2012 Late Summer and Fall

Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by jeni No Comments

 November 2012: 


International Peace On Earth Ornaments

Arriving for Mattie’s Foundation Tree



Throughout December 2012, a tree decorated by the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation will be on display in the Glenview Mansion at the Rockville Civic Center (603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD 20851).


The theme set by Glenview Mansion is “Peace on Earth.”


People of all ages and faiths, abilities and nationalities were invited to participate in this free peace activity.  



(Click here to read the invitation article)


Mattie believed that “We are a mosaic of gifts!” and that ”Peace is for all people.” This activity is a beautiful reflection of that truth. And in the spirit of international peace and the understanding that “Peace is Possible,” we have received ornaments from people all over the world.


We have ornaments from SIX CONTINENTS! Yes, we have ornaments from North and South America, from Africa and Europe, and from Asia and Australia! The decorated ornaments that we are receiving represent children and adults of all ages, and many faiths and abilities. What an amazing celebration of how we can work and play together!


Here are some photos from our early contributors. 

(click on photos to enlarge)


Our very first ornament, from Maria LaSalvia of Strongsville, Ohio: 




Contributions from children and adults in Australia, some of whom have disabilities, and all of whom are peace seekers:




The Esaia Family of Mount Laurel, NJ turned the project into a family activity:



The Little Flowers Reading Group at St. Raphael’s School in Rockville, MD enjoyed talking about peace while decorating ornaments:
















Click here to see more ornaments…  



(from our Nov ’12 KF Chronicle monthly “Make Peace the News” column)

Make Peace the News:

On Giving and Thanks

During May of 2001, Mattie J.T. Stepanek was 10 years old, and had just learned that he had transitioned from “a child with a life-threatening condition” to “a child who was dying from that condition.” After a decade of living with the “possibility” of early death as his reality, he was suddenly coping with the “probability” of this inevitable fact. He desperately wanted to become a teenager, but the chances of having a few more treasured years were becoming slimmer.


Although he fully embraced the excitement of an eternity in Heaven, Mattie also loved life here on earth, and he was in no hurry to leave. He cherished the symbolic possibilities inherent in every sunrise, and he meditated on both glorious and mundane accomplishments to be considered with every sunset. He cooed over every baby he met – saying they were the gift of our future, and he hugged every elder – saying they were the blessing of our lessons learned. And, just as he encouraged each of us to do, Mattie remembered to “play after every storm,” choosing to laugh and celebrate life – despite the burdens that needed to be balanced in with the blessings.


Yes, Mattie was optimistic and resilient in spirit, and a child who somehow found something worthy to embrace even in the most challenging situations. But how would this 10-year-old respond to the news that he may not be here for Thanksgiving – his favorite holiday? And how does anyone choose to move through the moments of each day, understanding that any of those moments may be a final moment? Mattie paused for a few minutes, considered the reality he was facing, and then offered the following:


“If you have enough breath

 to complain about anything,

 you have more than enough reason

 to give thanks about something.”


Against medical odds, Mattie did live another three years, dying just a few weeks before his 14th birthday. He was thrilled when he reached that sought-after milestone of becoming a teenager. And during those three “bonus” years as he once called them, Mattie made the choice to continue giving thanks for the time he did have on earth, rather than become bitter and dwell on that time he would not have here. Of course, there were difficult days when he struggled to make peace with the fact of a brief lifespan. But somehow, Mattie made the choice each day to find meaning in existence – not just his own, but in all existence.


He spent much of those three bonus years shaping a message of hope and peace, and writing essays and poems and prayers for our world. In other words, he spent his gift of time on earth giving breath to words that would become gifts to others, beyond any particular lifespan. And he spent that time expressing thanks for the mosaic of humanity that we are, and sharing his vision for a world that would one day realize that peace is possible, if we simply choose to think and speak and live peacefully with our neighbors.


“Peace is not about agreeing with or even liking our neighbors,” Mattie said. “And peace is not an absence of conflict. Peace is about being with and not judging our neighbors. Peace is simply about us co-existing, with purpose and without violence.”


During November, most of us in the United States will celebrate Mattie’s favorite holiday – Thanksgiving. Many of us will gather together with family and friends, filling the day with traditions of turkey and football. Some might even venture out to take advantage of sales, and begin shopping for the December holidays. While these activities can be the beginning of great moments and memories, they can also be the source of stress and frustration, if we lose sight of the big picture themes for the season – giving and thanks.


As we move through November, let us each choose to embrace the time we have here, and to celebrate with giving and with thanks. It is not always easy to let go of a detail that matters to us, or to put aside our differences – but it is always worthy. This month, before we take a breath to complain about anything, let us pause, and consider something that is worthy of giving thanks.




For more information about Mattie’s life and writings, or to learn about programs and activities created by the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation that support youth and adults in choosing and celebrating peace, please visit www.MattieOnline.com or e-mail MattieOnline.com@Gmail.com.


October 2012:



“Peace on Earth”

Ornament Decorating


Throughout December 2012, a tree decorated by the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation will be on display in the Glenview Mansion at the Rockville Civic Center (603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD 20851).


The theme set by Glenview Mansion is “Peace on Earth.”


This Foundation activity is for all people of all ages and faiths.


If you, your family, your children, your students, or your co-workers would like to decorate one of the paper ornaments we are preparing, send us an e-mail to request an ornament template (Heartsongbooks@gmail.com).


Decorated ornaments must be on our templates, and they must be received by November 15 to be included on the Foundation tree.




  • Photos of our tree and the ornaments will be posted on our website.
  • Names of individuals or organizations who participate in our decorating activity will be posted on the website, too.
  • All decorated ornaments must be on the paper template created by Mattie’s Foundation (there will be a choice of six ornaments to decorate — no glitter or food items may be used in decorating).
  • Please return decorated ornaments as a JPG scan to our e-mail address (heartsongbooks@gmail.com) OR mail them to our Foundation address (402 King Farm Blvd #125, Rockville, MD 20850).
  • We encourage people of ALL FAITHS to participate! “Peace is for all people!” — Mattie J.T. Stepanek
  • If you are in the Maryland area, please visit Glenview Mansion during December and enjoy the “Peace on Earth” tree display!


Annual Heartsongs Gala in Top 100 BizBash DC Events for 2012


Click here to view video highlights from previous years


Jeni Stepanek receiving a kiss from long time friend,
Glenn Harwood, during the 2006 Heartsongs Gala.


In 2002, Mattie worked with DC-area MDA staff to create an annual fundraiser that would support local MDA Summer Camps, clinics, and research. The 10th Annual Heartsongs Gala, to be held October 23 at the DC Ritz Carlton, has been named #23 in the Top 100 BizBash Events for the year. This is not the first year the Gala has been recognized for its celebration of hope and fun. Across the years, the event has drawn together celebrities, politicians, and families affected by neuromuscular disease and  raised millions of dollars directed to local MDA offices, clinics, and camp programs. For information about the event, please contact Nadine Pottings, Executive Director: DC/VA MDA District Office at npottings@mdausa.org. 


Click here to see the BizBash listing.

Click here for more information about MDA

or the 2012 Heartsongs Gala


Click here to read more about the collaborative 

efforts of Mattie’s Foundation and MDA

Country singer, Billy Gilman, and Mattie’s friend,

Hope Wyatt, dance during the Annual MDA Heartsongs Gala.


Music, Peace, and Celebration of Good Times


We Are Family Foundation Gala 2.0  

NEW DATE: Thursday, January, 31, 2013


The 10/29 event date was rescheduled

due to Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy, 

but now, we will celebrate Mattie’s philosophy and 

“Remember to play after every storm!” 


Please  join Nile Rodgers & WAFF

for an exciting evening of music and peace.


Honorees include Sting & Trudie Styler,

Daniel Stern, and Jeni Stepanek.

Hosts: Rosie Perez and Toure.


Support a great organization in building global coalitions

and mentoring our future leaders.

Read more about WAFF and the 2012 Gala event here

Read about Mattie’s mom receiving WAFF’s
2012 Peacemaker Award here


Read about Mattie’s Foundation and WAFF Partnership here


Read about Mattie’s Foundation and WAFF Collaboration here


An article published in the October 2012 King Farm Chronicle (Rockville, MD).

Make Peace the News – King Farm Chronicle, October 2012


Is Peace on our To Do List?  


We must celebrate the gift of life

Everyday in some way,

We must always remember

To play after every storm.”

– Mattie J.T. Stepanek


Our fall schedules and activities are now in full swing. What was a new academic and fiscal year for so many just a month ago has now transitioned into routine assignments and examinations, and looming projects and deadlines. Also wedged into those tiny calendar boxes are sporting events and worship meetings, after school clubs and after work gatherings, and all sorts of other individual and group activities and endeavors.


With so many worthy or necessary tasks pulling us in so many different directions, considering one more To Do List element may seem like the infamous straw that brings that clichéd camel down. But what if that additional element was one that supported us – as individuals and as a community – in coping with the all those worthy or necessary tasks that leave us sometimes excited, and often exhausted?


In his final book, Just Peace: A Message of Hope (AMP, 2006), Mattie J.T. Stepanek wrote the following:


There is a gentle quietness to peace. Relinquishing anger and tightfistedness brings a calming acceptance and resilience. Peace is something that feels good when we recognize and realize it inside of us. And, we can feel the goodness of peace when we are selfless and reconciled with others, and when we are considerate and careful with the earth…. Peace is possible, because peace begins with an attitude, and an attitude is a choice.


If we think of peace in this way – as a truth that begins with how we choose to think, and then speak, and ultimately be – we realize that putting peace on our To Do List is not something that takes more of our time. Instead, choosing peace becomes a strength that supports us in coping with any task and in celebrating any moment that is a part of our reality.


Despite that morning crunch most of us face each day, and despite those stuffed-full calendars and lists of things we plan to tend to or accomplish, let us take time and make time for peace. As we move into every today and toward every tomorrow, let us ask ourselves this simple question:

Is peace on our To Do List?


For more information about the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, or to learn about our programs and activities that support youth and adults in choosing and celebrating peace, please visit www.MattieOnline.com or e-mail MattieOnline.com@Gmail.com.


September 2012: 

International Day of Peace Recognition



Mattie and Jeni Stepanek and the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation were recognized and featured  by the MY HERO organization in honor of the 2012 International Day of Peace (9/21). According to the MY HERO team, they were recognized for their “great work and dedication to peace.”


Click here to visit MY HERO’s celebration of

The Foundation’s “For Our World Campaign”


Click here to visit Mattie’s MY HERO Page


Click here to visit Jeni’s MY HERO Page


Click here to visit the MY HERO Organizer Page 

with all 2012 Peace Day honorees


Click here to visit MY HERO’s homepage

An article published in the September 2012 King Farm Chronicle (Rockville, MD).

Make Peace the News – King Farm Chronicle, September 2012


Why Mattie’s Foundation Matters


Reflect, Respond, and Reach Out with Peace
Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D.
Executive Director,
Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation


“No one person can end war; however,

every person can begin peace.”

– Mattie J.T. Stepanek


“Peace matters!” – That’s a statement we all can pretty much agree on. Simply liking peace does not change our world though. Agreeing that peace matters for our world does not end war, nor does it promote an environment of kindness (or anti-bullying) in our schools and communities. Change comes through action, and action necessitates planning and commitment, and involvement and education.


Here in King Farm, people are generally familiar with late teen poet and peace activist, Mattie J.T. Stepanek. He was our neighbor, and our friend, and for many of us – an inspiration. After his death in 2004, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation was created as a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization with the mission of furthering his message of hope and peace.


But what is that message? How could Mattie state that “hope is real” when he knew his life would be so short? How did he explain his vision – his blueprint really – for a world in which “peace is possible” despite the reality that conflict will always exist? How do we begin to teach our children that peace not only matters, but that it begins with personal choices in thought, in word, and in action?


Reflecting on these questions, responding to Mattie’s message, and reaching out with peace is what Mattie’s Foundation is all about. We offer opportunities to explore and understand Mattie’s message through a variety of programs and materials. We promote action in sharing this message through motivational projects and activities. And most of all, we encourage people of all ages, abilities, races, and religions to work with us in realizing this mission of peace, starting right here in Mattie’s home community.


Beginning a new academic year is much like beginning a new calendar year. Just flipping the calendar to September symbolizes opportunities to commit to new goals and activities that will enhance our personal and professional lives. On behalf of Mattie’s Foundation, I encourage you to make peace one of those goals, for your family, for your child’s education environment, for your office space, for your every day life.


Begin by exploring our Foundation website! Many of our materials and networking opportunities are free. Download a translation of Mattie’s “For Our World” peace passage for your refrigerator, for your child’s classroom, or for your office bulletin board. Explore our Teacher Tips pages, or Mattie’s “Three Choices for Peace,” or our Peace is Possible photo gallery. Read some of the quotes by Mattie, or the feedback posted from website visitors, then share your own thoughts and photos to inspire others.


After you have browsed our pages, here are three specific actions you can choose that will enable us to work together as a community, and to foster personal and world peace:


Join our new Peace Club!

It takes only a minute to join, but the benefits can reach far into the future. Our Peace Club Kids is free for kids through age 12 years, and helps children understand that peace is fun, and it begins with each of us. Kids even have their own pages to display art, poetry, and other peace posts! Our Peace Club Teens can earn Community Service Hours by participating in a supported “Peace Journey” (no traveling required). Our Peace Club adult members can also enjoy benefits as they support our mission – for the cost of only about one coffee per month. We even have a VIP level for folks who choose to become Very Involved Peacemakers!


Become Peace Certified!  

Peace Certification makes a statement about your choices as a parent, an educator, a health or childcare provider, a business owner, a political or community leader, a city or country, a youth organization — as any person or group who wants to be an agent of lasting and good change for our world. When you or your organization or community sign up to become certified, we send you our 24-page Peace Tips Guide and support you in exploring key elements of Mattie’s message (e.g., Heartsongs, hope, peace, service, kindness, resilience). We also support you in creating an activity or project plan for your family, your classroom, or your business that moves this message from a reflection, to a response and outreach endeavor.


Volunteer to serve on our Board of Directors or one of our Committees!

During our October 2012 quarterly meeting, we will be electing new members to our Board of Directors. Perhaps you have expertise in development, programming, or event planning, and you are willing to share a bit of your time and talent to support our mission. We are currently planning future Peace Celebrations, fundraisers, and other activities. We are also looking to expand our program and outreach endeavors. You might be exactly who we need for these activities! If you would like to discuss your role as either a Board Member or a Committee Member, please e-mail MattieOnline.com@Gmail.com with a statement of interest.


Why does Mattie’s Foundation matter?

Because peace matters, and our Foundation offers inspiration and information, programs and resources, to help make peace a choice that you understand, and can celebrate. Do more than  “like” peace. Begin a journey of understanding and action by participating in the mission of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation.


To learn more about Mattie’s Foundation, please visit www.mattieonline.com or email mattieonline.com@gmail.com.


2012 IAFF MDA Team Sportsmanship Award: “Mattie’s Boys”


Congratulations to “Mattie’s Boys”

– the Greenburgh, Yonkers, Mississauga

combined Over-40 Softball Team –

recipients of the 2012 Team Sportsmanship & Spirit Award

during the 39th Annual IAFF/MDA Softball Tournament.


Click here to read more about the history of Mattie’s friendship

with these firefighters in our August/September 2012 Spotlight


 Visit our Photo Gallery to view more photos

of these incredible fire fighters and the annual

fundraising event a held at Watkins Park in Maryland.



2012 RCI Mattie J.T. Stepanek Caregiving Scholarship Recipients Announced





AMERICUS — The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) at Georgia Southwestern State University has announced the winners of the 2012 Mattie J. T. Stepanek Caregiving Scholarships: Sayid Abdullaev of Kyrgyzstan; Marcia Atherton of Utica, Ky.; Roni Jacobson of Alpharetta, Ga.; and Donna Riccobono of Frederick, Md.


The first international scholarship winner, Abdullaev plans to continue his formal education by pursuing a degree in international relations and diplomacy.


Atherton is a registered nurse with the goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner with an emphasis on geriatrics.


A graduate student at New York University in the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program, Jacobson has worked as an intern for the Mental Health Journalism Program at the Carter Center and as a behavior analyst in the Severe Behavior Clinic at the Marcus Autism Center.


After several years of working with individuals who have severe disabilities, Riccobono and her husband chose to adopt a child who had been abused, neglected and abandoned. She now plans to continue her education to teach children with dual sensory loss and multiple disabilities.


In its ninth year, the purpose of Stepanek scholarship is to provide financial assistance to family, professional or paraprofessional caregivers of any age who seek training or education in specific skills, procedures and strategies that lead to more effective care while serving to protect the health and well-being of caregivers.


A noted poet and peacemaker before his death at age 13 in 2004, Mattie Stepanek continues to provide inspiration to people of all cultures throughout the world.


While serving as honorary co-chair of the RCI’s Intergenerational Caregiving expert panel in 2003, Stepanek said, “If all generations of people freely and abundantly give care to others and to our world, we will have an eternal source of love and hope that fulfills the needs of all ages … for all future.”


“Mattie’s comments were very prophetic; the number of individuals in our society requiring personal assistance due to ill health, chronic conditions and disabilities is at an historic level and growing,” said Laura J. Bauer, director of national initiatives for the RCI. “We need caring, compassionate and skilled individuals of all ages to help fill the ever-widening gap between those who need care and those who provide care. These scholarship winners plan to use their scholarship funds to help further their education and training, which is the cornerstone of providing quality care,” she added.


Mattie’s mother, Jeni Stepanek, is chair of the scholarship selection committee.


“It is an honor to be involved in this wonderful endeavor,” she said. “Mattie believed that how we want to be remembered is how we should choose to think and speak and do and live each day. I am certain that these four individuals will be known and remembered for the difference they make through their compassion and caring.”


Other committee members are Nancy Hunt, president of the We Are Family Foundation in New York, N.Y., and Kelly Ellison, host of “Your Adoption Coach Radio” in Kansas City, Mo.


Georgia Southwestern’s Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, the administrator of the scholarship, was established in 1987, in honor of former first lady Rosalynn Carter, a GSW alumna who serves as president of the institute’s board of directors, to enhance her longstanding commitments to family caregiving and mental health. Through research, education and training, the RCI promotes the mental health and well-being of individuals, families and professional caregivers; encourages effective caregiving practices; builds public awareness of caregiving needs; and advances public and social policies that enhance caring communities.



Read more about the Collaborative work of 

Mattie’s Foundation and RCI here



Click here for more information about

the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Caregiving Scholarship


Click here to read the article in the Americus Times-Recorder



Sting & Trudie Styler, Jeni Stepanek, David Stern to be Honored at WAFF Gala 

Mattie’s mom, Jeni Stepanek, is among the honorees selected for recognition during the 2012 We Are Family Foundation Gala. She will join Sting and Trudie Styler (musician and humanitarians) and David Stern (Founder, Reservoir Capital Group) at the annual fundraising event on October 29 for an evening of fun and music to benefit WAFF and the Three Dot Dash Initiative.


WAFF creator, musician and humanitarian Nile Rodgers’ response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 was to re-record and release his classic song, We Are Family, and to work with his life partner, Nancy Hunt, to create a peace advocacy organization. Nancy saw Mattie on Larry King Live a few months later, during April 2002. Mattie was discussing his vision for a peaceful world and reciting peace poetry he had written on September 11, 2001. During the summer of 2002, Mattie and Jeni met with Nile and Nancy to discuss how they could support the launch of the We Are Family Foundation. During the inaugural fundraising event, Mattie was honored with the very first WAFF Peacemaker Award.


Across the next two years, Mattie worked with Nile and Nancy (now President of WAFF) as they shaped their peace organization and programs. When Mattie died in 2004, Nile and Nancy vowed that Mattie’s message of hope and peace would be celebrated through WAFF. They also renamed the WAFF Peacemaker Award, calling it the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award.


In 2006, when Mattie’s final book, Just Peace: A Message of Hope was released, Nancy began working with Jeni and others on translating the book into a curriculum and program for international teens, who like Mattie, used their strengths to seek and make and bring peace for our world. This endeavor grew into the Three Dot Dash Initiative (Morse code for “V” or the international peace sign), and in 2008, the first  Just Peace Summit took place in New York City, bringing together 30 teens from countries all over the world. Since then, 117 teens from 6 continents have participated in the annaul Just Peace Summit, and shaped peace projects that reflect Mattie’s message and mission of peace and that have positively impacted millions of people around the world.


Jeni Stepanek has carried Mattie’s message and legacy forward, not only as the Executive Director of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, but also through her ongoing collaboration and support of other organizations with which she and Mattie worked during his life, and which continue to celebrate hope and  peace as Mattie envisioned. She works with all the teens who participate in the Three Dot Dash Initiative and the Just Peace Summit, giving anchor speeches throughout each summit and supporting the teens as they refine and reshape their peace projects. In 2010, she was nicknamed “Mama Peace” by Nigeria’s Imam Muhammed Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye for her love and nurturing of these international young people, a title that Jeni now cherishes and celebrates.


In addition to working with the teens, Jeni has also presented the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peacemaker Award each year during the WAFF Gala since 2005. Previous recipients include Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Deepak Chopra, Desmond and Leah Tutu, and Nigeria’s Imam Muhammed Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye.  The 2012 honor marks the tenth anniversary of this award, which is being given to Jeni for her ongoing work and dedication to peace for oneself and for our world.


Sting and Trudie Styler will be accepting the WAFF Humanitarian Award at the event, and Daniel Stern will be accepting the WAFF Visionary Award.


This year’s Gala will be held on October 29 in Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, and will benefit the We Are Family Foundation. The event will be hosted by Toure, and include a concert featuring Nile Rodgers & Chic, along with other legendary special guests. It is easy to see why the WAFF Gala has been named one of the best parties in New York City! 


For more information about WAFF or

the 2012 Gala and tickets 

visit www.WeAreFamilyFoundation.org


Read more about the collaborative work of 

Mattie’s Foundation and 3DD here


Read more about the partnership between

Mattie’s Foundation and WAFF here 



Annual IAFF/MDA Softball Tournament

Join International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1619 (PGFD)

as they support the Muscular Dystrophy Association

by hosting an annual softball tournament

at Watkins Park in Largo, Maryland.

Opening Ceremonies: Friday, September 7 (early evening).
Closing Ceremonies: Sunday, September 9 (when games conclude).
Throughout the weekend, enjoy food and fun, friendship
(and plenty of softball and beer).

No charge for admission to games.

For the 15th year, Mattie’s “Luck for a Buck” quotes will be sold
(100 percent of proceeds donated to the tournament fundraising effort).

Mattie began this tradition back in the mid-1990s.

Today, his mom, Jeni Stepanek continues the tradition on his behalf.

Across the years, more than $10,000 has been donated to MDA

as a result of Mattie’s Luck for a Buck quotes.





Return to Archives main page



October Spotlight

In-Kind Support

Celebrating our "in kind" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with services and materials. Thank you ezStorage, Montgomery Printing, Parcel Plus, and Potomac Valley Brick! Read more...

Nourishment Support

Celebrating our "nourishment" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with food and services. Thank you Botanero Restaurant, Fontina Grille, Safeway, Coffee Republic, and Red Hot & Blue! Read more...

Community Support

Celebrating our "community" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with commitment and participation. Thank you City of Rockville, King Farm Citizen's Assembly, Kick's Karate & Mix 107.3! Read more...

Champion Support

Celebrating our "Foundation Champions" -- sponsors and volunteers of all ages who support Mattie's Foundation through donations, brick sponsorships, participation in our activities and events. Thank you!!! Read more...

- Mattie J.T. Stepanek