By Elizabeth Kilpatrick My friend Jennifer was feeling depressed about her birthday. It was very hot in the small town on the West Coast where she lived, it felt like her kids had been bickering non-stop all summer, and her mom’s sudden death two years before on the 22nd, just five days before her birthday, was hitting her hard this year.
Even though her mother-in-law called to say she’d give anything to be 45 again, Jennifer was feeling old. And gray-haired. And tired.
She didn’t want a party. She didn’t want any presents.
She just wanted to erase the date from her calendar. Or stay in bed all day with the covers pulled up.
But her kids were excited to celebrate. Her 10-year-old son made her a certificate for soccer lessons; her 4-year-old daughter wrapped a felted Christmas tree all by herself. It was looking into their loving faces and seeing how happy they were to be giving their mama gifts that Jennifer got an idea about how to enjoy her birthday and cheer herself up.
As a gift to herself, she would give $45 to her favorite charities in honor of her birthday, a dollar for every year.
Her kids helped her decorate the envelopes and write the letters.
One of those charities was SafeMinds.
We were delighted to see this letter from Jennifer. And touched by her generosity.
We have a birthday this summer too – this August SafeMinds turns 14.
As you know, because you love us and you read our blog and pull information from our website, we here at SafeMinds work tirelessly to:
- Advocate on behalf of children with autism with our representatives in Washington D.C.
- Educate parents about the dangers of environmental toxins.
- Disseminate public service announcements about children’s health.
- Inspire healthy pregnancies and healthy kids.
- Fund research that will lead to treatment and prevention of autism.
In honor of our 14th birthday, we want to invite you to follow Jennifer’s example and make a gift of $14 to us. (Or in honor of your birthday, of the amount of money you are years old!)
$14 may not sound like much but that’s all we need. If 1,400 of the good folks who subscribe to our mailing list give $14, we will have enough to launch our new prevention initiative and website.
After writing that letter to SafeMinds (and three other charities, including Friends of Trees and Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center), Jennifer felt much lighter and freer, ready to enjoy the day. She and her family cooled off on by “canyoneering” in a nearby creek, they ate lunch together, and headed home for parfait (‘cause, according to Donkey, everybody loves parfait.)
Studies show that people’s happiness increases when they do something kind for someone else.
Acts of kindness to others actually make you happier.
But even though you will get a rush of endorphins after writing us a check and a feeling of satisfaction for supporting a worthy cause, we want to sweeten the deal: The first 14 people who give us a birthday gift of $14 or more will receive a free copy of Evidence of Harm by David Kirby, a $24.00 value (the book retails for $19.99 + shipping).
Happy birthday Jennifer.
And happy birthday SafeMinds too.
How old will you be on your next birthday? What do you think of the idea of giving acts of kindness and donations instead of receiving gifts?
Elizabeth Kilpatrick is a non-profit consultant who began working with autism organizations in 1999. Although she isn’t the parent of a child with autism, her son Ian, now 18, crawled around the meeting rooms of some of the most important early autism meetings when she was head of fundraising for Cure Autism Now. She turned 48 in March and did 48 acts of kindness to celebrate. She looks forward to doing another 14—mailing books to 14 lucky winners.