52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. GIVING

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BendigoArt.com/CullmanTribune.com (Photo: unsplash)

“If you have no charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”—Bob Hope

HILARITY FOR CHARITY is a perfect example of S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) GIVING. Now known as, www.WeAreHFC.org, Hilarity for Charity is the brainchild of 21st century comedy legend, Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen.

Straight from its website: “HFC is a national non-profit on a mission to care for families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, activate the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates, and be a leader in brain health research and education.”

In just a very few years, www.WeAreHFC.org has raised more than $17 million for Alzheimer’s initiatives. The impetus? Like most great causes, it was personal. Lauren Miller Rogen’s mom had Alzheimer’s and the couple was struggling with how to help her and their family cope with the inherent challenges.

HILARITY FOR CHARITY (hence, the HFC) was the original, innovative, off-the-wall concept for Alzheimer’s fundraising because Seth Rogen is a comedy writer, film producer and actor. Many of Seth and Lauren’s friends are from that SMILE-MAKING cluster of the entertainment industry.

Back to the WeAreHFC.org website: “Let’s face it—bringing up Alzheimer’s doesn’t usually make you the life of the party. Most people don’t want to think about dementia until they have to. But, here’s the deal: if we can get people talking about Alz early on, and change their behavior, we can actually prevent up to 40% of cases!”

S.U.N.S. GIVING applies the four basic elements of “The S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) Joyous Aging System” to philanthropy. Unlike traditional charitable giving appeals that predictably feature photos of people in sad situations and marketing copy requesting a handout, S.U.N.S. GIVING is about the joy of being generous and having a bit of fun through whatever crapola life brings one’s way.

S.U.N.S GIVING/SMILE-MAKING—The heroes and heroines of philanthropy in earlier times were often presented as solemn-faced, relentlessly grim drones. Yet many of everyone’s favorite “do-gooder” times are joyous and punctuated with laughter—the high school marching band car washes; “pie judging” at the county fair for the Lions Club support of the blind; the Empty Bowls events across the U.S. that support food banks and are themselves “vessels of happiness” for each hosting community.

LAFF EVRY DAY, the new brand I launched this year as “The Gerontologist of Joy,” is donating 100% of its profits to the SMILE-MAKING efforts of the Hollywood-based, dementia “do-gooders,” WeAreHFC.org. That’s how much I believe in the positivity and philanthropic thrust of S.U.N.S. GIVING and in the Rogen team’s optimism and proven results. Every penny of profit from the LAFF EVRY DAY journals and T-shirts and other merch will help Alzheimer’s caregiving and research.

S.U.N.S. GIVING is not just for the media elite or the mega millionaires. It provides many opportunities for each of us, regardless of age or other demographics to become a “modern day” philanthropist.

“CEO and Chief Old Person,” is what Nancy Lublin chose as her title at the internet-based nonprofit, DoSomething.org. The target audience for the organization is teenagers and the mission is to create an it’s-hip-to-help-the-world vibe. Similar to the joyful tone of “Hilarity for Charity,” DoSomething.org , one of the largest teen organizations in America, seeks to make “groovy” and “giving”—even “goofy” and “giving” synonymous.

“We believe in teens, and we think they are awesome and have a ton of power that they can use to make the world a better place,” said Lublin.

My work in gerontology and as a senior myself is at the other end of the age spectrum but being activists for positive change is how I think of the 50-plus SMILE-MAKING, S.U.N.S. GIVING crowd. This can be true for every age group.

The DoSomething.org exec adds, “There’s nothing condescending about us. We don’t preach. We don’t judge. We have no political agenda whatsoever. We just believe that young people have the creativity and the passion to affect every social issue out there. And, we don’t take sides on anything.”

S.U.N.S. GIVING/UNITING is about “giving someone a hand—not a handout.” We want to help make social change not just offer social services. When you invest in someone else’s joy, you can collect some for yourself.

How about you and “micro-lending?” This can be one person giving a loan of say $100 to a small business owner in a developing country which can blur the lines between the “haves and have-nots.” What the lender and the loan recipient create is a UNITING partnership, replacing the traditional donor-beneficiary arrangement. This is a loan which comes with an agreement to be repaid—perhaps without interest.

Encore.org, a great example of S.U.N.S. GIVING, has many success stories to share about UNITING intergenerational partners. Mentoring for “life skills” and tutoring academics and talents are about the charitable giving of time.

S.U.N.S. GIVING/NEIGHBORING involves lots of late-blooming community helpers. We in the 50-plus group who are no longer actively parenting and are oftentimes retired from careers have more unclaimed time each week/month to “do good.” Sometimes, I feel I have a devil in one ear saying, “Drive to the beach and lift some spirits” and an angel in the other ear saying, “Drive across town and volunteer with a good cause to lift someone’s spirit.”

Almost 50 years is what it took to finish law school for Wynona Ward, founder of Have Justice—Will Travel. Now, she spends much of her days defending the rights of battered women in Vermont.

I turned 70 this year, but while it may take me a bit longer to travel the courthouse steps, I find I’m just as passionate combating age discrimination—and with a much deeper understanding—than I was at 30 when I was in the first gerontology certificate program at the University of Alabama.

S.U.N.S. GIVING/SPELLBINDING is about finding a passion, or more likely some passion finding you, and then dedicating your unique approach to that concern. Seth Rogen, the co-founder of HILARITY FOR CHARITY, had the “balls out” bravery to perform stand-up comedy which was a good proving ground for his fearless work in charitable giving.

Stand-up comedy is notoriously scary. I sort of mustered the courage to do “stand up” one night and really didn’t understand until I “flamed out” how sweat-drenchingly intimidating it would be to perform without a script in front of a lively group of tomato-wielding, comedy-savvy hooligans.

Being so spellbound that you give yourself to a cause isn’t for the overly cautious folks who never wander from a script. It’s for people breakdancing to their inner “beat box.” It’s for the “walk through fire” zealots who are going to change the world or at least their little corners of it.

S.U.N.S. GIVING reminds me of some senior wisdom Og Mandino shared with me. Og, born Augustine Mandino II, was the author of “The Best Salesman in the World,” which sold 50 million copies, and other top-selling self-improvement books. I had invited him to speak to a group where he motivated with his message that every person on earth is a “miracle” and we should each choose to live with the confidence that life offers abundance for all.

His rapturous audience that day was packed with ambitious, corporate marketing “go-getters,” including me.  But it was in a relaxed, laugh-filled chat as I chauffeured him on his return to the airport when he gave me a master class in compassionate charity.

Og had thought about becoming a priest and I told him I had been a “do-gooder” with the American Red Cross before my child was born and I had come to believe our family needed more money. Og’s lesson: “Remember, son, there is no happiness in having nor in getting—but only in giving.”

Particularly, I want to thank comedy great Seth Rogen for making us LAFF EVRY DAY and for the generosity he inspires through WeAreHGC.org. What he, Lauren Miller Rogen and their team are doing is a wonderful example of S.U.N.S. GIVING.

ODES TO GIVING FROM OTHERS:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”—Winston Churchill

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into the giving.”—Mother Theresa

“The heart that gives, gathers.”—Marianne Moore

“The happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”—Anne Frank

“Blessed are those who give without remembering and take without forgetting.”—Elizabeth Bibesco

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”—Maya Angelou

LAFFS ABOUT CHARITABLE GIVING

– I won a million dollars and donated a quarter of it to charity. Now, I have $999,999.75.

– Why is the Salvation Army the best-known charity in the world? The others just don’t ring a bell.

– Why don’t oysters donate to charity? Because they’re shellfish.

– I raised money for charity by dressing up as Cruella De Ville and got 101 donations.

JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK:

July 23—Allison Krauss

July 24—Jennifer Lopez

July 25—Maxfield Parrish

July 26—Sandra Bullock

July 27—Bugs Bunny

July 28—Soulja Boy (DeAndre Cortez Way)

July 29—Ken Burns

                                 COPPER PENNIES MARINATED CARROTS—MISSOURI

                                                               (Source: food.com)

Each week, JOY & GERONTOLOGY shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. The delicious and nutritious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin), which many gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyful life.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. carrots, sliced like coins
  • 1 small, green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 ½ oz. tomato soup (undiluted)
  • ½ cup salad oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp. mustard, prepared
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice and boil carrots in salted water until tender. Rinse in ice water.
  2. Alternate layers of carrot, pepper and onion in a bowl.
  3. Make marinade of remaining ingredients.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS (continued)

665. “Give me love. Give me peace on earth”

666. Giving dimes to fill a March of Dimes donation card from my weekly allowance

667. Friendsgiving

668. “One pint can save three lives. Give blood. Give life.”

669. Giving a blessing

670. Giving “Toys for Tots”

671. Giving the perfect dinner party for the “Arty Party” AIDS benefit

672. Giving your permission for a do-gooder event to have fun

673. “Give me just a little more time”

674. Giving a bus ticket to someone who needed to escape to a better life

675. Giving warm socks to homeless people and also warm cookies

676. Giving someone your seat on a crowded subway

677. All we are saying is: “Give peace a chance”

678. Giving a silent salute to a fallen hero in a funeral procession

679. Giving a child a seat on your shoulders to see a parade

680. Giving some hope

681. Giving hugs

682. Giving your all for a fun, charity fundraiser

683. Comedian Danny Thomas, the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital gazillion giver

684. Comedian Jerry Lewis, the multiple dystrophy gazillion giver

685. Comedian Seth Rogen, the “Hilarity for Charity,” Alzheimer’s gazillion giver

686. “All Mine to Give,” the Hollywood classic about family, community, loving and giving

HAPPY SUMMERTIME and S.U.N.S. GIVING!