I thought I’d never embark on another time-consuming charity fundraiser again after Mateo passed.
When Mike Blanding and I put together our last pre-COVID fundraiser (in Dec. 2019), I got so busy for two solid months planning it that I had less time than I wanted for our then-five-month-old Mateo.
Mateo passed two months after the event. Out of grief, I told myself that I'll never run any fundraiser again! I resented the work. In my heart,
"How could this happen to us after we had sacrificed so much of our resources for others?" I was so angry at God.
At the same time, I was guilt-stricken. "Why didn't I take full maternity leave (from myself as my boss), so I could be there 'full-time' for Mateo? Why was I so overcome by compassion for others when compassion should first be for my own kids and not others?" I was so angry at myself.
Mateo's passing still hasn't completely made sense. And I don't think I'll get the full picture of the purpose of his death during this lifetime. However, God addressed, to some degree, the anger I had toward him and myself. He also resurrected the passion for supporting high-impact non-profit work.
This year, I set strict boundaries for myself. A couple of groups and individuals have approached to ask how Giving is Social could help organise fundraisers. I said "no" to many proposals even if I was itching to say "yes!" If my labour for the project would mean stealing time from my family, I said "no." It was tough to say no.
Dear friends Pearl Bautista, Sherry Ann Sabado, and their community of friends at Narnia was insistent about raising funds for the International Justice Mission. They have heard of their outstanding work protecting people in poverty from human trafficking, modern-day slavery, and police abuse. I saw their persistence. They committed that they would lead and own the project themselves. I agreed to partner.
The event raised $10,500+ for IJM’s work to rescue people from syndicated online scamming and trafficking. I barely sweat for the fundraiser. The Narnia group, led by Sherry Ann, really owned the event, which was refreshing for me. Meanwhile, my own team lead by Maura, took the burden off my shoulder through their marvelous team work.
It could be that, through the same loss, God wanted me to ache once again for those who are being treated unjustly
—after all, Mateo lived through seven months of our immersion in justice work. Perhaps, God, through “Carol & Cocktails for a Cause” is reminding me that I am not the person to save the world—and it is never going to be anyone’s job. It is a partnership work with God through the bigger community. I’m quite alright about that.
#MightyMateo's parents document their journey through grief towards healing.