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    It’s that time of the year in which our email and social media accounts are saturated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday announcements. As I meditate on this phenomenon it made me wonder which one out of the three, people pay more attention to.

    Beginning with the celebration of Thanksgiving, mostly everyone is more sensitive to gratefulness and they want to contribute to their favorite charities. However, after a spending spree over the weekend, Giving Tuesday becomes more like a burden for some and as much as they’d like to contribute and be socially responsible, they think twice about it. We all love a great deal, special discounts and free stuff when shopping but I often wonder if the order of these 3 days could be reversed, would help people contribute to their favorite charities more. I believe so.

    Could we make the Friday after Thanksgiving “#GivingFriday” instead of Tuesday? What impact would this change have on our social responsibility if this actually happened? Just the thought of how this would impact the world makes me think like Dr Martin Luther King would and say “I have a dream”. This may never happen but you can’t denied that it would actually make a difference of how much we give.

    My involvement with several organizations recently, compelled me to write about this. There are so many options for humanitarians and philanthropists to contribute whether they are inclined to help children, youth, marriages, suicide prevention, family relationships, domestic violence, environmental driven causes, veterans, homelessness, immigration, mental health, animal anticruelty, sex trafficking or anything they have an interest in, such as, the arts, education, leadership or personal growth.

    Are you actively participating and giving back? What are your favorite causes? I’ll highlight 3 organizations I recently came across and the reason why I’m impressed by them.

    • 1. I recently met Rafael Bello, TV Anchor for Univision NY, during an award ceremony. One of the things that impressed me the most about him wasn’t all his accomplishments or his sense of humor, it was his big heart to help others! He will be running the Boston marathon in April 2020 in support of The David Ortiz Children’s Fund to help low income children afford medical interventions such as heart or kidney transplants. Follow Rafael and learn more about how own foundation “Saca los Dientes Foundation”
    • 2. I often meet empowering leaders in the Chicago area from the many networking events I attend. One of them is Olga Camargo, CEO and Founder of Faro Associates. She has an impressive long list of achievements and has earned everyone’s admiration on a national level. I recently learned of her involvement with HACE, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, a national non-for-profit lead by Patricia Mota, President and CEO and a team of accomplished and experienced entrepreneurial women and men that have committed to supporting the ongoing development and advancement of latino professionals. Olga is the National Chair for HACE and under Patricia’s leadership, HACE continues to impact lives with a network of over 64,000 across the country who work with employers to remain competitive in an increasingly dynamic economy by helping them attract, develop and retain Latino and diverse professionals. Learn more about ways to contribute at www.haceonline.org
    • 3. In the last few days I’ve learned of three sudden and completely unexpected deaths of some friend’s family members and acquaintances. I saw posts on their social media accounts and it was disturbing to see so many condolences to people I know. I first reached out to my friend Ruthie and found out that a co-worker took his life and no one knew he was struggling with any mental conditions. My friend Denisse’s girlfriend took her life on Thanksgiving day living her little girl motherless. These situations are sad and confirm the need to continue to increase awareness of mental health and my commitment to do so. My thoughts and prayers go out as well to my friend and Doctor Chiropractor, Mary McAndrews, who lost her 21 year old son unexpectedly the day after Thanksgiving. Mary is supporting the Samaritan Counseling Center Northwest, whose mission it is to provide hope, helping and healing for those struggling with emotional and mental challenges.

    I’ll continue to admire, promote and contribute to the following organizations and I encourage you to learn about them as well:

    A Beatiful Project (Volunteer/Personal Growth)

    A Gift of Value (young girls/women)

    A Safe Haven Foundation (Homeless/Veterans)

    Chicago Youth Shakespeare (Youth/Arts)

    Dr Maribel Lopez Scholarship Fund (Education/Scholarships)

    Equip by John Maxwell (Faith base/Leadership)

    ELISA Foundation (Personal Growth/Leadership) -created to honor my mom

    Let’s not forget that a financial contribution is often preferred by most of these organizations. However, volunteering, promoting and in-kind donations are welcome by most as other ways to fulfill our responsibility and be part of the solution. Let’s do more together!

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    Secret to raise perfect children

    I remember how my mom used to give me a “look” signaling to go to my room if she didn’t want me to be part of a conversation. I don’t remember her having to repeat herself twice when she asked me to do chores or help up with something. There was only one thing I wished my mom would not had asked me to do when I was a teenager, -why did I drag doing this one thing for her? I was only doing what every shy and insecure 13 year-old would do! I’d give anything not to walk by myself in the neighborhood to the corner store to get the groceries for the day. Why? So I could avoid encountering the boys in the neighborhood wanting to walk along, ask me out and pay compliments! I remember several of them asking my mom if I could go out with them. I was so shy and not interested in dating, at all! In fact, I thought I’d never get married. Well, I did! I fell hopelessly in love with my husband and we’ve been together over 32 years! I was only 21 years old when I started my own family. I wasn’t experienced or matured enough but I learned from my mom to use “loving discipline” and both my daughter and son turned out great! Notice I didn’t say perfect!

    Perfect children don’t exist, much less perfect parents! I’ve learned not to anticipate perfection from anyone because I’m far from being perfect myself. Perfection seems unreachable but we can still aim for it. In fact, I recently heard this phrase and I loved it “Aim for perfection, settle for excellence”

    I work closely with youth groups and children from different organizations and it breaks my heart to see the lack of motivation, drive and lost opportunities that kids are not taking advantage of. The statistics have rocketed recently on mental conditions in youth struggling from anxiety, depression, bulling and even high performing kids with straight A’s suffer from stress! We know there is no perfect formula to raise a child and the best way to raise your children is YOUR way! I’ll share these points to with you that I use while raising my children and teach my mentees now and I hope you find them helpful:

    1. Loving Discipline / Stick to the consequences if they don’t obey
    2. Give some freedom / Balance (with limits) is always important
    3. Words of Affirmation / Learn their “love language” there are 5
    4. Bonding time / Trips alone with them or “Meetings between friends”
    5. Expose them to successful people / find a mentor for them
    6. Encourage family debates / Allows them to practice freedom of speech, making choices and build their self confidence
    7. Be grateful to God for your kids/ This may the the most important because there will be moments you won’t be able to do anything other than pray for them with a grateful heart. Where there’s gratitude, there’s no room for resentments, hatred or arguments