Moms to See in the 803 :: Karolynn Cionek

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“By giving to others, I share the gratitude I have for who I am and where I am in my book of life.” 

Five years ago, we told you about a mom who was instituting monthly gives in conjunction with local charities. It began with some neighborhood friends who called themselves the Ding Dong Divas. It soon became the official nonprofit GIVATION, and its founder, Karolynn Cionek, is still an inspiration. 

Karolynn brings simplicity to helping at home. Each month GIVATION organizes an easy partnership that allows you and your children to engage in active giving. Past gives have assisted The Cinderella Project, Carolina Wildlife Center, Mission Lexington, Homeless No More, Epworth Children’s Home, Central Midlands Transitional Retreat, Friends of Fisher House, Finlay House, and more.

We asked Karolynn to share her motivation, and update us on GIVATION during the pandemic. As a mom to two teenage boys, who has her own career, and at least one other side gig, Karolynn is a busy woman. But she took the time to sit down with us recently, and fill us in on GIVATION. 

What made you so interested in local charity work and giving back?

I know what it feels like to have nothing and to have no one. My childhood was not an easy chapter, but my story was made better by the kindness and generosity of others. 

By giving to others, I share the gratitude I have for who I am and where I am in my book of life. I want those who feel unseen to know that I see them. I want to give them hope that their story can have more positive paragraphs. I want them to know that they matter. 

I also want my children to learn that they can make a positive impact on our community.    

How has the pandemic affected GIVATION?

It’s been tough. The basis of GIVATION is active giving, which means I try to create an activity where participants can have a personal experience with the organization we’re helping. With social distancing, it’s been tough. We’ve had to cancel a few of our planned activities, and last minute pivot on a few others.

I would say that volumes are down in terms of the number of people interested in giving back too. Times are tough. Some people don’t have the discretionary income. Others have been isolated – and insulated – for so long that the sense of community is not a driver for participating.

About one percent, maybe a little less, of those who follow GIVATION on social media participate on a regular basis. The majority of donors are not even local. They’re friends and family that I have scattered across the country.

However, my centering statement is – whatever I can provide is more than the person in need had the day before. So I try not to stress.

What keeps you grounded when the stress does hit?

I remember that the goal is never to save the world – that’s unrealistic and extremely overwhelming. But I do want to show my boys that little things can add up to a big difference. They are watching me, and I want them to see that life is what you make of it.

There’s an intangible benefit giving back to the community – that warm feeling of connectedness and the satisfaction of at least trying to make the world a better place.

How can we join you in GIVATION?

You can certainly read more about us on our website. But the best way to keep current with opportunities is to follow us on Facebook.

We are still in unprecedented times – which has made planning for 2021 challenging, but not impossible.

Being mindful of health and safety measure for our volunteers as well as those we’re helping, I’ve given careful consideration to the gives for next year.

As always, I will coordinate all the details, you determine how you can want to participate. Financial, time, talent, donated items – give what you can, when you can, as often you can. There are no monthly dues, no quotas, no obligations, just good giving.

I look forward to growing the good with you in 2021!

Want to know more? Check out GIVATION’s website, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Moms to See in the 803 is a series highlighting local moms who are making a difference in our community or in business. Want to tell us about an inspiring mom who is doing something great? Send us an email!

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Melanie McGehee never knew she wanted to be a mom. Even marriage caught her somewhat by surprise, in spite of the fact that she met husband Andy through a matchmaking service. She thanked eharmony by writing about that experience for an anthology, A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love. Almost two years to the day after marrying him, she stared at two pink lines and wonder aloud, “Is this okay?” His response, “Kind of late to be asking that now.” It was a bit late – in life. But at the advanced maternal age of 35, she delivered by surprise at 35 weeks and an emergency C-section, a healthy bay boy. Ian, an only child like herself, is ten years old and unlike any of the children Melanie has tutored, substitute taught, or led in a variety of church activities. Together with him, Melanie has discovered Thomas, SpongeBob, youtube tech channels, Lemony Snicket, Kate DiCamillo, shirts with no tags, and tooth powder. You can follow Melanie’s personal adventures and her love of children and teaching at beingmissmelanie.

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