I’ve always told my children that our goal on this earth is to make the world better. But I didn’t really walk the walk until the eve of my 40th birthday, when this midlife turning point made me realize that if what I’m doing every day doesn’t have meaning, I’m wasting my life.

So I set out to make this year a mission – do 40 things that make the world better in the year that I’m 40. I made a list of causes and categories of beings I’d like to benefit. I found organizations to support. And yesterday, WXYZ TV’s Anu Prakash featured my story on Channel 7.

Someone mentioned that my list was not included in the story. So here it is. A work in progress.

Category/cause: Children (shelters, orphans, sick, education) – I’ve signed on to support HAVEN and my kids’ school, including joining Hawks Help, being a room mother, sponsoring field trips for kids who can’t afford to pay. Sponsoring a military family in need this holiday season.

Category/cause: food security, food safety, local food – I’ve done pro bono PR for the Shelby Farmers Market. Still to do: support CSAs, urban farms, hunger prevention organizations (Mazon, Forgotten Harvest, Gleaners), Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard; find ways to teach children about healthy foods or bring healthier foods into schools.

Category/cause: Judaism/Israel – I’ve joined a synagogue, taught a class on the poetry of prayer, donated to Adventure Rabbi and U-M Hillel Shabbat dinners program; still to do: give to Israeli causes, Jewish culture, start a Jewish Chamber of Commerce (held initial meeting).

Category/cause: Vedanta – I’ve donated to the Vedanta Academy by assisting with their PR pro bono and allowing them access to my PR subscription services.

Category/cause: Environment: I have yet to donate to or get involved with Sierra Club, local and national green spaces, and find other meaningful organizations in this realm to support.

Category/cause: Women’s Issues: HAVEN, made initial calls about providing divorce support (waiting for calls back), donated to Komen 3-Day and Komen Race for the Cure.

Category/cause: Michigan: Looking for opportunities to benefit our local economy, environment, educational systems and culture. Discussed with Tyree Guyton (briefly) volunteering with the Heidelberg Project (needs follow-up). Tried to volunteer with 826 Michigan but they were inflexible.

Category/cause: Health: pro bono PR campaign for Ecology; raised $6,300 for Leukemia Lymphoma Society; corporate sponsor for the Washtenaw County Heart Ball (American Heart Association).

Category/cause: Education: donate to my alma maters (University of Michigan and Goddard College) and my children’s school.

Category/cause: U.S. Military: invite soldiers to go ahead of me in any line, bought grocery gift card for soldier, approach soldiers and say thank you, sponsor military family at the holidays.

Monetary donations: Gift of Reading (Detroit Free Press), Goodrich Church, planted trees, Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, The Pink Fund, Gilda’s Club, Purple Heart, Yoga by Design Foundation, Friendship Circle, JCC Stephen Gottlieb Music Festival, charity bike ride, Norup Playground Fund, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, A Dime and A Penny Foundation, Adventure Rabbi, Race for the Cure, Komen 3-Day.

Lessons Learned:

1. Always give when someone asks. Even if it’s just a little bit.

2. It’s the little things that count. Like saying thank you, writing a note to someone, holding the door, helping carry items.

3. Not every nonprofit has the ability to take volunteers. Everyone takes money.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing in your every day to make the world better. Share with me. Because we all live inspiring lives.

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