Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

It all started with the Swine Flu epidemic in 2009. Not the most glamorous of introductions, but none-the-less, this is how I came to know Maine based journalist, Kara Matuszewski Sassone. Kara immediately struck me as intelligent, compassionate and smart as a whip. I was her source (I had two girls up at summer camp in Maine that summer and as the epidemic swelled I kept her up to speed on the inside story) and quickly her friend. Through our many interactions over various digital platforms Kara’s compassion and competence never failed to impress me. Our friendship quickly went IRL and flourished. She became a part of my inner-circle and together we battled more than the flu.

What I was always struck by was how Kara could quickly shift the energy of almost any room to one of optimism and collaboration. She was the first to step up and as a natural leader – others followed. She openly shared her voice and her experiences. Even in the face of her own personal challenges, Kara always had clarity and purpose. I watched with marvel as each obstacle was removed and further, how she never forgot to give back in real, tangible ways to ease the journey of others.

As amazing of a participant as Kara is, she is equally gifted at stepping back and reading the landscape. It was through this lens that she shifted her career to align with what she saw as the true power of Social Media. As Kara grew her career from journalism to higher education, so too her family with husband Scott Sassone grew. Their most adorable twins, Campbell and Jackson have made for a busy, full house  - one she shares openly via SM partners such as Isis Parenting, Bravado Designs and more. Still, Kara is never too busy to connect, care and make a real difference in the world around her.

Meet my friend and latest Philanthropic Mom, the remarkable Kara Sassone!

Kara (Matuszewski) Sassone

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

Even before being a mother, I liked to be involved in my community, whether it was emceeing an event, being part of a fundraising walk, volunteering, donating blood, or gathering donations. Now that I’m a mother, I feel an even more intense desire to give back in order to help ensure my children will grow up in a thoughtful and helpful environment.

What is an early or stand-out memory of community service, philanthropic commitment or another way in which you felt strongly connected to an issue in the bigger world?

While growing up my family would host a St. Nicholas Day party every year. My friends and I would make decorations that would then be donated to a local soup kitchen. Going with my parents as they delivered our gifts made me realize how lucky I was.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My mother has always taught me to be kind, to help others, and to give when and where you can. Whether it be with money, with time, or with a hug, she has taught me to be generous with what you can offer.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

Literally since the day my twins were born they have been part of our philanthropic family. They were born prematurely smack dab in the middle of Movember – a month in which men grow mustaches to raise money for and awareness of men’s cancers. My husband offered to shave his mustache so we wouldn’t have newborn photos with Dad sporting a ‘stache. I refused telling him I wanted our children to know we don’t just care for ourselves, but for others. On their first birthday, instead of gifts, we asked that friends and family donate to Movember and we had a mustache-themed party.

What is the legacy of change you want to leave behind?

I don’t need to be the biggest donor or have a building named after me, but I do want people to say, “She was a good, kind, helpful woman.” I want people to know that donating blood can be just as meaningful as donating money; that making cookies brings smiles to faces, too.

What would your children say about all of this?  

I hope that when my children are older they will have the same desire to help, and they will look at their pictures from the NICU and say, “I’m glad Daddy didn’t shave his mustache.”