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‘Tis the Season of Flawless Gratitude

 
Janine Francolini, Founder/Executive Director, the Flawless Foundation
SOURCE: The Huffington Post

Three years ago, I started the Flawless Foundation: a charity that takes a stand for more humane, compassionate care for children living with neurodevelopmental challenges. I did this because I simply had to. I was called to take action in the same way a mother feels called to attend to a child with a high fever. In my volunteer work, I witnessed children living with brain disorders being severely misunderstood and underserved. I knew something had to be done.

Thankfully, every moment since our day of inception in 2008 has brought with it clear examples of just how needed — and how successful — our mission at Flawless is. The growth and abundance that have rained upon us is staggering.

How could it be during an economic recession that Flawless has doubled and tripled our budget each year? How could a small nonprofit that started like a bake sale win a national award in its first two years of operation? With virtually no infrastructure and no immense start up capital, how could we have garnered so much support and attention and become a national organization in less than four years when our fellow nonprofit organizations are reducing their offerings or closing altogether?

The answer is quite simple — the challenges that children living with brain differences face each day represent a legitimate public health emergency — and we have created the “Flawless elixir.” The Flawless elixir is the perfect combination of love, grief and hope tied in a beautiful bow that brings light and compassion to some of the darkest parts of our society. Our gratitude list is as long as a child’s letter to Santa and here are a few nuggets of gold that are at the top of the list!

We are grateful that we receive emails from people all over the United States saying that our message of love and acceptance inspires them and gives them hope. A moving example of this was when a woman who lives with schizophrenia came to one of our trainings and shared with us that the sole reason she attended was that our tag line of “seeing the perfection in every child” motivated her to try and see the perfection in herself.

We are grateful that our fundraising efforts have gone positively viral! We frequently receive gifts from people we don’t even know, fun parties with hundreds of attendees are hosted for us on both coasts, Thanksgiving feasts arranged for our Flawless community (the only Thanksgiving meal for many of our children) — all driven by goodwill and soul of our volunteers and supporters. It is simply stunning how many blessings we have received.

We are grateful for the sacred gift of intimacy and forgiveness that exists when we interact in respectful and loving ways with our Flawless children. Recently, one of the yoga teachers who we partner with told us that her response to observing a student under extreme distress being handcuffed by two police officers was that a private yoga session with her was what this adolescent boy needed!

We are grateful that our professional development trainings with the revolutionary Dr. Stuart Ablon of Massachusetts General Hospital can impact thousands of children in just a few hours. At one of our trainings last month, one administrator who is responsible for sixteen thousand students in the New York City public schools told me that he wants to train every single one of his staff in this evidence-based, effective approach to working with children with behavioral challenges.

We are grateful for all of our corporate supporters especially Brooklyn-based artist Tara Dixon (gratitudedesigns.com), whose beautiful Gratitude Designs will be featured in a holiday benefit for us at Fred Segal in Los Angeles.

And for the most poignant aspect of this celebration in the city of angels, we are grateful that Michael and Susan Schofield will be joining us. The Schofields’ courageous transparency in the media regarding their daughter Jani’s struggle with schizophrenia has brought so much needed awareness to our cause. Jani’s challenges are the reason that Flawless was born and serve as the inspiration for everything we do.

Wishing you all a Flawless Holiday — ’tis the season to be grateful.

To learn more about us, please visit www.flawlessfoundation.org and to join us for the Evening of Gratitude in LA please RSVP at www.flawlessfoundation.org/category/events/.

And the awards go to…

Dear Flawless Friends,

This week has been all about plans for our inspiring panel discussion with our honorees on April 9th. Their beautiful awards are being designed by our board member and artist extraordinaire, Tara Dixon of Gratitude Designs. To have this group of dynamic humanitarians and clinicians together on one panel talking about courage, hope and science is a Flawless dream to us.

And the awards go to……………….

J. Stuart Ablon PhD, Director of Think:Kids at Massachusetts General Hospital will be receiving the Flawless Revolutionary Award for his commitment to transforming conventional wisdom and care for treating children with behavioral challenges.

Harold S. Koplewicz MD, one of the nation’s leading child and adolescent psychiatrists, author and founding President of the Child Mind Institute, will be receiving the Flawless Media Award for his media efforts and staunch advocacy which has helped make mental health an important cause worthy of broad public support.

Shonda Schilling, author of New York Times Best Seller, The Best Kind of Different: Our Family’s Journey with Asperger’s Syndrome, will be receiving the Flawless Courage Award for her unflinching bravery in sharing her own story that inspires and provides hope to so many people.

Shari and Garen Staglin, founders of the International Mental Health Research Organization, and co-founders of BringChange2Mind with Glenn Close and others, will be receiving the Flawless Philanthropy Award for their extraordinary ongoing generosity to mental health causes and research.

This is an unprecedented gathering of extraordinary leaders in mental health. These conversations are crucial to putting a new face of health, healing, and hope to our Flawless children!

When: Saturday, April 9th, 2011 (4:30 – 7:30 pm)

Where: Otto Khan and James Burden Mansions (1-7 East 91st Street, New York City)

Cost: $250 (Includes panel discussion and champagne reception catered by Chef David Burke)

With Gratitude,

Janine Francolini
Founder/Board Chair