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Living By Giving: Your Misfortunes, Not Just Your Fortunes, Can Make a Difference

Photo: The day I started Living by Giving

I am a person who set out to help others and ended up instead helping myself. I’m ok with that. In fact, I encourage it for others to follow. It’s what I call “living by giving.” Living by Giving is the understanding that it’s not just your fortunes in life that can make a difference, but your own struggles can make a difference in our world too.

I was 12 years old when my mother died. Twelve years old and the only people I knew whose mom had died were Snow White and Cinderella. I had just lost the most important person in my young life and the only two people that could find to relate were in fairytales. As a result, I spent my childhood reeling from this loss, thinking I was the only one in the real world who faced such a fate. Little did I know that millions of kids all around me were navigating a similar path.

I didn’t start to understand how big of a problem this was in every community until the day I started volunteering. I was in college, and in a selfish effort to boost my resume, I began volunteering at a camp for kids who had lost a parent. At my very first Comfort Zone Camp, I shared about losing my mom for the first time, on a big stage, in front of hundreds of strangers. Later that evening, while brushing my teeth, a young girl approached me and told me that she had lost her mom and her dad in a car accident. She went on to tell her story and how Camp was helping her understand that she wasn’t alone. That exchange changed my life. I went from seeing the loss of my mom as an event that just affected me to an opportunity to help many others, for good.

As the Founder of Kate’s Club, a nationally-acclaimed non-profit organization in Georgia, I have taken this opportunity to help thousands of children cope with grief in an empowering way. Kate’s Club is a place where kids come to be with friends who share the same experience and learn how to live a full life colored by grief, not hindered by it. Kate’s Club is a place where hundreds of kids are living by giving, using their own struggle to reach out and help others, which ultimately helps themselves too.

To me this is the magic of philanthropy. It is looking at our giving not through just the extras we have in life to give away, but rather the things we may lack ourselves. We should all tap into those struggles and see how we can use them to impact the world for good.

Here is how we can start doing this together:

  • Go call someone you love and let them know how much they impact your life. Every day, I wish I could call my mom and tell her how much she has impacted mine.
  • Children Grief Awareness Day is November 15. Visit the Facebook page and "like" to show your support.
  • If you know a family who is grieving, gift them my book, A Healing Place, and write a note to let them know you support their grief journey.
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