Making A Difference®: The World of Giving – Remembering our military on Memorial Day

Leave a comment

Memorial Day.  What does it bring to mind?  Summer’s arrival?  Some people, including myself, believe that many have forgotten the meaning of this holiday.


Memorial Day is an important day on which to remember what has been done by so many to protect this country and others around the world.  Memorial Day started in the aftermath of the Civil War as a way to honor those who had died.  Over the years it expanded to include the remembrance of all those from all wars where Americans fought.  Originally known as Decoration Day, this day is truly a time to remember those men and women who died while in military service.

Some might be exasperated at that thought of being challenged to “do something” to honor this day after all it is a three day weekend and the start of summer, right?


I would counter that there are things, many of which are easy, you can do to appreciate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country and to help those who are still serving.


First, participate in the National Moment of Remembrance.  It is one minute of silence that occurs at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day in honor of those who have lost their lives in service to the Unites States of America.  This is a way to put the “memory” back into Memorial Day.  To remember it, try setting the alarm on your phone as a reminder to take a minute to remember those who have given their lives to fight for this country.


Another idea is to gather your family and friends to watch TV!  Annually, in Washington DC, the national concert to honor the military takes place on the evening before Memorial Day.  It is hosted by actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise.  Both of these men have committed their time year after year on this holiday to giving back via hosting this concert in our nation’s capital.  Check it out as well as the Memorial Day Concert broadcasted on PBS.  The concert will occur from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. edt.  Tune in to learn about those who have made sacrifice for this country a way of life.


It should be noted that both hosts have also committed personally to giving back and helping those involved with the military.  Joe is the national spokesperson for the National Museum of the United States Army and its campaign to raise $200 million to honor and showcase the 30 million women and men who have worn the uniform since 1775.  He also supports the Act Today for Military Families which focuses on helping military families who have children affected by autism.


Gary has started a charitable foundation to raise awareness and money to honor those who have served our country and are in need.  As his website says, “While we can never do enough to show our gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”  Think about following the examples of Joe and Gary.


Memorial Day is an opportunity to make a difference to those who have served our country or to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice – their lives. Here are five (5) recommendations and tips on easy ways to Make A Difference® (M.A.D.):


  1. Fly the American flag at half-staff until noon in honor of those who have lost their lives while serving for the United States; then again raising it high once again. 
  2. Visit a VA Hospital or senior center where they are veterans; listen to their stories
  3. Visit a cemetery and read the headstones of those who have died for our freedom; think about what their sacrifice means to you!
  4. Attend the Memorial Day activities in your community.  Go to your hometown’s website to learn about any activities that may be going on.  Most have a parade or some sort of commemoration; take the young people in your life with you to begin passing on the importance of this holiday.     
  5. Make a charitable donation to a nonprofit doing work with veterans.  I strongly recommend the Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Homefront.

Bonus Tip #1: Take time to write a letter or send a package to someone who is serving or take a veteran with you to the activities you attend on Memorial Day, such as a parade or picnic.


Bonus Tip #2: Are you considering taking one of the days to do spring cleaning?  If so, and you find old cell phones that are not being used in drawers and boxes, consider donating them to Cell Phones for Soldiers; for each cell phone donated, this organization sends calling cards to soldiers stationed throughout the world so they can call home.  


Serving in our military is a great honor but comes with much sacrifice for both the soldier and the family.  Freedom is a hard fought battle that occurs on daily basis.  Pay tribute to our military men and women, as well as their families by honoring and remembering those who have served and continue to serve.


Let’s make this Memorial Day 2014 a time to remember the more than 2 million men and women serving daily.  By taking action on any of the recommendations in this blog, you will join Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise and thousands of others who definitely want to be M.A.D. (Making A Difference) for those who have done so much for our country!  Are you M.A.D. today?


Happy Memorial Day!


Making A Difference® While Giving Back To Musicians

Leave a comment

In the age of the internet, it’s almost impossible to protect anything.   Music, art and literature often can be easily duplicated without cost (and of course, without profit to the artist).    In some cases, it may even seem better just to make art free.   But if you do that, what’s left – relying on charity?  As it turns out, that idea may not be as risky as some seem to think.

Amanda Palmer is the first “big” artist to try this.  After an ‘unsuccessful’ release of her first CD, Palmer began her grand campaign online.  Instead of charging people for her music, she asked people to pay what she thought her money was worth.  It sounds crazy, but considering online piracy, and the massive amounts of money that record companies take from artists, she taught is was worth considering.

The music industry is all about connecting with the audience, and for Amanda, that means crowdsourcing (staying in homes instead of hotels, and inviting musicians to play with her when she needs a band) in order to build greater contact with her fans.

And how does she fund this?  She relies completely on charity.  Yes, although a musician is not someone we might normally consider for a charitable donation, the simple act of paying for the experience you received sure seems like giving back.   In Amanda’s case, nobody is making you pay, so by simply giving to fund the experience is an act of charity within itself.

But such acts are not confined to just musicians. Look at Aaron’s Last Wish.  It started when Aaron Collins, dies three weeks before his 30th birthday.  He believed that generosity and kindness were the ways that a person’s life left a mark on the world.  Moved by his generous spirit, his brother tips waiters and waitresses across the country $500 in an attempt to spread this kindness.  These tips, a single act of charity, have had a remarkable impact on the people they were given to.  One waitress was a twenty-one year old student, working three jobs to make ends meet.  Another was struggling to pay rent after a car accident kept her out of work for a week, yet a single tip (albeit a big one), had the power to change that.  It’s so hard to remember that something as simple as giving to a service you are grateful for, can be Making A Difference®!

Making A Difference® – Philanthropy in Chicago, and Beyond!

Leave a comment

Very few things rival summer in Chicago; between the weekend festivals and beautiful beaches, there is something new and exciting to experience each day in the Windy City!

Even though Chicago in known for its rich arts scene and thriving business sector,  just a quick ride around “The Loop” makes one thing very apparent – Chicago is a philanthropic city!

Yes, whether it is people volunteering in youth enrichment programs throughout downtown or participating in events like the Chicago Sun Times 2013 Home Team Charity Run on July 14, Chicagoans are enjoying this summer by giving back!

Summer is a great time to find a new cause close to your heart and give your time or resources to Making A Difference® in your community.  No matter where you live in this country, or even if you are just visiting a new city this summer, check out sites like http://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find opportunities around you to give back.  Who knows, you may even meet great new people in your neighborhood when you volunteer your time!

We all love spending time at the beach, relaxing, or catching up with family over the long summer holiday.  But giving back, in Chicago and beyond, is a great way to be Making A Difference® and building a brighter future for those around you. 

Making a Difference® on Fourth of July

Leave a comment

Fourth of July is always a highlight of the summer.  Whether you enjoy a picnic outside with your family or catch a ball game with your favorite team, it is a time to reflect on the many gifts and opportunities we have been given in this great country.

In a day in age where all news stations seem to broadcast the very worst tragedies, it may seem difficult to find stories about the very best of the human spirit.  But, Independence Day is a great time to remember and build on the principles and the drive that founded this country 237 years ago.  The idea of giving back and helping your neighbor during times of great need is something that has been passed down through the generations in America.  The fight for freedom in 1776 gave us a shining example of why we must care for all of our citizens in order to provide “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all in this country.

Each day, American nonprofits are finding ways to ensure all people truly have the opportunities described in the Declaration of Independence.  Whether organizations or individuals are providing food or healthcare assistance, helping to secure a better educational system or assisting the elderly, Americans across the country are Making A Difference in their communities.

There is no greater way to honor the history of The United States, or the brave men and women who defend it today, than by giving back!  This Fourth of July, reflect on the many freedoms and gifts you and your family have been given.  But, think about ways you can contribute to building an even better America for those around you and for future generations.  Consider donating to a charity close to your heart, or volunteer some time with an organization in your community.  No matter how you decide to celebrate this Independence Day, remember that you can be Making A Difference® by living out the words and legacy of our Founding Fathers.