Thanks Mom, I love you…

Five words that are routinely spoken on a daily basis to countless Moms (and Dads). Five little words that most parents dismiss without so much as a second thought. But five words that I cannot hear without being overwhelmed with gratitude. Because there was a time when I didn’t think I would ever hear those words again.

My daughter and I have emerged from a very difficult teenage journey with a relationship that is better, stronger and with more mutual respect than I ever thought humanly possible. And every time she ends a conversation with “I love you,” my heart melts because I so desperately love her back.


Our turning point came when I overheard her talking to a friend about saving the baby sea turtles. I remember angrily thinking that she couldn’t even save herself – how was she going to save the sea turtles? But then it hit me like a ton of bricks….she was thinking about the sea turtles!!! She was NOT thinking about any of the destructive lifestyle choices that were available to her on a daily basis. This was good! This needed encouragement…

So we started talking about the baby sea turtles and what it would actually take to get involved in saving them. We did some research. We talked some more. And slowly, she came back to me. And somewhere along the line, I asked her if she thought there may be other teenagers out there who might benefit from having something bigger than themselves to believe in. The answer, of course, was yes!

So my daughter and I created “Changemaker Communities,” a place for young people to go to take a  journey of self-discovery – to find that “special something” that would lead them on a path toward a meaningful future, especially if they were currently struggling.

I made an appointment to share Changemaker Communities with a local school district and was beyond excited to share our message. Unfortunately, my appointment fell on the very day that the school district announced their plan for remote learning because of the pandemic. It was absolute chaos. There would be no appointment that day.

So over the next year or two, we kept working and adding content so we would be ready when the world re-opened. But one day, I was watching the news and I realized that we didn’t have a moment to lose. The news was one terrible tragedy after another…In one 30-minute broadcast, there was a mass shooting, a report on the rapidly declining mental health of our teenagers, a drunk driving fatality, a case of animal abuse and a bully-related suicide. It was gut wrenching to watch. And it struck me that it was time to do something!

I thought about all of the good people in the world – it seems like we only hear about the bad and that’s not fair. I thought about all the people who wanted to do something, but didn’t know what to do or how to start. And I knew I wanted  to mobilize these good people so we could make a real difference in the lives of people, animals and our environment.

So here we are, a grassroots organization, trying to tell the world that you don’t have to be rich and famous to initiate change. Each and every one of us has the capacity to right a wrong or make a life better. But when we join together as a community, we will be  unstoppable. Not only will we help the world, but we’ll also help the young people who are struggling to find their place IN this world.

But I realized we had another issue to take care of before we could truly be effective in saving the world. I know that a lot of people WANT to do something to help various organizations and causes, but they don’t know HOW to do it. And too often, people think that donating money is the only way to help, when in reality, many organizations need people to donate their time and resources too.

I wanted potential donors and volunteers to know that there are many ways that a person can do their part to make the world a better place and it doesn’t have to be restricted to their own back yard, either.

I found this out first hand when I became obsessed with the animals that were left behind during the Ukraine invasion. I lost sleep with worry and a feeling of being helpless. But then I learned about an organization that was actually in Ukraine, searching for and rescuing the house pets that were wandering the streets… lost, scared, and hungry. There was an easy way for me to become a monthly donor to this amazing group of people and I signed up right way. From then on, whenever I would see a trigger on the news, or think about the animals as I was trying to sleep, I would feel a sense of calm and contribution – I WAS A HELPER. Because of me, and people like me, these dogs and cats were being rescued thousands of miles away from where I was. It was life changing. Now I’m addicted to helping and I am no longer paralyzed by worry. No, I can’t stop a war, or the hurricanes or wildfires or homelessness or domestic violence. But I CAN and WILL be part of the solution.

So the website and mobile app “Changemaker Communities” now includes a feature called “Changemakers Choose”. It is a list of organizations and causes that are grouped by location in a way that makes it super simple for donors to “choose” who or what they want to help. A simple click will let you know exactly what your chosen cause needs at any particular time and you will be able to simply meet their needs according to your ability! It’s a win/win for everyone!