Gather to Give: My new year’s intention

In March of this year, I sent an email to a group of about 50 women.

Most of them were neighbors, friends, volleyball moms, my children’s friends moms, and a few co-workers. In the email, I expressed a desire of mine…that I was finally ready to take action on after waiting for “just the right time” for too many years.

You see, I am that person that loves hospitality, but worries about silly things like unfinished hardwood floors, or having no furniture in the living room. I forget that  by inviting people into my imperfect home, it allows them the opportunity and freedom to be imperfect too.

I’m getting better at seeing the bigger picture, but it is taking a continued conscious effort.

So… getting back to the email. Here it is in it’s (almost) original form.

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Hi and happy belated new year!
 

I’m popping up in your in box to let you know about one of my intentions for 2017. According to experts, intentions are more doable than goals, and since this same thing has been a goal of mine for quite some time, calling it an intention makes me want to move ahead.

Let me start with a quick story. Ten (or more) years ago, my neighbor and I started a Bunco group in our neighborhood. We each invited a couple of people that we knew, who then invited a couple of people that they knew until we had 12 or 13 women committed to gathering once a month to get to know each other, share appetizers and wine, and play a game of dice to win money. At first, we talked a little and played a lot of Bunco. After a year of meeting monthly, we talked much more and hurried in the last 45 minutes to squeeze in a game of Bunco to divide the money and prizes. As we met month after month in different homes, we really got to know each other. We shared recipes and tips on parenting, we supported each other with meals and help when babies were born or emergencies happened …and we became a community. After a few more years, and people moving in and out of the neighborhood and the changing nature of our lives, the Bunco group ended. That was eight (or more) years ago.

Early last year, I  began thinking about that time in my life, the women in that group and about how much I looked forward to that night each month. It was an opportunity to try a new recipe , change out of my yoga pants and wear that cute outfit, and to spend time with women who I sincerely enjoyed catching up with since our last time together. I really missed that kind of community.

I considered starting another Bunco group with many of the same women and some new friends as well.

But then… I started thinking about something a little different. It was true that I wanted this type of community. A place to share all of the lovely things that women love to share.  Except, I didn’t want to play a game.

When I think about women and the power we have to do so much when we get together, why should we gather to play a game when we can really make an impact.

In December, I hosted a wreath making party for a dear friend who was in the process of adopting a baby. I invited many of the same women that I think about when I think about this new “Un-Bunco” community. We chatted, we drank cider, we ate cupcakes, and we used our creativity to make the most beautiful wreaths and advent centerpieces. Each of the women gave a donation to cover the cost of supplies and instruction, and to help with the adoption expenses. In a couple of hours, we raised nearly 400.00.

The wreath making party was what I was looking for in this type of community. Once I realized it, I knew it was time to get moving!

My hope is to have 4 or 5 intentional gatherings in 2017. One every other month or so.

I’d really love to have the first gathering in early April.

There are so many wonderful causes to get involved in. Some of the ideas I have in mind include opportunities to impact groups of people in our local area, as well as, around the world.

Things like a clothing swap to clean out our closets, exchange a few items with each other, and donate a large portion to a women’s domestic violence shelter. Or to help the homeless by working alongside another ministry in Charlotte to provide up to 500 sandwiches as a part of their daily sandwich ministry. There are fleece blankets to be made for children living in a low income housing area that I have worked in for years as a home health nurse.

And the first project will involve making shoes (cutting fabric from patterns) out of old blue jeans that will be sent to a village in Africa to correct a health problem that comes from not wearing shoes.

I do not expect for the financial commitment to be more than 15 dollars per gathering, with some being supplies only.

If you are getting this email, it means I really want you to be involved. I would love to have a core group of women committed to coming every time, but I also want this to be open so that if you are only able to come once or twice a year, you will know that you are welcome.

If you know of someone else that would love to be a part of this gathering, please forward this email to them. This is how we will build our community.

I look forward to gathering to give… and to getting to know you…as we share our lives and give away our winnings. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to.

Have a lovely day!

Jen

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And there you have it,  the email that started “Gather to Give.” The email that I was afraid to send….afraid of rejection, afraid of failure, afraid of someone thinking my idea was dumb, afraid that no one would want to come.

What came next was an awesome gathering.  And then another after that.

I’m happy to share each gathering as they happen…and I will link to them here! I hope you will be inspired to gather a few people and find a way to give.

The opportunities are endless!