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Regional Coordinator Notebook: Rethinking Mother's Day

How do you adequately express gratitude for that special woman in your life who raised, nurtured, and loved you?

Perhaps it is your mother (either biological or adoptive), a special aunt, grandmother, or godparent that comes to mind as someone who was instrumental in pouring love into your life as you grew, learned, and explored the world. While reflecting on Mother's Day, I very much wanted to continue the tradition, but I found myself leery of the commercialization that often accompanies such occasions.

The Center for a New American Dream, which I stumbled upon over seven years ago, provided much encouragement as I began working with a team to put together an alternative gift fair that has now been held annually for six consecutive years the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. This event has been met with such a welcoming and enthusiastic response that it seemed only natural to rethink Mother's Day in the same fashion.

For Mother’s Day this year, we've partnered with a local business that upcycles materials in a creative fashion and offers workshops for friends, family, and groups to come together and let creativity soar. In addition to a variety of activities, we will be featuring alternative gifts that specifically address the concerns of women here in the U.S. and around the world. Gifts include help for single mothers to go back to school and obtain their education, adoption support, maternal care for women in Africa, restoration and prevention efforts to turn the tide on human trafficking, and gifts for bereaved mothers who may have recently lost a baby. 

The event offers something to reflect the unique values of all of the special people in our lives. For me, getting a gift for a woman's education in honor of my mother has always been a priority.

This kind of thinking is not necessarily just for the holidays. I urge you to rethink all aspects of your life in terms of how we look at stuff. Considering how sharing gently used items by way of a PeerSwap or ShareFest could cut down on waste and excessive consumerism. This doesn't need to be anything fancy or complicated: I've hosted several clothing/accessory/purse swaps at my home over the years and the results are amazing! Everyone gets something new, there is camaraderie, and the extra clothing gets donated to a local women's shelter.

Another aspect of sharing is one that is near and dear to my heart. Being an avid reader, the acquisition of a book is akin to being a kid in a toy store. In April, I participated in a local children's book swap and enjoyed being able to share the books that I've read with my children and obtaining new titles to further open their imaginations. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities in your own backyard. Once you start looking, the possibilities for giving back are endless!

In my role as the Pennsylvania Regional Coordinator for New Dream, I am here with you, learning, exploring, and searching for opportunities to make a difference in the world around me through practical, everyday steps. I desire to see more people freed by the knowledge that buying more stuff and accumulating possessions does not equate to happiness or contentment.

Join me and share the ideas that you've stumbled across in your travels, and Happy Mother's Day!

Jenn Knepper is the Pennsylvania Regional Coordinator for the Center for a New American Dream.

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