My first taste of volunteer work came when I was 12 years old. It was 1976, and McDonald’s restaurants were encouraging kids to host carnivals to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. Though I had little understanding of muscular dystrophy, I loved a backyard party. My philanthropic mother had planted a deep seed in me regarding helping others. “To whom much is given, much is expected” was our motto.
I received my carnival kit and recruited the neighborhood kids to help. We had a fortune teller, sno-cone table, games of chance and more, raising about $70. But the major payoff was that I fell in love with good causes.
Since then, I’ve volunteered as a swim buddy for kids with spina bifida and worked with various organizations that focus on environmental issues, homelessness, poverty and AIDS. These days, I volunteer weekly at a soup kitchen, washing dishes and passing out fruit (when we have enough) to the down-on-their-luck men and women who come inside for soup and community. I also chair an eco-committee at my kids’ school. And though it seems counter-intuitive — after all, I’m a busy mom of three — I find myself with more energy to tackle my other commitments.
We’re almost midway through the first month of the new year, and if you’re like the majority of resolution makers, you’re likely already starting to falter. According to a recent New York Times article, “By the end of January, a third will have broken their resolutions, and by July more than half will have lapsed.”
That’s why now is a great time to recommit to those oh-so-noble goals. Two ways to do that? Checking in with your resolutions often and rewarding yourself for your progress. Sure, losing weight, saving money and getting more sleep are their own rewards, but a little extra motivation never hurt, right?
By Adri Kyser
You hear people talk about Karma more and more nowadays. They use this word to describe something good or bad that happened to them or to someone else. Often you can even hear this word used to predict the future consequences a person may receive based upon a particular action.
I am sitting in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Celebrate Your Life conference. I have the honor of being here to facilitate two workshops and to participate with a number of speakers and teachers who have inspired me over the years. As I sit here, I am bathed in a sea of gratitude for the amazing life that I am privileged to live.
As Julio hauled the net into our skiff, we spied a green sea turtle ensnared in the mesh. In this case, we were happy to see our captive: Julio is the Magadalena Baykeeper on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, and part of his job is working with Grupo Tortuguero — the world’s foremost sea turtle conservation group — to capture, study and release endangered turtles in order to help ensure their future.
Students at J.A. Rogers Academy in Kansas City, Mo., try out fitness tools donated by Gaiam.
From inner-city schools to homeless shelters to hospitals, Gaiam has donated yoga mats, fitness tools, BalanceBall chairs, bedding, water bottles, cleaning supplies, solar-powered gadgets and more to those in need in Colorado (where Gaiam’s headquarters are located) and other states throughout the U.S.
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is a great time of year. But as I’m recovering from the glut of presents, the copious amounts of cookies and sweets I’ve consumed, and the amount of credit card debt I’ve racked up buying gifts and decorations, I always resolve that I’ll offset my good fortune in the coming year by finding a few good causes to contribute to not just at the holidays, but throughout the year — when they need it the most.
Here’s one way Gaiam gave back this holiday season: We donated 500 turkeys to the Denver Rescue Mission, helping to provide Thanksgiving meals to the poor and homeless in the Denver area.
“Gaiam has sent an important message to those we serve — that there are many who care,” says Lisette Williams, manager of community events and procurement for the Denver Rescue Mission.