Non-Profit Feature – #1 in Fun – Starlight Children’s Foundation

Starlight Logo

Starlight Children’s Foundation is one of the MOST amazing non-profit organizations in the world. They have impacted my family’s life incredibly. The opportunities Starlight Children’s Foundation provided was undeniably breathtaking.

Think about this – You have a critically-ill child that has been in the hospital day after day with little hope they will get to do what they used to do at home.  Like have FUN… As a parent of a leukemia survivor, the mundane tasks of medicine, chemo, hospital stays almost seem endless.  No fun was really in sight with all the drama cancer brings.  If you haven’t read my previous posts, you can read more about my daughter going through cancer at age 5 on my Dealing with Fear post.

When you’re at the hospital, the hospital-staff do their absolute best to keep the children occupied to not think about all the STUFF they have to do.  Imagine an organization that helps families of critically-ill children have fun once they get out of the hospital.

I mean send you off to baseball games, movie parties, cruise parties, & MORE!  Yes, Starlight Children’s Foundation Midwest provided FUN for the whole family.  Now it wasn’t that easy to go have that fun because during cancer treatment you really can’t be around crowds when your blood counts are low.  We had to plan accordingly when our daughter was feeling well enough and she wasn’t in the first phases of treatment.  However once she was feeling better and her counts were good we accepted every invitation they sent us.  It was our only break! It was a break from the hospital and the house.  We felt somewhat normal again.

“The feeling of normalcy was lovely.”

Starlight Children’s Foundation Midwest gave us tickets to the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox games.  They were all awesome games. My daughter then realized that she was a Sox fan, which is okay… even though we’re (her father & I) are Cubs fans.  That’s cool! [Cringing]

Amelie & the Starlight guy
Amelie & the Starlight guy

We went to a movie party at a Hilton Downtown Chicago where all children got Pillow Pets and laid down to watch the movie on the big screen.  We went to an indoor sports house event where the kids got to play soccer and all sorts of sport activities. We went to an indoor amusement play area with roller coasters and arcade games. AND the ultimate outing we attended, which is near and dear to our hearts is the Spirit of Chicago Navy Pier Cruise.  WOW!!!

Navy Pier photo zIMG_2384Yachts_zps03e0ead0.jpg

Every time I think of it I get goose bumps as to how special it was to our family.  Now the extra special part of all these events is that you get to meet families that are in a similar situation and want that normalcy back in their lives as well.  The Navy Pier cruise was enchanting because not only did we get to meet other families but we sat down with them and had dinner.  It was AMAZING to say the least. We had dinner, face-painting, temporary tattoos, and dancing.  Now the children are not all going through leukemia, a variety of illnesses were all around the room.  Some children were in wheelchairs, crutches, and BEDS.  It didn’t stop them one bit from getting on the dance floor.  The DJ was awesome and EVERYONE was dancing.  As I was watching these kids on the dance floor, humbleness came over me and I cried.  I thought these are God’s children.  We all have troubling and tormenting tribulations in life, they may be different but we all have a story.  God was present there and I felt that my daughter was going to beat cancer with our faith in God.

Now you know when you go through something as heart wrenching as cancer, you have to wonder WHY and WHAT will happen.  Question after question and you don’t have a sense of peace.  You’re constantly on edge waiting for the worst to happen.

That day I felt peace.  It was an incredible feeling.

I don’t think we would’ve taken the time ever to go on one of those Navy Pier cruises and it was an unforgettable experience.  Thanks to Starlight Children’s Foundation!

Starlight Children’s Foundation is doing amazing things for children and their families. They work globally with chapters and affiliations. Check them out and give what you can to them. They have wonderful programs!

Here are a few:

  • Wish List – You can get a list of local hospitals with specific needs for their children.
  • Fun Center Mobile Entertainment Unit – This is a NEEDED distraction for children especially when visiting hours are done and loneliness sets in.  It provides a TV and game console on wheels that can be brought right to bedside.
  • Tablets – The tablets provide educational apps for the children and helps ease the fear of treatment.  This is great for teens especially since Starlight created an online community just for teens called Starbright World.

I hope you take the time to visit Starlight Children’s Foundation to get updates on all the cool stuff they do for kids and their families.  I’m an advocate for them from personal experience and you may wonder if organizations are actually impacting as they say.  Well I can say YES they do make an impact!

Lela & Amelie at the Sox game.
Lela & Amelie at the Sox game.

Have you ever had an organization/non-profit that you’re crazy in love with?

Tell me about them.

Take care,

Lillian De Jesus

 

Navy Pier Image: http://s469.photobucket.com/user/MagicNumberSix 

How to use Tackk for business, non-profit, or any event you can think of.

Do you know what Tackk is?  Did you know you could be using it right now for your business, non-profit, blog, and family events?

How to use Tackk graphic

Let’s Tackk about it.  Sorry I couldn’t help myself…

I only encountered it when I got a connection through Twitter by Kyle Stalzer, CEO of Tackk and Eric Bockmuller, Co-Founder of Tackk.  Any time I get a follower on Twitter I always click on the link in their profile to see what they’re all about.

WELL… to my amazement I was in awe with such a beautifully laid out website.  I immediately went to the FAQ’s to find out if there was a trial period or payment needed to use it.  Guess what…  It’s FREE. Oh yea, bebe!  AND it’s ad free.

I was elated because the simplicity and beauty of content creation was just awesome.  I dabbled in it a little to see what the features were and it’s SUPER simple.  It’s so versatile.  You can use it for business, blogs, non-profits, family events, community activities, etc.  The possibilities are endless.

I immediately tweeted Kyle and said:

Apr 12: ‪@kstalzer Ok, I just checked out your website and I’m SO excited. I can’t wait to really use it. Awesomeness!

First let me show you how it looks when you get to www.tackk.com.

Tackk.landing page

Doesn’t that just make you want to create something AMAZING. Look at how neat that is.  I almost hear dramatic harp music and someone singing “ahhh” in my background.  Weird…

Of course my mind tells my hand “MUST CREATE” so I click on the Create button and this is the menu you’ll see.

Tackk Create Menu

Isn’t that cool? The options are extremely open to the imagination.

When you click on the top left button called Tackkboard you can see what other people post and there are a few categories on the menu: Featured, Humor, and Recommended.  There’s also a Search bar and you can look up anything you want there.

Tackkboard

 

I went ahead and clicked on Create for you and selected the Small Business tab because I know you want to see what I can create… I mean what YOU can create.

Here’s a mini-video on how easy it is to use (no audio – pure simplicity).

So you say how’s this supposed to help my business or non-profit.

Ok they have this button and when you click it you get these options.

Add more stuff button

 

You’ve already been introduced to the first 3 buttons: Headline, Text, and Photo.  Now you have 6 more buttons to play with: Video, Audio, Button, Map, Sell, and Form.

Did I get your attention now?  Yes, there is a Sell button.  Cha-ching!

Add more stuff

 

Here’s another mini-video which details the Sell button, where you can put in your PayPal email address for payment or there is a tab for donations.

This makes it easy to sell a product for your business or a campaign for donations for your non-profit.  What’s awesome too is that you can use the Video button and use a promotional video on the product or show stories of how great your non-profit cause is.  Remember they use 500px photos you can search for which are spectacular if you don’t have a photo to use.  You definitely need a photo that is breath-taking or funny to get people to click on it.

There are so many ways you can use Tackk, that it can be used for personal events such as:

  • a wedding or baby shower registry
  • sick/hospital stay for donations
  • birthday parties
  • anniversaries
  • school events
  • recipes
  • & MUCH MORE…

I used it for my blogs, take a look at this which was Featured.

See on Tackk.com

Schools are using Tackk for assignments and special projects.  The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers had a “Tackk the Draft” promotion.

It’s your time to be creative.  Give it a try!  If you have tried it, let me know what you’ve used it for.  I’d love to check out your Tackk.

Take care,

Lillian De Jesus

 

 

Stimulating Sunday – Dealing With Fear

When Tears Won't Clear Your FearsHave you ever been so scared you just want to cry?  I mean really sob like your heart is about to leap out of your chest and you feel like you’re having a heart attack.  That type of scared.

I had this feeling AGAIN this week.  I’m about to tell you something so personal and revealing of my emotions that I’m almost nervous to even write about it… Here it goes.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’d know that I’m a HUGE childhood cancer awareness advocate since my daughter, Amelie, is a leukemia survivor.  My most recent post was on Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, which helped us tremendously.  She is now off of treatment for 2 years; actually April 22nd is her anniversary.

Now the first time I was so scared that I cried was when I received the news of Amelie’s diagnosis.  I was frightened with many emotions all mushed together.  All I thought about was DEATH.  My daughter was going to die and she’s only 5 years old, I thought.  Since that moment I learned so much about cancer and probably more than I really want to know.

However God placed me as her mother and she as my daughter for a reason.  The life that we once knew was lost and gone into faded memories.  We would never have the easy life back… we were now thrown into a new normalcy. New normalcy I didn’t want but it was thrown into my lap and it was horrible.  This was my new life and my family was knee deep in it with me.  Thank God, He was with me the whole entire time because when I felt it couldn’t get worse and I didn’t know what to do God was there to hold me letting me know we weren’t the only ones to go through such struggles.  We met so many families because part of the normalcy was being in the hospital for weeks at a time and meeting people you probably wouldn’t ever meet.  Now that was a blessing.  I met my very best friend there and her son was going through leukemia too but much differently than Amelie.

Well you know the feeling that you’re just drifting through the daily motions and wonder if you’re dreaming or if it’s real.  Yes, that’s what most days were like.  The immense amount of medication poured into this little body was excruciating.  The needles, the bone marrow biopsy, the red blood cell & platelet transfusions, the surgery for her port in her chest, more needles, her screaming and confused.  It would break my heart and make me angry when she would have a tantrum and not let the nurses put the needle in her port.  It was horrible.

Who can blame her for her reaction?  It was draining on the emotions and then when you head home thinking you’d get some decent sleep or rest there is the dreaded medication calendar.  Everyday completely filled except for the weekends.  There were only 2 meds to worry about on Saturday and Sunday for most months.  This would go on for the next 2½ years of her life.  She was called lucky because if she were a boy she would have to do treatment for 3 years.  Girls got it a little easier.  The first few months were definitely the hardest not because it was all brand new but the amount of medicine was CRAZY.  Then the reaction she would have to the meds was CRAZY too.  She was taking high doses of Dexamethasone and oh boy when she would take that she was HUNGRY!  I mean she would have canned ravioli (the whole can) at Midnight, 2:00AM, 4:00AM, and want a full breakfast at 7:00AM.  This was everyday she was on the medicine.  I have to say she was so cute with her chipmunk face and rounded belly.  It wore off once the dosage went down but then that’s when her hair fell out.  That was sad but she was a trooper because she knew it would come back.

Why was I reminiscing on these events?  I mean I pretty much pushed all the horrific details to the back of my mind hoping and praying I’d never see my daughter go through cancer again.

This week Amelie had a bellyache and the doctor ordered a CT scan.  The CT scan showed a spot on her spleen and then the other testing started… More blood tests and the pediatrician talked with oncologist…  They want to do an ultrasound to get a better picture of the SPOT.  Wow!  Did my hubby and I freak out?

Thoughts running in our head:

Not again…  BUT she has no fever??  This can’t be IT.  Again the oncologist asked for specific blood tests and got them done right away.  Thank God they came out fine.  All the blood looked good.  They still want an ultrasound… WHY?  I know the docs are trying to be thorough but all we can think of is lymphoma or leukemia.  The doctors say that they are not that concerned and it’s probably a cyst or an abnormality she was born with.  Nothing much you can do with it.  Of course as parents we’re FREAKING out and so then as soon as we think we have moved on with that phase of our life it comes right back to bite us on the butt.

Cancer is taunting us, ridiculing us… #pediatriccancersucks

Then I look at Amelie and see her laughing at her favorite TV show and I say what am I worried about.  This is the strongest chick I know!  She’ll be turning 10 next month and we are going to throw her a HUGE party.

We have faith in God for whatever comes our way He is with us and she can beat IT again.  So for all the crying and the fear of WHAT IF… that’s exactly what the devil wants.

You know what!  God is good and we have so much faith in the Lord Jesus that nothing will crumble us or cripple us.

We have too much living to do with our family! retweetbutton

 

 

What do YOU get out of this story?

  1. Knowing that you’re not alone.  You may have this ultimate FEAR that makes you cringe and want to sob out loud, but know you’re not alone.
  2. If God brought you to it He’ll bring you through it.  I know it may seem cliché but it’s TRUE.  You never know the strength you hold until you go through something so life changing as cancer.

Some bible verses that remind me that God is my strength and I need to trust in Him.

Philippians 4:13 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Psalm 112:7 

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Have you ever been so scared you want to cry and scream?

What was it in your life that you struggled with or maybe you’re struggling with now?

Do you have a family or friend to lean on?

I know I’m glad I have my family and God sending my second daughter 6 months prior to the diagnosis wasn’t an accident.  She held that bright light for us to see the good when there was so much bad around us.

Tell me about it.

Take care and Blessings,

Lillian

The Importance of Google+ for Small Businesses Part 2

If you have a small business you MUST have a Google+ page for your customers.  Especially if you have a brick & mortar business, a Google Local page is needed.

Hopefully you have taken a peek at the first part of The Importance of Google+ for Small Businesses.  If not, here it is for all the set-up instructions and tips.

Importance of G+ Part 2

If you’ve set-up your Google+ page and you’re on the Google map, that’s awesome!  You’re headed in the right direction.

OK… so you have this page, now what?

These are the values of having a Google+ page:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – which means you want people to find your business on the first page of an internet search.

What do people say when they want to find a service?

Let me GOOGLE it!

  • Reviews can be viewed – When you have 5 reviews or more it will show your rating (ratings are shown as 1 – 5 stars).
  • Photos (show off your fantastic products).
  • If you don’t have a website yet, it’s a good idea to get your Google+ page set-up first to have your business hours, address, & phone number listed.
  • You’re on the MAP! People can easily get directions to your business.
  • You can have other reviews you have on the web listed on your page.
  • Customers create a Google event from your page to invite their friends to meet them at your business.

Google+ can definitely help customers find YOU.

Take a look at this example below when I searched for a bakery near South Bend, Indiana.

bakery near south bend

As you can see, there are multiple listings with ratings to look at.  I chose the first listed, which was Indulgence Pastry Shop & Café.

 

Note: I have no affiliation with this business, this was an absolute random pick.

Check out all the information it’s given me in this little snapshot.

indulgence close up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now let’s go to the actual Google+ page.

Indulgence google+
The Google+ page gives me the map, contact information, and review summary. There is another tab for Photos, let’s take a look.

Bakery photos
Nice photos!

 

Going back to the About tab, you can scroll down to the reviews as shown below.

Indulgence.reviews

 

Reviews are really important.  You can use them as feedback on what to improve and know what’s liked best with your business.

 

 

BIG question – How do you get customers to review your business?

Ask them!  If you talk with them and they seem to like your products or services, ask if they’d be willing to write a review.

Do you think that’ll be too much to ask and maybe time consuming for them?

It’s really not, especially if they LOVE your stuff.  People go out of their way to get the word out on something good.  You can help them along to getting those reviews posted.

Here’s a GOOGLE LOCAL PAGE REVIEW TEMPLATE you can give customers when they purchase your product or service.  You can customize it with your logo and company information and print it out onto cardstock.  There’s two postcards on one page and there is a line for cutting.

If you email your customers and would like an email template, type in your email below.  I’ll email it to you for FREE.  I won’t give out your email to anyone or spam you.

Always keep your customers/clients as your top priority and provide EXCELLENT customer service.  Here are my Top 10 Customer Service Tips as a reminder.  Let them know their feedback is priceless.

One thing I must say is NEVER tell them to put out a review for a favor of a discount or free product. That’s not cool and it’s not good business.

I hope this helps in using your local Google+ page for your business. If you have one set-up, how has it been for you?  Easy or hard?

Blessings,

Lillian De Jesus

 

 

 

 

How to use Customer Service skills to improve your business networking?

Did you know you’re a Customer Service Representative (CSR)?

Yes, you are and you probably didn’t even know it.  Okay so you may have a title like: CEO, Executive Director, Founder, Proprietor, etc. behind your name but first and foremost your are a CSR.

I’ve seen so many titles for Customer Service these days but they all mean the same thing and I’m going to put out a new title,

“Emotion Exchangers”.

Customer Service TitlesThat’s what Customer Service is all about anyway.

It’s all about EMOTIONS.

Did you realize that customer service skills should be used daily no matter what title you may have and what type of business you have?

When you go to the local grocery store to pick up your milk and eggs.  Are you the type of person to smile and say, ”How are you?” to the cashier or do you keep your head down and wait for them to start the greetings or hope they don’t say a word?

It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re talking with but you should always be courteous and interact.  You never know who you’re going to meet and what their story is.

They may impact YOU in ways you never thought possible.

I read an article that someone was in the Starbuck’s line waiting for their coffee and talking to someone sparked her idea for a business.  Can you believe that?  Just one simple conversation struck an amazing adventure of starting a new business.

Here are 6 reminder tips on networking whether at a conference or in your apartment building elevator:

  1. Always give good eye contact.  Nothing is worse when you walk into a business and all eyes are on their desks ignoring you while you walk in.  NO!  This kills me because I’m just so passionate about Customer Service.  Whether you are walking by someone or they are entering you’re business acknowledge their presence by looking at them.
  2. Now it’s time to SMILE.  If you’ve given a person eye contact well just don’t stare at them.  Yes, you acknowledged that they are in your presence but be polite and smile.  Geesh!
  3. Treat each person equally superb.  It doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from.  Treat them how you’d like to be treated.
  4. Don’t pitch your business right away!  Really get to know the person first before you start your spiel.  You’re using your Customer Service skills so it’s not about you it’s about THEM.  Get to know them.
  5. In quality conversation, they may let you know of a problem that you can help with.  If you find that you have the time and means in helping, give them a hand.  Don’t expect them to repay you for the favor.  You’ll find great satisfaction in what you can help with (even when it’s FREE).
  6. If you get a business card or contact information, remember to follow-up with just a simple, “Thanks for the great chat!” in an email or phone call.  This way the person will have your name and contact information for any potential business needs they have in the future.

Now that you have your reminder tips put them to use!  This will make you a wonderful “Emotion Exchanger” and look you didn’t even have to sit in a cubicle.  NICE!

Check out the slideshare:

I’d like to hear from you on any great networking stories you have.  Let me know if you use these tips.

Take care,

Lillian De Jesus