It’s one of the sweetest days, and falls in one of the loveliest times of the year. Mother’s Day, celebrated the second Sunday in May.
As holidays go, it’s huge. The National Retail Federation says consumers are expected to spend $31.7 billion on Mother’s Day this year, up $3.6 billion from last year. So much of that spending is on things that are fleeting. Flowers that fade. Candy that comes and goes. Dinner out that’s one and done. All are fine and good but, we wondered, what is the lasting meaning and what are the enduring memories of Mother’s Day?
We’d add, in thinking about that $31.7 billion, it’s worth remembering that charities welcome gifts in honor or in memory of moms, for Mother’s Day or any day.
Mothers are often thanked for their selflessness and generosity to their children and families. In the fields of philanthropy and fundraising, how does the personal experience of motherhood translate into professional passion and wisdom?
All of the women at The Munshine Group are mothers, and all say what they learned from their mothers, and what they strive to teach their children, is inextricably tied to the work they do with nonprofit clients. As mothers and daughters, they are honored to share their Mother’s Day reflections, and ideas about making giving a family tradition.
JULIA KATHAN, Chief Communications Officer
First things first.
This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom, who died late last year.
Since then, there’s so much I’ve thought about, including what a generous and giving person she was, and what a profound influence that was on me and, by extension, how it helped me in raising my daughters.
Museum docent. Domestic violence hotline volunteer and court advocate. Political activist. Arts patron. Donor.
Just a few of the many charity and philanthropy hats she wore.
But closer to home, and many years ago, there was one simple example that served to shine a light for my sisters and me.
When we were young, we had “Care Dinners.” One night a week, a very basic supper was served – maybe rice and vegetables and tea – in recognition that many people around the world got by on very little, in contrast to our comfort. We could invite any friends we wanted, and all that was asked was that those attending bring a dollar, and something to read or share. It was food for thought. The money (I’m sure supplemented by my parents) was then sent to CARE, whose mission is to fight hunger and poverty.
Yes, my cynical side now knows neighborhood parents probably sent their kids over to my house with a poem and a buck and then went out to dinner! But for decades, the charitable side has far outweighed the cynical, because my mother saw the best in people. And in taking that view of the world, she knew that everyone was deserving of dignity and respect, and that our actions should be motivated by the greater good.
As the mother of two adult daughters, I’m tremendously proud of my girls for so many reasons. But nothing gives me greater joy than seeing them take an active role in touching lives and making their communities better places.
And nothing reminds me more of my mom.
MEGAN LEITHEISER, Senior Vice President, Development Communications
Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Donor. Advocate. Counselor. Volunteer.
While the words above appropriately describe my mother, Nadine Lucille Groen is so much more. She has dedicated her entire life in service to others.
Nadine means hope, and Lucille means light. My mom is all things hope and light.
Hope: Growing up, my mom spent her days caring for our family and volunteering in our community. We had an open door policy at our home and all were invited and offered a seat at the table. I remember countless evenings when families who were suffering or experiencing challenging times enjoyed a warm, home-cooked meal served with a side of hope.
Light: My mother has a way of illuminating a room – through her contagious laughter, joyful charisma and warm demeanor. Have you ever heard the phrase “they’ve never met a stranger”? That’s my mom. She meets people wherever she goes and has a way of seeing the best in them, making them feel heard and valued. It is this gift that has allowed her to encourage so many other mothers through the years by offering wise counsel and support.
It was this “living as light and offering hope with outstretched arms” mentality that taught me to care for and empathize with others – and to ultimately dedicate my time, treasure and talent to helping nonprofit organizations supporting those in need. And now as a mother of two, I’m thrilled that my children are following in their Grandma Nadine’s footsteps and being a light and offering hope through volunteerism – filling meal boxes for a local food pantry, providing free childcare for our church, and recently, hosting an Easter egg hunt for neighbors.
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” – Albert Einstein
My mom taught me what it means to offer hope and light by living it out every day. Thanks, mom.
TONYA ADDY, Executive Vice President
I didn’t even realize I was being raised to have a charitable mindset. It’s just what we did. Our family always showed up. We volunteered. We gave. We helped. It was our way of life. I have known no other. And now, much later in life, I am proud to pay that forward through my children. And I truly understand that this was the greatest gift my mom ever gave me – the gift of what it feels like to give back.
CINDI ALTIERI, Executive Assistant
The lessons I learned from my mother came to me through the simple things – making sure we all had a hearty breakfast at the table in the morning before heading off to work and school, keeping our house and life in order, and giving every ounce of herself through her many small acts of generosity and kindness. My mother was a quintessential “50’s” mom. She taught us the value of love, friendship, cooperation and self-sacrifice (maybe a little too much!).
Through these lessons, I did my best to instill the same values in my children – giving what we can to help others in need. Working in the field that I do, I understand all facets of “giving back.” It is about serving those who are less fortunate, affecting the lives of those around us through small acts of kindness and, most of all, understanding that our willingness to look outside of ourselves to serve others is as impactful as a gift of millions.
SHAY LADERBUSH, Senior Vice President
When I think about my mother, the first word that I think of is supportive. She’s always supported me, and now my daughters, through life’s ups and downs and everything in between. She instilled in me to be supportive of others, too, through service and philanthropy. When I was a child I would want to support charities with the few dollars I had, so she made sure to supplement my donation with some of her own. She taught me that it is vital to give back to organizations that have touched your life, which is why she was incredibly supportive of my career path. I try to live by example and have dedicated my life to helping nonprofits, whether it’s been working directly for a variety of causes, or consulting with them to reach new heights. My mother has stood by my side proudly as she watched me learn and grow.
Now, I instill the same in my two daughters. They joyfully participate in the fundraising activities that have shaped my life and look forward to annual walks and other volunteer opportunities. We sit down at the end of the year and discuss which charities they’d like to support. They are given a budget and they get to decide how they want to impact others. My proudest moments are when I hear about a new charity they’d like to support. One thing we always make sure to do is donate to their Mimi’s favorite charity, as she insists it’s the most meaningful gift of all. They are the embodiment of kindness and compassion, whether it’s giving clothes to those in need or growing their hair long enough to donate.
I like to think that this tradition of support for those close to you, and those we don’t even know, will thrive for generations to come.