As many of you know, my last day at I Live Here, I Give Here is fast approaching. It was one of the toughest decisions that I have EVER made, but I have accepted a job at Alliance for Children in Fort Worth. My last three years at I Live Here, I Give Here have been amazing, and this former preschool teacher learned A LOT about my hometown, the people who make it a great place to live and the non-profit community.
I am thrilled to be moving to Fort Worth, although very nervous about moving away from my hometown. "Baby bird flies the nest!" as a friend called it (although, I am neither the baby or flying anywhere). I am excited to be moving to a position that allows me to pursue my interest in children's issues. Alliance for children, with the help of the police, criminal justice system and amazing social workers works to protect Tarrant County children from abuse and neglect. And...I get to plan really great parties to support their mission. Only a dream opportunity like this one could drag me away from Austin and I Live Here, I Give Here.
Last night I began thinking about all of the things that I will miss about Austin, the list was long, but I wanted to share it with you.
Thundercloud Subs: I remember going to the Lake Austin store when I was a kid and trying to talk my Mom into letting us go to the Amy's Ice Cream next door. Turkey sandwich, ya'll. It's real yummy.
The Junior League of Austin: In my first year as an active, I really treasure the friendships I have made here. This is an amazing organization, that does SO much in our community. I have learned a lot from some really smart and talented women, about how to do a LOT with a LITTLE, improtant when you're working in non-profit events.
My dog park: Which is not really a dog park, it's the big field behind the TXDOT building on 45th and Shoal Creek. Such nice people, who would kill me for letting out their secret oasis for puppies.
The Frisco: Many, many, many family dinners here. The new and the old location, and before that at The Night Hawk. The same waitresses are most definitely there, and thank goodness so are the same hamburgers. Food snobs: give it a chance. It's the best damn hamburger in town. I said it.
Nails: Technically known as Artistic Nails. Who knew that was really it's name? My friend Lisa Mobley Miller and I have always called it by what the sign says, simply "Nails". They do an amazing mani-pedi, and they are very into their customers lives. They are finally satisfied that Lisa has had a baby, but are concerned about my move to FW with no husband. At least I know they care.
The BIG Give Committee:These incredible group of ladies do AMAZING things for I Live Here, I Give Here....and Austin. They are for sure, the future movers and shakers of this community. No doubt about that. They are also a whole lot of fun. I will miss those meetings, so, so much. See you in September at the W Austin Hotel.
The Kendra Scott Sample Sale: I am not quiet about my love for KS. And twice a year, they make it really easy to spend way too much money on my love. But, there are amazing bargains on BEAUTIFUL pieces of jewelry. And, they are so giving to this community. Another great jewelry maven who supports their city? Maggie Goen. I was introduced to her and her jewelry by a BIG Give committee member, and now am also in love with her stuff. So pretty.
Adelante: Cute, cute stuff and very reasonably priced. More than one person has told me of the lack of good shopping in Fort Worth. I am concerned, but then I think how rich I'll be. It's all relative.
I Live Here, I Give Here: It has been a pleasure to work with every single person I have worked with in the last three years. It has made me a better, more organized, more creative, more mature person. I still lack skills in spelling, punctuation and spreadsheets. But, I'm much better. Life's a journey, not a destination. So says me.
Austin, if you want to make your town a better place, one that is more philanthropic and giving, a town that "walks the walk" instead of" talking the talk"...then, GET ON BOARD. ILH,IGH is an organization that is based on REAL research and lots of experience, and has designed its programs to meet the needs of Austin donors who can make a real difference in our community. In the time I have been at ILH,IGH, there have been many naysayers and even some recent replication (which is nothing but flattering), but I Live Here, I Give Here is here to stay. And, stronger than ever.
Community Yoga-Jyl Kutsche: Jyl was my first boss in Austin. She is the most creative, thoughtful and caring person I know. She is also extremely detail oriented. Despite that, she let me work at her beautiful store Therapy Clothing (RIP) on South Congress despite my inability to straighten racks, balance the ledger or talk about the benefits of organic anything. She has created an amazing organization, that brings yoga and it's benefits to people who need it most. They have classes that are open to the public, by donation and led by some really great teachers. I am not very bendy, and she even has modifications for me.
My friend's kids: My friends have many talents, they are good at lots of things. But, so far...they are excellent at having REALLY CUTE BABIES. I don't get to see them enough, and moving away will make it even harder. But, I will miss having these little guys in my life, and I will be back, if it's just to play with them.
My friends: There are no words. I have the very best girlfriends a gal could ask for. There you go...I have just told you about the best hamburger, the best dress shop, the best yoga and the best girlfriends. You're all set.
My family: Sister in California, brother in NYC. I guess they figured this "flying the nest" thing a little quicker than I did. They're both amazing, brave, strong and funny people. My parents are so supportive and excited about my big move, despite the fact that I work for my Mom and see them several times a week. They've been great. Working for my Mom has taught me so much, and she is truly one of the best teachers around. She gives her whole heart and soul to I Live Here, I Give Here, because she feels like she's been blessed and has the responsibility to give back. If more people were like her, the world would certainly be a better place.
So, that's it. And, I'm quite sure I'm missing lots. Austin is a special place, take care of it, and the people who are lucky enough to call it home.
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As you probably know (because I tell you all the time), we highlight a different issue each month. Most of the time, I feel like I have some prior understanding of the issue. Don’t get me wrong, I ALWAYS learn more from our Community Spotlight lunches, but I usually feel like I at least know something about what we are highlighting.
And then came bike month.
You see, I have a love-hate-relationship with the bicycle. Mostly hate. I would never want to offend our partners: Austin Cycling Association, the Yellow Bike Project, Bike Texas, Livestrong or the Trail Foundation by saying this, but guys…it’s the truth.
It all started as a kid, with my irrational fear of falling down. So, learning how to ride was a challenge, because let’s face it, sometimes you fall.
And then, there was the triathlon. Somewhere towards the end of my senior year in high school (11 years ago…eek), my Mom suggested that we attempt the Danskin triathlon. Always up for a challenge, and with teenage ego, I immediately said yes. Since I had been playing soccer for an average of 3-5 hours a day for the last three years, I thought it would be no problem. Obviously, I did not need to train.
What’s so hard? I can run, I do that all the time. Swimming? I mean, I’m like a fish. And, BIKING? Toddlers ride bikes. It’s in the bag, I thought. SO WRONG.
The swim and the run were easy, like I thought. But the bike? The hills of south Austin taught me a lesson. It was the most miserable hour of my life. And, truthfully I have not been on a bike very much since.
Being raised around horses, I have always been taught that you have to get back on the horse when you get thrown off. There was my crucial mistake. To this day, I think of a bicycle with a little disdain.
Now, the problem is that I’m learning this month is that there are SO many benefits from biking. Our partners promise me that it will be good for my health, the environment and my pocket book. And, that apparently, when done correctly…it’s fun?
OK, OK. So I guess I’ve got to practice what I preach. Get back on the horse, if you will. So, here’s my opportunity. May 20th is National Bike to Work Day. So, I’ll be strapping on my helmet and making my way downtown from 45th street. And, maybe I’ll even learn that I like it!
Hey…it’s progress. Stay tuned, for updates on the big bike ride.
Until then? Join us to learn more about Biking in Austin, and get a FREE LUNCH if you ride your bike! What a deal! Afterwards, you can give me a quick pep talk about my ride the next day.
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For a little over 5 years, I have lived in Rosedale on a quiet street, with mostly young families but some who have lived there for over 50 years. I’m lucky to know my neighbors pretty well, because as a single gal with an old house to take care of, I need all the help I can get. For instance, if you accidently set your grill on fire, there will always be someone to put it out with a garden hose. Not that this has ever happened…
So, last week when I saw that I had gotten a note from my down-the-street neighbor, I opened it thinking it was a bar-b-que or a block party. I was surprised to open it to find a letter about her daughter, who had been born very prematurely a decade ago. The letter went on to explain that she and her family received invaluable help from the March of Dimes, and it made a huge difference in their lives during a really scary time. It went on to say that each year my neighbor and her daughter collected small donations from neighbors and friends, and then matched the amount and donated to the March of Dimes. They hoped that they could help people who were in the same situation they had once been in. I immediately wrote a check. They had appealed to my emotions, told a compelling story, told me what they were going to do with the money, and how I could help. I also slipped my card and a note in with my check, asking them to contact me so that I could tell their story on our “featured donor” page. Thought it would make a great story!
A few days later, I received another note (pictured below). It read:
Thank you so much doe your donation and nice note. I have to admit that I would be embarrassed to be included on your great site alongside folks who do so much for our community and its organizations.
-this M.O.D. (March of Dimes)
I wanted to march right down to her house and tell her that she was just the kind of donor that we love. Her incredible dedication to a cause that she feels passionate about, is what philanthropy is all about! Even though she did not want to be recognized, in my book, she is someone to be celebrated.
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I love a good video. When I first saw the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas "Meet the Digits" video, created by Shiny Object, I giggled out loud. First of all, there's something really cute about finger puppets, but the best part...the Mom and Dad of the Digit family are named "Phil" and "Angie"...get it? Clever.
So, when I heard that they were nominated for the DoGooder Non-Profit Awards, i was not surprised! Their video was viewed by over 100,000 people, and WON on Saturday. This is a great example of a video that while cute and clever, delivers the message and mission of the organization while letting the public know how they can help.
So, congratulations to our partner agency, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas! Another example of the great work that you do.
Watch "Meet the Digits" here.
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The Wall Street Journal just came out with a Travel Guide for a weekend in Austin. I agree with many of their highlights, sounds like a wonderful long weekend. It got me thinking about all of the fantastic places that I like to go, see and do. So, I decided to chronicle my perfect weekend in Austin, in a three part blog. (note: This weekend would not take place on a football, wedding or festival weekend…because that’s a whole different animal.)
My perfect weekend in Austin would depend on the weather, obviously. But, let’s pretend that this particular weekend is in the very beginning of spring…where it’s sunny and 70. All three days. Perfect start to a perfect weekend.
It’s Friday afternoon, and my boss just let me off early! Thanks Patsy…you’re the best. (this is imaginary, remember) I’d start my weekend off by heading over to Dry Creek Cafe and Boat Dock (don't be fooled by this name, there are not boats and unless you want Fritos, no food) to watch a perfect Texas sunset with my friends. We’d listen to that Owen Temple “Dry Creek” song on the way, just for old times sake. I’ve been going to this place since before I was really allowed to, and it looks the same. The deck looks a little like it might collapse at any second, but DON’T WORRY I’ve seen 75 people up there, so I have confidence that it will hold us. I’d have to bring my own koozie and be sure to pick up my cans when I’m done, or risk getting yelled at. I’d also know that the only soft drink options are Caffeine Free Diet Coke that looks like it’s been there since 1960. When we were done, we’d head over to Fonda San Miguel for some amazing interior Mexican food and margaritas. This place can get a little pricey, so we’d sit in the bar and have appetizers. It’s way better people watching, and super fun to sit on the cute benches and chat. They also have a great cookbook, which I never cook from because I live around the corner. After we’re stuffed full of ceviche, tostadas and queso flameado, we’d want to stay north because we’re already there. So…we’d head to Lala’s on Burnet Road and Justin Lane. This place is my favorite, and not always popular with some of my friends, but this is my imagination, so they are all SO excited to go! It’s Christmas 365 days a year. There’s plenty of legends about why, but my favorite is that Lala’s husband died on Christmas and she never redecorated. There’s also plenty of stories about old bar fights and maybe even a murder or two…it’s got major character. My Dad told me (because he used to go there when he was a LOT younger) that it used to have sign out front that read “Lala’s: A place for the debonair.” When you’re parking, look inside the barber shop because there’s an actual barbershop quartet that practices there sometimes. I’ve heard that they might take requests through the glass window. But, don’t stay in the parking lot too long, because you’ll miss hearing one of the best juke boxes in town. Lots and lots of Sinatra and Patsy Cline. The scene is a mix of regulars, neighborhood folks and hipsters. The people are friendly, and funny and it’s a great place to play pool, have a drink and get together with friends. And, they have rolling chairs, which is the marker of a debonair establishment in my book. We won’t stay out too late, because we have a big day ahead of us on Saturday. What a great end to the work week!
Stay tuned for my perfect Saturday and Sunday...
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Recently, I’ve met a lot of folks who weren’t born in Austin but live here, and have great pride for our fair city. Every time I tell people that I was “born and raised” in Austin, people tell me how rare that is.
But, I feel like every year many of my “native Austinite” buddies seem to migrate back home, after some time in other places. And, they seem to be glad to be back! Still, no one can argue that there are a lot of transplants. And, it’s been getting a lot of attention lately. The Gawker (my source for all things Mad Men, Real Housewives Gossip and royal wedding updates) even noted that “Eveybody is moving to Austin!”. AM New York (my source for all things Fashion Week, Heidi Fleiss gossip and trendy restaraunts I can’t afford) also noted how New York is losing people to cheaper and equally hip cities, Austin among them. Even Yahoo says that "celebrities are coming"! Goodness!
Jennifer K. Orr recently wrote a post for the Help Attack blog, where she asked the question “What makes someone a local?” She talks about feeling connections to places she has lived, and how that influences the ways in which she chooses to give back. She defines being a local in the following way:
“ -To engage with those around me (at work, at play, online, in the grocery store…).
- To support my local businesses.
- And, to actively contribute to my local community by supporting area nonprofit organizations (through volunteer work and/or financial contributions) whenever possible.”
And, I like it!
People who live here, (whether native or not), care deeply about this community. We are so lucky for that. People want to support the agencies and non-profits that make Austin a better place for us all to live. Slowly, but surely, people are beginning to understand that each and every one of us can make a difference in our own unique way. We are beginning to understand that these agencies need volunteers and they need money to do good work. We are beginning to understand that it is ok to ask where our donations are going, and what they are accomplishing. And, finally, we understand that when we find an issue that we are passionate about, getting involved helps the agency, but also makes us feel really good. Giving to agencies that serve our community is one of the best ways to build a strong connection with our city.
So, when thinking about your own giving, be sure to make it personal. Think hard about the things that are important to you, and make a choice based on those things. It will tie you to this city like never before, while at the same time making Austin a better place for us all to live!
Picture: Daniel Johnston's "hi how are you" mural on the corner of 21st and Guadalupe
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We received a note from Keith Manlove, Creative Director of Invenio Media. Invenio has been working on our website and videos for the last year. In shooting these videos, Keith became even more interested in our December Community Spotlight: Literacy in Austin. Here is what Keith had to say about finding his passion…
“In making these videos, I’ve really cared about EVERY cause and organization that has come through our studio, but certainly not enough to give. I give to organizations currently, but only because of my family and background. I care, but I’ve never felt terribly connected to those causes.
However, through meeting Meg, Mary Ellen, and Donna and editing their videos, I’ve realized how important books have been to my life and how different my life would be without them. Even beyond the statistics and the impact low literacy has on people’s lives, it just hit me how hard life might have been without the joy of reading. I’ve felt very emotional about this for the first time, and this would’ve never happened without these videos.
So, I apologize if this is a superfluous part of your day, but I wanted to drive home that these videos have even had an impact on me (despite editing and watching TONS of them). So, thank you and good job. I will not only give to these organizations in the future, but I will be involved and engaged.”
To watch videos highlighting Literacy in Austin, or any of our other issue areas, please check out our Vimeo page so that you can find out about the issues that YOU care most deeply about.
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What a caring city we live in! In the last few weeks we’ve been getting calls and emails from folks who want to help their neighbors in need this holiday season. We all know that there are so many ways to help, and so many organizations who are doing great work to serve Austinites during the holidays and all year round. So, I asked our friends on Twitter and Facebook to let us know about organizations that are facilitating this help.
Below is what I’m sure is an incomplete listing of organizations that are asking Austinites to “adopt a family” for the holidays. Please let me know if there are more, I’d be happy to add them.
The Christmas Bureau
The Christmas Bureau of Austin, Travis County “Adopt-A-Family” program appeals to the Austin, Travis County community to reach out and adopt a needy individual, couple, family and children and provide food, toys and gifts to help them celebrate the holidays.
The neat thing about The Christmas Bureau is that you can review a family’s application online and choose a family based on your own criteria. There are families of all sizes and so many ways to help.
El Buen Samaritano: Hands for Hope Thanksgiving Basket Event
Since 1990, El Buen Samaritano has made a traditional Thanksgiving meal possible for hundreds of low-income families in Austin, distributing turkeys and the necessary ingredients to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
On November 20, 2010, El Buen Samaritano will bring the Austin community together once again to provide 1,000 families with the necessary ingredients to prepare a Thanksgiving meal.
Check the website for ways to spread the word about this event, and how you can get involved! There are opportunities to donate and volunteer.
Family Eldercare: Make the Holidays Brighter
Sponsorship includes fulfilling the "wish lists" of one or more clients with gifts costing about $30 per person. Wish lists will be distributed to sponsors by mid-November so let us know by November 8th if you would like to get involved in the holiday cheer! Please contact Faith Unger to participate at email@example.com or 483-3582.
The holidays are a difficult time for those we serve at SafePlace. Compounded by the violence they have suffered, the issues of homelessness and severe lack of resources make it extraordinarily difficult to celebrate the season.
SafePlace, has two programs to fit the needs of our clients: Sponsor A Family and Shop for the Shelter.
Visit the website to learn more about what you can do to help.
Saint Louise House
27 families are calling Saint Louise House “home” this 2010 holiday season. Your group, family or organization can make this holiday special for a Saint Louise House family by participating in our “Home for the Holidays” in one of two ways:
- Sponsor a Family. Get together your favorite group of people—family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, youth group, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, service organization, Bible study, women’s group, Bunco or bridge club or men’s group—and sponsor a Saint Louise House mother and her children for Christmas. We provide a wish list of gifts ($50 limit per family member), and you do the shopping. New, unwrapped gifts must be delivered to Saint Louise House by Monday, December 6.
- Provide a Gift Card. Like all moms, Saint Louise House moms love the opportunity to do a little shopping for their families. You can help them by making a donation of a HEB and/or Target Gift Card in the amount of $20 per gift card. Also you can consider coordinating a Gift Card Drive with your co-workers, friends, school, neighbors or group. Gift cards must be received by Monday, December 13.
To sponsor a family, donate gift cards, host a drive or coordinate a group project please contact:
Karen Ranus, Volunteer and In-Kind Donations Coordinator
302-0027 ext. 17 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As you can see, no matter what your interests are, or what your capacity to give, there are countless ways to help. All of these organizations are doing amazing work, during the holidays, and the rest of the year. Many non-profits get more attention during the holiday season, because giving is on people’s minds. However, I challenge you to join me in using this as a jumping off point. Let’s get involved with an organization and a family in need, and make it a New Year’s resolution to stay involved for the rest of the year. This way, the good feeling that giving brings will last all year long.
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Meet Mackenzie, Director of Community Education and Special Events.
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