Thanks(4)giving

It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: Friends

Week 52-The Final Countdown, Day 6-Grad School Girls

Another Mexican Monday in the books and I got to spend it with some of my favorite grad school girls.  I really enjoyed having the week away from WVU, but I missed them!  We’re all so different but I love how well we all get along.  We’re from Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland.  It’s always so nice to have someone to talk to about classes, exams, and our research that only we can understand.  Being in graduate school together is something that unites you forever.  Yes I realize how cheesy that sounds but it’s true.  I’m so thankful for these intelligent, beautiful, and fun women in my daily life.

My girls

So one of our favorite things to do together is eat.  What?  We all gotta eat so we might as well do it together, right?  So Others Might Eat knows this, and they work really hard to feed those who need it most in the Washington D.C. area.  SOME doesn’t stop there though.  They make sure as many needs as possible that the people around D.C. have are met.  That means putting clothes on their backs, making sure they have health care, a place to lay their heads at night, and any counseling they may need.  For over forty years SOME has been restoring hope and dignity to thousands of people one at a time.  Last year alone more than 260,000 hot meals were served to men, women, and children, and more than 18,900 people were able to take a hot shower.  Homelessness is a cycle that can be broken, and SOME gives people the resources they need to transform their lives.  I’m pretty sure the only thing we like to do more than eat is laugh at/with each other.  I don’t know about the other girls, but Robin Williams is someone who can always bring a smile to my face.  Apparently his Juilliard classmate Christopher Reeve also thought he was pretty hilarious.  However the work that the Christopher Reeve Foundation does to fund research in order to cure spinal cord injuries is no laughing matter.  CRF is also dedicated to improving the quality of life for those living with spinal cord injuries through grants, information, and advocacy.  Williams has taken on Christopher’s dream as his own.  Christopher may not have been able to get out of his wheelchair, but because of his determination and passion others are getting that chance today.  Chris’ wife, Dana, was the mastermind behind the Paralysis Resource Center which has helped thousands of people living with paralysis and their families with life-changing information and resources.  Christopher knew that the impossible was possible.  I know how he feels with only one more blog post till my one year anniversary!

So Others Might Eat Donation

Christopher Reeve Foundation Donation

So here’s to my grad school girls!  We’ve celebrated birthdays, Mexican Mondays, football games, game nights, and presenting seminars and it’s only our first semester together.  We help each other with research, homework, and exams.  I mean who else would understand the frustration of using SAS or R?  Thank you for Fridays at Panera, Mondays at Los, Saturdays in Wardensville, and everyday that you make me smile.

This is what you girls do to me 🙂

Week 50-The Golden Week, Day 5-Golden Girls

My girls!

Well, another birthday is officially in the books.  I had such an amazing day yesterday filled with love from so many wonderful friends near and far.  I got to do a little shopping, get dressed up, eat a yummy dinner, play some pool, and enjoy a few adult birthday beverages.  I also got lots of Facebook and text message love from those who were with me in spirit.  I was a tomboy growing up so it took me a little while to really appreciate good girlfriends.  Thankfully, I have some of the best ones a girl could ask for so it made the transition pretty easy.

There is no possible way that I could write about Golden Girls without mentioning the ever popular Betty White.  She is an avid supporter of PAWS/LA, which works to keep people and their pets together.  This is one charity that definitely stands out from the bunch.  PLA help low-income seniors and individuals with serious illnesses care for their pets.  Started back in 1989, PLA was founded in response to the companion animal crisis that faced those living in LA county who had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.  The cost financially and physically that this auto-immune disease took on the community left these innocent pets in need some love and attention.  Numerous studies have shown the mental and physical benefits that a pet adds to the life of its owner.  No one wants to give up their pet, and PLA does everything in their power to make sure no disease rips an animal from its master.  Betty is also on the board for the Morris Animal Foundation which envisions a healthier tomorrow for all animals.  You could say that Betty is a bit of an animal lover.  She even posed for the hilarious 2011 MAF calendar.  MAF is a world leader in advancing veterinary research that treats, protects, and cures animals all over the world.  Founded in 1948 by a veterinarian with a vision, MAF has funded more than 1,700 research projects which have led to many breakthroughs in the field of animal health.  MAF supports over 300 research projects every year at zoos, colleges of veterinary medicine, and research institutions.  No wonder the quintessential Golden Girl loves this charity!

Betty White goes all out for MAF

PAWS/LA Donation

Morris Animal Foundation Donation

So here’s to you Golden Girls!  The ones I love on the television screen and the ones I love in my life.  You’re there for me on the day of my birth, but more importantly, every other day of the year as well.  Another birthday has come and gone, but I know the Golden Girls in my life will be around till we’re old and gray.  Thank you for being a friend!

A golden night indeed

Week 15-Mis Amigos, Day 7-Kristina

Here's to the best friend I could ask for

This is probably one of the most challenging posts I’ve written over the past 15 weeks.  Finding the right charities to write about was easy, being thankful for Kristina was easy, finding lots of fun pictures to accompany this post was easy, figuring out a way to convey what she means to me was not so easy.  Kristina is in the group of friends I’ve known forever so I’ve attempted to tell her how much she means to me over the course of about ten years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been successful.  I’m so thankful for her incredible loyalty, overwhelming support, sincere love, and continuous effort she puts into causes she believes in, like our friendship.  She is always giving me new ideas for blogs, and helps me remember why I wanted to start this labor of love to begin with.

Until about three months ago K was the manager of a Starbucks in NC.  It was awesome (for me) because she gave us pounds and pounds of free coffee, knew about great new music before everybody else, and got discounts on sweet merchandise.  It was awesome for the community around her because her store was dedicated to helping adorable little canines find homes through the Family Addition Dog Rescue.  FADR also happens to be where she and her husband J adopted their second dog, Macon.  FADR is a small group of like-minded individuals who dedicate their time, home, and hearts to helping dogs who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned in their community of Huntersville, NC.  They believe that a dog is another member of the family so they are very diligent about placing the dogs into homes where they will be loved and welcomed with open arms and paws.  Like most girls K and I love to shop.  I’m pretty sure we manage to do it every time we see each other.  Plus we’re Americans, buying way more stuff than we actually need is what we do.  (RED) realized this and came up with the ingenious idea to transform our need as consumers into a force to help others.  They have teamed up with a couple of brands you may have heard of like Apple, Converse, Gap, Nike, and Starbucks to sell special products where up to half of proceeds go directly to The Global Fund.  Since beginning five short years ago in 2006 over $16 million dollars have been raised for TGF and over 5 million people have been educated through HIV and AIDS programs supported by the RED initiative.  Having HIV or AIDS is not the death sentence that it was twenty years ago, and RED is making sure people know that.

Family Addition Dog Rescue Donation

(RED) Donation

So here’s to you Kristina!  You are dependable, logical, beautiful, wise beyond your years, and benevolent.  Your heart is made of gold and your spirit is unbreakable.  You are always full of ideas I could never come up with, and willing to help no matter what the cause.  You’ve watched me laugh, cry, make a fool of myself, fall down (literally and figuratively), be selfish, and give back.  But no matter what, you’re always there by my side, and I know always will be.  Thank you for being everything that I never knew I needed, and now I can’t live without.  Thank you for being my person.

Week 15-Mis Amigos, Day 6-Melanie

Thanks Mel!

Melanie is one of those friends that everyone wants to have.  She is thoughtful, sweet, and extremely giving.  She also falls into the category of friends that I haven’t known that long, but I feel like I have.  I met her because she is my brother’s girlfriend, but as soon as I realized how awesome she was we automatically became friends.  She is always in the know about good deals, new music, and cool charities.  I mean, her New Year’s resolution was to give more blood to the Red Cross.  I’m thankful for her selfless actions and her genuine concern for others that both seem never ending.

In her spare time, when Melanie isn’t giving all her blood away, she is a dental assistant.  As you might expect she has beautiful pearly whites, and you too while giving back!  If you have your teeth whitened from March to June by one of hundreds of dental practices participating in Smiles For Life, 100% of the proceeds will go towards children’s charity.  Since this program started in 1998 over $27 million dollars have been raised for charities like Children’s Miracle Network, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and Kids Cancer Care Foundation to name a few.  When you pay for the service you actually write the check directly to SFL and not the dental practice.  All the participants are part of the Crown Council which is a group of dentists dedicated to promoting oral health, fighting oral cancer and serving their communities through charitable work.  White teeth + helping kids= a sweet deal that won’t give you a tooth ache.

Melanie and I

Melanie and I have bonded over lots of things, but our love for celebrity gossip really unites us.  That’s why I know she would love Alliance For The Lost Boys which has been supported by the always beautiful and generous Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.  ALB is a non-profit that provides medical and dental coverage, as well as education and school supplies for the Lost Boys of Sudan and their families.  The lost boys were separated from their families at early ages during the civil war that erupted in Sudan and fought to survive for years before the US government awarded refugee status to about 3800 boys in 2000-2001.  ALB is also on a mission to educate American studies, teachers, and the general public about Sudan’s past and present conflicts.  Help the lost boys continue to find their way home to a better future.

Smiles For Life Donation (Find out where to get your teeth as white as snow)

Alliance For The Lost Boys Donation

So here’s to you Melanie!  You can ride roller coasters, play board games, plan trips, and give back to others like nobody’s business.  You love animals, music, anything on Showtime, your family, and Miller Lite.  You are always thinking about others before yourself, and trying to make this world a better place.  I’m thankful for the passion that you put into everything that you do, and the smile you put on the faces everyone around you!

All smiles! 🙂

Week 15-Mis Amigos, Day 5-Rachael

So far this week has been dominated by friends that have been in my life for over ten years, but not today.  Even though Rachael and I haven’t known each other since middle school it sure does feels like we have sometimes.  To say that we were cut from the same cloth would be an understatement.  I don’t know if it’s because we’re both scientists or Scorpios, but we get each other.  I’m so thankful that we can talk about statistical programs, sushi, sex (yea I said it), and service projects that we love.  She may be the first Jewish friend that I made, but I’m pretty sure we are two yentes separated at birth.

Salud Rachael!

Rachael’s research for her PhD took her south of the border to Tapachula, Mexico for a couple of times over the past few years.  Sounds like the best research ever right?  She was also lucky enough to discover and volunteer  for the non-profit  Mission Mexico while she was there.  MM began in 2000 when two Australians left one down under for another to volunteer for twelve months at an orphanage in Tapachula.  The orphanage that Pam and Alan Skuse were volunteering for closed down after six months, and instead of packing up and heading home, they stayed and took care of the seven remaining children and made MM their own.

Rach and Mission Mexico

Every Sunday all the kids pile into 15 passenger vans to travel the 30 minutes to the beach where they can surf, swim, and forget about their haunted pasts.  Somewhere Near Tapachula is an award winning documentary that shows the love, life, and hope the 54 orphans have experienced since coming to Mission Mexico.  Rachael is also trying to save lives by controlling the population of mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever and malaria.  Nothing But Nets is working to save lives by preventing malaria with insecticide-treated bed nets for the people who need it most.  How much would you pay to save a life?  It only costs $10 (hmm does that figure sound familiar?) to purchase one net that will protect and educate a family for four years!!!  That is literally less than a penny a day to save lives.  What I love most about NBN is that you don’t have to be a scientist working at the Center of Disease Control to stop the spread of this deadly disease.  Hey if the Jonas Brothers can do it you can too!

Mission Mexico Donation

Nothing But Nets Donation

So here’s to you Rachael!  You may be hundreds of miles away but I know you’re always as close as a phone call or a plane ride.  You were always there for me when I wanted to walk around the lake, go to the gym before class, or get some take out sushi and watch Grey’s Anatomy.  You organized the team for the SPCA K9 3K Dog Walk and you have worked at Bug Fest to teach kids about roaches, beetles, and bees on more than one occasion.  Thank you for all the road trips, opening up your home to me, wedding planning sessions, and friendship that you given me over the years.  I couldn’t ask for a better Krap!

Good times, great oldies

Week 15-Mis Amigos, Day 4-Jodi Marie

This one's for you Jodi!

I was planning on writing an entry about Miss Jodi Marie this week but after receiving a threatening email from her yesterday, I decided today was the day.  This is what I love about her.  She calls a spade a spade.  She and I went to middle and high school together, and roomed together two (basically three) years at NC State.  I can always count on her to be there when I need her, no matter what.  She would drive for hours, spend all the money she had to her name, and drop whatever she was doing if I told her I needed her.  I’m thankful for her wit, humor, and her love and loyalty to her friends.  Even if she tries to hide it most of the time.

We didn’t major in the same thing in college, but Jodi and I did believe in minoring in good times and high heels.  She majored in textile apparel management which was about as foreign to me, as sticking my arm up a cow’s butt for my animal reproduction class was to her.  I think we can both agree that fashion unites millions of people and makes for a great platform for charity.  Hero In Heels takes advantage of this connection and channels women’s passion for shoes into big bucks for women with cancer.  Everyone from Taylor Swift to Jennifer Aniston have donated their peep-toes and pumps (some even have their John Hancocks) to be auctioned off in the spring.  The funds raised go towards buying wigs, prosthesis or granting any other wish women with cancer may have.

My kind of charity

HIH was created by The Wish Upon a Hero Foundation which is dedicated to helping all types of wishes come true for individuals and organizations.  I mean come on, who wouldn’t want to be a hero?  Speaking of heroes, local firefighters came to the rescue when Jodi’s home was destroyed by a fire a couple of years back.  Firefighters risk their own lives everyday to keep countless others out of harms way.  The 100 Club of Arizona works to make sure that firefighters and other public safety officers and their families are taken care of.  Started in 1968 100 Club provides financial assistance to families of service members who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.  Over $5 million dollars have been donated through the 100 Club’s program and benefits during the past forty years.  They proudly stand behind the men and women who stand behind the badge.  There’s a reason little kids want to grow up to be firefighters, and it’s not because of that cool pool they get to slide down.

The Wish Upon A Hero Donation

The 100 Club of Arizona Donation

So here’s to you Jodi Marie!  You are funny, creative, intelligent, lovable, and generous.  You’re the only person I would want to get lost on a Raleigh city bus with, go to the C-store for hot dogs with, walk to Cameron Village with my car keys with, or call my “mom”.  You may have other people fooled, but I know you’ve got a soft spot in that heart of yours.  You love to do things for others, make people laugh, and you make even the most mundane chores a blast.  Thank you for making my fairy Halloween costume, buying me shots of I-don’t-even-know-what at the bar, hosting my fabulous 25th birthday surprise party, and sticking by my side since the seventh grade.  I love you mom.

Oldie but a goodie

Week 15-Mis Amigos, Day 3-Whitney

Whitney is one of those friends who I have known since the ripe ‘ole age of 13.  We weren’t exactly friends at first sight, but luckily we grew up and realized that we in fact, really loved each other.  Whitney is what I would call an old soul.  She loves all things vintage, family heirlooms, and bringing new life into old pieces of fashion and furniture.  Whitney also has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met, and when she commits to a cause there is nothing that can stand in her way of making it a success.  I’m so thankful that she still believes in the good in people, and reminds me that I should too.

Luhhhss you

Earl's Pearls beauties

Three years ago Whitney channeled her love for her Paw-Paw into a wildly successful team for Relay for Life.  She rallied her friends and family to help find a cure for cancer by staying up all night walking and raising money.  Unfortunately, we all know someone who has or had cancer, or someone who has been affected by this devastating disease.  This gives us all more reason and motivation to follow in Whitney’s footsteps and “relay” together for this amazing cause.  Whitney’s passion and love pushed her relay team,  Earl’s Pearls, to become Rookie Team of the year and raise over $1500 dollars in its very first year.  It’s true, one person can change the world.  One person who changed Whitney’s world is her nephew Carter.  You met him on day one of Valentine’s week, and he inspired Aunt Intney and his momma to be part of another walk.

Aunt Itney and Carterbug

Carter’s Crew showed up and rocked their “designer genes” at the Buddy Walk last October during Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  They were a part of the 285,000 people across the world who participated in a Buddy Walk and raised over $11.2 million dollars last year alone!  The Buddy Walk has grown into the world’s most widely recognized public awareness campaign for the Down syndrome community since it was established 16 years ago by the National Down Syndrome Society.  A little extra chromosome is bringing a lot of extra love to one family, and a lot of extra awareness those around them.

Relay for Life’s team Earl’s Pearls Donation

Buddy Walk (National Down Syndrome Society) Donation

So here’s to you Whitney!  You make your own rules and follow wherever your heart leads you.  You still believe in magic, true love, and the healing power of shopping and dancing.  You turn your passions and convictions into campaigns that make a difference.  You bring people together to help those who need it most and inspire everyone around you to do the same.  I’m so thankful that you’re always there to share a bottle (or two) of wine, a good cry, an ugly laugh, some juicy gossip, and a great cause with.  25 to 95, me and you sbff.

Week 15:Mis Amigos, Day 2-Karen

My beautiful Ella

This past summer I had the opportunity to work at the Bronx Zoo with some wild animals, and some even wilder teaching fellows.  We all had an incredible group dynamic, which I wrote a little about in Week 2, and I was beyond sad when the last day of Zoo Camp came and went.  The good news was I knew I couldn’t get rid of these people.  They were going to be in my life for better or worse.  Karen was at the top of that “Best Friends Forever” list.  We connected early on, became inseparable, and endured endless jokes from the other fellows about our not so secret love affair.  I thought I was done making friends for life, but this spicy like amiga proved me wrong.  I’m so thankful for the love she showers over me when I least expect it.

Karen is a nerd.  I know it, she knows, everyone around her knows it, but it’s what makes her such a great teacher.  She loves to read (she named her Kindle, Kendall), learn, and naturally puts others needs above hers.  Those sounds like the makings of a great teacher to me.  Teach For America is a great non-profit that exemplifies the reasons Karen is a teacher in the first place.  It’s a reality that the quality of education a child receives depends on where they live in the world.  TFA is working to put the best and brightest future leaders in places where great teachers are needed the most.  Since its beginning in 1990 TFA has reached over 3 million students and amassed over 200,000 TFA alumni who have gone through the program.  Optimism, bold ideas, and relentlessness are qualities that TFA and Karen share.  She also goes on her lunch break to check out books from the local library for her students.  She adopts them during the time she has them and makes them her priority no matter what.  Children International has been making children who are living in poverty their priority since their inception in 1936.  Their sponsorship program currently benefits more than 335,000 impoverished children and their families in 11 countries throughout the world, including the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, where Karen’s parents hail from.  You can sponsor a precious child for only $22 dollars a month and provide them with clothing, medical care, educational support, dental care, nutritional aid and more.  Most of us can spend $22 a month on coffee from Starbucks.  Sponsoring a child is way more fun and a lot less calories.

Teach for America Donation

Children’s International Donation

So here’s to you Karen!  You have given me so much in the short time that we’ve been friends.  You have given even more to the hundreds of kids you have taught over the years.  You always think about yourself last and treat everyone like they’re family.  You read more than anyone I know, you love like there’s no tomorrow, and you dance your pants off when you’re playing Wii.  Thank you for your never ending support and banging potato salad.

Besos para mi amiga

Week 15-Mis Amigos, Day 1-Devon

I’ve wanted to write about the great friends I have in my life for a while now, and after reading the always funny and witty Tequila Mockingbird, I decided it was time.  I totally agree with her that I much prefer quality over quantity and I love that I’ve known most of my friends since I was 13.  We’ve all decided we have to continue to be friends for the rest of our lives because we now know way too much to turn back now.  Devon is my family and I wouldn’t be who I am today without her.  Her creativity, tender heart, incredible spirit, and clumsy feet continue to inspire me, amaze me, and remind me how thankful I am to have her in my life.

Cheers to you Devon!

Devon started this amazing project called Spare Room along with her brother Donovan and a hand full of other friends and creative thinkers.  They work to utilize alternative spaces, like grocery stores and empty store fronts, to foster conversations across disciplines and promote experimental thoughts.  I’ve only been able to participate in these awesome projects and events from afar but they continue to remain undefinable and push the creative envelope.  Plus there is free food and booze at all of their events.  Creative and smart.  Little Miss Devon is also an insanely talented

Spare Room Success!

artist in her spare time.  When we traveled and lived together in Europe she was my tour guide in all of the museums and exhibitions we visited.  She was perfect because I was a foreigner in this land of art and she was my translator.  She explained to me that museums don’t fund themselves.  The admission we were paying to visit these one a kind collections of art was helping to make sure they stayed open and provided education to the public.  Even though artists don’t like to play favorites, Devon really loves to visit the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, especially with her Dad.  The museum uses the intellectual resources of a great research university to their advantage and serves as a laboratory of the arts.  Their multidisciplinary approach to learning makes Nasher a unique cornerstone of the arts for Duke University, the community, and the state of NC.

Spare Room Donation

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University Donation

So here’s to you Devon!  You create beautiful works of art (just not for me) and community changing events that people love to attend.  You are a reader, a thinker, a beauty, a lover, a sister, a student of life, and most importantly a giver.  You gave me a huge hand-made card for my 17th birthday (which I still have) and you haven’t stop giving to me since.  Now you’re giving back to people who you don’t even know in places you’ve never been.  Thank you for giving me the best gift ever, your love.

Us in a nutshell

Week 8-TV Shows, Day 7-Friends

I think you may know these people...

Hard core packing all of our belongings day 2, and I am exhausted.  The good news is we’re done.  Well except for a few odds and ends but all the cabinets, closets, drawers, and shelves are empty.  There was no little red envelope in our mail today but lucky for us the good people at TBS know Friends is awesome.  Yes the episodes may be fifteen years old but they never get old to me.  I have never been more thankful for 4 o’clock or Dr. Drake Ramoray.

So what kind of charities reflect this iconic show?  Coffee charity?  Done it.  Smelly cat charity?  Animals were so last week.  How about charities with the word friends in their name?  Now we’re talking.  Friends of Acadia works to protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological vitality of Acadia National Park.  As one of American’s top ten most popular national parks Acadia has over two million visitors to the one of a kind Mt. Desert Island, Maine.  Since it’s foundation in 1986 FOA has raised over 14.6 millions dollars in endowments and other investments.  You may have heard of a little company called L.L.Bean who has given 2.2 millions dollars to FOA to support the Island Explorer bus system, and establish the L.L.Bean Research Fellowships and Kids in Acadia programs.  Another non-profit I’d like to be buddies with is Friends of Karen.  FOK supports critically ill children and their families emotionally as well as financially.  FOK works with children who are U.S. citizens have cancer or other illnesses in the New York metropolitan area.  New Yorkers, or anyone in the vicinity, can volunteer with FOK to help wrap birthday presents, address holiday cards, and pack back to school supplies for the kids.  Since their beginning in 1978 FOK has helped over 4,000 children and their families.  All I did today was put some stuff in boxes.

Friends of Acadia Donation

Friends of Karen Donation

So here’s to you Friends!  What would the world be like without Phoebe, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, and Chandler?  You have given us a theme song that always gets stuck in our heads, and a show that is timeless.  You have made us realize that friends are one of the best parts of life and we would never get out of (or into) life’s messes without them.  So even if it hasn’t been your day, your week, or even your year, you can always be there for charity.