Make a Difference For Mother’s Day

As you know if you follow my blog, a HUGE part of my journey with Thirty One is to help others.  Sometimes it is a fundraising project, or a donation to an event or giving to someone who was just in need of some loving.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small goal or a HUGE goal, I want to help.  As a result, I have been able to donate to various causes throughout the years.

This is not to toot my own horn. None of these projects would be possible if it were not for the support of my friends, family and customers.  Individuals who believe in the cause, or just want to help. Okay, can you guess where this is leading…. YOU GOT IT!

For Easter, we donated 25 Easter Baskets to Dottie’s House.  Dottie’s House is a transitional housing facility designed to aid women and children who have survived domestic violence. They proactively help these families develop the life skills needed to become self-sufficient for their future financial and emotional independence.

While delivering them, I was sharing stories of my days as a Social Worker with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance when SMACK!  Mother’s Day was quickly approaching and I wanted these moms to feel some love.

If you have children, think about how your hubby or your family make sure you have a special Mother’s Day.  For many of the women at Dottie’s House, they do not have the same support system so Mother’s Day could be just another day.  I want them to know they are special too.

So, again with the help of my family, friends and customers, we are putting together “pampering bags” as Mother’s Day Gifts for these ladies.  The goal is 18 since there are 18 units at Dottie’s House.  So far we are halfway there.

The $20 sponsorship will pay for the actual bag and I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a fuzzy socks, notepad, pen, lotion, and chap stick.  My friends in direct sales will also be adding pampering products to make these hardworking mommas feel special.   

In addition, I am selling Domestic Violence Angel Awareness magnets for $5 with the proceeds being donated to Dottie’s House.

Since I began my “give back program”, almost $10,000 in products and cash donations have been made to various causes.  It fills my cup to know we have made the difference in the lives of so many people.

So, who is with me? For $20 you can bring a smile to a mom who is a survivor of domestic violence.   The cut-off is April 20th so the bags will arrive in time to be stuffed and delivered on May 9th.  This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to the women I know who have escaped and survived domestic violence.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@@comcast.net as a friend/family.  I can also accept credit card payments directly.  Please complete the form for more details:

Won’t you help to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

HIV/AIDS Still Exists

Today December 1st is World AIDS Day.  For some, it is just another day.  For others, it is a time to remember those who have fought the battle and lost, encourage those who continue to fight and educate to end AIDS in our lifetime.  Since leaving the field of HIV/AIDS many years ago, I seem to have become complacent about what was a passion.

Living with a chronic illness has brought back many memories for me. So today, I am reflecting on the lessons I learned when I worked for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.  As a new “inexperienced” Social Worker and a recovering addict, I was the “crazy white lady” who stepped into Bridgeton wanting to help the world.  Yes, it is what many of my clients thought of me and willing shared as we got to know each other.  I didn’t see any of the people who walked through our doors as “diseased”, “hopeless” or less than.  I saw them as people who because of their bad choices were sick.  “There by the grace of God go I” was a constant reminder for me since I had made many bad choices over the years.  So what could I do in a little office (actually half a duplex) with little funding, the only paid staff, a handful of volunteers (who in many cases were also clients) and a heart wanting to save them all.  In those early years, AIDS was not a “manageable disease” for many it was a death sentence.  It took babies from their mothers.  Moms and dads from their kids.  It took people from all walks of life – yet no one talked about it.  I can remember the first few funerals where the family said “they died of cancer” because they did not want their loved one to be remembered for the stigma of HIV/AIDS.  This was the world I dedicated many years of my professional life too.  Belinda grew up joining me in this battle to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS.  She played with kids who were HIV-positive, she shared her toys, she helped with fundraising, as well as sorting and delivering holiday toys.  She grew up with a passion for helping people which I admire.

Fast forward to today when little is spoken about HIV/AIDS.  It is a manageable disease so we seldom hear the prevention message.  There are medicines to keep you going, so why worry, right?  The theme for World AIDS Day 2017 is “Now Let’s End It”

Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Only 1 in 4 people are making their way through the obstacles called health care and medications.  Let’s not be complacent.  Let’s continue to share how HIV can be transmitted.  Let’s all work together for a day when there is an AIDS-Free Generation.

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World AIDS Day is important because it reminds us and government HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

What are you willing to do to help?  Today, I remember those who fought a great fight – Jackie Wise, Matt McCrossen, Sam, Maria and all of the others who walked through the doors of my office in Bridgeton and the other SJAA offices.  I honor those who continue to fight especially Jeff, Donna and Veronica.  They continue to inspire me with their strength and determination after 26 years.

Honor someone you know who is living with HIV/AIDS or who has lost the fight.  Share their names so we too can honor them.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

 

Does Your Dream and Faith Go Together?

Many DREAM BIG!  For some it may be their own home, others it is retirement, maybe it is owning your own business or traveling the world. For some, they don’t know how to dream. I know it may sound crazy but I was one of those people (and some days still am).  The struggles of life get in the way and you begin to limit your dreams.  Or, maybe you don’t dream at all because you can’t see the forest for all of the trees.A DREAM is defined as “contemplating the possibility of doing something”.  Being able to envision it is the first step.  I DREAM BIG (most days) in my business and my personal life but I have to admit it is with hesitation.  No hate mail, please.  I second guess things all the time which leads me to FAITH.  FAITH is believing in things you can not see.  I know I have talked about this before but I think this is a new take on an old theme.

Some days, do you feel like you are a hamster on a wheel?  Running and running, doing the same thing day after day, the same way – expecting different results.  We dream of how we would like things to be but we continue to do things the same way – getting the same results and only occasionally reaching our DREAMS!  God (or your Higher Power) has dreams for us – he has a plan and despite our best efforts to do things our way, he will prevail.  Honestly, I am not sure what direction this blog is taking but I am hoping it touches someone’s heart.

For years, my professional (business) DREAM has been to mentor women connecting them with the resources necessary to help them reach their personal, professional and financial goals.  When I look back on my professional career, there are times I feel like I have reached my dream.  When I was at South Jersey AIDS Alliance, I worked with women helping them through the struggles of living life with their HIV status while raising their kids.  When I was at Bethel, working with an underserved populations, it was a little tougher but we were able to help many women grow and prosper in the community.  When I started my Thirty One business, and my blog, I wondered if the dream had changed or was there just another path for it to take?

Health struggles created fear and doubt in me – more than the usual. I am blessed to be a part of leadership with Thirty One.  Another opportunity to work with women and DREAM BIG. My definition of mentoring has changed slightly.  It has become more about inspiring others to dream, helping to build their confidence, setting goals (large or small) and then reaching for them.

The truth is dreaming with a lack of Faith is not a good combination.  I dream but those inner gremlins like to test my faith.  Dreaming combined with Faith will allow you to reach those dreams.  I am not saying there won’t be struggles along the way but those struggles are blessings in disguise helping you to reach your dream.  I tell my team all of the time “I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself”.  Why is it so easy to believe and encourage others yet we find it so hard to do ourselves (or at least I do)?I am dreaming BIG but my Faith gets a little shaky.  I have heard if you CLAIM IT, it will be yours.  Do you struggle with this concept?  Do you feel like you “don’t deserve the dream”?  As I get ready for the next hurdle in my MS journey, I wonder where my dream will go.  

Do you have dreams?  Is your FAITH strong enough to help you reach those dreams?  TRUST and BELIEVE God’s plan will help you reach your DREAM as long as you have FAITH in what you can not see.

I hope this was blog strikes a nerve with someone and has helped you.  As for me, I am continuing to DREAM BIG, those Super Size DREAMS where my FAITH stands firm in God’s promise.

Any good words of wisdom on how to get off the hamster wheel and lean on FAITH to reach my DREAMS?

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Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

World AIDS Day 2016

wad-poster-thumb-2016This day every year makes me emotional as I reflect on the lives of those who lost their battle, those who continue to fight and those who unfortunately will still contract HIV.  For those who don’t know my story, you are probably wondering why this has such an impact on me, right?

When I first entered recovery, I was on PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) and had to do community service.  They handed me a book and said “pick something”.  I selected the South Jersey AIDS Alliance and the rest is history.  It was then I started what would become a 15 year commitment to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.  From Case Manager to County Director to Advocate and County Ryan White Grant Manager.

For me, I am reflecting on the lessons that I learned when I worked for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance. As a new “inexperienced” Social Worker and a recovering addict, I was the “crazy white lady” stepping into Bridgeton wanting to help the world. Yes, many of my clients thought it and willing shared as we got to know each other.

I didn’t the people who walked through our doors as “diseased”, “hopeless” or less than. I saw them as people who because of their bad choices were sick. “There by the grace of God go I” was a constant reminder for me since I too had made bad choices over the years.

So what could I do in a little office (actually half a duplex) with little funding, the only paid staff, a handful of volunteers (who in many cases were also clients) and a heart to save them all. In the early years, AIDS was not a “manageable disease” for many it was a death sentence. It took babies from their mothers, it took moms and dads from their kids, it took people from all walks of life – yet no one talked about it. I can remember the first few funerals where the family said “they died of cancer” because they did not want their loved one to be remembered for the stigma of HIV/AIDS. This was the world I dedicated a large portion of my professional life to. Belinda grew up joining me in this battle to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS. She played with kids who were HIV-positive, she shared her toys, she helped with fundraising, as well as sorting and delivering holiday toys. She, too, grew up with a passion for helping people.

Fast forward to today, where little is spoken about HIV/AIDS unless a celebrity says the words. It is now a manageable disease so we seldom hear the prevention message. There are medicines, so why worry, right?

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We aren’t there yet – we are close. There are still 1.1 million people living with HIV in the US today. Only 1 in 4 people are making their way through the obstacles called health care and medications. Let’s not be complacent. Let’s continue to share how HIV can be transmitted.

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Today is in honor of those who lost their fight, and those who continue to fight every day. You blessed my life more than you will ever know. Thank you for allowing this “crazy white chick” to be a part of your lives.

The theme this year is “Leadership, Commitment Impact”.  What will you do to make an impact?  Consider donating to agencies who help improve the quality of life for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Giving Tuesday

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Today, we celebrate #GivingTuesday.  Today marks the fifth year of a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

#GivingTuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  I know you are thinking “we give all year long”, right?  The truth is many times we plan to give but the moment passes us by – lack of funds, lack of time or just “a senior moment”.

#GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.  As individuals, we have causes near and dear to our hearts.  Those who may have helped us personally over the years or maybe made a difference in the life of a family member.  Maybe it is just because you can relate to an organization’s mission.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community is through #GivingTuesday……

Here are a few of my favorite causes …

  • Redeem-Her was born in 2005 to create second chances for those who need it most. Their mission is to offer help and hope to women reentering the community from rehabilitation facilities, jails and prisons.  They have helped more than 150 women and your support will help them to make a difference in the lives of women in need of a second chance. No donation is too large or small.  If you would like to help us them with their vision of providing second chances for more women, donations can be made at: http://www.redeem-her.org/donate
  • South Jersey AIDS Alliance is a caring, compassionate Organization dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Located in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Camden Counties , their vision is to be recognized as a dynamic organization able to efficiently and effectively provide the diverse and integrated program delivery needed to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing nature of the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.
  • Bethel AME Church which also houses Bethel Development Corporation and Bethel Learning Center is the oldest church in the City of Millville.  It houses the longest running soup kitchen in Cumberland County providing hot home-cooked meals four days per week.  The Learning Center is open to children 6 weeks to 5 years of age as well as offering Before and After Care programs.    All programs at Bethel are focused on giving a hand up to those who are struggling – the addicted, the chronically unemployed and the homeless.

#GiveBackWithMe is my way of bringing a smile to someone who is struggling.  Every month, I select one individual who will receive a gift from me along with some encouraging words to let them know they are special and worthy.  To remind them, no matter what the struggle there is someone who cares for them.  Click HERE and help me to make a difference in the life of someone.  Nominations are taken 365 days a year…. one selected each month.

This November 29th, join the movement and give – whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community.   #RandomActofKindness will #makeadifference in the lives of others.  It’s a simple idea. Whether you come together with your family, your community, your company or your organization, find a way to give back and then share your idea.

Share with us YOUR favorite cause with a link on how others can donate to them…Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!