Social and Environmental Change

Mental Health Awareness

Thank you to artist Nikki Miles for letting me use her art. You can find her on Instagram

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I would like to discuss depression. If you are like me, you get tired of people thinking you’re just sad, going through a phase, or that it will go away. It is important to fight the stigma of depression and talk about it.

Depression is a word that is thrown around when you feel sad or when things are going wrong in your life. Real depression is when everything in your life appears to be going right and you can’t feel the real joy of it. You know you are supposed to be happy, but the numbness still creeps in.

It is a daily struggle to live life with depression, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live your life. Depression makes you appreciate the little moments. Sometimes it is celebrating that you left the house. Treating yourself to that $5 coffee because it brings joy. Surrounding yourself with those that love you and support you no matter what. Maybe, it is just having a bad day and watching your favorite movie (I recommend Harry Potter).

However you deal with your depression, remember that it might not be easy, but it gets EASIER. You do not have to struggle alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Reaching out for help does not make you weak. Talking about depression makes you strong and fearless. To quote Jen Sincero, “take care of yourself as if you’re the most awesome person you’ve ever met.”

Do not give in to the stigma of depression and feel shame for who you are. Fighting against the darkness makes you stronger every day. It is your bravery and strength that will break down barriers.

If you need help and are not sure where to go, please go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-TALK (8255)

Social and Environmental Change

Make A Wish Foundation: The Power of a Wish

A child is supposed to play outside, go on family vacations, and be curious about the world. They are learning about themselves, discovering their likes and dislikes. They are worrying about school and getting that A on the next test. However, for some children, what is supposed to be an ordinary life is cut short because of a critical illness.

In 2018, the Make A Wish Foundation of South Carolina granted 207 wishes to children with critical illnesses, between the ages of 2 1/2 to 18. At Make A Wish, a wish is like medicine. It helps give a child a sense of normalcy and individuality.

A big misconception is that wishes are only granted to children with terminal illnesses. The illness could be malignant, progressive or degenerative. No matter the illness, what’s important is to highlight why they are special, and not why they are sick. Wish Manager, Katlyn Larrieu mentions, “The excitement of the wish helps a child get through their treatment. A wish gives them the power of choice again and to celebrate who they are.”

The anticipation of the wish gives a child the courage to go through one more radiation treatment, or one more needle prick. They have something to look forward to, and a chance to live a life of normalcy. Wishes are not just nice, but they are necessary. Physicians often contact Make A Wish to tell them how a wish changes a child after their experience. It encourages determination and more hope. “We are giving memories to families that need good memories, that is priceless and powerful,” says Larrieu.

The South Carolina chapter of Make A Wish is made up of only 15 employees, and depends on over 250 volunteers across the state. Any person can volunteer, or hold a fundraiser to support the foundation. They can donate a vehicle, or even airlines miles, to cover travel for these well-deserved wishes. “It is because of our volunteers across the state that we can grant the wishes,” says Larrieu.

Volunteers are involved with two wishes a year and ten hours of service. They get the paperwork done and figure out the wish, while keeping monthly contact with the family. The volunteers throw a big wish celebration with the child and their family. According to Larrieu, volunteers have the fun part of the job. Make A Wish volunteers are allowed to do more, giving more of a personal connection during the process. It is a unique experience where you can see everything follow through, and see the gift of the child’s excitement.

Make A Wish Foundation leaves a lasting and long-term impact on a child’s life. It isn’t just a nice gesture or a kind thing to do. “A wish can change the course of someone’s life. It is the gift that keeps on giving,” says Larrieu.

Thank you Wish Manager, Katlyn Larrieu for the interview and pictures.

If you are interested in volunteering in South Carolina go to: https://sc.wish.org/ways-to-help/volunteering/becoming-a-volunteer

Social and Environmental Change

Myrtle Beach Safari

Tigers, an elephant, wolves, chimpanzees, and lions. All of these animals have one thing in common, they live in Myrtle Beach. They aren’t part of a zoo or a circus but a wildlife conservation program that Doc Antle began in 1983.

The animals that live on the preserve serve as animal ambassadors to over three million visitors each year. They serve as examples of the current environmental issues that these animals face. Instead of an animal on a postcard, Myrtle Beach Safari allows you to interact with the real thing.

So how exactly do you get to visit with these animals? It isn’t just an invite only experience. Anyone can go and they treat everyone on the tour as if they are VIP. No personal cameras are allowed but for an extra fee you can receive hundreds of candid pictures. For three hours you are transported to your own little paradise filled with animals you can only see in Africa or Thailand.

T.I.G.E.R.S (The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species) provides funding to on the ground international wildlife conservation programs that work to prevent the poaching and destruction of these precious animals. An example of that is providing funding to prevent the poaching of chimpanzees. In some countries, chimpanzee meat has become known as a delicacy and it is now a requirement to have mankind defend them.

Myrtle Beach Safari is a lifestyle and not just a hobby for the handlers who live there. These animals are their family and you can feel the connection as soon as you meet the first tiger cub.

Two of the White Footed Gibbons at Myrtle Beach Safari
A 6 month Tiger cub. They gain 1 pound a day!
Bubbles the African Elephant. I was feeding her a carrot and her trunk surprised me.

https://myrtlebeachsafari.com/

Social and Environmental Change

Grand Strand Miracle League

For the second year in a row I was able to volunteer with the Grand Strand Miracle League. It was a beautiful Saturday to enjoy a game of baseball and to know that everyone was there for the same thing, fun.

Volunteering with the Miracle League reminds me not to take life so seriously. Every day is a gift and we should stop and relish the little moments in life. By the end of the day I was smiling so much my face hurt.

Adults and kids with special needs are no different from you and I. They want to feel a connection with someone and to be cared about. One of the biggest obstacles is how society perceives a person with special needs. Spend some time with them and you will experience genuine happiness and to not take yourself so seriously.

When was the last time you broke out into dance while Michael Jackson was playing? Have you cheered on a friend and given them a high five lately? Did you tell a stranger you like their sweater and watch them smile?

Life is a lot more meaningful when we are selfless and open our hearts to others.

My friend Ani at Grand Strand Miracle League.

https://grandstrandmiracleleague.com/

Uncategorized

Why I Write

In 2013 I graduated with a degree in Communication with a minor in Journalism. I dreamt of using my degree to work for a non-profit and make a change in the world. Just like any other college student, I had the world at my finger tips and wanted to dive straight in.

My life was changed forever when my mom and best friend was diagnosed with Stage 4 T-Cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia. I could go into the science of it but just like any other cancer diagnosis, it sucks. How is it Stage 4 already? Why does it have to be my mom? We can fight this…right?

On September 27, 2014 my mom passed away. My beautiful and amazing mother was no longer my encourager in life. A part of me was missing and it is possible for your heart to literally hurt.

Believe it or not, seeing others happy and making someone smile is what got me through to today. My mom loved to see others happy and even through all of her pain still found joy in the little things.

I write in honor of her and to always put good in the world.

Social and Environmental Change

Movember Foundation

There are many creative ways to support a favorite charity. Including running a marathon, having a fashion show, and making friendly competition. One unique organization sparked the idea that a moustache could still be a fashion trend. It became a challenge among friends that would grow into a movement.

       Movember has become a monthly event that takes place all over the world every November. The Movember Foundation focuses on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. Their vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. Men AND Women can take part in the global movement that helps to stop men from dying too young. Grow a moustache, move for Movember, host an event, or fundraise. Men’s health needs to be addressed and we moustache you a question. Will you join Sevenly in supporting The Movember Foundation?

       Sevenly’s Good Men Collection supports health in a father, brother, and a friend. Join the conversation and help to tackle men’s health around the globe. Purchase a shirt for the man in your life that fights the good fight.

#becausepeoplematter

published on Sevenly.org in 2017

https://us.movember.com/

Social and Environmental Change

Children International

Having a warm place to sleep, a full stomach, and money in your pocket are some of the necessities for a comfortable life. Sending your kids to school, putting shoes on their feet, and teaching them to wash their hands makes them one out of one billion that are the fortunate few. What happens to the one billion that are less fortunate?

         In countries like Colombia, India, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador children are struggling to eat, have an education, and have access to soap and water. When there is no access to health, education, jobs, and the lack of encouragement it creates a cycle of poverty. Poverty is a big problem but it has an even bigger solution, you.

         Children International is one program that believes the power to end global poverty all begins with you. Taking care of your lawn, buying mobile games, going out to lunch, buying that fancy sweater for your pet, and satisfying your sweet tooth are all expenses that add up over time. Thirty-two dollars for a dinner for two could provide Maristela in the Philippines an education, medical care, life skills, and the job placement she needs after graduation. “You are helping the cycle of poverty and creating a ripple of change in the world.”

         Sevenly is taking the initiative and assisting a child through Children International and helping to break the cycle of poverty. We believe that giving selflessly and supporting the life of another will bring a brighter future for all. Former Navy SEAL and actor, Joel Lambert says, “Being a sponsor humbles me. It takes my eyes off of myself for a moment and allows me to do what I can to facilitate another’s journey. Even in such a small way, it’s a chance to be a bit bigger than myself.”

         Sevenly would like to challenge you to be bigger than yourself. Sponsor a child for a year, give a monetary donation or use social media to give a voice to a child in poverty. Margaret Mead once said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

#becausepeoplematter

published on Sevenly.org in 2017

https://www.children.org/