Perspectives on philanthropy, impact and our work to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world.

Sister Rosemarie Nassif serves as Director, Catholic Sisters Initiative.
Intl Day of Charity Blog

Friday, September 5 is International Day of Charity, a date chosen by the United Nations in commemoration of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who passed away on September 5, 1997. This renowned nun and missionary devoted herself to helping the poor, sick, orphaned and dying for over 45 years. She began her works in India and then expanded the order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity of Calcutta, to other countries.

The word "charity" can conjure different responses. Charity as defined by "giving to those in need" is considered a good thing. However, charity can also create a perceived divide between those who have and those who have not. It is interesting to note that Mother Teresa spoke little about charity. She spoke much about love. She believed that it is love that cures and empowers, more than just the act of doing good works. She writes: "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." She also notes, "The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it."

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Molly Melching is the founder of Tostan (2007 Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureate). For more information about the Hilton Humanitarian Prize, please contact Maggie Miller.
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When people hear Tostan won the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2007, the first thing they ask about is money. Our prize came with $1.5m, and for any NGO, that was a dream. "What was that like?" they ask. I tell people that, while the money was critical, it was only part of the Hilton Prize's impact on Tostan. In fact, from the first time we were nominated in 1999, to today, seven years after winning the award, Tostan has grown and flourished because of the different ways this Prize has impacted our work.

Tostan was nominated for the Prize several times. Simply preparing the application reinforced a transformation Tostan was experiencing—from being known as a local, Senegal-based organization working in West Africa to an international NGO. It was while preparing materials for the Hilton Prize that we first put our annual report in brochure form, allowing us to share our work with the world. The process helped improve systems we use to present ourselves, produce better communications materials and inspired us to think about what Tostan's work means to a global audience.

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Maggie Miller serves as Manager of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize.
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On July 18, 2014, at a press conference in New York City, Fountain House/Clubhouse International was announced as the 2014 recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

The event was one that I—and I think most people in attendance—felt lucky to witness. A very impressive line-up of individuals including Brigadier General (Ret.) Loree Sutton, Nobel Laureate in brain research Dr. Eric Kandel, and Actor, Mental Health Advocate and Fountain House Volunteer Glenn Close, were on hand to honor this impressive organization, which is changing the face of mental health around the world. Two Fountain House members courageously shared their stories as part of this announcement, and there wasn't enough Kleenex to go around the room.

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