In the spirit of giving to others, please take a moment to nominate a deserving person for a free photography session courtesy of Diana Bellack Photography. Diana was touched by the Give Back Mission and wants to pay it forward by offering someone a one hour on-location session valued at $150 (20 high-resolution, lightly retouched images on disc, consultation on theme, style and props).
You can nominate someone once a day on the below Rafflecopter Entry Form. The winner will be picked at random from all the entries. The contest ends on March 19, 2013. Please spread the word and think about who in your life would love the gift of professional photography services. This offer is for a free on-location session within 20 miles of Burke, Va.
During my Give Back Mission, I highlighted amazing organizations based on the recommendations of my readers. Unfortunately, I was unable to focus on all the organizations brought to my attention. Please take a moment to visit and learn about these equally important organizations below.
Bohdens Hands – This organization, which was started by a Stafford, VA couple, raises funds to help families with the bereavement of losing an infant. They are providing libraries of books, materials needed for casting so that parents can leave the hospital with castings of their babies hands and footprints, and providing bereavement counselors.
Emes Army - Emes Army is an organization made up of supporters of Emerie (Eme), a six-year-old girl from Prince William County, VA, who is in the Fight for Sight against LCA, a rare degenerative retinal disease that is causing her to go blind.
Healing Hearts Rescue - Healing Hearts is an animal rescue organization headquartered in Catharpin, in Northern Virginia.
Kid Flicks - Kid Flicks is a not-for-profit organization that donates movie libraries of 100 assorted DVDs to Children’s Hospitals and Pediatric Departments throughout the country.
Today is my one-year blogging anniversary. It is a personal achievement I have celebrated the last 11 days by doing good deeds and highlighting amazing charitable organizations championed by my readers. For my final mission I am highlighting another deserving organization as well as answering a question posed to me as part of March’s Secret Subject Swap put together by the blog Baking in a Tornado. Fifteen bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style.
When I accepted my question I didn’t realize that the publish date would also be my blogging anniversary, but once I read the question I knew it would fit in nicely with my final wish and thought for all of you.
This give back mission has taught me about the compassion and strength of others. I now realize what I am capable of and have learned that simple acts of kindness are contagious. Doing good deeds fulfill me much more than I ever thought possible. I have cried learning about the people in need and the people who have lost loved ones. My heart has grown so many times during this little experiment.
However, based on this experience, if I could learn one thing immediately it would be how to cure people of disease. All diseases, but especially Cancer. The enemy that lies within. The enemy that knows no boundaries. The enemy that attacks our children, our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and our fathers.
I wish I had the capacity to figure out the right cure or vaccine. I wish I could spare so many from the pain and suffering. I wish I could prevent the loss. The heartbreaking loss so many know. So many dread.
I know this fear well. I know what a diagnosis of Cancer does to a family. I know what it feels like to be told that no matter how hard you fight and pray, this will be what cuts your loved one’s life short. Painfully short. I know that even though your loved one is still alive and you vow to cherish every moment, you secretly look at that person with the crushing knowledge and fear that everything WILL change. I hate that and I HATE Cancer.
My step-father, who is known only as Daddy or Pop-Pop in our family, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer that metastasized into his bones less than 22 months ago. His disease is terminal and aggressive. Very aggressive. He was given a timeframe. A countdown. A sentence. Treatments are not curative, but rather meant to keep the beast at bay as long as possible. Meant to make him more comfortable. Doctors talk in terms of months, not years, but months. Life as we knew it before the diagnosis is over. Our naivete destroyed. Our hearts broken. We cling to each moment. We take pictures. Lots of pictures. We plan vacations. We set goals. We research the latest clinical trials. We pray for miracles. A cure.
How could this happen? Isn’t Prostate Cancer one of the most treatable Cancers? The slowest moving Cancer? How did we not know? How could it have progressed so fast? He is not even 60. He deserves more time. We all deserve more time.
I haven’t shared this before because I haven’t been able to write about it. I tried many times, but I couldn’t. Over the last 11 days I have shared so many personal stories. Other people’s stories. Courageous and amazing people have opened up to me and have shown me what it means to advocate for a cause. To truly believe in something greater than themselves.
So, I am sharing this deeply personal thing for the first time in a very public way. I am sharing this pain that is there every day underneath the surface. This sadness that my mother and my sisters and I feel every day. The anguish and frustration that our Daddy/Pop-Pop feels as he spends endless hours online searching for an answer. Searching for hope.
I have been told that this time is a gift. While I understand this thought, how can watching a person you love get ravished and torn down in this way be a gift? How can you prepare to say goodbye to the person who taught you how to ride a bike without training wheels, who taught you how to drive, who taught you how to find the stud when hanging up shelves, who moved you into your college dorm, who always knew what to do when you were sick or something was broken, who despite not being related by blood is very much a part of who you are? Please tell me how anyone does this.
I want to believe that one day there will be a miracle. That one day someone much smarter than me will learn how to fix this. That one day someone will help stop the pain and the unnecessary loss.
I want to learn how to cure Cancer.
Today, I am asking that you take a moment to help one brother who is in this fight against Cancer in a big way. He is a true advocate in the name of the sister he lost to Breast Cancer. Shawn Gardner and Team Heather have helped to raise almost half a million dollars for the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure since 2001.
Shawn formed Team Heather to support and empower his sister in her fight. In 2001, 25-year-old Heather Gardner rolled over in bed, her elbow touching a lump in her breast that developed overnight. That day, Heather’s OB/GYN sent her home, telling her women her age didn’t get breast cancer. A biopsy days later diagnosed this 25-year-old with Stage III Breast Cancer – a cancer most likely 10 years in the making – and immediately thrust Heather and her family into the dark journey all breast cancer survivors must face. Seventeen months later, Heather Gardner, a newlywed now, lost her battle to the Cancer her mother survived years before.
Shawn Gardner, a teacher at South County High School in Fairfax County, Va., has done more than run a race. He has started a movement. His efforts have helped Komen invest $2.4 billion into finding a cure – making it the largest private funder of breast cancer research. According to Team Heather’s fundraising page:
This investment has helped breast cancer, according to Eric Winer, M.D., chief of breast oncology at Dana-Farber, to “be the first type of cancer we look back on and say, ‘This used to kill, but it doesn’t anymore.’” And many experts believe that any steps towards a cure for breast cancer will lead to a cure for other forms of cancer.
If this is what the power of one brother’s love can do, imagine if everyone touched by Cancer spoke out and became advocates. Imagine what we can do together.
Please consider donating to Team Heather. You can also support to this cause by buying tickets to the South County Middle and High School Talent Show on March 21 at 7 pm. All proceeds from the show, which is themed “Pink: It hits home,” go to Team Heather.
No child should go hungry. Not here in the United States or elsewhere in the world. It’s a basic need, yet so many go without access to food.
One organization is on a mission to end hunger globally. Stop Hunger Now is an international hunger relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world. It currently serves 76 countries and has packaged 91,397,816 meals with the help of volunteers. Countless congregations, civic organizations, corporations and schools have organized Stop Hunger Now meal packaging events to help feed the hungry.
Locally, The United Christian Parish – UCP in Reston, Va., is organizing a huge event to raise money in support of Stop Hunger Now. Their goal is to provide 30,000 meal packets.
On Saturday, April 13 from 10 am to 3 pm, the church is holding a silent auction and rummage sale to raise the money needed. The event will also include lunch and bake sales as well as free activities for kids.
Right now the UCP is collecting tax-deductible donations to be sold or auctioned – products, gift baskets, gift cards, admission passes/tickets, signed memorabilia, etc.
In April, they will also collect household donations like second-hand home décor, games, books, toys, sports items, music, movies, small household items, and small appliances.
Please contact the organizer Shelly Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help by donating something for the silent auction or by donating household goods.
The UCP Stop Hunger Now fundraiser has an online Facebook Event Invitation that is open to the public. Click here to RSVP or see the latest updates. You can also like their Facebook Page for the event.
Please help if you can and spread the word!
Good Deed Idea of the Day
Today, I am going to pay for lunch for someone. You can do this by paying for the person behind you going through the drive thru, by paying for the next person in line at your local sandwich shop, or simply by buying your co-worker a surprise lunch with no strings attached. This is a very generous way to spread some kindness.
I would like to do a recap of all the Good Deed Ideas from the last 10 days. I am amazed how doing these small acts of kindness can make a difference in someone’s day.
Buy coffee for a stranger
Write a letter to a currently deployed service member, wounded solider, or Veteran
Send a token of appreciation to your child’s teacher
Putting money in vending machines
Let someone go ahead of you in line
Leave a thank you note for the mail carrier and garbage collector
Show neighbors you care with a special care package of baked goods