Posts Tagged ‘Mother Teresa’

September 5: International Day of Charity

mother-teresaToday is the International Day of Charity. It is meant to recognize and remind us how charity alleviates humanitarian crises around the world…not that we’ve heard of any humanitarian crises anywhere, have we? This day is the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, who in so many ways personified the charitable soul. I quote her often, my favorite being: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

I love that spirit–yes you can make a difference, even if you’re broke, over-scheduled, over-worked, too busy, depressed, or hungry yourself. Yes you can, absolutely and without question, make a difference. You are being stingy if you’re not.

Here are some more Mother T quotes I think are great reminders of what this day, and every day, ought to say to us:

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.

Artists Striving to End Poverty

Being a struggling artist in big city America is no picnic. I spent several years after graduating college pursuing an acting career in Los Angeles and eating more Top Ramen than anybody ought to. Now that I work in New York, I see, and know so many struggling for a break in the arts, while struggling to pay astronomical rent and cost of living bills. A jar of peanut butter still goes a long way, and is still fresh in my mind as a splurge.

In the face of general adversity, to say nothing of the emotional blow inflicted by studying and dedicating your life to something and being unable to give everything to it, creative people have so much to give. If nobody will hire me from that audition, damnit, I’m not going to sit at home. ASTEP, Artists Striving to End Poverty, is a non-profit founded by Mary-Mitchell Campbell after her time volunteering with Mother Teresa’s missionary in India. Se came home committed to making a change in the world, and her fellow arts pals and students at Juilliard, where she was on staff, decided to use the arts as a tool to help impoverished children flourish. Artists and teachers from a wide array of disciplines including drama, dance, visual art, instrumental music, playwriting, vocal arts, film, and poetry volunteer in arts camps in India, Africa, New York, and Florida. I would have leapt at an opportunity to get involved like this.

Here is the down and dirty focus, in case you are in a place where you can reach out to be larger than you are, and play the game huge. Share your creativity beyond the dream of a national commercial.

ASTEP has developed and refined a curriculum model that positively impacts the lives of young participants beyond their time in the program. By incorporating learning standards drawn from the National Endowment for The Arts, The Kennedy Center, and other accredited establishments, ASTEP trains its volunteers to deliver programming grounded in arts education that scaffolds and integrates other relevant learning objectives like academics, life skills, and HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. Using art as a catalyst for change, ASTEP has provided these children with a voice, awakened their dreams, and given them the essential life skills, dedication to teamwork, self expression, communication, and confidence to believe in a future beyond poverty.



I should probably strive to not let this bother me so much…but I’m having a really hard time with the tremendous (and tremendously public) lack of basic human respect these days. Three of the top news stories of the past several days are about low-class/no-class arrogant exhibitions of disrespect. Serena Williams is not a third grader on the playground, she is a seasoned professional who has played a ton of tennis and undoubtedly disagreed with more calls than most of us will ever hear…but her outburst at the US Open was childish, graceless, and appropriately smacked down.

Kanye West somehow decided his own arrogance superseded the right of Taylor Swift (a teenager, I might add!) to enjoy her moment in the sun. Kanye’s idiocy sank to a new, no-class low and his stealing of the moment not only was theft from the rightful winner of the reward, he also stole the evening from Beyonce, who he thought he was championing–as she, in a graceful and sophisticated move, forfeited her own acceptance speech to allow Taylor to have her moment (if this is all sounding like code–google the Video Music Awards to see spoiled brat behavior taken to the extreme).

And where does Representative Joe Wilson get off shouting out during the President’s speech? Did you notice your job title? Representative?! Nobody wants to be represented by that crap. You can disagree with anything you want, but you cannot dismiss civility. He was clearly wanting to get the sniggering approval of his buddies nearby and a few playful punches in the arm as he forgot he wasn’t an eleven year old at a school assembly. His spotless professional judgment continues as he has begun signing autographs on photos of the moment of his outburst. Wow–sure–I trust you to make decisions.

Where is the penalty box in life? These folks need to spend some time there. Who has the dunce cap? These three heads are lined up to wear it and be put in the corner to be jeered at and laughed at. Sadly it’s a long, long line. Surely they didn’t have any foresight to see themselves on the other side of their in-the-moment actions, and how they would come out the other side looking like such spectacular asses.

Luckily, as an antidote to this epidemic of disrespect, there are beautiful, graceful examples of people reaching out in a way that is immensely respectful. The Care Through Touch Institute, led by Mary Ann Finch, provides massage, bodywork, healing, and empowerment for the poorest, often homeless people of San Francisco. Additionally there are life coaching, leadership skills building, meditation, art therapy–all provided in a safe, non-judgmental way in the Tenderloin.

Finch, who spent time working with Mother Teresa, said in a recent interview, “I want them to know that they’re valued, that they’re seen, because this is a population of people that are for the most part, unseen and untouched.” There are also international outreach programs for CTI–as well as plenty of volunteer opportunities…

Support programs and people who see respect as a basic human right, and need, and that not one person among us is undeserving of it. It makes us better, bigger people to reach out. Do you see an arena in your world where someone is being marginalized? How can you fill that hole and be a force for healing—an individual, a community, our society…?