An Open Letter to She Who Inspired Our “Talk About Giving” Movement, Maria Shriver

posted by TAG Guest Blogger

October 12, 2011 @ 10:45 am

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Dear Maria,

It’s funny how one little thing leads to another slightly bigger thing and then another, bigger still.

One night in 2005, I sat alone in my bedroom watching a previously recorded Oprah episode. There you were, being interviewed alongside your mother, Eunice Shriver. Enough years have passed that I can’t remember specific details, but you shared a story about growing up in a home in which there were photos of people you never met in your dining room, where conversation centered on how to help those people, who were in need. 

There was a clear, and inherent, expectation that you would be a giver—not due to your family’s position, but because of its central belief, a value passed from one generation of Kennedys to the next: It is our responsibility as human beings to take care of each other.

As you told your story, Eunice looked on with absolute resolution that there was nothing remarkable about any of it except that there were people suffering as a result of some recent disaster and what were we going to do about it?

It made me stop and think. When was the last time we’d had any conversation in our house that resembled that which took place in yours? Had we ever included our children in a more-than-surface discussion about how to help people in need? We were philanthropic, my husband and I, and we believed it to be an important part of our family’s culture. But did our children know?

That little question—sparked by the example set by your family—inspired me to gather a group of like-minded folks to consider how we might change the conversation from “I want” to “Let’s give” at our dinner tables, and at others around our community. “What if we developed a program to help parents and grandparents talk to their children about giving and the needs of others?” we wondered. “What if we developed a game families actually played together?”

And thus Talk About Giving was born, a blog that provides support to families in raising generous, community minded children – a Conversation Pledge where families can publicly state their intentions to make giving and philanthropy part of their family’s value systems – a 60-question game that encourages multi-generational conversation about giving. With the support of Central Carolina Community Foundation, and with significant funding from a local family foundation (yea!!!), we not only created the blog and produced the games, we launched a community movement that is making its way throughout South Carolina and beyond. Talk About Giving seeks to remind families that if we don’t consciously include our children in meaningful dialog about the need to be charitable, we may well rear an entire generation of adults that doesn’t know how to take care of the world and each other.

I realize you will probably never know about this. And still I thank you, Maria Shriver, and I thank your mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, for being the examples that inspired this important movement. I believe that by changing the conversation in my family, and then another, and then another, we might just change the world.


Catherine R. Monetti
Lexington, SC

A principal of the marketing consultancy Riggs Partners, Cathy Monetti has a distinguished career as a writer, creative director and brand manager. She co-founded CreateAthon, a national agency network that has donated more than $12 million in creative services to nonprofits around the country (and through which the Talk About Giving concept was born.) Cathy is committed to her community, serving various nonprofit organizations in Columbia, in addition to her involvement with advertising, communication and business organizations across the Southeast.

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