Strengthen The Good

Using the power of weblogs for open-source charity. Don’t just fight evil: Strengthen the good.

Archive for October, 2004

Strengthening the Good: Debi Faris And The Garden Of Angels

12.7.04 Update: Seems good things do happen to good people … Debi’s won the lottery. Literally. To the tune of $27 million. Imagine what she’ll do with that? For those coming to this page for the first time as a result of the lottery-related media, we ask that you check out the main page for Strengthen The Good as well.

Good for you, Debi … and thanks for helping to strengthen the good!

~ Alan


debi in garden.jpgWhen this micro-charity was first brought to my attention, I was only told “It’s a bittersweet thing–you’ll understand when you read it.”

And indeed it is. But if the object is to fight evil by strengthening the good, it’s hard to find a cause much more noble than this.

I was directed to the home page for Garden of Angels, where I read this passage:

In 1996, while I had one eye on dinner and the other on the evening news, I heard a story that would change my life. I stood frozen as I listened to the reporter’s account of the tragedy … a newborn baby boy had been stuffed into a duffel bag and tossed from a speeding car along a freeway. I couldn’t move, I just kept thinking about this child and wondering how we could have become a society that just throws their babies away as if they were a piece of trash.

I contacted the authorities and with the blessing of my family, I asked the Coroner’s office to release the baby to us for burial. While waiting for the investigation to end on this child, I learned that there was another newborn baby boy that had been found in a dumpster, and a little girl about two years of age, who was found washed up on a beach.

On August 26, 1996, we had our first burial service for the three children. They were given the names of Matthew, Nathan and Dora.

That is the beginning of the remarkable story of Debi Faris, who took that event as inspiration to form Garden of Angels, a charity that works to provide names and legal, honorable burials for abandoned newborns. Since Debi started her work with the burials of Matthew, Nathan and Dora, she and her charity have worked to provide the dignity of a proper burial to 68 abandoned infants.

But her work doesn’t stop there. Debi understood that her charity would be best if it was unnecessary, and she lobbied for passage of California’s Safe Arms for Newborns Law. From her site:

The ‘Safe Arms for Newborns’ law allows a parent to give up an unwanted infant with no fear of arrest or prosecution for abandonment as long as the baby has not been abused or neglected. The law does not require that names be given when the baby is surrendered. Parents are permitted to bring a newborn baby within 3 days of birth to any hospital emergency room or other designated safe haven in California.

The baby will be given medical treatment and placed in a foster or pre-adoptive home.

The law allows for a 14-day cooling off period, in case the parent may change their mind and work to reclaim their baby.

Since January 1, 2001 when the ’safe Arms for Newborns’ law went into effect, 59 newborn babies (as of July 2004) have been “safely surrendered” at hospitals within the state of California. This is a lifesaving law, but only if people know that it exists.

To this day Debi’s work continues with this two-pronged approach: providing dignified burials to infants when they’re found, and encouraging parents to avoid making that choice in the first place.

As you know, the intent of Strengthen The Good is to raise awareness of “micro charities”–charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries.

Garden Of Angels is just such a charity, and we’re pleased to profile Debi Faris’ Garden of Angels as an example of strengthening the good.

STG is not an encouragement to donate … it’s an attempt to create awareness. So to learn more about Garden of Angels and Debi’s inspiring example of how one person can make a difference, fight evil, and strengthen the good, you can visit the Garden of Angels site … it includes the charity’s mission statement, news clippings, and other information.

If, however, you do choose to donate, you may do so online … and I’d encourage you to do so (as opposed to using the STG Paypal account and giving Paypal part of your donation). Garden of Angels has a donation page online here, and if you want to do so by check, you may learn how on the same page.

Finally, you can help by clicking the ads over there in the right-hand column. We donate all ad revenues to the profiled charity, so every click and visit to an advertiser helps at the end of the day.

Now … be responsible. Just because I’ve satisfied my qualification of this charity does not mean you’ve satisfied yours. You are responsible for satisfying your own qualification of this or any other charity STG may point to, and while I am profiling this charity, I do not guarantee its legitimacy, its use of whatever funds you might donate, or the accuracy or of the information on its web site.

Hopefully that’s satisfied the attorneys, and we can get back to the business at hand.

Thank you for reading about Debi and the Garden of Angels. We hope it was cause for inspiration, and thank you for working to strengthen the good.

[PS: Thanks to all who supported the Tracy Woodall foundation. When I have a few spare minutes I’ll tally the donations, traffice, and ad revenues the STG network generated for her foundation, and I’ll post an update here.]