Philanthropic Friday

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, March 14th, 2014

This Philanthropic Friday is all about Nancy Rabinowitz Friedman and with very good reason. Nancy is a person who makes things grow. She does so in a way that not only leaves you in awe of her contribution, but also keeps the laughter alive. She is generous – giving everything’s she has got to the causes she feels so strongly about. Nancy does so simply in the name of supporting what she believes in. Fame, notoriety and legacy are not on her radar – seeing progress and doing the right thing are. There is something so honest and so endless about the way Nancy gives. The list of where she shines her amazing light is quite extensive. She focuses her philanthropic passion on a wide range organizations and issues – ranging from the arts to kids and much more. Still, it seems there is always something more that Nancy is up to – lending her amazing energy and time. And when asked, Nancy says “yes” and then goes on to ask, “What else could we do?”.  And then she does.

Nancy applies her standard of care and energy to all the areas of her life. She sees all she does as an opportunity to help others. Be it her remarkable business success with Kidzvuz, where there is always a philanthropic tie-in or an opportunity to inspire a child – or her children’s school (where she is active and engaged) – she is there in reliable, authentic ways. When I was honored by the R Baby Foundation a few year ago, Nancy jumped right in and helped in remarkable ways. As for Nancy’s friendship – that is a gift too. She brings humor, wit and yes, that same amazing care to the mix. When I see, talk to or even think about Nancy, I leave smiling – it is that simple. So today, meet our philanthropic mom, Nancy Rabinowitz Friedman and let the sunshine in!

Nancy Rabinowitz Friedman

From Hip to Housewife & KidzVuz

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

I think “Philanthropic Mom” is kind of a fancy word for saying “A Mom Who Does Good.”  And I try to be someone who “does good” in all kinds of ways throughout my life, whether it’s  when I’m being Vice Chair of The Transport Group Theatre Company board, or being a tour guide at my kids’ school, taking my kids to visit homebound elderly people in the neighborhood on Jewish Holidays, or even helping a women with a double stroller make it across a slushy NYC street. All of that is doing good work.  It’s not some organized thing I do, or some label. It’s how I try — emphasis on try – to live my life.

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? 

When I first graduated from college I did  a six-week training to become a Rape Crisis Counselor at a downtown hospital. Being a rape counselor was intense work.  I met women at their most vulnerable.  As a total stranger, I had to advocate for them and comfort them.  I never saw or heard from any of them again.  But each of the women I counseled stayed with me — changed me.  That experience – of intense closeness with women from all walks of life – hookers, college coeds, corporate execs, made me more able to see beyond people’s circumstances to who they really are.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

What really inspires me are the small acts of kindness I see every day:  the woman who stops to help someone who has tripped; the teenager who gives up his seat on the bus; the guy who walks out of Zabars with a bag of groceries, and pulls out a sandwich to hand to the homeless man on the sidewalk.

Of course the Malala’s of the world are amazing, and inspiring – but everyday grace…that’s what gets me.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud? 

I’m proud when Transport wins an award.  I’m proud that every major event we have at KidzVuz has a Philanthropic component.  But mostly, I don’t really think of good works as something to be proud of.  Doing Good is what you’re supposed to do.  If you don’t do good, if all you do is for yourself, that’s notable. (in a bad way)  But if you do good, well, that’s just how it’s supposed to be.  Nothing to be proud of there.

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

Legacy is way too big!  I just want people to remember me as someone who was good to others.  That’s good enough for me.

What would your children say about all of this?

They always complain when we drag them to the elder visits…but then they always like them. They feel good about going and making someone’s day.  So I think they’d grudgingly admit they’re proud of themselves and of me, for taking the time to not just write a check, but to check in with others, to see that they’re OK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Denise Albert reminds me of one of my favorite French pastries – the mille-feuille. So many layers to enjoy! With Denise, there is a lot to know and you need time to really have the perspective for the whole, beautiful picture of who she is. Denise is candid, honest and built to love. She sees clearly and moves with incredibly clarity and force when her soul sends it’s marching orders. And many follow suit – showing up, lending a hand; making the hard work of caring for the world is just part of the fun. She is a listener who also happens to have a talent for making a lot of noise when needed! She uses her podium for good over and again. Open, eager and in for“really” – when I think of Denise I think of boundless energy and a natural talent for generating excitement and results. Not bad!

But the part that moves me the most is each layer, each conversation, each e-mail exchange, each interview..  shares another sweet bit of something (a plan, a piece of personal history, a POV) that makes me feel so fortunate to call Denise Albert my friend.

Say hello to our latest Philanthropic Mom:

 Denise Albert

The Moms 

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

We try to connect different philanthropies to everything we do.   There’s nothing better than doing our part to help others.  And we can do so in many ways – whether we incorporate a charity into every one of our Mamarazzi events or on our Sirius XM Radio Show by featuring moms and dads doing interesting and extraordinary things.  We also co-created Strut, The Fashionable Mom Show. Strut is a fashion show for women that has been presented three times at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Every mom walks to raise awareness for a cause that’s important to her.  We have worked with Unicef, BOKS, Kangu.Org and I “strutted” for The Peter C. Alderman Foundation.  There are so many ways to get involved and I find that because we have a voice, a media platform and are active in social media we can do so much to spread messages that need to be shared.

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?

I remember working in a soup kitchen with my mom vividly.  I also remember my mom buying food for homeless people many times, when we would take the train into NYC city.  It was a small gesture but I never forgot the message of how important it is to help people less fortunate.  Being able to help one person by buying them a sandwich goes a long way for a kid.  I also remember being an elementary school student and taking part every year in a jump-a-thon.  We had to jump rope for hours and we each raised money for the American Heart Association. Those are both memories that sort of define my childhood. When I think about being a kid, those experiences stand out.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My mom as a child and my cousin Casey now.  Casey started an organization called Kangu.Org which is a crowd funding website that raises money for pregnant women around the world to enable them to have healthy births.  It’s so hard to start any business.  She could have done anything but she chose to start something to make a change for others.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud? 

I have always felt that it was important to include my kids in almost all aspects of what I do and I’m lucky, having a company called The MOMS, that I’m able to do so.  Including my kids in my philanthropic works is a life lesson that I don’t have to teach because my kids will have it instilled in them by just doing it.  My kids are interested in helping others.  We recently hosted a Mamarazzi event with Laura Posada and the new Broadway show “Bronx Bombers”.  The Posadas are involved with MyFace.Org. My son saw their calendar and was very concerned about the kids. He’s now saving all of this money and figuring out ways to make money so he can help a child have surgery.

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

That anything is possible.  If you have a dream, go for it.  If you can help others, do it.

What would your kids say about all of this?

I’m hoping it’s what they do with it, not what they say.  I hope they just continue to be curious and concerned about others and grow up to do their part to help others.  To me, everything is passion.  I hope they find things they are passionate about that makes them be the best versions of themselves…and to me that includes helping others.  So far, they’re off to a great start and they have one proud, passionate mama!

 

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Like many of the most remarkable women in my life – Rebecca Levey’s presence in my life seems to have to real beginning and hopefully, no end. And the range of where we go and what we accomplish together is infinite – it feels like the most remarkable version of  “ OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO”  – with the very best of company!

I have never been let down by Rebecca’s boundless energy, keen intellect or her ability to get the job done. She steps up in a way that is genuine – with complete passion and focus.  Rebecca always gets the job done and she does it exceptionally well at that. Her commitment is different from others in that she sees no barriers.  If Rebecca says she is in  – she in – mind, body and soul. There is no such thing as lip service – when Rebecca commits she rolls up her sleeves and makes magic. Her dedication and her accomplishments run deep. I will never really be able to thank her enough for the way in which she stepped up for me and the R Baby Foundation in 2011. That is just one example, of many. The list goes on and on….

And it is not only what she does. It is also how she views the world. Just this week there was yet another day in which NYC city schools were open in the midst of a freezing, messy snowstorm. There was a bitch-fest gong on over on FB. But one voice of clarity, perspective and reason stood out, it was Rebecca Levey:

“There are definitely different considerations for public school. more than 70% of NYC public school students receive free or reduced lunch. there are over 1 million kids in the school system. not having school means not getting a meal for many kids. not to mention parents who don’t have child care or the ability to stay home with a kid out of school.”

And that is Rebecca – smart, caring and determined to bring us all along as she makes good on her commitment to making the world a better place. Meet my dear friend, Rebecca Levey:

Rebecca Levey

Beccarama & KidzVuz

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

Funny, I would not think of myself as “philanthropic.”  The work I’ve done in education and for other causes is more about volunteering time, sweat and sometimes tears, to get things done that need getting done.  Philanthropy seems very lofty and more about money – but the spirit of it – the sense that you can make a difference and see change through giving and doing is very much at the core of my being.

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? 

I think being the New York State Representative to the Mom Congress on Education and Learning in D.C. a few years ago really brought home the power and energy of what can happen when women all over the country stand up in their local area and fight for different education causes.  Having 51 women come together and exchange ideas, formulate plans and really coalesce all of their individual fights into one larger effort for education reform was incredibly inspiring and made me realize that no matter what else I do professionally, my heart and soul are with the education movement.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

I am consistently influenced and inspired by so many women doing amazing work every day.  Jennifer James and the Moms for Social Good network she has built, in addition to her advocacy work, awe me on a daily basis.  Julia Beck has been a major force in my life as an example of a woman who weaves philanthropy and passion into everything she does.  And, Melissa Bilash whose tireless work on behalf of gifted kids, and passage of the TALENT Act,  keeps me hopeful that advocacy can see real results.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud? 

I am most proud of the real changes my co-president and I made at my daughters’ school – as well as the conversations we spurred and continued discussions that needed to had.  It’s great when you can see tangible results from your work.

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

I really just want parents to feel empowered and know that they should always have a seat at the table.  And more importantly, I want my kids to know that if they want something to change they have to step up and do the work to make it happen.  It may not come to fruition, or it may look different from what you envisioned, but if you don’t step up nothing will ever change.

What would your girls say about all of this?

They would say it took up too much time!  Honestly, they are very proud, and I think it gives them a sense that you should invest in your community, keep connecting and talking to everyone you can, and not be a passive wallflower.  They learned early on that the best thing you can be is a Do-er!

 

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, January 24th, 2014

As I sit to write about Holly Rosen Fink, I feel as though I am perhaps about to expose a secret (a very good secret!!!). This is because this week’s Philanthropic Mom – Holly Rosen Fink is at once incredibly generous and productive and, at the same time, so very low–key about the remarkable and regular contribution she makes  - it just “is”. Still, as I stop and consider the history and the quality of Holly’s commitment, I am humbled. I am also inspired. Holly  is tireless  in her quiet strength and  endlessly creative in her on-going effort to make the world a better place. There is no one size fits all in the way Holly gives – she pays careful attention to where the need exists and meets it head on with just the right solution. She casts her net wide, and makes sure that anyone who can join the effort to help does. From clients to kids and everyone in-between – Holly’s army is a sizable and enthusiastic one — all recruited with grace by Holly herself.

When I consider how lucky I am to share Holly and her incredible optimism with you, I am immediately reminded of a quote that seems to really speak to Holly’s remarkable point of view.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

— Anne Frank

This week, get out of the cold and get warm getting to know the wonderful Holly Rosen Fink.

Holly Rosen Fink

The Culture Mom

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

As an entrepreneur, I try to associate myself with like-minded organizations and businesses. The majority of my clients have been non-profits or companies out to make a difference (Mothers2Mothers, Every Mother Counts, to name a few). When a client is a for-profit business, I often steer their efforts into the advocacy arena (Ruckus Media Group, She Speaks). As a mom, I am doing my best to raise altruistic children who see the world through the eyes of the less fortunate and make sure they know that their old coats are going to those who need them and that it’s important to take out to think of others and volunteer in various capacities. When they were infants, I took them to the old age home in the area to play with me while the elderly watched along with enjoyment. They have worked in the local pantry and distributed meals at the homeless shelter with me. During the holidays, we often deliver meals to the elderly. As a philanthropist, I try to donate as much money to causes that I care about as possible and I am one of those people who puts my hand in my pocket every time I am asked on the street.

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?

When I was a young girl of about 12, we were shown a film about the Holocaust and I was deeply impacted. Living in Israel years later, I volunteered with an organization for the elderly and went once a week to do crafts and spend time with them. They were all Holocaust survivors and the stories I heard were unlike any I had ever heard. The experience solidified an effort to never let the Holocaust be forgotten, also spending time volunteering at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum that year. Back in New York, I later interviewed survivors for the Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation which was another commitment that I have always been proud of. Just a few months ago, I led a Holocaust film series at my synagogue which attracted and educated hundreds of our members. This is a cause I feel very strongly about and will continue to make sure no one ever forgets the 6 million needlessly killed less than 60 years ago.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My mother is the best role model I could ever ask for. She has always given to other people first and has a heart of gold. If I can leave a legacy with my own children and give them a quarter of the heart she has, I will have done something right.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

I’m very low key about my philanthropic efforts. I don’t really talk about them as much as I could anywhere, including social media. I’ve driven gently used toys and clothes into the city to donate to Room to Grow; I took a packed van of clothing, medical supplies, toys and more countless times during Hurricane Sandy. The important thing is not to talk about it, but just to do it and include my children in my efforts. I want them to watch and be a part of what I do so that they become philanthropic as they get older.

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

My daughter is 10 and is saying that she wants to become a human rights lawyer. I know she’s young and this could change, but the idea profoundly warms my heart. I am part of the Shot at Life campaign and ONE Organization initiatives, and my kids have witnessed my work with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I talk about my work with these organizations and hope that they are listening and they will go into helping professions that will help change the world.

What would your kids say about all of this?

Hopefully, they are proud of their mother, but at their ages, I’m not sure they know exactly what it all means.

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Welcome to the first edition of Philanthropic Moms in 2014. At a time when so many are “resolving” to do better, I thought it would be an ideal time to introduce you to a mother whose resolve to care for those around her is an amazing example of how we all are able to use our amazing power for good!

I met Natalie Goldberg Klein through Ciaran Blumenfeld, one of the great connectors in my life. Ciaran’s amazing habit of getting the right people together was in full effect from the word “go” with Natalie. Natalie impressed me with her remarkable ability get the right things done both well and fast. My head spins just thinking about Natalie in action! She not only knows what needs to be done (and with whom) but also how the to execute the task at hand with speed, agility and accuracy. Natalie is beautifully unassuming and, at the same time – incredibly powerful in her commitment to her values. She steps up again and again for those who need her the most (think Baby Buggy for example) and brings all the right people to the table. Her smile is omnipresent as she continues to leave her mark in all the best ways. She uses her influence for good – always and perfectly. As a professional and as a mother she is forever leading by example. Natalie is one of those remarkable people who you meet and wonder how it was possible you’d not had her in your life forever. Well, the good news is now I will!

Meet my friend and our first Philanthropic Mom of 2014, Natalie Goldberg Klein.

Natalie Goldberg Klein

Hollywood Hot Moms

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

I don’t really see myself as a philanthropic mom. But as someone who has always felt that of I can find a way to give back, I will search hard to make it happen.

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?

As a child we always were helping out in soup kitchens and buying groceries for those who were in need. As a teen I worked at Mitzvah corps in northern Arizona, which was started by young teens to help out local kids who could go up to a camp for a week and enjoy themselves with sports,swimming, and endless food.  I worked hard to afford to go to camp and all year we fundraised to help get those kids there! As I got older I always helped whenever I could. I ran a program for teens while in my early 20′s to help kids in need who had a family member or members that was lost in the Paris flight crash from NYC. It’s always been a part of what I do! But after I had Jax, my first son, I was working on events for Hot Moms Club. I was very proud when we partnered with Baby Buggy for the Hasbro launch of Let’s Rock Elmo and donated over 25k in product and toys to children in need.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My synagogue was my biggest philanthropic influence — they really encouraged us to always give.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

Knowing that I am helping others and showing my kids that other peoples needs like this come first. That we should be honored to help.

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

That all of us recognize that together  we can change the world to make it a better place, one step at a time. There will always be setbacks, but we can do it.

What would your kids say about all of this?

That they are ready to keep the tradition going.

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, December 20th, 2013

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.”

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Years ago, Jessica Shyba burst into my life like a beautiful ray of spring sunshine. When we first met, she was a young mother of two  – later she would glow her way through a third pregnancy with Beau, and oh the fun we had! Jessica and I cultivated an amazing friendship – one that literally weathered serious storms (that would be Sandy to be specific) and one in which we had each other’s backs in the most certain of ways.  Jessica won such a big place in my heart through her spirit and her radiance. Jessica has a remarkable eye – not just for what is visually powerful but for people as well. When she finds beauty she shares it. And this has been the case most recently.

Jessica’s photography has always been something I have admired. She documents her way through the world using her lens of compassion and pure love. She is able to capture moments that feel at once private and universal. This is a rare gift. Recently, Jess shared images of her baby (maybe not, Beau just turned two!!!) and puppy Theo sharing their naptime and bond. These images, now known as #TheoandBeau went viral. The images and Jessica herself have been featured in a wide array of national and international outlets. The best part of this burst of ackowledgement? Jessica has used it to flex her muscle as a Philanthropic Mom.

Through the much deserved attention around #TheoandBeau Jessica has directed donations back to the local SPCA where Theo was adopted. Thus far, she has been able to raise both much-needed funds and awareness for the The Santa Cruz SPCA which  is in desperate need of a new facility. Thanks to Jessica’s amazing images and effort, over $1,800 has been donated (to date).

Meet my beautiful friend and our latest Philanthropic Mom:

 Jessica Shyba

Mommas Gone City

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

I think becoming a mother brought philanthropy to the forefront of my mind. It’s impossible not to be empathetic or sympathetic to things once you become a parent, for me anyway. I feel like I’m sort of putting positivity back into the world in an effort to attempt to show my own gratitude for our blessings.

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?

When I was in elementary school, we went to Sea World for the first time and I distinctly remember wondering why the whale’s dorsal fins were flopped over. Once I researched and found out the awful truth, I began my quest to become a marine biologist. That’s the first time I remember feeling like I wanted to make a difference in the world.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

I would say, as cheesy as it sounds, that Angelina Jolie was an early influencer of mine. It struck me as remarkable what she had done with her celebrity status within her own family and as a philanthropist. Truly, though, my greatest influences are always my closest friends. I have some incredible people in my circle.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

I am most proud that my children are, even at their age, sensitive to those struggling in this world that we live in. When I went to Guatemala with World Vision, their questions, curiosity and caring about the children I was spending time with there made my heart nearly burst.

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

I would like to leave an impression of empathy, and hopefully instill a level of caring and compassion for everyone, as well as the knowledge that all acts of kindness are extraordinary and important.

What would your kids say about all of this?

Their feeling is that they are happy that I’m doing things to help others, but they don’t want me to leave again. Ever!

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Amy Bair

 

Resourceful Mommy

Amy Bair is one of those remarkable, passionate souls who swoops in with a powerful energy that touches people in a profound way. Amy gets to you in all the best ways — her spirt lifts you and never lets you go. Pretty great, no? Amy’s commitment to her friends, family and yes – the whole the community (and Amy’s definition of community is quite broad) is staggering. Amy raises the bar  - be it though her social media engagement, philanthropy, authoring or parenting  - she brings it way up and she keeps it there. And, she expects the same from those in her inner-circle. Amy delivers all of this with incredible grace and ease and most always with her signature “secret sauce” – a  big, engaging smile on her face and a wicked sense of humor coursing through her veins. There is little confusion as to why those who know Amy adore her –she is a rare gem.

Amy is a teacher by training (this was her first profession), and it shows. She engages with an eye toward honestly advancing the ball for those she loves. I consider myself lucky to be one of her students — learning though her patient but clear directives. I feel constantly encouraged by her giddy laughter and her keen observations of the world around her. To know Amy is a lucky, fortuitous thing – that is for certain!

When I think of Amy, I think of the word - accomplished.  I think of it as an adjective- as in: Amy is an extraordinarily accomplished woman. And also as a verb – as in: Amy has accomplished so very much for herself and for the world around her – not only in present tense (Amy has been a force to be reckoned with in the digital landscape since 2008) but in the longest view as well. And I also think how, through her care and friendship, she has elevated those around her to accomplish great things in their own right.

Meet my friend, Amy Bair!

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

I’ve always believed in giving back, however, how I’m able to do that has changed and grown over the years.  Being able to volunteer time and talents as a teenager has evolved into also being able to give back monetarily and through influence.

 

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?

When I was 13, one of my best friend’s was diagnosed with abdominal cancer.  I remember feeling paralyzed by a sense of helplessness.  Then I realized that her family could be helped financially.  I organized a group of friends and we set about planning a school dance fundraiser complete with the local radio station as DJ.  Organizing those around me and finding a way to help a friend in need was incredibly therapeutic and also served the family of the friend we loved.

 

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My family.  My grandmother literally gave until she had nothing left, and growing up, I watched as my parents very quietly and humbly gave to everyone from favorite charities to neighbors in need.  My dad was a stay-at-home dad and spent hours helping local elderly and volunteering at church.  I realized early on the power of simply wanting to help.  I attended kindergarten at a private, Christian school and came home one day, sad that a friend would need to leave the school because of tuition.  I found out years later that my parents had quietly and anonymously covered the rest of her expenses for the year.  That had a profound impact on me.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

I’m most proud of the impact my giving is having on my children.  At 9 and 6, they instinctively think of those around them as much if not more than themselves.

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

I hope that work that I do for others – no matter how small – leaves others with a sense that they are both worthy of help and also able to help others, even if they believe the impact they can make is small.

What would your kids say about all of this?

My kids love to give as much as they love to receive!  They are happy to have a philanthropic mom and enjoy being philanthropic kids.

 

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, June 21st, 2013

 

I have been wracking by brain, trying to remember when Lyss Stern and I first crossed paths. The problem is, this is an long-standing, rich and super- positive relationship that really seems to have no beginning and with luck no end! Let’s just say that one day an amazing force of sunshine, energy, conviction, passion and integrity came into my world. And I would never be the same!  I am sure we met around a plan to do some good and, I will bet my last nickel that together we met and far exceeded expectations. That is just how Lyss does it. So that day, that day I cannot  clearly identify,  the one when Lyss Stern and I met — that was a very lucky day!

Lyss is about a beautiful as they come — deep-seeded grace and care are her calling card and these traits only serve to amplify the outer  beauty (which is impossible to miss). Lyss’ arms are always open wide — her intention is to make a difference and she does so day in and day out. She moves fast, but in a precise manner. Lyss has got her sites clearly focused on what she is out to accomplish. Lyss uses her power and her influence for good — from the most intimate (raising two little boys) to the most public (the amazing world of DivaLysscious Moms) she is impeccable in her execution and deeply committed to the best possible outcomes for all involved.

Lyss has led the way — not only creating communities for Moms but for creating a mandate that these groups give back in real ways. Lyss is loyal, fun-loving and deeply engaged in the world. I am so incredibly proud and lucky to call Lyss my friend, business associate  and with luck one of the ones I will grow old with! Meet the stunning Lyss Stern!

Lyss Stern

 

 

DivaLysscious Moms

 

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

 

I believe I fit the description of a philanthropic mother because I have have always been sure to incorporate the act of giving back into my business. Following the 2004 Tsunami, we held a benefit luncheon with tot-rock star Dan Zanes, raising much-needed money for the Red Cross Tsunami Relief efforts. DivaLysscious Moms has helped raise thousands of dollars for family-oriented charities, including The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, The Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children’s Center and Max Cure Foundation just to name a few. I also believe I am a different kind of philanthropic mom and not just surface-level; I have witnessed so many friends and family members suffer through cancer and am determined to help in any and every way possible. I also have a way of putting myself in other people’s shoes, which gives me that extra drive when it comes to charity. I take pride in the empathetic aspect of my persona.

 

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?

 

A stand-out memory for me happens every summer at the Max Cure Foundation: Roar for a Cure carnival. Thousands of people– including myself and FabULyss DivaMoms members– gather together in the Hamptons to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer. Again, putting myself in my own shoes, I would want billions of people supporting my family and families like mine should one of my children ever get sick. This is a way in which an insane number of people all commit themselves to a cause together and it is truly beautiful to watch. Even if the children running around don’t understand why they’re there quite yet, they’re still there, and their parents are doing so much good by involving them.

 

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

 

My biggest philanthropic influence would have to be the beautiful and elegant Audrey Hepburn. My company was founded on the principle that a woman can get messy and be a mom but still be graceful and glamorous, and Audrey Hepburn was a philanthropist and so levelheaded and still managed to be the classiest, most beautiful woman in history. Hepburn said, “I speak for those children who cannot speak for themselves, children who have absolutely nothing but their courage and their smiles, their wits and their dreams.” Being a mother, my heart opens up wildly to those words and encourages me to always do what I can for children and those less fortunate than myself.

 

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

 

I am most proud about being a philanthropic mom because of the example I am setting for my children. They are growing up in a household in where we care about other people as much as we care about ourselves, and that is such a crucial thing to instill in your children at a young age.

 

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

 

I want to know that I have empowered people in any and every way that I could, especially women. Empowerment is key to change and success; an empowered woman can do more good works that anyone, any group, and anything.

 

What would your kids say about all of this?

 

I am proud to say that my children understand what helping others means; I know that they both want to inspire people– Oliver wants to be a theatre artist, and Jackson an athlete– and I know that when they reach these points in their lives they will always make time to do good things for the world and its people. Jackson my nine year old likes to tell me that one day when he’s a Major League player and on the NY Mets making a lot of money he’s going to give money to Breast Cancer Awareness (He is very sensitive to the fact that I have lost several friends to Breast Cancer already).

 

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, June 14th, 2013

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: Tracy and I are related by our dogs, Addie and Monty. We also share the name “Beck”. Now you know…

Tracy Beckerman ranks up there with the greatest lemonade makers of all time. The sour in her path has a way of turning sweet! The more time I spend with Tracy the more I realize that the incredible energy, enthusiasm and off-the charts wit is a choice that she makes every day and with complete grace. We all have a back story. And we all have a list of things that maybe could be a bit better, easier or even disappear all together from our daily grind. But it is Tracy who wows day in and day out with the way she takes all of this and serves it up as a syndicated column, a book, live appearances and more. And forget the “for show” – Tracy is that girl. You know, the one you want to spend more time with. The one with whom you can laugh, cry, whine and wine with (and perhaps even eat a wee bit too much with) all in one sitting. Tracy is one who will show up  and bring all kinds of fun to the party (I am thinking #cheesesuite) making friends and bringing sunshine to the scene. Bottom line – time with Tracy leaves you longing for more. If you’ve not had the pleasure allow me to introduce you to my friend, the tour de force that is the wonderful Tracy Beckman.

Tracy Beckerman

 

 

Lost In Suburbia

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

When my kids were in elementary school, they were introduced to a DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) program which was co-sponsored by our police department and a group of community volunteers called the Municipal Alliance to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse. At the time, I thought I was years away from ever needing to educate my kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. But I soon realized that the earlier you get to your kids with this message, the more likely they are to stay substance-free.  I was so impressed with the work the Municipal Alliance did to educate our kids, provide safe, fun social events for them in town, and rally the community behind these efforts that I joined the group and went on to chair it for the next 8 years.   I really do believe it takes a village to raise our children, and that everyone needs to volunteer some of their time to ensure that our kids grow up safe, healthy and happy.

 

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?

When I was very young, my mother began running what she called, an “Extra Special Olympics.”  This was a day of carnival games and fun for kids who were profoundly mentally disabled and had severe physical limitations, as well. All of the events and entertainment were tailored specifically to the needs and abilities of these kids.  My mom was able to get almost all the goods and services for this event donated by members of the community.  The joy this day brought to these children was immeasurable.  Back then I thought it was just a fun carnival day with balloons and treats and rides and it didn’t strike me as strange that most of the attendees were in wheelchairs.  Years later I could see the tremendous gift she gave these kids, and continued to give them for the 25 years she ran the event.

 

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

Although my mom worked full time, she was always helping out in our community, whether it was volunteering for her political party or our synagogue, raising money for Breast Cancer research, or awareness for the rights of special needs children and their families.  She truly is my philanthropic hero!

 

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?  

Two years ago I spearheaded an event in our town called “Every 15 Minutes.” This is a national program run in many high school throughout the country.  The name Every 15 Minutes  comes from the statistic that a teen is killed every 15 minutes in an alcohol related automobile accident. Our event was a 2 day simulated teen drunk driving program that culminated in a mock trial of the driver and  mock memorial service for the victims.  It was a massive undertaking that involved nearly every emergency service personnel in our community, every business, the school and numerous parents and teens.  We were able to get almost the entire program covered through donations of goods and services.  We ran the program two days prior to the High School prom. Every year on prom weekend we have multiple incidences of underage drinking and driving.. some with serious results. After we ran this program, there were zero incidences of drunk driving in our town over prom weekend.

 

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

This past year I turned over the reins of the Municipal Alliance to a new chair and a new group of volunteers.  They are going to run the Every 15 Minutes program again this spring and have instituted a number of new programs to help the kids continue to get the message to stay drug and alcohol free.  I’m thrilled that I could set the stage for the continuation of this important group.

 

What would your kids say about all of this?

My kids know how passionate I am about this program specifically, and about volunteering in general. They have helped me run some of the events and participated in our middle school and high school peer leader programs. I’m very proud of the choices they continue to make and I hope they will carry a love for helping out in their community into adulthood.