Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ten Things of Thankful: Things That Make Me Go, HMMMMM….

Golf gives me freedom to procrastinate
I woke up early this Saturday morning, sent the men off to a golf tournament, and sat at my desk with the intention of pouring out my creative self onto the computer screen.

Instead I spent three hours perusing Facebook, checking out the latest promotions on, and playing myVEGAS slots.  Hey, at least I ate breakfast (twice), made my bed, gave the dogs their much-needed doggy fresh breath treats, and remembered why I enjoy writing for my blog. 

Here on the blog I endeavor to inform you, the reader, about the various acts of kindness performed by individuals and organizations that take their compassion and gratitude for life and share it with others around them.  Since I personally find these groups and their missions inspiring, I share them with others in the hope that even more of us will seize opportunities we see and use our talents to make someone else’s burden a little less cumbersome.

Today I decided that my propensity to procrastinate can sometimes actually be a gift instead of a curse (or sign of laziness).  After spending two hours scrolling through my Facebook news feed I determined that this week’s Ten Things of Thankful post will be a celebration of some of my favorite organizations that work to bring happiness and quality of life to others.  So, without further ado, I bring you Ten Things of Thankful: Groups and Individuals That Make Me Smile (and a whole lot of others, too).

10. State Farm created the “Celebrate My Drive” campaign.  This “contest” encourages drivers to commit to safe driving techniques by giving them a brief quiz to take and then allowing them to vote for their favorite high school.  This year Joplin High School, with the help of local State Farm agent, Kyle Hickam, has enrolled in the competition.  Winners compete for up to $100,000 in grants and a chance to see Kelly Clarkson in concert.  Please consider taking a few minutes to visit the “Celebrate My Drive” site, commit to safe driving practices, and vote for Joplin High.  Voting runs daily now through October 26, 2013.

9.  “This way, towards bravery where youth are empowered.  This way, towards acceptance where humanity is embraced.  This way, towards love where individuality is encouraged.”  This statement adorns the front page of the Born This Way Foundation website.  Born This Way Foundation is an organization developed by Lady Gaga and her mother that works to foster a safer, more accepting society where teens can celebrate their individuality and unique gifts and make a difference in the world.  BTW Foundation not only provides support through an online community, but also connects communities with local organizations and resources that will help them empower their youth to make positive, safe choices.  And, hello?  IT’S LADY GAGA.

8.  KaBOOM is a national non-profit group dedicated to helping increase play among American children.  Founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Darrell Hammond, KaBOOM’s mission is to ensure that every child in America has access to play.  Last August KaBOOM partnered with the Kansas City Chiefs to build a playground for Joplin School’s Beacon School, an alternative school that works with special needs, behaviorally disordered, and severely autistic children.  And if the work KaBOOM performs isn’t enough to get you revved up about this organization, take a minute to read Mr. Hammond’s personal story on their website.  It, too, will remind you that anything is possible once you put your mind to it.

7.  Speaking of kids, play, and schools, Art Feeds has partnered with students at Joplin High to promote the student-initiative, “Color Estes” project.  Following the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Art Feeds recognized the healing impact of art and creativity in helping children cope with the loss and confusion they faced in the aftermath of the deadliest storm ever recorded.  Now, students from Joplin wish to help share this powerful form of therapy with students of Estes Park Elementary in Colorado after September flooding destroyed vast areas of their city.  The organization is seeking donations to help provide art packs to over 500 students as well as transportation to Colorado so they can distribute the packs to kids and help provide instruction to local volunteers.  If you haven’t done so already, take a moment to check out their site, make a donation, and then share their mission with your friends.

6.  Bright Futures USA is a national non-profit headquartered here in Joplin that holds another special place in my heart.  The mission of Bright Futures is to help meet kids’ basic needs in order that they can attend school and focus on learning.  Bright Futures partners individuals, businesses, and faith-based organizations with community schools in an effort to combine resources to help give kids the tools they need to succeed in school.  And when kids succeed in school, we all succeed.

5.  No list of do-good organizations would be complete without a shout-out to TOMS.  Come on, you know about their one-for-one initiative, right? Go, visit their website.  Buy cool shoes or fun sunglasses.  Give someone else a pair of shoes or the gift of sight without leaving your home (or changing out of your pajamas.  Don’t judge.)

Art, Joplin, and One-for-One. A pretty good combo...

4.  Last year the coolpeeps at Art Feeds were named finalists for VH1’s annual Do Something awards show.  During the frenetic voting process, another group, Together We Rise, captured my attention – and heart.  TWR works to help improve the lives of children living in foster care by providing them with sports equipment, bicycles, and other basic necessities in an effort to create a sense of normalcy in an otherwise often chaotic life.  The most important of these to me?  Giving kids suitcases so they don’t have to carry their belongings from place to place in a trash bag.

3.  Are you still skeptical about the notion that one person can make a difference?  Then clearly you didn’t watch CBS’s Evening News this past week when they aired a piece about Dan’s Coffee Run.  Watch the following video about a Michigan man who puts a smile on cancer patients’ faces each week when he arrives at the Michigan Cancer Center loaded up with specialty coffee drinks.  And then use your own procrastination powers to head over to his Facebook page and learn about more ways you can help him continue his mission of spreading kindness and hope to others.

2.  I often tell people I’m on the school board for all the perks.  Sometimes these “perks” come in the form of access to spirit gear such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, or pens.  Most of the time, though, the “perks” I enjoy are much more significant:  invitations to events in our school district such as the annual Academic All Stars celebration or graduation.  This past week I attended a special awards assembly hosted by Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s deputy superintendent, Ron Lankford.  The special guest of this assembly, Lowell Milken of the Milken Family Foundation, traveled to Joplin from California to name Missouri’s sole 2013 Milken Educator Award winner: Joplin High Social Studies teacher, Tobin Schultz.  It was truly an exciting moment to witness, first-hand, the announcement of such a prestigious award to a very deserving teacher and mentor.  I have two teachers who inspired me in high school and beyond: my math teacher, Mr. Padgett, and my English teacher, Mrs. Proctor.  Who inspired you to pursue your life goals?

1.  And, finally, I want to introduce you to the organization that inspired me to write this post in the first place.  The Do It ForThe Love Foundation was developed by Michael Franti and his partner, Sara Agah after they met Steve and Hope Dezember prior to Michael’s April 2013 performance at the Wanee festival in Florida.  “Do It For The Love is a wish-granting organization gifting people who are living with advanced stages of life threatening illnesses live concert experiences and meet-and-greets with their favorite artists.”  Grab a couple tissues and watch the following video.  You won’t regret it.

What groups or individuals inspire you to use your talents and gifts to help make the world around you a better place?  Be sure to share in the comments section below - there's always room for more to celebrate!


  1. Dawn, I absolutely love, love, LOVE how you did this. Such amazing organisations doing incredible things, one person doing one bit at a time.

    My absolute favourite BY FAR is Dan's Coffee Run - thank you so much for sharing his cause. What a wonderful man :) I think I may be a little bit in love :D

    This. Is. Super.

    As for what/who inspires me:

    Lately, Dyanne and her stories of the chemo clinics she attends.

    Always, the work of a local charity, who provide furniture to people in need. And another part of their organisation, which runs a (hugely in demand) food bank.

    My church is pretty inspirational, too, as it's very focussed on mission and community and trying to transform things for better, for everyone, by reaching out, in love, to try to meet people where they are and just be there, in whatever capacity they need.

  2. Thank you, Lizzie! It's a bit long, I know, but these groups? They inspire me to try and be a better person EVERY DAY.
    So glad you enjoyed Dan's story - isn't it a fantastic idea? Now I'm trying to think of something I can commit to like that :-)
    And, I love the things your church focuses on - it sounds to me like they have the right attitude about service!

  3. Zoe, thanks for stopping by and reading! So glad you learned about some good organizations here - I love what Michael Franti is doing. Using your gifts and talents in a way that is truly meaningful to others is the ultimate in service, IMO.

  4. Long and sumptuous :) And wonderful to have such inspiring things to focus on in your life.

    Dan's story is gorgeous. What an amazing guy.

    I think so - I hope they do :D

  5. very cool to get these organizations out there (in this case on the list of a bloghop) I totally believe in the 'you never know who might see it and how they might be helped effect of the blogosphere'

    nice work

  6. Dan's video has me tearing up. What a wonderful, inspirational man.

    What a great idea for the TToT.

    My favorite organization is The Lord's Pantry in downtown Indianapolis. It was started by the most inspirational person I have ever met. I will forever be grateful I was able to meet him before he died. His simple idea to feed people has turned into so much more than that. I have taken my kids to work there many times, and each time we come away with a renewed spirit and better understanding of what it means to serve others.

    A story about Lucious:

  7. Mrs. Always RandomOctober 20, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Love the way you approached your list this week...that was fabulous. And Dan's Coffee Run sounds absolutely amazing. Thank you for taking the time to share a bit about him, as well as all these great opportunities!

    Have a fabulous week!

  8. What a wonderful post - and I'm so glad I visited. Watched both videos - I think I needed a bit of inspiring - so thanks. As for groups that inspire me? For 10 years I volunteered, then worked, then volunteered, then fundraised, for Frontier College - a national literacy organization up here in Canada. When I worked and volunteered with them, I ran reading circles and homework clubs for high needs learners across my city. When I worked for them, I got to create programs. Hands down the most rewarding job I ever had (and one of the worst paid). I still donate and follow what they're doing - great organization. Another good example of how individuals can make a difference.