From Brian Holman: Making a Difference with Operation Smile™

Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

A few years ago, I found myself travelling to the Philippines with Close To My Heart Consultant Kelly Hammonds for a truly one-of-a-kind opportunity to be part of an Operation Smile™ medical mission. My trip coincided with Operation Smile’s 30th anniversary, and since their first mission was to the Philippines, it was somewhat of a special occasion for them. For me, it was an unforgettable experience that let me see up-close the huge difference that this organization makes.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

One of the most impressive things about Operation Smile to me is the way they incorporate local professionals into their missions. They don’t just come in and do it all themselves, but they involve local people, educating them and building up the medical establishment itself through the work they do. I find this to be such an ennobling and empowering part of what they do all around the world.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

Maybe it’s just the data geek in me talking, but I was also really impressed by the organization’s emphasis on record-keeping. When you think about the thousands of children who are being operated on every year, you can understand how important those records can be—especially when you consider that many of those children may require multiple surgeries. In the case of a child who has a cleft lip and a cleft palate, the cleft palate needs to be closed first, and then the cleft lip can be addressed in a subsequent surgery. Operation Smile’s commitment to methodical record-keeping really stood out to me as an indication of their trustworthiness and of their commitment to each individual.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

Seeing all the people that came out in hopes of receiving medical care for their families gave me a new perspective on how big of a difference this organization makes. The level of sacrifice that the individuals made just to be there, travelling long distances, leaving family and jobs behind, really struck me. For many of these children, Operation Smile provides the only chance they may get to receive the medical attention that they need.Brian-Holman-Operation-Smile-Philippines-6

These twin brothers illustrate the level of sacrifice shown by these families. They were selected for surgery, but what you don’t see in the picture is that their mother also had a cleft lip. When the medical team offered to perform a surgery on her as well, she declined because she was the only one there to care for her boys. She was just one of many mothers who were there putting their children’s needs above their own.

Going on this mission taught me something else, too. I’m no medical professional, but even I was able to help in a small way, by helping take care of the children while they waited for their turn, and also after the surgeries. This baby’s mother was planning on staying there with her child all night without eating or resting, but since I was there, I was able to give her a break just by holding the baby while she went out to get something to eat. It was a small thing, but that’s what all of these missions come down to: small things that make a big difference.

You don’t have to be a surgeon or a nurse to help these children; you don’t have to fly around the world or even leave your house! Operation Smile takes care of those parts—all they need from us, from you and me, are donations to make it possible. Close To My Heart is committed to helping Operation Smile receive these donations. With each donation from you make, whether from rounding up your order or by purchasing this month’s special stamp set, My Acrylix® Share The Love, you are helping them, too. Thank you for helping us make a difference.Brian-Holman-Operation-Smile-Philippines-10

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From Jeanette: Life Is Worth Sharing

With the reveal of our new idea books, I’ve been feeling especially sentimental toward this company and all it stands for. My wish is that these books will become something you cherish and return to again and again throughout the coming year. As we do with all of our products, we’ve put our hearts and souls into these books, and I hope you can feel it. I know that when I flip through these crisp, colorful pages, I’m filled with a resurgence of why I work so hard to do what I do.

Why am I so passionate about what I do? I know I’ve been asked that question on more than one occasion, and I’m sure our Consultants have as well. To answer it, we released a video that explains the “why” of Close To My Heart. Please take a moment to watch this video that has become so very dear to me.

Isn’t that beautiful? I also believe life is worth sharing—the laughter and the tears that make up life’s cherished moments and become precious memories. And what better way to share these beautiful bits of life than through memory keeping?

I know that this video will resonate with many of you who share my passion for preserving memories. If it does, I invite you to join me in my mission to promote this wonderful method of memory keeping by becoming a Close To My Heart Consultant. Now is a great time to take that leap! As of August 1, all new Consultants will receive a beautiful, redesigned New Consultant Kit*, which you can see below. This kit will give you all the necessities to get your Close To My Heart business up and running. You already have the passion and the skill for making and preserving memories—now it’s time to put it to work in a new way by becoming a Close To My Heart Consultant! Becoming a Close To My Heart Consultant is more than choosing a career path. When you join our wonderful company, you join a family.

New Consultant Kit

For those of you who are already with us, thank you for making this company extraordinary. Thank you for the years of dedication you’ve already given and the years of dedication to come.

I hope that each of you who share my love for beautiful artwork and memory keeping will share this touching video. Email it to your family, tweet it to your followers, post it to Facebook, Instagram, and your blog. Let them know why you are passionate about what you do.

I can’t wait to see what this next chapter at Close To My Heart holds for all of us!

With love,

Jeanette

 

*contents may vary

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My Story: Monica Wihongi

What stories are you bursting to tell? Don’t be shy; we know you have them. Do you have a few (thousand) that came about because of your connection to Close To My Heart? Good, because we want to hear them!

Whenever we post a prompt here, we want you to look back on your time with us and recall your fun, funny, or awe-inspiring memories—then send them in. We’ll take a handful of the entries that make us cry (or make us laugh until we snort, whichever comes first) and post them here for all to enjoy.

Of course, we believe in positive reinforcement, so all published entries will earn a Close To My Heart goodie or two, just for fun.

To start things off, we’re calling for entries that answer the question: How did you first get involved with Close To My Heart? Entries should be 300 words or fewer and may be edited for length, grammar, and clarity. Email your entry to ctmhblog@closetomyheart.com by November 7 with “How I Met Close To My Heart” as the subject line to be considered for inclusion on the blog.

And now, to get you sufficiently inspired, we’re sharing the true story of how Chief Communications Officer Monica Wihongi got her start. Enjoy! 

Monica’s Story
After I graduated from high school, I moved to Utah to attend college. Leaving Texas was a big culture shock for me, but I bravely made the move and immediately began working as a secretary for a small business. As keeper of the front desk, I got to see everyone that came and went through. A woman named Jeanette Lynton came in every so often to talk with my boss. I didn’t know what she came for, but I was enchanted by her beautiful eyes. That’s the first thing I remember about Jeanette: her beautiful, sparkly eyes.

On one of her visits to the office Jeanette sat in the reception area waiting to speak with my boss, so I asked her what it was that she always came in for. She answered that she rented some warehouse space from my boss, and was running her business from an office directly across the street. She told me she made stamps, and she kindly invited me over to visit her warehouse on my lunch break.

The first D.O.T.S. catalog Monica ever sawA few hours later, I walked into that building 100 percent sure that Jeanette Lynton made postage stamps. I thought, “Well, that’s nice. I guess someone has to make those little designs on all our stamps.” When Jeanette showed me the rubber and wooden blocks she used to make papercrafting stamps, I was both surprised and delighted. She showed me the catalog the company was currently using; I still remember what the cover looked like and everything! I thumbed through it, and after I was done I looked Jeanette in the eye and said, “I don’t know how, but I know that I’m supposed to help you with this.” And I did know. I instantly felt so connected to Jeanette and to her cause.

So Jeanette gave me a job, inviting me to start the following day. I told her, “Let me go back across the street and tell my boss I’m going to be working with you now.” My boss agreed wholeheartedly that Jeanette was a great woman, and said that I was free to start working for her the following day.

Monica and JeanetteI started the next day entering orders. Back then, all orders came by mail, and we would enter them into our computers by hand. It took me two and a half hours to do what I should have done in a half hour. I had no experience doing that kind of thing! Jeanette wisely asked me what it was that I did best, and I told her that I enjoyed taking phone calls. I then became a very happily employed Consultant Services Representative—the only one for the entire company, in fact.

Since then I have stayed with Close To My Heart, working in several different positions. I left for a short while after I got married, but one day I received a call from Jeanette asking me to return. “Can you just stay? Because I need you here,” she said.

She had to be flexible with my schedule because I was in school and starting a family, but she wanted me with her and I knew it because she let me bring my first baby with me to work for at least the first six months. In fact, all of my babies have come to the office with me for the first few months of their lives—and I have seven kids! Jeanette is a very family-oriented woman, and she has always respected me as a mother. Because of her I could and can still do what I’m meant to do (be a mother!) and also be here.

Wihongi Family 2014Now, several job titles later, I am still here, loving the company and loving working with one of my very best friends, Jeanette Lynton. I know we’re a papercrafting company, but our mission statement shows that we’re more than that. This is a place for people to feel connected both to their pasts and to one another.

For me, Close To My Heart is all about the people. I love the people I work with at the corporate office, and it is a great blessing to get to work with all the Consultants outside of the office—really, that is my absolute favorite responsibility. The people of Close To My Heart inspire me, and I love being around people who inspire me.

I have seen how Close To My Heart changes lives for the better, and we can all use a little goodness in our lives, especially in this day and age. I believe in Jeanette’s vision and the mission of Close To My Heart. It is truly touching hearts and changing lives—I know it’s changed mine for sure!


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