No one knows about giving more than mothers. Moms are universally known for taking care of everyone else before thinking about themselves.

They give of themselves every day — to their family, to their community and often to organizations that exist to solve problems in the world.

On Mother’s Day, we celebrate everything that moms do, and here we’ve highlighted a few Canadian moms who would stop at nothing to make the world a better place for their loved ones.

Stephanie Keeping

stephanie-keeping-spaceships-and-laser-beamsStephanie is wife to Mike and mom to a 5-year-old boy named Sam. She’s also a blogger and Etsy-preneur. She loves to celebrate all things boyish charm on her site, Spaceships and Laser Beams.

What does giving mean to you?
To me, giving is a way to show you care. It means sharing a part of yourself or presenting something that you hope will be a benefit or a pleasure for the recipient.

As a mom, how is giving part of your everyday life?
Isn’t “mom” another word for giving?! Seriously, a mom’s role of caregiver begins as soon as there is knowledge of baby. My son, Sam, is approaching his sixth birthday and the mindfulness that was born in me when he was conceived has only grown. While I certainly retained my “me” identity, a great portion of my life now revolves around making sure Sam has what he needs to grow and mature into a strong, independent, thoughtful, considerate person.

What cause is close to your heart and how are you involved in supporting it?
I believe in the importance of sports in kids’ lives. All kids are not necessarily star athletes but regular activity enhances everybody’s physical and mental well-being. We have a local YMCA that receives our on-going support. What I love about the Y is the way they work with families who can’t afford full membership fees so their children can have the same opportunities as everyone else.

What was one of your family’s most rewarding giving experiences so far?
Sam might say it’s taking food to the local dog shelter because he loves to interact with the dogs! I think some of my most satisfying giving has been secretly gifting money to someone in need. There’s nothing like knowing you are helping someone and it’s outright fun to hold the secret!

How do you teach your son to give back?
One of the ways we teach Sam to give back is through our birthday tradition. We always have a party for him but instead of him receiving gifts from his party guests, we ask them to bring a new, unwrapped book. After the party Sam gets to donate the books to a charity that supports literacy for families who can’t afford to buy books for their kids.

Studies have shown that people who give often get something in return. What do you get back from the act of giving?
Huge satisfaction! Remember that piece of wisdom that says it’s more of a blessing to give than to receive? I so didn’t get that when I was young, but I do now. Spending a piece of yourself on someone else’s behalf acknowledges their value. It’s a way of expressing love. Hopefully they receive what you’re giving and benefit. The idea that you make a difference is very rewarding. I think we all like to feel significant.

Manda Aufochs Gillespie

Manda-Green-MamaManda is The Green Mama. She is the author of Green Mama: Giving your child a healthy start and a greener future. She engages directly with hundreds of parents through classes, consulting, and through writing and works passionately for the rights of families in low-income communities, institutions, and in the developing world.

What does giving mean to you?
I believe that the best way to teach ethical living is to model it. I think it is also important for us to realize that while we may give, that giving is really about learning to receive with grace.

As a mom, how is giving part of your everyday life?
Moms just give to their children as part of their nature. I think it is harder to find ways to model giving to one’s self and to serve one’s larger community. I am slowly working on modelling taking care of myself and serving my larger community. This can mean things like being on the board of trustees of my children’s school, or making a meal for a friend when they are sick, or planning service projects where our children can join us.

What cause is close to your heart and how are you involved in supporting it?
I believe that providing equal access to the possibility of a healthy future for all children is the cause closest to my heart as The Green Mama. My entire career has been dedicated to this. I grew up poor and I saw how easy it is to forget the most vulnerable need the most protection and that we haven’t succeeded in creating good social policy until this is the case.

What was one of your family’s most rewarding giving experiences so far?
I spend part of every year living in a small village in Guatemala. I started doing this a few years ago because I wanted to teach my children a deep appreciation for their lives and to embody a deep sense of giving. I want my children to grow up to be good people — true citizens — and to experience joy and love in service of this higher purpose.

How do you teach your kids to give back?
My favourite project is www.projectsomos.com. This is an orphan prevention project and ecological village full of women and children in Guatemala. This project brings families and children from North America to make meaningful difference in the life of some of the most vulnerable children in the world. My children have been to this project about six times and they talk about their experiences there nearly every week. Their experiences in Guatemala have helped them see the fortunes their life in North America offers. The first year we went to Guatemala my eldest ran from faucet to faucet in our house saying, “I can’t believe we can just drink the water!”

Studies have shown that people who give often get something in return. What do you get back from the act of giving?
After a couple of years going to Guatemala, I began to realize that the people I know there weren’t happy despite how little they had, but that having less (in our North American terms of stuff at least) was part of their happiness. I am slowly starting to receive the gifts they are giving me: a sense of community, a spaciousness in the moment, and the ability to just appreciate a moment.

Christine Pilkington

christine-pilkingtonChristine Pilkington is a mom entrepreneur based out of Vancouver, where she lives with her husband and their three daughters. She launched Crisp Media in 2009 to help moms stay connected to their true selves. VancouverMom.ca has grown to be Vancouver’s top online magazine for local moms. The company also hosts Leading Moms, an event featuring inspiring talks from extraordinary moms.

What does giving mean to you?
Giving doesn’t mean sacrificing. You’ve got to make sure you have a basic foundation from which you are giving. So first, fill yourself up and give from a place of strength. And together, everybody gets a lot stronger.

As a mom, how is giving part of your everyday life?
Moms are giving all the time to their kids and families, and so often giving to themselves is the last thing they do. Having three kids, that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned. If I don’t give to myself, those other things fall apart.

What cause is close to your heart and how are you involved in supporting it?
I’m passionate about supporting local small business, and about empowering women and moms. I’m on the board of LOCO, which promotes shopping locally and empowers businesses in their pursuit of growth. I also recently launched JellyBeen, an app that connects moms with local experiences and services.

What was one of your most rewarding giving experiences so far?
I love being part of events that reflect a community. In the case of my event Leading Moms, which is like Ted Talks for moms, we showcase the accomplishments of women and moms. So much of the narrative around motherhood is about how tired we are, but I know so many moms who are just killing it. They’re accomplishing things not in spite of being moms but because they’re moms. I would do it for free if I could.

How do you teach your kids to give back?
I believe that people have an obligation to discover their talent and to share it. I I encourage my kids to do that. They also participate in school opportunities to volunteer (they’re in elementary school). My daughter volunteers at lunch to help clean up. My other daughter brings cans for the food bank. I want them to recognize that there are people in this world who don’t have as much as we do and who could use our help.

Studies have shown that people who give often get something in return. What do you get back from the act of giving?
To turn your life into one of gratitude, and to be thankful for what you have. It’s just fulfilling.

Andrea Coutu

andrea-coutuAndrea is a marketing consultant and mom to two boys. She shares her experience in consulting at Consultant Journal

What does giving mean to you?
To me, giving means contributing to society and building and strengthening relationships in my community and around the world.

As a mom, how is giving part of your everyday life?
Giving starts from conception! But, to me, giving means helping my children to grow as people. I am involved in my children’s schools, a member of the PAC, a parent who helps out at activities such as Scouting, an advocate for safety, social responsibility and access to equitable education and the strong support of the public education system.

What cause is close to your heart and how are you involved in supporting it?
I advocate for safety and social responsibility at schools, access to equitable education, respect for human rights in the education system and improved funding and support of the public education system. I am also passionate about women’s rights and ending violence and oppression. People are often referred to me for help in accessing services and I am also one of those people who writes letters and emails and gets things changed, even if it’s a new four-way stop!

What was one of your most rewarding giving experiences so far?
When my grandmother died, hundreds of people attended her memorial service in Nanaimo. We were standing in the community hall my grandpa built, where my grandma taught Brownies, where my grandparents and parents all served their communities. I looked out and saw all these incredible people my grandparents knew and the legacies they had built. And I knew that I had taken that same legacy and passed it on to my kids.

How do you teach your kids to give back?
I teach them to respect other people’s boundaries, to look for enthusiastic consent when playing with friends, to speak out when other kids are being bullied or not having fun, to involve others and to seek out help. I teach them to look for the helpers – like Mr. Rogers said – and to see how they can help when there is a crisis.

Studies have shown that people who give often get something in return. What do you get back from the act of giving?
A better society and a hope that people and living things will have hope of thriving on this earth when I’m no longer here. I also get some pretty awesome friends, a safer place to live, fun or empowering experiences, and improved life and work skills. And it feels good.

Want to integrate giving into your family life? Here’s more on practical ways to teach your kids about being charitable.

How Moms Give of Themselves Every Day

Lisa Manfield

Lisa Manfield is a digital writer with Chimp. She has been a writer and editor with BC Living, BC Business and Backbone magazines, and a content strategist for numerous small businesses and tech startups. She also teaches writing and editing for the web at Simon Fraser University.

Category: PeopleCharity Matters