Giving From Your Heart

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Follow your heart. Listen to your heart. Your heart knows the way.

There are a lot of clichés that encourage you to be guided by what you feel and take action based on what you believe in your heart. And in this National Heart Month, rather than focus on physical heart health, let’s talk about emotional heart health.

15910043680_5b040e7726_mYou never know when one word or one helpful gesture or act of kindness can mean the world to someone else. Giving them reason to go on, to believe in goodness again, or to get through a rough patch. You don’t know when a smile hides incredible sadness and pain, and how reaching out in some way when the inclination strikes you can change the course of a life. The best we can do is to follow our hearts and try . . . not shying away from feelings, but paying attention to ­­­­them.

The emotions and beliefs we have about giving are not something we talk about as much in the business world as in nonprofit circles. Disasters and deaths, though, can break through our veneer and are when we more publicly express emotions.

When it comes to charity, we give because of the good it will do—and the impact it can make. We also give because something that happens in life gets to us, and we want to make things better. We give because we care.

I’m borrowing from a familiar credit card commercial message, but I believe giving from your heart is “priceless.”

3211153569_b93ba33f2a_mI know we’re a month past making resolutions for this year, and actually, I’m not asking you to make a new resolution for 2016. I’m asking you to make a resolution for your life: make giving from your heart a part of how you show up in the world.

I’m not going to try to sell you on the benefits of giving or why it makes us happy. I’ll just say this: giving money away can improve your health and is, quite literally, good for your heart.

And this heart month, I challenge you to listen, find what connects for you, and take action. Starting now.

Support what touches your heart

Have you lost a loved one to a terrible disease or personal tragedy? Give to help find a cure for the health issue that has personally touched you, to keep tragedy from striking other families, and to provide support for someone else who has to deal with it.

kitty_love_unsplashAre the commercials that show abused animals so hard to watch you switch the channel? Don’t push those emotions away, do something about it. If you aren’t in a position to give money, volunteer your time or donate old blankets—doing what you can for something you feel so strongly about. Put your energy to work so the day comes when there’s no reason for those commercials to exist.

Are you frustrated by our education system, worried that kids don’t have all the resources and opportunities they need to succeed, and concerned about what they’re not getting at school (food, support, exposure to the arts, more)? Give them access to what they need to change their lives.

Do you believe we need to make sure the basic needs of others around the world are taken care of?  Support the nonprofits sending them global aid—for better health and life-saving services that we too often take for granted.

I have a sensitive heart. I feel things deeply, and family members and friends know that about me. But I don’t make any excuses for who I am. And I hope I’m known for being true to who I am, all the time. When I care, it’s sincere. When I feel it, I react. And when I give, it’s from my heart.

This month, I challenge you to do the same.  Give from—and for—your heart. For your life.

If you need help finding a charity:

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– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

Mother’s Day – Musings on the Meaning of Mothering

image source: flickr: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

image source: flickr

As a child (and an only child, at that) I was frequently jealous of the attention, love and mothering my mom would give to other children in our community.

Working individually with kids at my elementary school (and later on in her long career in the juvenile justice system), my mom focused intently on helping children with special needs. She treated them all with love, kindness and respect, which is the very best way to teach those qualities. She did everything as a volunteer—from large-scale organizing to providing childcare and tutoring, and even raising awareness about diversity and body positivity—issues that continue to be important to me to this day.

Truly a mother to anyone who needed one, my mom was a lifelong nurturer. At home, she never said no to me . . .  even when I brought in a foundling stray kitten, or once, a pair of miniature aquatic crabs we found inexplicably crawling up Fillmore Street in San Francisco. In addition to the cat I have now adopted, her social justice work and her extensive networks of friends and family, my mom left behind a large number of rather brilliant abstract paintings, a sassy assertiveness I strive to emulate every day, and a deep respect for treating all living things with kindness and care that’s instilled in me.

When my mother passed away unexpectedly on April first of this year, I created a charity registry in her name, to raise funds for animal rescue and nonprofit veterinary organizations ASPCA and Pets Unlimited, plus our local Make-a-Wish chapter. And you know something? Each heartfelt donation and sympathy message that came through my registry made me feel incredibly cared for and loved. It’s amazing that even someone who might not be related to me, or know me very well, can give me that kind of love, strength and support with a simple gesture. It’s certainly made this time a lot easier.

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Source: Alex Mechanic

I honor my mother by striving to carry on her legacy of compassion, in the warm, giving spirit remembered by all who knew her. And the best feeling lately has been having that same warmth and generosity offered to me by all the various people in my life who I know in so many different ways. They have all been caring for me like one of their own.

Anyone can nurture like a mother does. It doesn’t depend on gender. It doesn’t even have to entail raising children. Caring and compassion are universal: Every one of us can give love and nurturing to anyone else – a child, adult, plant, or animal.

My good friend Sara can’t help but rescue a dying houseplant whenever she comes across one. It doesn’t matter what type of plant it is, she revives them back to health with a little work and TLC. That’s a perfect example of someone taking time to nurture the world around us in just the way a mother might.

So while it’s in my mother’s honor that I remember to smile and say hello to my neighbors and their kids, offer a listening ear to anyone I see having a bad day, and will continue to adopt as many animals as fit in my house, my models of mothering extend beyond her personal example.

I will never have children of my own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to be mothering, and nurture everyone I share this earth with for some finite time. We can all do it. All we need to do is care for each other.

—Alex Mechanic, Service Team Manager

A Gift from the Heart

Mother’s Day is a time when we look at the mothers in our life, appreciate all that they do for us, and try to give something back to them.

Turning 30 this year made me realize I have been giving funny little gifts to my mother and grandmother over the years. Not only is it hard to think up new gifts to buy them, but I find they no longer need or want things. They already have too much stuff as it is.  As a mother of a three year old, I also think about what I would really want from her on Mother’s Day.  Although it sounds cliché, a drawing or something that she makes for me—from her heart—would make me the happiest.

I’m older . . . and crayon masterpieces for my grandma or mom don’t quite cut it. Then there’s the flower option: Most women (including me) love receiving flowers. They brighten up your living space and are a nice treat. But for me, they’re not quite enough. So I’ve found another way to honor the special women in my life – with a gift that’s a bit more personal, from my heart.

My Grandma was a wonderful elementary school teacher for many years, so I made a donation in her name to DonorsChoose.org — a great organization that helps teachers raise money for special projects or classroom materials that they need. Since she doesn’t really like to use computers, I didn’t want her to have to go online and search for a project or an organization. So I printed the donation confirmation to enclose in a special card with the flowers I’ll give her, letting her know how I am honoring her on Mother’s Day.

I wanted to do the same thing for my mom. She supports organizations that protect the environment, and gives to local food banks and rescue missions. The arts and public education are also important to her. And I wasn’t sure which organization to donate to: What would she appreciate the most this year? So I decided to give her a charity gift card with a bouquet of flowers. Letting her make the choice. She can go to JustGive.org and find the charity (or charities) she wants to support right now…there are more than a million on the site. And I’ll know that her donation will make a difference for a cause that is both meaningful and personally close to her heart!

This Mother’s Day, consider a charity gift collection that gives back and says thank you from your heart—donating to a cause that’s special to your mother’s (or grandmothers, or wife’s, or…you get the point) heart!

If you’d like to honor all she’s done in a bigger way, all year round – make it a monthly recurring donation.

Enjoy a very special Happy Mother’s Day!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes