Beloved CIDI followers, friends and fans, Social Media Card

Valentine’s Day is a perfect occasion to tell you that…well…we love you!

And there is much to love about you, but we’ll count just three ways:

  1. You care about others. You feel other people’s suffering, especially that of vulnerable people, and want to alleviate it. Your focus on other people makes you an enduring hero in most faith communities, in the philanthropic world and likely among your family and friends – the lucky ones who get the best of your love.
  2. You are smart about giving. And that’s the trick, isn’t it? Making the most of your resources to maximize the good you can do. You are talented at this; you do your homework on what’s needed and the best way to satisfy the need. You ask questions, you probe, you apply your mind and your heart to giving smartly.
  3. You put the needs of others before your own. This is advanced placement giving, and not every donor does it. Especially after disasters, many donors feel emboldened by watching TV or reading the newspaper to collect things that may seem like a sensible reaction to a video clip, but do not answer complicated realities on the ground. These donations are satisfying to the donor but rarely answer emergency needs. But you – you go deeper and support people and organizations that work directly in disaster-affected communities. So smart of you, and we love you for it.

Audrey Hepburn once observed that true beauty originates in the soul. This Valentine’s Day, know that you are beautiful to us, that we respect your desire to give, honor your Smart Compassion and admire the good that you continue to do in the world.

Big love to you!

Juanita Rilling

Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI)



“The reason I chose to give cash over in-kind donations is because cash is the one gift that can become many. Like a seed, when money is planted it blossoms into more than the eye could ever imagine.”


For as long as I can recall, I’ve been a selfless person. Giving has always been one of my favorite things to do. I believe the reason I enjoy giving so much is because I enjoy seeing others’ smile. I feel rewarded when I can encourage or facilitate happiness in someone else’s life. Happiness is contagious and in order for me to be truly happy, I need the people in my world to be happy. I also have a team-oriented mentality. I believe that no one can get far without help and guidance from someone other than themselves. If each individual brings his or her strengths to the table then we all benefit; we all win whatever challenge we face in that moment. Each and every person has strengths, and when he or she shares that strength, it is a gift to the world. A gift to me is like a seed; once planted in soil, it blossoms into a beautiful plant or flower that helps give life to many things around us.

There was a time in my life when I was homeless. I worked about 40-55 hours a week but, with the amount of bills I had, it always seemed like I couldn’t catch up. At one point my bank account had a max of $12.16; no food, no home to call my own, and the distance between that day and the next pay day would depress most people. In my mind, my bank account was low but my spirit remained at an all-time high; I could just feel abundance surrounding me.

My cell phone then turned off and the only way I could communicate was through emailing whenever I got to Wi-Fi. I emailed one of my good friends and explained my situation and I asked for help. I told her my phone was off and this was my only way of communicating with the world for now. Without hesitation, she transferred $100 to my account. She could’ve easily said “let me call the phone company and pay with my card”, but instead she transferred money to me without even asking how much I needed. My cell phone bill was $75 and after I paid it, I had a surplus of $25. That $25 on top of the $12.16 that I already had helped me get food for the week for myself and the friend that let me sleep on the couch at that time.

My friend didn’t know exactly what I needed, but she knew I was in need. Because she was in the place to help, she was able to give me money to help myself and, in return, I helped others.

Since those days, my life is significantly better. I continued to work hard, pay my bills, take care of my friends that helped me and I was rewarded with a promotion. From that promotion came a home with my name on the lease. And eventually, after that home came a new career. Because I continue to live this abundant life, I give to those that are less fortunate and in need. I give to my friends, I donate money to charity and churches, and I give money to the homeless when I can. I’ve always loved giving and now that I am in a position to give, I give cash.

There is nothing that can compare to the face of a person you just gave money to when they ask for it or when they least expect it. Most people have concerns about where their money goes and if it goes to the right place, but those are never concerns of mine because when I know there is a need, money can do more than it can’t. The reason I chose to give cash over in-kind donations is because cash is the one gift that can become many. Like a seed, when money is planted it blossoms into more than the eye could ever imagine.

Paris Jackson, Information Management Specialist for The Center for International Disaster Information