Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Someone We All Need to Meet

Have you ever played the game where you make a list of ten people you'd like to meet in your life and then you compare that list with friends?  The point of the game is to spark conversation and reveal something about you others don't know.

The first five names come quickly.  They're usually the names of people who are famous, or rich, or responsible for some kind of remarkable accomplishment.  Many of our close friends probably already know our top five because they've heard us mention their names.  But what about numbers 6-10?

In the Top 10 game, generating the names for numbers 6-10 usually brings reason for pause.  Once the celebrity list is exhausted, we typically begin to look more closely at those people around us.  We say things like, "I'd like to meet my grandfather.  He passed away before I was born" or "I'd like to meet the person who taught my mother how to sew.  It brought her such great joy."

While the top five people on our list often reveal something about us on a surface level, the bottom five people on the list often reveal something about our hearts.  Do we have the list upside down?  We probably do.

All of this is to say, there is someone out there we all need to meet.  Someone whose name should be in the top five or our Top 10 list.  Someone who has the kind of qualities that deserve our admiration -- generosity, selflessness, altruism.  Someone who responds to our Spirit of Giving campaign with this:

Our Spirit of Giving campaign, shared in a previous post, provides all KF0 sponsored children with a $20 gift card to be used on a random act of kindness from their own heart. The goal is to help grow a new generation of children who learn that giving to others is an important part of a person's responsibility.

This someone we need to meet --  The someone who sent the handful of $20 bills in the mail -- We have no idea who it is.  Look at the photo again.  No name.  The envelope?  No return address.  The postmark?  Not a from a neighboring town.

Who is this person?  What is their story?  What experiences did they have that helped shape them?

We will probably never know, but this much we do know.  Their random act of kindness touched our hearts in a profound way and reminded us that the untold story of a person's life is often the greatest story of all. 

For our anonymous friend whose heart is pure, thank you for your generous deed.  The ripple effect of kindness reaches farther than you can imagine.  We will think about what you did and what it means to us and our KF0 kids for a very long time.  We will carve out a new corner in our hearts and find ways to pay your good deed forward.

The response to our 'Tis the Season, Spirit of Giving campaign has been extraordinary.  We've raised enough money, in $20 increments, to provide ALL our KF0 sponsored children with funds for their random acts of kindness.  In fact, the response to our campaign has been so great that we have decided to continue it year 'round.  Going forward, all future children sponsored by Kids Five & Over will be provided with funds for a random act of kindness -- a pay-it-forward deed -- to help teach them that doing something for someone else is an important part of living a good life.

Thank you to all who dug deep into their pockets, gathered their spare change, and used the opportunity to show their own kids the importance of giving.

The final destination of your donation in is the hands of our youth and we know they will make you proud.

Monday, November 18, 2013

'Tis the Season

As we enter our first holiday season as a nonprofit, we are so very grateful for how young lives have been enhanced through your generous donations.  We could not have imagined in the short span of nine months that we'd grow from the spark of an idea to the tangible reality of children being connected to opportunities in the community. And, as we had hoped, we've seen a ripple effect of good deeds that range from local agencies rallying around a cause, to guardian angels taking care of the unique needs of a family of five.

In this public blog, we hold back on the details of those stories - always walking that delicate line between sharing the magic we see every day and letting young lives have their privacy. It is nearly always the case that great acts of kindness are sparked by stories of great need.   Because of this, when we write about children who have been given the opportunity to stand on a ski slope for the first time in their lives, we will share their excitement ("I can't believe this is happening to me!  I never thought I'd be able to learn how to ski!") but we won't share their full story without their permission.  Their stories go much deeper than skis and ski boots.  Not having the chance to learn how to ski is almost never about the logistics of a ski trip.

It's hard to explain the rewards that come from helping others because it's something that starts as a thought in the confines of the brain and then lands directly in the heart.  Remember the Christmas story of the Grinch who decided to return the gifts he'd taken from the Whos in Whoville?  The story says his small heart grew three sizes that day.  Imagine how much it would have grown if he'd actually purchased those gifts himself?

There will be many ways we can help others this holiday season and we hope your big hearts will find the opportunities that feel right to you.  At Kids Five & Over, we are putting a spin on the traditional Spirit of Giving campaign.  Instead of asking for funds that will support our organization, we are asking if you can help us to help our KF0 kids in THEIR spirit of giving.  Beginning December 1st, we'd like to provide each KFO sponsored child with a $20 gift card to be used on a random act of kindness from their own heart.  They may choose to buy food for the food pantry, visit the Giving Tree at Walmart to get a gift for a child in need, donate their money to a Relief Fund, or drop it in the Salvation Army bucket outside their local grocery store.  Whatever will fill their heart - grow their heart - is what they should do.

We are proud of our KF0 kids for their gratitude and kind thoughts about what KF0 funds have meant to them, but we believe deeply in the concept of paying it forward.  While we help our KF0 children find their niche in life, we also want them to know what it feels like to help someone else.  That's a tall order for children in financial situations that are out of their control.

Will you help us grow a new generation of children who learn that giving to others is an important part of a person's responsibility and that even when things are tough, finding ways to pay it forward can soothe a wounded heart?

Donations can be made on our website www.KidsFiveAndOver.org.  On the final check-out page, you can include a note that indicates the funds should be earmarked for the Spirit of Giving.  If you'd rather mail a donation, our mailing address is:  P. O. Box 4746 Portsmouth, NH 03802.  We will include in our thank you note to you, a list of how those funds were used.

Thank you for helping us as we help our kids grow their hearts.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Unveiling Our Logo

Lori Decato Metz, owner and creative genius at Idea Outfitters, donated her time and talent to create a logo for Kids Five & Over.  Have you seen it?  We love it!

We are honored to have this original piece of art as a signature for our nonprofit.  As an artist, Lori designs posters, tickets, signs, logos, press material and catalogs for local restaurants, businesses and nonprofits.  Among other things, her work with Share Our Strength https://www.nokidhungry.org/ brings a long list of good deeds sprinkled with a unique kind of patience and compassion that has been described as "sheer awesomeness."  

We are grateful to Lori for her random act of kindness and for taking time out of her busy schedule with competing deadlines to focus on a project that fills a heart instead of a wallet. 

Need a graphic artist for a project of your own?  Put Lori's number on speed dial.  You'll be glad you did!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

We're On The Same Page

Last week a friend sent us a link to Cheryl Richardson's newsletter along with a message that said, "This week's entry reminds me of your nonprofit."  So, naturally we had to take a look. 

Cheryl Richardson is a New York Times bestselling author with both TV and radio presence.  She believes in providing helpful information that supports people in living a life that honors their soul.  She believes we are all connected and that "our individual actions affect a greater whole."  Her website is www.cherylrichardson.com.

Cheryl also writes a weekly newsletter.  Her week 29 entry is titled: How to Get That 'Big Break' You've Been Waiting For.  You can find the link here www.cherylrichardson.com/newsletters/week-29-how-to-get-that-big-break-youve-been-waiting-for.  Please read it.  In just a few paragraphs she captures the spirit and soul of Kids Five and Over.  The thoughts are her own, but we are clearly on the same page.

Some excerpts:
"...most artists – painters, dancers, writers, musicians, designers, etc. – would tell you that their big break came well before they were able to share their creativity with others.  It came as a result of someone’s willingness to help facilitate the expression of his or her innate talents."

"You never know what might happen when you give a kid a chance..." 

We wholeheartedly agree.  What we have witnessed in our short time of supporting the talents of young children has been awe-inspiring.  We've learned that children feel in sync when they are immersed in their passions.  We've learned that real-life troubles magically melt away, even if only temporarily, when children are provided opportunities to be who they are meant to be.  We've also learned that people who lend financial support to give children a chance have some of the biggest hearts around.

Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your message with such clarity and grace and for reminding us that creative dreams matter.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Can Be Whatever I Want to Be

Cinderella sang it.

She believed it with her whole heart.

At Kids Five and Over, we believe it too. 

Imagine this:  A 10-year-old girl dreams of being a gymnast.  She uses the small space in front of her bedroom mirror to practice handstands and backbends, and she choreographs short routines for the make-believe audience that surrounds her.  She throws her hands proudly in the air when her routine ends and acknowledges the judges who critique her every move.  She steps off the imaginary mat and waits nervously for her score. 

And then it happens...10!  A perfect score!  10!  The crowd roars!  10!  She wins GOLD!

Imagine this:  A 10-year-old girl dreams of being a gymnast.  There's barely enough money in the house for food, never mind gymnastic lessons.  The clothing allowance needs to be spent on shoes, not leotards.  Gymnastic lessons are out of the question.  She never even asks.  Dream crushed.

Same story.  Same girl.  One is dreaming in the way all 10-year-olds should dream.  The other is struck with the heavy reality of life.

We met that girl this week - the girl who dreams and the girl whose dreams were crushed.  We met her at a gymnastic studio.  She was nominated for support from Kids Five and Over and because we have Board members living near the Studio, we were able to see firsthand what it looks like when a little girl wears her first leotard and step onto the mat for a lesson.

It was pure joy.

What a thrill to witness what Kids Five and Over is doing for children like the one mentioned above.  For less than $175, we were able to give her gymnastic lessons all summer long - every day if she wants - and three sparkly leotards of her very own.

And then came the chain reaction -  From there we saw a kind-hearted Mom step in to make sure that little girl had a pretty bag for her clothes and a handful of hair ties for her hair.  Watching the kindness continue beyond the support of Kids Five and Over was rewarding on a whole different level.

Our 10-year-old felt like Cinderella that day.  Her tired gym shorts turned into a red leotard with sequin hearts and peace signs.  The plastic grocery bag that carried her clothes turned into a pink and white striped gym bag.  The rubber band that held her ponytail turned into fancy black hair tie.

And at midnight, it all still belonged to her.

Our mission is so important.  We can't stress that enough.  There are children who need opportunities to explore the wonderful possibilities that life has to offer; Children who deserve to dream big and have their dreams come true.  It's not about hair ties and leotards, it's about having a dream and knowing deep in your heart that someone, somehow will help you reach it.

Write to us at KidsFiveAndOver@gmail.com if you know a child with a dream, and let us know how we can help.

Visit our website at KidsFiveAndOver.org if you want to help sponsor a child.

Happily ever after doesn't always have to start with Once upon a time

Happily ever after starts with all of us.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Big News!

We have really big news...

Big grant news...

Kids Five and Over is the recipient of a $1,000 seed grant from the Pollination Project.  Did you notice the zeros?  That's one THOUSAND dollars!  We are beyond thrilled!

This is an incredible honor for so many reasons.  First, the Pollination Project is an organization that epitomizes the phrase "people helping people."  It is volunteerism and philanthropy at its finest.

The Pollination Project is the brain-child of Dallas-based entrepreneur Ari Nessel.  Every day of the year, the Pollination Project plans to donate $1,000 to "ordinary people doing extraordinary things."  They are looking for change-makers who are working to make the world a better place.

Ordinary people...  Yep, that's us.

Extraordinary things...  Oh, we really, really hope so!

To be acknowledged by the incredible people at the Pollination Project and have their vote of confidence in our work is such an honor.  We encourage you to visit their website and learn more about their mission  www.thepollinationproject.org.  Among other things, you will find the following inspirational quotes:

To make the change, we must first be the change.  

The answer is in us.  
The world changes when we do.

So, how will we spend our $1,000 in seed money? The news only gets better.

Our dream of building a nonprofit to help children explore their natural gifts is taking shape and we have been encouraged and energized by the response and support of kindhearted people everywhere.  When we began this journey, we made a promise to never, ever, ever (ever!) make a personal profit on monies raised and we will always stay true that promise.

We also made a promise to keep our expenses low, but starting a nonprofit and deciding to apply for 501(c)3 status gets a little expensive - Ok, very expensive.  The 501(c)3 application required a big check. Too big for our little nonprofit.  Getting our website up and running meant another check.  A few months ago, those little start-up checks began adding up and we started to feel a little deflated.

Enter the Pollination Project.

Thanks to the Pollination project, our start-up costs are covered and now, 100% of all donations go directly to children.

It's a dream come true.

The announcement of our grant came today.  You will find it here http://thepollinationproject.org/2013/06/04/linda-beal-kids-five-and-over/  You will also see the smiling faces of our Kids Five and Over Board and our Junior Board members who are learning the importance of paying it forward.

Thank you Pollination Project!  Thank you oh, so much!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kind Heart, Generous Soul

Congratulations to Scott McKee, Board member for Kids Five and Over, for winning the Taste of the Nation Leadership Award for his volunteer work with Share Our Strength Seacoast, an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America.

If you're unfamiliar with Share Our Strength, visit their website and learn about the important and necessary work they are doing at both a national and local level.  You will be inspired. http://www.nokidhungry.org/solution/ending-childhood-hunger

Childhood hunger is a bigger problem than most of us realize.  Funds raised through Taste of the Nation and Share Our Strength help our young ones find meals on their tables.  You can take the pledge to help end childhood hunger here: http://www.nokidhungry.org/pledge/action

If you need further inspiration, read this great article about Scott in this week's local newspaper: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20130605-NEWS-306050369.

He's the real deal.

Congratulations, Scott!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Taking Our Cue From the Kids

We've been walking in circles for a few weeks trying to figure out when and how to continue our mission of raising money to help kids.  Not to say our mission isn't important, but clearly the crisis that hit 50 miles south of us last month created an unspoken hierarchy in terms of fundraising needs and we wholeheartedly agreed with that hierarchy.  Out of respect for those wounded at the Boston Marathon bombing, we pushed the pause button for a bit.  It was the right thing to do.  We've followed their stories, we've been inspired by their tenacity and resilience, and we are keenly aware of the fact that their needs continue long after the media pack up and leave.

We are proud of the organizers of the One Fund for the work they are doing to help our Boston friends. While no amount of money will erase what happened on Marathon Monday, the One Fund has the potential to fill some financial holes, connect people with much needed resources and bring support to those looking for ways to heal.  Please visit this important organization at www.onefundboston.org if you are interested in learning more about how you can help.

But what about Kids Five and Over

When we first launched Kids Five and Over, people asked, "Where will you find kids to sponsor?" It was a question that caught us by surprise.  The truth is, kids who need support are everywhere - literally everywhere - and they are often the ones putting on the brave face.  They are typically really good at the brave face.

All of us who volunteer at Kids Five and Over spend at least part of our days in the company of children. We've learned that children don't always know what kind of help they need or what kind of spark they possess, but they do know how to send signs. And when signs are strong, they find us.

That is exactly what happened a few weeks ago.

In a series of text messages and emails, we were introduced to a 7-year-old boy who, in his young life, has been presented with a life-plate that most adults would find challenging.  The details won't be shared here, but what's important to know is that he's a baseball player.  A good one.  A few weeks ago he took the field to pitch in his first game and something magical happened. He found he had a hidden talent and it caught him by surprise.

Messages came from Moms in the stands:

"You should see him pitch!  Unbelievable!  He's glowing!"

"He's really coming into his own this year!  He looks amazing out there!"

"He has grown so much.  This REALLY matters to him!  He's beaming!"

When his glove fell apart mid-game, we knew we'd found our sign.  By the next game, we'd purchased a new glove and begun conversations about how to support his training through local opportunities.

We are a young nonprofit - barely three months old - and we don't have the leverage or resources to make a difference on a wider scale like the One Fund, but we can plant seeds and provide experiences that have great impact down the road.  That is our place.  That is where we belong.  And no matter what big things happen in the world around us, there will always be a place for our efforts. We circle around individuals and families and create change on a micro level with the hope that those changes will have macro results.

There are kids needing support everywhere.  There are kids with gifts and talents who need mentors.  There are kids sending signs and silently asking for help.  There are kids who put on brave faces every day of their lives. Every day.  Everywhere.  It happens when cities are chaotic and when they are quiet.  It happens no matter what events, big or small, are headlining the evening news.

It's time to get back to work.

If you know a child in need of support from Kids Five and Over, visit our website at www.KidsFiveAndOver.org or contact us at KidsFiveandOver@gmail.com and let us know how we can help. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Beautiful Day in the City

We took a road trip to Boston today.  It was a beautiful spring day.  A perfect day, actually.

We walked from Copley Square to Faneuil Hall, down Boylston Street, to Newbury Street and through the Public Gardens.  Sidewalks were crowded with people and laughter was in the air.  The energy of the city was palpable.

It couldn't have been a more perfect day.  It seemed like every tulip opened its eyes to the world today.

Just two weeks ago, Boston was a war zone.  Today, flowers bloomed on schedule.  The make-shift memorial for the victims of the marathon bombing had been reduced to an unmarked space with a few Boston policemen standing by.

But people know.  People remember.  People leave teddy bears and flowers and messages written on the sidewalk in chalk.  People find trees just a few steps from where the first bomb exploded and hang momentos as if they're Christmas ornaments.

People bring "Boston Strong" stickers and place them on the trunk of a tree.  People don't forget. People won't ever forget.

(Proud of 14-year-old Nick for pulling that sticker out of his pocket and placing it on the tree.  Even prouder that he thought to bring it with him.)

Boston IS strong.  It really is.  To be there in that space, to walk the streets and see the city so alive, to know the energy is real and the city is stronger, brings great comfort.  It doesn't erase the tragedy of two weeks ago or take away the pain and suffering - mentally and physically - of the hundreds of people who stood at the finish line anticipating celebratory hugs.  It does, however, remind us that when people work together and pool resources, so much is possible.


In only a few weeks, The One Fund has raised over twenty-seven million dollars to help those people most affected by the events of April 15th.  Twenty-seven million!  

People helping people. It's how it's supposed to be.

We encourage you to contribute to The One Fund if you haven't already.  As Governor Patrick said, “At moments like this, we are one state, one city, and one people.”  He is most certainly right.

We will return in a couple days with an update on our own mission to help people and the story of a young boy whose moment in the spotlight served as the signal for Kids Five and Over to release the pause button and get back to work.

Check in again soon...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pushing the Pause Button

After yesterday's tragic event at the Boston Marathon, we find ourselves at a loss for words.  Stunned.  Sad.  There are some things that will never make sense no matter how hard we try to understand them.

People often talk about regaining a sense of normalcy, moving forward, and getting back into a routine and we understand the reasons for that, but at Kids Five and Over we are opting to push the pause button and think about those people who were affected by the tragedy.  Four young people lost their lives, hundreds were injured, and countless others saw images they may never be able to erase from their minds.

We turn to Fred Rogers to help us reframe our thinking during this period of pause -

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'"

Our thanks to the people who are helping. Your bravery and selflessness is inspiring. Thank you for reminding us that good always wins and that helping others is always the right thing to do.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kids Helping Kids

Doesn't it warm your heart when you see kids helping kids?  Doesn't it make you feel proud and hopeful all at the same time?

Soon after we launched our nonprofit, a teacher from Rye Elementary school named Jacquie, reached out and said she wanted to help.  Together with her Student Council, she organized a fundraiser that raised over $125!  The fundraiser took place on Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox.  Students were invited to wear their favorite baseball jersey, cap or hat and if they wanted to wear their hat all day, they were asked to donate $1.  All monies raised were earmarked for Kids Five and Over.   Baseball (Red Sox!), teamwork, pooling resources, and kids helping kids.  It warms our heart in so many ways!

To the students at Rye Elementary School - Thank you for reaching out to help children you may never meet.  Your kindness will be remembered.   Always.

To Jacquie - Thank you for being a role model of kindness for your students.  You reached out to us with enthusiasm and energy because you believe in the mission of Kids Five and Over, yet we've never met.  Thank you for reaching out.  Thank you for being you.

How lucky we are to have teachers like Jacquie shaping the lives of young children.

Thank you Rye Elementary School!  High Fives and Hugs from all of us at Kids Five and Over!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Today marks our first blog post and we are energized by the opportunity to share our message.  It also means we are a little nervous.  Everything new starts with a twinge of healthy nerves.

Exactly two months ago we shared news of our nonprofit called, Kids Five and Over.  The outpouring of love and support for the kids who will benefit from the funds raised has been both overwhelming and humbling.  If you want to be immersed in kindness, start a nonprofit.  Oh, the people you will meet!

Immediately after launching our website, we found ourselves surrounded by people who understand that helping the next generation, doing something that makes a child's life better, giving of one's time, energy and resources is the right thing to do.  It fills a heart in the purest of ways.  Investing in the next generation is something that will always make our world a better place.  No question about that.

The back story around the creation of Kids Five and Over can be found on our website www.kidsfiveandover.org under the tab "Our Story".  Visit when you can and, if you're feeling inspired, use the info link to share your story with us.  With your permission, we'll post it on our website.

We'll use this space to post updates regarding our fundraising progress, write short vignettes spotlighting the children we are sponsoring, and celebrate those people who ooze kindness.  If you're interested in receiving blog updates, enter your email address in the space provided and watch your inbox for notifications.  We look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Igniting the Spark Within