Category Archives: Giving

Hello, Lovelies!! I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who voted on our Team Cuppa t-shirt designs! We had a huge response between the post comments, Facebook, and individuals emailing me and I really appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and support!!

So…in the end, Design # 1 won out…by a SINGLE vote!!!! And Designs 2 & 3 actually tied!!

Clearly you guys were evenly split between them!! So I did a little more research and realized that we can do all three! Woo hoo!!

I decided to do our team shirts through GoodThreads, an amazing company who works with non-profits to create a fundraising opportunity in t-shirt design. So when a shirt is purchased, $6 of each one will go to The Dempsey Center! That means that the shirts are a tiny bit more expensive, but totally worth it!!

To order, click on the following links:

Shirt #1

Shirt #2

Shirt #3

From there, you can choose sizing and style and follow the instructions to checkout!

If you are planning to order a shirt, be sure to order within the next 7 days so that you don’t have to pay rush shipping! Can you believe that the Dempsey Challenge is only THREE weeks away?!?!?!?

Please let me know if you have any issues or questions about the shirts or the team…it’s not too late to join or donate!!

{Don’t know what this is all about? Find out more here!}

Happy Thursday, you guys!! It’s t-shirt time for Cuppa’s Dempsey Challenge team!! Woohoo!!

Before we get started, let me just remind you that I am, indeed, NOT a graphic designer, so I’m declaring this a zero-judgement zone! Capiche?

I just couldn’t bring myself to decide unilaterally when it came right down to it, so I’m asking for your help! Whether you are a member of the team or not (it’s not too late! Find out more here!), please tell me in the comments below which of the designs you like best! Or feel free to make suggestions…I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

Okey dokey…drum roll please…

Design 1:

Design 2:

Design 3:

They will be printed on a white cotton ringer t-shirt with light blue ringers.

Okay…let me know what you think!!!!

It’s August, y’all! How on EARTH did that happen??

I know some of you will want to throttle me for saying this, but my fall-loving heart is giddy with anticipation for the first leaves to change and the first nip in the air to arrive, though I’m reminding myself daily that it’s too early to start wishing yet!

What it’s NOT too early for (do you like my segway there?) is amping up your Dempsey Challenge enthusiasm!!

The Cuppa Dempsey Challenge Team has already raised an AWESOME $2,025…I am SO proud of you guys!!! Seriously….amazing work!!

But let’s not rest on our laurels…there’s more to be done and we have a little bit of time yet!!

A few reminders:

The Dempsey Challenge is the weekend of October 12-13
– All fundraising efforts provide support services FREE OF CHARGE to anyone affected by cancer in any way {read more about the Center here}
– You can join the team as a “virtual member” if you can’t or don’t want to participate in the event
– If you join the Cuppa team, I will match every single dollar that you earn with product credit to use toward prints/albums/etc {read more about this here}…it’s not too late to get in on this action!

For those of you who have already joined the team and are working hard to raise money, a few tips:

Put your money where your heart is. Make the first donation yourself so that people see that you really believe in the cause.

Make it personal. Send handwritten or emailed messages to friends, family, and business associates. Ask them to ask their employer to match their donation, doubling their gift. Always send a thank you note to donors telling them how much you appreciate their support.

Share your story. Unfortunately, we all know someone who is living with cancer. If you feel comfortable, share your story and your connection to the cause with potential donors to show why this cause is so important to you.

Track your progress. Put up a chart of your training and fundraising progress thermometer in your workplace or community center. You could even put up a map of your route and auction off miles, kilometers, or sections.

Be visible. Customize your email signature by adding a direct link to your Personal Webpage. Ask to be featured in your company or organization’s newsletter or internal website.

Remember holidays and special occasions. In lieu of gifts, ask that a donation be made to your Dempsey Challenge fundraising effort. You can also put your donation link in holiday cards—it might inspire some added holiday cheer.

Use corporate team support. Ask a company executive in your office to send an endorsement memo announcing that he/she is participating in The Dempsey Challenge. Look into matching gift policies.

Get people involved – don’t take it all on yourself. Ask friends if they would be willing to sell raffle tickets, bake for a bake sale, or help otherwise. This is a great way for people who cannot make a monetary donation to get involved. If you know of an independent distributor (of houseware items for example), negotiate hosting a show at your home or office with a percentage of the sales being donated to your fundraising goal.

Know the cause, and be prepared to answer questions. Know who is benefiting from their donations: cancer patients and their families through The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing. Visit dempseycenter.org for more info.

Set your goal high – make it fun, be creative, and see where it takes you.

And finally…WE NEED T-SHIRTS!!!

Put any suggestions or ideas you have in the comments section. If your idea is chosen, I will make a $50 donation on your behalf to the team! I want to have them designed and ordered by September 15th, so start your brainstorming NOW!!!

If you can, take a moment to watch this…THIS is what you’re raising money for! THIS is something you can be a part of!

Where do I begin?

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that times are tough, that the world is “going to pot” as my grandfather might say. We like to throw around terms like “fiscal cliff” or “post-truth era” and allow the consensus to be that no one cares, that the world is on a downslide and there’s nothing to be done about it. Doom sells, so we’re inundated by it.

But it’s simply not true.

I’m making a bold statement here, but in my opinion, the world has never been better. It isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and there is an incredible amount of work to be done everywhere before we can claim a just, peaceful, and abundant world. But we are able to connect to the human condition in ways never before known and technology has allowed us to reach out in ways unheard of a mere decade ago. Micro loans allow a single individual to reach across oceans and national borders to lend a bit of money to an entrepreneur who just needs a place to begin. Classrooms in the United States can learn side by side with students across the globe and form bonds that last a lifetime. Through digital media and the wonders of the internet, we can view the triumphs and tragedies of people everywhere within moments of their occurrence.

Some would argue that this access has made us numb to tragedy and suffering. I disagree. Wholeheartedly.

I was lucky enough to go back to El Salvador a few weeks ago. Like last year, I went with a group of motivated and dedicated high school students from the Keene, New Hampshire, Interact Club. These kids have spent the last year raising money- a LOT of money- in order to work with the mountain village of Talnique to build homes for the families of this community. They have worked with the members of that community to lay out a vision to build 100 homes over ten years. Last year they built eight complete homes and outfitted them with bunk beds. This year they completed ten more.

To see both the residents of Talnique and these students working so hard, side by side, to create safe and stable homes for those lacking them lifts my heart right up and reminds me that there are people the world over who simply won’t accept that there are those without proper food or shelter. And then they endeavor to correct it. Weekends that could have been filled with friends and fun instead fill with fundraisers and roadside clean-ups. Dollars that could have been spent on “stuff” instead get squirreled away for a service trip to another country. Work that could have simply been toil is done with smiles and grace and heart.

I believe everything begins with empathy. With the ability to see ourselves reflected in the eyes of others and know that we are, at our most essential, the same. Your children are my children. Your hunger is my hunger. My plenty should be your plenty and my hands, your hands.



With so many hands at the ready, sometimes work got finished ahead of schedule (awesome, right?)! So while waiting for additional supplies and things like mortar to dry, the kids got the opportunity to explore the tremendous beauty of El Salvador! The country has many volcanos, both active and dormant, so we went to check one out!


Waterfalls! The waterfalls! It was truly amazing to hike and hike and then turn a corner and have an oasis appear!




It requires special skill and nerves of steel to drive a bus through the mountains of El Salvador! To say that our drivers were serious professionals is a gigantic understatement!

Talnique! The brightly painted homes are those that were built last year! Amazing to see how they’ve transformed from houses into homes!!


The children of Talnique worked side by side with the adults…they took an enormous amount of pride in their contributions to their community and were serious workhorses!










There’s no rule that hard work can’t be fun!









This little guy must have walked up and down that hill hauling his little pitcher of water and sand at least 30 times. He will live in the house that he was helping to build and even at 2 1/2 years old, he wanted to take part.








Arrival back at the hotel each night began by shaking out as much of the dust as possible…

The kids bring a huge amount of clothing, shoes, toys, and household items with them to donate to the families as well. The residents of Talnique open the day care center and families are able to come in one at a time to pick out items that they need or want. The children gather at the window and shout requests at their family members, usually “pelota! pelota!” as soccer balls are a hot commodity! Shoes are the most in-demand item and by the end of the trip, most of the kids left Talnique on their last day in just their socks.



Their parents may opt for the sensible items, but the children know where the goodies are to be found!

Each year, one of the Rotarians from San Salvador arranges for the students to spend an afternoon at a private beach club. Black sand beaches, gorgeous sunsets, and some serious waves make for an amazing day!



Evenings back at the hotel continue the adventure!
With a limited amount of work left on the worksite the last day, the students were able to explore the rest of the village of Talnique. Through a huge community effort, the residents of this town have organized themselves and built the quality roads and infrastructure that allowed our project to happen here. Our escorts were excited to show off their town to us!


We were invited to hike to another waterfall. The hike wound through a coffee plantation and gave us a tremendous view of the mountains…absolutely stunning!









The students have worked with an orphanage for physically and developmentally disabled children in San Salvador over the past several years. They invited the kids to the hotel for pizza, pinatas, and a rousing game of duck-duck-goose!
On the final day in El Salvador, we hit Mayan ruins as well as a windy precipice known as Devil’s Window (or was it Devil’s Door?). The opportunity to see some of the rich cultural history of the country was awesome!





If you have a spare moment and are interested, I invite you to view the video to get the essence of the trip!

El Salvador Interact Trip 2013 from Cindy Giovagnoli on Vimeo.

Amazing job, Interactors! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey!

Where do I begin?

This was my second trip to El Salvador and to the small mountain town of Talnique. Because I’d been there once before, I assumed that I was totally prepared and would somehow not be affected by the insane spectrum of emotions that I was last year. You know what they say about the word “assume” right? Yeah…

I wasn’t immune. Not even close.

Not from the pride I felt in the high school students from Keene who chose to spend their time over the past year working extremely hard to raise a ridiculous amount of money for this project only to spend their break from school toiling under the equatorial sun to build TEN homes. They were not only willing to endure the hard labor of the building process, but also consistently demonstrated the flexibility  to tolerate issues like materials not being available when needed and frequent changes to plan and schedule. They managed it all with smiles and energy and an utter willingness to lend a hand in any way possible with unshakeable humor and empathy.

Not from the awe I felt at the people from Talnique who, in addition to the rigorous labor of daily life, hauled more water up from the river, showed us how to properly wield a pick-ax, and welcomed us into their community and homes with absolute openness. They tolerated our inability to speak their language with grace, humor, and patience and didn’t blink an eye as we swung their kids around in circles or upside down. They walked us through their stunning mountains and between coffee plants to share their hidden waterfall oasis and patiently waited with smiles as we huffed and puffed our way back out. They shared their pain and loss in a sick and dying child in the community and allowed us to share their tears as if we were a part of their family as well.

Not from the renewed sense of wonder at how significantly more alike than different we all are as humans despite language, culture, and circumstances. The love that is so innately part of our humanity and how it transcends any differences humbles me to my core. Mothers the world over share the same exasperation and adoration for their children. Children everywhere climb trees and give bunny ears and drag their siblings around and laugh easily at almost anything. Communities depend on one another and share their worries and  their pride and work tirelessly to balance the needs of so many.

Nope. I wasn’t immune in the slightest.

I can’t share all of the images (thousands!!) until next month, but I can’t help but share a few shots of some of the hilarious children of Talnique…




Thank you so much, Keene Interact Club, for entrusting me to capture the amazing work you guys are doing- you are a truly phenomenal group and I am so ridiculously proud of every single one of you!!!!!!