What are your fondest holiday memories? Baking cookies with your mom? Or perhaps the anticipation of seeing the abundance you receive as gifts from those you love?  What about volunteering at your local food bank or seeking gifts of support for those in need instead?

As we head full-swing into the winter holiday season, we the Lions, encourage you to consider how giving and gratitude fit into your festivities and traditions. In fact, we believe they deserve a spot of prominence and that is why we deliberately chose #GivingTuesday™ as the release date for our latest issue.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Harris

#GivingTuesday™ was launched in 2012 as a national movement, with global significance, igniting a spirit and conversation about giving as well as inspiring acts of generosity throughout the holiday season. #GivingTuesday™ takes place the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday – this year, December 3, 2013.

As the movement states, “it’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.”  http://community.givingtuesday.org

Whether this is your first year making a deliberate effort to give back during the holidays or an ongoing thread in the fabric of your family, our hope is that giving back and being grateful will become some of your fondest holiday memories, fueling fulfillment and joy throughout all seasons.

If you wish to share your holiday giving stories, we would love to hear! Simply submit your story to justbecausebsl@gmail.com . In addition to the causes featured in the December 3rd release, please check out the following list of organizations we’ve previously highlighted for giving inspiration.


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

URL: http://www.afsp.org


The Bannister Family House provides a home away from home for families of patients undergoing long-term care at UC San Diego Health System in Hillcrest and La Jolla. The non-medical atmosphere of the house provides a retreat from the stress of keeping a constant bedside vigil at the hospital. Families have a chance to meet other families in similar situations and develop a support network necessary to help a loved one through serious illness.

URL: http://health.ucsd.edu/patients/bannister


Gawad Kalinga is a Filipino community group in the Philippines in the U.S. aiming to facilitate unity between Filipino Americans and their heritage roots in the Philippine Islands. In light of Typhoon Haiyan, GK is mobilizing its direct connection to the Philippines to ensure that every $5 donated produces at least 4 days of food for families waiting for more aid to arrive.

URL: http://gk-usa.org/


Natural High is an organization that inspires youth to live happy, healthy, drug-free lives by helping them discover, amplify and pursue their natural highs so that they have a reason to say no to an artificial high.

URL: http://naturalhigh.org


POPS (Pain of the Prison System) is an organization of clubs for high school students whose lives have been touched by prison—those with a parent inside, or a sibling, a friend, a cousin, any brush with prison.
URL: http://www.popstheclub.com


Share Our Strength works to ensure that every child has access to healthy food every day. Together, we can end childhood hunger in America.

URL: http://nokidhungry.org


Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen® and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Susan G. Komen is the boldest community fueling the best science and making the biggest impact in the fight against breast cancer.

URL: http://www.the3day.org

- James Vermillion

Image courtesy of Jesse Billauer

“Have a beautiful day,” Jesse Billauer says in the warmest of voices after talking with me about his California-based nonprofit organization Life Rolls On – an organization inspired by his own experience as a quadriplegic.

That’s right – Jesse is in a wheelchair – and this is no surprise to the tight knit so-Cal surf community he has worked with for the last seventeen years after his tragic spinal cord injury. 

But for those who don’t know Jesse  - who haven’t read his story or watched his 2009 documentary film –I have to say, you haven’t heard one of the most soulful, contemporary voices. 

Have a beautiful day - he says – a message that spoke right to the center of my being. “Nobody says that!” I thought to myself. “Who says that?” 

Jesse Billauer is a self-professed introvert who has taken a quiet leadership role as a motivational speaker, nonprofit founder, and chief executive officer. He talks lightly about the beauty in things, about all of the unconditional love in his life, his dad, his brother, his girlfriend, and his nieces. He shares bits about the origin and charge of Life Rolls On, about the programs that get adaptive kids to surf again, but he is the most emphatic when he says, “These events, they are not about surfing, they are an excuse to build confidence, to get kids out of their house, to inspire the whole family in a day. It’s a beautiful experience for the community,” he says, using the word “beautiful” again. 

Beautiful, his guru-like tone admittedly makes me want to sit with him longer, to dig deeper into his perspective, to understand the kind of strength he has that allows him to see the beauty in things after surviving such a traumatic, life altering incident. The kind of strength we all take for granted on a daily basis. 

In 1996, at the young age of seventeen, Jesse Billauer was well on his way to becoming a professional surfer when an accident in the water altered the course of his life. Today, he is inspiring millions with his story, with Life Rolls On programming, but even more so, with his genuine appreciation for life; with his humble yet profound message that the beauty of life is that “beauty” comes in various shapes and forms.  

To learn more about how Jesse gives his time and voice to the community, click here: http://www.jessebillauer.com/site/c.fnJJKPNjFiG/b.5245725/k.BE38/Home.htm

To explore Life Rolls On programming or to give back with Jesse: http://www.liferollson.org

Check out Life Rolls On in video

We are LRO from Life Rolls On on Vimeo.

- Jennifer Harris

Image courtesy of Jennifer Harris

Executive Director of Solutions, Maureen Roadman talks with us about transitioning high school students into a successful future. 


Every child deserves a level playing field. From the struggling late-bloomer to the straight A+ star athlete, each student needs the opportunity to fulfill the potential we know that they have. Solutions was created to help students - all students - navigate what can often be a difficult transition between high school and “what’s next” by providing programs and support. I believe in the future.


Solutions: Exploring Success Post High School

Find out more at www.exploresolutions.org


Meetings with individual college admission representatives ( the next one is a Dec. 12 reception with representatives from Ohio Wesleyan University at Estancia La Jolla Hotel, 9700 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA), speakers series and a variety of programs, all geared toward career exploration and finding that “best fit” college.

Ilia Terrazas-Dickey, Board Member with Kids Korps USA, helps instill the spirit of giving in America’s youth while providing valuable education in leadership and responsibility.


Empowering Youth


Kids Korps USA. “Developing a Generation of Volunteers”
Kids Korps USA engages young people, ages 5 through 25, in community service. Our mission is to instill in America’s youth the spirit of giving while providing valuable education in leadership and responsibility. Our vision is to develop leaders for life through youth volunteerism. 

The mission of Kids Korps has an indelible and unique impact beyond the many benefits of volunteerism: we shape young lives through exposure to, and direct involvement in community service. The daily benefit of improving ones community is tangible. The lifelong benefit to young volunteers is an increase in their level of maturity, empathy, and positive perspective on how THEY can make the world a better place.


Simply go to www.kidskorps.org to access our Online Project Calendar with over 1200 volunteer opportunities assisting 1000 nonprofit agencies address the most critical issues facing our communities today. Rally your friends and family to join the “Generation of Volunteers” and attend an event where you can make an impact any time of day seven days a week within your community TODAY!


I would spend time inspiring young people to realize their full potential by helping them to understand and appreciate their special gifts and passions through engagement in their communities. Regardless of economic means, community service is proven to propel confidence and academic performance in youth, equipping youth to realize their dreams.

Image courtesy of Shauna McKenna

We conversed with Shauna McKenna – a Writer, Board Member, Mom, Volunteer, Magazine Aficionado – about writing, thinking, and serving the community and she said a lot about So Say We All.


Stories of all shapes and sizes



VAMP (Video / Audio Monologue Performance) at Art Pulse, December 14


Stories make room for more stories - I’d be part of countless conversations sparked by the community of performance.

Detail from untitled painting by Marcel Reyes

Say I lose a grandparent to cancer, so I give to cancer research - for three years. Three years of passionate, earnest giving. I am just an average person of middle class income, ten percent of my monthly income would be a very huge, meaningful fraction, even if its drops in the bucket towards a major gift goal. When my spouse gets diagnosed with diabetes, I may choose to stop giving to cancer research and start giving to diabetes research. Or stem cell research, feeling like its many birds with one stone. In this case, a stone is an annual gift amounting to $1,000 a year. All the while, I also gave $300 in August to a start-up community theatre troop dedicated to writing plays raising awareness to local cultural issues.

Two years down the road, I could be in a total arts kick supporting film festivals and after-school programming for at risk youth. I could realize in five years how deeply I care about my identity as an Asian American and might want to support arts and culture non-profits aiming to cultivate western literacy in Asian media. Ten years down the road, I could care about scholarships being offered to medical students wishing to specialize their care for transgendered patients. Decade by decade, as fickle as the wind, I could swap out one cause for another, over and over again. From a charity’s standpoint: World’s worst donor right? 

In that hypothetical (but very much desired and likely) wishful giving history scenario - the point really is: I gave. I GIVE. Because I wanted to. Because I always wanted to. Different things felt important to support at different times. But I never stopped giving. Shouldn’t that count for something?

In my opinion, it is the entire point.

Seneca alludes to a flow in giving in which the understanding is tacit: When you are a giver, giving of your time, energy, and resources, then you are a BEING towards whom the WORLD is indebted. And you will never be repaid, nor would you seek it.

“The book-keeping of benefits [giving] is simple,” said Seneca, “it is all expenditure. If any one returns it, that is clear gain; if he does not return it, it is not lost, I gave it for the sake of giving. No one writes down his gifts in a ledger, or like a grasping creditor demands repayment to the day and hour. A good man never thinks of such matters, unless reminded of them by some one returning his gifts; otherwise they become debts owing him.


- Marcel Reyes

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation in the Philippines, it’s a reminder on National Philanthropy Day that contributing to the typhoon relief effort is, in practice, the collective impact of charitable giving.

Indeed, that immediate and direct aid to a tremendous, current crisis - not just money, but voice, time, story, and talent - all of these gifts, along with tangible nutritional resources and medical care, converging to save lives, is the heart and soul of giving.

It should never take a natural disaster to spur giving, and yet, the opportunity to give is here. We have included below some relief aid efforts for you to make a contribution to.

In addition to being the worst typhoon known to us in modern times, with wind speeds in excess of 220mph and a 20 foot high wall of water in the initial deluge, the seasonal torrential rain is hindering relief efforts as the survivors of Tacloban fight off a second wave of disease deaths as the death toll mounts, feared in the thousands.

Please help our brothers and sisters in Tacloban and other affected areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan. The amount of a few lattes for you could save many, many lives in the Philippines. 

Rachel Mastone, Marcel Reyes, James Vermillion, and Jennifer Harris

CNN has compiled a list of emergency support, food and water, shelter, medical assistance, and children’s aid agencies to make contributions to.
URL: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/09/world/iyw-how-to-help-typhoon-haiyan/index.html

Gawad Kalinga is a Filipino community group in the Philippines in the U.S. aiming to facilitate unity between Filipino Americans and their heritage roots in the Philippine Islands. In light of Typhoon Haiyan, GK is mobilizing its direct connection to the Philippines to ensure that every $5 donated produces at least 4 days of food for families waiting for more aid to arrive.
URL: http://gk-usa.org/


LBC (the Fed-Ex of the Philippines) Foundation is accepting donations worldwide FREE until Nov 23, and cash donations until Nov 30 for typhoon survivors. They urgently need: Blankets or light wraps, towels, socks, clothes, shoes (for children and adults), new underwear, infant formula, peanut butter, instant noodles, canned goods (preferably with a tab to open), can opener, flashlights (and batteries).

URL: https://www.facebook.com/LBCFoundation

for those who donate more than $100, not only will your hearts be filled, but your bellies will be as well. We’ve asked our beloved Grandma Lola to share her secret family recipe for Lumpia with each generous $100+ donor. We’ll reach out to you for an address and before you know it, a special thank-you package from your friends at Bulldog (and Lola) will arrive at your door. Trust us, you won’t want to miss this.” - reprinted from the campaign site.
URL: http://www.crowdrise.com/LOLASCALLING

To leave you with an impression of the impact these massive natural disasters have on families to family-members here in the U.S., we are also including local San Diego affiliate 10News’ write-up of a recent UC San Diego benefit for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts:


“We think of philanthropy, and it’s often a word reserved only for the rich; but I see all these acts of generosity, sharing, and kindness as philanthropy, and we’re all capable of participating in it all the time.” – Lynne Twist from “The Soul of Money.”

When asked at a lunch among strangers what I do “for living,” a conversation about a nonprofit called Global Cleveland immediately ensued –about economic development and the revitalization of a region outside Cleveland, Ohio. This conversation neatly transitioned into dialogue about community building and the arts, and the power of music and its ability to pierce socio-economic barriers.

In what felt like a “New York minute” – I was introduced to the Executive Director of Global Cleveland and the Board Chair of Levitt Pavilions – a national nonprofit that partners with cities to transform outdoor spaces into destinations where free, live music brings people together thereby invigorating community life.

At dinner that same day, after I was asked the same exact question, the unassuming, quiet woman across from me, subtly shared that she spent 20 years as a fundraiser – at the Tulsa, Oklahoma Opera and with an organization devoted to victims of sexual assault. 20 years!

Outside the lunchroom that very next day- as my response to the standard “meet and greet” question grew rote – I learned the gal next to me was currently the Director of Advancement for a small primary school in Northern California that just celebrated its 50th anniversary. And, that she was in the thick of case-building for capital and wanted to pick my brain. What’s more, in a cooking class later that same week, I met a young distinguished professional who responded immediately to my elevator schpeal with the fact that she was a new board member for a nonprofit in Aspen, Colorado.

Regional Development. The performing arts in public spaces. Opera. Victims of sexual assault. Board participation.

When asked what I do for a living, I modified my response to simply say, “I work with nonprofits.”

And yet with little to no further explanation, this somehow created an opening, a space for people to talk about their own work, their volunteerism, their personal passions, and I realized at once, that my career trajectory made perfect sense. Someone once said to me, “By telling your story, you are giving permission to others to tell their own.” In these instances, my abridged “work narrative” stirred dialogue about the value of music in community building. About victims of sexual assault and their ability to heal others. About volunteerism and service. About building affinity and celebrating philanthropic milestones. About connection and recognition. Identification and association.

And I realized in those moments how much so the “philanthropic conversation” is really a human conversation. I realized whether you work in the sector, volunteer your time, or give money, that all of us really – are “in it all of the time.”

One of my favorite definitions of the word philanthropy is: a love for mankind. At the table those few days in Tecate, Mexico, with people from around the globe, I ultimately realized that while I work in “philanthropy” and help organizations better position themselves for funding, I really am in the business of “loving mankind.” Humankind. Love.

And love is a universal conversation.

- Jennifer Harris


When would you consider enlisting the help of a financial planner? Most would answer they’d seek financial advice about managing their stock portfolio or executing estate documents.

Have you ever thought about the intersection between wealth management and your core values? Or how they drive your philanthropy? What if they could work together to best serve your charitable passions?

In August 2013 U.S. Trust partnered with The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) on a nationwide study including financial services professionals and a focus group of 120 high-net-worth individuals actively engaged in philanthropy.

The study found that 90% of these donors believe charitable giving should be raised in the first few meetings with their financial advisor. However, only 50% of these donors feel comfortable initiating a conversation regarding philanthropy with their wealth manger. Perhaps even more striking is the fact that less than half of the donors surveyed were satisfied with the philanthropic conversations they do have because they are too technical and are not focused on the donor’s goals.

Financial services professionals might be missing out on what’s most important to their client, the primal desire to give back, make a difference and leave the world a bit better than they found it. However, this void also opens up the door to an exciting premise. Wealth managers could and should be partners in fundraising, sharing their clients’ passion and helping them fulfill philanthropic dreams.

The survey corroborates that professionals agree; yet they underestimate the passion and overestimate the importance of tax incentives. Only 10% of donors cite tax incentives as a motivator for charitable giving.

Shifting the conversation from dry overviews of giving vehicles (while still important) to engaged, vulnerable and connected conversations about what inspires and fulfills individuals will help wealth managers build trust with their clients – good for philanthropy, good for the donor and good for business.

For a complete summary of the study, please see the following press release from TPI: http://www.tpi.org/news_events/news/study_reveals

- James Vermillion