Writing love letters to a broken world

“We’re writing love letters to a broken world.” – Bonnie McElveen-Hunter

My favorite sentence of the entire, incredible Tiffany Circle International Weekend came from Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, American Red Cross Chair, former US Ambassador to Finland and Founder and CEO of Pace Communications as she described the gathering and the work of the Red Cross:

“We’re writing love letters to a broken world.”

Isn’t that the work we are all meant to do? Amplify the good in our lives with love and help those less fortunate than us?

How proud I am to return home and realize that our Make It Better Philanthropy Award videos and other content do just that! Please see and enjoy too:


I thank MatchCut Video – particularly Producer Adam Rubin and Founding Partner David Canada – and Make It Better staff – CoFounder & VP Mindy Fauntleroy, EIC Julie Chernoff, Editors Lindsay Roseman, Coco Keevan and Anna Carlson, COO Sandy Tsuchida, Art Director Sarah Philippart, Graphic Artist Lesley Smith and Director Of Community Development Denise Borkowski, Ad Sales Manager Megan Holbrook and her talented staff of Patti Augustyn, Julie Carter and Jenny Newman. Their work is extraordinary.

This is my love letter to them. Their good work makes me want to jump for joy, just like these students at Philanthropy Award Winner Y.O.U.:

Thank you Betty Tessien, RN. Re: Pornography

I want to thank Betty Tessien who submitted a very thoughtful OpEd in response to an article about pornography published in the November issue of Make It Better. Tessien is not the only reader to be upset by the article, but she certainly presented the most thoroughly researched and well written response we received.

We very much value Tessien’s views, as we value all of our reader’s views. The letter is republished in its entirety here:

Letter to the editor from Betty Tessien, RN:

Regarding “So Your Husband Watches Porn”, November issue, page 64, or click here:

Pornography may not have anything to do with the partner, your article said. It may be enjoyed together it said. But I wish there would have been more HOMEwork done for this story. Pornography won’t lessen because someone watches it with their spouse. And it doesn’t make the real thing better.

Perhaps nurses or police officers or those involved in society’s ills could have the chance to tell of the connection that often comes from pornography. The sad truth is that pornography too easily can become addicting, as well as lead to other problems.

The organization “She’s Someone’s Daughter” notes, We have heard that ‘the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.’ Pornography is an illusion, but the insidious impact it has on the way women are treated in our culture is very real. 51 percent of US adults surveyed believe that pornography raises men’s expectations of how women should look and changes men’s expectations of how women should behave.

Studies have shown that pornography actually rewires brain chemistry. This is of particular concern as young children and teens are being repeatedly exposed to images of cruelty, violence and misogyny at a time when their young minds are most impressionable.

Pornography also plays a role in the exponential increase in the number of trafficking victims. A relatively small percentage of women enter into prostitution and pornography by choice. Too many are trapped or coerced into the industry—including 70% of trafficking victims who are trafficked into the commercial sex industry – a strip club, pornography, an escort agency, and street prostitution.

Cambridge University scientists say that compulsive porn users show the same kind of changes to the structure of their brains as those addicted to alcohol or drugs. A few years back, Dr. Mary Anne Layden, a sex abuse expert and psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania who has testified before the U.S. Senate on the dangers of online porn, addressed a forum on sex trafficking at Parliament House in Sydney. In an article titled “Online porn addiction turns our kids into victims and predators,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported Layden as saying to the forum that in her 20 years of experience treating sexual violence victims and perpetrators in the U.S., she “didn’t have one case of sexual violence that didn’t involve pornography.” Layden also explained that the “dramatic increase” in child sexual predators is a direct result of and proportionate to the increase of Internet pornography. The Internet is “piping (pornography) 24/7 into homes, in harder and more pathological forms in a venue children know better to use than adults.” Layden elaborated that increased online pornography helps to “normalize pathological behavior,” raising the belief that “it is common, hurts no one, and is socially acceptable, the female body is for male entertainment, sex is not about intimacy and sex is the basis of self-esteem.” And just as with other addictions, Layden claimed, the more one consumes pornography the more one’s appetite for it grows. The Herald summarized Layden’s sentiments regarding the connection between porn and sex trafficking this way: “Increased use of pornography leads to increased demand for prostitution.

When demand outstripped supply of local prostitutes, women and children were brought in from overseas, often against their will.” Despite its legal legs, the porn industry, in fact, aids and abets sex trafficking. Porn fuels trafficking and vice versa. As noted by She’s Somebody’s Daughter (http://www.somebodysdaughter.org):

–“Pornography drives the demand for sex trafficking.”

–“Trafficking victims are exploited in the production of pornography.”

–“Pornography production is a form of trafficking.”

–“Pornography is used as a training tool with sex trafficked victims.”

–“When some people hear about sex trafficking in America they usually think of Asian and Eastern European women being brought into the States, but it’s actually 10 times more likely for an American girl to be trafficked inside the U.S. Further, almost 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry, according to U.S. Department of State statistics.”

In July, the FBI conducted raids in 76 cities, arrested 150 pimps and rescued 105 children from their sexual and abusive rings — the youngest of whom was only 9 years old. The Blaze reported that “Detroit saw the most pimps arrested, while the largest numbers of children rescued were in San Francisco, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans.” The National Geographic investigation highlighted how it’s not just career criminals in red-light districts who are luring down-and-out minors to sexual slavery. There is a growing swell of U.S. traffickers who are wealthy and “upstanding citizens” in suburban and rural America. Recently someone from Glenview was arrested for this. The FBI reports on its website that “not only is human sex trafficking slavery but it is big business. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.”

Chuck Norris noted in Part 1 of his series on human trafficking that ABC News reported in July on a National Geographic undercover investigation about sexual slavery, saying that “it’s actually 10 times more likely for an American girl to be trafficked inside the U.S.” than it is for a foreigner. According to the FBI, ABC reported, “they range in age from 9 to 19, with the average age being 11.”

To say the least, I am very disappointed in the slant and direction of your article. Pornography doesn’t make it better.

Betty Tessien, RN

Who Are The Power 10?


“Ruthlessly compete with your own best self.” – Apollo 12 Engineers

Chicago’s northern suburbs brim with fascinating people who have successfully competed with their own best selves and others to attain positions of power.

We hope to highlight 10 inspiring examples in the January 2014 Make It Better issue. So we ask you:

Who do you recommend as the most powerful individuals who live or work in the northern suburbs and what traits do you most admire about them?

Only 3 Days Left for Make It Better’s Philanthropy Award Nominations

There are only three lefts to get in your nominations for Make It Better’s annual Philanthropy Awards.  You can make nominations in 9 categories: Education, Arts, Athletics, Social Service, Health Care, Microfinance, Medical Research, Most Innovative Fundraising, and Most Improved Fundraising.

2013awardsWinning nonprofits will be featured in our February 2014 issue.  If you know of any deserving organization that would be benefited by the considerable media attention this awards will bring, please nominate now.  For more information and to nominate, click here.


Nominations Open – Help Your Favorite Nonprofit Win A Philanthropy Award

Nominations Open For The 2013 Make It Better Philanthropy Awards

Please don’t delay. Nominate the most effective nonprofit you know for one of our 2013 Philanthropy Awards.

Your nomination will raise awareness of a worthy cause, just as movies get boosts from being nominated for an Oscar.

Winning an award is like a rocket launch of networking and marketing power, just like winning one of those lovely Oscars.

Learn more or nominate here.

More Philanthropy Awards Celebration Accolades!

So happy to share the below message. Please apply on behalf of your favorite nonprofit for the second annual Philanthropy Awards on or soon after July 15.

Susan, Mindy, and the entire MIB team –

THANK YOU! I was really moved and inspired by the event earlier this week – it was such a great break from the hustle and bustle of everyday living, and a moment to reflect and celebrate. It was an honor to win the award, great to receive the benefits – but even better to have participated in such a great event.

I wanted to make sure you all knew the impact it made on me in the midst of a very busy, hectic week. Your work is an inspiration.


Jen Groh

Director, Program Development

DeVry University

What Parents Need To Know And Do About Social Media Apps


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The newest form of bullying is done on Instagram: posting a photo that intentionally shows that a person was excluded. Sexting may be old news, but it still kept the Evanston Township High School baseball team out of the State … Continue reading