Spotlight: 3 Charities Focusing on Touch, Sound, and Zombies

Photo by Cristiano Betta

To give myself some peace of mind after the Aurora movie theater massacre and the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, I started looking for charities that help family and friends deal with loss, or give life to something others thought was too far gone. Here are three charities that are giving hope to people and turning death–or near death–into life.

Touching the Healing Heart

The impact of loss on friends and family is something that Jane Aransky of La Residencia Spa in Newton, Massachusetts has been thinking about for a while. This year she started Touching the Healing Heart Fund to provide complimentary facials and/or massages to people who are grieving the loss of an immediate family member. Jane is a big believer in the power of touch to relieve stress and anxiety, and she hopes her Fund will play a key role in helping people recover from loss.

What I like about Jane’s charitable work is that it’s hyper-local and a natural outgrowth of her 35 years in the massage and spa business. “I can’t bring the deceased back, but I can help the people that loved him or her,” said Jane. “Hands can heal.”

88 Keys Foundation

Speaking of loss, a recent New York Times article spotlighted the unnecessary demise of unwanted pianos and the effort to keep them alive. Pianist Lara Downes started the 88 Keys Foundation to match used pianos with schools. Lara has a network of contacts in the Sacramento area that make all the necessary repairs. About 50 pianos have been donated over the past four years.

The students aren’t the only ones who are happy. The donors are pleased their piano will get a second life. As Lara told The Times, “There’s this real feeling of gratitude, knowing this instrument is going on to do something else.”

Z*Con Movie

Jane is in the spa business. Lara is a well known pianist. Michael Dougherty is a social media manager. But his passions are helping causes and…well… zombies. He’s the combined the two into a movie project he’s started as co-founder of Big Damn Films.

Z*Con is about a group of friends who attend a local comic convention to get interviews for their podcast but end up stuck in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Using social media, and their wits, to report on what’s going on inside the four walls while dodging zombies.

100% of the total Net Proceeds from the film will be donated to three charities: Kids Need to Read, The American Red Cross, and Baltimore Bully Crew.

Mike and his team recently finished a Kickstarter campaign to fund pre-production costs that raised over $27,000. Mike’s film is fiction but his fundraising skills are real. His last movie project raised $117,000 for five charities.

Nothing can bring back those we’ve lost or change the senseless tragedies of the past few weeks. But people like Jane, Lara and Michael are making life the ultimate winner.