2014 was an important year for K4C. We honored Cara’s memory with our initiatives to ease suffering, educate and inspire kids and young adults on the importance of service to others and recognize unsung heroes in service.
We are sending you this year-end update to keep you informed of our progress and to thank you for your support of our efforts to make a difference.
We printed and began distributing “Cara Cookie Volunteers” to schools and libraries across the country free of charge. The children’s book teaches young kids about the importance of volunteering and encourages them to participate in their own volunteer activities. Every book we donate comes with a volunteer activities idea sheet. We have also made the book available for purchase on Amazon.com. We’re especially grateful to our author, Tamara Forge, and illustrator, Tim Carroll, for all of their hard work on the book. It looks wonderful, and we’ve received some great feedback! Schools have already begun to incorporate our story of volunteering into their service learning curriculum.
We kicked off our Karma for Cara Youth Service Microgrant program this year, which awards funds to deserving kids 18 and under who are working on community service projects to fix problems in their communities. Some projects we have helped fund include building a study room for middle and high school students at a Women and Children’s shelter by 17-year-old Sydney Allen, expanding 15-year-old Tess Reiman’s program putting books into newly built Habitat for Humanities homes, providing holiday gifts to kids at homeless shelters through 15-year-old Taylor Leong’s project and more. It has been incredible to see the passion, dedication and hard work of the kids and teens spearheading these programs. They embody the teamwork, creativity, entrepreneurship and problem-solving skills volunteering can teach.
We’ve continued to expand our Club-in-a-Box program. We worked with a team of “design thinking” students at Northwestern University to design the boxes and brainstorm around the program. We have sent out six boxes to middle schools and high schools for groups of students to complete monthly community service projects.
Another program we continued, with plans for expansion, is our Excellence in Nursing Award. We presented our second award to Norrie Rabinowitz-Hirsch from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center during their annual Paul Reed Smith One Night, One Show, One Cause event. We also partnered with the Kennedy Kreiger Institute to recognize a young leader in service, Natalie Newman, with the Cara Becker ROAR for Autism Youth Volunteerism Award. This award recognized the leading youth fundraiser for KKI’s ROAR for Autism event. Additionally, we continue to recognize outstanding volunteers on the “Heroes” section of our website.
To further our goal of reducing the suffering of cancer patients and their families, we have created meaningful partnerships with other organizations. Jill Becker’s Lema J Design donates a beautiful handmade cuff in bright orange to a leukemia patient for each Karma for Cara cuff sold. When Jill and her sister Jenny created Lema J, they made K4C their charity of choice and have become a generous donor to the foundation.
We sponsored five children to attend Camp Sunrise, a camp for childhood cancer patients and survivors, and we worked with There Goes My Hero on running bone marrow drives in honor of Cara.
With the help of the wonderful designer, Monica Rivella, we redesigned our website. We also decided to try our hand at documentary making with the help of Actuality Media. During one week in Baltimore, we filmed outstanding student volunteers at Living Classrooms and spoke with Cara’s family and friends. The short documentary, “Inspire to Serve,” will be completed in early 2015. We’re so excited to share it with all of you!
In May, we hosted “Remembering Cara: A Special Night With Morley,” a fundraiser and beautiful night of remembrance featuring musician Morley. In October, Bare Hills Racquet and Fitness Club hosted the second annual Karma for Cara Spin-a-thon. And, in early August, we hosted the first Karma for Cara Weekend of Service. We had participants from Baltimore to Chicago to Nashville to Pittsburgh and beyond!
In November, the Becker family created a new Thanksgiving tradition of taking a couple hours before the holiday celebration and setting up a service project where family and their guests all packed comfort care kits for the El Sol Shelter. They also collected sorely needed supplies for the Peggy Adams animal shelter. We hope in 2015 to promote this new idea of adding so much meaning to our favorite holiday!
A special thanks to Jody Berg and her company Media Works Ltd., who celebrated their 25th year in business by creating a “Year of Giving” and making Karma for Cara Foundation the beneficiary for multiple events they had during this milestone.
2014 was so full of excitement, advancing our mission and, of course, incredible amounts of love and support from the Karma for Cara family. We are so thankful for each and every one of you.
We continue to be inspired by our sweet Cara’s own words:
“Back when I was first admitted to Johns Hopkins I had to stay for a month and felt like it was never going to end.
For that month I struggled with frequent bouts of depression. I found myself crying a lot and wishing there was an end to the sadness and pain. One night my nurse came in to talk to me— I felt so alone, all I could do was cry to her. She told me that if I keep up with all this anger and tenseness that my insides would be tense as well and it would be a longer recovery. I stopped crying immediately and never looked back…
I woke up each morning and smiled even if it was hard; I knew that I needed to be positive to save my life. With this new positivity my whole world changed. I learned quickly that the complaining and negative thoughts wouldn’t change the situation, so why not be positive. Why not have leukemia turn me into a better person?…
All of these experiences have made me a stronger person. I’ve learned so much about life, about true happiness, and the fight to live. I’m confident in who I am, and plan to start my own foundation to give back and help other leukemia patients. I have big plans for the world.”
In 2015, we will do all we can to honor Cara’s wish.
With love and appreciation,
Eric, Jill, Greg and Jake Becker
Miriam Finder, Executive Director
Eric and Jill present Norrie Rabinowitz-Hirsh with the Excellence in Nursing Award
Kids volunteer together with Casey of Love a Sea Turtle, one of our microgrant recipients.