that time. They have a huge team even though they are based in England they have amazing programs that also give back to other organizations when you work with them Their site is great looking and easy to navigate. For sure this should be your first stop in researching your travel with a purpose.

Another great place to continue to explore and research is Volunteerforever. com Since 2015, has compiled some of the best volunteer abroad programs around the globe with over 900 international volunteer abroad programs and thousands of reviews on all of them. Their goal is to take the guesswork out of choosing a program.

You also want to take a look at  International Volunteer HQ if you are searching for another place to begin to vet meaningful volunteer work and experience a life-changing vacation this is a great place to get information about programs and volunteer opportunities abroad. They offer some of the world’s largest volunteer abroad projects in over 40 destinations across Africa, South America, Central America, North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. International Volunteer HQ has helped over 102, 000 volunteers since 2007, so they certainly know what they are doing.

Step Two: Consider an Eco-Tourism Trip

Eco-tourism is another way to make your travel this summer meaningful while also helping the environment. There are so many options whether you want to do a trip like we did a few years to the Galapagos that focuses on endangered ecosystems and habitats or you want to explore endangered wildlife there are a number of organizations that can help you with both.

If you think you want to do something to save our oceans or that focuses on marine habitats then is a great place to start exploring a way to mix your passion with a great vacation. Their goal is to turn one million travelers into one million volunteers. They offer everything from eco-biology to wildlife volunteer programs for a host of ages and in countries across the globe. Goecocom also helps the vetting process if you are looking for something more environmental, marine and ecology based.  Another option is to go straight to the source of an organization you want to serve like the They are a nonprofit that has been connecting their own supporters and volunteers to their cause and they have a number of ways you can get involved.

Step Three: Set your goal with who you want to serve

Serving people in need can offer so many opportunities to not only learn about other cultures but also ways to teach your children empathy and use your time to truly do something meaningful. Opportunities can be anything from building homes, feeding the hungry, bringing water into areas without fresh water and the list goes on.  Again you can go directly to a nonprofit that you already know and love like Habitat for Humanity, One World, Pencils of Promise or a host of other large nonprofit organizations and have them connect you to a project. You can also look at Projects Abroad and Pack for a Purpose as well for suggestions. So many of these opportunities allow you to really get to meet new people, work with them and learn so much about how others live.

The bottom line is no matter how you choose to spend your summer vacation there is a way to include even a small portion of service into your trip. So consider looking into a few of these resources and let me know if you have any others?  Like all good trips, it takes time, careful planning and getting tips from multiple resources to plan a memorable experience that will enrich your life and someone else’s as well. Just imagine how great your summer travel could be with a fantastic destination, a cause, a purpose and an opportunity to be more compassionate, empathetic and giving. It sounds like a perfect recipe for joy. Happy planning and safe travels!


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April flowers…

We interrupt this regularly scheduled podcast to tell you we are ready for spring! California this year has had record rain and snow, as you saw in one of my recent stories. Sunshine is a daily staple like oxygen and there has not been very much sun this year. This California girl was in need of signs of spring, so I headed East to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. It is something I have always wanted to see, so when my girlfriend said, “Come visit!” I packed my bags and headed East.

When I discovered that April is National Stress Awareness Month, it seemed like as good as time as any to get out of town. Life is stressful for many of us these days. The state of the world is a little more messy than usual.  The price of things are crazy and life just seems more challenging than usual. Never is that felt more than in the nonprofit space.  When the economy is bumpy so is fundraising. As nonprofit founders and Executive Directors, we have so many people depending on us to help. Some days it feels like heavy lifting.

Rather, than stew in the what I can not control I decided to do something about what I can control. That is my attitude. I can decide that life is short and to make the most of it. Use those frequent flyer points, phone a friend and hop on a plane to do something you have always wanted to do. So that is exactly what I did!

Speaking of control, when I booked this trip I carefully checked the peak date of the cherry blossoms blooming. However, cherry blossoms and spring are definitely things that I can not control. So when I discovered that these gorgeous trees decided to show their colors a little early, there was simply nothing I could do about it.

However, I didn’t let that deter me and boy am I glad I made it. The morning we got to the tidal basin, the cherry blossoms had been in bloom for about a week. Luckily, there hadn’t been any storms to knock off those beautiful blossoms. It felt like they waited for me.

When we arrived early on a Saturday morning, it was drizzling slightly. The most bizarre thing was that there wasn’t a single person anywhere to be seen. We had the monuments and all those beautiful blossoms to ourselves. Standing there as it began to drizzle and rain cherry blossom petals was pure magic.

After soaking it all in, we left content and happy. A few hours later DC prepared for 50 to 60 mph winds that were going to blow all of the beauty away. We literally just made it.

Every time I look at a cherry tree I will be reminded that there is so much in life that I can not control. Just because I can’t control it doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy its beauty. So no podcast this week but we promise to be back next week with another fantastic conversation from a remarkable human making our world better. Until then, I will just enjoy the view and hope you will too.

Happy Spring everyone!




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All good things must come to an end

As many of you know, I fell in love almost a decade ago with TCU. Yes, it was an unexpected love affair that I really never saw coming. The best relationships usually are the ones that blind side and blow us away.

Ten years ago, my oldest son was admitted to TCU. Through a crazy twist of fate,  I interviewed a nonprofit founder named Ann Louden, for this blog. The interview happened late afternoon on the day before my son left for college. In full disclosure, I knew I was interviewing someone who had started a breast cancer nonprofit. She was in Pasadena filming a video for her organization with Josh Grobin. Other than that, I didn’t know anything but her name.

Short story long, Ann Louden did start a great cancer nonprofit that was called…wait for it…TCU Frogs for a Cure. You may remember the post?  If not you can find it here. Ann is the woman who brought pink to all football games in October. After an inspirational conversation and connection with Ann, we became fast friends. She asked me if I had interest in getting involved at TCU.  I honestly answered, “No.” In that moment, my singular focus was packing and getting my son off to college. In hindsight, she was getting ready to set me up on a blind date.

photo via:

A few days later, I called her back. I told Ann that there was something incredibly special about this school. After time spent there, I would be happy to help. And looking back, that was the beginning of the love affair. You know, the early phase of love when you get to know one another? In getting to know TCU, I really liked what saw.  Happy and kind people, a thriving campus and people that were connected and going places. Ann then asked,” Do you want to join the Chancellor’s Advisory Council?” The invitation felt like a first date. I accepted and joined an incredible group of alumni, donors, friends and parents at TCU.

When you fall in love there are a number of things that happen. You begin to take stock of qualities you admire and strive for. There was no shortage of admirable traits. I witnessed exceptional leadership, vision, connection and community at TCU. Our group met every few months. I found myself looking forward to our meetings. Because like all good love affairs it is so fun learning about the other person. In this case it was a college I was learning about but I was head over heals. Regardless,  we learned about everything  from; the campus of the future, supporting student athletes,  admissions, providing students with a life full of meaning to opening a medical school. With each meeting and conversation I became a little more smitten.

Last week, I went back to Fort Worth for my last Chancellor’s Advisory Council (CAC) meeting. Insert big sad sigh here. The love affair wasn’t over but it looked like after a decade we were going to have to make this relationship more long distance than it already was. While it felt like a break up, it wasn’t.  It was however, my final meeting. In looking back, so many things we discussed that were mere ideas ten years ago had become realities.

The medical school the Chancellor and board dreamed of opened. The first class of TCU Medical School graduates this year! That National Championship Game…well we did get there. Boy was it memorable! The buildings that were built,  celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the school and the list goes on and on.

Like all good love you learn from it. This experience taught me so much, most especially about leadership. Watching a great leader is a gift. When you see a visionary in action, it is a privilege. Seeing the accomplishments from the past decade at TCU is truly remarkable. Time at TCU has been a lesson is vision, communication, connection, consensus, mentoring and service. What was not to love?

So while this love affair isn’t over, my time at TCU is coming to an end. Our youngest graduates in eight weeks and it is time to close this incredible chapter. To say my heart is heavy would be an understatement. I am forever grateful for my time with TCU, the lessons learned and all the amazing people I met. Endings are never easy. Ultimately, it is the people, the friendships made and the all the great memories that make the endings so worth it.




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Snowed in and the kindness of strangers

I am interrupting this regularly scheduled podcast to share a recent story of kindness. Each week we share others stories but this week I thought I would share something that happened to me a couple weeks back. As many of you have seen on the national news that recent snow storms hit our local LA mountains, the San Bernardino Mountains.

My husband’s family has had a home there for years and it is a very special place for us. We don’t spend much time at the lake in the winter but it is always a treat to get away. When we had a call that there was water left on in the house, we decide to make a quick trip up. The thought of bursting pipes with freezing temperatures and a pending storm was big motivation.

Our plan was to go up early Friday morning and head back down on Sunday. We both had flights in opposite directions scheduled for Tuesday. So we wanted to make sure we had time to get ready for our upcoming business trips.  So we grabbed two days of food and put chains on our four wheel drive and hit the road.

The previous storm had left a couple of feet of snow that had yet to be plowed. When we got to the house we were surprised by how much snow we hadn’t been plowed. We were sure that the plows were just backed up and would eventually get to us. So we enjoyed our home, the fire, the s’mores, secured the house and settled in.

However, on Sunday morning when we hadn’t seen the plows and the snow kept piling up at a rapid pace, we got a little nervous. I called our local Fire Department which is about a mile away.  When I asked if they had seen any plows. The fireman said, “ No we haven’t seen them in a few days.  We heard that all of the plowing equipment was sent off the mountain to open the Cajon Pass.”  That’s when we became nervous. If the Fire Department can’t get out to help people then things were worse than we realized.

We shoveled snow off the dock, from around the house and quickly realized we had used up most of our food. That wasn’t our big concern. Rather it was getting down the next day to make our flights. We began reading the local Facebook post with people that were much worse off than we were. People without heat, power, firewood, food, medicine and the list went on and on.

So Monday morning when we had eaten the last of our food we thought we would try to shovel our way out. Well, that didn’t go so well and we got stuck. Once we dug the car out and had it back in the garage, my husband had an idea. He went onto the local Facebook group and asked if anyone had plowed roads within a mile of our home. In addition, he asked, if anyone was going down the mountain and could we get a ride?

That is when this story took a very different turn. Strangers named Debbie and Dustin replied to our online plea. They said that they were leaving in less than an hour if we could get to their home. So we turned off that water, grabbed our computers, our dog and left. We left behind our clothes, our car and hiked out about a mile in hip deep snow towards total strangers.

The second storm had now hit and snow was dumping down. When we got to their car we were told they were taking two cars down in order to pick up family friends coming into LAX the next day. They loaded us in, put a dog bed out for our dog and drove us down the hill and off the mountain. We passed tons of abandoned cars on our way down and saw the carnage from the past week’s storm on the roads.

When we got to the bottom of the hill, in two cars, we saw news crews and so many people detained trying to get back up the mountain. Police had closed the road back up due to the danger. We filled up our new friends car with gas and asked where they were going to stay for the night? They didn’t have a plan for their family that included two teenage boys and two chocolate labs. So we invited them to stay with us and they accepted.

It isn’t every day that you Facebook hitch hike and meet strangers who blindly take you into their cars. Alternatively, I don’t think we have ever invited strangers to sleep over at our house but we did. This experience left such an impact on us both. There is such power in the kindness. We are all so afraid and so nervous to open ourselves up. I am the biggest fraidy cat of them all!  However, this experience made me realize just how walled off we all are and how easy it  can be to open up.

It wasn’t just our situation that brought out the best in everyone, it happened all over the mountain. Neighbors checking on neighbors. People bringing others into their homes, shoveling snow for their elderly neighbors, delivering food and so much more. I’m not sure why it takes the worst situations to bring our the best in all of us, but it does.

We are incredibly grateful for Debbie and Dustin for their extraordinary kindness. If we could all be little more open and loving like our new friends the world would be a much better place.




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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.  Since February 4th was World Cancer Day I thought we would take a look back at the fantastic conversation with Jo Ann Thrailkill, the founder of Jo Ann founded Pablove to honor her son Pablo and 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 are some highlights from  our conversation:

Charity Matters: What was your background before starting Pablove?

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, 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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Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to share this to inspire another.

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I have a dream or two

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

On Monday, we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service. It was a rainy day here in LA so not one that I spent volunteering, in full disclosure. Instead I spent the day thinking about dreams, vision, goals and service. All of these things are constants in my life but as the New Year starts how can I create a vision for myself and my work that continues to serve others?

These are some of the questions I have been asking myself since the New Year. I do feel incredibly grateful that I have a regular outlet to serve with Charity Matters and with my day job running a youth leadership organization.  At TACSC we talk all year to our students about being a servant leader. We teach our students that they can not lead unless they serve. When we ask these middle school students to give us examples of true servant leaders, Martin Luther King is always at the top of their list. We teach that we are never too old or too young to serve, there is always someone in need of a little help.

Most importantly, we teach our students that before they begin anything they must have a goal, vision or a dream. It sounds so simple when we are teaching this and yet, the reality is that these take time. I dream of being a messenger of service but how do I break that dream down into manageable realistic goals? How do these goals and dreams work within my life?

I think when most of us think about service, we wonder where will we find the time? Many of us think charity and we think that people are coming for our wallets. There is nothing wrong with these thoughts but how can we all shift our perspective? When I ask myself, “What things make me feel great?” The answers usually include service, helping others, being with my friends. This year, I am going to try and organize a way for my friends to join me for some sort of service. I’m not sure what that is just yet, but I promise to report back.

At 56, I’m past the halfway point of my time on this planet. There is still so much I want to accomplish with the time I have remaining. I believe the greatest gift we can give the world is a life well lived. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s time on this earth was not long but the life he lived left a legacy of love and compassion. As I work on my dreams, I am thinking of his and asking myself, ” What are you doing in service for others?”




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Chasing the Insights

If the past twelve days are any indication of what 2023 is going to be like then I think its time to buckle up! Our 2022 ended on New Year’s Eve with our TCU Horned Frogs beating Michigan at the Fiesta Bowl. It was an unexpected win and crazy game that brought our small school from Fort Worth onto a National Stage. The game and experience brought so much more than football.

Our New Year began with a crew of our youngest son’s fellow TCU students as house guests. Each counting the days until the National championship game, that was earlier this week. The odds of TCU even getting to this place were 250 to one. So to say that the journey has been a crazy one would be an understatement. It had all of the making of a Hollywood movie with small town boy as quarterback at small Texas school making it to the National Championship. Except perhaps the ending. It wasn’t the big Hollywood finish but the opposite.

Life isn’t Hollywood. Nor is life about a singular destination, it is about the insights and lessons learned along the way. Life is about the journey and not the destination. The journey in these past two weeks has been a brilliant reminder that we are all here to learn and enjoy the ride. We are here to chase the insights and gather lessons from each experience in order to grow and evolve as the best versions of ourselves.

You may remember that last week I wrote about New Year’s goals, about being open to receiving, asking for help and promoting the message of goodness that is Charity Matters. Well, ask and you shall receive. My plea to the universe was answered from across the globe. An extremely popular podcaster, Vince Warnock invited me to be a guest on his show, Chasing the Insights. Vince has a huge international audience and it’s pretty obvious why.

He is bursting with positive energy, kindness and goodness on his quest to help entrepreneurs launch their business. We talked about ways to bring good and philanthropy into everything you do. His message is that we are all here to learn from each other and help one another.  Our conversation, which you can listen to below, was a terrific reminder of just that.

So as we wrap up the second week of 2023, I hear the universe speaking loud and clearly. Life  isn’t about the destination but the journey. TCU had an incredible journey and took all of us on it. We didn’t win but we met so many incredible people along the way and learned so much. Thank you Vince Warnock for reminding us that this is what matters. Chase the insights and leave a path of kindness along the way.




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New Year, New Dreams and Goals

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when we catch our breath and begin to really think about what we want in 2023. I’m guessing that you have been pondering this, consciously or subconsciously, for the past week or so. I know I have. Honestly, just getting through the holidays feels like a victory. For some of us we are too tired to think about what we are eating for lunch let alone what we want for the year ahead. If there is one thing I have learned over the years is that those list and intentions become real and it all starts with the dream.

My sons call me Dharma, like the old TV show Dharma and Greg. You know the one, where the kooky Dharma is all about manifesting and the universe. I have to admit that I do have a solid Dharma side to me. The reason isn’t just faith, although that is a part of it. The main reason is that I set goals and that I can begin to see myself making that happen. Some people think this is odd, some call it manifesting, I like to make plans and make them happen. Call it what you want.

Here is a small example, last year one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2022 was to learn to play pickle ball. I talked about it all year and even was sad that most of my friends had already formed groups. Yet, all year I didn’t do anything about it. Nothing. For Christmas my husband gave me a racquet and a membership to a pickle ball place. I played with my son the day after Christmas and am still smiling. Definitely cutting that 2022 New Year’s resolution a little close but I made it just under the wire. It took a nudge to pull the trigger and now that I am setting 2023’s goals, becoming better at pickle ball is definitely on there.

While pickle ball is one tiny example of moving something forward in my life, it gives me such joy and a sense of accomplishment. Those are the feelings that I want to bring into the New Year, joy and accomplishment. So this year, I am taking a little extra time with the 2023 goals. I am breaking them down again this year into categories. Goals for health, relationships, career, our home and travel. Will I achieve them all? Absolutely not. Looking at my 2022 goals, Christmas in Bali so didn’t happen. Not even close. Will it get pushed ahead to 2023, absolutely!

The goals for Charity Matters are also something I am really thinking about. Charity Matters, each of you and the people we  interview fill me with joy, always! What is challenging is the expectation I place on myself and our team to create content each week. More often than not, amazing nonprofit founders cross my path and it is an organic process, which I love. There’s the Dharma again:) Tracking people down, scheduling interviews, and all the time that goes into each episode is a huge commitment. Finding the right balance of posting/creating every other week or every week is challenging. I look to each of you for guidance so please let me know your thoughts?

This year I am really thinking hard on the best way to be messenger for good. We spend so much time creating but we don’t do any PR or self promotion. Trying to find a smart and authentic balance to that this year is definitely one of our goals at Charity Matters. Finding a path for good news and good stories is challenging in the negative news that our media seems to like to churn out. If any of you have suggestions, I am open to any and all ideas. Or if you have any media connections, let me know. This is not my area of expertise so I can use all the help I can get. Another 2022 resolution, ask for help more often. People are always happy to help, we just have to ask.

Thank you all for helping by being beacons of light and believing in goodness. you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. Each of you sharing these posts, subscribing to our podcast, and sharing our work on social media validates Charity Matters mission of connecting people and causes. So thank you for cheering us on and joining in this quest to be a messenger of goodness. I am running into 2023 with my heart wide open and full of optimism, ready to serve and receive.  Wishing you a magical year ahead filled with love, joy, abundance, fun and much goodness. I know your going to achieve all of this and more with your goals!




Copyright © 2023 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.