How Are Your New Year’s Resolution Going?

Time flies! Can you believe that March is over??? That means that 25% of 2014 is behind us! This is a great time to check back in on your New Year’s Resolutions.

Did you make a goal to give back more this year?

If so, you’re a lot like me. I know that I have been so fortunate in my life and there are so many who don’t get the same opportunities. There are so many people, animals, causes I want to support, and because I want the world to be a better place, I resolved to give back more this year.

But life has a tendency to get in the way. We’re so busy and there is so much demand for our time and money and sometimes even though we want to give back, we just don’t do it as much as we would like.

This video will give some tools and inspiration for you to stay on track or get on track, so you can make 2014 your most generous year yet.

What Is Generosity?

An Example of Generosity

In the O’Henry short story The Gift of the Magi, Della has one prized possession and that is her long and beautiful hair. But more than anything in the world, she wants to give her a husband a Christmas present worthy of him. So she sells her hair for $20, cutting it short to her chin, to buy him a chain for his watch.

She knows that her husband Jim also has one prized possession and that is his watch, and this chain is the perfect gift for him. Jim also wants nothing more than to buy his wife the perfect Christmas present, so he sells his watch to buy Della two pure tortoise shell combs to hold back her gorgeous hair.

I love this story, because it captures the generosity we are capable of us humans. We are willing to sacrifice the possessions we hold most dear for love.

Generosity is a beautiful thing. But what really is generosity? We want to be generous. We want to be thought of as generous. We want the world was more generous. But what does that mean?

And that is the topic for this video.

Let’s Start With…

In 2009, The University of Notre Dame started the “Science of Generosity” Initiative. And for the past 5 years, they’ve been studying generosity- what is it? when are people generous? and how can people become even more generous?

They offer a definition that identifies three different components of generosity:

  1. Generosity involves giving to others not simply anything in abundance but rather giving those things that are good for others. Generosity always intends to enhance the true well-being of those to whom it gives.
  2. Generosity is the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly.
  3. Generosity is in its mature form, a basic, personal, moral orientation to life…. Generosity entails not only the moral good expressed but also many vices rejected.

Watch Out For

I’ll go in-depth into each of these components and help you avoid common mistakes.

Then End With…

What I hope is my succinct and clear definition.

Share With Me

What do you think generosity is?

How do you express generosity in your life?

Month 3 Giving Challenge: Help Homeless Pets

We’re three months into our 12 Month Giving Challenge.

In January, we supported a local homeless shelter.

In February, we did something special for a senior in our life or community.

And in March, we’re going to do something to support your local homeless pets. Somewhere in your community is an animal shelter or rescue working hard to save animals, and they’re doing it with barely enough resources.

Did you know…

  • 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year.
  • Only 3 to 4 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year.
  • That means 2.7 million adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year. That’s gotten a lot better when 12-20 million pets were killed every year.

What You Can Do:

  1. Spay or neuter your own pet.

    There are now so many low cost options available, so if you’ve been putting it off because you think you can’t afford it, contact your local NoKill animal shelter and ask them if they know about any low cost options in your area.

  2. Adopt
    The great new is that there is room for improving that 2.7 million euthanized pets, because only 30% of pets in homes today have come from shelters. The more people who adopt rather than buy a pet, the fewer pets who will die. So the first thing you can do to help a homeless pet, is to adopt one!
  3. Foster
    If your home is complete with the animals you have, can you foster a dog or cat until a forever home is found?
  4. Give Money or Goods
    If you can’t foster, can you donate money or goods? A cash donation lets them buy exactly what they need when they need it, but they might also need specific items. So call them and ask, do you need food? blankets?
  5. Give Time
    Finally, you can donate time. Dogs need to be walked and brushed. Litter boxes need to be cleaned. Websites maintained. Letters sent to past donors. Your local animal rescue may gladly welcome your time and expertise, so call them and ask how you can help.
  6. So that is our challenge in March. Support homeless pets.

    Thanks so much for joining me for month 3 of our 12 month giving challenge.

    Leave a comment below about how you helped a homeless pet this month.

Give to a Senior on Valentine’s Day

Month 2

It’s the second month of our 12 month giving challenge. In January, we supported a local homeless shelter. In February, we’ll direct our attention to the seniors in our lives and communities.

Valentines Day is when we shower the ones we love with extra special attention, and it might be a hard day for a senior. If they’re widowed they might be remembering the Valentine Days they shared together in the past. They may wonder if they are still loved and needed by anyone. So, this Valentine’s Day, let them know, they are still loved and still needed.

If your grandparents are still alive, maybe this is a great time to pull out the family photo album and ask for the story on how they met and fell in love. Give them an opportunity to relive a great memory.

Maybe there’s a neighbor living alone who might enjoy a homemade valentine and a cookie. Maybe you even want to sit down and share a cup of tea together and ask for advice on a situation and give them an opportunity to share their experience and contribute their wisdom.

Or your Local senior center is also a great place to give your time or money to on Valentine’s Day. Centers often host special dinners or dances and they might need an extra hand to ensure a successful event. Start by calling your local senior center and ask them how you can help.

There are so many ways you could bring a little happiness to hearts of seniors on Valentine’s Day, and I’d love to hear how you plan to spend Valentine’s Day.

How will you brighten the day for a senior you know and love or a senior you don’t know?

What to Do on Martin Luther King Jr Day

What are you doing for others? This was the question that Martin Luther King Jr asked of himself and he pursued this question with everything he had.

As a result of pursuing this question, he achieved all kinds of things. He was the most recognizable face and voice of the Civil Rights Movement. He was Times’ Man of the Year in 1963. the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Before he died, he was awarded the American Liberties Medallion from American Jewish Committee, the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his book Stride Toward Freedom. He had published books and given important speeches and changed the course of history in this country.

And yet it was not the accomplishments that mattered. It was the intention behind the accomplishments. That intention alone was praise worthy even if none of those achievements happened. When MLK Jr thought about his eulogy, he didn’t want people to mention all those awards. At his funeral, he said,

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.

When I think about my eulogy, I would love people to say these things about me, too. And in order for that to happen, I have to do something for others. Today, to honor Martin Luther King Jr and as part of my 12 month giving challenge, I’ll support a local homeless shelter.

Homeless shelters get a lot of attention around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but people experiencing homelessness need help all year long. A donation now of time or money will help your local shelter will make a big difference.

You can give time

Many shelters need help preparing and serving meals, driving people to work, interviews, appointments, or providing training on computer software, resume skills etc.

You can give money

But don’t underestimate your shelters need for money, so if you’re not interested in volunteering or don’t have the time to volunteer, remember it takes a lot of money to run a homeless shelter, and a small donation to your local shelter would be so welcomed.

Someone will be able to say that day

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., you can know that today you did something to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And maybe, just maybe, your donation to that shelter, gave a man the chance he needed to get back on his feet.

Other Ideas

This is just one idea on what you can do to honor his legacy, but I’d love to hear other suggestions.

What will you do for Martin Luther King Jr Day?

12 Month Giving Challenge

This Is the Year!

Have you written your list of New Year’s Resolutions yet? If you’re like me, one of the items on your list will be to help others and give back. This is a great resolution, because giving back is such a rewarding experience. When we look back on the year, and we wonder if it was well lived, one of the things we’ll ask ourselves, is “Is the world a better place because I was here?” When we can answer that question with an emphatic yes! Yes, the world is a better place because I was here, we feel good about ourselves, and our year is filled with a sense of meaning and purpose.

One Step At a Time

So, here it is the beginning of January, and it’s the perfect time to commit yourself to giving more this year, and the best way to give more this year is to give all throughout the year. And if you think about it, it just makes sense. People need your help all year long. Plus, when you do a little every month, it’s so much easier than trying to do something big at the end of the year– especially around the holidays when there is so much demand for your time and money.

The 12 Month Giving Challenge

Here are a few ideas for something small but meaningful you can do each month of 2014 to help others:

  • January: Homeless Shelter

    Make a donation to your local homeless shelter. Homeless shelters get a lot of love for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but homeless people need to eat and need a place to sleep on January 2nd, too.

    This month, make a donation of time or money to help your local homeless.

  • February: Love on a Senior

    Valentines Day makes February the month of love, and you know who could use some love? Senior citizens! They spend a lot of time just hanging out and would love some attention and company. What could you do to let a senior know they are still loved and still valued? If your own grandparents are still alive, you could do something extra special for them. I remember when I put together a mixed CD of big band music for my grandparents, and my 90 year old grandfather looked at the CD and said what is this? So, I also had to buy him a CD player! He loved listening to that music.

    Or call a local senior center, and ask them how you could help seniors in your community. They might need help hosting a special event or suggest a specific donation you could make.

  • March: Local Pet Rescue

    Somewhere in your community is an animal shelter or rescue working hard to save animals and they’re doing it with barely enough resources. They would welcome a donation of money or dog blankets. They probably have dogs who need to be walked and cats who need to be caressed.

    This month, reach out and support your local homeless pets.

  • April: Earth Day

    Earth Day is a great time to appreciate our connection to the earth. Our lives on this planet are possible and vibrant because of her abundant natural resources. Air fills our lungs. Water quenches our thirst. Plants and animals provide shelter and food. And its natural beauty restores our spirits.

    In April, give time or money to caring for her. You’ll find some ideas for Earth Day in the infographic at the bottom of this blog post.

  • May: Education

    Education is one of the most important tools a young person takes into the world with them, and sometimes that education isn’t available without the generosity of people like you. Education today is expensive, and your donation to a scholarship fund can help one student to make it to college.

    You don’t have to focus just on college, because there are important non-traditional sources of education, and instead of a scholarship fund, you could donate to help at-risk students enter apprenticeship programs.

  • June: Food Bank

    Schools can be an important source of food for many families. School breakfast and lunch programs can really help struggling families, and when school is out, they need to find help elsewhere. Your local food bank is a master at efficiency and effectiveness and can turn just a small donation of $10 into 40 meals for families in your community.

    So in June, donate to your local food bank and help families in your community eat.

  • July: Water/Sanitation

    The summer is hot, and we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country where we can just turn on a faucet and water comes out. But not every place is so lucky. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. You can do something about it by making a donation to help bring clean water to another community.

  • Augusta: Social Justice

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” And while he’s right, he’s right because people take action to make it so. What human rights do you care about? LGBT? privacy? equal opportunity for education or legal defense, freedom to speak against your government?

    In August, support something that protects or promotes human rights. Make a donation to a local or international charity promoting those right or volunteer your time to support an important piece of legislation.

  • September: Back to School

    Kids are heading back to school, and they need a bunch of stuff: clothes, backpacks, notebooks, pencils. Teachers are taking money out of their own pockets to buy materials they’ll need to teach.

    You can help with donations of money or goods.

  • October: Health

    Did you know that there are no less than 16 health conditions that use October as their Awareness month? The most famous of course is Breast Cancer. This month, take some time to give to improving our health. You could support charities that are researching and treating diseases, or you could support other health initiatives such as getting young people to exercise or getting affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to inner-city communities.

  • November: Veterans

    Veteran’s Day happens in November, and we will hear a lot about thanking our veterans. And while we all benefit from the freedoms and rights found in America, only a few have put their lives on the line to defend it. Because of their service, these men and women experience all kinds of hardships ranging from being separated from their families for long periods of time to serious injury and death. Veterans suffer disproportionately high rates of depression, suicide, unemployment, and homelessness.

    Thank a veteran for all the sacrifices and hardship they’ve experienced with action. Donate to a charity helping veterans, and call your Congressperson and let them know that veterans are a top priority.

  • December: Keep Em’ Warm

    Baby it’s cold outside. And that means high heating bills, and for struggling families sometimes that means choosing between being warm and eating. You can help families stay warm this month by helping pay their heating bills or making donations of warm clothing.

A Challenge You Can Handle

And there you have it! One small thing you can do every month, and at the end of the year, you will have made your resolution to help others a huge success!

Let me know your progress!

In A Infographic

Here is the challenge in an oh so pretty infographic.

How To Help Others All Year

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to help others this year?

If so, you’re a lot like me. Unfortunately most New Year’s Resolutions are broken, but now you’ve got a secret weapon! Here is something small you can do each month, and at the end of the year, you’ll be amazed how easy it was to make a big difference in the world!

Share this infographic


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<iframe width="600" height="2388" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="overflow-y:hidden;" src="http://magic.piktochart.com/embed/1074304-flow-2"></iframe>

Where did we donate?

Can't see this image? Visit https://changegangs.com/2013-accomplishments to see all the amazing charities we donated to last year.

Winter Imaginings

Is it Christmas already? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready. The year has flown by in a mad rush, and I’ve arrived at the dead of winter wondering what happened.

Hundreds of years ago, life slowed down in the winter. There was less work to do, because the harvest had been reaped. There was less light, because the shorter days couldn’t be augmented by artificial light.

Aside from doing more sleeping, I imagine that we used to do lot of sitting around in the winter. When people gather together and sit, we also talk, sing, laugh, eat, tell stories, and imagine. When I say “imagine”, I don’t mean fanciful constructions. I mean forming new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing, or our other senses. When we imagine, we ask questions and then open our hearts and minds to possible.

We imagine why we’re here. We imagine where we came from. And through our imaginings, we find meaning and purpose.

So, in the dead of winter, when there is the least reason to be outside, we have the perfect opportunity to go inside ourselves and find our meaning and our purpose. Tomorrow, the 21st, the Winter Equinox marks the shortest day of the year. Each day after grows progressively longer.

As the day grows longer, we can take what we’ve discovered during our winter imaginings and bring it into the world. I know my purpose is to live fully, love unconditionally, and to inspire others to do the same.

What about you? What is your purpose? What do you need to give to yourself and of yourself to find meaning and purpose in 2014?

My holiday wish from my heart to yours is that your generous spirits create a life filled with love and joy for you, your families, and the world this holiday and every day.

Why You Should Can the Canned Food Drive

As we’re thinking about our own holiday feasts, we may also be thinking about those going hungry. And while it’s tempting to go to the grocery store and load up with canned goods, here are 3 reasons to make a cash donation instead.

  1. Food banks buy in bulk
  2. What can you buy at the grocery store for $10? A jar of peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, and maybe a couple cans of soup. But your local food bank is a master of efficiency and effectiveness. They can turn your $10 into 50 meals!

  3. Cash allows the food bank to buy what they need.
  4. They receive excess stock and expired goods from local stores, but often need to fill in the blanks with purchased goods. Your monetary donation lets them make sure they have a full range of items to offer.

  5. It gives food banks funds for overhead.
  6. They have to pay rent, utilities, salaries. They need trucks and gas to pick up donations and to deliver goods. Without cash donations, the food bank can’t operate their facilities and provide the food they’ve collected to the people who need it.

Conclusion

If you really want to feed people this holiday season, can the canned food drive and make a monetary donation to your local food bank.