Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seeking Solace in Charity

For many people, losing someone you love to a devastating disease instills a passion to rid the world of that disease.  In grieving, I think it gives one something to direct anger toward.  You can hear it said by so many, "I hate cancer."  It can be helpful for the griever to feel like he/she has made an effort to "do something" about it, even though nothing can be done to bring back a loved one.
My Team for the Curesearch Walk

In 2009, I campaigned and raised funds for childhood cancer research with my team in a Curesearch Milestone Walk. I won recognition as the team with the highest funds raised.  Last August, I organized and hosted a bake sale for Cookies for Kids Cancer after reading about the founder's son Liam's struggle with cancer.  My husband takes part in St. Baldrick's every year.  It is always meaningful for us to get others involved and feel we are playing some part in banishing cancer from another child's life.
My daughter puts the finishing touches on her dad at St. Baldrick's.  This was 4 months before her death.  When we returned the next year without her to do it again, St. Baldrick's had used their picture together on the event flyer.  Chancing upon it knocked us back quite a bit and took our breath away.

I like to check out organizations with an online search for how they use the money generated.  I use a few sites, starting with Charity Navigator. You can then see the percentage of administrative costs that come out of the revenue generated.  The lower the administrative and fund raising costs, the more that goes into actual programs that do the good you want to perpetuate.

In the past, I have found these investigations to be a bit disheartening.  I felt that if I had worked hard to raise $4000, what difference did it make when the executive director was earning $280,000?  Couldn't he just take a little paycut?  It felt like it negated all of my efforts and that of my friends.  But it must be remembered, that just as each of my friends contributing $20-40 all added up to thousands of dollars, so too, each teams $2000-$5000 added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  When a charity, in this case Curesearch, has revenues of over $50 million dollars, that's a lot of adding up!  And though Mr. Executive Director has a handsome salary, Curesearch is able to use approximately 95% of the revenue for actual programs!  That means millions of dollars going into research for treatments and cures.  Just what I wanted.  Look, I wouldn't mind if Mr. Exec decided to work for free, but I know most of us wouldn't, we have families to feed, clothe and educate.  I can see that of my $4000 contribution, $3800 went directly into programs to do just what I want, and $200 went into making sure they are able to create those programs and raise more funds.  Every little bit, can make a difference.

If you are thinking about dedicating some time and effort to a charity, I would advise you to check them out (some of the smaller ones don't have published information, but they should share that information with you when you ask).  I would also suggest doing one event per year.  I only have so many friends and family, and I think if I tried to fund raise monthly or even quarterly, they would get tired of always being asked to donate and maybe stop taking my calls.  It can't bring back our loved ones, and it won't immediately change the world, but taking part can give some physical concreteness to the desire to "do something" when one is powerless to do anything about what has already happened.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I've just entered a giveaway at The Inspired Room for a basket.  I just discovered this blog and I love how comfy and homey, yet beautiful she makes the rooms look. The requirement for entry was to tell how you would use a basket, if won, and how you use baskets in your home now.  This sparked a very dear memory for me.  On the last Mother's Day that I was able to spend with my daughter Ingrid the above picture was snapped.  Ingrid and I were able to plant flowers in the garden.  My back was sore from stooping and after we finished our planting we walked up the steps of the deck.  Ingrid so sweetly placed her hand on my back and walked with me, to help me.  She was so kind and compassionate and far more concerned with others than most people I have met, let alone 7 year olds. We had our gardening tools in the beautiful basket. 

This past year, I hosted a bake sale to benefit Cookies for Kids Cancer, a foundation raising funds to advance medical treatments and one day help find a cure for childhood cancer.  We used baskets to present our cookies.   

There is something about baskets that is so comfortable.  Maybe it is the natural materials (far nicer than plastic), or the old fashioned quality of them.  I find I always appreciate something that is not only functional, but beautiful.

I'm sure there will be plenty of entries, but I thought I'd throw my hat in.  I can always use another basket.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hello 2011

New Year's came and went and I'm glad it's over.  I tired of having to reflect on what has passed and what will come.  I went to a nice party at a friend's wonderful home.  No fireworks, no ballgowns, no giant disco ball.  Instead, it was a collection of some of my favorite people, good conversation, and plenty of laughs.

As for resolutions, I have none, other than my constant drive to move forward and look out for my two living children.  One thing I am itching to do is plan some travel, which itself involves financial planning, timing, and pinpointing just one place to visit out of the many I would like.

Though I don't think this will be the first place we go, currently I hear London Calling.