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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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    Mental Health Awareness

    This month has brought lots of reasons for me to anxiously write about. Did I say anxiously? We’re all exposed to stress and anxiety every day. However, in the last few weeks I’ve seen some extreme cases of stress, anxiety and yes, depression. It actually moved me to write about it again. I believe I’ve touched about this in some of the past posts. It seems to be all around me! Thus, my decision to bring out awareness about mental health!

    You may recall I helped produced a very important event on July 12 and saw the level of stress of the people involved increasing dramatically as the event got near. I also was part of a 5K to help end homelessness during the same weekend AND attended the funeral of a friend that committed suicide. I saw first hand the effects of Mental Wellness.

    Whether you’re an event coordinator, a project manager, an entrepreneur or work for a corporation…whether you’re old, young, single, married, with kids, with older parents that need help…whether you own a house, rent, or live with family, own a car or take public transportation…no matter what your circumstances may be, you’re going to encounter situations that increase your stress level.

    I just met with a wonderful group of people that serve on the board of A Safe Haven Foundation. The purpose was to kick off the planning of the 25 year anniversary of this organization that has been helping the homeless and veterans of Chicago transform their lives by becoming self-sustainable and be productive citizens again. Somehow the prevalent theme was Mental Health. After discussing several ideas among all of us and how to bring awareness of the effects these conditions cause to homelessness, at one point, we all agreed that mental health was only one of the issues why some people become homeless. Regardless of this clarification, it impacted me because like I said, I’ve seen the effects of mental conditions all around me.

    This morning I got on a leadership training call and guess what the theme was? You got it! Mental Wellness! Did all of the sudden I became more aware of these circumstances? Just like when you plan to buy a car and you start seeing the model you want everywhere or you want to buy a house and notice all the “for sale” signs. Was it all around me before and I just started noticing it more?

    This is too important to stop it! So, I’m committed to embrace mental wellness, learn more about it, help more people that suffer from it and become a voice that reaches out to others for help. Let’s do it together!