Philanthropy Friday: Somebody’s Daughter

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

This following article is a guest post from Susan Allen Panzica.

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It started with a dream – a nightmare really. A vivid dream that my daughter (who was living in Australia at the time) was abducted by human traffickers. I grabbed my phone and immediately texted my daughter. Finally the ping of her text reply. “I’m fine Mom. What’s up?”

The flood of relief as I sank into the pillows and prayed “Thank God it wasn’t my daughter” was immediately replaced by the awareness that it was somebody’s daughter.

Somebody’s daughter was abducted and sold into slavery that night. Somebody’s daughter ran away and was sucked into the web of human trafficking. Somebody’s daughter was brainwashed to think there was no hope, no way out. Somebody’s daughter was being used for profit and the salacious enjoyment of men in a dark and evil underworld. Somebody’s daughter was silently crying out for justice.

That night, across the world and in my own state of New Jersey, people of all ages, colors, and genders were being held against their will, their passports held by unscrupulous “employers,” working as nannies, maids, bonded laborers with no hope or chance for freedom.

It’s a tragic fact that there is more slavery in the world today than at any time in history. There’s an estimated 29.8 million people caught in human trafficking – modern day slavery – whether it is forced labor or the sex trade or underage prostitution. It’s the fastest growing and second largest criminal activity in the world.

Shortly after my nightmare, I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook page about human trafficking and left a comment. Then another Facebook friend left a comment to mine saying, “If you do something, let me know.”

I stared at her comment thinking, “Will this be one more time where I say I want to do something, yet actually do nothing. Or this time will I actually DO something?”

So I reached out to Tanya who created the original post. Over her kitchen table, we shared our thoughts and information. We were just two suburban moms, outraged over the colossal issue of human trafficking, attempting to answer the question, “How can we make a difference from here?”  In the days that followed, I casually mentioned my new endeavor to selected friends and family. In less than two months, our group grew from two to twenty-two!

And we accidentally became abolitionists.

We formed Justice Network to raise awareness of the issue and support for organizations locally and globally that are already on the front lines fighting this heinous evil. Justice Network exists to educate, equip, and empower friends and neighbors to become abolitionists providing education about the facts and ways to fight the issue and directing support to those organizations rescuing victims.

We are part of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, participating in and contributing to their activities. And each month Justice Network hosts its own events, including a movie showing, fair trade market, jewelry party, appeals to Congressmen, high school outreach, etc.

Through both secular and religious organizations, change is taking place. Traffickers are going to jail. Victims are rescued and redeemed. People are changing the world. I’m a “real housewife of NJ” out to change my corner of it and to do what I can to impact the lives of those in peril.

Susan-JEK-smSusan is a wife and mom who manages her chiropractor husband’s office by day and writes by night. She writes a personal blog, Eternity Café, that shares stories of everyday life that reflect the eternal truths of God and is the co-founder of Justice Network, which raises awareness of human trafficking and support for organizations locally and globally that are already on the front lines fighting this heinous evil.

Philanthropy Friday: Jewelry for a Cause

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

This following article is a guest post from Bev Feldman.

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Volunteering and giving back to the community have always been important to me. So when I made the switch from working in the human services to focusing on my jewelry business full-time, I knew somehow I wanted to incorporate an element of giving into it.

It started with donating portions of sales to a local nonprofit with which I am involved. For the month of February I donated 20% of sales of my heart jewelry to Friends of the Center for Families, a nonprofit that holds a very special place in my heart.

I knew for the month of April I wanted to give to the One Fund Boston, since the Boston Marathon is held the third Monday of April. I live in Cambridge, right across the river from Boston, and have lived in the area for 10 years. I have watched the Boston Marathon from the sidelines many times, cheering on the runners from my husband’s former apartment on Beacon Street, just a few miles before the end of the course. I have watched in awe as the runners, so close to the end, powered on. Regardless of the weather, spirits were always high, and a feeling of camaraderie permeated the race that brings together people from all over the world.

Like everyone else, I was shocked by the events of last year’s marathon. You truly never expect something like this to happen so close to home. I was saddened that something like this could happen in my area by people from the community, and even more so that lives of innocent people who were there to celebrate what should have been a joyous day were so horribly changed. Thankfully no one I knew was hurt, but unfortunately there were too many people who cannot say the same thing about their friends or loved ones.

In the wake of such a tragedy, though, came forth once again the spirit of camaraderie as the community came together to help one another. I want to celebrate and honor those whose lives were forever changed by that day, using my business as a tool to give back to them. When a friend suggested I make a line of fitness jewelry after seeing a picture of a custom bracelet I posted on Instagram, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Between now and Monday, April 21 (the date of this year’s Boston Marathon), I will be donating 20% of sales from my limited-edition runner fitness bracelets to the One Fund Boston. That means, for the sale of every bracelet, I will be donating $49.00. I am already 10% of the way toward reaching my goal of $500—will you help me reach my goal?

(You can read the full story behind the design of this bracelet here.)

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Bev Feldman is a jewelry designer, blogger, and newly minted mom. You can read about her adventures in balancing being a stay-at-home mom while running a creative business and check out her jewelry at Linkouture.

Philanthropy Friday: Bringing Light to Grieving Parents

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

This following article is a guest post from Alexa. Alexa has been the subject of a few posts on this blog due to her amazing advocacy work for newborn health and for those affected by TTTS in particular. You can read my thoughts on her book Sunshine After the Storm here

For most mothers, Mother’s day is a day to be spoiled by their children (and maybe husbands.) It’s a day we look forward to. A day that we, the mother, gets the one day that we are acknowledged for everything that we do as moms. And mothers should be honored. All mothers.

For many mothers, Mother’s day is a source of pain. A constant reminder of what is no longer here, or what will never be.

It’s a very difficult day for grieving mothers. I know, because I am one of them.

“A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love that she holds in her heart.” ~Franchesca Cox

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A few years ago, CarlyMarie of Project Heal began International Bereaved Mother’s Day. This day for mother’s to talk about the true meaning of Mother’s Day, and celebrate our children, both with us and not. Do you know why Mother’s Day was begun?

Anna Jarvis officially founded the traditional Mother’s Day to honour her mother Ann who experienced the death of 7 of her children and somehow through the years it has turned into a commercialized mess that corporate companies make millions of dollars from, but the worst thing is that bereaved mothers are completely forgotten. ~CarlyMarie

International Bereaved Mother’s Day is now the Sunday preceding Mother’s Day. So this year it is May 5th.

Inspired by the actions of CarlyMarie and so many others who make it their mission to bring light to grieving parents, I wanted to do something as well. Last October, in time for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th, a group of bereaved parents and I published our book Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother. It is our stories and our best advice and tips on surviving the loss of a pregnancy, infant, or older child.

Fueled by the positive feedback and the positive impact it was having on other parents who have suffered the death of a child, we went one step further and created a nonprofit, Sunshine After the Storm, Inc, to raise funds to donate the books to hospitals, bereavement groups, and organizations that support bereaved parents.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I wanted to do something special. So we decided to start a special “Mother’s Day Campaign.” The goal is simple: raise money to donate as many books as we can to hospitals and bereavement groups for Mother’s Day, and use a portion of the funds to make a special Mother’s Day contribution to the organizations that support bereaved parents, infant death, pregnancy loss, and research for children’s health issues.

I also reached out to different people, including some well-known authors on baby and child loss, such as Sherokee Ilke and Teske Drake; to CarlyMarie (who creates the most beautiful artwork for bereaved parents on her Shore of Remembrance) and many others. I asked for donated items and services so that we could offer a wonderful incentive for those who decide to find it in their heart to make a donation. The response was amazing, and on May 4th, International Bereaved Mother’s Day, we will have a giveaway of 15 incredible items. And more may be added!

Mother's Day campaign prizes

I’ve donated a mini coaching session for this giveaway!

We just ask for one thing. A very small donation. $5 (or more if you’d like!) It costs us about $8 to donate each book. One donation will get you entered for a chance to win all of these amazing prizes! (Donate here)

But more importantly, you will know that you have directly impacted the life of a mother who is hurting on Mother’s Day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

noholdingbackAlexa Bigwarfe is the mother of four beautiful children, three on earth and one in Heaven.  She blogs as “Kat Biggie” at “No Holding Back” which was started primarily as an outlet for her grief after the loss of one of her twin daughters. Alexa is a wife, mother, writer, advocate, and sometimes political activist. She, and 30 other grieving parents, recently published a book for grieving mothers entitled Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother. Now, as a way to give back to grieving parents, Alexa and her co-contributors have begun a special Mother’s Day Campaign for bereaved mothers. Their goal is to raise the funds to donate more than 100 books to hospitals and bereavement groups, and give away some really great gifts too. You can find out more about this campaign by going here: http://katbiggie.com/mothers-day-campaign/

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