Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Inspire, Comfort, Bless: One Story at a Time

My Story Matters is a non-profit organization committed to giving the gift of story to individuals in need by publishing uplifting, inspiring, and motivational stories of faith, courage, and talent for individuals who could not otherwise do so for themselves.  

The definition of a non-profit is ‘not making a profit.’ My Story Matters does not make any profit from what we do. 

What do we do? 

We give the gift of story in the form of a storybook. We have three different series:

  1. The Fighter Series which is dedicated to preserving the life story of those sweet spirits who left this earth at a young age. 
  2. The Angel Series is dedicated to those brave young souls under the age of 14 that battle cancer. 
  3. The Gift Series is dedicated to creating custom happiness for individuals in need. We partner with community members and organizations to identify individuals in need and offer support and encouragement by providing a book customized to their particular circumstances. 
How we have accomplished our goal? 

We have completed 183 books and currently have 41 books in progress.  

What can you do to help? 

  1. You can help by donating! At least $10 is all we ask of you. If everyone donates $10, that means that we could reach our goal of $25,000 by July. Click on this link to donate now!
  2. You can also help by nominating those who you know that are need of their own personal story! Click this link to nominate now!
  3. Have a great idea for our Gift Series, let us know! You can contact us at: 801-477-MSM1 OR . 

To hear more about our experiences, watch this video!

Monday, April 21, 2014

When you think about school, you end up sifting through memories of scantron tests, late-night homework, and the essays that never end.  But every once in a while, an unexpected assignment interrupts your typical school experience.  This semester we were in a class called “Media Advocacy and Social Change.”  After putting us into groups, our BYU professor told us to go out and make an impact.
    We weren’t sure where to go until one of our group members stumbled on My Story Matters.  Or maybe they stumbled on us. Either way, call it serendipity, call it divine intervention, call it whatever you want, but our little group was welcomed into the My Story Matters community with open arms.  During this short semester, we helped wherever we could.

Some of us went to the Angel Series event and got to work with families as they started their books.
    Some of us got to work with social media, and reaching out to people.
    Some of us worked with the website design and the blog.
    Some of us pulled together the Love Utah Give Utah campaign from scratch in the exciting two days after a spontaneous invitation to be involved.
All of us had the opportunity to be a part of this organization.  All of us had the chance to be a part of something bigger than a midterm.
 And that opportunity is still there, for everyone.  We just have to take it.  It certainly was different than a normal class experience, or day to day life.  We learned more than we would have just by taking quizzes or analyzing cases.  We learned the power of actually doing something meaningful.  Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how many facts you learn, if it doesn’t provide real value to someone.  When you have the chance to laugh and cry with parents as they show you pictures of their son who battled cancer, it puts that dreaded trip to the testing center into perspective.  
These books provide real value.  Behind every book is someone important.  Someone who matters.  Someone who is loved, and deserves to be remembered.  We want to thank My Story Matters for letting us join them in doing something meaningful.  And thank you to everyone who is involved in making this possible.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What My Story Matters Has Taught Me

My name is Kristi Walston. For the last three and a half months, I have been interning with My Story Matters. My Story Matters is an organization devoted to giving. Storybooks are not the only thing they have to offer. Unbeknownst to them, they have given me some of the greatest life lessons that I needed at this time.

The lessons I have learned this semester are things that I needed to help me grow to become a better person. There are so many aspects of my learning that it cannot fit into the two to three paragraph requirement. So if you are expecting a short read, I am sorry. But this is what I have learned from interning with My Story Matters. 

My Story Matters is an organization that is flexible. But with that comes the requirement of being an initiative taker. Before I thought I was okay at it, but now I feel like I truly understand the meaning. I have learned to take the initiative with nominees by calling and contacting them. I have learned to be persistent with the nominees and not to give up on them when it was hard to get a hold of them. I relearned the importance of having constant contact. With one of my nominees, I called her weekly. Each week she thanked me. She said even though she had not done anything, my weekly call helped her keep in mind her assignments.

I have also learned how to be better organized. The only way I can keep on track of what is vital for me to do every day is by either marking it on the calendar or writing a to-do list for that day. I learned the hard way that in order to get a goal done, the only way I will accomplish it is by writing it down. As I have implied this lesson into my life, I have seen myself be more productive in my tasks.

A trait that goes along with being organized is having deadlines. Deadlines and I are not the best of friends. I work fine with them, but I really do not like extending them to others. By nature, I am tender. I do not like imposing things upon others. Yet, sometimes I must. This last week I learned the impact deadlines can make in people’s lives. All semester long I have been working with nominees. A lot of them are really slow at getting back to me. But once I was told to give a deadline, and I did, it was like magic was working. The nominees were more pro-active in collecting their pictures and sending me their answers to the interview questions. It was amazing what power a deadline did to those people. 

I was also able to conquer my fears of using the phone for My Story Matters. I have always greatly disliked using the phone to talk to people I did not know. If it was someone I knew, or if I get used to using the phone for a particular job, I can be fine with it. Within my responsibilities in this organization, I had to use the phone all the time. With it, I have learned that I can talk to people about the serious matters, such as cancer or death. I can offer them our free gift. I have learned, once again, to overcome this fear of using the phone.
I have learned how to plan a real event. In the past, I have only planned simple “parties” or baptisms. Before, I never imaged what it would take to plan an event. It takes lots of detail. You need to think about everything from power plugs, to volunteers, to pens, to the internet, to tissues. Nothing can be overlooked. I learned a great deal from helping plan the Remembering Our Kids Event. Even though there were a few things that we overlooked, we learned from our mistakes and now know how to make it better next time.

I learned the worth of social media and how it can have a positive influence. When I first came to My Story Matters and was told that I was in charge of the Facebook for that week, I decided to invite everyone I knew to ‘like’ our page, including an old roommate. She saw it and got the BYU PR group involved in helping our cause. Social media really can have an influence. People do see it. And it can make a difference in promoting our cause.

One of the biggest things I have conquered and learned is being more confident in my speech. I never have enjoyed talking to a large group of people. (Large being more than two.) But as I have sat in meetings, discussing my week as an intern, I have realized the importance of speaking with confidence. I did not realize how timid I was in those first meetings until we had the mid-semester evaluation. The one thing LonaMarie said I could improve on was that. Thinking about it, I realized she was right. Since then I have worked on being more confident in my speech, and I see myself changing in positive ways in group settings.

The last important thing that I have learned at My Story Matters is how to be a better empathetic listener. Before, I thought I understood empathy. Never before was I faced with hearing the story of girl who had cancer. She has no idea how long her life will last. That has forever imprinted upon my soul. I felt her depression. I felt her uncertainty. I felt everything she was feeling that day. I learned a lot from that experience. It had been a long time since I felt depressed about a conversation. Any conversation. That conversation taught me the preciousness and fragility of life. We must not abandon our hope, nor our excitement for life. This young girl did have hope, but also uncertainty. Meeting her was priceless. From it, I learned that our job of publishing these stories are like a tender flower. It’s a delicate yet a beautiful story. Each story is different. These people are willing to share it, willing to make it public to us and to themselves. I have learned that our job at My Story Matters truly has meaning and fulfillment.

Contacting a Nominee!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Interning with MSM

  Interning with My Story Matters has been an absolute joy. I have learned so much, I have never had an experience like this one. 

  Because of My Story Matters, I am a much better at communicating, especially in difficult situations.  I always felt very self conscious calling people on the phone, but now I believe that I can do it well and confidently.  A lot of the stories that we hear working with My Story Matters are very sad, but while I have compassion and empathy for the families, I feel that I still can work well.

  Working with My Story Matters has really opened my eyes to how much goes into making the company work, and how many people need to donate their time, money, and talents.  People amaze me.  I believe that I have also increased my involvement with My Story Matters. 

  I am so thankful for My Story Matters, that they allowed me to be one of their interns and taught me how to be a better person.
-Brittany Leonard

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spotlighting Kellie Chatfield

As interns with My Story Matters, we are each assigned a board member with whom we will work most closely with throughout the semester. The board member that I have been working with is Kellie Chatfield, and she does so much to keep My Story Matters running smoothly! I would like to take just a minute to spotlight her and the difference she has made. Kellie took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions in her own words:

1. Give a little bit of background about who you are, family, life, etc.
I grew up in a family of seven children, with loving and involved parents showing us how to live good lives.  My growing up years were spent in the Western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.  We had many opportunities to make new friends and create lasting relationships.  We spent many of our family vacations and summers serving people we loved.  One of the greatest memories in my young life was to be at a friend's or neighbor's home, down on my knees weeding their gardens, picking rye in the wheat fields, listening to a sweet elderly woman’s wonderful stories, caring for young children...all this alongside my parents.  Today, my husband and I and our three children find great joy in carrying on this wonderful heritage of serving and loving others. 

2. How did you get started with/first hear about My Story Matters?
Amy came to me with “her story” which immediately touched my heart and moved me enough to want to jump in with both feet!

3. How does your interaction with the quilters help the work of MSM to move forward?  I’ve found that quilters have HUGE hearts and hands that are constantly at work.  Once a quilter hears of a need they are usually very quick to respond with “How can I help, let me help.”  MSM has been invited to several quilt guilds and quilt shows.  After hearing “our story” the response has always been awesomely immediate and overwhelming.  We love our Quilters!

4. Any special experiences or feelings you've had while participating.
This is a journal entry of mine:

August 2, 2013                                 My Story Matters-Community Project

Jake, Cierra, Lauren, Carri and I (along with 30 other volunteers) took part in a wonderful, carefully planned day at The Roadhome shelter in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was a day filled with all kinds of feelings and experiences.

As we arrived we drove up to an area that made us a bit uncomfortable.  We searched for the entrance to the building.  While searching we walked through rows and rows of people.  Some were playing in the streets, some asleep on the sidewalks, many were just sitting and watching the world go by.  Our group walked quickly and quietly to the double doors and breathed a sigh of relief as we entered. 

As we entered the doors we saw children, moms, dads and the Roadhome staff waiting for us.  It was very apparent that this building saw a lot of activity with a lot of people benefitting from the programs there.  We were a bit unsure of what would come next.

One of the most memorable moments at the Roadhome for me was watching a mother carefully prepare herself and her family for the pictures that would be taken.  This family was dressed in their Sunday best and were excited for what was to come.  The husband held a very small mirror up to the sweet face of his wife while she painstakingly applied her make up.  She then worked on her hair, wanting it to be just right.  This went on for about 20 minutes all the while her husband stood quietly holding the mirror, not wanting to move a single inch.  Once satisfied with her appearance the mother moved on to her children.  The father continued to quietly help where needed.  They were ready!  Just before their host called them to start I watched as another lady walked by, glanced quickly and then stopped and looked for a few seconds, then cried out, "You look BEAUTIFUL!"  And then I saw it...the sweet mother broke out into a HUGE grin.  A smile that was so big and so beautiful and so meaningful to me.  My heart felt a little tug and I realized then that this woman and her family lived in a tight little community of people that needed and wanted the same things in life that we all look for.  To feel noticed, to feel loved, and to feel beautiful.

Once all of the children had been interviewed and photographed we took a little time to unwind and think about what we had just been a part of.  

As we opened the doors of the Roadhome to leave, we walked out with a much different feeling than upon arrival.  We saw many of the same people on the sidewalks and streets but instead of “homeless people” we saw children and families that we now knew, that we now had sweet memories of and wishes for a bright future.

5. What is the best thing that MSM supporters can do to help us create custom happiness for little children out there who need it?  
Jump in with both feet and get to work!  “Custom Happiness” is waiting for you as well!

I am so glad that I've had the opportunity to work with Kellie and learn from her experience! I've found recently that "jumping in with both feet" is the quickest, most efficient way to make a difference in someone's life, and I'm excited for everything that is to come for My Story Matters!

Keep a look out for more details about our upcoming Road Home event! We know that it's a life-changing experience--not only for the children we give books to, but for all of the volunteers as well!

Kellie is on the left!