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Philanthropy - φιλανθρωπία

Old dogs and new tricks. Isn’t that some adage somewhere? Whoever came up with that idiom was way off. If you think age makes you slower or less able to learn something, come hang out in my kitchen for a day or two. Every day – in almost every area of my life, I’m always learning something new about myself.

I recently had the opportunity to prepare a meal with Christy Buck, the director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan – which also spearheads the BeNice program. I count Christy as a personal friend – so to spend time supporting her organization was so fulfilling beyond my normal catering gigs. Her dedication to the mental health field continues to inspire me.

Christy wanted to host a dinner for some MHF supporters – and it dawned on me just how much I love helping people and how good food and conversation can bring people together. My joy in meeting new people and learning about what they do – married with my love of providing food from my heritage in a way that brings smiles to all; what a way to spend a night!

But the dinner wasn’t all last week – God had some bigger plans for my time and my business. I got a call to help out with an appetizer spread for a benefit supporting Syrian refugees in Greece. (Nurture Project International) As I was taking the call and helping plan the menu, I was anxious to learn more. Nurse Kelly - my contact – is headed to Greece in June. I was so inspired by her work that I immediately called my son, Peter, and asked if he would want to volunteer next year and help the refugees in Greece. With no hesitation, he was on board. My sweet boy, who just last week after watching The 13 Reasons video about a girl and her mental health struggle, said he wanted to make a difference in the world and “I think I want to major in Social Work or Therapy.” Bless that boy.

I have known since a child, when my mom would bring us to volunteer with her at church – watching my aunts and uncles do the same - that their philanthropy has rubbed off on me. Doing good feels good. In turn, I see it in my children and their desire to go and do.

I’m always looking for ways to give back. A few years ago, it was the Kent Special Riding Program (KSRP). They help children and adults with physical, mental or emotional disorders. And I just love horses. Win-Win!

Last year, with was the Alzheimer’s Association, as my family has been personally impacted by this horrible disease.

And now, my heart as wandering towards refugee work.

I still love a good church committee or youth group project, too.

Not for fame or fortune. Not for kudos or accolades. Just making a difference. Paying it forward.

Philanthropy: love of mankind. All about caring. And a Greek word, too! What a way to start each week.

Get out there and get your “OPA!” on!


And a little thank you to my ghost writer who takes my love of food, family and faith and helps me get it down on paper. Efhairsto!

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