Being Rich Is Not About How Much You Have But How Much You Can Give

I came across this video while surfing the web and it struck a chord deep inside me. I just had to share.

Click Here To Watch Video

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We often measure success or happiness by our wealth instead of the priceless values life has to offer. The son in this short film believes his dad is an unsuccessful man because he does not have a lot of money or a high-paying job. The son does not want to be poor like his father so he strives to be more successful by going away to college and later attaining a job that has him working long hours; for the son this was the definition of success. He represents a lot of people today that spend countless hours behind a desk collecting paychecks but not really living, it’s just the same routine day after day and society has made us believe that this is success. The son was so caught up with work that he missed family events and did not come to really appreciate his father until he passed away. He realized that his father was a selfless man appreciated by many for changing their lives and making their days brighter. The father may have not been rich in money but he was rich in life. He was a selfless man that gave to those that needed and did not have more than he needed for himself. He changed the lives of others and did so humbly. In the end he taught his son and all of us a lesson, that giving is true having and being rich is not about how much you have but how much you can give.

Songs For A Better Tomorrow

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono

Below are 55 songs that are meant to inspire; some inspire you to change the world, others inspire to make your day better, and some are just simply to let you know that you are not alone. This is a playlist for a better tomorrow, so pick and choose which ones you like and have a great “singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs” car ride tomorrow.

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  1. Waiting on the World to Change- John Mayer
  2. Say- John Mayer
  3. Dare You To Move- Switchfoot
  4. Keep Your Head Up- Andy Grammar
  5. Feeling Good- Nina Simone
  6. Count on Me- Bruno Mars
  7. Let Love Rule- Lenny Kravitz
  8. I Believe I Can Fly – R.Kelly
  9. Man in the Mirror- Michael Jackson
  10. Heal The World- Michael Jackson
  11. If Everyone Cared- Nickelback
  12. What’s Going On- Marvin Gaye
  13. We Are The World- Collaboration of Epic Stars
  14. Thats What Friends Are For- Dionne Warwick and Friends
  15. Why Can’t We Be Friends- War
  16. Peace Train- Cat Stevens
  17. My Wish- Rascal Flatts
  18. Live Like You Were Dying- Tim McGraw
  19. I Hope You Dance- Lee Ann Womack
  20. Live Your Life- T.I ft. Rihanna
  21. You’ve Got A Friend In Me- Randy Newman
  22. Walking On Sunshine- Katrina and the Waves
  23. True Colours- Cindy Lauper
  24. What a Feeling- Irene Cara
  25. Born This Way- Lady Gaga
  26. It’s a Beautiful Morning- The Rascals
  27. The Climb- Miley Cyrus
  28. Imagine-  John Lennon
  29. Give Peace a Chance- John Lennon
  30. If I Ruled The World- Nas feat Lauryn Hill
  31. Stand by Me- Ben E. King
  32. Get Up, Stand Up- Bob Marley
  33. One Love- Bob Marley
  34. Don’t Worry, Be Happy- Bobby McFerrin
  35. Wavin’ Flag- K’Naan
  36. Its My Life- Bon Jovi
  37. Not Afraid- Eminem
  38. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger- Daft Punk
  39. Beautiful Day- U2
  40. One- U2
  41. I Feel Good- James Brown
  42. Firework- Katy Perry
  43. Unwritten- Natasha Bedingfield
  44. When You Believe- Mariah Carey Ft. Whitney Houston
  45. Send it on- Disney Channel Stars
  46. Count on Me- Bruno Mars
  47. All You Need Is Love- The Beatles
  48. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
  49.  I’ve had the Time of My Life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes 
  50. Ain’t no mountain high enough – Marvin Gaye
  51. Beautiful- Christina Aguilera
  52. Wind Beneath My Wings- Bette Middler
  53. You Raise Me Up- Josh Groban
  54. A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes- Kimberly Locke
  55. Express Yourself- Madonna

Love Comes in all Shapes and Sizes

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Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

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Valentine’s Day is a day we express our feelings to those we love. Many people associate Valentine’s Day with couples but in fact there are many different forms of love. There is love for oneself, love for family and friends, love for a pet, love for a cause, love for a feeling, ect. This Valentine’s day take the opportunity to send at least one of the billion cards mailed each year and make someone’s day. I made sure to mail heart shaped cards in pink envelopes to my grandparents, parents, and friends. In a study done by Soul Pancake showing appreciation towards someone actually increases our own happiness; so call it selfish if you want, but deliver that flower, make that call, or buy some cheesy chocolate box.

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There’s no need to attend that “Anti-Valentine’s Day” party, theres nothing to hate about today.  I use to be that “buhumbug” kind of person when it came to valentines day, I would pass the pharmacy isles trying not to look at all the “pointless pink” and “rubbish red”; but then I realized that even if I had no valentine I was still loved. Once i came to this realization  I felt so rude for abandoning the people that really love me on valentines day, like my family and friends.

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So show whoever or whatever you love that you mean it! Beacon of Hope’s love is for humanity, and we work every day to effect positive change in the world. We love what we do and who we do it for and we wish everyone of you that has helped us make this happen a Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Kids Who Make a Difference

Blare Gooch at age thirteen wisely said, “It doesn’t really matter how small or old you are, if you’re young and think you can’t make a big difference in the world, well you actually can.”

These words of wisdom prove to be true as told by the inspiring stories of these eight outstanding kids who have made a difference in their communities.

We often think we’re too insignificant to make a difference, and that our one and only, lonely action of kindness cannot change the world, but boy are we wrong. As I learned through the stories of these kids, we can do so much. Like Walt Disney once said “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” If these kids can do it, we have no excuses!

There’s so many different ways we can make an impact, leave a footprint, change the world. From performing dances, to collecting teddy bears to sewing blankets, these kids have all changed someone’s life.

We’ve almost all been at a Wal-Mart or Target during mid-August shopping for school supplies. Notebooks will cost 60 cents and backpacks 5 dollars. Jason and Tristan took that opportunity to start their organization “Backpacks for New Beginnings.” In 2009 alone they donated 400 backpacks; they believe that “To get good jobs and have a good life, you need a good education.”

Sometimes our charitable spirit comes from something intimate. For example, Winter Vinecki raised 10,000 dollars for prostate cancer research after her father was taken from her by this disease. Before that she had raised 1,100 dollars for cancer research. She did all of this between the ages of 8 and 9. She still continues to raise awareness through her nonprofit “Team Winter.”

These are just a couple of kids who have made a difference, but there are plenty more like them. It’s great to see kids learning and embodying the values of charity, kindness and spreading love and joy in the ways that they can. Our children are our future, and judging by these kids, our future is looking pretty bright!

‘Tis the Season

The holidays are said to be “the most wonderful time of the year” and most of us can agree on this. People seem jollier, weather feels nicer, and Christmas cheer surrounds us everywhere we go.

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The holiday season is filled with traditions unique to each culture and family. My favorite tradition that i share with my family has to be the day we put up the ornaments and bake holiday cookies while listening to christmas carols. This brings our family close together, even if it’s just for a couple of hours; between work, baseball practice, and me being away for college we find a way we can all hang out by decorating the tree and reminiscing on previous years.

A tradition familiar to us all is the opening of presents on Christmas morning. I remember as a kid falling asleep late, trying to stay awake to hear Santa’s reindeer on the roof and possibly sneak a peak at Saint Nicholas himself. I would wake up in the morning and run downstairs to find the cookies and milk nibbled and sipped, and underneath our Christmas tree, boxes of different sizes wrapped in holiday paper and ribbons. I would sit there not so patiently and make as much as “accidental” noise I could until my family woke up.

As I’ve grown older I’ve come to the realization that the magic of Christmas doesn’t necessarily wear a suit coated in red and yell “Ho-Ho-Ho”. This realization has made me want to make Christmas special for all the kids that have never experienced what I’ve been blessed to experience throughout my childhood growing up. For example, When Jorge told me about his idea to buy toys for 200 kids from our Climb to The Future program, I immediately made it my mission with help from family and friends to complete this goal.

When I heard we reached our goal it felt as if this could be the present to myself this year. Because I for sure don’t need anything, I am blessed enough to celebrate another year with my family in good health and spirit. Even though it was only 200 kids, any difference is a big difference in my book.That’s one of the main reasons I love Christmas. It is such a joyful holiday because of the spirit of giving. If it’s giving gifts to your family, participating in a Secret Santa with coworkers, or donating to your favorite charity, giving to others makes us feel good. It’s the do good, feel good kind of mood. 

“Make someone smile whenever you can, you never know how much of a difference you could be making in their life at that moment.” – Israa Ali.

Nelson Mandela Will Forever Be An Inspiration

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”- Nelson Mandela

This quote from Nelson Mandela represents exactly how he lived his life and what mindset he had when he accomplished everything we see today.

My admiration for Nelson Mandela strengthened when I was able to travel to South Africa in 2010.

As I walked towards the gates of Robben Island Prison, I felt as if I had been transported to 1964 as a prisoner walking alongside Nelson Mandela; little did those prisoners know that they were amongst the greatest leader they would ever come to know. I could just picture him calmly going about his daily routine along with murderers and criminals, enduring punishment he knew he didn’t deserve.  He was incarcerated for simply standing up for what he believed in. I stood in his cell peering out through the bars watching the sunset and let my respect and admiration for him grow.

Robben Island Prison Robben Island Prison

What I find extremely admirable and commendable is that he was not discouraged after spending 27 years in prison, instead he used it that to fuel the fire that would ignite him to become the voice for the anti-apartheid movement. Mandela was released in 1990 after spending 27 years incarcerated, 18 of them being in Robben Island. Just four years later, his charisma and perseverance lead him to become the nation’s first black president in 1994.

This was South Africa’s first open election as well; pictures show all his supporters lining up to vote to support him in becoming what we know today as one of the nation’s best leaders. And just to think that when I visited his house in South Africa I thought of how he was just a citizen, a neighbor, a man with a burning desire to bring justice to the world. As Nelson Mandela once said A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”, and he gave us the perfect example of this.

I am merely a nineteen-year-old college student with a part-time job, and if he is an inspiration and role model to me I can only imagine what he means to other people. He has become a global figure, known for his wise words and selfless efforts to better the world. Nelson Mandela is someone who has left a legacy that will live forever. 

Sunset at Robben Island

There’s Always a Reason to Smile

We all have those days that are trying in every way possible and when nothing goes our way. Traffic jam on the way to work. Got soaked walking in the rain. And to top it all off, got home just to realize the dog pooped on the rug. The day was miserable… Ruined from the start.

Been there and done that time and again. But every once in a while I get reminded that around the world there are literally billions of people who would love to trade places with me even on the worst of my days. Traffic jam? That means I can drive. Caught in the rain? That means I can walk. Nasty little surprise at home? That means I have a home.

The point is that there is always a reason to smile, but all too often we seem to forget that. Yet, some people bear that in mind at all times and by doing so they spread their infectious joy and love of life to those around them.

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Juan Carlos flashing his trademark smile

Juan Carlos is one of those people. I just had the great pleasure of meeting him this past week during my visit to Villa Hermosa in Cartagena, Colombia. Like the rest of the kids in the community, he faces many difficulties on a daily basis… And he faces them all with a wide smile that has made him a local celebrity and hero.

At barely 18 years of age, he has suffered serious health issues since birth so that his growth has been stunted, his bones and muscles never fully developed and he is unable to walk.

Until just recently, he did not even have a wheelchair to help him get around so he would resort to using a chair as a crude walker. He did this with a smile. Even more recently, he underwent surgery in hopes of being able to walk one day. As he slides himself up in his chair with rods and screws jotting out of all parts of his legs, even as he winces in pain, he smiles. As he sits in a corner of the makeshift shelter he calls “home” (soon to be his former home), water drips on him through the leaks in the roof as it rains. His smile never fades.

Juan Carlos faces the world with an ever-present smile every day, despite the very real hardships he faces. He is my reason to smile. My reminder that no matter how petty or severe life’s challenges may seem, there is always a reason to smile.

Update from the field: Juan Carlos just recently received a wheelchair and will soon be moving to a new home that is being built for him and his family thanks to R. Happy Kids Foundation. Additionally, last week we kicked off the construction of the sports complex we are building through our Games for Change program and we are wishing Juan Carlos all the best in his recovery so that he can make good use of this sports complex right alongside the rest of his friends.

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Smiles are a plentiful resource in Villa Hermosa