I was recently truly inspired.
What usually inspires me? People that I witness going above and beyond, who think outside of the box, who go to a deeper level to care, understand, help or even make someone laugh. Usually it is a truly great business colleague, a neighbor lending a hand or an amazing athlete that blows my mind. I admit it: Even Oprah sometimes gets me when she steps up and does something, inspiring others along the way.
I was most recently inspired by the actions of four 10-year-old girls. Two of them were my own. Go figure. It was an unexpected, surprising and life-changing moment as a mom.
When you think of having children, or are lucky enough to have children, you think and go through all of these early phases -- cuddling, cuteness, the first day of school, tears, giggles, playing. I did not think beyond that, and with their act of kindness, I moved on to something new. With it, my children actually made me a better person, not just because of being a mom -- even though I truly feel that I am a better person since I became one -- but because they are coming up with their own ideas and inspiring others with them. They inspired me.
Flash back six months. My girls came home from fourth grade full of information about a charitable event they wanted to throw with two of their friends. The four girls knew what they wanted it to be called, they knew what they wanted to do, they knew what they wanted the event to look like and feel like and they know what they wanted to get done. They wanted to hold an event for small children and ask for the donation of a new teddy bear or a cash to get in. All proceeds would benefit a local homeless shelter. They pictured a hula hoop station, a bubble station, a bean bag toss where the children throw stuffed teddy bear beanie babies and win prizes, and they wanted temporary tattoos -- "Kids love tattoos, mom!"
Life is busy. School, sports, religion, family plans, vacations. All three moms were hearing the same thing: They want to hold this event. What about the event? Now they have pictures. Now they have a logo. Now they have costs for the things they want to do. They have a presentation to give to us to convince us. All without our help. Moving forward.
Don't judge us too harshly, even though I know you will; it's hard to come up with a time where several families can get together and work to build this "event" they want to do, around all of the other things that we have in the air. And especially to set a date for the event when all the families are free, without any of those many regular life interruptions. But they did not give up. They harassed and harangued each of us until it worked.
And so, "Care for a Teddy Bear" was born, established by the four 10-year olds who would not give up, despite mothers complaining we didn't have the time for six months. They held an event in a backyard in Riverside, CT, where small children could color teddy bears and write messages to kids in need, play beanie teddy toss, hula hoop and blow bubbles. They endured the rain, the thunder and even a tornado warning in our town, to make this event come off. They taught games, encouraged little ones, tattoo'd and tossed, guided and gamed. Kids came, they laughed, they played, and their parents generously donated to have them there.
I am inspired by my daughters and their friends for their persistence toward a goal -- they wanted to raise money and get stuffed animals to love for local kids in need. They were unrelenting. Their 10-year-old tenacity stood the test of time over one of the harshest obstacles you can find besides a run of bad luck to be homeless -- busy moms who think they might not have time to support every kid's seemingly crazy idea.
Thank God for that. I'm a better person because they inspired me to never give up for a cause you believe in.
To learn more about Inspirica / St. Luke's Lifeworks, a homeless shelter in Stamford, CT currently hosting 39 families with no home and almost no possessions, please visit their website.