The NYC Marathon – JGSF Donation

I mentioned last week that I am fortunate enough to run in the ING NYC Marathon this fall. This is a huge bucket list item … I’m scared, excited, nervous, thrilled, and my legs are already feeling the burn from training runs.

We have just about fifteen weeks to go and it’s time to start getting the word out about the wonderful organization that has made this happen.

In order to secure guaranteed entry to the race, my sister (she’s running, too!) and I have committed to fundraising for the Jackson Gabriel Silver Foundation (JGSF).

JGSF exists to eradicate EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) which is a devastating disease affecting children from birth. For a child with EB, even the slightest touch or friction can cause their skin to tear or blister. For more information, please visit their website.

It absolutely breaks my heart (and I am sure it is breaking yours) and although its an extremely rare disease, it deserves a lot of funding and needs help gaining awareness, which is where you come in.

To save the children who affected by this disease, we need to share their stories, inspire action, and provide resources to the families who are facing the challenging battle of caring for a little one with EB.

Over the last three years, JGSF has raised over $1.5 million in funding for research and aid for families who need financial assistance to pay for the bandages and necessary treatments for their children. You can read about the progress they’re making here and see images of the little guy who inspired the foundation, Jackson. His family, the Silvers, are responsible for starting this amazing non-profit and it’s easy to see in his sweet little face how he’s been an inspiration to so many over the last few years.

I don’t want to upset you with sad or frightening images or scare you with terrifying and dismal survival statistics, but I do want to help find a cure and stop this disease from hurting precious little ones.

Please consider donating to my charity page on Crowdwise. By donating and sharing the mission of JGSF with others, you’ll help spread awareness and support the work of the Silver family to find a cure and end EB.

Thank you for your help! I can’t wait to share this journey with you! xoxo

Thankful Thursday: Suspended Coffee

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I read the story below today and it filled my heart with hope and faith. I love the concept of ‘suspended coffee.’ After reading it on A Well Traveled Woman, I searched for the original source and was delighted to read this press release from Starbucks offering a suspended coffee program in London. The original suspended coffee concept started in Naples, Italy and it’s quickly catching on. There’s even a Facebook page for the idea. Talk to your local coffee house and let’s get the program going here in the US!

Today I am thankful for this story and coffee! Happy Thankful Thursday!

We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table, two people come in and they go to the counter: ‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave.

I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?”
My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.”

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks, ‘Do you have a suspended coffee?’

It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it.

Image and story source.

I am Santa (& You Can Be, too)

This year, I get to be Santa. That’s right, for the first time ever, I get to stay up late, hide presents under the tree, and eat the cookies that my little dude will leave out for the big man and his reindeer (if Barley doesn’t get to ’em first). If there was one moment I’ve been looking forward to since my tiny man arrived, it’s the look on his face on Christmas morning. I absolutely cannot wait.

However, recent events have shifted my enthusiasm for Christmas to concern for society. I’m not going to dive into opinion about laws that should or should not be changed or better ways to help the mentally ill. These discussions need to happen in a greater forum than this and need to produce results that I don’t feel we can accomplish here.

However, we can accomplish something.  Last year, I told you all that I still believe in Santa. And I believe in him because there is the potential within all of us to give selflessly to spread love and hope to others. We can all be Santa; even if we’re not financially able to give gifts, we can give kindness.

That said, I’ve seen a lot of people posting their plans to go forward with the 26 Random Acts of Kindness, which I think is a beautiful gesture to fill our aching society with snippets of love. I urge all of you who read this blog to consider participating in this activity and if you can’t commit to doing 26 different acts, please keep the spirit of this gesture in your heart and spread any number of random acts of kindness you can. You never know how just one simple act of kindness may help spread the love and peace our world so desperately needs.

And if you are in a position to give financially or to give your time and would like to give directly to those most affected in Sandy Hook and Newtown, CT, please visit this article. Found via one of my favorite blogs.

Last, please remember that there are many still suffering in the northeast due to Hurricane Sandy. For a list of resources to help them, I think this is a great article of information.

Give whatever you can – kindness, prayer, love, money, possessions, or time. And please encourage your children to do the same. We all have the power to be Santa this holiday season and in the many years to come.

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Image via Polish My Crown via 320 Sycamore

Do Good, Feel Good

While perusing Facebook this morning, I managed to find a gem of an article tucked in between political posts and someecards. My eyes lit up and I quickly clicked the link “The Healthy Benefits of Volunteering.

via

Healthy benefits? Yup!!

Volunteering isn’t only good for your community or cause, it’s actually good for your health, too!

I’ve been volunteering for, like, forever. It all started when I had to earn some volunteer hours in high school and I decided to be an unpaid swim instructor at the YMCA (I have no idea how I was qualified to do this job).

I quickly gained the necessary hours but then something weird happened….I kept volunteering. It had everything nothing to do with the super-cute lifeguard that I did didn’t have a crush on for most of high school. Nothing at all.

Years later (we won’t discuss just how many years) volunteering is still a big part of my life (although lifeguards are not). I’m frequently asked, why do you sign up for all this stuff? And, how do you have time for all this? Sometimes, I’m at a loss for a reason. Sometimes I ponder these question myself as I’m labeling save-the-dates at 2am (and crying). Sometimes I’m like this lady:

via

But it really boils down to one, admittedly selfish, reason. It makes me feel good.

And it turns out that there’s a science behind why it makes me feel so good. “It’s been shown that volunteer work enhances well-being (defined by measurements of happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health and depression). Since people with a greater sense of well-being give more hours to volunteering, the process actually helps increase volunteer dedication.” Source.

Also, it’s been shown that having extra time really has little to do with the amount one volunteers (younger adults volunteer more than retirees, for example). And, there’s a whole physical activity benefit (depending on what you volunteer for).

Wowza! Right?

So, feeling blue? Feeling a bit…blech? Get involved with a cause you care about! I know a lovely organization in Fort Collins who is always accepting new members and we’d love to have you.

P.S. I’m currently reading Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta and let me tell you….mind blown! What an interesting look at the structures of non-profits and how our ideas about charity actually hinder the efforts of charitable organizations. I definitely recommend it!

It’s Time for Garden Tour!!!

This Saturday is the 30th Annual Terrace and Garden Tour here in Fort Collins! The Junior League of Fort Collins has been working tirelessly on this event and I can’t wait until it gets here!

On Monday, the committee (which includes me) got to do a pre-tour of the gardens. And….WOW! The seven gardens on this year’s tour are GORGEOUS!!! 

Some of the committee…we’re missing our co-chairs!

While at the tour, an unknowing landscaper asked me if I lived at one of the homes….it occurred to me to say yes….what would it hurt? For a millisecond, I had a fantasy of me swirling around in a sundress and floppy hat on my own lakefront property with a dock, giant cottonwood, and stylish landscaping. But honesty got the best of me and my dream world quickly vanished as I said reluctantly said no and kicked the dirt with my Target sandals.

If a garden can invoke that kind of reaction to such a simple question…you know it’s a good one. And it’s not just one…it’s SEVEN! They are all stunning and all filled with gorgeous combinations of bushes, shrubs, flowers, and trees.

But hey, gardening isn’t for everyone. If botany ain’t your thang, don’t fret. You probably enjoy coupons, tax deductions, and delicious drinks….who doesn’t? Well, the Garden Tour ticket book is all of those things wrapped in one. Inside the book you’ll find the recipe for our famous Rhubarb Punch, coupons to local nurseries, and $17 of the $18 it costs to purchase the ticket is tax-deductible. What a deal!

But WAIT, there’s more! Yes, those lovely ladies at the Fort Collins Junior League have decided to accept donations for evacuees of the High Park Fire that’s happening just 15 miles west of us in our beautiful mountains. Bring your donations to the tour and we’ll get them to the American Red Cross to help those in need. Also, all evacuees are welcome to come to the tour for free! Just stop by the Will Call and we’ll get you a ticket.

So, be sure to buy your tickets to get those coupons then come to the tour to check out the gardens and drop off your donation to the High Park Fire evacuees. Thank you for helping us make this year’s Garden Tour a HUGE success!!

Thankful Thursday: Leaders

Tomorrow is an event that I look forward to all year. Yes…Wyoming Art for the Cure. As with most fundraisers, Wyoming Art for the Cure couldn’t happen without caring, invested leadership. In all organizations, there is a need for passionate, hard-working, creative guidance and, thankfully, we have exactly that in the form of Jesse and Kelly.

Jesse & Kelly via the Wyoming Art for the Cure Committee Photo Shoot

These two women are incredible leaders. Their drive to ensure the event is successful is motivational, their enthusiasm is contagious, and their work ethic is unmatchable. Aside from running one the most anticipated and well-attended events of the year, these two also raise their children, work, and are effortlessly gorgeous (inside and out…. there I go, being all mushy).

Without leaders like Kelly and Jesse, there would be no passion to make a difference. Leaders who dedicate themselves to a cause give us all hope and confidence that change is possible. Leaders who won’t accept failure, who believe in their work, and inspire the rest of us continuously improve the world we live in.

Thank you, Jesse and Kelly, for your tireless efforts to raise money to eradicate breast cancer, share art with our community, and empower women. On today’s Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for leaders like you!

Dress & A Ditty: Think Pink

Wow, it’s already Wednesday?? This week has FLOWN by! It’s been absolutely nuts around here as we prepare for Wyoming Art for the Cure! I’m so excited for the event…it’s this Friday!

Since I’m in a pink state of mind with the upcoming celebration, I had to use the color as inspiration for this week’s Dress & A Ditty. (Note: not every week will be colors).

So, here we have it:

Dress – Where this BCBG dress from Tula (an awesome women’s store in FC) to a fabulous event or for a fancy night out.

& A Ditty – Listen to this song by Pink (even though it’s slow and a little sad…it’s one of my faves) to mellow out while you’re prepping hair and makeup before your big night.

P.S. To make a donation to Wyoming Art for the Cure, click here!

Why I Volunteer: WY Art for the Cure

It’s time, once again, for Wyoming Art for the Cure! I’m incredibly excited about this year’s event because it’s our 10th Anniversary!! This awesome live and silent auction of amazing art has been going strong for 10 WHOLE YEARS!

Quick deets: WY Art for the Cure will be on April 20, 2012 from 6-9pm at Little America Hotel & Resort in Cheyenne, WY. We typically have around 500 patrons, over 120 pieces of art, live jazz music, delicious fare, and a lot of fun! I hope if you live in the Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming region, you’ll consider attending this event or making a donation. Tickets and other details can be found here.

via the WY Art for the Cure Committee Photo Shoot (Disclaimer: I was pregnant!)

Okay, so now, why do I do this event anyway? Well, once upon a time I was a catering manager for a hotel. I was young, terribly unorganized, and extremely uncultured (none of this has changed as of today except that now I’m not young). I had a meeting with a philanthropy called Art for the Cure to help them plan their event in our venue.

Now, as silly as this may sound….. When I met the group of women who organized this event, I knew instantly I wanted to be like them. In the meeting room were 15 or more young women, fashionably dressed, impeccably organized, and fun to chat with. I was instantly impressed at their event format (an art auction seemed so much more interesting than every other silent auction I helped organize) and their ability to dedicate time and energy to such a good cause while working, raising families, finishing school, etc.

The night of their event, I stood in the servers’ hallway listening to the jazz music, intrigued by the artwork and in awe of the flawless presentation the committee members gave to spread awareness about breast cancer. I was determined to be a part of this event and to be like these women.

Months later, I learned that I had a friend involved in the event and was surprised to find out that the founder of WY Art for the Cure was the mom of a girlfriend of mine. I took the opportunity to ask to join the committee then and have been on it ever since….that was in 2006.

Six years later, I’m finishing up my last year as a committee member of Wyoming Art for the Cure. Not only did I get to befriend the women I envied, some of them have become my best friends. Not only did I get to be a part of the committee, I got to lead it for three years. And one day, I was approached by someone I had once worked with and she told me how she wanted to be like me because of my philanthropy work, organization, and ability to balance life…..it was an amazing compliment. I had become one of the women I wanted to be.

I’ve loved every minute of serving on the Wyoming Art for the Cure committee and truly believe that the work this group does goes above and beyond raising money for breast cancer research. We empower women, teach valuable skills about leadership and philanthropy, and we celebrate art and those that create it.

I strongly encourage you to check out Wyoming Art for the Cure, view the gallery, make a donation, or come to the event! You will not be disappointed (and if you want to join the committee…let me know!!)

Here’s to our 10 year celebration! Wish us luck!

Thankful Thursday: Volunteers

Happy Thankful Thursday!!

Can you believe how close we’re getting to Super-Thankful Thursday (read: Thanksgiving)?? This year is flying by! The holidays will be here before we know it. With that in mind, the approaching holiday and winter season reminds me of how many people are less fortunate and need a little extra help. Now is a great time to get involved in a local charity or fundraiser if you hope to help out your neighbors over the holiday season. Soup kitchens, coat drives, toy drives, etc. all take a little time to plan and organize so think about where you want to help out and get started!

As all of you are getting geared up to volunteer for something this holiday season, I thought we’d take a minute to say thanks to all of the volunteers that keep charitable organizations and events going all year long. Over the past week, I’ve heard about several fundraisers or volunteer services that have touched my heart. I heard a fun story about a foster dog parent and the giant mastiff puppy she just found a permanent home for. I saw a sign for a very unique event to help kids with special needs. And a local restaurant in Fort Collins is hosting a charity event for women’s and children’s programs. I’m just overwhelmed by the generosity, time and efforts that so many volunteers give to those in need. It’s truly inspiring!

So, on today’s Thankful Thursday, say thanks to someone who lends an extra hand to those who need it. I’m so thankful for all the women and men who help out with the fundraisers that I’m a part of. There’s a special place in my heart for those who take care of animals. And I’m very, very thankful to anyone who opens their heart to help children in any way. Thank you, volunteers!!! You’re AWESOME!

via Kind Over Matter
via Etsy
via Care Daily
via Polish My Crown
via Yum & Yuk
via From Up North

P.S. Here are a few great charitable organizations in the Northern Colorado/Southern Wyoming area. If you can’t volunteer today, donate $5!

Here’s to Pennies!

Happy Friday!

So much has happened this week. I can’t even begin to cover it all…let’s just say I’m ready for the weekend!

I’m also excited for this weekend because the Jr. League of Fort Collins is hosting their annual Pennies for a Purpose fundraiser! I unfortunately have not been involved in the planning of this fun event, but I am looking forward to volunteering for it tomorrow morning and to the shopping!!

The event is a HUGE Tag Sale. They’ve collected tons of incredible items including baby and children’s goods, designer clothes and jewelry, furniture, sports equipment, and housewares. They’ll be offering these gently used, high-quality items at affordable prices all day tomorrow, October 8 from 7-2pm. More details here.

Can’t wait to check it out? Stop by tonight at 7pm at the Preview Party to get a sneak peek of all the deals! Tickets to the Preview Party are $30 and can be found here.

All proceeds from the event will go to programs in Fort Collins that benefit women and children. Be sure to show your support for the Jr. League of Fort Collins by liking us on Facebook, making a donation to our event, or stopping by tonight or tomorrow for Pennies for Purpose!

Cheers!