In this season of giving and thanks, we have done a lot of reflection on the importance of giving.  Whether it is giving your time, your energy, your money, resources, or your presence to others.  Or whether it is giving to family, friends, co-workers, a stranger, an organization, or even giving a new home to a rescue pet.

During the most difficult time in our lives, we were surrounded by others who gave so much to us.  They gave us emotional support, their listening ears, meals, gifts of remembrance, gifts of encouragement, their time and their love.  They came over to help with the arrangements after Jensen passed, to keep us busy, clean our house, buy our groceries, run some errands, take us out to grab a cup of coffee and chat, or just came over to keep us company and listen to us talk.  We received hundreds of cards in the mail.  I even received a weekly “thinking of you” card from my friend Donna until I went back to work.

Here is a gift of encouragement, a MantraBand bracelet, from my cousin Julie that she sent shortly after Jensen passed. 


Here is one of the weekly cards I received from my friend Donna.


When we reflect on these acts as a collective whole, it is very humbling.  There are so many people that cared for us during a time of devastation.  Our family, friends and co-workers took time out of their lives to help us. We are very fortunate and lucky – – not everyone has this type of support when going through a tragedy.  When you are in a pit of despair, you realize that a strong support system is needed in order to have any chance at getting out.  Fortunately, since grief is an ever changing journey, we are still surrounded by these givers.

I don’t know how to ever repay my family and friends, but I do know that should any of them find themselves in a difficult situation or a place of need, I will be right there by their side.  Spreading love and kindness to others is honestly the greatest gift you can give in our book.

That is why we are giving back this holiday season.  And not just this holiday, but always. In the past we have made a point to donate towards a cause that we felt was important.  But now donating towards a cause has taken on a greater meaning for us.  It isn’t just a cause.

After learning that our son JJ had Down syndrome and then after we became educated on Ds, our perceptions and perspectives about the life of a person with Ds had completely changed.  We knew we had to advocate for our son.  We knew we had to find resources to support him.  I enrolled him in research studies before he was even born and sought out resources within the community.  To me, supporting Down syndrome or raising awareness for Ds is not just a cause. It is something very personal and meaningful to us. It is something that has deeply touched us and resonated deep inside of us in such a way that it became very close to our hearts.


So, Andy and I are going to be participating in #GivingTuesday on November 29th.  There’s Black Friday, cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday.  On November 29th, we are going to give back to the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Michigan (DSGSEMI) in honor of Jensen.

I hope you will consider giving back on #GivingTuesday to something or someone close to your heart.  Whether it is a charitable organization or taking the time to help someone out.  Let’s make a difference.

If you’d like to give from the heart during this holiday season to the DSGSEMI, click here. Thank you for supporting the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Michigan!


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