Off Like A Herd Of Turtles

???????????????Sea turtles are fascinating to me. Gentle, giant and paradoxically graceful. I got to meet one in the wild while night diving in St Thomas. Some might dismiss it as a one night delight, and though our encounter was brief, it was deeply emotional and personal to me. I was thrilled beyond measure when my night light fell across his face — beauty and grace, heart in my throat, and he was gone, swallowed by the dark sea. My heart was singing, and I was in love. Since then, I’ve read about volunteer vacations where you can help do research on endangered sea turtles, watched documentaries and donated to Wildlife and Marine Research organizations. My husband and I will do one soon.

In the meantime, we found ourselves kid-less on the 4th. And in a fit of spontaneity, just like the good ol’ days, we decided to drive to Corpus Christi to visit my dad, and catch a Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Release on Malaquite Beach at the National Seashore. I’ve wanted to do it for so long, and have been following along on the Facebook page with every nest discovered! But, our lives are busy and we’d lost some of our spur of the moment get up and go as our kids grew and became more involved in sports and life. We packed up the fur-kids and headed down.

That 4 a.m. alarm came too early after a sleepless night in a bed not ours. We dragged ourselves up and heard my dad call out to be sure we were up. Away we all went for our hour drive to the Padre Island National Park. I was excited, but worried about the crowds because it was a 3 day weekend after all. We met some friends when we got there and stood in a crowd of several hundred people. We listened to the ranger speak, and got some amazing facts about the Kemp Ridley, and, of course,  the rules. They then let us down the boardwalk and onto the beach.

Boardwalk Rush

Boardwalk Rush

Volunteers had the area roped off. They stood with poles and flags to keep the sea gulls at bay. People were racing to snag a spot on the front row. Trying to keep my enthusiasm in check, I was careful not to trip the running kids, or tackle the obnoxious adults hurrying past me, but I wanted to!

beachvolunteerscThe release was 75 baby Kemp Ridley turtles tiny enough to sit in the palm of your hand,  freshly hatched while we had tried to sleep just hours before. They started their awkward trek toward the surf a few seconds after they were laid gently on the sand.

And They're Off!

And They’re Off!

They imprint with the beach on their way, and will return year after year to lay their eggs along this shore. Though, the volunteers made sure that they made it safely to the sea, very few will live to return to this beach, as nature and predators and the cycle of life begins.

Swim Sweet Baby! Your Life Depends On It!

Swim Sweet Baby! Your Life Depends On It!

Even so, the whole thing made me extremely happy. Conservation fills me up. I celebrated the day with the love of my life, my dad, friends, knowing that my sweet mom would have loved this as much as I. She was in my happy heart and it left me melancholy, but joyful. Hope and faith refreshed my spirit.

Love, Faith and Turtles

Love, Faith and Turtles

 

An Open Letter To Charities: Say “Thank You”

Just Say Thank You

Thank Yous Are Extinct

One of my favorite little joys in life is having the means to give to causes that move me. I am not a huge contributor, but I give what I can and sometimes I push that envelope. I am passionate. I am empathetic, I’ve even been called an Empath, so emotions move me differently than the average person. I love to give. I love to support children, equine therapy, animals, empower women, provide clean water to villages, gift animals to families and many other types of good in this world.

But, recently, after giving to one of my favorite charities, I got a letter acknowledging my gift (which was about $250) and after a brief, “you’ve changed lives” I was asked to contribute more. Conveniently, there was a prepaid envelope inside my so-called thank you letter. This is common practice, but let me explain what it says to me and why it angers me so:

  • Nobody taught you how to say thank you properly. Thank you, is just thank you. It’s not asking for business, or for furthering your cause. Someone has done something extraordinary for you and your organization. Just say thank you. Tell me what this means to someone far around the world. Validate the sacrifice I may have just made to help others besides me and mine.
  • You are not using my gift properly. You are spending all of my money on sending out letters that simply ask for more money. That was not my intention. I did not give to promote your marketing, I gave to help people. I want my gift to go to the family you promised I would help. I immediately think, “how much did the printing of this envelope cost?”, and then, “And the postage to send it?”
  • You are screaming, “your gift was not good enough! I see your wimpy $250 gift, but you should do better!”  Uh, no, that was a huge gift to me. Just say thank you. Make me feel good about doing the deed, don’t make me feel bad.

Don’t mistake my words, obviously you have to ask for money. Clearly, you must send out letters to do so. Maybe you see the combo thanks/oh-by-the-way-your-gift-was-not-enough letter saves you money. Maybe. Maybe it saves you money, but it tells me to go give somewhere else.

If anyone out there reading this is on a board of directors for a charity, please, print this and take to your next meeting. Email it to your contributions staff. Find another way. Email me, call me and I will gladly give my time to help you craft thank you notes that make your benefactors want to continue to donate. Then, you can use your marketing funds to expand your giving base.

Just say thank you. Please? I love my causes, but I hate to have giver’s remorse. It kinda ruins the spirit of it all, don’t ya think? And by the way, “You’re Welcome.”