Author Archives: Pamela Hawley

About Pamela Hawley

Pamela is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving™ (www.UniversalGiving.org). UniversalGiving™ (UG) is an award winning marketplace which allows people to give and volunteer with the top-performing projects all over the world. UniversalGiving™ offers a variety of ways for donors to become involved through individual Projects or Gift Packages. Visitors simply choose a region (such as Africa) and an issue (such as education or the environment) and receive a list of quality ways to give and volunteer. When giving, 100% of your donation goes directly to the project. UniversalGiving™ performs due diligence on all its projects through its unique, trademarked Quality Model™. To date, almost $1.5 million and 8,000 volunteers have been matched through www.UniversalGiving.org. UniversalGiving™ has most recently been featured in the Christian Science Monitor, Self Magazine, Chicago Sun Times, New York Times, L.A. Times, and CNNMoney. In addition, UniversalGiving™ was the 2006 Webby Award honoree and won W3's 2007 Silver Award for Creative Excellence on the Web. UniversalGiving™ is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, whose vision is to "create a world where giving and volunteering are a natural part of everyday life."™ Before UniversalGiving™, Pamela co-founded VolunteerMatch, which has matched more than 4 million volunteers with nonprofits. During her time with there, Pamela also launched VolunteerMatch Corporate, a customized version for employee volunteer programs. More than 20 Fortune 500 companies became clients, providing 43% of Volunteer Match’s sustainability. Pamela's global experience includes work and volunteering abroad in microfinance in remote villages of India; crisis relief work in the 2000 El Salvador earthquake; sustainable farming in Guatemala; digital divide training in Cambodia; and indigenous community preservation in Ecuador. Pamela has a political science degree cum laudé at Duke University and a Masters on scholarship at the Annenberg School of Communications, USC, in International Communications.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Winning Over Obstacles

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“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”  – Bertie C. Forbes

Bertie C. Forbes (1880-1954) was the founder of Forbes magazine.  He was born in Scotland, spent time in South Africa, and emigrated to New York in 1904.  He worked at several journals and founded Forbes in 1917.  He was the Editor-in-Chief for almost 40 years, up until his death.

How do you stop a dictator?

How do you stop a dictator? That’s a good question.

Well, Africa’s been plagued with dictators in the past. But now, West Africa is starting to take a stand. Are you curious? Read on.

Because we can learn and then apply these principles in our daily lives.

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Three West African nations (Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana) have a Free status, four states have Partly Free status (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau), and one state is in the Not Free status (Gambia), in 2017.

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This is according to FreedomHouse, an organization that works with local groups to promote voter participation by youth, and also monitors elections.   

Let’s take a look at Gambia. Recently, there was a “free” democratic election. During that time, Yahya  Jammeh, who was the Gambian President, didn’t win. But, he decided “he won”: he staged a coup. Similar to many other African country leaders, he just took over and he proclaimed himself ruler.

The president is elected by popular vote. Interestingly, he or she is eligible for an unlimited number of five-year terms. Elections are violent and rigged. Yahya Jammeh secured his fourth presidential term with 72 percent of the vote; the opposition parties rejected the results as fraudulent.

Yet the people and neighboring governments took a stand. ECOWAS, which is a combination of western states from Africa including (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Côte D’Ivoire) banded together.  They sent official public messages denouncing Jammeh’s take over.  When these messages didn’t work, they tried to set up diplomatic meetings with Jammeh.

Well, that didn’t work either!

African leaders, and especially dictators, can be stubborn.   They usurp power so they don’t see why should step down. If they didn’t step down for a country –  they most likely aren’t going to step down for you. But the Western African states took a further step. They began to mobilize militarily.  They planned to overturn his power and establish the rightful democratic leader.

At that point, Yahya Jammeh stepped down.

What a stunning result!

A democratic election was maintained.  

As much as the people inside the country wanted democracy, and wanted their vote to count, they didn’t quite have the strength to do it on their own. So their neighbors jumped in to support them.

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What does that say about our world and where it’s headed?

It says that people are caring much beyond their borders. They know that caring for one’s neighbor is the right thing to do.  If your neighbor is strong and ethical, it provides a greater support to your entire neighborhood. That extends to your city, county, nation and the world.  With just one ethical, helpful person, our entire world becomes more stable.

Let’s think about this in our own lives!

Is there a neighbor who needs some help? Could you provide some support? Maybe that neighbor is grumpy, maybe that neighbor lost someone special to them recently or even not so recently. They are still in pain.   Perhaps you can look beyond that grumpiness to provide them a coffeecake, offer to come over for tea, or walk their dog. I wonder how that would change your neighbor? How would your relationship with your neighbor change?  How would the safety and peacefulness of your home be improved? How would the safety of your entire neighborhood be uplifted?

Geopolitical events don’t just affect us in our concern and care for the world. They also hold lessons that we can translate into our day-to-day lives.

If we want world peace, it starts in our backyard.

Who needs your support today?

You’ll be strengthening your neighborhood.  Neighborhood by neighborhood we’ll be strengthening the world.

Love, Pamela

 

Background on ECOWAS

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region.   ECOWAS is the creation of a borderless region where the population has access to its abundant resources.

What ECOWAS has created is an integrated region where the population enjoys free movement, has access to efficient education and health systems and engages in economic and commercial activities. The goal is living with dignity in an atmosphere of peace and security.  ECOWAS is governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance.

 

Rough: A Social Entrepreneur’s Journey

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I’ve often spoken about my journey in finding my calling. I am so fortunate to love what I do, every day.  And with that gift, I want to vigorously help others.   I am passionate about serving UniversalGiving every day, helping people connect with quality ways to give and volunteer all across the world.

I am equally passionate about helping others find something they love to do.  It lights up your life. You become the best, most sincere, intelligent, fun, and delightful person if you can engage with your calling.

People hear me speak with joy and clarity about my calling, yet they think my life to social entrepreneurship was easy.

It was the “Rough” of my life.  It was excruciating. I fought to find work I loved to greet every day.  There were some really, really low times, over many years.  In fact, I don’t like to talk about it, because I enjoy focusing on the positive.

So “Rough” is in response to many people’s request:

“Pamela, tell me what it was like. I don’t know where to start. I need encouragement.

“Can you help me?  I need to know I can make it…”

or

“Pamela,  you had it easy.  I wish I could have found my calling as you did!  You’re so lucky.”

I write this for all aspiring social entrepreneurs. Persevere in getting to know yourself and carve out your pathway.  You will find it. Even if takes years. It’s worth it.

Just as we should love who we marry, we should love what we do.  I’m still working on that first one. So for all you moms who crave meaning, and come to me dying for a purpose, I have that purpose, and I also will be grateful to find what you have too: precious family and children. We deserve both, and we can help each other.

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If you hear me speak or read my writing, I focus on the positive. It’s imperative to be a solid, move-forward-and-make-it-happen entrepreneur, and a happy person. I am grateful for all the good Life has opened up unto me, in conjunction with the human effort and striving I put forth.

But if you need to know my journey, so that you know it is possible for you, I will share. Here is where my story started. But my vision of social entrepreneurship didn’t manifest itself until 14 years later. And I am still working on my next vision of serving… stay tuned.  Team, we don’t stop growing, ever.

An Entrepreneur’s Journey

There are people who are bootstrapping on a vision. And there are people who don’t yet have a vision. Both are in a glorious battle.

One is striving to achieve and live their vision, to build a new way of doing things in the world. The other, I think, is in more pain because they haven’t yet found that calling.  At least the former, despite formidable pressures to launch, fundraise, hire the right people, (fire the others who need to be the right people elsewhere), fight legal battles, meet payroll, is in love. They like their day to day.

I can’t emphasize how important this is. If you dread each day, feel dead in your skills, and unappreciated, it starts to wear off everywhere else. It impacts your whole life.

Build towards vision, positive growth, enthusiasm every day. This is what you must do. Equally important is who you surround yourself with. You are building your future right now. No, it is not off two years from now, or 20. Your future is everything you put your thought and energy into, right now. And right now, and now, and…now.

ROUGH: Try

So you have to keep trying.

I leave four jobs in two years out of college. I am in sales for a company for one year.  I am out of work for a year. All my friends are on a track, on track: MBA, Doctor, Lawyer.  I feel embarrassed. I am from a smart school, with smart colleagues, and I don’t feel like I am living a smart life.

I pick up any jobs I can, while still trying to pursue a love-of-my-life calling.

I work for a man who wanted an executive assistant but says I don’t deserve to be paid. He says I’m too green. I work for the experience anyway.

I work as a step aerobics instructor. I am hired and pushed out as a waitress by a frustrated restaurant-owner in Venice Beach.  I always wanted to serve others, but my hands shook while I carried the plates.  I volunteer with alcoholic men in Skid Row, helping them with life skills. I interview to sell insurance. I do real estate research for an independent couple, a marketing brochure for a nonprofit. I do all I can to provide for myself and try to make it.

Still, all the while, I was learning more about our international world, understanding social entrepreneurship and helping pave the way. I studied The Economist, read about the world, prayed, cried and asked for my life to be used.  On my knees I prayed and cried for it. The drive was that strong, as was the depression in not finding it. Ask my roommate at the time – who is now UniversalGiving’s COO. She saw it all, and it was excruciating.

I see an idea.  I get inspired and do the full business plan for a Gift Basket company that would give back to nonprofits, early CSR before I know it. I sneak into a manufacturer’s conference for Gift Basket vendors of 1000 people, to find out all the suppliers of foods and gifts. I prepared inventory, storage, a marketing plan, and first customers.

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And then…

I had to give up.

It just didn’t feel right.  I just wasn’t prepared to do this on my own. I needed a partner.

I was devastated.   I had started… another non-starter in my life.

I called my Dad and let him know I was abandoning the Gift Basket business plan. What would I do next, he asked?

I thought…..I might like PR.  That’s the thing…you often just don’t know.

You have to try, and believe all the things that don’t work are gearing you exactly into what does work.  Don’t worry.  Keep going.  Keep trying.  Learn.

I tried to get into PR. I was told I didn’t have any experience. I was told I didn’t have an internship on my resume.

So I went — and got experience, for ten days. I got into Chiatt Day, and beat out college teens for an unpaid internship. After a week-plus, I put it on my resume, and was then able to get a job with a PR agency because I had ‘experience.’

I entered data for them. I was praised with the company record of stuffing the most press kits. I was so mind-tired, so exhausted by not using my mind, that I had to run up and down the stairwell to stay sane.

I went from sales, to being out of work for a year, to odd jobs, to a 10-day internship at Chiatt Day, to 8 months at a PR firm, into a Masters in broadcast journalism.  I hopped and hopped.

Then I met Peter Samuelson, and he helped change my life course. He was doing it, and he really lived.

ROUGH: Your Calling

How Do You Get There Once You Know What It Is?

Just because you have a calling doesn’t mean there is an easy way to get there.

At the age of twelve, I was struck with an early vision. In my post “To Be of Service,” I speak about witnessing poverty in Mexico with my father, and how that changed my life. It set me on a pathway to service and ultimately entrepreneurship.  However, the challenges to get there, and to understand my unique path as a social entrepreneur, were many.

I had always been very entrepreneurial. I loved to create little businesses. For some, there is a time when we move from being an entrepreneur, to being a social entrepreneur.  Peter Samuelson, film director and founder of Starlight Children’s Foundation, encapsulated that pivotal moment for me.   I first met Peter through the Leadership Institute, started by management leader Warren Bennis at USC Business School. Here’s how Peter sparked me on my path.

While the thread in my life was about helping, I was having a hard time finding an outlet. At the time, I was in graduate school, heading into broadcast journalism with the goal of changing the tenor of media news.  I wanted to see a world where we could emphasize positive developments in our world.

It’s not that we ignore the tough situations, but the murder rate is not always going up. There are places it has gone down.  Positive solutions helped get us there. Why not cover that news?

If you focus only on the negative, you’ll stay there.  Move into the new world you envision.  But news directors told me it wasn’t possible. “We operate off of eye candy, what will bring the most viewers. What you’re proposing doesn’t drive eyeballs, Pamela.”

So I was feeling blocked again. Four “careers” in four years. Now what do I do?

Peter got up and spoke about “entrepreneurial philanthropy” or “social entrepreneurship.”  “We need to make a difference in a strategic, business-like way, while serving our communities!” he proclaimed.  He essentially galvanized us with his relentless passion. I’ve never seen anyone speak like that.

My heart dropped. Tears filled my eyes. At that point I was going through my mid-life crisis at age 25. And in an instant, I knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be a social entrepreneur. Peter brought my vision of how I wanted to serve – with compassion and business principles – to life.

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The relief, the joy, the glory…to know… that I was made to be a social entrepreneur.

I left the Leadership Conference and ran to a payphone (yes, a payphone) and called my Dad, “Dad, Dad, I know what I want to do!” I excitedly explained. He listened with joy and support as he always does.  “That’s great, honey!  And…how…do you get paid?”

Rough.

Social entrepreneurship was not a developed concept — let alone a field. There were NO:

social entrepreneurship blogs or books

social entrepreneurship job listings

social entrepreneurship events, certificates, programs, classes…

or  degrees….

or conferences.

Or thought leaders.  Or experienced social entrepreneurs, proven track records, or just any example.

Now try explaining to everyone you want to be a social entrepreneur.

“You mean a social worker?”

“What’s a social engineer?”

“Oh cool!  Wait, what do they do?”

“Oh… well, good luck with that.”

It was lonely.

What was the next step?

While still excruciating, that year I found the right people and the right idea. VolunteerMatch came into being. It was a ‘lucky’ confluence of the Web (I love scale), do-gooderism, and providing a solution to people finding quick, accessible efficient ways to volunteer. Even then, it still wasn’t my full calling, because it wasn’t global. While grateful, I had more work to do to find my true purpose.

So while I was struck with a wonderful devotion in life, it took years to manifest it. Four to reach VolunteerMatch. And then for my true calling, international, through UniversalGivingthat would take ten.

Ten years.

What you have to remember is, every passionless dead-end is still a precious part of your process.

You must commit to serving and helping others in your current situation, even when you don’t want to be there.

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In so doing, you commit to good values and build your strength. You also meet helpful people. You meet people you can help.

You learn many valuable skills. In my case, sales, PR, broadcast communications, international on the side.  All of those experiences came back into play in my effective governing of UniversalGiving.

This fight to find what I love to do, enabled me to go through my midlife crisis 25 years earlier than most. I am clear, pure and passionate about what I do and the meaning in my life. It has led me to fight for others, so they can have this too.  I am almost equally passionate about UniversalGiving, as I am about helping people find their pathway in life.

I wake up in love to live each day.  I know what it means to me, and I don’t take it for granted. Every day I get to help others, with my heart and with my mind, for the community and in business. That is what I get to do with a wonderful team. Every day.

So my efforts to serve certainly started with poverty, but now extend into striving to be a great social entrepreneurship leader; and to be available for anyone who would like to talk about their pathway. I hope to serve not just my industry and global social entrepreneurship, but also the entering leaders, to help them.  One of the greatest joys has not just been being a social entrepreneur, but also helping pave for others, for our social entrepreneurship industry.

ROUGH: Continue Giving

In my final notes to all of you who wish so sincerely for this meaning…

Please, don’t give up.

DO NOT give up.

The joy you will find is lovely, fruitful, fulfilling. It is life-giving to yourself and others. It will build you in ways you will never imagine, and bring the right people into your life. And it might be much simpler for you. If so, cherish it.  We all receive our challenges in life, in different ways.

Mine wasn’t an easy journey, but it was filled with joy despite the challenges. Making it big is not about money.  I am “wealthy” because of the joy-filled, purposeful life that I lead. I am alive, not just because I breathe. I am alive because I truly live.  I hope I can help others become “rich,” too.

From Rough to Joy.

Dear reader, I hope this helped you. It wasn’t easy for me to write, but I did it.

Love, Pamela

What’s it like to be a CASA: You Don’t Give Up and You Keep Trying (Part 2 of 2)

In this two-post series I describe my experience working with foster youth as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Read my first post for an introduction to CASA.

I have a high-paced job, what if I can’t fulfill the requirements of being a CASA?

I have never found this to be a challenge. My supervisors are very understanding. I would make sure that you are focusing on the substance of the relationship that you are creating, and not about the amount of time you are spending. While it is important to put in about one hour a week, I find myself putting in much more because it is natural. You don’t limit your relationships to one hour.

Some weeks it can be up to six or seven hours, and other weeks thirty minutes.Your foster youth also has different needs which will necessitate different types of communication such as in-person meeting, phone, text, etc.

I do encourage you to submit your log every month. This is important for CASA to show and demonstrate the important work that you are doing and also, for your court reports. When you look back at your log, it is much easier to read them. Finally, it is most important to keep your supervisor informed of what is going on.

Have I ever felt uncomfortable with any type of inappropriate sexual situations?

Never. I don’t think, at least in my case. My youth is not thinking about that. He is thinking about how to survive.

What was one of my high points with your youth?

I have to say one of my high points (my youth is 20, so on the older end) was taking a risk. He and I have set up a weekly dinner, and it came to me for our next dinner that I should give him a teddy bear.

I thought to myself “Is this crazy? Giving a 20-year-old a teddy bear?”

It turned out to be the most heartfelt and fruitful dinner. It brought back childhood memories of his teddy bear and what it meant to him. And also how it got destroyed by him and his older brother. The teddy bear ended up becoming headless and eyeless…! (And we didn’t really get more into this).

But I encourage you to follow your gut instinct. Even if it feels strange to give a 20-year-old a teddy bear, you may be helping them reconnect with their childhood, reconnect with positive thoughts or open up unresolved issues that need to be discussed. It was a moment where I felt I was able to give him back a part of his childhood, something that we should all have. A place where we are cared for, safe and are given things that make us feel comforted and loved.

What surprised me about being a CASA?

I was surprised by how many life skills these youths need to learn and how much it relates to mental health. My entire view of mental health has been completely changed. Before I thought about mental health in very drastic terms such as depression or suicide — major things.

Now I view mental health as the ability to take responsibility in life. Not having models; not being able to take action and show up to a job training; not being able to communicate clearly; not being able to return phone calls; getting overwhelmed by setting up an appointment; fear of attaining an ID because it means responsibility… all of these things wrap up to me of mental health and primarily stem back to not having a beneficial role model. This has led to an incredible level of insecurity and lack of feeling safe in the world which prevents them, often, from being responsible citizens. That’s why you’re there, to help them navigate life, in essence.

Is there anything else I would like to share?

Sometimes, I think you have to realize that it doesn’t always feel like your efforts have made a difference — but you don’t know that.  

For example, my youth started off on the streets. We have gotten him into housing but he is not fulfilling the requirements and it looks like he is on the pathway to being kicked out. It took us ten times for us to get his ID, but now he has it. He is starting to set up appointments for job training, but then he doesn’t show up to them. He is starting to get assistance from the state, but then he trades his food cards for marijuana. So you see, a lot of back and forth. Don’t let that get you down.

The important thing is that you show up and you provide love and consistency for them that they may have never had in their lives. Even if their external circumstances don’t seem to change, you can know that somewhere deep in their soul they have felt your love. It is not just about being an American “doer” and seeing the results within a six month period because often that won’t happen.

What do I do if my youth does not show up when I contact them?

You just put in your log

Didn’t show up

Didn’t show up

Didn’t show up

You’re just honest about it. In my case, it was six months before my youth really engaged with me, but you just don’t give up. That is one of the most important things, otherwise, they think you’re “yet another person who gave up on them”. If you’re a CASA you need to stick with what you’re doing and be super committed to it.

What really helped me?

I think for me, my mindset is: this person is not my family member, but I want to work with them and advocate for them as I would for one my nephews. I am very close with my nephews and I want the best for them. They really are great people and great friends of mine, so with my youth, I thought the same thing: “I really want to help them achieve the best in life”.

When you come out with this kind of standard, that sets the tone for all your other interactions.

You don’t give up and you keep trying.

Would you want someone to give up on you?

Read my first post in this two-part series here.

Support CASA

If you want to give to CASA, please donate here.

If you would like to train to become a CASA, please contact the National Association here.

If you want to train in San Francisco, click here.

What’s it like to be a CASA: You Don’t Give Up and You Keep Trying (Part 1 of 2)

In this two-post series I describe my experience working with foster youth as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). 

Background: Nationwide and San Francisco CASA

Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA) serves as a voice for abused or neglected children all across the United States by providing affected youth with a much-needed volunteer advocate. Instead of learning and forming quality relationships with loving adults and peers in their lives, these children are spending their time attending court hearings, adjusting to new foster homes and switching schools often. CASA helps ensure safety and love for the most vulnerable children by having almost 1,000 programs across 49 states with volunteers who are passionate about serving. CASA serves over 240,000 neglected children nationwide.

San Francisco CASA helps ensure youths don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or reside in an inappropriate group or foster home. The court appointed and well-vetted volunteers strive to make a difference in their youth’s lives by serving their best interests in courts and in life. SF CASA has trained about 2,500 volunteers and has advocated for over 263 court-dependent children over the past year. It is imperative that CASA continues to grow to serve our nation’s most susceptible youth.

My Background with CASA

I’m very fortunate to be a CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate, which helps ensure foster care youth receive needed services and support. The other night I was honored to be at a CASA panel where they asked me questions about my experiences with my youth and CASA. I’ve shared here what it’s like to be a CASA, which is unique to everyone’s experience.

Read the second post of this series here.

A Letter to my Son…Who’s Not Working (Part 5 of 5)

Letter 5 of 5

This is a five-part series of letters from a loving parent to a son. The letters demonstrate how parents can love and support their children during transitional periods. As young adults build their own identity and search for employment, a parent’s kind words can assist them in their journey.
Read the first letter here.

Dear Son,

We’re hoping this sounds like a great plan for you – getting a job of your choice. I am not so concerned about what it is, but I do hope it is something that you want to do. When we apply ourselves to something we like, our lives continue month after month and year after year, building a track record or positivity and success.  That’s where our sense of self, identity, and esteem comes from.

It’s been a wonderful year having you home. I hope you see how much I have tried to help you with school and other areas.  I thought you might want to read this before we talked.  I am looking forward to hearing about your new independent life and to cheering you on.

With great love and admiration for who you are,

Sincerely,

Your Dad

This is the final letter of this five part series. Read letters one, two, three or four.

 

A Letter To My Son…Who’s Not Working (Part 4 of 5)

Letter 4 of 5

This is a five-part series of letters from a loving parent to a son. The letters demonstrate how parents can love and support their children during transitional periods. As young adults build their own identity and search for employment, a parent’s kind words can assist them in their journey.
Read the first letter here.

Dear Son,

Next, we are going to provide a plan of support you:

– For the next 2 months, your sole focus will be on getting a full-time job with a goal of supporting yourself.

-The sooner you get the job, the better it will be because, as with all adults, it’s time to start saving.

– We’ll continue to provide you a car, free gas, free food in the refrigerator and if you’re fortunate like we often are, Debra’s* lovely cooking.  🙂 The cleaners will continue to come to the home and clean your room as well.

-When you have the job after two months, we will allow you to stay for four months with that job. The goal is to give you a cushion to save.  

– At that time, you will have had no expenses and 4-6 months of saving. That’s good padding and support from us in order to get on your feet and pay for your own apartment. This will give you a great appreciation for living on your own and also, perhaps, the freedom you seek.

-After the six months, you are welcome to come over every Sunday night for dinner. We would love to have you. We love our family time and we feel so fortunate that you are near.

*Names Changed

Click here for the final letter of this five part series.