Giving back is so hot right now. Seems like some of the biggest brands out there are making it big off their claims of giving back and making a difference.
I love this change in marketing trends, especially since my company, LMH Promotions focuses on social good business and for-purpose marketing and branding campaigns. (Fundraising, cause awareness, community building) I love seeing the consumer demand to see the impact their purchase is making. I love knowing that people really care.
Of course there’s the brands that take advantage and claim they are making a difference while selling a totally toxic product (*cough cough*, Ronald McDonald, PEPSI Refresh, Coke RED, all the cancer causing products that rep PINK RIBBONS?)
Now we are seeing a whole bunch of companies that “give back” because, lets face it, they have to now! (Woo hoo!)
But does that mean that companies should be promoting their product and pushing it with a purpose just because its catchy or it fits their product or message?
Many of the brands I have helped launch or support have started their product BECAUSE they saw a need. TOMS started because Blake saw the children in Argentina needed shoes. Anna Dodson started Peruvian Hearts scholarships for the orphanage she was adopted from in Cusco. I started hosting fundraising campaigns after seeing firsthand the lack of educational resources while traveling through the gorgeous, developing world.
I’m feeling hopeful for the future of consumerism because brands are being forced to give a shit and give back.
Lets just not forget to hold these companies accountable. I know from first hand experience of a give back company that claims all over their site that their products are made in Costa Rica but sent their photographer to El Salvador where they moved their production years ago to save on costs. I saw the photos of their production facility and it was pretty grim.
There’s companies that come up with a product to support a popular cause, even though they have no personal connection to it.
Where is the integrity in these situations?
Does it even matter?
If giving back is trendy, then does that mean we are becoming better as a whole society? If the good is being done does it matter why?
I try to let this be my motto for life. It seems that we don’t often get what we want but life has a funny way of dishing out exactly what we need. The most painful and difficult situations have led me to be the strong, independent and resilient woman I am today. I don’t take back any of the struggle.
However recently I have been feeling like I’ve got more than my fair share. What is it I am needing right now? Is it God, the Universe, Fate? Who is testing my limits to love deeper and forgive greater?
Earlier this summer my birth mother, Kim, who I haven’t seen much in the last 20 years, came back in to my life, with the familiar promise of sobriety and wanting another chance.
I had just written a post about mother’s day, the pain she had caused me my entire life and how I had become better because of it. I had learned to take care of myself and to heal the deepest wounds. Now I was being faced with the challenge of putting my forgiveness and unconditional love to the test. I reluctantly took her to lunch.
She was sober and going to AA meetings, seeing doctors and actively looking for work and housing, by using the computer at the public library. I debated on weather or not I was even going to answer her text message when she said she was back in San Diego for doctors appointments but I knew that I had never really made an effort to try to help her. Maybe this was my chance to really give her the forgiveness and love she needed through action. She had no one else. Every other good bridge was burned and the others had very ugly trolls under them.
I could see how hard she was trying and so I took the time to drive her to appointments instead of her taking the bus. I got her a phone so she could leave her number on job applications and lent her the laptop I had bought for my little brother to start his sophomore year of high school with. I set her up with profiles on sites like care.com, handy.com and couch surfer, helping her with her first ever email account and even let her stay at one of my Airbnb rentals during the busiest time of the summer.
I figured if I was going to give her any of my help I was going to give 100%. Because even if it didn’t work out, I know I tried my best. I gave everything I could.
Then she went missing.
She didn’t answer any of my calls on the phone I bought her. She stopped emailing me updates and my brother hadn’t heard from her either. For a month. I was actually worried something might have happened to her, or that she was just high in a van somewhere.
She resurfaced last week, bloodied and broke, no computer or phone, but some crazy story about being robbed by homeless people. It didn’t matter what she said. She could have said she was kidnapped by ninjas.
I am mad at myself for knowing it was going to happen that way. I am sad for my brother, who was trying to defend her crazy story and insisting it was okay, hoping to keep me from being upset.
I hadn’t even told him I had bought him the computer because I wanted it to be a surprise. I never want to disappoint him like she always does.
It didn’t matter. She had “lost” the computer AND told him about it. Double damnit.
My good deeds totally blew up in my face again and I have no choice but to pretend like it is all okay. I don’t want Kellen to be any more in the middle of the crappy situation and I know that being mad will do nothing to change anything. It never has and never will.
Biggest lesson in all of this, I guess.
At the same time I got a call from my dad. “Sue has breast cancer.”
How is this possible? Sue is the healthiest person I know. Since the time she and my dad started dating about 15 years ago I could remember her eating organic and only buying all natural products. She does yoga and meditates every day.
I feel so guilty saying this, but I was expecting my birth mom to get sick already. I’m surprised she has made it this far. How could Sue be the one getting sick? Its Kim who deserves it. Kim has been poisoning herself for decades. She abandoned me when I was 5 because she couldn’t stop getting fucked up.
When my brother was younger I would explain to him about her disease. I said “Some people’s moms get sick with cancer, our mom is sick with addiction”
Damn, now I’ve got both.
Sue loves me and taught me about thrift shopping, crafting and conscious living. Sue got me my first marketing consulting job with a non profit she worked with. Sue was there for me even when I was a total asshole. She put up with me and my dad’s bickering and taught us to be more patient and kind to each other. Sue has mothered me into the woman I am today.
So, why does bad stuff happen to good people?
I guess because we can handle it. Sue has been the most positive and action oriented person I have ever seen, dealing with a couple aggressive cancerous tumors. She continues to inspire me with her grace and the outlook she is keeping on this situation.
Her strength gives me strength to handle these lemons that are constantly being thrown.
Meanwhile, Kim is battling addiction and mental illness that I think is her fault. I am mad and I feel so sad for her. She has allowed her life to go down a path that is so empty, lonely and sick.
I can’t do anything else for her but love her and forgive her.
I can do something for Sue.
I have put together a fundraising campaign, like the many I have done in the past, to help my parents with the incredible medical bills that are racking up just this month. With the low dose chemo treatment and nutrition therapy that Sue needs, medical bills this month are close to $23,000. Insurance doesn’t cover it and their park ranger pensions don’t cover much either.
Fundraising to help my parents is the least I can do to help repay them a tiny bit for the endless love and support they have shown me all these years. Sue did not have to step up to be there for me the way she did but she did it with true unconditional love and I am sad to get the opportunity to show her gratitude this way, but hey,
“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you find,
You get what you need”
To learn more about Sue Pelley’s cancer treatment watch the video below or visit our GoFundMe page. Thank you.
Cori Gerstein was 12 years old when she visited Rady’s Childrens Hospital for a broken finger. She saw the little girls in the cancer ward who had lost their hair and had the idea to use her love of crafting and started making hair bows on headbands for these girls to brighten their day and bring a smile to their face. With that idea, Bows for A Cause was created! She started the facebook page and began making them herself and collecting them from others around the country who saw the page and wanted to help. For Christmas, she delivered 212 bows to the Children’s Hospital!
Pictured below is Amelia, just after her surprise bow arrived. The smallest act of kindness can make all the difference in the life of a child!
For Valentine’s day, Cori’s goal was 100 bows and we wanted to help her reach that goal. Friday night, February 1st, at my home, we assembled a team of 15 women and a few awesome men to make bows. Our friend’s at Pura Vida bracelets donated 150 of their new “hippie” headbands for the bows to go on. We had a blast crafting, hanging around the fireplace, making smores and making friends. We reached our goal of 100 bows and had a blast doing it. More photos available in the gallery.
We love good causes!!! There are so many, however, here are a few of my favorite. Always Happy to hear of great causes anywhere! Please SHARE! :)
Virgin Unite:Founded and 100% funded by Virgin mogul, Richard Branson, with the purpose of uniting people and entrepreneurial ideas to reinvent how we live and work in the world to help make people’s lives better. The Virgin Unite goal is to help revolutionize the way businesses, government and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good! By also incubating new, independent approaches to leadership including the Elders (a conflict resolution organization co founded by Nelson Mandela), the Carbon War Room, and the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship, they are branching out to even more specific target areas in need of serious reform.
Want to hang with Sir Richard like I did on Necker Island, or South Africa? A small group of Virgin Unite 24902 members will join Richard Branson on a life-enhancing journey, beyond the imagination one of of their Connection Trips.
Global Wildlife Conservation:The best research scientists and conservation specialists in the world are working together with GWC to do more than just learn about species and wildlife unknown to us still, but to protect it through action. They are working with local organizations in countries around the world to protect land from development and animals from extinction. These scientists are the real Indiana Joneses, going into the most remote parts of the world on expeditions to study and help protect precious nature from disappearing forever.
Urban Angels: Every Wednesday “Urban Angels” get together to assist at the Salvation Army in Downtown San Diego, distributing meals provided by the generous people at FIT Athletic Club from their “Food @ FIT” program. (Now you can get your healthy meals on the go while at the gym? Perfect!) These meals are healthy and 100% natural. The atmosphere is fun and full of %100 love and gratitude! Join us this Wednesday at 6pm on 7th and E with parking on 8th. Just one hour of your week makes a difference to those in our community in need of a smile and to know you care! I promise you will make great friends while you are at it.
Model Citizen Fund: MCF wanted to create a way to provide a “fresh start” for those people that need it most, homeless, displaced and victims of disaster, by including a few weeks worth of food & beverages as well as a blanket, poncho, sleeping bag, toiletries, cleaning supplies and many other key items for basic human comforts in a single backpack. They even sponsored our 30 students at the Peruvian Hearts Oprhanage in Cusco with backpacks in case of an emergency in December where we volunteered over the holidays.
The Karma Foundation, an exclusive social membership organization that combines the benefits of executive networking and philanthropy with money-raising luxury events, has announced the sponsorship of Model Citizen Fund, at their upcoming Kandy Vegas event, with 100 percent of proceeds to benefit Hurricane Isaac victims. Party in Vegas for a Purpose? That is what living Happy is ALL ABOUT!
mAss Kickers:1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This means you or someone you know has been affected by some form of cancer. This local San Diego organization is run by 100% volunteers, founded by a friend of mine who kicked out a mAss that was not paying rent in his head. He and the rest of our mAss Kicking team are now coordinating events, support, resources and knowledge for newly diagnosed, their families and all warriors against cancer. mAss Kickers is also partners withStand Up 2 Cancerand the local organization,International Alliance of Pilots and Patients. (IAP4P), a program creating the incredible experience of flight for people living with chronic illness of cancer and/or brain tumors, literally giving them the wings to soar above their limitations and illness!
WildCoast:Growing up with the beach as my playground, it is my passion to help protect it. This organization of strategic, smart, passionate conservationists are changing legislation, monitoring and protecting water ways and tirelessly working to conserve land by purchasing it before it becomes developed as well as educating people about our need to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. In 2011, WiLDCOAST protected 4,371 acres and 2.3 miles of coastline along the Valle de los Cirios Pacific Coast, conserved 77.7 miles of shoreline around Laguna San Ignacio through an innovative partnership with Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Natural Areas, direct land purchases and conservation easement agreements. To date, WiLDCOAST has conserved more than two million acres of coastal wildlands and wildlife habitat. Their creative campaigns inclue famous models and luchador wrestlers from Mexico, their adopt an acre program as well as throwing really killer parties like the annual Baja Bash! Pictured here is a Mexican model explaining her man doesnt need turtle eggs… hes man enough. Sex sells and SAVES! ;)
Three Avocados Coffee:We don’t like to admit it, but coffee makes us SO happy! Now there is a way for us to drink our morning (evening or afternoon) cup for a cause! With almost 1 Billion people worldwide lacking access to clean, safe, drinking water, the primary goal at Three Avocados is to provide funding for clean water projects. 100% of the net proceeds from Three Avocados coffee provide clean water in Uganda, Africa. In addition to saving thousands of lives, clean water has the power to provide hope and a future to people who need it most. The coffee is fantastic, as well. The beans are 100% Arabica and come from Mt. Elgon in Uganda, bordered to the north by Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. Now that is one delicious, guilt free, cup o joe!