Donations for the second half of 2011

Though I have not been great about posting where I have donated for 2011…. I have done it… so here are a few of the organizations that I donated to in the second half of the year.

Wounded Warrior Project – my friend, Joe, informed me about this great organization.  Their mission is:  to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.

One Common Unity – a fellow Elephant Journal writer, HawaH, founded this organization whose mission is: to nurture sustainable, caring communities through innovative peace education services, arts initiatives and media programming.

WLNH’s Children Auction – my good friend, Sheryl, participated in this auction – as did my friend Susie and others from the Lakes Region in NH.  The Children’s Auction PubMania event, put on by Patrick’s Pub, raised an unbelievable $110,770. The Children’s Auction helps community organizations in the Central New Hampshire region.

I also gave gift cards and cash to individuals who I knew could benefit from that, people who are/were having a hard time during this challenging economic time affecting middle and lower class families.

Even if you cannot provide financial assistance to those in need, consider a way in which you can help someone who needs it – giving of your time in some way.

I’ll continue to give by way of money and my talents in 2012, but since I was not so good about posting about it in 2011, it’s likely I will not post about it in 2012 – unless it’s something that develops into a story/lesson more than the giving.

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
~Maya Angelou


Peace is Possible!

Do you believe?  Mattie believed!  Mattie Stepanek was a poet, philosopher and peace activist.  He died a month before his 14th birthday.  So very young.  Yet, in his short life, Mattie inspired so many.  When we read his magical words, see photos of his contagious smile or hear his voice on videos of shows he was a guest on (Oprah, Larry King), it’s easy to determine that this young man was an ‘old soul’ and he was here to teach us.  On Mattie’s website it states:
Mattie interpreted Heartsongs as ‘gifts that reflect each person’s unique reason for being’. And he once said ‘People tell me I inspire them. And that inspires me. It’s a beautiful circle, and we all go around together, with and for each other. What a gift.’

Mattie was just 10 years old on September 11th, 2001.  He wrote the following poem on that devastating day.


We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment.
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment.
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment.
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice.
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment.
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

September 11, 2001
© Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek
Before his death, Mattie was asked how he wanted to be remembered – he replied: “When people hear my name after I am gone, I hope they smile and say, ‘oh yes, Mattie — he was a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played.’ So, that is how I choose to think and speak and live each day.”  By living with intention, and on purpose, Mattie showed us how making a choice contributes to how we live and how we will be remembered.

When I informed his mom, Jeni Stepanek, that I would be writing a post about Mattie, I asked her if she would like me to include anything.  She said, in part, that she would like to encourage us to learn about the ‘For Our World Campaign’ – which can be found on the website.  They hope to gather more translations of Mattie’s 9/11 poem, but more importantly, they hope the poem is downloaded (free!) and posted on websites, bulletin boards, blogs, facebook pages, refrigerators, etc., around the world as we move toward the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

As you watch this You Tube video, please consider supporting the continued work of Mattie’s Foundation by purchasing products (Jeni wrote an inspirational book about Mattie’s life, called Messenger, and Mattie wrote many poetry books), donating to the Foundation (my June ‘giving’) or helping to spread the word of Mattie’s Foundation.  I honor Mattie’s mom, Jeni, for nurturing Mattie to become more of who he was and foster what he had to offer so he was able to share his insights and messages with the world.  Thank you, Jeni.
In one of Oprah’s interviews with Mattie, she asked him: What do you know for sure, Mattie?
Mattie replied: That our attitude is a choice. I believe we can decide to be miserable, to roll ourselves in the dirt and say, ‘Hit me again.’ But when we do that, we’re missing out on so much! I know for sure that while it’s great to have role models, we should never try to be anyone but ourselves. I know for sure that when we use words, not bombs, we all get peace. I know for sure that there’s something bigger than the here and now—some people call it God, some call it Buddha, some call it Yahweh. I know for sure that we don’t need to be afraid of death, because we’ll be greeted by something better on the other side. And I know for sure that life is a gift to be treasured—and that we must always live it to the fullest.

Oh, yes, that Mattie- he was a pretty amazing human being!

Om Shanti
Om Peace,

GSP Rescue of New England

My sister-in-law’s (Margaret) dog, Maggie, was sick and had to be put to rest recently.  This was very surprising and sad news.  There are some animals that are family pets and there are some pets who are family.  Margaret has had many dogs in her life – Nadia, Cayce, Maggie – and they have all been beloved family members and by Margaret’s side through thick and thin.

Margaret’s birthday was this month and I asked her where she would like me to donate (reminder my ‘giving’ plan for 2011 is to donate to organizations that my family/friends hold in high esteem, that resonate with what is important to them).

So, this month – in honor of Maggie – and on behalf of Margaret and Andrea (another sister-in-law whose birthday was in February and dog lover – of Bodhi), I have donated to GSP Rescue of New England (

GSP Rescue is an all-volunteer organization committed to finding loving, permanent homes for German Shorthaired Pointers in need.  They are a 501(c) 3 organization incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and operate in all six New England states from CT to ME.

If you are a lover of the 4 legged creatures, and you have some extra cash-o-la this month, perhaps you will consider a donation too – or you could contribute by volunteering your time or spreading the word of this good organization.

Creating Awareness – what you should know before traveling to Mexico

Nolan was only 22 years young when he died. Andrew was 16. Brent was 8. Hunter was 9.

These four young people all died in Mexico while on vacation….. while on v a c a t i o n. Now their parents, family and friends live every single day without them, missing them so deeply. In the words of one Mom – ‘with an empty feeling that still remains in my heart.’

My friend, Moe, formed the non-profit organization Mexico Vacation Awareness after her son, Nolan, died in 2007. Nolan was a bright light in this world. If you did not personally know Nolan you simply had to read some of the entries on the guest book on to understand how he touched the lives of others. For those of us who have children, we may think we can imagine the pain and suffering associated with our precious child leaving this world before us, but truly – I don’t think we can ever know unless it happened to us.

Mexico Vacation Awareness (MVA) was formed with the hope of achieving two main objectives. The first objective is to create awareness about the many unknown dangers that await you when traveling to Mexico and the second objective is to have a place for victims and their families to tell their seemingly unbelievable stories. For more information about Mexico Vacation Awareness, and stories that these families undoubtedly wish they knew before they booked their trips, click here.

Though it is likely I will not be going to Mexico anytime soon (yes, some due to fear based on what I now know and also due to the fact that there is so much I have not yet seen in our country), I have a very good friend who leads a group of yoga students in a retreat to Mexico every January. She has been doing this for 10 years – see what Mimi has to say about her trips to Mexico. Just this week Mimi posted an interesting entry on her blog about fear and crossing the border to Mexico with her family – they are traveling to Mexico by way of RV.

I offer you both sides of the story so you have information, so you are aware, so you can make an informed decision – not based on fear, but based on real stories of people who have had safe trips to Mexico and others who have the worst story imaginable.

In honor of Nolan (on the right in the photo), during the week of the 4th anniversary of his death, I am donating the first GIVING funds of 2011 (see Giving entry on this blog) to Mexico Vacation Awareness. I would appreciate it if you join me in donating to this very important cause to help support the continued work of MVA. Moe is committed to increasing awareness so when we travel outside of the US, we have the information required to make an educated decision. In 2009 she worked with Congressman Ed Markey and together they formed The International Travelers Bill of Rights Act – a bill designed to protect Americans traveling abroad through better disclosure of health, safety conditions at overseas destinations. In 2010 Moe spent countless hours speaking with and assisting many new “victims”. She also continues to maintain and update the MVA website so we have the most current information about safe travel abroad. A couple of her goals for 2011 are to continue to support other families affected by tragedy and work to get the International Travelers Bill of Rights Act signed into law. She hopes to have a companion bill introduced by the Senate early this year to help her achieve this goal.

MVA is a small, one person organization and I know the Webster family would really appreciate your support. A donation of any size would help – please send your tax deductible donation to:
Mexico Vacation Awareness Organization
P.O. Box 147
Woburn, MA 01801

My thoughts and prayers are with Nolan’s parents Moe and Billy and his brother Ryan (on the left of the photo) knowing how much they miss him every single day and also as they celebrate how fully he lived his life – let’s all think about that as we begin a new year and consider living more fully in honor of our loved ones who are no longer with us.