Browsing Tag

Charitable Living

Do You Have a “Do Good Bucket List?”

KB's Journey, Living & Giving

Lately, I’ve been all about creating lists and mapping out my life. Things can get a little chaotic, and I like to make plans (even if I change them later or never get started on them). The other day, I was thinking of the various volunteer activities that I would like to do one of these days. So, that inspired me to create a “do gooder bucket list.” It may sound odd, but I think it’s a good idea! I’m still in the process of adding things, but here is where I’m at so far.

Before I kick the bucket, I hope to…

1. Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans

2. Volunteer at a Special Olympics competition

3. Complete the two-day Capital Challenge Walk for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

4. Make care packages for our troops

5. Read to a group of children at a local children’s hospital

6. Run in a charity race (10K or longer)

7. Sing carols at a nursing home or hospital

8. Spend a week at an AIDS orphanage volunteering with the children and learning from the medical staff

9. Serve as a volunteer baby rocker and feeder for infants in the NICU.

10. Host an amazing conference for teen caregivers.

Some of these things are probably going to happen before others, but at least it’s a start. What service project would you like to complete before you kick the bucket?


Brunching at the Ronald McDonald House

KB's Journey

My sister and I are still rocking and rolling on our Holiday Service Challenge and one of the things that we wanted to do was prepare a meal for families at the Ronald McDonald House near us. Our Ronald McDonald House program provides a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost. I have the biggest soft spot in my heart for children in hospitals and their families so I’m always down to do what I can to make things feel a little easier for them. In fact, a couple of years ago, my sister and I made Valentine’s Day cards for the families at the same RMH location. It is still one of the “funnest” things that I’ve ever done!

(Okay. Back to brunch.)

Eager to form a group, I sent an email to some of my favorite folks to see who would be down. And much to my delight, five folks signed up! Hoorah. That was the easy part. The hardest part? Figuring out the menu. I have probably only hosted three meal-based events in my adult lifetime. A large-meal guru that does not make. I took some advice from Karen, a Chicago Cares Project Leader who I met during a cooking service project for the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project. She simply told me, “Make sure that you choose something simple, in case people don’t show up.” BRILLIANT words.

Grocery Shopping…

So, with that in mind, I chose the easy, yet filling menu of French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, turkey bacon, breakfast potatoes and yogurt parfaits. I also suggested to my group that if anyone wanted to make shrimp ‘n grits, it would be welcomed. Thankfully, my homeslice George stepped up to the plate and whipped up a delicious batch of the homestyle dish. He received so many compliments from the families… No one would’ve guessed that it was his first time making them!

Voila! (Not pictured: Yogurt parfaits and shrimp ‘n grits)

All in all, it was a fabulous Sunday morning spent cooking in one of the most beautiful kitchens that I’ve ever been in. I’m already looking forward to our next trip there. We’re thinking about doing this once a quarter.

Have any of you ever cooked a meal at the RMH? I would love to hear some tips and tricks from you. Oh, and additional recipe options would be greatly appreciated!

Interested in learning more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities or finding one near you, click here.


7 Ways to Make a Difference on World AIDS Day

HIV/AIDS, Shop for A Cause

Today marks the 24th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Each one of us has the power to end the epidemic. Below are a few ways that you can educate yourselves while also contributing to the greater cause.


    • Have you been tested in the past six months? If not, today is as good as day as any to go find out your status. Visit this site to find a testing location near you.
    • Join Alicia Keys, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for a Twitter chat about AIDS in America at noon ET TODAY.
    • Tonight, MTV will air “I’m Positive,” a documentary that follows the daily lives of three young people who are living with HIV. The hour long special airs at 7p ET/6p CT. Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 make up 24 percent of new HIV infections in the US.


  • Dance (Red) – Download this high-energy dance album produced by global DJ Tiesto. All proceeds from the sale of the album will be donated to the Global Fund.

  • Starbucks – For every handcrafted beverage, Starbucks will donate five cents to The Global Fund. (It’s easy to scoff at five cents until you think about how many drinks Starbucks moves on a daily basis.)
  • MAC Cosmetics – TODAY only, MAC will double the donation of your online Viva Glam purchase. View the collection here.


  • Identify community organizations in your area that provide HIV services and/or resources and get involved. That can be doing anything from passing out condoms, volunteering at a health fair, or even answering the phones at a clinic.

Today, I’ll be preparing lunch for women attending a support group at the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project before going to support my church’s Community Health Fair. Every action counts.

How will you honor World AIDS Day today and moving forward?

Are You Focused in Your Giving?

Living & Giving

This week, I am obsessed with “focus.” Mainly, I’m obsessed with strengthening mine and learning to be more effective with my time and to-dos. And, for me, the key to this is focus. I’ve spent way too much of my life being a mutli-tasker, and frankly, it has totally burned me out. I feel like a spaz more often than not, and the problematic avoidance of that overwhelmed feeling has led me to the point of paralyzation. Obviously, this is not a place where I want to be…nor desire to be.

What does all of this have to do with giving? Well, many people who I meet often say that they want to get involved with a cause or a nonprofit but have no idea where to start. Some have even described the process as exhausting or overwhelming. After further discussion, I realized that it’s because they aren’t focused and/or you may not have any idea what exactly it is that you want to do. So, they continue to put it off.

No more procrastination!

To get you going, here are three things you need to do in order to focus your giving efforts:

1. Determine what you are willing to donate. Are we talking time (volunteering), talent (planning/leadership), or treasure (your moolah)? If you just want to be involved in a financial way, that’s fine. Focus on doing that and then expand to volunteering or something else, if you feel like it. This is totally your call.

2. Decide what cause really gets you going. There are a zillion and a half important issues, worthy organizations, and groups making an impact in the world. And, when you decide to “make a difference,” choosing what to focus on seems like an overwhelming process. If you care more about inner-city literacy than saving the rainforests, that is okay. Focusing your interests will make you more valuable in that area and also help you stay active and interested.

3. Devise a plan to help the cause or the organization. I know what you’re thinking…Planning = Work = Stress. But, actually, this plan is designed to keep you on track and to help you avoid that overwhelmed feeling. In Step 1, did you decide that you’d rather donate than volunteer? Then, make a plan on how often you will accomplish that. Monthly giving, raising $500 in an annual walk, attending all of the auxiliary board fundraisers? This helps you see what you have to do and gives you the chance to incorporate into your lifestyle ahead of time. The same goes for those of you who only want to volunteer.  Do you plan on volunteering in the office for 1-2 hours per month or would you rather staff 3 events per year?

Hopefully, these three tips point you in the right direction! For more guidance, check out my post, “What Kind of Volunteer Are You?” It includes a great quiz from that will help you figure out your place in the world of making a difference!


CHALLENGE: 53 Hours of Holiday Service

KB's Journey, Volunteer Opps

Image: TimeOut New York

Last week, I announced that I am challenging myself to clock 53 hours of community service between now and Wednesday, January 4th. Everyone was incredibly supportive, but many wondered why. Well, it’s no secret that I lost my mother in 2008 after a long bout with multiple sclerosis. On January 4, 2012, she would’ve turned 53 so there’s the reasoning behind that. My mother loved to help others. She tutored foster kids when we were younger and even won a national award from Volunteers for America in recognition of her service. She taught Sunday School, worked in the sign language ministry at church, and always seemed to have a supportive word for those around her. Simply put…she is the original Fabulous Giver and at this moment in my life, I can’t think of a better tribute.

I’m also so happy that my sister has joined the challenge as well. On a daily basis, we have phone meetings discussing what projects we have signed up for and how well we’re tracking. It’s fun and a little nerve-wracking! But, we’re getting there…and come hell or high water, we will reach our goal. Some of the projects that we’ve signed up for already include:

-Packing food boxes at the Greater Chicago Food Depository

-Teaching adult computer skills to women recently released from prison

-Passing out food and toys to those in the community

-Assisting with a mailing project at the MS Society

-Hanging with seniors at a local community center

-Gift-wrapping gifts for kids in need

-Serving at a Salvation Army location on Christmas

There are other service projects that we are participating in, but we need more! If you or your organization can use a couple of hands (especially on nights and weekends), let me know! Thanks again to everyone for their support…’Tis the season to be a great servant!


Opening My Windows

KB's Journey, Living & Giving

Today while browsing through Twitter, I came across this quote, tweeted by the Angel Rock Project:

Quote of the Day: The charitable give out the door and God puts it back through the window…Traditional Proverb.

I read it and had to stop, think, and say a prayer to God. It went a little something like this…

God, as long as I can, I promise to use the gifts that you gave me to help others, while at the same time helping my spirit and soul. As I send these blessings out the door, I will open my heart and mind to receive any and everything that you see fit to put through my window. Thank you for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Amen.

Knowing that you reap everything that you sow, what blessings and positivity are you giving out your door? If you’re not already doing so, I encourage you to find a way (any way) to start investing in others and in your community. The reward is there for the taking, and trust me…You will be blessed.

Happy Friday!


Photo: Gentle Breeze by Lyle Huisken (as featured on Fine Art America)

VIDEO: Giving Back To Yourself

Fab Gab, Living & Giving

In today’s “Fab Gab,” I’m talking to you guys about the importance of giving back to yourselves! It’s honestly just as important as givng to others. You need to make sure that you’re taking the time to enrich and enhance your life. We only have one life… Make the best of it! The idea of today’s topic came to me while reading “Fabulousity” by Kimora Lee Simmons.

Check out my thoughts by watching the video below! Oh, and I think I coined the term “circle of giving.” Unless someone is already using it…

Have a great weekend, everyone! Talk to you all on Monday 🙂

3 Tips When Donating Items To Charity

Living & Giving

You know the routine. You look up one day and decide that you have too much stuff in your home and something must go! Maybe you’ll try and give the items away to family and friends. OR you may decide just to donate it.

While you may think that thrift stores and consignment shops should just take whatever you give them, I’m here to warn you that is NOT the case.

Here are three super simple tips for donating to charity thrift stores:

Check the store’s website to see what they can and cannot accept.

You’d be surprised at some of the things that can’t be donated. I once tried to give away plastic hangers and college textbooks and was denied! I couldn’t believe it. So, the hangers are still clogging the closet and the books are in a box until I find a good home for them.

Check to make sure that clothes aren’t dirty, ripped, or soiled.

When the staff is sorting through the clothes, any damaged (or smelly) clothes are thrown out because they don’t have the resources to wash or repair each item. Remember, the goal is to get the goods immediately on the sales floor and make some moolah!

Make sure that you get a receipt for the value of the items.

Yes, of course, most of us donate out of the kindness of our hearts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the tax benefits. When you donate items to a thrift store run by a charitable 501(c)3 organization, you can deduct the “fair market value” of the items when you prepare your taxes. “Fair market value” essentially means that you estimate the value of that item today. So, don’t list your 2000 Gap blouse with the missing button at the price you paid, especially since we all know it’s not worth that anymore! For more guidance, ask your accountant or visit!

Okay, so you’ve given your stuff away and are probably wondering what to do with the unacceptables. Well, my suggestion is to look around for nonprofits or shelters that take items in and give them away, not sell them. And, if that doesn’t work, then just take them to the trash. I ended up giving my chipped table to the junk man. Hey, sometimes it happens…As long as you tried to donate, that’s all that counts in my opinion!

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!”


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.