31 January 2013

I can’t believe one month has already gone by.  It really feels like yesterday that I was writing my Jan. 1 entry explaining my reasons for starting this blog and outlining the plan for the next 365 days. 

Here are some thoughts after my first 31 days:

*One month in and I already feel much more aware of the world around me, both locally and nationally. Putting the $10 into two homeless people’s hands and spending time talking with them helped remind me that all the homeless people I see every day have their own individual stories. It’s one thing to know that, but to actually ask them their story and see the gratitude that someone recognized them as human instead of just brushing past was memorable. I’m sure the $10 meant more to them than the attention, but probably not by much.  Now, whenever I pass a homeless person, I try to at least say “hello” or “not today” and acknowledge that I heard that another human being was speaking to me, even if I’m not handing them any money. Giving them that modicum of respect seems the least I can do.

*On a national level, the time I spend researching the charities and figuring out what to write about has made me realize I could conduct this experiment for 10 years and never repeat a charity. There are so many worthy causes out there. Finding them has been time consuming, but also very rewarding and encouraging, especially on the days I’m writing about something that has left me dispirited and feeling hopeless, such as on Jan. 28 when I wrote about Shirley Chambers, who has lost all four of her children to gunfire, or on Jan. 30, when I wrote about Hadiya Pendleton, the young girl who was shot to death a week after taking part in President Obama’s Inauguration festivities.

*The charity that touched my heart the most was Luther Church Charities K9 Comfort Dogs, the group that took labrador retrievers to greet the children at Sandy Hook Elementary on their first day back to school following the Dec. 14 shooting. That’s probably because I’m just a soft touch for cute animals and the innocence of the puppies and the children seemed very similar. Echoing the cuteness factor, the Wake County SPCA adoption video to Abba’s “Take A Chance On Me” got plenty of play in my house. The other video that affected me was Shirley Chambers’ plea that someone help her find the person who murdered her son. She was so calm and placid, it was as if the life and hope had been drained out of her after going through this horror an unimaginable four times. 

*Updates: I haven’t really tracked any of the charities, but PATH, the homeless assistance organization I gave to on Jan. 12 after I wrote about the homeless man who camped out on my doorstep, reached its goal of raising $315,000. I like to think they were at $314,990 and then my $10 rolled in to push them over the top.   In addition to the standard email acknowledgement for tax purposes,  I got a lovely email from the director of development for Cure Violence after I told the organization about my blog. They are doing tremendous work fighting gang violence. According to their email, they are ranked No 9 by the Global Journal in its international rankings of the Top 100 NGOs in the World. I got a cute note from the Lutheran Church Charities K9 Comfort Dogs  that had an adorable little dog paw print on it. 

*The support I have received from readers is unbelievable and it keeps me going.  Though I’m the one giving the money and writing the blog, this truly feels like a group effort, especially when I’m giving to one of the great charities so many of you have suggested. I feel like we’ve started on an exciting journey together with no idea where the next 11 months are leading, except that I know it’s to somewhere good. THANK YOU to everyone who has read any of this and THANK YOU to all of you who have commented to me about the blog. You don’t know how much it means. 

*Coming Up: In February, my goals include figuring out how to deliver the daily blog into your email inbox for those who want it (thank you to the people who have already requested that), start Facebook and Twitter pages for Causes & Effect,  figure out how to make my blog prettier and how to install key words to make it easier to find (I thought I’d done that, but, apparently, I did it wrong).  If you have suggestions you’d like to see implemented, either leave them below or send them to me on Facebook. 

In addition to all the wonderful suggestions readers have made, I’ve compiled a list of my own, based on some of my favorites. I’ve also started paying attention to charities that celebrities founded or give to. One that I’ve admired since my New York days is Children’s Health Fund, which was founded by Paul Simon and Irwin Redlener, MD in 1987. The program provides health care for homeless and medically underserved children. It started with a mobile medical clinic in New York  and has grown to 272 service sites in 17 states, according to its website. Over the past 25 years, Children’s Health Fund says it has provided healthcare to more than 350,000 children.  And you just thought Paul Simon could sing...   (The site is running a special through March 15 whereby Colgate will donate $1to CHF for every person who shares Colgate’s wellness tips via social media)

Jan. 31: Children’s Health Fund:  http://www.childrenshealthfund.org/

31 down, 334 to go!

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