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thefabulousgiver

I’ll Never Forget Why I Give Back

KB's Journey, Living & Giving

Within the past 72 hours, I’ve been blessed to say that to two individuals that I’ve helped and it’s been the most AMAZING experience. On Saturday, I joined my girlfriend Ashley, her mom, aunt, and another family friend at The Glass Slipper Project. The Glass Slipper Project provides prom gowns to high school girls who might not be able to afford them due to financial circumstances. Actually, let me correct myself. The Glass Slipper Project provides a gown, shoes, a handbag, accessories, and even makeup for the girls.

volunteering glass slipper project

I had the pleasure of being the personal shopper for Miss T. After 3 trips to the dressing room and 10 gowns later, we found a gown that she loved and felt amazing in…Score! Moving on to shoes, she found a pair of heels that wouldn’t cramp her style and (of course) matched her dress. After we conquered accessories and makeup, our time together was up. I’m not going to lie…I kind of wished that the day would continue on forever. Or at least the feeling. We spent over an hour together, and for that hour, NOTHING else mattered. It was all about helping her get dressed for a night that she would hopefully remember forever.

As we hugged goodbye, she said “It was fun hanging with you. Thank you!” My response…”No. Thank You!”

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Fast forward to yesterday… While strolling to Kinko’s, I was approached by a woman, Miss Rose, who told me that she was just laid off and that she needed food to feed her children at home. As her voice cracked while explaining her situation, something in my spirit whispered to me, “Do this.” As we were walked to the neighborhood convenience store, she told me about her oldest daughter, a freshman in high school, who was celebrating her birthday on that day.

“Mom, I know you’re waiting for your unemployment, but do you think that you could bake a cake for me today?” the daughter asked earlier that morning.

“When she told me that this morning, I just broke out in tears,” Miss Rose told me.

As Rose continued to talk, I felt a lump forming in my throat. As the daughter of a mother who often had to choose medication over clothes, or who had to scrounge up dollars for our school field trips, I was familiar with the tears of a mother who wished that she could do just a little more, give just a little more.

When Rose and I arrived at the store, she asked if I could just get her a can of chili for the kids. “Absolutely. And, don’t forget the supplies for the birthday cake,” I replied. After our mini-shopping treat was complete, we walked back outside and I gave her an extra umbrella for her walk back home and two hugs.

She said “Thank you.”

I replied, “No, thank you.”

In both of those experiences, I don’t know who was more grateful. Me or them. Giving is not just a transaction of dollars or products. It is a demonstration of the human spirit. As we continue to hear stories of our neighbors, our friends, or even strangers going through hard times, none of us can afford to act like we’re living in a bubble.

While some would say that the emotion tied to both of my experiences is directly related to my past and how I grew up, I have to say that it’s more than that. These interactions reminded me why I love to give. It’s because I’ve been the recipient of kindness and my donations are the price I pay to be alive. There’s no other way to describe it.

Four Ways to Start Volunteering Today

Living & Giving

Often, actually too often, my peers ask me, “How do I start volunteering?” Then, the question is usually followed by all of the reasons why they aren’t actively involved with the community or giving back. I get it, but I wish that people would just say, “It’s not a priority right now.” Guys, the truth is perfectly acceptable for one main reason…

I am NOT the volunteer police!!!! I never ask people about their volunteer committments, nor do I talk about mine in a bragging sense. If you ask me what I’m doing this weekend or tomorrow, there may be a volunteer activity on there because that’s my passion . But, if you’re not a big volunteer, that’s fine! I am the LAST person to judge. Trust.

However, we could all use a little push in the right direction. If you are truly looking for a cause or organization to get involved with, here are some simple tips to get you going.

1. Start with a cause or activity that means the most to you.

My gateway cause was multiple sclerosis because I have a personal connection. Think about what means the most to you. Love to garden? Look into helping out at a local greenhouse. Love to read? Maybe you spend an hour every week or so reading at a nursing home. Love watching sports? Shoot hoops with teenagers. Make sense?

2. Expand your definition of volunteering.

Many volunteer opportunities are outside the box of traditional office-based or event-specific duties. Business professional? You can volunteer on pro-bono marketing and strategy projects with The Taproot Foundation. Former athlete/coach? You can volunteer to be a referee for community youth leagues.

3. Let the Internet be your guide.

With a few key-strokes and a mouse click, you can discover websites looking for helping hands. National sites include Idealist.org, VolunteerMatch.org, or USAService.org.On a local level, many cities have organizations which promote volunteer opportunities on a local level. Some sites to check out are ChicagoCares.org, DC-Cares.org, NYCares.org, or HandsonAtlanta.org.

4. Just ask.

If you got through tips 1-3 and still feel like you don’t know how to get started, then you need to just start asking people. Ask your employer if there is a preferred charity. Ask your pastor/priest if they’ve heard of any community organizations looking for help. Ask your friends where they volunteer and offer to come along.

I want to see more young adults out there volunteering. It’s such a great opportunity to enhance the lives of others and further the purpose of an organization.

If these tips were helpful, let me know! Also, share any tips that you have in the comments below.

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Red Pump Success!

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

KB and Luvvie at the Chicago Happy Hour

In the end, the Red Pump was featured on 105 blogs across the country! That is absolutely amazing. When Luvvie and I were giving a speech last night at the Chicago Happy Hour, I swear a lump formed in my throat when I said that aloud!

A HUGE “thank you” goes out to every blogger who joined in our this journey. Thank you for believing in this cause and using your platform for an important issue. There is so much stigma that surrounds HIV and everyone who participated helped fight against it. Open conversation about HIV is the first step to making a difference.

I also want to shout out the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project staff members who attended the Happy Hour and discussed upcoming workshops and initiatives, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago for donating the educational materials and red ribbons, AND the crowd that braved the Chicago rain and came out for drinks, eats, and conversation!

We’re so thrilled for what the future holds for The Red Pump Project. Please keep in touch with our endeavors and please send us any ideas that you might have.

Updates on The Red Pump Project!

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

The Red Pump Project 2009

Good news, folks! We now have 65 blogging chicas participating in the inaugural Red Pump Project’s “Rock the Red Pump” campaign! Whoo hoo!!! Also, we’ve launched The Red Pump Project website. Long after March 10th, we want that webpage to be a resource of information and news related to HIV and women.

READ: Introducing The Red Pump Project

Luvvie and I will be partnering with The Chicago Women’s AIDS Project and assisting them with initiatives and awareness programs. To kick things off, we will be hosting a happy hour for them next Tuesday at Plush Restaurant and Lounge (1104 W. Madison) starting at 6:30. If you’re interested in meeting new people (and enjoying 1/2 priced pizza and bottles of wine), then come on out!

Questions on how to get involved with The Red Pump Project? Email us at info@redpump.org!

Introducing The Red Pump Project

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

The Red Pump Project 2009

March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and I’ve teamed up with Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie to kick off The Red Pump Project!

The concept is super simple: On March 10th, we’re asking lady bloggers to participate in our inaugural “Rock the Red Pump” campaign and feature an awesome widget (designed by Luvvie) on their blogs. This Red Pump represents the strength and courage of women who fight HIV/AIDS directly or those who support the fight through awareness and fundraising.

If you’re interested in participating or would like more information on how you can get involved, you can send me an email at thefabgiver@gmail.com. If you sign up, I will send you instructions and the html code of the widget. Also, your blog will be linked on a post on The Fabulous Giver that will run on that day.

Our goal is to get at least 100 bloggers to participate in The Red Pump Project. Besides, the Red Pump will add a touch of FIERCE to your already FABULOUS blogs! We’d reallllllly appreciate your participation!

P.S. I have to give a HUGE shoutout to Luvvie who L-I-T-E-R-A-L-L-Y designed this shoe from scratch. She had a vision in her head and worked tirelessly to bring this pump to life! It’s an amazing shoe…You all will see it next week!

For more information on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and local events in your area, you can visit www.womenshealth.gov/NWGHAAD!

Sign up and please pass the word 🙂

Can’t Tell a Story Without a Voice

KB's Journey

finding my voice

I have a confession to make.

In the past, I haven’t been good at fundraising for the causes closest to my heart. Now, I’ll volunteer all of my time and give my own money in a heartbeat, but I never really been comfortable asking others for their time or money. Why?

Well, that requires some story-telling and sharing with others my connection to the cause. Until recently, I wasn’t really comfortable doing that. I’d just tell a soft story in a small voice by simply saying something like, “Oh, my mom has/had MS.” Well, who does that really motivate? Who does that really inspire?

This morning, my mind drifted back to a conversation that I had with my uncle. A couple of summers ago, we were walking along the Chicago River, and he said that he couldn’t understand why his sister (my mother) had to live with this disease. He asked the question that we had all asked ourselves at one point in time, “Why her?” As the warm wind blew across our faces, I turned to him and said, “Through it all, she’s never stopped being positive, loving, or caring. God is using her story to inspire people.”

When my mother passed away at the age of 49, I asked myself a very serious question, “If I had only 25 more years left on this Earth, what is the story that I want others to tell about me?”

Better yet, “What is the story that I want to start telling?”

These questions helped jumpstart the process of finding my voice. The unshakable, unwavering voice of a person who knows what she wants to say and won’t be silenced.

This year, I’m REALLY pushing myself to step it up as it relates to two issues: multiple sclerosis and young caregivers. I hope that telling my story will motivate others to find their passion, follow their dreams, and support their causes. And, I refuse to let it stop there.

I know that we are all busy, but I’m challenging you to find a cause that you believe in. Then, start thinking about how your story can make a difference. After all, you never know who’s listening or being inspired at that moment.

Why Aren't There Donation Boxes At The Airport?

Living & Giving

 

I WISH my suitcase was stuffed like this!!!

I WISH my suitcase was stuffed like this!!!

 

 

When I flew to DC on Saturday, I (of course) packed for two weeks. I included suits, dresses, a gown, PJs, pumps, an winter dress coat, and then the regular clothes. As I approached baggage check, I dreaded that I would be over 50 lbs (checked bag fee + an overweight fee = NOOOO!). And, obviously, my giant suitcase was 56.5 lbs. Even after, I switched some shirts and a pair of gymshoes to my carry-on AND put on an extra sweater, I was still at 54.5 lbs. Grrr…At this point, I seriously was prepared to just give away some sweaters or a pair of jeans. I asked the AA representative if there were donation boxes in the airport, and she told me “No.”

Wait, what?

Am I the only person who think that is a good idea? I always overpack for trips and am always wishing that I didn’t bring that extra sweater, Illinois t-shirt, or whatever. And, I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been up against the gun (or weight scale) when trying to make it through security and to the gate in 45 mins!

I’m sure there are security reasons or logistical nightmares associated with having donation boxes in airports, but I think it should be worth a try! Does anyone agree??

-kb

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Oh, to end my story, the representative suggested that I take my extra coat out of my suitcase, and if I got it to 51 lbs, she’d let me slide. I did it, and voila…It worked!!! 50.5 lbs! But, my body definitely hurt after carrying a 25 lb carry-on, my big black purse (housing my laptop, gymshoes, water, etc…), my black winter coat, and my white winter coat. 🙁

National Multiple Sclerosis Society Scholarships

Living & Giving

Last year, when my mother passed away, my sister and I decided that we wanted to make a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s scholarship program, in her honor. The scholarships assist high school students who either have a parent living with MS or who have MS themselves. My mom was a very big believer in all things education, so it was such a natural decision!

Now this year, in addition to planning events to keep my Mom’s scholarship alive, I’ve been asked to assist the Greater Illinois Chapter with their scholarship drive campaign! I’m actually heading over to the Chapter office now to help craft a letter explaining why it’s so important to support these scholarships. The letter will be sent to various donors, so am going to really make sure that my voice/POV are heard in that letter! It definitely won’t be hard for me to think of reasons! I’m very grateful to have this opportunity and really hope the campaign does well!!!

To find out more about the MS Society’s scholarship program, you can click here!

I’ll talk to you all later!

“Will a Man Rob God?” – Giving In Church

KB's Journey, Living & Giving

Okay, let’s talk about something personal. Every year, I resolve to stay faithful and up-to-date on my tithes and offerings at church…and every year, I stumble and falter along the way. My pastor has been preaching on the topic of finances for the past few months, covering everything from faith-based philanthropy to Sunday’s topic, giving what you owe the Lord.

I’m not going to lie…I should probably definitely give more money in church than I do. Some of you won’t admit it, but I have NO problem being honest about that. So, the sermon was definitely hard for me to swallow. Especially when Reverend brought out the scripture “Will a man rob God?…” The answer? Yes. That makes me sad. I mean, how can you (I) rob God???? 🙁

Anyways, needless to say, this year, I’m going to stick to my guns and sacrifice what is owed and anything additional in church. Period. I give funds and attend special events to raise money for my favorite charities, knowing that I should’ve also put an extra $20 in the offering basket for the scholarship fund!

This year will be the year to get it right! Besides, I’m going to need all the favor that I can get!

Anyone else struggle with this?

-kb

Ten Small Ways To Give More Next Year

Living & Giving

As we close the chapter on this year, most of us will make declarations of how to better ourselves moving forward. Of course, I’m going to urge you to incorporate more giving into your routine. If you don’t take anything else away from this blog, I want you to understand that it doesn’t take much to lead a charitable lifestyle. The opportunities are everywhere!

Here are ten (of many) easy and small ways that you can give more next year.

New Years Eve is the perfect time to set new goals. How about giving more?

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