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Happy Mother’s Day …almost.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner (May 8th) I wanted to take a week to honour great Mom’s that are doing amazing things to change the world in their own unique way. Being a Mom is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is a 24/7 job and that doesn’t include all the other things Mom’s do in a day to keep the family unit running smoothly. We are head chef, in house cleaning ladies, chauffeurs, soccer players, teachers, accountants and the list goes on. Many of us work on top of all of this and do so many things to give back to the world. I will be featuring Mom’s that give in many different ways, donations, use their skills and expertise, volunteer or just do what they can on any given day, not only give their families but other important and worthy causes.
I think you will know my first great Mom as she happens to be a celebrity. Her celebrity, her music is what she does for a living but in her heart, she is a Mom first. Sarah McLachlan.
Day 215: Give 215
I was inspired to do a feature on Sarah as I attended her concert on Sunday night. She is a local Vancouverite and lives not far from me. I went to go see my first “Sarah” concert just a year and a half ago. The concert was within walking distance of my house and was a fundraiser for her foundation, The Sarah McLachlan Foundation. She headlined with Sheryl Crow and Neil Young. It was an amazing show that I will remember for years to come. The one thing that I loved about Sarah’s concert besides her music, was her honesty. She talked to the audience like we were sitting in her living room. One specific comment stuck with me. She was preparing to sing her next song and she made a joke that she needed her sheet music as she couldn’t remember the lyrics due to “Mommy Brain”. Now not everyone will get this but if you are a Mom you know how this feels. My son was just 18 months at the time and I was completely suffering from “Mommy Brain.” I still have my days and he’s 3! Somewhere between sleep deprivation and organizing every detail of a child’s day leaves little brain space for much else. You forget everything. I connected with Sarah at that moment in a way that was unique. She may be Sarah McLachlan “super star” but she was also a Mom and she was taking the time in her life to raise money that supports a cause that is near and dear to her heart.
I have taken a quote directly from the foundation so you can see the great work that is accomplishing with music and children.
“The Sarah McLachlan Foundation sole mandate is to support and expand our music outreach program (SMMO), and to continue to celebrate the achievements of our students. Most kids in inner-city schools do not have access to music education, and many students cannot afford to learn music in an after-school setting. In 2002, The Sarah McLachlan Foundation opened its first free music school, the Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach, reaching youth in the under-served communities of Vancouver. ”
Sarah has a passion for children and she comments about the impact music had in her life as a child. It inspired her to open a music program that would help children get music in their lives out side of school. We all know the power music can have on us and to give children the opportunity to learn and experience it that may not otherwise have the opportunity is an impact the will ripple through generations to come.
The Giving Doesn’t Stop
If I actually detailed every philanthropic act Sarah has completed this post would be pages long. I won’t even get started on Lilith Fair. Not did she only raise money for great cause along the way but she set a presidence in the music industry for women. She gave women a chance that no one else would. Truly life changing giving. Wikipedia has a section under her name that is specific to her philanthropic endeavours. The site Look to the Stars: The World of Celebrity Giving, has a complete listing of all the ways Sarah has given back. Millions of dollars and hour and hours of volunteering her time. I was at a small preschool fundaiser last week and Sarah had donated an item to the silent action. Even for a local preschool her daughters do not attend. Sarah may be a “celebrity” and her music has changed and inspired lives around the world, but it is obviously in her heart to give. Thank you Sarah for being a brilliant Mom that gives.
Sarah’s Favourite Charity
I did have a chance to meet Sarah after the concert and I asked her what her favourite charity was. She told me it was Kiva as she liked to support other women around the world by giving them a hand up not a hand out. In honour of Sarah as a Mother, I have made a loan to Kiva to Julienne Nyinawabo. She is a working single Mom trying to expand her restaurant business in Rwanda. She works long days to make ends meet and needs the loan to make a better life for her and her son. It’s all any of us want for our children.
Time Commitment: 5 minutes
212 Days ago I started a personal mission. I committed to giving every day for 365 days. I believe you can change the world one give, one day at a time.
On May 4, 2011, I will celebrate World Give Day to bring an awareness to daily giving and highlight its many shapes and forms. Some gives are big, like the donor that gives half his fortune away. Some are considered small, like buying a coffee for the next person in line at your favourite coffee shop. After 212 days of consecutive giving, I know that every “give” counts. Every action of giving creates a ripple effect in one way or another and inspires people to also give. If we all conducted a give every day the world would be a better place to live.
My personal giving journey has connected me to some extraordinary “Every Day Heroes.” These people are doing remarkable things because they are motivated by their passion to give. Whether they realize it or not, they are inspiring other people through their own personal giving actions. These are the individual donors that are the backbone of philanthropy. It people giving in their lives, donating, volunteering that keep the world of philanthropy going. Quoted by Wikipedia the modern day definition is “”private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life.” It doesn’t day “have to donate $1,000,000 or more” nor does it say you have to be a massive not-for-profit organization helping hundreds or thousands of people. It’s every day people doing every day actions that change the world. Do you know an Every Day Hero? I would love to hear their story please leave a comment, tweet or Facebook.
Day 212: Give 212 Celebrating the Every Day Hero
The 365give Top 5 Every Day Heroes
Chelsea (originally from Vancouver) is about to move Lira, Uganda. During a recent trip to Uganda, she was touched by the street children. They have been so personally touched by the abandoned and orphaned children in Lira, Chelsea and her partner Morris are starting an organization called the Atin Africa Foundation. Just like that. Through their project they will positively and deeply affect the lives of these children. That is truly world changing.
Calista is 11 years old. I’m not even sure where to start with her accomplishments as a volunteer. Last year she was awarded Volunteer of the Year for the Special Olympics of Philadelphia. She has already raised enough money by selling her crafts and homemade lollipops to grant 1 wish through Make-A-Wish Foundation and she is working on completing her second very soon. This continues to include Pennies to Parents, Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, Unicef, The Red Cross – I could keep going. One of the most remarkable things she is working on today is trying to get her family an Extreme Make Over – Home Edition with Ty Pennington as her brother has special needs and their home cannot accommodate him anymore. I believe it is the next generation that will make a huge impact on the world and Calista is a remarkable example of this.
Carlo Garcia truly is an everyday hero. Carlo dedicated 1 year of his life to giving every day. Yes we are on a similar mission. His site Living Philanthropic featured a different charity every day for 365 days. He made a personal donation to each of the charities in hopes to inspire more people to give every day. Carlo isn’t a millionaire, but gave up personal indulgences like lattes and more clothes to make his donations. He personally donated $4165.00 and inspired others to give an additional $15,149 to various organizations featured on his site. Even though his 365 days of giving are over, he is still continuing his mission of giving. You should see what he is doing for year 2!
Wendy Bourgon packed her whole life up for a simple reason. This is a quote taken from her site:
“Visiting Zambia and Kenya opened my eyes to the oneness of the human family. I came to realize that regardless of where we live, we all share the same hopes, dreams and frustrations. We all want to eat, have a home, be cared for when we are sick, be comforted when we grieve and see our kids fulfill their potential.”
Wendy moved to a small village in Zambia to do one, simple thing – to give. She didn’t go for a holiday. She has committed her time to help a village struggling in Africa. She is finding ways to give a hand up not a hand out by making the village sustainable not dependant. Would you dedicate a year or more of your life to a group of strangers on the other side of the world removing yourself from the everyday comforts of home? Could you dig a well? Take care of goats? Help a community thrive and grow? Wendy is doing it and she is hero for that reason.
Last but not least is my 3 year old son Nicolas, my miracle and inspiration. My husband and I were blessed to adopt Nic at the age of 11 weeks old. Now 3 years old, he gives back in so many ways. He has made a choice to learn from his parents and their journey of giving and participates in daily giving naturally. Without prompting from his parents, he is an avid garbage picker, environmentalist, volunteer and donor. He will stop dead in the middle of a fabulous bike ride just to get off his bike and pick up the garbage on the side walk. He has planted his first vegetable garden to support the planet this spring. His favourite place to go to make a donation is the SPCA (local animal shelter) and he even helped me when I stopped to help an injured cyclist. At 3 I see how he inspires adults and children by the choices he makes. We can teach our children to give at any age.
World Give Day is just around the corner (put in the date). You don’t have to give away your life savings or volunteer for 100 hours to make an impact. Just do/give one thing. My challenge to you is to commit to give one thing every day for a week and see how it feels. I guarantee you it will feel good, you will feel happy and after the week, inspired to give more. You will know that every day of your life has counted.
Time Commitment: You never stop giving
I love the concept of “Every Day Heroes.” I know this topic has been done more than once but these heroes are the people of the world no one knows. They don’t do amazing philanthopic things for the recognition they do it because they believe in what they are accomplishing and have a passion for giving. They are filling the space that is not always filled by the not-for-profit sector. My next guest has changed the way I think about giving. Just when I feel I am doing some “good” in the world I meet someone that amazes and inspires so much I want to keep giving everyday for the rest of my life because of them. Meet my new friend Chelsea Peters.
I met Chelsea through a friend of a friend. You know that 6 degrees of separation concept? That is how Chelsea and I met. I feel like we have always been just 6 steps away from each other and finally we both turned at the same time and we bumped into each other. Chelsea is doing something I have dreamed of for most of my adult life. She is opening an orphanage in Uganda for street kids. She and her partner Morris are not millionaires. She does not
have extensive knowledge on how to go about opening an orphanage, starting a not for profit nor do they have any children of their own. But they care for these forgotten children on the street. They understand their needs and want to help them with a passion so deep in their hearts it is driving them to do what they need to do to make it happen. Chelsea writes about a generous donation she recently received from an 8 year old girl from Colorado. My give is not only sharing Chelsea and Morris’s story but matching the donation of an 8 year old. If she can find $100 in her life savings so can I. They need just $6500.00 to get the orphanage up and running. How will you help Chelsea? How will you help the street kids that have been abandon in the streets of Lira. Even $10 will help. Read the story and hit that donation button. Help Chelsea and Morris bring their dream alive.
Day 209: Give 209 Guest Chelsea Peters
In February I was in Lira, Uganda visiting my partner Morris. I found a little street boy named Junior, who is 8 years old. He had wandered by earlier when Morris and I were sharing food with the other street children. Junior began playing silently with his broken toy car. Each time we peaked out to check on him, there he was playing in his imaginary world. I hoped that world was a better place than his reality. This car was the only possession he had in the world and it had been broken by the local police (they treat the children of the street a bit like rats.) He had painstakingly worked to repair it. He wanted to give me his car to take home and fix. I wanted to get him a new one. When I told him that he smiled sweetly up at me and showed me that all he really wanted was to hold my hand. I think what he really wanted was to come home with me. I sat in the dirt with him in a white dress as dust whirled around and passersbys stared at the ‘muzungu’ (foreigner) and the street kid. I had nothing to give of mine but my old blue hair tie.
Junior needed so much more than a hair elastic. Yet at the same time the simple hair elastic was exactly what he needed. It represented a bond between us that nobody can take away from him. Two months later I am back in Vancouver and my partner Morris (still in Lira) still feeds him everyday. He still wears the blue hair elastic on his wrist.
Morris and I have made a promise to fight for Junior and the more than 100 homeless street kids in Lira like him. That promise is Atin Afrika Foundation and the residential shelter that we are creating for the street kids of Lira.
The other 8 year old in this story is a little girl named Brynn who lives in Colorado. She has never been to Africa and she has never met me. Her mom Hillary and I worked together on animal rescue projects in Mexico and that is how Brynn came to hear my story, the story of Junior and Atin Afrika Foundation.
I received an email from Hillary recently. This is what is said. “Brynn and I hit some thrift stores today to get the goods for her crafty ideas. While we were driving I told her about the fundraising you’re doing. I told her how Morris has been bringing Junior food, got him a jacket, all about the rainy season and the kids having to sleep on the streets in the cold. Brynn was silent for about 30 seconds and I wondered whether she’d heard anything I said.”
After some thought these were the words that came from an 8 year old’s mouth ”Mom, send Chelsea $100 from my bank account.” Her mother was stunned. She’s 8. She has $400 and wants to send 1/4 of her life savings to me because she believes in what I am doing. She knew that I will do far more than the value of $100 worth of good with it.
The email continues from Brynn’s Mom, ” She’s been like this since the very beginning. Thanks for inspiring her!”
Giving is a chain reaction that happens when people are inspired to act. In my case it began with a blue piece of rubber. A hair elastic changed my life. I realize that this sounds preposterous, but truly a hair elastic changed my life.
A little girl from Colorado named Brynn humbled me and my email back to her mother was short, “ Please tell Brynn that its kids like her who inspire us all to act and think beyond ourselves because if an 8 year old can how is it possible that we grown-ups do not?”
Maybe we can’t change the world, but we can change the lives of these street children. Children are our future and despite all the cynicism and scepticism, knowing that there are kids like Brynn and Junior out there, makes me believe there’s hope.
Chelsea Peters took a trip with friends brought her to Lira and after meeting the street children, spending time with them and hearing their stories she made a promise to herself to do everything in her power to give them two things missing in their lives; hope and love. She is in the planning process of starting the Atin Afrika Foundation with her partner Morris Owiny.
Time Commitment: Chelsea is making a lifetime commitment
Cost: 365give is matching the $100 donation made by Brynn