A Mother’s Pride: A Daughter’s Giving



Kids are amazing. They notice everything. They question everything. They are curious.

My daughter J’Nyah is 7. Since she was born, I’ve been amazed as how quickly she learns things. When she was a baby, it was learning to hold her head, smile, or sit up.  As a toddler–crawling, walking, running. It felt like she went from speaking gibberish to full sentences in the blink of an eye.

One of the best things about your child growing up is getting to know them as a person.

Her caring, giving spirit started young

J’Nyah has always been very independent and a leader. The first time I realized what kind of person she was growing into, I was so proud. At 2 years old, on her first day of preschool, we walked in, met the teachers, and she saw  other kids she knew from the neighborhood and local parks. They all went right to playing.  My little girl was very interested in the “house” area and started playing with the dolls.

My DaughterThere was one little girl who wouldn’t let go of her mother and was crying, out of control. J’Nyah asked me, “Mama, why is that girl so sad?” I said she was probably scared because it was her first time in a new place and she didn’t know anyone. J’Nyah picked up an extra doll, took it to the girl and started playing with her. Before I knew it, the two girls were giggling. The other grateful mother gave her little girl a kiss and we slipped out. The girls are friends to this day.

This happened again on the first day of kindergarten and first grade. J’Nyah is always ready to help someone having a hard time and make them feel better. Knowing that she isn’t using her strong personality to bully people and instead, to include and take care of them, makes me proud every day.

One day while walking downtown, we saw a number of homeless people panhandling and sleeping. My curious 4-year-old was staring at people as we passed. I didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable, but I also didn’t want her to ignore them.

As we went into the subway station, her questions started, “Why are those people there? Why are they asking for money? Why do they have a dog? Why are their kids with them?” I explained they probably didn’t have homes or jobs so they ask for money to get food and things they need. J’Nyah thought about this a lot, especially the kids that might not have a house or food. And she decided that she wants to help them.

At age 5, she started raising money

jnyah_five_s_256_254Since I work for JustGive, making giving a part of everyday life is always on my mind. So when J’Nyah decided she wanted to raise money for the homeless for her 5th birthday instead of getting gifts for herself, I was SUPER glad to we offer the tools to make that happen.  I’ll admit that I planted the thought to raise money, but since the idea to help others was already there, she agreed right away.

At 5 years old, she raised $376 for a local organization, BOSS: Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficency, which provides resources and housing for homeless families. And the idea stuck with her.  She remembers.

When she was turning 6, they were studying seals and sea lions in school, and J’Nyah heard her teacher say the pups are often abandoned. So she asked, “Can we help save the seals and sea lions this year for my birthday?” I was very proud she wanted to do it again, and together, we looked online for the charities rescuing marine life.  We were lucky to find local organizations, the Marine Mammal Center (which we could visit too!) and Save the Bay.

jnyahsmile_s_259_275While we were looking at these charities, she saw an ad for the ASPCA with an abused dog on it. She was very sad to hear that other animals are homeless and added East Bay SPCA so she could help them too. That year she raised $735 for the 3 charities.

When she was getting ready to turn 7, I wondered what we would do to celebrate. She was going to a lot more birthday parties this year and talking about elaborate plans for her party. As we were planning her party, she surprised me and asked, “Who are we going to help this year for my birthday?”

We talked through her many ideas, and since dolphins are her favorite animal right now, she decided to help them. This year she raised $830 for Blue Voice, The Dolphin Project via Earth Island Institute, and Wild Dolphin Project.

Her giving example

jnyah7_s_259_259This Mother’s Day, I am so proud to have a child that wants to help others every day. I’m glad we’re talking about issues in the world and figuring out that making things better is something we can do together.  I know J’Nyah will grow up to make a profound impact in the world.

If we all had her giving spirit, can you imagine the good we could do in the world?

-Julia Hughes
Product Manager

Mother’s Day – Musings on the Meaning of Mothering

image source: flickr: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ
image source: flickr

As a child (and an only child, at that) I was frequently jealous of the attention, love and mothering my mom would give to other children in our community.

Working individually with kids at my elementary school (and later on in her long career in the juvenile justice system), my mom focused intently on helping children with special needs. She treated them all with love, kindness and respect, which is the very best way to teach those qualities. She did everything as a volunteer—from large-scale organizing to providing childcare and tutoring, and even raising awareness about diversity and body positivity—issues that continue to be important to me to this day.

Truly a mother to anyone who needed one, my mom was a lifelong nurturer. At home, she never said no to me . . .  even when I brought in a foundling stray kitten, or once, a pair of miniature aquatic crabs we found inexplicably crawling up Fillmore Street in San Francisco. In addition to the cat I have now adopted, her social justice work and her extensive networks of friends and family, my mom left behind a large number of rather brilliant abstract paintings, a sassy assertiveness I strive to emulate every day, and a deep respect for treating all living things with kindness and care that’s instilled in me.

When my mother passed away unexpectedly on April first of this year, I created a charity registry in her name, to raise funds for animal rescue and nonprofit veterinary organizations ASPCA and Pets Unlimited, plus our local Make-a-Wish chapter. And you know something? Each heartfelt donation and sympathy message that came through my registry made me feel incredibly cared for and loved. It’s amazing that even someone who might not be related to me, or know me very well, can give me that kind of love, strength and support with a simple gesture. It’s certainly made this time a lot easier.

Source: Alex Mechanic

I honor my mother by striving to carry on her legacy of compassion, in the warm, giving spirit remembered by all who knew her. And the best feeling lately has been having that same warmth and generosity offered to me by all the various people in my life who I know in so many different ways. They have all been caring for me like one of their own.

Anyone can nurture like a mother does. It doesn’t depend on gender. It doesn’t even have to entail raising children. Caring and compassion are universal: Every one of us can give love and nurturing to anyone else – a child, adult, plant, or animal.

My good friend Sara can’t help but rescue a dying houseplant whenever she comes across one. It doesn’t matter what type of plant it is, she revives them back to health with a little work and TLC. That’s a perfect example of someone taking time to nurture the world around us in just the way a mother might.

So while it’s in my mother’s honor that I remember to smile and say hello to my neighbors and their kids, offer a listening ear to anyone I see having a bad day, and will continue to adopt as many animals as fit in my house, my models of mothering extend beyond her personal example.

I will never have children of my own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to be mothering, and nurture everyone I share this earth with for some finite time. We can all do it. All we need to do is care for each other.

—Alex Mechanic, Service Team Manager

JustGive’s Top 5 Most Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts

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For the first 27 years of my life, Mother’s Day was about giving gifts. Artwork when I was very little, handmade cards when I was a little older, and a nice pair of earrings as an adult.

I’m now a mom myself, and as I’m sure many new mothers can attest, giving birth often comes with a sudden sense of “OMG Mom, I totally understand every single thing you ever said to me.” We mothers truly feel every bit of the pain (and the joy) our children experience, in addition to a near-constant worry. This is both exhausting and an incredible blessing.

Here’s what I realized during my first Mother’s Day as a mom: while I’m sure my mom loved the earrings I got her, Mother’s Day is about appreciation, not about gifts. Motherhood is an amazing but often-thankless journey that involves a lot of sacrifice . . . and Mother’s Day is one specific day a year set aside to show her how much we appreciate all she has done for us.

A small gift and a big gesture

The best gifts for Mom show you care – so get her a small gift, and make it part of a bigger way your express your appreciation. To inspire you, here’s our countdown to a few of the Best Mother’s Day Gifts for 2012:

5. Offer a helping hand

Has your mom been asking you to help her with the computer, paint the house, or organize the garage? If so, Mother’s Day is a great occasion to actually do it. Making her life easier is a great gift. If your mom isn’t the type to ask for help, think of things in her life that are giving her grief. Can you remove the spyware on her PC? Teach her how to Skype? Send the family photos to be digitized? There’s a whole world of ways to make Mom’s life a little brighter.

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4. DIY a special book of memories

My friend Mary recently put together a book of photos and memories for her mother. What a great idea! Two thoughtful options: A book capturing her life (photos of childhood to current day) or a book of your history together (your birth to today). You don’t have to be crafty to make something special – use Blurb.com to easily create a custom photo book (just allow a couple of weeks to receive it from Blurb). Then sit down and go through it with her on Mother’s Day. She’ll love the trip down memory lane.

3. A spa day and nice family dinner

For a mom that doesn’t have time to herself very often, give the gift of a massage or a facial. While she’s out getting pampered, get in the kitchen and cook her a delicious  meal (and I mean cook – the effort you put into it means a lot more than a dinner out, even if you’re no gourmet chef!). Have a beautiful table set to enjoy it with her when she returns.

2. Show your support for what she cares about

What causes are close to your mom’s heart? If she loves animals, make a donation to an organization she cares about and take her to play with the pups at your local humane society. Is she passionate about the environment? Why not create a charity “gift basket” of four charities that work for her cause, and organize a beach cleanup of her favorite spot? What Mom doesn’t love seeing evidence that you’ve actually been listening when she’s lectured you about what truly matters? 😉

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1. Quality time

For people like Anneka (a friend of ours on Facebook), the best gift for Mom is time – her mom always asks to go on a hike with her kids. Making memories and having a close relationship – isn’t that what most mothers want most? Make a date to spend time with your mother doing something she loves this Mother’s Day – organize a hike, take her out for lunch, or go to a movie she’s been wanting to see.

Unfortunately, my mom lives in another state (just for now, though, right Mom?), but this Mother’s Day she’ll be receiving something extra special to show just how much her daughter and her granddaughter both love her and appreciate all she’s done for us–especially in the past few months.

What are you giving your mom this year? What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever given or received? Share it in the comments below, or post it on our Facebook page!

– Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

A Gift from the Heart

Mother’s Day is a time when we look at the mothers in our life, appreciate all that they do for us, and try to give something back to them.

Turning 30 this year made me realize I have been giving funny little gifts to my mother and grandmother over the years. Not only is it hard to think up new gifts to buy them, but I find they no longer need or want things. They already have too much stuff as it is.  As a mother of a three year old, I also think about what I would really want from her on Mother’s Day.  Although it sounds cliché, a drawing or something that she makes for me—from her heart—would make me the happiest.

I’m older . . . and crayon masterpieces for my grandma or mom don’t quite cut it. Then there’s the flower option: Most women (including me) love receiving flowers. They brighten up your living space and are a nice treat. But for me, they’re not quite enough. So I’ve found another way to honor the special women in my life – with a gift that’s a bit more personal, from my heart.

My Grandma was a wonderful elementary school teacher for many years, so I made a donation in her name to DonorsChoose.org — a great organization that helps teachers raise money for special projects or classroom materials that they need. Since she doesn’t really like to use computers, I didn’t want her to have to go online and search for a project or an organization. So I printed the donation confirmation to enclose in a special card with the flowers I’ll give her, letting her know how I am honoring her on Mother’s Day.

I wanted to do the same thing for my mom. She supports organizations that protect the environment, and gives to local food banks and rescue missions. The arts and public education are also important to her. And I wasn’t sure which organization to donate to: What would she appreciate the most this year? So I decided to give her a charity gift card with a bouquet of flowers. Letting her make the choice. She can go to JustGive.org and find the charity (or charities) she wants to support right now…there are more than a million on the site. And I’ll know that her donation will make a difference for a cause that is both meaningful and personally close to her heart!

This Mother’s Day, consider a charity gift collection that gives back and says thank you from your heart—donating to a cause that’s special to your mother’s (or grandmothers, or wife’s, or…you get the point) heart!

If you’d like to honor all she’s done in a bigger way, all year round – make it a monthly recurring donation.

Enjoy a very special Happy Mother’s Day!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes

The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Working for a nonprofit is often a labor of love. All of us at JustGive have stories about why we work for the public good. For many of us, it was our Mother’s who instilled a sense of giving back. That’s certainly the case for me. When I was seven years old my Mother founded a nonprofit, Surrey Services for Seniors. Watching her struggle and succeed – before retiring last year – is one of the reasons I made social change a career path. It’s also why this Mother’s Day I’ll let her tell me what her next passion is by giving her a charity gift card.

This Mother’s Day, the JustGive team is sharing stories about our Mothers and the ways we can honor what they’ve taught us:

I feel very fortunate to have a mother that instilled in me the importance of compassion and equality. My mother has always strongly believed that helping others who are less fortunate is a duty we all have as members of global and local communities, not just something that you do because it makes you feel good. It is because of her passion and commitment to help others that I would choose to donate to Outside In, a local organization that provides services to help empower homeless youth and other marginalized people.  – Kelly

No matter where your Mom lives, there’s a community organization she loves—helping the elderly, caring for animals or giving shelter to those in need. Conveniently find that organization with just a zip code with our Act Locally tool.

I would donate to the Spay-Neuter Action Project in San Diego. My Mom was “that crazy cat lady” who took in the neighborhood strays. She always said it wasn’t enough to provide just food and water, it was important to control the pet population. This message was echoed on mornings we’d have breakfast together and watch re-runs of The Price is Right with Bob Barker. SNAP provides mobile spay/neuter services throughout San Diego County, as well as reduced rate services for low-income pet owners.  – Sarah

Donate to a charity your Mom cares most about. Add a personal message and JustGive will email your gift in a convenient, earth-friendly way—or print a receipt of your gift and enclose it in her Mother’s Day card.

My mom is a very generous woman. She always opens our home to people that need a place to feel welcomed or need a place to stay. She is quick to offer what little extra she has to local family shelters and rescue missions. In her honor I donate locally to BOSS – Harrison Family Shelter and Bay Area Rescue Mission. This Mother’s Day I hope to share that I’m following in her footsteps, and making the same difference to those that need. – Julia

Select and personalize a GiveNow charity gift card and let your Mother choose her favorite cause.

One of the things I remember not liking when I was young but appreciate now is public radio. My mother always listened to public radio while preparing dinner and even now the program themes put me back in our kitchen. Every year for Mother’s Day, I send my mother a gift donation to her local public radio station.  – Andrea

Make your Mother’s gift a monthly donation and provide ongoing support in her honor all through the year.

I would give to an environmental charity, particularly one that preserves forests, because my mother loved the woods. I have memories of her hugging redwood trees in Northern California, before the term “tree hugger” was formally coined! – Roxanne

My mother is passionate about giving back to others.  She donated to the same children’s charity for over 20 years, sponsoring several young girls’ education into adulthood.  Later, my mother turned to micro-lending to support women’s businesses in developing countries.  This year she is going to the World Cup games in South Africa and will volunteer at a local orphanage during her visit.  For Mother’s Day, I’ll give a charitable donation to her favorite nonprofits.  (If I gave her anything else, it would just end up at the Goodwill anyway.) – Michele

Give her a Gift Collection—a “basket” of four charities that support a cause that’s close to your Mom’s heart.

My Mom went back to school as an adult for seven years part-time to become a teacher—while also raising 4 kids. She received her bachelor’s degree the same year I graduated from high school. Mom showed me how to go after what was important and work through any obstacles. For Mother’s Day, I’m donating to Girls Incorporated to help inspire, support and empower young women. To this day (and I’m no spring chicken), that’s what my Mom does for me! – Candy

Visit us on Facebook and tell us your story about how your Mom inspired you to give back!

Mothers Day

I am a daughter, a grand-daughter, a niece, and hopefully someday a mother. I owe so much of who I am today and who I hope to become, to the love and guidance of my Mom, Grandma and Aunt. They are the women who made countless PB&J sandwiches for a very picky eater (“no crust please”), put band-aids on scraped knees, gave advice on love (and broken hearts), cheered through tears during college graduation, and helped paint the walls of new homes. Through their love, they taught me compassion and empathy. What child didn’t hear “there are starving children in …” as a plea to eat peas? Sorry Mom, I still don’t like peas.

One of the greatest lessons I learned is that giving really does feel better than receiving. Especially now, when times are hard for all, I know how giving even a little can mean so much for so many.

This Mother’s Day I want to thank all the “Moms” in my life with gifts that help others—giving back, in special ways, to honor how they have helped shape my life.

  • I was a late bloomer to the love of reading, but Grandma never stopped encouraging me to find joy in books. For all the stories Grandma read to help me sleep at night, I’m donating to First Book. A $25 donation buys 10 books for first time readers. For $50, a family in need will receive enough books for a year of bedtime.
  • My Aunt is passionate about supporting her local food bank. She lives by the saying “think globally and act locally.” JustGive lets me quickly find and donate to local charities. Or, I can donate $35 to Share our Strength to feed a child three meals a day for more than a month. For $75, Action Against Hunger will supply a family of four with grains and other food staples for two weeks.
  • Home is where the heart is. My Mom struggled with housing when I was young, but always made me feel at home. More than anyone I know, she taught me to give back to others because you never know when you will need help. In her name, a $10 donation to Habitat for Humanity will buy a box of nails for building a home.

You can find the perfect charitable gift for all the “Moms” in your life on JustGive.org, which connects you to nearly 1.5 million charities working throughout the world. Or, if you’d prefer to let your Mom choose a charity helping a cause she is passionate about, you can give her a GiveNow charity gift card.

Pass this idea along to friends and family. After all, didn’t Mom always say we should share?